Ready or Not (3:22)
Producer: Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou
Writers: B. Mendler, E. Kiriakou, E. Bogart
Bridgit Mendler spends a good portion of debut single “Ready or Not” introducing herself (“I like your face/Do you like my song?”), but she’s already familiar to a sizable tween audience. A star of Disney Channel’s “Good Luck Charlie,” Mendler has previously scored two appearances on the Billboard Hot 100 on singles from the soundtrack to the Disney TV movie “Lemonade Mouth,” in which she also starred. The breezy “Ready or Not,” from forthcoming album “Hello My Name Is…”, is her bid for a wider audience, and it has many elements of a hit. Co-written with Emanuel “Eman” Kiriakou (Demi Lovato, Jason Derulo) and Evan “Kidd” Bogart (Beyonce’s “Halo,” Rihanna’s “SOS”) and featuring an interpolation of the Delfonics’ “Ready or Not Here I Come” (Can’t Hide From Love),” the single is an ideal showcase for Mendler’s jazz-inflected vocals. Wielding a throaty set of pipes, she recalls Karmin’s Amy Heidemann minus the rapping, although Mendler sings a melodic dancehall breakdown on the song’s bridge. With fellow Disney alums Lovato and Selena Gomez enjoying the biggest hits of their respective careers, Mendler could soon join their ranks with this catchy breakout single.
COHEED AND CAMBRIA
Domino the Destitute (8:01)
Producers: Coheed and Cambria, Michael Birnbaum, Chris Bittner
Writer: C. Sanchez
Publisher: The bag.on-line.adventures
Evil Ink/Hundred Handed/Fontana Ingrooves
Who says prog-rock indulgence can’t be fun? At their best, Coheed and Cambria can bring out the inner air-guitar nerd in almost any rock fan, blending arena-metal pyrotechnics and singalong hooks into big-hearted epics. “Domino the Destitute,” the first single from their upcoming sixth album, “The Afterman: Ascension”, commences with thrilling arena riffs that land somewhere between U2 and Judas Priest. But the eight-minute “Domino” hits more than a couple of soggy stretches, weighed down by Claudio Sanchez’s wordy narrative. The song is an odd choice for a single — “Domino the Destitute” isn’t as arresting or technically dazzling as the band’s best material, and it would more likely thrive in an album context. Still, all of the band’s trademarks are in place, and the new elements (like radio snippets from a boxing match play-by-play) take their geeky antics to bold new heights.
Atoms For Peace
Producer: not listed
Writer: not listed
Publisher: not listed
In 2009, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke embarked on a strange side project-although “The Eraser”, his electronic solo debut, had been released three years prior, the singer and a star-studded backing band (Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, bassist Flea, percussionist Mauro Refosco and drummer Joey Waronker) surprised fans by finally debuting the material onstage. That group, dubbed Atoms for Peace, injected funky, polyrhythmic menace into Yorke’s insular laptop tunes, but listeners expecting more of that full-band drive will be perplexed by new single “Default.” Its slippery high-hats, ominous bass pulses and digital synthesizers sound chopped from a level of “Super Mario.” Picking up right where “The Eraser” left off, Yorke’s sleek falsetto is front and center: “The will is strong, but the flesh is weak,” he croons on the chorus. In the context of the Atoms for Peace brand, this dive into chilly electronics is a tad confusing. But pound for pound, it’s one of Yorke’s most arresting songs in years.
DAVID GUETTA FEATURING CHRIS BROWN & LIL WAYNE
I Can Only Imagine (3:29)
Producers: David Guetta, Frederic Riesterer
What a Music/Astralwerks/Capitol
It’s been more than a year since the release of David Guetta’s “Nothing But the Beat”, and the fact that it’s still spitting out singles speaks volumes for the producer’s superstar persona. “I Can Only Imagine,” featuring Chris Brown and Lil Wayne, marks yet another “Beat” single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, and it has the star power to rival Guetta’s highest-charting singles to date. The track’s hefty buildups and pulsating releases are akin to much of Beat’s fare, particularly the glossy sheen of the album’s Sia collaboration, “Titanium.” This time, though, it’s the boys’ turn to take center stage, as Brown’s vocals sound at home manning the hook while Weezy is off on the sidelines, dropping one of his less memorable guest verses. This won’t be Guetta’s definitive club anthem, but the song is more than sufficient as a victory lap for his ultra-successful album.
MARCUS CANTY FEATURING WALE
In and Out (4:05)
Sure, Marcus Canty’s debut single has a guest verse from Maybach MC Wale and a slinky beat from producer H-Money that nods to G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy.” But Canty, who finished fourth on the inaugural U.S. version of “The X Factor,” exhibits a surprising amount of charisma even without the capable supporting players in his first radio outing, which bowed at No. 82 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song is a standard piece of rhythmic pop that focuses on Canty’s struggle to overcome the player’s mentality and settle down with one girl, and while the whole ordeal feels familiar, Canty’s talent is not: A more affecting crooner than contemporaries like Jason Derulo and Taio Cruz, the 21-year-old can nimbly flip between soaring emotion and stuttering braggadocio. With Wale raising this single’s profile, expect “In and Out” to win over R&B fans unfamiliar with Canty’s “X Factor” stint.
Big Sean, Jay-Z & Kanye West
Producers: Hit-Boy, Kanye West
As G.O.O.D. Music basks in the success of smash single “Mercy,” Kanye West heightens the anticipation of their collaborative album, “Cruel Summer”, with “Clique.” The set’s latest single begins with the smooth vocals of singer/songwriter Cocaine 80s (aka James Fauntleroy) before Hit-Boy’s bass-heavy soundscape arrives. As the triumphant beat builds, Big Sean and Jay-Z lay down rhymes that focus on the all-star crew they run with. “Yeah, I’m talking ‘Ye/Yeah, I’m talking Rih/Yeah, I’m talking Bey’/ Ni**a, I’m talking me/Yeah, I’m talking bossy/I ain’t talking Kelis,” Jay-Z raps while shouting out his dream team (and excluding Nas’ ex-wife). West goes a different route and raps about the luxurious life between “white people” and himself, as well as about the ladies he holds closest: Kim Kardashian and his late mother. “Went through a deep depression when my momma passed/Suicide, what kind of talk is that/But I’ve been talking to God for so long/If you look at my life I guess he talking back,” he raps to close “Clique.”
Edited by Jason Lipshutz (singles)
CONTRIBUTORS: Phil Gallo, Andrew Hampp, Jason Lipshutz, Gail Mitchell, Chris Payne, Erika Ramirez, Ryan Reed, Mikael WoodAll albums commercially available in the United States are eligible. Send album review copies to Mitchell Peters at Billboard, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90036 and singles review copies to Jason Lipshutz at Billboard, 770 Broadway, Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10003, or to the writers in the appropriate bureaus.