Summer Rain - Matthew Morrison. Lots of original music coming out of Glee this week, although this is official not Glee-related but rather the solo debut of Glee star Matthew Morrison. He's gone the male troubadour route, a la Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson, delivering a breezy slice of pop backed by acoustic guitar, live drums and later some (possibly synthesized) strings. Morrison co-wrote the track with Norwegian production due Espionage, who have written or co-written a number of major hits (Beyonce's "Irreplaceable, Train's "Hey, Soul Sister"). Although it's not what I would have expected him to do, it's not bad. A bit of a grower, but good. Who wouldn't want to make love with Matthew Morrison on a rooftop in the rain?
Loser Like Me - Glee Cast. This is from next week's episode, "Original Song," and as that title suggests, this is the first music out of Glee that isn't a remake. Of course it's expertly produced and co-written by Swedish pop mastermind Max Martin. The club's stars take the lead on this one, and Lea Michele in particular sounds great as usual over the bubbly pop track with an appealing guitar grind under its chorus. Would love to see them score a genuine hit with this. Also out is an original ballad, "Get It Right," which also features Michele, and is quite lovely.
You'll Be Mine - The Pierces. The Pierces are a sisters duo from New York. They've been around for awhile, but with Coldplay bassist (hottie) Guy Berryman producing their new album, they're getting a lot more exposure. "You'll Be Mine" is a great song with a downbeat '70s pop vibe over a richly produced acoustic instrumentation. Definitely whets my appetite for an album.
Till the World Ends - Britney Spears. Longtime Spears songwriter, Swede Alexander Kronlund and pop singer Ke$ha co-wrote this new single for Britney, produced by Max Martin, Dr. Luke and Billboard (not the magazine). What ensues is another pieces of electro-dance pop not unlike "Hold It Against Me" really. Although it isn't breaking any new ground clearly, it's another fun single from the Blonde singer.
Heart on My Sleeve - Olly Murs. For his third single, Murs turns away from the reggae fusion sound of his last two singles toward more traditional pop territory. The song is produced and co-written by John Shanks, who produced the last two Take That albums before Progress. So it sounds a lot like that stuff, especially "Rule the World." I wasn't really into "Thinking of Me," but I like this better, even if it sounds like Take That from 3 years ago (that was, after all, a sound I liked).
Moment 4 Life - Nicki Minaj feat. Drake. Nicki Minaj was a big breakout star last year with a lot of great buzz, but lacked a major hit under her belt. "Moment 4 Life," the fourth single from her album Pink Friday may finally be just that hit. The song contrasts a dark, downbeat melody with an uplifting lyric. Minaj sounds a bit like Rihanna on this one.
That's the Truth - McFly. For a brief moment, it looked like McFly might get interesting. Then they give us this utterly derivative piece of fluff. It's not bad, it's not really good either. It just sort of "is" if that makes sense. It probably sounds familiar, because elements of it sound like about 40 other songs that have been hits in the last 5 years.
Young Blood - The Naked and Famous. This New Zealand group broke out big in their homeland last year and this is the catchiest song I've heard from them so far, with a pretty irresistable synth-based tune. So what if it sounds just like another recent band from down under (Empire of the Sun) who, like this band, was also riding the MGMT bandwagon. You'll be bumping along to it anyway until the next hot new thing comes along.