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Archive for April, 2010

Elvis 1956, photographs by Alfred Wertheimer (2009)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

elvis elvis561

“The stop was walking distance from Elvis’s home on Audubon Drive. Anxious to get there, he would save an hour by skipping the ride to the main terminal in Memphis and taking a taxi back to the suburbs. He asked directions from a passerby. He turned to wave good-bye. He set off for home. It would be among the last uncomplicated stops on Elvis’s journey into stardom.”

Personal Notes on Billboard‘s 2009 Top 100

Saturday, April 10th, 2010


What follows is a personal pop chart corralling together all of my notes about Billboard magazine’s Top 100 Hits of 2009. I started these when the year-end issue appeared last December, and have continued over the past few months, refreshing my memory on certain entries via YouTube (I’ve come to accept the bicephalous song-video nature of today’s pop hits), 96.7 FM (“All the Hits”) and KASE 101 (“Today’s Country”) in Austin, and encounters in public places that feature hit radio as zombie background music. My point being, you ask? A noble hunger and quest for meaning, I answer.  The introductory “11 recurring concepts” glossary will, I hope, help you with acronyms, terminology, and idiosyncracies.

11 Recurring Concepts

Alcohol: Video motif in the form of binge drinking or moments when the camera carefully zooms in on a specific brand of alcoholic beverage.

Auto-Tune: Popular pitch-correction program that has enabled the majority of voices in the Top 100 not to sound on-key so much as to sound like Cher.

Gap rap: A longstanding musical feature unique to radio and music video in which “clean versions” of (mainly) rap songs contain non-vocalized gaps in place of explicit language. The effect is that of a rapper using a very cheap microphone.

Horror flick piano: Upper-register piano chords that give certain minor-key rap tracks a menacing quality. The technique probably owes more to “Still D.R.E.” than it does to horror flicks.

Opening credits: Common technique that presents the music video genre as Cinema.

Passive or reactive?: A hit song evaluation device I first came across in Eric Beall’s Billboard Guide to Writing and Producing Songs That Sell. I’ve personalized it thusly: Reactive refers to the minority of songs you would likely notice on their own merits while sleepwalking through retail outlets; passive refers to the majority that you wouldn’t.

Posse cut: A tag-team rap genre that has at once revolutionized the term “featuring” as well as the average word count in individual Billboard song chart listings.

Story dancing: Expressive music video choreography incorporated into drama and sitcom scenarios.

Vintage Muscle Cars: The most-driven automobiles in music video today. Kowalski would be flattered. Or appalled.

Wild Party: Widely utilized music video scenario reassuring us that our favorite pop stars are not the hard-working automatons we suspect them to be.

Workhorse chord sequences: Certain chord sequences appear frequently in the ’09 list. I would have called these “overused chord sequences” but I didn’t want to seem like someone complaining about the weather. Workhorse chord sequences are among the big reasons why people who a) fancy themselves as being musically adventurous, b) possess critical musical ears, or c) are getting older and remain partial to workhorse chord sequences of previous eras, have little patience for contemporary hit music. For everyone else, the ‘09 WCS’s perhaps serve as comforting and familiar assets and are no big deal.

I’ve named the 4 biggest Workhorse Chord Sequences of 2009 after older pop songs that, in my mind, really gave them legs. They are:

1) WOWY (wowee), named after “With or Without You” (1987) by U2. Although the Beatles got it in our heads first with the verses of “Let It Be” (1970), and Journey really got it going in the choruses of “Don’t Stop Believin'” (1982), the U2 song drove it home by using the sequence for the entire song. The sequence: I – V – VIm – IV. This is the preeminent Workhorse Chord Sequence of ’09.

2) POM (pom), named after “Peace of Mind” (1976) by Boston. The sequence: VIm – IV – I – V. POM is easily the runner-up to WOWY.

3) TSC (tisk), named after “Tonight She Comes” (1986) by the Cars. The sequence: I – V – IIm – IV.

4) Earth Angel, named after the 1953 classic by the Penguins. The sequence: I – VIm – IV – V. This time-honored doo wop WCS is really the decades-old dandelion of pop music – sometimes pretty, but a weed all the same.

Note: Asterisks denote songs that also appeared on the 2008 list.

