1. “Airplanes, Part 2”
B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams and Eminem
Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars? Not really. But after a storm of radio replays, remixes, and Facebook statuses mimicking the lyrics, now every time we look up and see an airplane, this song comes to mind. Nonetheless, featuring vocalists Hayley Williams of Paramore and Eminem, “Airplanes” draws from the best of rock, pop, and hip-hop to create a triad of musical deliciousness. Williams is at the heart of the song with her lyrical but tough rocker-girl voice, while B.o.B keeps the beat with his skillful rapping. Eminem is just the icing on top. As long as these three keep singing, we’ll keep pretending that we haven’t already heard this song five million times.
Usher featuring will.i.am
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh my gosh, you make me want to say, “Stop!” Is Usher really a valley girl in disguise? Even his velvety voice can only get away with so many “oh my gosh’s.” With 30 percent of the lyrics comprising “oh” or “baby,” this song gets old fast. Still, we can’t help but wonder what manner of beauty has so stupefied Usher as to replace his smooth charisma with a sixth-grade girl’s vocabulary. Honey must really got a booty like pow, pow, pow.
3. “Caifornia Gurls”
Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg
If this song were a food, it would be a saccharine, gooey confectionary monstrosity of powdered sugar, whipped cream, and maraschino cherries. Add to that a pair of daisy dukes and bikinis on top and you’ve got “California Gurls” (yes, that’s “Gurls” with a “u”), an odd mix of bubble-gum pop and California cool. We don’t mind that mishmash so much as Katy Perry’s strange warbling as she belts “oh” up and down various octaves. It’s a mystery whether she’s yodeling or shrieking from sunstroke. Even so, with its catchy tune and cheery beats, “California Gurls” brightens up even the gloomiest days. It’s unforgettable.
4. “Love the Way You Lie”
Eminem featuring Rihanna
Never has a song so brilliantly glorified sadomasochism. Eminem strikes again with this angry anthem on venomous love-hate relationships. Is he trying to send a message about domestic abuse? Alcoholism? Pyromania? We don’t know, but hearing Eminem’s distinct cutting voice makes us melt a little bit inside every time. Yes, Eminem, you can tie us to the bed and set this house on fire. We like the way it hurts.
5. “Hey, Soul Sister”
Over a decade later, Train is still holding strong. Their newest song “Hey, Soul Sister” whisks us back to the good old days with wistful chords and a whimsical ukulele. The warm and fuzzy feelings evoked can’t be escaped. Indeed, Train seems to follow us everywhere, serenading us at home, at supermarkets, and in the car. But no matter how often we hear it, Train’s high crooning voice is like cough syrup: sweet, soothing, and self-medicating for the soul.