A cool little overview of the "best" music from this week:
Kelly Clarkson - "Since U Been Gone (Jason Nevins remix)"
The omnipresent radio hit gets a face lift with a thumpadelic remix that makes it sound like U2, Kylie Minogue and Avril Lavigne all like to party at the same club. Hey, isn't that Cher over there? Thought she retired...
U2 - "City of Blinding Lights"
With Bono toning down the bluster and a skilful blend of Edge guitars and punctuating piano, the centerpiece ballad of How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb is a thrilling tour de force.
Nivea -- "Parking Lot"
To cheat successfully, you need a truly intricate labyrinth of lies. But sometimes lust leaps to the top of the agenda, as it does on the crunk princess's new disc. While her man is home, she's getting busy with someone else at the McDonald's drive-thru. Riding a sultry pulse, Nivea uses her best pillow talk to basically ask, "Do fries come with that shake?"
The Killers -- "Mr. Brightside"
The other three guys in the band put their shoulders behind Brandon Flower's ineffable sense of drama, giving his paranoid wailings a mounting beat that's impossible to resist.
Robbie Fulks - "I'm Gonna Take You Home (And Make You Like Me)"
Here's a guy who knows more about classic Nashville styles than the current crop of Music City dudes, and his killer wit is fully illustrated by this hilarious string of barfly pick-up lines. "Say, what's that on your left hand?" asks the cutie du jour. "Why, that's an old war medal, if you must know," answers the cad. Prepare for the surprise ending.
Paul Anka -- "Black Hole Sun"
Believe it: The '50s teen idol turned Vegas mainstay scores Soundgarden for his big band and his still-capable croon and just about pulls it off, without even a whiff of heroin.
Andrew Bird - "Fake Palindromes"
The enigmatic lo-fi hero makes an elaborate folk-pop that trades songs of wispy romance for psychological studies. Here he leaps into a pulsing Beatles homage about a woman with blood in her eyes who promises her mate that "some lonely night we'll get together/and I'm going to tie your wrists with leather/and drill a tiny hole into your head." His latest disc is one of year's low-key wonders.
Ciara -- "Oh"
Why does Ludacris sound better as a guest star than he does on his own? His rat-a-tat-tat rhymes and Jazze Pha's menacing crunk beat easily outclass the headliner's workaday gasping.
Ryan Adams -- "Sweet Illusions"
He's got one of pop's most melancholy voices, and can turn a happy tune blue without even trying. So this boo-hoo ballad is doubly despairing. Striking a balance between Roy Orbison and the Eagles, he reminds us that dusty bar tunes are his forte.
Foo Fighters -- "Best of You"
Just in time for prom season comes Dave Grohl's latest -- a slow dance that turns into a pounding guitar anthem, but still can't hide its gooey center.