1) “Boom Boom Pow” – The Black Eyed Peas
Song: Techno adventure featuring alternating raps – the most memorable being Fergie’s, who brags about being “so 3008” but is easily misunderstood as saying “2008.”
Video concept: CGI animation of live-action subjects against a black backdrop.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

02) “Poker Face” – Lady Gaga
Song: Sex banter with a chorus sung over POM changes.
Video concept: A costume-changing story dancer hosts a wild party by a pool.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

03) “Just Dance” – Lady Gaga featuring Colby O’Donis
Song: Auto-Tuned female vocals over blip synth.
Video concept: A costume-changing story dancer recharges a hungover wild party. O’Donis plays Erik Estrada serenading drugged women.
Passive or reactive: Passive

4) “I Gotta Feeling” – The Black Eyed Peas
Song: Male vocal declaring “tonight’s gonna be a good night” over almost-WOWY changes.
Video concept: Fergie as an alcohol-swilling, wild party professional.
Passive or reactive: Passive (borderline reactive – the song’s hopeful message has likely boosted a lonely shopper or two).

05) “Love Story” – Taylor Swift
Song: Contempo-country with a Romeo/Juliet lyrical motif over WOWY chorus changes.
Video concept: A high school boy and girl eye each other and share a pre-Industrial Age fantasy.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

06) “Right Round” – Flo Rida
Song: A reworking of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” (which reworks New Order’s “Blue Monday”) into something naughtier with rapidfire raps and chugging, one-chord minor key verses.
Video concept: Flo Rida dominates a wild party at a nightclub stocked with specific brands of alcohol and an assortment of drugged women.
Passive or reactive: Passive (borderline reactive for nostalgic 30 somethings).

07) “I’m Yours” – Jason Mraz
Song: Congenial male ad lib vocal with a scat bridge over unabashed WOWY changes and a sprightly reggae beat.
Video concept: A hat-oriented tropical vacation.
Passive or reactive: Passive and proud of it.

08) “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)” – Beyonce
Song: Percussive mantras.
Video concept: Beyonce and two Destiny’s Child throwbacks put on a minimalist, high-heeled black and white story dance show.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (repetitive chorus leads to nagging questions regarding meaning).

09) “Heartless” – Kanye West
Song: Auto-Tuned vocals over minor key train track beats.
Video concept: Rotoscope minimalism featuring Warhol soup cans and Jetson art that outclass the song.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

10) “Gives You Hell” – The All-American Rejects
Song: Revenge lyrics repeated frequently over a shuffle beat and three chords.
Video concept: A candy-colored spat between neighbors ends up in a husband-swapping wild party.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (crowd-shouted chorus; vengeful sentiment).

11) “You Belong with Me” – Taylor Swift
Song: Upbeat schoolgirl contempo-country pleading over TSC chord changes.
Video concept: Straight up Betty and Veronica fantasy with a notes-in-windows gimmick.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

12) “Dead and Gone” – T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake
Song: T.I. lecturing over horror flick piano; a plaintive Timberlake drifts in and out for chorus duty.
Video concept: After opening credits, T.I. is haunted by desert wraith Timberlake and drives a vintage muscle car all the way to prison.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (chorus memorability).

13) “You Found Me” – The Fray
Song: Melodramatic piano-driven track featuring vocals tinged with hurt feelings.
Video concept: A scene from a police procedural/hospital drama when all the damage has been done and the mopey music plays.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

14) “Use Somebody” – Kings of Leon
Song: Stirring redneck discovery of Arcade Fire; made-to-order escort service jingle.
Video concept: Road video cliches splashed with Madison Avenue cityscapes and vintage muscle cars.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (“woooah” hooks).

15) “Knock You Down” – Keri Hilson featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo
Song: Hilson and Ne-Yo sing while West raps over train-track three-chord orchestra-synth.
Video concept: A mediocre painter (West) and Ne-Yo compete for a levitating cosmetics model after opening credits.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

16) “Blame It” – Jamie Foxx featuring T-Pain
Song: Auto-Tuned Foxx vocals and a rude gap rap by T-Pain over lush, spacey tracks
Video concept: After opening credits, a red-light wild party features alcohol and the surprising presence of Ron Howard.
Passive or reactive: Passive

17) “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” – Pitbull
Song: Lecherous nightclub braggadocio featuring forceful Spanish countoffs and an underwater once-per-measure “zing.”
Video concept: White background sendup of the Flight of the Conchords “Doggy Bounce,” which is a sendup of “Macarena.”
Passive or reactive: Reactive (forceful Spanish countoffs and “zing!”)

