Billboard single reviews: Miley Cyrus, Ludacris
ARTIST: MILEY CYRUS
SINGLE: FLY ON THE WALL
NEW YORK (Billboard) - With success in music, film and TV, Miley Cyrus is a teen triple threat. Since most of that success has fallen under her fictional Hannah Montana Disney franchise, Cyrus is now out to form her own musical identity, co-writing most of her platinum No. 1 album, "Breakout." The album's second single, "Fly on the Wall," finds the singer influenced by Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, while her more experienced (read: older) co-writers wink and inject some '80s new wave influences, a la Blondie and the B-52s, which means fans' parents can join in on the fun, too. Cyrus is still growing into her voice, but she gives a convincing turn as a kick-ass pop/rock chick, especially on the bridge where she gets a chance to let loose.
SINGLE: UNDISPUTED (DEF JAM)
Ludacris literally puts himself inside a boxing ring on "Undisputed" as retired undefeated boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. coaches him on how to win against any and all challengers. And how: With one punch line after another flawlessly delivered in brazen fashion, it's undeniable that he remains among the best MCs in hip-hop. It's been only two years since his last album, but the music industry has a short memory. So "Undisputed" not only reminds listeners how Ludacris became a champion in rap, but also -- and more important -- why he remains one.
ARTIST: JOHN MELLENCAMP
SINGLE: TROUBLED LAND (HEAR MUSIC)
At this point, John Mellencamp has nothin' to prove. With his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year alongside a Grammy Award and 12 other nods, counting hits is beside the point. Previous single "My Sweet Love," featuring Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, from current folk rock album "Life, Death and Freedom," was a triumph at triple A. Follow-up "Troubled Land" is signature Mellencamp fare -- that means a laid-back vocal and smart lyric: "Stand up and holler, lay down and die/ We can turn up our collars and never try/ Just know the truth is coming, to bring peace to this troubled land." Producer T Bone Burnett conjures an organic landscape, fostering ideal fare for all who connect with music beyond the surface. Continued...