Radio Hits One: Nine Songs From 2012 That Should Have Been Huge

The term "flop" in a musical context usually refers to an unsuccessful album. Although singles constantly perform above or below expectations, a song will rarely get a reputation as a flop unless there's a lot riding on it, such as a pre-release single from a big-name album. In 2011, Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" and Lady Gaga's "Judas" failed to launch and became notorious stumbling blocks for two women who had up to that point experienced one success after another.

In 2012, no singles have fallen short of expectations in such a high-profile way, but hundreds of songs are constantly being lobbed at radio, and some great tracks get lost in the shuffle. Last year, I critiqued the singles campaigns of recent albums, suggesting how different tracks could have been released in a different order. But right now, I feel compelled to highlight some singles that simply deserved better, because by December, these songs will be long forgotten in lists that boil the year in pop down to "Somebody That I Used to Know" and "Call Me Maybe."

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Live: Pepsi Throws A Birthday Party For Michael Jackson; He's Unable to Attend

Bad 25: Ne-Yo, Melanie Fiona, Swizz Beatz
Gotham Hall
Wednesday, August 29

Better than: an easy hair-burning joke.

"You just don't do a Michael song—you try and do the best you can." So said Ne-Yo, dabbing at his forehead, having sweated through his "Smooth Criminal" costume. On screens behind him, Michael spun and stopped on pointed toes, a smile and a wink, leaning so far forward you thought his nose and heels would somehow both touch the ground. Here and now stood Ne-Yo, effort running down his face and shirt and pooling around his back; his red shirt stained ombre. He'd just sung three songs off of Bad—tracks 10, 8 and a brisk version of 2—in a performance completely reminiscent of Tupac's hologram. He continued his thoughts on Michael Jac-karaoke, saying, "You attempt and pray it works," before beginning the EDM portion of his own catalog.

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Live: The Songwriters Hall Of Fame Awards Roll Back To The '70s

Larry Busacca
Constantine Maroulis and Meat Loaf.
43rd Annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame Awards
Marriott Marquis
Thursday, June 14

Better than: Disco roller derby.

If you closed your eyes and listened to the parade of songs and familiar voices emanating from the Marriott Marquis' luminary-packed sixth-floor ballroom last night, you might have thought you had been transported back to another era when the nation was distressed about the economy and rising oil prices. (Apparently some things don't change.)

Indeed, four of the five new inductees at the 43rd annual Songwriters Hall Of Fame Awards—Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Steinman and Don Schlitz—arguably had their greatest success in that window between the resignation of Richard Nixon and the one-term presidency of Jimmy Carter.

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Hit Machines: The Ten Best Singles Runs From Post-Confessions R&B Albums

In his recent review of R&B singer Miguel's fantastic Art Dealer Chic series of EPs, The A.V. Club's Evan Rytlewski explained the singer's rise in popularity by floating the idea that his 2010 album All I Want Is You contained "arguably the most engaging singles run of any R&B album since Usher's Confessions." This argument is much closer to the truth than it may seem on first blush.

Though the genre has experienced a bit of a downswing in the past few years, it's been a reliable source of great pop music since Confessions' release in March 2004. But is Rytlewski's claim correct? Let's look at the R&B albums with the best runs of three consecutive singles since the beginning of 2004 and find out.

But first, some ground rules: The three singles must have been released consecutively—a dud single at any point breaks a string—and off a single album (sorry, Ciara and Ne-Yo); each must have charted on Billboard's R&B chart; and the three singles don't have to be the first off the album, though on this list they all ended up that way.

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The Top Six Contenders For 2012's Song Of The Summer

Now that the calendar has flipped to May, and the schedules for the area's big sheds have been announced, and the Hot 97 Summer Jam lineup is on the verge of being made public, it's time to think of other musical concerns related to the year's hottest months. Today, let's wonder about what song will be the year's official Song Of The Summer—that jam rendered inescapable by blaring bodega radios, cruising cars with the sound turned up, and people gleefully singing along to it when it comes on the sound systems at parties. Previous winners of the title: Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks" (2011); Katy Perry's "California Gurls" (2009—hey, I didn't say everyone had to like the song for it to count); Rihanna's "Umbrella" (2007-09). Six contenders for the imminent summer's top musical dog below.

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Live-Blogging The 2011 Video Music Awards: Teenage Dreams Of Vomited-Up Cockroaches

Sort of the way I remember it.

Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, the cable channel's annual paean to musically borne decadence and its own self-storied past. Tonight's roster of performers includes Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Chris Brown, Pitbull, and Young the Giant, as well as a "surprise" performance by Jay-Z and Kanye West, a tribute to Britney Spears (not dead and celebrating the 10th anniversary of her dancing uncomfortably with a snake), an homage to Amy Winehouse (R.I.P.), and the looming possibility that Tyler, The Creator will crap himself onstage. The blogging starts below.

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Ne-Yo Fancies Himself A Fantasy Object On His "Motivation" Flip

Singer/songwriter/all-around smoothie Ne-Yo is spinning the success of the very-beneath-him-but-still-huge Pitbull "Give Me Everything" into the release of a mixtape sometime later this month. Last week to give people a taste he released his take on Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Try A Little Tenderness"-powered ode to the self "Otis". Today he jumps on Kelly Rowland's icy "Motivation," which has already been leapt on by R. Kelly, Busta Rhymes, and a ton of other dudes—Ne-Yo's twist is that he's flipped the song into something worthy of the title "She Uses Me (Masturbation)." I bet you can figure out the plotline for that one! Clip below.

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The Top Ten "Otis" Freestyles


In the run-up to yesterday's release of Watch The Throne, the project's first official single, the Otis Redding-sampling "Otis," was re-done and freestyled over by many a rapper. So to tide you over until the physical version of Watch The Throne (packaged with a bonus CD-ROM containing a vector graphics screen-saver of the planets and stars) becomes available to buy on Friday, here's a rundown of hip-hop's best "Otis" freestyles and flips.

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100 & Single: Pitbull Turns The Hot 100 Back Into A Boys' Club (For Now)

If, like me, you've been putting together your annual summer playlist to pump at block parties and barbecues, you may have found yourself with a historically odd problem: a relative dearth of hits this year by dudes. After you've rounded up buzzy tracks by the Queens of Pop—from Adele to Nicki Minaj to Robyn—you might find yourself hunting for worthy male vocals, just for diversity.

On the charts, the guys have reasserted control—at least for this week. Cuban-American club-rapper Pitbull assumes the throne on Billboard's Hot 100 with "Give Me Everything," his first chart-topper. The Miamian born Armando Christian Pérez is the first lead male to top the authoritative song chart in, no joke, 20 weeks.

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Was 2010 The Best Year For Music Ever? American Idol Wobbles, R&B Thrives, And The '90s Rise Again

Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!

mike posner.jpg
At least one song on this record is really good!

If I had to pick one example of hashtag rap that I liked more than any other, it would probably be Nicki Minaj's "And I just be coming off the top -- asbestos," from Young Money's "Bedrock," if only because of its somewhat feminist implications. The song reached No. 2 on the Hot 100! Surely that must represent some strike in favor of female sexual empowerment. (Or maybe radio listeners finally realized the charms of Lloyd, whose silky come-ons were also available on "Lay It Down," one of the many r&b songs from this year with which I had passionate, intense flings.)

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