1. Sam & the Womp, "Bom Bom"
It was inevitable that the embarrassing parts of the actual '90s (heroin chic, Woodstock '94, Seinfeld haircuts) would bob up to the surface during this whole '90s thing that's been happening of late. So here come Sam & the Womp with a bafflingly popular end-of-summer novelty hit to kick off the dreaded ska revival, revival, revival. With a new No Doubt album on the way, it's time we collectively face our '90s ska past — Madness pin, checkerboard belt, skanking, and all. Sam & the Womp's Twitter page describes them as "ska/dub step/brass 'n' bass/good vibes!!" The bouncy Balkan horn section stirs up corny memories of the Swingers era. As you might imagine, ska and dubstep make for a particularly unholy union. The Womp is the name of a dance invented by the group. They are on Stiff Records ("If it ain't STIFF it ain't worth a fuck") and while there may be some trajectory from The Damned to this repetitive bullshit, it pains the High Fidelity record clerk music snob in me to think about it too much. To be fully fair, Madness's debut album One Step Beyond was released by Stiff Records, and there's nothing inherently wrong with ska. But man, did this song give me douchechills. Dutch vocalist Bloem de Ligny looks like Paz de la Huerta playing Lady Miss Kier in a biopic and sounds like Björk choking on herring. Hopefully this will at least lead to people accidentally Googling Bomp! Records.
2. Rita Ora, "How We Do (Party)"
If Roc Nation artist Rita Ora is trying to avoid being labeled as the bootleg Rihanna, she is doing herself no favors with this video. Her styling here looks like she's dug through Riri's laundry pile. The Notorious B.I.G. got the phrase "party and bullshit" from "When the Revolution Comes" by The Last Poets, a vicious anti-establishment tirade ("speak not of revolution until you are willing to eat rats to survive") that Biggie flipped into his savage ode to roughneck nihilism ("I was a terror since the public school era"). It's referenced here in an attempt to add some kind of coolness or edge to this watery lowest-common-denominator junk — but no dice, this will never be any kind of radical. Has the Communist Party of the United States ever considered Miley's "Party in the U.S.A." for a theme song?
Best YouTube Comment: "PARTY AND PUMP" — cupcakesarepink
3. Wiley ft. Ms. D, "Heatwave"
In case you were wondering what grime rappers are up to these days, they are trying to cross over into the mainstream with these kinds of songs stapled with broad R&B choruses. Considering the actual heat wave and how ready I am for summer to end, I may not be the perfect audience for this right now.
Best YouTube Comment: "Don't hate on the king ... got his money game on check" — grimetip
4. Emeli Sandé, "Read All About It Pt 3"
This is the song that Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé performed at the Olympics Closing Ceremony. It's the long-ballad version of the hook from Professor Green's lukewarm rap tune "Read All About It," extended and stripped of all beats in a gimmick blatantly ripped from Alicia Keys's "Empire State of Mind (Part II)." This fan-made video warmed my heart, even if the song still felt tepid.
Best YouTube Comment: "this is amazing, you're amazing basically, you're really good at dancing :3" — ChantelleLovesHarry
5. Taylor Swift, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together"
LIKE, EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ~combusts into flames, flames turn into butterflies, butterflies strangle the boy that hurt Taylor's feelings~
Best YouTube Comment: "Wish I was strong enough to say this, it's exactly what's running through my mind every time. Once again Taylor, you've captured EXACTLY what I'm feeling" — celineeyy143
6. Florence + The Machine, "Spectrum"
Florence is fully on her Annie Lennox grind. I think Florence + The Machine songs have a tendency to sound the same and blend together but they play to their strengths here; high Gothic drama with a chorus that sound like witches chanting in the woods. The harp and David LaChapelle's giallo-lit video are serving Profondo Rosso realness. I am so ready for Halloween season to start.
Best YouTube Comment: "I listened to this song on Mexican radio this isn't my favorite Florence song but I was like: wow that's my girl." — Joseno93
7. Devlin ft. Ed Sheeran, "Watchtower"
I blame Puff Daddy.
Best YouTube Comment: "But the fact is that Jimi Hendrix's cover is actually good unlike this shit." — Chimfer98
8. Calvin Harris ft. Example, "We'll Be Coming Back"
Scottish producer Calvin Harris continues his climb to world recognition. Example is a British vocalist who worked in the props department for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The video is shot all over Los Angeles and makes the song more palatable, suggesting it rightly belongs in "Cruis'n USA." The song itself grew on me, and I'm grading on a curve.
Best YouTube Comment: "LOVE the cars. LOVE the driving. LOVE the scenes of shifting." — sandytangy
9. Angel, "Wonderful"
Angel is the stage name of Sirach Charles, a singer-songwriter-producer from West London with an under-eye face tat of a musical staff. Last year he released a mixtape with covers of "Man Down" (Rihanna), "Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (Prince), and "Novocane" (Frank Ocean), demonstrating that, at the very least, he has good taste. "Wonderful" is a spellbinding pop song built around a drum 'n' bass beat, accented with chomping guitar riffs and strings.
Best YouTube Comment: "I thought this was gonna be crap but damn it's good!" — mish424
10. Trey Songz, "Simply Amazing"
More like simply shite! (British humor)
Best YouTube Comment: "just came here to sprinkle some hate on this song, he obviously says 'Simply A Mason' 3 Mason, Illuminati, etc. Peace" — JPollard95