Having paid my dues by wading through the alt-rock and godawful-country charts, I've earned the right to tackle the steamy stuff: for this week's "Who Charted," I'll be leering at the seductive Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks. That's right: adult. Put the kids to bed, because these are the charts after dark. Erotic!
(Note: Instead of trying to cram in the Top 10, I'm just gonna review stuff till I run out of space.)
1_THE FRAY | "YOU FOUND ME" | These guys tried to throw off my Christdar by questioning God right from the very first line, but I can see through their little game. It's the same trick Creed pulled, the classic Collective Soul cop-out clause: "We're Christians, but we're not a Christian band." (I'm not going to check whether I'm right, because I always am.) Make no mistake, there are plenty of religious artists who make great secular music, but the "Christians but not a Christian band" clause is totally different. It's code for "We're a Christian band who wants it both ways, like Amy Grant in 1991." But whereas Amy Grant was hot and had tunes, these guys are just more sad-sack Christ mopers. This song would be a shambling bore even if it were about Satan.
2_NICKELBACK | "GOTTA BE SOMEBODY" | I don't have to waste my slender word count explaining why these guys are terrible — if you don't already know, you're probably not even reading this paper. You're just wadding it against your jutting trog brow to stanch the flow of blood from your latest self-inflicted bowl-cut injury.
3_ TAYLOR SWIFT | "LOVE STORY" | I have to respect this one on the business side — it hit the top of the country charts with a banjo-and-fiddles mix, then came back for another swoop with an electric-guitar version on the adult contemporary charts. I haven't seen this kind of meticulously crafted crossover appeal since the 1991 heyday of Amy Grant. Plus, Swift wrote the song herself — just like Amy Grant!
4_ PINK | "SOBER" | There's always one word that springs to mind when I hear Pink: 'tude. I mean, "Pink" also springs to mind, but it's a distant second to 'tude. She's like one of those Looney Tunes shirts from the early '90s where Taz is scowling and wearing sagged jeans, or like a mudflap with a crude message printed on it. You never know what she's gonna do next — maybe get a piercing somewhere naughty, dye her hair a totally crazy color, or make a really irreverent face in a photo. Total 'tude on this girl. I'm like, "Wow, that's a lot of 'tude, better wind down with a little 'Baby Baby.' "
5_ DAVID COOK | "LIGHT ON" | I guess he's one of those American Idol guys, but I haven't paid attention to him before because I watch only the first few episodes where they let developmentally disabled people audition and we all have a good laugh at their shattered dreams and irregular chromosomes. (If we're lucky, they'll even fire back some 'tude at Simon.) This guy — who actually won, I guess — has bitchin' pipes with some nice Melissa Etheridge grain, but unfortunately he performs Generic Rock Guy Song in Generic Rock Guy Voice.
6_ KELLY CLARKSON | "MY LIFE WOULD SUCK WITHOUT YOU" | I can just picture the wacky scene in the boardroom where this song was written, with one guy going, "Dude, you totally can't name a song that," and the other guy saying, "No way, it works because it's so stupid!" But then it's back to business and they review the latest Avril focus-group numbers and schedule a 2 pm kickoff meeting to brainstorm high-level concepts for the new Katy Perry single — possible fragrance tie-in for enhanced Q3 monetization?