We decided to take a look at the Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart and see which, if any, of the top 20 songs this week we knew.
1. "Moves Like Jagger" - Maroon 5/f Christina Aguilera
We love Maroon 5. "Wake Up Call" is on our list of songs of which we never tire.
2. "Party Rock Anthem" - LMFAO
Our devotion to Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance" might be a big help with staying somewhat current with pop music (Lady Gaga made her big splash on SYTYCD with her first hit "Just Dance"). We know this song from that show. And we bought it on iTunes. So far, so good.
3. "Pumped Up Kicks" - Foster the People
4. "Lighters" - Bad Meets Evil/f Bruno Mars
We know Bruno Mars, of course. He's charming if weightless. And we think we've heard of Bad Meets Evil. But we couldn't pick this song out of an audio lineup.
5. "Last Friday Night" - Katy Perry
It's probably not cool to admit an affection for Katy, but every song of hers seems like a finely-tuned pop-music Swiss watch, perfectly crafted and sleekly executed. How can you not like "Teenage Dream"?
6. "Super Bass" - Nicki Minaj
Apparently, Nicki is a big deal. We're also aware that she dresses outrageously, which is very important these days. But we don't know her music.
7. "How to Love" - Lil Wayne
All we really know about Lil Wayne is that he is one scary-looking tattooed dude.
8. "Good Life" - OneRepublic
We know the band, but not this song.
9. "Give Me Everything" - Pitbull/f NeYo, Afrojack, and Nayer
We think this one was performed on the VMAs. Not sure. Four in a row now we don't know. Pitbull is always a slick dresser. We couldn't pull off that look, that's for damn sure.
10. "Stereo Hearts" - Gym Class Heroes f/Adam Levine
We've heard of it, but don't know it.
11. "Cheers (Drink to That)" - Rihanna
"What's My Name" and "Love the Way You Lie" are gems. We don't know this one, but it's new - maybe in time we'll recognize it. In general, we don't get all the hubbub over Rihanna. Seems like any 20-something singer could have the same career if given the same songs.
12. "I Wanna Go" - Britney Spears
Don't know this one. We seem to be aging out of the Britney skeevy club-pop genre.
13. "Tonight Tonight" - Hot Chelle Rae
We have this on iTunes. A jangly anthem that's a staple of movie trailers and TV spots right now.
14. "Rolling in the Deep" - Adele
Who hasn't heard this song over and over and over since the spring? We get it, she's talented. She's also overrated in the same way that Amy Winehouse was overrated. It always seems to us to be more about admiring their work to appear cool and discerning, rather than actually buying their music.
15. "If I Die Young" - The Band Perry
We know this song. A country crossover. Dark.
16. "You and I" - Lady Gaga
This is her new one. We don't know it. There's something of a Gaga backlash brewing it seems. But we remain convinced that she's a genius, even if she's a little odd. Comparisons have been made to Madonna, but Gaga has a better voice and a stronger theatrical streak (she commits to her craziness in ways that Madonna never did; Madonna always seemed to be winking so we knew she was in on the joke). And Gaga is succeeding in a world far different than the one that Madonna dominated in the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, music label monopolies drove the artists and spent millions in marketing dollars and MTV videos. There wasn't much competition. That was before the internet and digital downloaded gutted the music business and fractured the audience. To succeed now demands a new set of skills in self-promotion.
17. "She Will" - Lil Wayne/f Drake
It'd be an interesting study to look at this proliferation of the "featuring" element in hip-hop/R&B songs. It seems to have started sometime around 2000 as a novelty (usually mixing gritty rappers with female singers), but now it's become commonplace.
18. "You Make Me Feel" - Cobra Starship/f Sabi
We like this one. We bought it on iTunes. But the better Cobra Starship song is the infectious "Good Girls Gone Bad."
19. "Someone Like You" - Adele
Sorry, but... yawn. She sang this on the VMAs. Stately and important, yes, but also slow and dull.
20. "I'm On One" - DJ Khaled/f Drake, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne
Nope. We can tell you that Drake is the guy in that 7-Up commercial where the singer broke apart like a robot, but the soft drink put him back together.
So... out of 20 "hit" songs, we've heard of 7 or 8. Not a great batting average, but most of these songs seem pitched to a younger demographic.
In other words, sometimes we prefer the cozy embrace of SiriusXM's 80s channel.