With official single releases by Chris Brown, Jason DeRulo, and Aerosmith and new albums by Maroon 5 and Linkin Park, this week is a big week in music. Some of the songs are great summer hits, but some are worth avoiding. Here's what to look out for:
“Don’t Wake Me Up” by Chris Brown. Opening with a wholesome marriage reference (“Dearly Beloved”) and sunny guitar intro, Brown’s newest single begins as a sweet ode to a woman in a white dress. Soon the dance beat begins to buoy his soaring vocals in the chorus. His voice, though clearly auto-tuned, is so joyously triumphant that it makes little difference.
“Undefeated” by Jason DeRulo. This carpe diem anthem is infectious. The song is derivative - it really does sound like “Wavin’ Flag” by K’NAAN, as a commenter notes, and makes him sound more like a Taio Cruz/Chris Brown crossover than ever. But it’s a perfect summer hit. After having to cancel his tour to recover from a car crash in January, DeRulo is arriving this summer truly undefeated.
“The Veldt” by deadmau5 feat. Chris James. The electronic DJ has produced an upbeat single based on a short story by the late science fiction author Ray Bradbury. The story, which shares the song’s title, is not upbeat - it challenges the virtual reality “happy life” that technology supposedly creates.
“The Keepers” by Santigold. A hip-hop, reggae, electronica, and pop artist, Santigold is a beast. She’s like M.I.A., but more chilled out. Her latest single, in which she declares “We’re the keepers, while we sleep in America/our house is burning down, our house is burning down,” says the U.S. is falling apart and we’re not paying attention.
“Legendary Child” by Aerosmith. Aerosmith gives us a healthy dose of classic rock lyrics and heavy guitar riffs.
Mega mashup of every major pop song in the past year. Everything sounds like "Call Me Maybe."
If you have extra time:
“Share My Love,” by R. Kelly. This single is a real R&B/soul throwback. Totally Barry White, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder. It sounds a little dated, but it’s so feel-good.
“Never Close Our Eyes” by Adam Lambert. His vocals have always been too operatic for a pop single, and the chorus is not that memorable. But the beat is awesome and the video about a dystopian world is cool.
“There She Goes” by Taio Cruz. It’s okay - generic with dumb lyrics. But fun reggae beat for the summer.
“This is Love” by wil.i.am feat. Eva Simons. Will.i.am’s latest single is weak. It jumps from will.i.am’s decent piano intro to Eva Simons’ belting vocals to eurotrance to bad rap lyrics to piano again. The poorly made video, in which he plays at a piano in a fake rainfall next to Tower Bridge and lets screaming fans join in via webcam, doesn’t help. Just another reason why Black Eyed Peas needs to come back.
Overexposed by Maroon 5 is overdone. Besides their hit single "Payphone," not much is worth listening to. The band got too excited about “Moves Like Jagger” dance-sound success; now it’s relentlessly pursuing techno dance hits while not letting go entirely of their rock sound, making for an incoherent set of songs. It sounds like the first, third, fourth, and fifth songs are based on the same monotonous beat. WHAT is “Wasted Years”? It’s almost R&B, a half-hearted throwback to their first album, Songs About Jane. It ends with an awful Elvis-style cover of Prince’s “Kiss.” I don't get it.
Linkin Park’s latest album, Living Things, on the other hand, isn’t half bad. If you liked their rap/rock combination, they bring it back with “Lost in the Echo” and the single “Burn it Down,” adding techno. With their signature screeching and strong melody, Linkin Park is back.
Jimmy Fallon’s comedy-music album Blow Your Pants Off comes out on Tuesday. Get it. It’s hilarious.