100 & Single: fun., Gotye, Carly Rae Jepsen, And The Era Of The Snowball Smash

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If you're a pop fan, I'm going to guess you like at least one of the last three No. 1 songs in America. In many ways, 2012 has been an entertaining year for discriminating chart-watchers, as a slew of left-field singles have made strides on Billboard's Hot 100.

I've met people who love fun.'s "We Are Young" featuring Janelle MonĂ¡e—it spent six weeks atop the Hot 100 for a reason—and people who hate it. But at least some members of the latter group have a soft spot for the record that ejected it from No. 1 in April, Gotye's Kimbra-assisted "Somebody That I Used to Know."

That Gotye smash, one of the least predictable chart-toppers of the last decade and the current frontrunner as Billboard's 2012 song of the year, inspired both admiration and passionate loathing during its eight weeks on top. But virtually everyone I know who hates "Somebody" loves Carly Rae Jepsen.

I mean, does anybody hate "Call Me Maybe"? About the worst thing anyone's said about it is it's like a drug. Frankly, even those of us who loved the Gotye record were rooting for Carly Rae to take over the penthouse, which she finally did in late June. Her smash is now in its ninth week on top.

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The 11 Most Infuriating Songs Of 2011, No. 10: will.i.am Featuring Mick Jagger And Jennifer Lopez, "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)"

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The Song: will.i.am feat. Mick Jagger and Jennifer Lopez, "T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)"
The Crimes: Overhashtagging, sub-"Dancing In The Streets" incoherence from Jagger, using "feces" as a term of braggadocio.

Sometimes I feel bad for the music industry, which has had a rough go of it these past 10 or so years. Yes, they tried to make more money off artists with thin catalogs when Billboard eliminated the physical-single requirement from eligibility for the Hot 100 and ushered in the era of the $18.99 maxi-single; sure, they blew their wad when the Recording Industry Association of America established the Diamond Award, bestowed on albums with 10 million copies shipped (the last album to receive that honor was Usher's Confessions, released in 2004); and yeah, they probably should have been a bit more proactive about the whole "internet" thing. Still, though, there are a lot of good people working inside the fortresses of the big labels, and they're not the complete wastelands of lousy music that up-the-empire types who only like cool DIY bands like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails make them out to be.

But my sympathies get powerwashed away when I am confronted with money pits of idiocy like the solo career of will.i.am, which continues to kick along even after his 2007 solo album Songs About Girls landed here with a thud. Fresh off the success of the Black Eyed Peas' most recent collection of repurposed pop tropes and Fergie wails, will decided to once again try and make it on his own—assisted by two pop figures of yore who had slightly improbable comebacks this year. Share the wealth, right?


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100 & Single: A Dozen Contenders For Billboard's Year-End Top 10, And Their Fight Against The "Last Christmas Effect"

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Later this week, Billboard is expected to announce its tallies for the biggest hits of 2011. And what a year for music it's been. Remember all those big hits: "Like a G6," "We R Who We R," "Raise Your Glass," "Fuck You!" and "What's My Name?"

What's that—you say the songs I just rattled off are kinda old? Like, 2010-old? You're absolutely right. But don't be surprised if these vintage hits feature prominently among the biggest Hot 100 hits of 2011.

Billboard's "chart year" runs from December 1 through November 30. Blame old-fashioned dead-tree production schedules—they do this so they can announce the year-end victors before the holidays arrive and run the lists in a big, collectible magazine the size of small phone book. (Makes a great stocking stuffer. Seriously!)

The upshot of this skewed calendar: Take a good look at what's topping the Hot 100 right now. Hits like Rihanna's "We Found Love" (No. 1), LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" (No. 2), or Bruno Mars's fast-rising "It Will Rain" are going to feature conspicuously among the top Billboard hits... of 2012, next December. On the 2011 list, they won't be very prominent at all.

Even with its abundance of aging tracks, the 2011 list will still be worth poring over when Billboard drops it in a few days. Unlike the year-end album chart—which is based on straight Soundscan sales totals, and whose victor is already a foregone conclusion—the formula of digital sales, radio airplay and online streaming that determines the weekly Hot 100 means year-end predictions require a lot more guesstimating. Which is more fun, anyway.

Let's run down, in alphabetical order, a baker's dozen of hits that are likely to figure prominently on Billboard's Top Hot 100 Songs of 2011. These are tracks likely to make the final Top 10 or at least the Top 20.

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Radio Hits One: Raising The Bar For "YouTube Platinum"

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Justin Bieber and Ludacris: Congratulations. A lot of people watched your video.
On August 28, MTV will throw the 2011 installment of its Video Music Awards, honoring achievements in the art form that used to make up the majority of its programming. While it's all too tempting to note the irony that the channel has been marginilizing videos in favor of longer-form programming for nearly two decades now, the fact is that the music video as a pop culture force is in good health these days, with or (more often) without MTV's support.

The internet, broadly, has helped revive excitement around the music video, but credit can be specifically given to YouTube. The music video probably reached its nadir of interest and influence around 2005, just before the site exploded into popular consciousness and made streaming video more accessible both to watch and to upload. Not only do major-label stars finally have a place for their big-budget videos to be disseminated in a mass way resembling that of MTV's heyday; new artists have an unprecedented universal portal for their own low-budget clips, a development that's launched a constellation of stars from Justin Bieber to Kreayshawn and Pomplamoose.

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100 & Single: Is It Okay For Katy Perry To Bum-Rush Her Way Into The History Books?

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Chart fandom makes strange bedfellows. Six months ago, if you'd asked me what act I'd root for in a head-to-head chart battle between pop princess Katy Perry and electrodance goofballs LMFAO, I'd probably have picked Perry, whose song catalog includes at least one or two gems. Her current hit, "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," isn't one of her best—it's nowhere near as well-crafted as "Teenage Dream" or "Hot N Cold"—but it's a charming, goodtime trifle, and marginally less stupid than LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."

Now? I'm rooting for the goofballs over the princess all the way.

LMFAO's single (which, to be honest, has kinda grown on me) is the last firewall standing between Perry and her fifth Hot 100 No. 1 from Teenage Dream. Were "Friday" to hit that mark, Teenage Dream would tie a record that has so far only been reached by one album: Michael Jackson's Bad. Perry and her people are trying to hit that mark by cheating... or, to be fair, by taking advantage of a legal but shady tactic.

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Radio Hits One: Reality TV Propels Aging Stars Back Into The Top 40

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When I heard that Jennifer Lopez was leveraging her new position as an American Idol judge to launch her new single, premiering the video for "On The Floor" on one episode and performing the song on another, I rolled my eyes at what I thought was her hubris. It'd been less than two years since Lopez's long-flagging music career had seemed to finally come to a screeching halt; her single "Louboutins" flopped, and Sony opted to drop Lopez rather than release her seventh album. Using Idol as a platform to relaunch herself into pop stardom seemed doomed and desperate.

Or so I thought.


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Good Morning, Jennifer Lopez, Wiping Out Onstage At The American Music Awards In A Way That's Actually Frankly Kind Of Admirable

Hearing tell of this on the Internet, I was braced for some theatrical pratfall, but frankly she handles this pretty well. Skip to 2:55 when you get tired of the song, which you will, incidentally, real quick.

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