For the past 24 hours, there has been an influx of new pop singles and almost all of them are subdued to the point of underwhelming. Here, I'll rank them in order of my faintly praised favorites.
1. No Doubt featuring Busy Signal and Major Lazer - "Push and Shove"
The title cut of No Doubt's sixth studio album (and first in almost 11 years) is their "Bohemian Rhapsody," says bassist Tony Kanal. Yes, exactly. And the Zune was Microsoft's iPod. That said, "Push" is one of the most fun songs on the tepid album, which doesn't announce, "We're back!" so much as shift its eyes in confusion and mutter, "We're still here?" No Doubt were never a great band, but the one thing you could count on from them — the hooks — are conspicuously absent on Push. I think Gwen's hoarding them for her next solo album, or maybe for an episode of Hoarders. In any case, the catchiest thing on the set "Sparkle," which was supposed to appear on her second solo release, The Great Escape. Go figure.
Divorced from its mediocre surroundings, "Push and Shove" sounds a lot more dynamic — this thing actually might work as a pop single and give this project the momentum it's failed to find so far.
2. Frank Ocean - "Blue Whale"
R&B's golden child picks up the mic to rap a few bars in a laid-back flow that wisely doesn't come off as trying too hard. Some nice imagery ("Sand's white on my tan feet / Coliseum in the back seat / Straw hut where the beach be / Like screen saver when your Mac sleep / Relaxing") and more sexuality-confounding words from pop's premiere man who once loved a man ("And if I ever have a daughter I wonder what I could call her? / Nine months after I fuck on the beach I guess I call her karma") float this thing, but the nicest moment is the last minute and ten seconds (or so) when Ocean shuts up and lets his plaintive track ride. Ironic, or is that just how it goes when a singer decides to rap?
3. Ke$ha - "Die Young"
Similarly, a less snarly than usual Ke$ha sounds sonically kempt (almost to the point of politeness) on the first single from her upcoming Warrior album, but the best parts of "Die Young" song are when she isn't saying anything at all.
4. Ludacris featuring Kelly Rowland - "Representin'"
Ludacris becomes the latest to rip off Kelly Rowland's 2011 R&B megahit "Motivation," getting in on the action by enlisting Jim Jonsin & Rico Love for their crotch-popping magic. Kelly sings up to sing the hook, because really, what else does she have going on? And to think that if LL Cool J never made "I Need Love," none of this rap balladeering would be possible.
This comes from his upcoming album Ludaversal, so if nothing else, at least we have a stupid name to laugh at. So ludicrous, Ludacris.
5. Kylie Minogue - "Flower"
From Kylie Minogue's upcoming album of orchestral renditions of some of her hits, The Abbey Road Sessions, comes this waterpainted eggshell of a song (originally intended for her X album), in which she coos, "I'm waiting for your gentle whisper." As you might gather, ridding Kylie's music of her trademark titanic beats puts the emphasis on her voice, but she sounds like a dove and doves don't make convincing pop stars since they are birds. I don't know, I generally find Kylie's output to be spotty. Maybe I'm too American for it.