Singing the songs of summertime

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September 5, 2008

2:03 PM

The summer has come and gone. Now we’re back in school, where house parties and barbecues seem a million miles away. Let’s recap, and reminisce about the songs that made the past few months a bit more enjoyable.

“Lollipop,” Lil’ Wayne

Lil’ Wayne — what can be said about a rapper who’s managed to transform rap and hip-hop by way of eccentric mannerisms? Whether he’s “sippin’ on sizzurp,” getting a new tattoo or wearing his usual white tee, he’s encompassed the idea of summer jams. He hops from one artist to the next, laying down 30-second phrases of stylistic confusion (with his current vocoder addiction) and still has time to release records from his own label. Must I even mention “A Milli, Got Money,” or the countless songs he’s been featured on this summer? And don’t get me started on the mix tapes. Just turn on the radio and you’re bound to hear him. Hell, go purchase the album, “The Carter III,” just like the other one-and-a-half million buyers.

“Leavin’,” Jesse McCartney

Name one other white guy who can sing about “letting it rain” and “walking it out” with such convincing flair and bravado. None other than ex-boybander from Dream Street, Jesse McCartney, who’s clearly channeled some Justin Timberlake in preparing for his third album, “Departure,” only without the dancing. Electronic chirping coupled with McCartney’s smooth, flirtatious crooning completes this edgy, fresh pop tune. Not to mention, The Dream’s witty writing and production gives an added boost to McCartney’s image of reinvention.

“Burnin’ Up,” Jonas Brothers

I apologize in advance, but I had to send one out to every teenage girl fighting over which Jonas brother has the cutest sideburns while buying up as much overpriced, overstocked merchandise as they can from the enterprise that is Disney. And hell no, Miley Cyrus will not be on this list, because her singing is questionable and quite horrendous. (Sorry Jonas Brothers, I know it’s not the Christian way, but it’s the truth.) The single “Burnin’ Up” is actually quite catchy, however. The track blends toned-down pop/rock vocals with innocent, though suggestive, lyrics. And the best part: Big Rob, their security guard, acts as the token black guy, faux-rapping about a fire safety technique (“Stop drop and roll”). Now that’s what I call music.

“Take A Bow,” Rihanna

A follow-up to her crossover hit, “Umbrella,” which launched her into superstar status, Rihanna returned this summer with a stinger pop/R&B ballad about cheating boyfriends (take a few pointers, Chris Brown). Though it’s a tame counterpart to “Irreplaceable,” song-writer Ne-Yo and producer Stargate created a simple, translucent piano riff with just enough lyrical spunk (“Tryin’ to apologize / You’re so ugly when you cry”) for Rihanna’s voice to make a summer smash. If you’re tired of the song’s heavy rotation, listen to her latest synth-heavy track, “Disturbia.”

“American Boy,” Estelle feat. Kanye West

“Who killin’ them in the UK? / Everybody’s going to say you, K.” I beg to differ, Kanye. How about taking British R&B newcomer Estelle into consideration? Typical Kanye wants his tea and crumpets too. A sweet jolt of pure funk and sass, “American Boy” takes international romance to the hottest cities in the states (Miami, Chicago, Los Angles) — a perfect tour for the inquisitive type. And with Estelle’s coy conversational vocals, Kanye’s amusing use of British lingo and Will.I.Am’s sleek production “American Boy” makes for a delectable, danceable summer track.

“Forever,” Chris Brown

Reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s throwback “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Chris Brown is solidifying his career not only as a singer, but as an entertainer. This crossover pop-synth hit willhave you stealing some of Brown’s moves on the dance floor — and most likely falling flat on your ass. The song is filled with Brown’s charismatic, vocoder-coated voice to fit the silky, upbeat blend of techno/R&B effects produced by Polow da Don.

“I Kissed A Girl,” Katy Perry

With the most nauseating song of the summer (which both genders probably enjoyed), Katy Perry has definitely made a name for cherry flavored chapstick since confessing her girl-on-girl affairs. Whether it’s offensive or not (I won’t get into the politics of the song), one has to commend her for taking the taboo subject of experimentation and adding a new, commercial spin that everyone can — and did — sing along to.

“Bleeding Love,” Leona Lewis

Acting as complete opposite to the feisty, soul-drenched Brit singers that have appeared on the U.S. charts, Lewis has already been compared to the major divas in the music industry (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion). Surprisingly, written by Jesse McCartney and lead singer Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, “Bleeding Love” has become the perfect pop ballad of the summer. Lewis lifts the song with her sweet-tempered, almost timid vocals and pushes it into the high register, expressing some seriously raw, passionate emotion. Hopefully her career won’t bring her to dressing up in hot pink short shorts while waving the British flag at a race track. (Sound familiar?)

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