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Today's Top 40 Spectrum: 2010 Ends, Predictably, With A Whimper

Welcome to the final 2010 edition of Today's Top 40 Spectrum. Overall, the journey has pretty consistently alternated between raucously joyful and depressingly hollow. And really, what else could we honestly ask mainstream pop music for? All it's there for is a quick hit of serotonin to the brainjuices whenever we are craving a bold but vacuous melody to take the edge off of our lives, which themselves alternate between celebratory and meaningless. But let's hold off on any more reflection until The Blogulator presents you with the 2010 Top Ten Tracks of the Top 40. For now, let's just revel in December's offerings, which are ranked from biggest rush to biggest cringe below...

"We R Who We R" by Ke$ha: Following in the footsteps of Gaga and Drake last year, Ke$ha made sure we didn't forget about her (how could we?) in the last months of 2010 by releasing an EP of new material, proving that indeed the new Internet attention span may indeed succeed in popularizing (co-opting?) a method originally used by DIY bands that couldn't afford to cut a full-length. Well it's no surprise that the lead single of said EP, entitled Cannibal, is just one more slam-dunk hook-wise for the possibly-playing-dumb pop star for the new millennium. And that last part is really what makes the new re-hashing of the same Ke$ha sound still great: she's not giving up the act. She's committed, which might make most people assume she's actually totally an idiot, but I'm still holding out hope. We'll see when and if she stays around in 2011.

"What's My Name" by Rihanna & Drake: I keep wanting to call this song "Say My Name" even though it's Rihanna's first success since "Umbrella" (in this blogger's humble opinion, anyway) at getting an earworm to curl up inside our ears without much fighting back. And to add to the pleasant surprise, Drake's gravelly snake-voice is smoothed out by computer so much that even the repeated request for "the square root of 69" doesn't make me want to stab my car stereo with a screwdriver THAT much. Good on ya, producer dudes. And really, that's who the star is here - Stargate, a Norwegian duo that's also responsible for "Irreplaceable" by Beyonce, one of the best Top 40 hits of the decade. Unfortunately, the lyrics here demand not to be listened to too closely and thus keep it from true Top 40 greatness. Like my wife asked once while listening, "I'm hoping she's talking about amnesia instead of intense sexual pleasure." So do I.

"Raise Your Glass" by P!nk: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the first Pink song I don't totally hate. Crazy, right? And she uses the word "dealio" within the first 15 seconds! How does she succeed in winning over yours truly, you ask? Is it because she now uses an exclamation point instead of an "i" in her name? Maybe. Is it because too much of her video includes her bottle-feeding a calf with a ski-mask on? Mayhaps. Truthfully though, it is simply because she's gone on the offensive instead of the defensive for once in her sorry excuse for a pop star career. So many of her past singles dealt with her pushing back all the haterz and coming up with all the FCC-friendly ways of saying "fuck yallz", but now she's actually saying something positive and it's (gasp) refreshing. She's still sassy in all the wrong ways, but (there's a theme here it seems) if you don't listen too closely, it just sounds anthemic without being too cloying, which is kinda fun.

"Firework" by Katy Perry: Ms. Purry has clearly not ever heard or read "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" because this is just a travesty to her otherwise stellar sophomore outing in 2010. If you put yourself out as a carefree empty vessel with little to say and only melodic catchiness to be heard, no on is going to take you seriously when and if you actually have something to say. And just because you have a transition piece doesn't mean people are going to start believing you when you come out with a song that tries to have an after-school message to it. I thought "California Gurls" was her way of ensuring us that the whole kissing a girl thing was indeed just a problematic call for partying. And then I thought "Teenage Dream" was as far as she'd get into serious territory while not actually firmly saying anything because it was just an infectious romp devoid of forethought. But no, here she is, forced metaphor and all, trying to be real. Oh Katy, don't hate me, but I'm back in hate with you.

"Hey Baby (Drop It To The Floor)" by Pitbull feat. T-Pain: I almost came around to that first American Pitbull single where he starts off by counting to four in Spanish because so many enthusiastic tour guides danced to it during my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, but I just can't stand for this. Even when those Toshiba laptop commercials used T-Pain as a hilarious spokesperson and won me over to the point where I looked forward to my ads during Hulu viewings, I still couldn't forgive this ungodly collaboration. It literally sounds like cartoon rodents working in a factory as fast as they can until all the machinery breaks, steam hissing, and alarms sounding, and they attempt to escape through the vents and holes above the rafters by making the most hideous noises ever put to tape, then auto-tuned and put to a beat so it feigns normalcy, thus if you don't listen too closely, you will just think it's another over-processed pop song and be able to ignore its grasp.

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