The Big Hurt: Checking the Billboard Hot 100

Who charted?
By DAVID THORPE  |  August 25, 2009

I can't pussyfoot around it forever: the Hot 100. The cream of the crop. The big show, baby — these are the songs objectively measured by science to be better than all other songs. As usual, I won't be able to make it through the full 100, but seven is just as good, right? Exactly.

1. BLACK EYED PEAS | "I GOTTA FEELING" | If there's any genius in the Black Eyed Peas — and that's a pretty generous "if," folks — it's that they have one of the most impressive effort-to-money ratios in the history of pop music. If any element of this song — the music, the lyrics, the performances, the production — took more than a few hours, I'd be amazed. It's among the most meatless morsels ever to top the charts, and that's saying something — it's not as if the charts had a history of favoring symphonies. You could reasonably object that this is more sophisticated than "My Humps," but I still refuse to believe that was real, and I'll thank you not to trifle with the delusions that keep me sane.

2. TAYLOR SWIFT | "YOU BELONG WITH ME" | You can't really fault any songwriter — especially one as young as Taylor Swift — for falling back on the classic "your significant other sucks and I'm way better for you" concept. It's such a basic element of human existence that it'll probably keep popping up in the charts at least once a year, forever. Still, it's like painting a bowl of fruit: you'd better be bringing something pretty effin' crazy to the table if you expect anyone to call it art.

3. DRAKE | "BEST I EVER HAD" | Despite dropping the f-bomb five or six times in the chorus and promising to make the female anatomy whistle like the Andy Griffith theme song, Drake is able to match Taylor Swift for tepid inoffensiveness. The amazing thing is that this has been downloaded more than a million times on iTunes, though the proceeds must have been appreciably impacted by all the nickels Drake had to put in the swear jar.

4. KERI HILSON FEAT. KANYE WEST AND NE-YO | "KNOCK YOU DOWN" | This one would be dull enough for its drooping, mid-tempo club beat, tedious Kanye verses, and meandering tune, but it's also five and a half minutes long. What is this, "Stairway to Goddamn Heaven"? I don't care who your friends are — you haven't earned that kind of run time, Hilson.

5. KINGS OF LEON | "USE SOMEBODY" | Huh? Guitars? Did I land on the wrong chart, or are Kings of Leon really lukewarm enough to land on the — Oh. This is some real "Walking in Memphis" shit, ladies and gentlemen.

6. JAY SEAN FEAT. LIL WAYNE | "DOWN" | Fun fact: this is the first charting single to be created entirely without human involvement. They just left a computer running a few dozen Pro Tools plug-ins overnight (including one that dynamically generates Lil Wayne guest verses) and published the result. You can't exactly call it lifelike or convincing, but it's sort of impressive in a soulless, uncanny way.

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