18) “Live Your Life” – T.I. featuring Rihanna
Song: Rihanna sings new words for the “numa numa” song while T.I. lecture-raps about adversity.
Video concept: A well dressed man is beaten up by a gang while his casually dressed doppelganger hangs out in the ‘hood; features a cinematic spoken intro and alcohol.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (shocking use of “numa numa.”)

19) “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em feauturing Sammie
Song: Repeating telegraph vocal hook over retro push button phone blips.
Video concept: Made-to-order phone commercial showing flashy young folks and less flashy old folks puckering up for their phone cameras.
Passive or reactive: Passive

20) “Down” – Jay Sean featuring Lil Wayne
Song: Latino Auto-Tune vocals stepping aside peacefully for wild party-crashing, loose cannon Lil Wayne’s gap rap over budget dance tracks.
Video concept: Jay Sean is Lord of a story dancing, alcohol-swilling nightclub.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

21) “The Climb” – Miley Cyrus
Song: Prefab, contempo-country featuring dialed-in “big sky” strings and Miley’s Kidz Bop vocals. (Not a cover, sadly, of the Kingsmen song).
Video concept: Alternating looks at laser-show Miley, computer-enhanced frontier Miley, and live action Disney movie Miley.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

22) “Best I Ever Had” – Drake
Song: Drake Auto-Tune sings and gap raps over a patchy Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds loop.
Video concept: Throwback exploitation fantasy in which Drake coaches a hapless basketball team of porn stars.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

23) “My Life Would Suck without You” – Kelly Clarkson
Song: “Since U Been Gone”-conscious offering over Earth Angel changes.
Video concept: Pink-ish “the girl’s a handful” fantasy in which a disturbed couple throws each other’s stuff out of a high rise window.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

24) “Halo” – Beyonce
Song: Words of devotion sung over tracks that threaten to morph into Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave.”
Video concept: Former L.A. Laker Rick Fox shines his light all over a budding ballerina.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

*25) “Hot n Cold” – Katy Perry
Song: Neo-Pat Benatar pop featuring a skull-chiseling hook over TSC sequence.
Video concept: Wedding ceremony screwballery featuring a skittish youngster and a threatening, story-dancing bride.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (skull chiseling hook)

26) “Second Chance” – Shinedown
Song: Minor-chord pop rock featuring adamant, blood-vessel-bursting vocals.
Video concept: A budding ballerina is prompted by a Symbolic Screaming, Gesticulating Stalker to leave her family and follow her dreams.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

27) “Circus” – Britney Spears
Song: Sounding like a chain-smoking mouse, Britney reflects on the performing impulse; careening Jock-Jam funhouse tracks chug along behind.
Video concept: Scenes from “The Greatest Story Dance on Earth.”
Passive or reactive: Passive

28) “Day ‘n’ Nite” – Kid Cudi
Song: Simple, poetic melody lines over retro sci-fi synth sounds.
Video concept: A young, drugged pedestrain wanders inner city streets while the people he sees turn into animated frights. Includes a turntable cameo.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (Basehead-evoking singularity)

29) “Party in the U.S.A.” – Miley Cyrus
Song: Auto-Tune Miley sings about the soothing and patriotic effects of Jay-Z and Britney Spears; three relentless chords drive her message home.
Video concept: Miley and friends crash a vintage muscle car gathering at a drive-in theater; when Miley and friends commandeer the stage for a coordinated story-dance show, the vintage car afficionados all go out of their minds with approval.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (relentless day care “Put your hands up! Put your hands up!” hook)

30) “Don’t Trust Me” – 3OH!3
Song: Snarky vocals over gumball machine minor-key POM chords.
Video concept: Crispin Glover and Marilyn Manson, in several costume changes, battle for camera time and gesticulate rudely among drugged women.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

31) “Run This Town” – Jay-Z , Rihanna and Kanye West
Song: Posse cut featuring Rihanna vocalizing choruses while Jay-Z and potty-mouth Kanye West gap rap over minor key tracks fastened together by a menacing lead guitar loop.
Video concept: Jay-Z hosts an urban Warriors-style gang conference along with West and Rihanna, who goes through several Symbolic Costume Changes.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

32) “Let it Rock” – Kevin Rudolf feat Lil Wayne
Song: Incidental sports highlight reel music featuring ‘80s metal synth, gap raps by Lil Wayne, and falsetto verses.
Video concept: Habitual party-crasher Lil Wayne steals the limelight from Rudolf during a laser-filled arena rock fantasy.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

33) “Fire Burning” – Sean Kingston
Song: Driving dance club workout with Auto-Tune choruses.
Video concept: A cheerful, XL-size teenager in a windbreaker hosts a wild, renegade version of “Dancing with the Stars” in a dangerous, abandoned concrete building.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (distinct Jamaica flavor; catchiness).

