New On The Hot 100 This Week: Taylor Swift's "Ronan," PSY's "Gangnam Style," And More

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This week's Hot 100 debuts include big names and the viral video of the year—and, surprisingly, a nearly year-old track by Beyoncé. "Dance For You" was released on the deluxe version of 4 a little less than year ago and has been on the Hot R&B Songs chart since April; for a good but nowhere near great record, it's showed remarkable staying power.

No. 16: Taylor Swift, "Ronan"

"Ronan" is so much better than most songs of its type—beautifully structured and thought out, deeply emotional without being sentimental—that it seems nit-picky, if not callous, to point out its flaws. But since those flaws are so obvious, and so central to Swift's approach, they're worth mentioning. First, though I would gladly get into a fist fight with anyone who says Swift can't sing, she has a tendency toward overkill: the occasional sob or sigh are unnecessary in this context, and deflect attention to Swift from her subject. That may be a simple mistake, though; the second problem is more endemic. Swift has always had an eye for detail in her lyrics. But in this case, though the details may well be true, they don't feel real, or lived in. I don't doubt her empathy, but she's writing beyond her experience. Many of the details sound like something she picked up from a movie or TV show, and the music is too generic to bring them to life. Borrowed imagery worked perfectly in Swift's fairytale songs, but processed banalities fall flat in real-life scenarios. "Ronan" is a strong, affecting song, and it's for a good cause. You should buy it. But it could have been far more.

No. 37: Alicia Keys featuring Nicki Minaj, "Girl On Fire (Inferno Version)"

I long ago stopped expecting anything interesting, or even enjoyable, from Keys, who ran out of ideas before she finished her second album. Her career has been one of steady decline, and with "Girl On Fire" she reaches a new low. The music is old hat (the beat comes from a Billy Squier record that's been sampled many times before), and the lyrics, one cliché and banality after another, are even older. The only striking thing is Nicki Minaj's rap on the intro, in which the ghost of Marilyn Monroe appears—with a gun—and urges Minaj to kill herself. A promising start, but Minaj is so low-key (and disappointing on the second verse) that it doesn't quite come to fruition. Still, I suspect she's the main reason people are buying the track.

No. 55: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Big Sean, "Clique"

The beat is great—moody, ominous, and energetic all at once; Jay-Z has apparently recovered from the shock of fatherhood; Big Sean works toward establishing a persona (try again); West brags about how rich he is over 32 brilliant bars. Now that I've gotten the obvious stuff out of the way, here's the big question: what's all this about West talking Maybachs with George Tenet? Of all the off-the-wall name dropping in West's verses over the years, this may be the weirdest. Is Tenet, who was director of the CIA on 9/11 and led the agency during its waterboarding years, now a member of West's clique? Oh, wait, he can't be—turns out his Maybach is a rental. That'll teach him to be a war criminal.



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5 comments
PopSlave
PopSlave

About  "You should buy it."

I am curious what Taylor Swift is doing, since  she's featured in the article. If she was never mentioned again I'm not sure I'd notice. I think you're saying not that we should buy a fake, artificial song but that we should support some good cause? Maybe we should skip the whole "listening to Taylor Swift's new song" thing and just talk about the cause.

If a song sounds fake and you're buying it to support a cause, I think "you should buy it" is horrible advice from a record reviewer.  

katiemisaac
katiemisaac

I agree with JD41... as a long time reader of RockStar Ronan the blog, this song was perfectly written and delivered. Most all of the lyrics were taken from mama Maya's real life words over the previous two years and eloquently strung together for this heart felt song. Even some of Ronan's very own words were used as I can remember watching a video of him taken in the hospital after his first surgery saying he was going to be an 'army guy' when he grew up. This song could have only been written by a long time reader of Ronan's story and no detail was spared. 

JD41
JD41

Another "music critic" that hasn't done their homework, Robert Myers--quite frankly, nothing worse than a critic that's uninformed.  Nevertheless-- hats off  to you for not bashing T. Swift too badly.   Had you done you're homework you might have discovered that words and direction for the song were taken directly from the ongoing blog from Ronan's mother, Maya Thompson.  A blog that has been in existance for over a year, following from the point of diagnosis of her son, through his death and all the days that have followed.  Swift followed that blog and used it and the information written  to write the song.  So, to say that she's writing beyond her experience?  hmmm....certainly not her own personal experience, but she has used the day-to-day experiences of a person that lived the scenario and continues to live it.  What better words than those of a grieving mother to get the point across--written from the mother's perspective.  And quite frankly, if you've read the commentary and interviews with the mother over the last few days you'd know that they feel completely differently than you do--and probably the rest of the public.  Even the swift-haters mananged to say a few positive words.  Really, at the end of the day, the only opinion that counts is Maya Thompson and her family.  I wonder what makes you an expert?

bnwmoore
bnwmoore

 @JD41

 Just what i was thinking , i would only add, that she was sobbing, and so were the rest of the people that heard her sing the song,Some people spend a lot of time picking other peoples work apart ,, and in your case , maby u should stick to picking your nose! 

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