Time for me to weigh in with my typically extreme reviews:
LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It
Not nearly as good as "Party Rock Anthem", this is still a pretty decent party song. It's acid synth line is something that would be heard a lot in pop hits this year, and it does its job adequately. The 'wiggle wiggle wiggle" hook is annoying, but infectious enough to sell the song. The entire song serves as a blueprint for "Gangnam Style" a few months later (which does exactly the same thing as this song but much, much better) complete with all the expected buildups, breaks, and "drops". This song lacks an epic melody which prevents it from being any better than it is, but the rapping works really well.
Calvin Harris and Rihanna - We Found Love
Calvin Harris's brand of House-Lite is not really my thing, and I've often mentioned my disdain for the incredibly plain voice of Rihanna. Still, this song is hardly an abomination. In fact, it's pretty well produced. But it's not memorable. It's inoffensive. If I'm at a party, this song isn't going to channel the force of the dancing Gods into my body. I'm not likely to even realise the song is on. Do something crazy, Calvin, then I'll pay attention.
Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
Out of Adele's big hits, this is the one I hate least. I have a special hatred in my heart for Adele and her pseudo-genuineness. She is truly Rolling Stone-core. A "modern artist" for people who actually hate modern music. "She has so much talent! Not like all the other artists these days, she can actually sing! And she means what she sings!" Don't tell me you haven't heard stupid shit like that on a regular basis. Anyway, the song. This is pretty powerful stuff, and the big string section production works well. The songwriting is pretty catchy, but man those are some dumb lyrics. How the hell do you set fire to something that puts out fire? Overall this isn't nearly as bad as the Godawful "Someone Like You", but it will take a lot more for me to praise Adele.
Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (3 weeks)
Maybe one day Kelly Clarkson will release a good song. LOL. This is yet another rock/pop anthem of profound mediocrity that I find neither fun nor empowering.
Katy Perry - Part of Me
For every good single Katy releases (I Kissed a Girl, California Gurls) she manages to release about 3 clunkers like this. Katy's problem is that her voice is pretty bad. That hasn't stopped many of the best pop singers from putting out amazing music when they have a good producer, however. Katy's producers too often give her boring as hell songs that all sound alike. This is not a recipe for turning Mitch NZ into a fanboy.
Fun featuring Janelle Monae - We Are Young
No Janelle Monae! Stop trying to be famous! You are better not being famous! You don't need this babby's-first-indie-band to propel you to fame! Ah well, this song could have been way worse. Fun's production is very slick, and it keeps this song from falling into bad territory. I also give this song props for having a jarring tempo change. Has that been done since "Take Me Out"? The melody isn't as strong as "Some Nights", but it does the job.
Gotye and Kimbra - Somebody That I Used to Know
This song is stupidly, stupidly catchy. And perfectly produced to boot. Kimbra is a Kiwi/Aussie singer with a powerhouse voice that rubs me up the wrong way somehow. Thankfully on here she complements Gotye's delicate vocals beautifully. Love the buildup into the chorus too. Pop radio needed a song like this badly - a pop song through and through, but without any hint of a dance beat. It's similar to the many "art-pop" acts of the 80s and 90s, but turns the sound into a formula, a good one. On a side note, you won't be hearing from Gotye again any time soon, he seems to regard this as a freak occurrence that he doesn't plan to repeat, but Kimbra will use this song as a stepping stone, trust me. She wants to be famous even more than Janelle Monae.
Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
Sigh. Write me down as a believer. This is the closest thing we've got to a disco number 1 for a long time, and I have to give that some props. Every little production decision was made with perfection in mind. I'd like to Pat Josh Ramsay on the back for his flawless work on this song. The best pop hit this year that wasn't "Gangnam Style".
Flo Rida - Whistle
In theory this should be awful, but this falls firmly into So-Bad-It's-Good territory. Flo Rida is very nearly the last bastion of pop-rap, and if rap is going to survive in the charts, I have no problem with resorting to this sort of sound to acheive it. And plus, those lyrics are genius. Catchy, quoteable, fucking retarded. All good things.
Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
Oh my God, Taylor, shut up. You suck. This song sucks. Your discography sucks.
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Man, screw this. Last year I loved "Moves Like Jagger" and now I quite like "One More Night", what am I becoming? I think I like the fact that Maroon 5 is more like Maroon 1 these days. Moving away from rock and into pop-reggae (in this case) was a good move. You can sing along to this happily, and the beat comes in strong all the way throught. The melody is great, and Adam's voice is (despite not being one of my favourite singers) a very good fit for the song.
Rihanna - Diamonds
Not merely boring, this song is actively annoying. A cookie-cutter Rihanna song with a dead chorus. Maybe a cut above some of the other clunkers this year, this is still on the bad side of things.
Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven
Not an even an awesome police tribute band can prevent this song from being a Bruno Mars song, automatically placing it on the bottom tier of all music. Okay, I'm exaggerating, this is an improvement over the shit that came out of Doo-Wops and Hooligans. Mildly.