The hate-love-hate cycle

Inescapable seasonal charttoppers
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  June 18, 2007
Summer has only just officially arrived and I’ve gone through the hate-love-hate cycle with at least three inescapable seasonal charttoppers. Fortunately, those songs — all available on iTunes and from most of the major download retailers — will be distant memories by the time the mercury soars and the big guns roll out, but the field is already packed with newcomers and veterans alike, all aiming to knock down my standards of good taste and respectability . . .

Rihanna, “Umbrella”
This particularly annoying charttopper combines terrible lyrics, insipid melodies, and 10 seconds of guilty pleasure (“ella-ella-eh-eh”) that would guarantee anyone a successful single. I don’t know who I hate more: Rihanna for making it or me for kinda sorta liking it.

Lil Mama, “Lip Gloss”
Novelty in the truest sense, this percussion-heavy offering has nothing new to offer, and yet its innocence and its energy are addictive. There’s a personal limit for tracks like this, a teenage rapper’s ode to her “poppin’ ” lip gloss, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t change the station till Labor Day.

R. Kelly, “I’m a Flirt”
Probably a smarter choice than “I’m a Child Molester,” this big single from the R&B king would be easier to forget if it didn’t have such smooth melodies and that slight vocoder. All the same, its deep licks and ticking percussion have seen better days — why don’t they just re-release “Ignition (Remix)” every June?

Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo, “Make Me Better”
Production by Timbalake and a hook featuring Ne-Yo means we’ve finally got some guilt-free junk food. The soaring strings and atmospheric drips and drops here are the light at the end of the tunnel for a slow-starting 2007 in hip-hop. Let’s hope it’s a sign of better things to come in the second half of the year. And isn’t that what summer’s all about?
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