34) “Whatcha Say” – Jason Derulo
Song: Male Auto-Tune vox and female Auto-Tune choruses over mid tempo piano and orchestral synth samples; Derulo Auto-Tune moans his own name at the beginning.
Video concept: After opening credits, a distraught, young Derulo emotes and squirms in and out of his apartment, occasionally breaking into seemingly not-so-distraught story-dance moves.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

35) “Waking Up in Vegas” – Katy Perry
Song: Neo-Pat Benatar pop rock.
Video concept: A mismatched alcohol-drinking couple whips through a candy-colored, becostumed Vegas boom-bust fantasy.
Passive or reactive: Passive

36) “Lovegames” – Lady Gaga
Song: Euro-disco schtick about your “disco stick” as chanted by a thousand Lady Gagas.
Video concept: After opening credits, Lady Gaga story dances in several costumes with male bikers, drinks alcohol, and engages in a choreographed group crotch-grab.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (due to the standout “disco stick” line).

37) “Birthday Sex” – Jeremih
Song: Slinky R&B workout in which a young man Auto-Tune sings, gap raps, and uses syllable repetition in order to reach home plate.
Video concept: A moody young man and cheerfully unperturbed woman do early-stage foreplay, occasionally pausing for individual head shot poses (she: smiling/he: not), and giving no solid clues as to whose birthday it is.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (the amusingly rude song title that’s no longer amusing when grade schoolers sing along).

38) “Sober” – Pink
Song: Pink emotes over minor chord dance-rock laced with strings.
Video concept: Pink brings attention to the problem of alcohol abuse by showing herself unconscious in numerous fishnet costumes and also having a Symbolic Physical Relationship with her clone.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

*39) “Womanizer” – Britney Spears
Song: Britney Spears sings like an elderly chain-smoker and rap-sings over galloping synth tracks.
Video concept: Britney Spears is shown alternately squirming nude in a sauna and story-dancing in an office with friends in order to mock an embattled co-worker.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

*40) “Whatever You Like” – T.I.
Song: T.I. rap-sings in monotone about his sugardadicality backed by digital retro-blips and POM.
Video concept: After opening credits, T.I. and his posse order hot wings, fries, and a pickle impolitely from a fast food cashier, who then daydreams about becoming an expensive T.I. burden.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

41) “Obsessed” – Mariah Carey
Song: Real Mariah trades off with Auto-Tune Mariah over two-chord, minor-key, mid-tempo Eminem castoff tracks.
Video concept: Mariah doles out a quick migraine with her “I was like…” intro; rest of the video features Mariah, squirming provocatively for photographers, stalked by a Symbolic Hooded, Alternate Universe Abe Lincoln Mariah who ends up getting hit by a Symbolic Bus.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

42) “Mad” – Ne-Yo
Song: R&B improv over power ballad template piano chords playing TSC.
Video concept: Black and white fantasy featuring Ne-Yo fighting with his lady about her messing with his stuff, then getting hit by a car, and then, as a ghost, follows her around as she grieves and probably wishes that she never would have 1) messed with his stuff and 2) fought with him about it.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

43) “Good Girls Go Bad” – Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester
Song: Rock-tinged Euro disco with alternating male/female vocals over Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” chord changes.
Video concept: Adam Sandler lookalike hosts a narc-infested wild party in the basement of his grocery store. Alcohol is consumed.
Passive or reactive: passive.

44) “Love Lockdown” – Kanye West
Song: Understated tribal synth drums; morse code piano chords; simple Auto-Tune vocals mimicking the piano lines.
Video concept: Understated like the song; Kanye pines and stalks with a telescope in a Symbolic All-White Room while primitive African tribes face off against an all-white backdrop.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (disarming simplicity).

