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And the Song of the Summer
Will Be...

The one about taking a knife to the heart. You heard us.

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1. RIHANNA
“Take a Bow”
The reigning queen of the summer hopes to take the crown again, basically the same way she did last year. Like “Umbrella,” “Take a Bow” has a big hook, an easy-to-understand central metaphor, and Rihanna’s smooth voice. But is it the ear worm its predecessor was?

2. LEONA LEWIS
“Bleeding Love”

The undeniable chorus of this Simon Cowell protégée’s debut single loudly and memorably declares, “You cut me open and I / Keep bleeding / Keep, keep bleeding love.” It’s the most romantic song ever about being stabbed.

3. LIL WAYNE
“Lollipop”

His sharp wit and innumerable mix-tape releases have already made him the blogosphere’s most-revered emcee, but can he connect with pop audiences? This unsubtle oral-sex anthem sticks to the shallow end of his lyrical potential, which should make it even more inescapable.

4. USHER
“Love in This Club”

The award for Most Likely to Be Heard in a Club unquestionably belongs to this synth-addled paean to VIP-section coitus, whose chorus is as infectious as it is inadvisable.

5. COLDPLAY
“Violet Hill”

According to reports, the sales of Coldplay’s Viva La Vida could make or break its label, the hit-starved EMI—so it’s imperative that the album’s lead single perform well. Did we mention it’s an angsty, experimental departure from the band’s typical weepy, romantic piano balladry and features a barely discernible chorus?

6. NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
“Summertime”

Back after fifteen years on the shelf, these grizzled teen-pop prototypes hope to reenergize their original fan base—the people for whom the Jonas Brothers could never fill the void—with a summery, hook-filled track not much different from their late-eighties greatest hits.

7. T.I.
“No Matter What”

The promotion for Clifford Harris’s new album, Paper Trail, might be complicated, slightly, by his impending yearlong prison sentence for a federal weapons conviction. Good thing this track—a catchy, slow-burning self-affirmation—pretty much sells itself.

8. ESTELLE
“American Boy”

Over a breezy keyboard line, Estelle—a saner, London-based Lauryn Hill—coolly convinces the titular Yankee (played by a half-singing Kanye West) that she’s interested in more than just his weak U.S. dollars. It’s a smash in Britain, but can it jump the pond? Man, we hope so.

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