Michael Slezak
February 06, 2007 AT 10:38 PM EST

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going through a bout of self-loathing today, but instead of turning to the cilice (ouch!), I’ve decided to take a listen to new singles from three songbirds whom I’d typically avoid at all costs. (I’m not being snobby when I say that, BTW; regular PopWatch readers know I’m down with Fergie Ferg and Kylie, plus a whole bunch of divas who are probably working for change this very minute.) Anyhow, let’s all have a listen and see if any of ’em will be securing a spot on my iPod, shall we?

– Avril Lavigne, “Girlfriend”: Okay, yeah, so the chorus has a foot-tappingly cute beat, but does this song (streaming over at Idolator) have anything else to recommend it? I mean, even if the ghost of Janis Joplindescended directly from rock & roll heaven into Avril’s body, she’dstill have a hard time breathing life into lyrics like “She’s, like, sowhatever/ You can do so much better/ I think we should get together.”Of course, then at least we’d be spared Avril’s affected pronunciationsof words like “bettah” and “othah.” I dunno, I’ll take Kelly’s vastlysuperior “Text Message Breakup” if I want an angry white chick screaming over a danceable beat.

addCredit(“Lavigne: David Livingston/Getty Images; Duff, Panettiere: Michael Buckner/Getty Images”)

Hilary Duff, “With Love”: I’ve listened to this tepid, weakly sung track (streaming at AOL Music)three times now, and being completely honest, if I were dangled over apit of boiling oil by my toes, and my life depended on being able tohum even a single bar of it, I’d end up crispier than a box of Popeyeschicken. Which makes me wonder: Is there a person in America who canappreciate Hilary Duff’s musical oeuvre without having simultaneousfeelings of nostalgia for the good old days of Lizzie McGuire?

Hayden Panettiere, “I Still Believe”: Alas, this isn’t a cover of Brenda K. Starr’s delicious, cheese-flavored late-’80s ballad (later covered by Mariah Carey in 1999), but rather an inspirational ditty from the soundtrack to Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. I warn you, PopWatchers, Heroes‘ cheerleader’s song (streaming at her MySpace page)begins with this lyrical nugget: “Somehow I know I will find a way/ Toa brighter day/ In the sun…” And as for that brutally wonky finishingnote? If HRG wanted to kill Sylar, he should’ve just put it on repeatloop. C’mon, Hayden, you’re not earning enough fun money with that Neutrogena gig?

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