*45) “So What” – Pink
Song: Neo-Benatar (Auto-Tuned) sprinkled with OMD synth (see #24); the metal-goof verses reel in more laughs than anything in the video.
Video concept: Neo-screwball schtick in which the irrepressible Pink makes lots of messes.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (anthem chorus and funny riffs barely take it there).

46) “Room Service” – Pitbull
Song: Latino accent rap over a primitive ringtone that Pitbull occasionally does a singalong with.
Video concept: After opening credits, a bald man gesticulates in hotel rooms among drugged escorts; nothing in the video is as humorous as what Pitbull does musically when he sings along with a primitive ringtone.
Passive or reactive: Reactive because of the occasional singalong with a primitive ringtone.

47) “Crack a Bottle” – Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent
Song: Three gap rappers take turns; the Expressively Superior Eminem sings the toddler-esque title hook (“crack a bado”) over organic-sounding horn and piano samples.
Video concept: A street vagrant’s wine bottle is shown to contain a hunched graffiti artist holding a businessman captive.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (anything featuring the Expressively Superior Eminem is reactive).

48) “If I Were a Boy” – Beyonce
Song: Soulful easy tempo POM guitar ballad; lyrics feature a “boys are naturally flawed and girls are naturally inclined to suffer” premise a la “Stand By Your Man.”
Video concept: Black and white fantasy in which Beyonce takes the place of her cheating policeman husband/boyfriend.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (singability; unusual Beyonce + acoustic guitar combo; lyrical title hook)

49) “Turning Me On” – Keri Wilson featuring Lil Wayne
Song: Female R&B improv over electronic doorbell sounds; Lil Wayne impersonates an elderly gap rapper.
Video concept: Story-dancing females, male underwear models, gesticulating rappers and bling exhibitionism against a white backdrop.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

50) “I Hate This Party” – The Pussycat Dolls
Song: Fluttering female melodies over frantic disco beats and synth string samples.
Video concept: Five ladies swoon and story-dance in both a desert and a junkyard.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

51) “Gotta Be Somebody” – Nickelback
Song: Male vox drenched in angry concern atop a pop metal rendering of WOWY.
Video concept: Nickelback plays wireless at 1) a Symbolic Crumbling Stadium; 2) a Symbolic Crumbling Bridge; and 3) a Symbolic Crumbling Airplane Boneyard.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

52) “Please Don’t Leave Me” – Pink
Song: Pink’s hoarse vocals over Cure-style WOWY.
Video concept: Pink, wearing a number of different costumes, physically abuses her male golfer housemate.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

53) “Paparazzi” – Lady Gaga
Song: Madonna-centric beats, vox and orchestro-synths that circle around a WOWY chorus.
Video concept: Surreal costumes, colors, and mannequin corpses in an expensive mansion.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

54) “Beautiful” – Akon featuring Colby O’Donis and Kardinal Offishall
Song: Posse euro-disco POM featuring benign rap-sings by Akon and O’Donis as well as abrupt, rapid fire gap rap by Kardinal Offishall.
Video concept: Akon, Kardinal Offishall, and O’Donis, looking like actor Jason Biggs, rap and sing to several drugged women against a white backdrop.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

*55) “Viva La Vida” – Coldplay
Song: Indistinct improv words over a spare orchestral string-driven pulse.
Video concept: A singer gesticulates (or a gesticulator sings) animatedly in front of his bandmates behind a cracked, oil paint veneer.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

56) “Right Now (Na Na Na)” – Akon
Song: Male R&B built on two key hooks: “na na” as an echo of the word “now” and lead synth lines taken from Nick Kershaw’s “Wouldn’t It Be Good.”
Video concept: A man goes to a high income, high security party and reminisces about an old low income girlfriend.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

57) “Battlefield” – Jordin Sparks
Song: Plodding neo-Benatar minor chord pop emphasizing words “battlefield” and “armor” featuring horror flick piano.
Video concept: American Idol winner sits in a car and walks through an abandoned, freshly mowed park filled with Symbolic Smoke and Lights.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

58) “Sugar” – Flo Rida featuring Wynter
Song: Juiced up “Carribean Queen”/ “Papa Don’t Preach” ancestor featuring male raps, Auto-Tuned female vocal breaks, and an unsinkable “wah doo da wee dah” hook.
Video concept: A gassed-up man in a dentist’s chair dreams of rapping on the beach, alcohol, story dancing, and vanishing women.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (what a simple vocal hook can do).

