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The naked truth about this summer's radio singles

And though the video for "The Middle" shows more skin than an hour of BET (very au courant, boys), some insist their "mature lyrics" (do I have to start quoting again?) make them a post-teen's socially responsible Blink-182. Nah, I say it just makes the Jimmies the Vanessa Carlton of modern rock. This latest version of Middlebrow Britney™ comes complete with brown hair (proves she's smart--don't you guys watch any TV?) and "I've been practicing so hard!" piano runs. (National Geographic-sounding string bombardment and MTV Beach House sold separately!) Actually, I'm of two minds about Nessie's "A Thousand Miles." On the pro side, that's four minutes I won't have to hear Michelle Branch. Con: That's four minutes I won't get to hear Avril Levigne.

Middlebrow Britney, now available in brunette! Vanessa Carlton
Kurt Iswarienko
Middlebrow Britney, now available in brunette! Vanessa Carlton

Ah, Avril! "Take off all your preppy clothes," the 17-year-old Canuck commands her stuffy boyfriend on "Complicated." No, she isn't pulling a reverse Nelly. Gross! She's saying that boys should not go and act one way when you're alone with them and then totally act another way when their stupid friends are around. And she's right! I mean, that's so lame! Avril delivers "pose" in perfect Alanisese, her chorus is literally meaningless when followed word by word, and she fights in bars she's not even old enough to enter. But what makes "Complicated" such a great rant against phonies is that, as the video reveals, it's really just about breaking stuff at the mall. Not quite stopping the war or suing Ticketmaster, true, but hella more rebellious than calling out Chris Kirkpatrick or tossing your hair back so that the 40-year-old with the camcorder can get a clear nipple shot. God bless Canada!

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