#1 Rihanna f/ Calvin Harris- We Found Love
Rihanna has now collected her 11th #1, and it's taken her a short 6 years to do so. She's now tied Janet Jackson, and will match Madonna and Whitney Houston with her next #1. It's baffling to realize she's done all of this in a short 6 years, but she really has the perfect formula. I mean, she's completly inoffensive and her songs are pleasant listens, but really- it's difficult for me to take her seriously as an artist. Her label recruits the hottest producers, capitalizes on current trends, and creates easy consensus music. If we were to put the current state of pop music in a time capsule, Rihanna would be the best representative. The era of auto-tune and glossy hit factories have been kind to Ms. Fenty despite having absolutley no charisma or stage presence- a feat in any other era that would be unacceptable.
#10 Kelly Clarkson- Mr. Know it All
I've been following this song's chart ascent and descent very closely, as Clarkson's lead singles tend to set the stage for subsequent singles released. "Mr. Know it All" finally breaks the top 10 with a surge in digital sales from the album release, and is still growing rapidly at radio. If the song can jump one more spot, it will no longer be her weakest lead single, passing 2002's "Miss Independent"'s #9 peak. Digital sales buoyed the 2nd single from the album to #64 this week, and only time will tell how successful of a chart run she'll have from here.
#30 Big Sean- Dance (A$$)
The song with the most poignant chorus of the year benefits from the Nicki Minaj assisted remix this week, now passing "My Last" and "Marvin & Chardonnay" to become his biggest single thus far. I still can't figure out what people like about Big Sean- other than his good looks, his voice is completley indistinguishable, and his singles have been mediocre at best. The remix with Nicki Minaj (smart move) is taking off at iTunes, and the song will probably take another big jump next week. As "Dance (A$$)" is a catchy Bangladesh ripoff. (8 measures at a time alternating between bass and snare- e.g. "A Milli" by Lil Wayne, "Lemonade" by Gucci Mane) Nicki's verse runs laps around Sean's- though the song is the most interesting thing we've heard from Sean yet. The best part about the song? It's kind of fun to imitate the "ass ass ass ass ass ass" chorus.
#57 Beyonce f/ J. Cole or Andre 3000- Party
In what could be my absolute favorite single of 2011, with the strong support of R&B radio, "Party" looks like a solidified hit for queen B. Columbia is promoting the song "Countdown" to top 40 while pushing "Party" to R&B, which is a similar set-up with her last album, when "Ego" was promoted to R&B while "Halo" reached for top 40. Easily the strongest single from her "4" record, the song should have been released as the lead single, though label politics keep the ever rare and completely awesome Andre 3000 from music video treatment. OK fine, I'll stop gushing about how much I love this song now. Just watch the equally awesome music vid.
#87 Wale f/ Miguel- Lotus Flower Bomb
Wale is honestly the last artist I'd ever expect to be moving 150K in a week, but it happened last week. The DC rapper's first single was the Lady Gaga assisted "Chillin", (which no one ever really heard) amongst other subsequent attempts. The album that followed, "Attention Deficit", spent two weeks on the chart and ultimately flopped. However, fake-it-til-you-make-it Rick Ross had an ear for him, and signed him to his Maybach Music label, moving his image from left field hipster rapper to mainstream R&B hooks. The "washed up" label is no longer relevant, as it looks to be his 2nd bonafide R&B chart smash. The first single, "That Way", has been hovering around the top 5 of the R&B charts for over a month, and this single rockets to #14 on the R&B charts while still being a very new single. The momentum the song is showing predicts a future R&B #1.
#11 Dev- In the Dark
It's quite sad when a song ends its chart run peaking at #11. The song is still a huge hit single, (you can't listen to LA radio for 20 mintues without hearing it) but will never earn that bold distinction of hitting the top 10. "In the Dark" has been flirting with the top 10 for a month now, but it never quite gained the perfect combination of downloads and airplay to launch it into that stratosphere. While the song is at its current peak position of #11, the growth has stopped and will most likely tumble next week. While her sheer talent is debatable, Interscope has succeeded in launching a hit single from the post-Ke$ha sing-talk diva, and it's guarenteed we'll be hearing more from her in the future.
#78 Mindless Behavior f/ Diggy- Mrs. Right
Since the 1960's, boy bands have been one of the biggest tactics of major labels to sell records. Mindless Behavior is no exception, as the R&B genre's answer to the Justin Bieber craze comes to fruition. After opening for superstar acts like Janet Jackson and Justin Bieber, "Mrs. Right" became a moderate hit on the R&B charts landing in the top 10, but didn't exactly translate to pop success. While a catchy song, it's gonna take another gimick to make these guys a household name.
#96 Lloyd f/ Andre 3000- Dedication to my Ex (Miss That)
It is with great sadness that I start the funeral march for one of the best singles of the year. A quasi-sequel to Cee-Lo's "Fuck You", the naughty retro-vibe single first stalled at R&B peaking outside of the top 40, and has now failed to catch on at top 40 as well, peaking at #79. Lloyd left Murder Inc (the "it" label from 2001-2005) after 2009's flop album "Lessons in Love" for chart titans Interscope. The resulting album, "King of Hearts", was entirely produced by A-lister Polow Da Don, as I'm sure they felt they had a blockbuster on their hands. Instead, none of the singles have gained traction, and will keep Lloyd as R&B's go-to B-lister. I've honestly given more spins to "King of Hearts" than any other release this year, and will definitely find a spot on my year-end top 10 list.