*59) “Miss Independent” – Ne-Yo
Song: Male R&B improv over vibey harp samples peppered by Jock Jam synth.
Video concept: An ineffective office jockey ogles and sexually harrasses co-workers all day, taking occasional story-dance breaks.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

60) “Fireflies” – Owl City
Song: Mid-80s electronica flashback about insomnia featuring Auto-Tuned lead vocals.
Video concept: Poltergeist fantasy in which the singer, looking like Crispin Glover, plays an ancient synthesizer while vintage Poltergeist-era toys come to life.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

61) “New Divide” – Linkin Park
Song: Desperate vocals over minor key electronica pop metal.
Video concept: Desperate lip synching between scenes from the Transformers sequel.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

62) “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Song: Soaring Philly soul choruses by Alicia Keys about NYC with raps by Jay-Z about himself.
Video concept: Black and white images of NYC alternating with live action gesticulation segments of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (the soaring choruses and 9/11 emotions).

63) “No Surprise” – Daughtry
Song: Pop metal WOWY sprinkled with expressive vocals that suggest both anger and concern.
Video concept:Four cement factory screw-offs have brought their guitars to work while a young couple struggles to make ends meet.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

64) “She Wolf” – Shakira
Song: Neo-“Funky Town” disco.
Video concept: A woman copes with monogamy by sneaking into her wardrobe and pretending to do naughty story-dances in 1) a Star Trek tunnel; 2) a cage; and 3) a story-dance nightclub.
Passive or reactive: Passive (a few more she-wolf howls might have done the trick).

65) “Break Up” – Mario featuring Gucci Mane and Sean Garrett
Song: Raps and soulful vocals dipping dreamily in and out of key over beguiling, puffy cloud tracks.
Video concept: After opening credits, three rappers try and make it with an unattainable exercise maven.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (aural surrealism).

66) “Sweet Dreams” – Beyonce
Song: Melodic R&B improv over a slick update of the Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.”
Video concept: Beyonce dreams of story-dancing with some friends in different costumes first on Mars, and then in a white room.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

67) “Every Girl” – Young Money
Song: Smooth Auto-Tune gap rap extravaganza featuring famous rappers like Lil Wayne and Drake.
Video concept: Hundreds of drugged women and several famous rappers, along with animated thought bubbles and greenbacks, all emerge from expensive cars (some of them vintage muscle cars) to attend a wild party and to drink alcohol.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (censored or uncensored, the words all reek noticeably).

68) “Fallin’ for You” – Colbie Caillat
Song: Brisk contempo-soft rock with vulnerable girl vocals.
Video concept: A sunlit California girl has a happy surfing date with a clumsy would-be goomba.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

69) “Untouched” – The Veronicas
Song: Monotone CB radio raps over repeating orchestral figures with moaning vocals and minor chords.
Video concept: In a dusty mansion, two twin goth girls make plays for: 1) a young 19th century boy, and 2) each other.
Passive or reactive: Passive, benefiting from Archie comics cross-promotion.

70) “If Today Was Your Last Day” – Nickelback
Song: Angrily delivered motivation-rock.
Video concept: Several suspicious looking people spread cash, coats, and fortune-cookies among random city folk; Nickelback perform on stools among Symbolic Light Bulbs.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

71) “Throw it in the Bag” – Fabolous featuring The-Dream
Song: Rap improv over 4/4 metronome horror flick piano.
Video concept: Unclear fantasy in which a group of kids from Wee Pals stalk a shoplifter while the FBI investigates.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

72) “Love Drunk” – Boys Like Girls
Song: White noise video game rock with POM chorus.
Video concept: A young Rock Band® gigs at Chuck E. Cheese’s and flashes nostrils at the camera while a famous actress mocks all teenagers who hang out there.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

73) “I Love College” – Asher Roth
Song: A rap cataloging frat party behavior over a Beastie Boys-era MC Lyte sample.
Video concept: A wild party at a frat house featuring: 1) the conservative-looking Caucasian Roth rapping along with pledges in animal suits, 2) alcohol, and 3) two African-Americans.
Passive or reactive: Passive notwithstanding the preening words “drinking” and “naked.”

