By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
In the event of inclement weather, by all means seek shelter beneath Rihanna's um-ber-ell-a-el-la -el-la-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh. Judging by the video, the calamities she wishes to shield you from include hilariously awful CGI water, body-double ballet dancing, an eye exam ("Which one's clearer, this one or this one? Now, this one or this one?") conducted on the set of the climactic scene in Terminator, and a Jay-Z cameo so aloof and unconnected you can slap it at the beginning of "American Pie" and it'd fit just as well. His habit of narcissistic non-sequitur appearances in songs expressing selfless devotion is great fun. As for that devotion, "In the dark/You can't see fancy cars/That's when you'll need me there/With you I'll always share," Rihanna chirps over a beat that sounds like a Maserati dipped in diamonds. Will she actually soothe/protect/nurture you? God, I hope so.
"I'll Stand by You"
iTunes download from the Idol Gives Back special
In the event of an imminent crying jag (guhhh, Phil Hughes had a no-hitter going!), by all means indulge in the resurrection of an actually pretty fantastic ballad from a mid-'90s Pretenders record. Weepy fiddle aside, this is actually far more restrained and underplayed than Chrissie Hynde's version, which is frankly amazing. Oh, man, tearing up now. "Don't be ashamed to cry," Carrie counsels. OK, Carrie. I prefer my promises of faithfulness and longevity to come from someone a bit more seasoned and credible than a reality-show contestant, but Carrie forgives such bitchiness. "If you're mad, get mad," Carrie counsels. OK, Carrie. "I get angry too." Doesn't sound like it, Carrie. "I'm a lot like you." Hopefully not, Carrie. Will she actually soothe/protect/nurture you? Probably, you shiftless no-account fuckup.
"Lay Your Head Down"
From Keren Ann
In the event you wish to be decapitated by a purring, worldly [looks up another word for "chanteuse"] groaner, by all means enjoy this chipper lullaby with a chorus of "Why don't you lay your head down in my arms?" What do you picture? Will she actually soothe/protect/nurture you? Your noggin will be lovingly encased in a glass jar filled with Mountain Dew.