This week, a jolly traipse through one of Billboard's most artistically fecund charts: "Top Hip-Hop and R&B Songs." What wonders await?
1. MELANIE FIONA | "IT KILLS ME" | This one reaches for a timeless R&B sound and a little bit of grandiose orchestration, but it's let down by tepid production and tedious pacing. I don't know whether the problem is a failure of arrangement or a miscalculation of tempo, but every pause in the vocals seems slightly too long, and God knows the music never kicks in to fill the space — it's bloodless, inert, and wanting desperately for hooks. Fiona is a great singer, but who the hell cares? Everyone on the radio is a great singer. I'm bored. Come back when you have a song.
2. TREY SONGZ | "I INVENTED SEX" | Catchy song, but the logic of the hook doesn't survive under scrutiny. "When you pull back them sheets and you climb on top of me," Trey singz, "Girl, you gon' think I invented sex." We'll even charitably wave away the most preposterous premise and assume the woman has never heard of sex, but even so: if she climbed on top of him, wouldn't she assume that it was she who'd invented sex? She wouldn't be thinking, "Wow, I'm glad Trey Songz just invented this process by which I've just lowered myself onto his genitals."
3. TREY SONGZ | "SAY AHH" | What? This guy again? I was done with him halfway through the last one.
4. YOUNG MONEY FEATURING LLOYD | "BEDROCK" | A goofy little track, but at least a quick dally with the Young Money crew is distracting Lil Wayne (and us) from the tragic inevitability of Rebirth, the heinous "rock album" that's been delayed half a dozen times now because of its unprecedented, earth-shattering badness. On "BedRock," Wayne drops one of the dumbest verses of his professional career, but he has the good sense to follow himself up with a verse by Gudda Gudda, the worst signed rapper I've heard since Juelz Santana: "I'm Gudda Gudda/I put her under/I see me with her/No Stevie Wonder." Seriously.
5. LUDACRIS | "HOW LOW" | The concept is simpler than the aforementioned sex inventions and Flintstones puns, but somehow much more potent: Ludacris, having witnessed an ass of surpassing virtues, has been moved to comment. Do you really need a critic to tell you this song is great?
6. BIRDMAN FEAT. LIL WAYNE & DRAKE | "MONEY TO BLOW" | Just when I thought I'd never have any use whatsoever for Drake, he goes and drops a Rufio reference — he even rhymes it with "Damn, where my roof just go?" Fucking bangarang. Baby and Weezy are on autopilot, but they've got such cool voices, you don't really have to listen to the words.
7. USHER | "PAPERS" | Just go here: tinyurl.com/ushergoat. That's all you need to know about this song. Even if you're reading this in a newspaper, remember that URL and type it in the next time you're near a computer. If it's not the single greatest thing you've seen today, I owe you a Coke.