12 August 2013

Summer Jam Week 14: A Summer Duel on the Report

As we lurch into mid-August it's time again for another rendition of the weekly Summer Jam countdown - our look at the hottest tracks to beat the Sunshiney Heat. Things are certainly heating up between Daft Punk and Robin Thicke, with their latest battle ground being a virtual duel through The Colbert Report. More on that later. For now, your hottest jams on a damn crowded week:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Hopeless Wanderer" by Mumford & Sons

I haven't thought much of Mumford & Sons since their breakout back in 2010. Nothing since then has really stood out, possibly because they helped usher in this continuous sea of Pop Folk that doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing. This video, however, gets some mighty props from featuring a quartet of hilarious dudes playing the band - Sudeikis, Bateman, Forte, and Helms give it their all. It reminds me a bit of the quartet of Rappers who once stood in for Korn, and that's really only a good thing, of course.

Red or Grey: "Clarity" by Zedd ft. Foxes

"Clarity" hangs on for another week and remains a cool little song that I do not believe will last another week. It's actually pretty addictive, probably due to its variable ascending melody, cool smashing video, and infectious vocals. It's a tubthumper for sure and equal parts clubbanger and chillout music. What I am I thinking, this song is about to stick around forever, it's so adaptable.

Princess Merida: "Brave" by Sara Bareilles

I may be out on a limb here, but this track is catching on. It seems like Bareillis is always kind of hanging out somewhere on the pop scene, although she hasn't really had a real hit since "King of Anything." And that wasn't that huge. Let's go back to "Love Song" for a real hit. Her lack of success is probably just due to her last name being crazy hard to remember how to spell. She also generally puts out more inoffensive, cheery pop that doesn't include any insecurity or sexual overtones. So obviously against the grain of pop culture.

More Pharrell? Why Not: "Get Like Me" by Pharrell ft. Nicki Minaj

See, these are the sexual overtones I was talking about. Pharrell can add to what must be the greatest summer of anyone ever, and Nelly can at least get some R&B cred back as he sing-raps his way through this after his country collabo, "Cruise." What's most surprising about this track, though, is that for about the first time ever, Nicki isn't the best vocalist present and doesn't have the most addictive verses. What's up with that? It's a solid hip-hop track without really enough time to catch on before summer breaks, but a solid jam.

Blondies Rise: "I Need Your Love" by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding

This track dropped a long time ago and while it's flirted with this list all Summer this was Calvin and Ellie's big week. The track was everywhere, really this week's version of last week's "Clarity." Ellie has done better, Calvin really hasn't, so the product leftover is all sorts of meh, but no matter, a big week this jam makes.

No One Can Judge Us Except for Judges: "We Can't Stop" by Miley Cyrus

More often than not, the Key of Awesome plays to a more cynical nerdy crowd and misfires, but every once in a while they nail a particularly retarded song for all its worst aspects. Since they rifle through just about every joke I could make about this growing trainwreck, I'll direct you to the above link - have at it and enjoy, even if it doesn't quite know how to end without being desperate.

What a Terrible Live Performance: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell & T.I.

If you missed it, Daft Punk was going to play the Colbert Report but had to bail at the last minute through a convoluted disagreement with Viacom over appearing at the MTV Movie Awards instead. Next Month. No one really understands it, but Thicke stepped in to compete openly for Summer King status, and sang...really awfully. It seemed like he couldn't hit any of those high notes he does when standing next to Emily Ratajkowski. Listen for yourself. Oof.

Breaking Daft: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell

Obviously the most legendary Summer Jam moment of the year is Stephen Colbert's star-studded tribute to Daft Punk not being able to appear on his show. Add a little Bryan Cranston who is peaking more than anyone thanks to the finale of Breaking Bad last night, and you've got a real potent mix there. Even though they didn't actually make the show and Colbert sort of gave Summer King status to Robin Thicke, it's obvious that this was the better moment, the better song - and jeez I'm really leaning towards the Robots now. Only a few weeks remain - will the Daft Dudes pull it out?!

Next week...

I snubbed Bruno Mars' "Treasure" again for no great reason. It's still a fansastic song, but has somehow been a little more lukewarm than some others for a few weeks here. It's still a hard and fast #9, and just about has a guaranteed spot on any slow week, but not here. Finally, I super-dug "Royals" by Lorde this week (and yes, I think the US Version has a little more pep and gets off to a quicker start than the UK one). I'll be hard pressed to leave it in the dust next week. Stay Tuned, folks.

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