Wonder Girls Featuring Akon
Like Money (3:30)
Producer: Woo S. Rhee "Rainstone"
Writers: W. S. Rhee, C. N. Johnson, L. Hilbert, A. Kronlund
Publishers: Warner/Chappell Music, Sony/ATV, EMI Music Publishing
Wonder Girls are one of the few Korean pop acts to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 (with 2009's funky single "Nobody"), and it was only a matter of time before it achieved further American chart success. With its latest radio cut, the super-popular K-pop quintet has modernized its sound for the group's best shot at U.S. ascendance. "Like Money" is unabashedly rooted in stateside song structure, with the track's icy synths exploding at the hook and a dubstep/rap breakdown. Akon jumps on the second verse and chorus to lend a male perspective, as well as additional accessibility for American listeners. The verses and bridge are heavily Auto-Tuned, and overall, the song is a bit reminiscent of the Havana Brown-Pitbull collaboration "We Run the Night." A top-notch feature and appealing dance sound made Brown's track a slow-burning hit, and "Like Money" could become an equally successful import.
Settle Down (6:01)
Producer: Spike Stent
Writers: G. Stefani, T. Kanal, T. Dumont
Publisher: By World of the Dolphin Music (ASCAP)
It took No Doubt a decade to finish comeback album "Push and Shove," and that prolonged effort immediately shows on the disc's first single, "Settle Down." The aggro-pop quartet crams as many hooks as possible into its long-awaited new song, which finds Gwen Stefani adjusting to unfamiliar circumstances but declaring that she'll be fine; after all, she is "a rough and tough." Sonically, the band balances reggae flourishes with Tony Kanal's kinetic bass movements, creating a forceful continuation of its "Rock Steady" singles. The difference between "Settle Down" and past hits like "Hey Baby" and "Hella Good" is how hard the group has to work on its new cut: Melodies are snipped while others are shoehorned into place, and Stefani's lyrical conversation with herself sounds more exhaustively constructed than effortless. "It's kind of complicated, that's for sure," the pop star confides before the chorus hits. It's a line that undoubtedly describes No Doubt's road to Push and Shove, as well as the makeup of its first single.
Truck Yeah (3:27)
Producers: Byron Gallimore, Tim McGraw
Writers: C. Janson, P. Brust, C. Lucas, D. Myrick
Publishers: Red Vinyl Music/Sony-ATV Tree Publishing/Root 49 Music/Danny Myrick Music (BMI)
Tim McGraw's goal when creating "Truck Yeah" was obviously not to produce the most thought-provoking country song of the year. Although his inaugural Big Machine release may be light in lyrical content - "Truck yeah!/Wanna get it jacked up, yeah!" McGraw declares in the chorus - the production and instrumentation are far from it. "Truck Yeah" exists as one of McGraw's most rock-styled singles to date. The guitars are tuned loud and the tempo is meant for window-rolling. While shouting out Lil Wayne and Friday night football, McGraw injects the song with a healthy dose of swagger, sounding his most alive in years. Sometimes a Tim McGraw record just needs to be fun, and "Truck Yeah," which has already heated up the Hot Country Songs chart, lives up to that goal.