74) “If U Seek Amy” – Britney Spears
Song: Italian Tarantella backed by Jock Jams synth.
Video concept: Britney in several costume changes sings and story-dances at a house wild party; wrapup shows Britney addressing media while dressed Symbolically as June Cleaver.
Passive or reactive: Passive (reactive for those conscious of the naughty title).

75) “Big Green Tractor” – Jason Aldean
Song: Dance-resistant mid-tempo contempo-country aided by repetitive almost-WOWY chorus and power ballad lead guitar.
Video concept: Live performance by the deadpan Aldean and band to an audience that goes boy-toddler wacko over the words “Big Green Tractor.”
Passive or reactive: Reactive (just barely – the lyrical images of the earnest-sounding Aldean driving a tractor around trees in a forest and making it “go faster” spark inevitable reactions over time).

76) “White Horse” – Taylor Swift
Song: Contempo-country ballad over Earth Angel chords. (Not a cover, sadly, of Laid Back’s “White Horse.”)
Video concept: A girl cries in her apartment and listens to a vinyl record while Symbolic Rain falls; dramatic reenactments of her latest heartbreak cut in and out.
Passive or reactive: Passive (made reactive only by consumers who’ve been touched by the teary video).

*77) “Disturbia” – Rihanna
Song: Upbeat shopping mall background music aided by falsetto “bum bum dee dums.”
Video concept: Several Halloween novelty store scenarios loosely strung together with story-dancing.
Passive or reactive: Passive (reactive for those conscious of the Chris Brown/Grammy saga).

78) “21 Guns” – Green Day
Song: Reflective verses that threaten to morph into Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” with an intense chorus that threatens to morph into the Electric Light Orchestra’s “Telephone Line.”
Video concept: Band practice spoiled by bullets and a young couple kissing.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

79) “Turn My Swag On” – Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em
Song: A boy fakes a Carribean accent and ad libs monotone over Jock Jams synth.
Video concept: The camera alternates between closeup looks at a young boy’s nostrils and fantasy scenes of greenback abuse.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (because of shockingly persistent monotone).

80) “Rockin’ that Thang” – The-Dream
Song: Male falsetto R&B improv over repeating synth figures.
Video concept: After opening credits, a young boy dreams he’s on stage as a Wee Pals character surrounded by drugged story-dancing women.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

81) “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
Song: A singalong track reminiscent of Joe South’s “Games People Play” espousing simple country life and awkward support for Our Troops.
Video concept: A Caucasian backyard barbecue featuring an unglamorous band, backwoods character actors, alcohol, vintage muscle cars, and paid female models.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (humability plus a triple-entendre title suggesting: 1) novelty music; 2) down home cooking; 3) military guilt.)

82) “Diva” – Beyonce
Song: Juiced up exotic Hindu monk chants laced with R&B improv.
Video concept: Beyonce walks into an abandoned warehouse wearing funny sunglasses, then story-dances in a variety of costumes.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (as chants often are).

83) “Replay” – Iyaz
Song: Playful calypso melody over pedestrian R&B POM chords.
Video concept: A young man seeks to increase awareness about the Virgin Islands by dancing and loitering on the beach.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

84) “Then” – Brad Paisley
Song: Sluggish country WOWY ballad.
Video concept: Paisley, backed by a hidden band, manages to be two Journey members in one: Paisley Schon, the power ballad guitar boss, and Paisley Perry, the crowd-leading “woo woo” wizard.
Passive or reactive: Passive and proud.

85) “Her Diamonds” – Rob Thomas
Song: “Ice” synth sounds, pregnant vocal pauses, and TSC choruses.
Video concept: A woman covered by Symbolic Ice experiences it melting away in her bedroom, causing her to sing.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

86) “How Do You Sleep” – Jesse McCartney featuring Ludacris
Song: Justin Timberlake R&B improv over lollipop xylophone synth hooks. (Not a John Lennon cover, but what an intriguing “McCartney” concept that would have been.)
Video concept: The singer, looking like Frankie Muniz, drives a vintage muscle car through the desert, has a wild party in it, and gets harassed by a chain-wielding rapper.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

87) “3” – Britney Spears
Song: Auto-Tuned female vocals alternately chanting and throwing raga-esque curveballs.
Video concept: Britney Spears engages in jaded, sex-district dance moves.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (inventive melody, naughty subject matter).

