Raymond Fiore grades hot summer singles
No offense to winter, spring, and fall, but nothing quite hits our musical sweet spot like the super-jams of summer. Here are eight big singles currently vying for your warm-weather affection.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA ''Ain't No Other Man''
The jazz-age-meets-new-millennium conceit of Xtina's co-production with sample wizard DJ Premier (Nas, Gang Starr) could have proven disastrous; instead the horn pops and hip-hop attitude put this head-ringing firecracker on track to be 2006's ''Crazy in Love.'' A
NELLY FURTADO FEATURING TIMBALAND ''Promiscuous''
No longer the innocently poppy chanteuse of her ''I'm Like a Bird'' days, Furtado is feeling saucy on this infectious, boy-versus-girl speak-sing-along. Kinda like Positive K's 1992 rap hit ''I Got a Man'' only better. A-
OUTKAST ''Mighty 'O'''
If you're hoping the new Dré/Big Boi single lives up to their previous, more adventurous work, well, don't get too excited. But judged against the Southern hip-hop competition? This cool slice of ATL-flavored synth-funk is mighty fine, indeed. B+
LIL JON FEATURING E-40 AND SEAN PAUL ''Snap Yo Fingers''
How does His Crunkness do it? You know, make neck-cracking jams that sound like the inbred cousin of his last hit yet still have us bouncing like we're drinking pimp juice for the very first time? B
Coming off the highly flammable dance track ''SOS,'' the 18-year-old Barbadian missteps with this whiny-voiced, straight-faced adultery confession in which she laughably likens herself to a ''murderer.'' She sure knows how to slay a ballad, though. D
FORT MINOR FEATURING HOLLY BROOK AND JONAH MATRANGA ''Where'd You Go''
Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda is no Eminem, and newcomer Brook ain't Dido either. But at least this poor man's ''Stan'' from Shinoda's side project will please fans of rock-rap and girlie pop alike. C+
AFI ''Miss Murder''
While My Chemical Romance are in the studio working on their next over-the-top Goth-rock opus, this long-running emo-punk band successfully fills the slot with a galvanizing, smeared-mascara anthem. Who says you can't wear black in the summer? A-
KENNY CHESNEY ''Summertime''
Just like ''Summertime'' king Will Smith before him, the country golden boy (and former Mr. Zellweger) is all about the calculated seasonal smash. It may not be the ''perfect song on the radio'' that he pines for in the breezy chorus, but he seems to have willed himself a hooky, feel-good winner just the same. B