Four artists I thought would never have another top 40 hit this year, well, did. At the end of 2009, I highly doubt anyone predicted Enrique, Nelly, Train and Shontelle would have big pop hits this year. If anything, this proves the power of a good song. Enrique, Nelly and Train were dead to pop radio for the last half of the decade and Shontelle seemed destined to be a one hit wonder. Although Enrique jumped on the electropop bandwagon with “I Like It,” (his first hit post mole-removal) Nelly, Train and Shontelle scored hits without conforming to the “in” sound OR featuring the hottest rent-a-rapper of the moment.
“Just a Dream” is classic mid-tempo Nelly–a catchy song with a sing-a-long chorus that tows the line between rap, R&B and pop. Train cooked up a surprise hit with “Hey, Soul Sister,” a funky, acoustic pop song with quirky lyrics. Last but not least, Shontelle, who seemed destined for “T-Shirt” fame, actually took a ballad (what’s that?) to the top 10 with “Impossible”–during the summer, nonetheless.
For these artists to score another hit, they have to continue to play to their strengths. So far, Enrique is the only who seems on track to score a follow-up hit. “Tonight (I’m Loving You)” is the perfect follow-up to “I Like It” and follows the exact same recipe that put him back on pop radio in the year 2010–catchy, dance pop that would sound perfect on “Jersey Shore.” Even though this song isn’t on his album, someone had enough sense to get him back in the studio. While a re-release is inevitable, his label/management had the right idea. They knew nothing else on the album would fly and if the follow-up to “I Like It” flopped, it would have been difficult (if not impossible) to regain his footing on pop radio. While I thought Shontelle’s “Perfect Nightmare” and Train’s “If It’s Love” were decent (although not nearly as strong as the songs that preceded them) follow-ups, radio didn’t quite take to them. These artists, who are treading on thin ice as it is, need to release equally as good if not better songs than the ones that landed back on radio. If not, pop radio will just give something by one of their core artists–Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady GaGa–another spin.
So, who will hit it big in 2011 with a surprise hit? Will Kat DeLuna finally be upgraded from one hit wonder status? Or will Jennifer Lopez finally score another hit? Maybe we’ll hear from Blink-182 or Ludacris again? Who knows, but here’s some advice: stick to what you do best and actually create a catchy song. Hey, it worked for these four last year!