Usually at this point of Song of the Summer season, the top contenders have been firmly established; a few newbies might have some nice runs, sure, but the ad nauseam tracks are the ad nauseam tracks. This year, however, may turn out a little different — in case you haven’t heard, the biggest rap star in the world has a new album coming out in the fall, and he’s pushing it hard now. “Run This Town,” the “official” first single from Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 is here, and it may have seismic effects.
If it does hit big, Jay should effusively thank Rihanna: It’s her epic choruses, reminiscent of the deathless “Live Your Life,” that will have junior-high girls rocking to this after school. But that’s the least compelling thing about the song. First is the beat, a squiggly, sneaky little guitar line that doesn’t quite sound like anything else on contemporary hip-hop radio (and is, at least to us, extremely reminiscent of Ratatat’s remix of “The Mule”). Then there’s the whole Jay vs. Kanye thing. We think both dudes killed it, actually, but ‘Ye wins by an inch — slowing down the beat for his verse was kind of genius, and eleventy million points for making getting fucked up on white wine sound cool: “I’m beasting / off the Riesling / and my n**** just made it out the precinct.”
1. Jeremih, “Birthday Sex”: Two straight weeks at No. 1 for the young upstart turned front-runner are even more impressive when you consider that this is his first-ever single. The only thing we’re disappointed in is the lack of remixes/covers/parodies as good as Mike Posner’s “First Date Sex” (“I met Jay-Z, yeah I’ll tell you about if we have …”).
2. Drake, “Best I Ever Had”: Supposedly “Run This Town” was actually going to be preceded by “Off This” featuring Drake, but plans were changed at a late stage. Which we actually think is a good thing: The increasingly ubiquitous Drake could probably use a little less exposure these days.
3. Jay-Z feat. Kanye West and Rihanna, “Run This Town”: On a side note: Once, Kanye proudly rapped “tank on empty, whipping my mama Volvo.” On “Run This Town,” he lets us know “I bought my whole family whips, no Volvos.” As longtime drivers of our mama Volvo, we feel sort of betrayed.
4. Tie: Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling,” “Boom Boom Pow”: We can’t quite bring ourselves to separate the conjoined twins yet, but let it be known that “Boom Boom Pow” continues to slip — both on the Hot 100, and in our hearts. Astounding, considering its early dominance, but it’s looking like “Boom Boom Pow” may eventually become, after “Blame It” (remember that song?), the summer’s second burnout victim.
5. Mariah Carey, “Obsessed”: Like with Carey’s “Fantasy,” “Honey,” and “We Belong Together,” we’re hoping that it’s the remix to “Obsessed” everyone ends up listening to. The tweaked video, which plays down the Eminem stuff in favor of Gucci Mane in a dapper white suit, should help.
6. Young Money feat. Lil Wayne, “Every Girl”: We don’t have much new to add on this one, so instead we’d like to take this space to direct your attention to the mix tape Young Money Menage, boasting what could be the year’s greatest cover.
7. Rob Thomas, “Her Diamonds”: We had not one hipper-than-thou comment about Mr. Thomas’s entry into the field last week, which disappoints us a little. There's no residual Matchbox 20 hate out there? None?
8. Princeton, “Calypso Gold”: An extremely pretty new track from an under-the-radar L.A. band that makes us feel like we’re driving home at dusk in a drop-top with no traffic and a Jolly Rancher slurpee. Or something.
10. Shakira, "She Wolf": This is an inevitable radio staple, but the latest from Shakira earns a spot on the list mostly owing to her previous triumphs. Let’s just say our hips are feeling very specious right now.
Previously on Vulture...