Billboard singles reviews: Miley Cyrus, Madonna
ARTIST: MILEY CYRUS
SINGLE: PARTY IN THE U.S.A.
NEW YORK (Billboard) - The heated online debate about Miley Cyrus' Teen Choice Awards performance of "Party in the U.S.A." threatens to overshadow one of her most entertaining songs yet. The loose, reggae-powered pop tune -- appearing on an August 31 mini-album exclusive to Walmart -- is Cyrus' take on growing up in the Hollywood spotlight: "It's definitely not a Nashville party/'Cause all I see are stilettos/I guess I never got the memo." Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Claude Kelly (Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You") share writing credits with online singing sensation Jessica Cornish, and producer Gottwald injects the song with an energy recalling Robyn and early Gwen Stefani. After successfully tackling dance and country formats and delivering one of the year's strongest ballads ("The Climb"), Cyrus continues to show off her impressive range.
SINGLE: CELEBRATION (Warner Bros. Records)
Madonna's latest single won't start any new trends, but it does return the singer to her dance-floor roots. "Come join the party ... 'cause everybody wants to party with you," she sings on "Celebration," the title track and one of a reported two new songs on her best-of set that's due September 29. A notable assist comes courtesy of trance DJ/producer Paul Oakenfold, who co-wrote and co-produced the buoyant stomper. He supplies a surging beat that could easily have been lifted from the star's "Confessions on a Dance Floor" period ("Hung Up," "Sorry,") but can be traced even further back to her 1992 hit "Deeper and Deeper." The melody, meanwhile, recalls her last single, "4 Minutes," in its urgency. Consider "Celebration" a score for Madonna's retro-futuristic fan base and a nice bookend to her collection of chart glories.
ARTIST: MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD
SINGLE: SAY HEY (I LOVE YOU) (Anti-)
After two-plus decades in the industry and 15 years performing with his band Spearhead, Michael Franti is breaking the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time with one of the most-requested songs on radio. "Say Hey (I Love You)" -- from the album "All Rebel Rockers," released almost a year ago -- has a feel-good, hand-clapping rhythm and a positive message about life's journey. The legendary Jamaican production team Sly & Robbie infuses the song with elements of reggae and funk as well as a touch of hip-hop. Everything is in place for a hit, from the sing-along melody to the lively piano and group-vocal outbursts. Having pioneered social humanitarianism in his own brand of music, Franti and his band are finally getting their due and having a good time while they're at it. Continued...