88) “Forever” – Drake featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Eminem
Song: A “posse cut” featuring 1) drawling Auto-Tune victimization lyrics over tense action-flick synth tracks and 2) a rap-off between Kanye West, Lil Wayne and the Expressively Superior Eminem.
Video concept: Combo of scenes featuring 1) Drake and Kanye doing a Super Bowl halftime show; 2) Lil Wayne as an elderly mob boss; 3) the Expressively Superior Eminem doing a scene from 8 Mile; 4) a wild party with alcohol; and 4) archival footage of LeBron James.
Passive or reactive: Reactive because anything featuring the Expressively Superior Eminem is reactive and because of its connection to the LeBron James More Than a Game documentary.

89) “One Time” – Justin Bieber
Song: R&B improv vocals over Kidz Bop tracks.
Video concept: A cheeky 4th grader has a wild party and trashes the apartment of his dad, played by Usher.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

90) “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
Song: Post-jingo millennialist angst slathered with contempo-country margarine.
Video concept: Lady Gaga’s less flamboyant sister and her boyfriend beg the camera to love them in a rundown lobby while their uncomfortable third-wheel friend strums a guitar; everyday folk are shown extending common courtesies.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

91) “I Do Not Hook Up” – Kelly Clarkson
Song: “Since U Been Gone”-conscious offering featuring a hair metal throwback chorus.
Video concept: Kelly Clarkson pretends to be three different people who seem quite willing, in fact, to “hook up”: 1) A banquet table exhibitionist; 2) Avril Lavigne; and 3) a clumsy barfly who’s had too much alcohol and ogles a member of the Stray Cats.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (shout along chorus).

92) “Green Light” – John Legend featuring Andre 3000
Song: Mid-tempo R&B crooning with jackhammer raps.
Video concept: John Legend gets wild party-goers – 3000 of which are evidently Andre 3000 – dancing in frenetic double time. Vintage muscle cars are driven and alcohol is consumed.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

93) “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
Song: Country WOWY story song over fingerpicked guitar.
Video concept: A sweaty coastal backpacker plays guitar on a porch, talks to a man in a bar, consumes alcohol, and hooks up with Rita Coolidge.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (rare-bird fingerpicked guitar; wishful thinking subject matter).

94) “Whatever It Is” – Zac Brown Band
Song: Earnest, fiddle-sprinkled contempo-country ballad.
Video concept: A bearded man in a ski cap daydreams of unconscious women, Rita Coolidge, and graveyards.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

95) “Already Gone” – Kelly Clarkson
Song: Synth-symphony WOWY ballad that doesn’t quite compare 2 Sinead O’Connor.
Video concept: Kelly Clarkson plays an abandoned heiress at a haunted hotel.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

96) “Goodbye” – Kristinia DeBarge
Song: R&B chant/improv vocals over Jock-Jams synth anchored down by the familiar “Na Na Hey Hey” refrain.
Video concept: Angry girls story-dance somewhere in South America, steal a young boy’s car, then trash his apartment and have a wild party with alcohol.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (“Na Na Hey Hey” radio/ballgame nostalgia).

97) “Say Hey (I Love You)” – Michael Franti and Spearhead featuring Cherine Anderson
Song: Island pop with alternating male/female vocal-raps and a street percussion vibe.
Video concept: Organic singing and dancing on Jamaican streets that evokes the PBS Playing for Change documentary.
Passive or reactive: Reactive (catchiness; organic “world” aura; Weeds TV connection).

98) “Pop Champagne” – Jim Jones and Ron Browz featuring Juelz Santana
Song: Rude Auto-Tune vocals and gap raps over pulsating synth beats on the “empty milk bottle” setting.
Video concept: A group of hard working young men and women let off steam by story-dancing around a champagne-glass tower, and have a wild party all over it. Features alcohol.
Passive or reactive: Passive.

99) “Pretty Wings” – Maxwell
Song: Male R&B improv ballad over repeating toy piano figures and finger snaps.
Video concept: A young man prefers unconscious women over conscious ones and struggles with his disorder in a mental asylum. Passive or reactive: Passive.

100) “Never Say Never” – The Fray
Song: TV drama outro ballad.
Video concept: A bald man strides purposefully through a suburban disaster area evoking Midnight Oil’s “Power and the Passion” video but sounding nothing like it.
Passive or reactive: Passive.