Moving past that last set, hopefully for good.
#65: "Tie Me Down" by New Boyz feat. Ray J
Oh, joy. The group partially responsible for that abomination of a song in 2011 known to us humans as "Backseat". As for Ray J, he is the brother of Brandy, the actress and R&B singer.
Well, the music is actually more R&B than hip-hop, which is a pleasant. There is a slow synth line, with the drums keeping the slow tempo going. As for the singing/rapping, New Boyz are not that great, relying more on Auto-tune than any rapper this side of T-Pain. Ray J does pretty good singing, succeeding more in this song than his 1997 hit "Let It Go" in not sounding like his sister. He still has a fairly high voice, but not feminine, if that makes sense.
The lyrics are quite different than you'd expect from the tone of the song. Basically, New Boyz are talking about a new girl, who they are bragging isn't going to "tie them down". Yeah, they are talking about a one-night stand, basically. That or friends with benefits.
This is a song I should probably dislike more than I actually do. The lyrics are not that great, and the lead rapper's overuse of Auto-tune does hurt the song, but the music and Ray J's solid performance do help the song out quite a bit. Wouldn't listen to it again, but I didn't regret listening to it, either.
#64: "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga
I know the popular thing to do nowadays is to hate on Lady Gaga, but I've never fallen into that group. That's not to say all her songs are good, mind you. She is, however, at least a unique face in today's pop market. Besides, she's just doing the same shtick as Madonna, so why does Madonna get praise and Gaga hate?
Music is as unique as Lady Gaga's music usually is. It has a weird synth beat, with more than one layer to it so that you hear multiple synth lines at the same time, which works surprisingly well. As for the singing, that's never been Lady Gaga's strong suit, but she is still solid here. She doesn't show much range, but she doesn't go off-key, flat, or sharp either, nor does she require Auto-tune, which is pretty rare these days for a big artist.
The lyrics are not quite what you would expect from the title. Basically, it is a song about paparazzi, but it is sung from the point of view of the paparazzi, which shows a mindset that is not all that dissimilar to the mindset of a stalker, which is a bit creepy, but apt at the same time.
Yeah, I really can't understand why Lady Gaga gets so much hate with songs like this. Maybe the music video is weird. I don't know, I didn't watch it. But based on the song itself, the music is quite catchy and interesting, Lady Gaga is solid, if not spectacular, and the lyrics are quite unique. I mean, can you name another song that focuses on the paparazzi at all, never mind the viewpoint of this song? I'm not saying people are wrong for disliking her, or this song, mind you. That's your opinion, and you are entitled to it. I, however, don't see anything to dislike.
#63: "Magic" by B.o.B. feat. Rivers Cuomo
B.o.B. is a rapper who's had several hits now, although 2010 was his breakout year, with this song being his lowest charting hit. As for Rivers Cuomo, you may be more familiar with him as the lead vocalist and one of the guitarists for Weezer.
Music definitely has that Weezer feel to it. The drums and guitar distortion are both not that different from Weezer, although the keyboard is more similar to hip-hop. As for the singing/rapping, B.o.B. is one of the best new rappers I've heard. His flow is natural, and he manages to keep up a quick tempo at the same time, a tricky balance to nail. Rivers Cuomo does the chorus and proves that he is as solid as always, if you like Weezer.
As for the lyrics, they basically use a magic show as a metaphor to hit on a woman. Well, at least it is a different method to do that with, rather than the same old tired cliches.
I probably should dislike a song this shallow, but I can't. The unique lyrics (seriously, whichever one of them wrote those lyrics deserves a reward), the more-than-solid performances of both artists, and quite good music all combine to make a song that is just flat-out fun to listen to. It's not trying to be something deep, and it doesn't have to be. If I was at a party (which is already a stretch) and this song came on, I would not complain, and that's about as much as you want out of a song like this.
#62: "Misery" by Maroon 5
I'm not sure how this song will go. On the one hand, Maroon 5 has had some solid songs, and "Misery" could very well be a title of an angry love song, which is the specialty of Maroon 5. On the other hand, this is around the time Adam Levine went into "sell-out" mode, and just started to write whatever he thought would be a hit, rather than make what sounded good.
Music sounds like the normal Maroon 5 sound, but sanitized somehow. The guitar riffs are much cleaner, and the drums sound good, but it just somehow sounds off, almost as if they are a tribute band of themselves. Adam Levine's singing is still solid, if you are into that higher pitched male vocalist sound, which I am.
As for the lyrics, he is telling his girl that he is just not happy with her, feeling like she isn't treating him right and is in, get ready for it, misery. He does go into specifics for why he feels that way, though, which is a plus. Basically, she seems to be doing the whole thing where people are clearly upset, and when you ask them what's wrong, they refuse to answer, or just snap "Nothing!"
This is not one of Maroon 5's strongest songs, but it isn't bad, either. The music sounds a bit off, but Adam Levine is still a strong singer, and the lyrics do a bit better than many "woe is me" songs and actually go into detail for why he feels that way. Not the first Maroon 5 song I'd go to, but at least it is still recognizably Maroon 5.
#61: "Animal" by Neon Trees
And here we have an indie rock group that surprised us by getting a hit...and then gave us a bigger surprise in 2012 by having a second one.
Music is very fun. It is quick-tempo, with a strong guitar line to draw you in, then switches to a bass line for the verse, which is definitely a unique idea for a song, with a light sprinkling of guitar. As for the singing, it is not all that different for indie rock groups, quite similar to The Killers circa When You Were Young.
As for the lyrics, he is comparing a girl to an animal, saying that he wants more and inviting her to take a bite of his heart. Well, that's definitely a unique way to write a love song, and not a bad one either, with their delivery.
This is just a solid song. If you like The Killers, then you should have no problems with this band. The music is upbeat and fun to listen to, with a few interesting twists, the singing is quite solid, and the lyrics are much like the music, fun with a few interesting twists. I'm glad these guys have had some charting success, because they deserve it.
That was a great list, actually. Maybe things are looking up.