By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
If "U + Ur Hand" fortified Pink's pop-diva-cum-rebel-punkette cred, the bittersweet "Who Knew" suggests that beneath the hard, jaded underdog's shell beats a heart that can break as easily as Cyndi Lauper's, circa John Hughes's cineplex reign. Anyone who can't relate to "I wish I could touch you again/I wish I could still call you friend" should check his/her pulse. Lil Wayne mixtape co-opt odds: 2,000:1.
The self-deprecating title suckers us in so Tom Gabel can prove to the world (and the band's major label) that the protest song is alive, well, and overstuffed with verbiage about stupid wars. Because we heart corporate, poli-sci punk, we'll ignore the fact that half the melody was swiped from the Offspring's "The Kids Aren't Alright." Lil Wayne mixtape co-opt odds: 400:1.
Crunk siren/Missy Elliott homegirl spites the genre that birthed her with a pillow-talkin' Fitty, whose sensitive-thug mumbling registers as a naked marketing non sequitur. Meanwhile, Ciara's in love with a gangsta, and we're in love with her eyelashes-aflutter crushing on the R&B hook: "I can't leave 'em alone/I tried that good boy thing, but the dope boy's turnin' me on." Lil Wayne mixtape co-opt odds: 20:1.
When the Dream asserts—on the hook, natch—"Man, I don't need no hook for this hit," he's not kidding. Woozily nostalgia-inducing, the track is summer slow-jam fabulous, a sweat 'n' pheromones syrup the dude wants to pour all over Shawty's grits, if she'll just come back to him. Won't you, Shawty? "You a ten"! Lil Wayne mixtape co-opt odds: 10:1.
To transition from A-list hip-hop producer to vocalist, you need an angle. Pharrell's got that fake Marvin Gaye croon; Kanye's got those class-clownin' punch-line rhymes. Because Swizz—acclaimed lacer of paranoid, haunting beats for DMX and Jay-Z, among others—has no microphone game whatsoever, this potent blaxploitation sugar-rush of triumphant strings and horns goes to waste. Unless, that is, this sage philosophy rocks your bells: "Riding with my top down, and my jewelry on/Hey, I'm just gettin' my hood on!" Lil Wayne mixtape co-opt odds: 2:1.