Top Ten Plus

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Michael Crumsho
Brooklyn, New York

This big, sweet, gentle, strong bear of a "pretty" man role-models a maleness and sensitivity that is available to all men regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation. He fleshes out what Johnny Mathis, Johnny Ray, Jobriath, Mitch Ryder, and Elton John were not allowed to reveal.

The Hold Steady, #8 album
photo: Judson Baker
The Hold Steady, #8 album

Jim Fouratt

Anytime I was feeling down about the state of music or the state of the state—all I had to do was put on Twin Cinema's "Bleeding Heart Show," turn up the finale's chorus, and hey-la hey-la myself to sleep.

Brian Raftery

MediaMax was way worse than the more publicized XCP. I had to use a straightened-out paper clip to get Z out of my D drive. The disc did make a stylish coaster, though.

Bud Scoppa
Studio City, California

How can people find misogyny in "Gold Digger"? The chorus is a female-sympathetic middle-class critique straight out of Oprah! If you asked a thousand employed women from Oakland to Fort Greene, they'd say the same: "I'm not a gold digger, but I'd also rather not fuck with a broke-ass n***a."

Rob Tannenbaum

Right there at the end of "Gold Digger," Kanye jabs his fingers right into the sore spot: "You stay right girl, and when he get on he'll leave your ass for a white girl." But he does it with such twinkle in the eye cuteness that even the sisters had to laugh.

Brooklyn, New York

I moved to NYC from Arizona in July. Back home I had so much confidence, but here I'm pretty unsure of myself. Songs like "1 Thing" are kind of awful for me, because Amerie's quavering moments of confidence echo in my head until I think they're telling me to be more impulsive. I've learned to be pretty guarded here, but with an iPod on I take on a sort of faux confidence, clicking my heels toward all kinds of missteps.

Jessica Suarez
Brooklyn, New York

"1 Thing" isn't about the cold manipulation of appeal, but about helplessness in the face of desire. This isn't just feminine weakness—it was also the tactic of Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke. You know the producers kept her stuck in a glass booth forever, singing it over and over until the roughness in her voice read like surrender.

Lissa Townsend Rodgers
Las Vegas, Nevada

Every nanosecond of "Since U Been Gone" is calibrated for maximum effect. The first verse starts within four seconds of the opening note; the song begins quietly before bursting open on the choruses into soaring crescendos, then ends as quietly as it began; the chorus's melody is symmetrical yet goes into odd and unexpected places; almost nothing is done the same way twice.

Jem Aswad
Brooklyn, New York

"Since U Been Gone" has more good riffs than the entire Death Cab for Cutie album.

Tim Grierson
Los Angeles, California

Kelly Clarkson may be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel guilty about singing along until she hits that high C. Then, unfortunately, I have to stop. Except that one time at the lesbian karaoke bar.

Trish Bendix
Chicago, Illinois

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