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Happy Monday, folks! What says “starting off the work week” like counting down the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100? Nothing, that’s what, so let’s get to counting!


1. Lil Wayne featuring Static Major, “Lollipop” (Universal Motown/Cash Money)

The last time we visited the Hot 100, this damn song was on it, and here it is, still hanging around. Previously, I said I loved it because it represents — it has to represent — the ludicrous end of the road for the Auto Tune plague that has smothered Top 40 radio like a smallpox-infected blanket for the last year and change. Admittedly, that really doesn’t fit the standard definition of love, but it’s more than I can say about “Lollipop” this week.

I don’t hate Lil Wayne, and I don’t even really hate “Lollipop,” but I can’t hear past that damn vocal gimmick — which is probably the point; take it away, and there isn’t much of a song left over. Of course technology has been masking artistic weaknesses for decades; from a certain point of view, this little dung heap is to the ’00s what, say, Rick Springfield’s “Celebrate Youth” was to the ’80s. Does this mean Lil Wayne is five years away from playing casinos and state fairs? Cross your fingers.


2. Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” (J/Syco)

Ryan Tedder has his finger on the pulse of ballad-loving listeners’ music-buying habits right now, and he’s pressing down as hard as he possibly can — between this track and OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” he’s been making melodramatic girls (and melodramatic girls at heart) sniffle into the distance for all of 2008. Tedder’s songs are wafer thin, but he understands how to build a simple hook and beat a listener over the head with it — and he lucked out when Lewis’ producers handed her this song to wrap her pipes around. For a guy who got his start writing songs for Hilary Duff, it probably doesn’t get much better than this.


3. David Cook, “The Time of My Life” (RCA/19/Fremantle)

I’ve never watched American Idol, but I know enough about the show to know that each season’s winner is strong-armed into recording a Manilow-scented ballad for his or her debut single, and this is David Cook’s. And again, having never watched American Idol, this is my first experience with Cook, so I think most of you will understand why I’m having a hard time understanding the source of his appeal. Enlighten me.


4. Rihanna, “Take a Bow” (Def Jam/SRP)

Rihanna is unstoppable right now, largely due to her immense likeability as a performer — and also thanks to her mostly impeccable taste in material, including this bitterly funny (albeit musically lazy) kiss-off. The only really shitty thing about this single is that it arrives tacked onto a “deluxe reissue” of Rihanna’s most recent album, the year-old Good Girl Gone Bad — but hey, we’re in the age of digital distribution, so as crass as its release is, at least nobody has to buy the record over again to get the single. Thanks, iTunes!


5. Jordin Sparks featuring Chris Brown, “No Air” (Jive/19)

It’s a nice enough single, and both of these performers are appealing, but holy shit, how has this song wound up going platinum and spending more than 20 weeks on the chart?


6. Usher featuring Young Jeezy, “Love in This Club” (LaFace)

I just reviewed this album, so I can say with confidence that “Love in This Club” is one of the worst songs on it — which should be good news for LaFace, assuming they can keep their heads out of their asses long enough to send a few of the record’s stronger cuts up the charts. In the meantime, this is an innocuous return to the airwaves for Usher, and his singles should only get better for the next year or so, after which we can no doubt look forward to a deluxe reissue of Here I Stand.


5. Ray J featuring Yung Berg, “Sexy Can I” (KOCH/Epic)

My brain tells me that Ray J is an irritating doofus. My brain tells me that Moesha’s brother could never cobble together enough talent to create a single worth listening to. Unfortunately, my brain cannot keep me from thinking “Sexy Can I” is one of the best tracks to make it to the Top 10 this year. Will I regret saying this later? Probably — it hurts just to type it. For now, though, I’m listening to this and enjoying it one more time.


8. Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake, “4 Minutes”

This one gets the Ann Veal Award for the week, bestowed upon the single that does the most impressive job of turning utter mediocrity into inexplicable longevity. I suppose you could make the argument that 10 weeks in the Top 10 doesn’t really qualify as “longevity,” but have you heard this song? (You probably have, and you just don’t remember. Trick question!)


9. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocketful of Sunshine” (Epic)

In which an unspeakably bland pop song is given the big-budget video treatment, resulting in a random assortment of shots depicting urban parachuting, punching through walls, levitation, and Bollywood-style dancing. Is the video a heartbreaking waste of money? Yes. Is it much, much better than the song? Also yes.


10. Coldplay, “Viva La Vida” (Capitol)

Hey everybody, it’s the band you love to hate (unless you’re an employee or shareholder of Capitol/EMI)! Here’s the second shot fired in advance of the album that stands the best chance of pushing EMI shares above $13 this summer, and although I’m guessing it’s probably already trendy to say it sucks — not least because it’s being used in an Apple commercial — I’ve got nothing bad to say about “Viva La Vida” (download), except for that it isn’t as good as “Clocks” or “The Scientist,” and that the lack of a studio version video longer than :30 anywhere on YouTube has pissed me off sufficiently enough to break with Billboarding tradition and offer up an mp3 of the song.

Counting down to Web Sheriff warning in the comments section: 10…9…8…