Nickelback “Gotta Be Somebody”

Surprise-I’m not a Nickelback hater. I can think of 4 or 5 songs by them worthy of appearing on my iPod. Not sure if this is one of ’em though. Chad and company have flirted with a poppier, dancier sound before-I mean, Chad’s Santana duet from last year was pretty much a dance record. This song definitely has “hit single” written all over it. Unfortunately, it’s not that “wow, this is catchy” hit single vibe, it’s more of that cold, calculated hit single vibe. Plus, I wish Chad Kroeger didn’t always sound like he was straining on the toilet. Grade: C

Brandy “Right Here (Departed)

Guess what? Brandy’s back! Hey, if her talentless little brother can score a Top 5 hit in ’08, why can’t she? This song reunites her with Rodney Jerkins, who produced “The Boy is Mine” and several other Brandy hits, and it does have a little of that “Boy is Mine” bounce. Brandy’s voice sounds stronger than ever, and she looks good in the video, too. Going with the inspirational theme of the song, the clip shows Brandy as sort of a healing angel. It’s pretty interesting, and the song is solid enough to make some noise, although I don’t know if it’s “hood” enough for urban radio. Grade: B+

Fall Out Boy “I Don’t Care”

I could spend hours watching this video. Say what you want about Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz, but these guys know how to write a hook AND they know how to make a video. Although “I Don’t Care” sounds a little too much like Pink’s “So What” for my tastes, the video elevates it from a catchy yet derivative tune into a concentrated pile of awesome. Check out cameos from the likes of Pharrell Williams (who will appear in YOUR video for 50 cents and a lollipop), Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, and others, and watch out for an ending that should elicit at least a snicker. Grade: Video: A; Single: B

50 Cent “Get Up”
Not that it surprises me or anything, but our man Fiddy is suffering from severe artistic arrested development. “Get Up” is catchy yeah, but Curtis has been down this road with both “In Da Club” and “Disco Inferno”. This sounds like a Dre production-can’t tell whether it is, but it’s in the same vein as Dre’s seriously lukewarm production over the past two or three years (see-Jay-Z’s “Kingdom Come”). If you really want to know the difference between 50 Cent and Kanye West (even if you don’t like their music), Kanye goes out of his way to push the envelope, while 50 is content to recycle the same hitmaking formula over and over, thinking it will bring forth the same return. Grade: C-