Chasing the Sun (3:16)
Producer: Alex Smith
Writers: A. Smith, E. Gleave
Publishers: Metrophonic Music/Puregroove Publishing (ASCAP)
U.K. boy band the Wanted stormed the Billboard Hot 100 with its first U.S. single, "Glad You Came," which still lurks in the upper reaches of the chart. On its follow-up, the group builds on the energetic pop sound that listeners have already fallen in love with once before. Lyrically, "Chasing the Sun" is an ode to finding eternal love and never growing old; however, the beats, not the words, are what is truly important here. Sonically, "Chasing the Sun" is a little too similar to "Glad You Came," but the single stands out because its circular hook and throbbing backing track combine to make some of the group's catchiest material yet. If "Glad You Came" was an anthem for the spring, the mammoth chorus in "Chasing the Sun" and the Wanted's rising stateside popularity put this song squarely in "summer jam" contention.
DIPLO FEATURING NICKY DA B
Express Yourself (4:37)
Writers: T. W. Pentz, N. T. Toney
Publishers: Downtown Music/DLJ Songs (ASCAP) Mad Decent
Some may call it sonic appropriation, but by mining rhythms and beats from music cultures all over the world, Diplo has helped reposition "dance music" from a Euro-led synthetic trip to something more global and human. On "Express Yourself," the title track of his new EP and a tribute to the New Orleans-born bounce style, the DJ/producer/label boss shows why his ear is so unique: He doesn't homogenize the sounds he unearths as much as let their distinctive localism come through. Featuring New Orleans rapper Nicky Da B, "Express Yourself" has all the elements that define the sound - Wild Pitch 808 squelches, a dancehall pulse, raps that are more like chants - and that intangible Diplo sensibility that makes the track ready for a block party in any part of the world. The rest of his recent "Express Yourself" EP is equally standout, especially the dubstep-meets-R&B nugget "Barely Standing" with Datsik and Sabi.
WHITNEY HOUSTON & JORDIN SPARKS
Producer: R. Kelly
Writer: R. Kelly
Publishers: R. Kelly Publishing/Universal Music-Z Songs/Colpiz Music/Sony-ATV Songs (BMI)
Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston's new duet, "Celebrate," is truly something to rejoice about: Upon the first twinkle of piano keys, the lead single from the "Sparkle" soundtrack allows listeners to forget about Houston's death for three-and-a-half minutes and revel in her breezy final recording. The R&B legend and capable "Sparkle" co-star blend their vocals effortlessly without having to stretch toward their highest octave. The R. Kelly-penned lyrics are simple yet poignant (much like his recent classic soul oeuvre), and with a sound that's reminiscent of late-'70s R&B, the upbeat rhythm of the song can be closely compared to Patrice Rushen's "Haven't You Heard." Like so many of Houston's singles, however, "Celebrate" manages to establish its own irreplaceable voice, offering up a slice of R&B that lacks any whiff of cynicism-something that adult radio could always use more of.