It’s springtime, finally, and after weeks of stasis the Hot 100 is starting to turn over. While the top ten is still being firmly ruled by Pharrell’s juggernaut-like “Happy”, John Legend’s surprisingly unstoppable “All of Me,” and Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” (hanging tough after 34 weeks on the chart), a pair of Iggy Azalea tracks and the come-from-behind fourth single from the latest Paramore album are giving things a bit of a refresh.
Near the bottom of the chart there are a number of songs making their chart debuts, including Sia’s slow-burner power ballad “Chandelier” and Tinashe’s DJ Mustard-produced “2 On,” which came in at number 89 and should climb much higher in coming weeks thanks to its summery slow-jam take on Mustard’s trademark sound. But the biggest debut belongs to Usher Raymond IV, who returns to the Hot 100 with “Good Kisser,” which opened at number 70 this week and is almost certainly destined for top-ten success.
“Good Kisser” is dangerously close to a perfect early summer jam, with a snappily recursive drum-and-bass funk break, a multi-octave vocal part that Usher climbs around like it’s a jungle gym, and ridiculously salacious lyrics hiding behind a front of plausible denial. (Who can be outraged over a song about something as innocuous as kissing?) Written by Andrew “Pop” Wansel (who’s also written for Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, and Rihanna) and produced by a seven-man team seemingly tasked with excising any and all extraneous elements of the song that didn’t contribute to its smash appeal, it’s got the lean, sleek lines of a pop-chart apex predator.
The other notable male-fronted R&B single to come out this week is Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” which boasts yet another ridiculously catchy DJ Mustard beat and a faintly cheeky reference to Snap!’s “Rhythm Is a Dancer”. It’s supremely accessible and gives off some heavy hands-in-the-air energy that should serve it well if or when it ever gets an official, label-sanctioned released, and watching it compete against “Good Kisser” on the pop charts would be fun, even if “Good Kisser” seems to have the clear advantage. But right now “Don’t Tell ‘Em” is only on SoundCloud, so by Billboard‘s outmoded methodology it may as well not exist. Hopefully somebody at Def Jam is working on changing that.