"Beautiful Girls" by Sean Kingston
It's been about 20 years since the digital sampler began its unceasing march to pop-instrument preeminence, so you might think at this point it's not possible to truly corrupt a piece of source material. And then you might encounter the amazing debut single by Buju Banton's 17-year-old nephew, which producer J. R. Rotem built on a loop of the opening seconds of "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King. Here's Kingston's chorus: "You're way too beautiful, girl/That's why it'll never work/You'll have me suicidal, suicidal/When you say it's over." Whether the baldness of Kingston's sentiment is more breathtaking than the fact that he sets it to pop's most enduring hymn to companionship will take a while to decide, though I owe a drink to the friend who pointed out just how well the refrain would fit on the most recent Brand New album.
And just like the emo artists he resembles, Kingston has built his comer (number five on the Billboard Rhythmic Top 40 and climbing the Hot 100) on an internet campaign. "Beautiful Girls" is all over YouTube thanks to the homemade-video contest for the song on www.votigo.com. In addition to the cover versions, reused footage from The Lion King, and hairbrushes-in-the-mirror routines, is entry number 15, a clip featuring two adorable Asian kids "acting out" the lyrics. It's enough to corrupt the song back into innocence; good thing it ends before Kingston's line about getting sent up for "doing my first crime."
"40-40" and "If I Had My Way" by Rosemary
This short-sharp-shocking London trio brings absolutely nothing new to the Buzzcocks-to-Futureheads continuum apart from the bleh acoustic tune "Blissfully Mine" (B-side of "40-40" along with speedy, electric "Down Like a Domino"). They make excellent singles anyway by doing their one thing very well. (Available on eMusic and iTunes; thanks to Jason Gross for the tip.)
"Working Class Hero" by Green Day
(Amnesty International USA)
Continuing on the good-intentions-laden path down Dogshit Lane they've been traversing ever since Billie Joe Armstrong discovered politics, Green Day's transformation of John Lennon's bitterest song into an act of fist-waving "importance" is embarrassing like your mom showing off the baby pictures on prom night. At least Bono has been too pretentious for his own good forever, and has some idea of what to do with his pretentiousness as often as not. It's impossible not to imagine the younger Armstrong mooning this latter-day stiff, and just as impossible not to see his firstname.lastname@example.org