Music Article

Fall's Hottest New Songs

We grade the current singles -- Britney's threesome, John Mayer's stoner reverie, Susan Boyle's Rolling Stones cover, and more fresh tunes

We grade the current singles

Britney Spears, ''3''
Non sequitur name-check of '60s folkies Peter, Paul and Mary aside, there's nothing remotely organic about La Brit's panting, PG-13 ode to threesomes — a fembot-voiced, near-seizure-inducing dance-floor frenzy. C+

Kris Allen, ''Live Like We're Dying''
The Arkansas Idol champ's cover of an obscure B side from Irish pop-rockers the Script is a propulsive carpe diem anthem, part Tony Robbins, part mathlete (''We only got 86,400 seconds in a day/To turn it all around or throw it all away''). A-

John Mayer, ''Who Says''
Mayer channels Cat Stevens, Jason Mraz, and every camp counselor you ever had on this soft-rockin' celebration of women, wild times, and getting stoned. B

Alicia Keys, ''Doesn't Mean Anything''
Keys still knows how to craft an impeccable piano-soul ballad, even though her latest lacks the emotional wallop of similarly themed 2007 smash ''No One.'' B

Carrie Underwood, ''Cowboy Casanova''
If Taylor Swift is country music's prom princess, Underwood is her cool older sister, warning good girls about bad boys (''Looks like a cool drink of water/But he's candy-coated misery'') over raucous guitars and a stomping ''whoa-oh'' chorus. A-

Shakira, ''Did It Again''
R&B studio wizards the Neptunes deliver a spare, slinky backbeat for the Colombian yodeler with the truth-telling hips. Though not as camptastically loco as waning single ''She Wolf,'' it still works up a nice little hiccupy synth groove. B

Susan Boyle, ''Wild Horses''
The Britain's Got Talent sensation turns the Rolling Stones' aching lament into a sort of church-lady serenade draped in piano and strings. No offense to SuBo, who imbues the song with genuine emotion, but it's no match for the original. C

Death Cab for Cutie, ''Meet Me on the Equinox''
The indie demigods submit to Twilight madness, crafting a suitably moody piece of swirly-guitar atmospherica for New Moon's alt-heavy soundtrack. Hope they're ready for a whole new fan(g) base. A-

Leona Lewis, ''Happy''
She may spend her entire career attempting to match the gargantuan success of ''Bleeding Love,'' and this slow-build power ballad inevitably feels like a bit of a Xerox. Still, the Brit belter's towering vocals could probably turn a grocery list into a top 10 hit. B

Justin Bieber, ''One Time''
The 15-year-old Usher protégé/tween pinup doesn't release his debut until November, but he earns his pop-soul bona fides with this refreshingly age-appropriate chronicle of young love. B+

Foo Fighters, ''Wheels''
Is Tom Petty Dave Grohl's spirit animal? The Foo frontman aims for old-school AM-radio gold on the band's latest — all jangle, bombast, and big chorus. Cue the car-commercial tie-in in 5, 4, 3, 2... B-

Originally posted Oct 02, 2009 Published in issue #1069-1070 Oct 09, 2009 Order article reprints