Fantastic voyagers

Your soundtrack to summer
By NICK SYLVESTER  |  June 7, 2006


POP’D OUT: Radio is ready for the jumprope rhymes of “Promiscuous Girl” and “Maneater,” and Nelly Furtado won’t hurt the formula.
Just last week, Gnarls Barkley decided to “delete” their smash hit “Crazy” from the UK charts after the song spent nine record-breaking weeks in the #1 spot — the longest reign in more than a decade. “Crazy” still has a way to go on the US charts (it’s hovering in the mid #30s), but that means it has a shot at a more nebulous but far grander distinction: the Song of the Summer. You know what this one’s about. The SOTS is unavoidable. It’s the song that’s playing on five radio stations at the same time, the song that’s blasting out of every dude’s gas-electric hybrid convertible, the song that’s whispered in your ear in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping and thought you were all alone.

So what will be 2006’s “Fantastic Voyage”? Here are the top contenders.

Chamillionaire (feat. Krayzie Bone) | “Ridin’ ” | Southern rap is still in vogue en masse, so much so that this Houston MC’s cop-averse lyrics haven’t kept his song’s cheesy plastic royal horns and big hook out of Billboard’s top pop slot — two weeks there so far. So it may actually already be this year’s SOTS, and I’d be more than happy for Cham, whose The Sound of Revenge (UMVD) didn’t convince anybody that he was the most talented of the Mike Jones/Slim Thug/Paul Wall breakout. Thing is, “Ridin’ ” is catchy but not particularly uplifting; the only thing that will keep it strong through the summer is its backlash.
LISTEN:Chamillionaire (feat. Krayzie Bone), "Ridin'"

Shakira (feat. Wyclef Jean) | “Hips Don't Lie” | It’s watered-down, pop’d-out dancehall with Wyclef lending his Haitian singsong and whatever star power he’s got left, and Shakira’s chorus is hardly a hook. But this is a Shakira song after all, and the dual-language thing worked pretty damn well for her with “Whenever, Wherever” — crossover appeal built in and enough otherness to distinguish it from more-traditional American fare. Granted, “Hips” isn’t “WW,” but there’s something about a woman who once crawled around in mud and then randomly appeared on the top of a cliff that will always scream SOTS to me.
LISTEN:Shakira (feat. Wyclef Jean), "Hips Don't Lie"

Keane | “Is It Any Wonder?” | Barring your Coldplays and your U2s, rock these days rarely enjoys the mass appeal that hip-hop pulls off. Being British helps the otherwise mediocre rock trio Keane on the US charts — writing this Coldplay/U2 rock-anthem hybrid, the best thing they’ve ever done, could put them on top.
LISTEN:Keane, "Is It Any Wonder?" 

Nelly Furtado | “Promiscuous Girl” and “Maneater” | Either one, though “Maneater” has a fuller sound and a better title. Maybe M.I.A. came two years early with “Galang,” because only now is radio on board for these sorts of ESG/Midi Maxi Efti/Fannypack-type jumprope rhymes, especially after “Hollaback Girl.” Nelly picked up on the style, probably via producer Timbaland, who was excited about M.I.A. and scheduled to work with her, and Nelly certainly won’t get in the way of this formula working its magic.
LISTEN:Nelly Furtado, "Promiscuous Girl"
LISTEN:Nelly Furtado, "Maneater"

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Hype writers: Gnarls Barkley punch all the right keys. By Nick Sylvester.

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