"How We Do (Party)" (4:07)
Producers: The Runners
It's easy to peg 21-year-old U.K. import Rita Ora as Rihanna 2.0 because of her R&B-styled dance offerings, penchant for profanity and "sassy" surface attitude. But the comparison dismisses Rihanna's refined, wholly spectacular understanding of pop hooks, a skill that Ora simply hasn't had time to develop. "How We Do (Party)," her first major look in the United States, is a perfectly enjoyable snapshot of a summertime gathering, with Ora and her posse yearning to "party and bullshit" all night long. As the Runners' production serves up a platter of basic percussive moves, the singer's soulful side shines through on the verses before the massive, shoulder-shrug-worthy chorus washes out her momentum. "How We Do (Party)" could be the start of something great for Ora, but the song itself lacks the tossed-off magic of tracks like Rihanna's "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been."
"Her Fantasy" (6:15)
Producer: Matthew Dear
Writer: M. Dear
Publisher: Ghostly International (ASCAP)
"Am I the chrome man?" veteran electro-pop freak Matthew Dear asks on his latest single. "Am I not of great design?" Chalk up a hearty "yes" to both questions: On the plodding, pulsating "Her Fantasy," Dear often sings like some sort of chrome pop android - his deep gurgle calls David Bowie to mind - but he contrasts that flat, robotic vocal approach with bubbly, glowing laptop sonics. Wisps of high-hat, pitch-shifted samples, junkyard percussion and miniature synthesizers buzz back and forth. At six minutes-plus, "Her Fantasy" drones on well longer than it needs to, but Dear's nightmarish lyrics are gripping on their own. "Are you my delicious game?" he ominously speak-sings over the endless churn. "I'll eat like a lion." Dear's dancefloor isn't the kind you can escape from easily.
Big & Rich
"That's Why I Pray" (4:01)
Producer: Dann Huff
Writers: D. Leverett, B. Daly, S. Buxton
Warner Bros. Records
Big & Rich, one of the format's most unique duos, return with a song that's vastly different from the party anthems that made the pair famous. In fact, the lyrics to "That's Why I Pray" are hard-hitting and socially prodding in some places - and might even set off some ideological debates. However, the core country demographic will very much identify with the realism depicted in the track, which focuses on the economy, the Pledge of Allegiance and the moralism in between. Vocally, the harmonies from Big Kenny and John Rich are as tight as ever. The song, which will be the lead single off the duo's forthcoming fourth album, has already made waves on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, proving that B&R fans can catch the occasional curveball.