In addition to their awesome ‘fros, our esteemed jurors had something else in common this year: Both took cautious steps away from the outfits that made them famous. Andy Samberg — fresh off his unlikely Emmy win for “Dick in a Box” — tried to ride Hot Rod toward leading-man status, even as his ubiquitous Saturday Night Live digital shorts remained Monday-morning in-box staples. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. strayed from the currently dormant Strokes with his tuneful solo debut, Yours to Keep (and has another he hopes to release in ’08). The verdicts are in — what say you, dudes?
The White Stripes
Jack White grinds out four minutes of filthy garage blues whose title became a dirty euphemism after a fake Meg White sex tape surfaced.
HAMMOND: I haven’t heard this. It’s hard to judge.
SAMBERG: It’s playing right now. Just say you like it. Everything’s good!
HAMMOND: I think he’s an amazing guitar player. When you’re around him, his personality is huge. He’s also literally big. He could kick my ass.
SAMBERG: He’s on record kicking the shit out of people. He fucking terrorizes the guitar. He’s, like, the best-case scenario of the dude in high school who made you sit there and listen to him play guitar.
“Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)”
R&B loverboy croons like a cyborg about plying his lady friends with spirits.
SAMBERG: T-Pain fell in love with a stripper, right? Or was that Akon? How much of his voice is affected by the computer?
SPIN: Pretty much all of it.
SAMBERG: He’s like the Peter Frampton of R&B. I’d like to see a collaboration record between T-Pain and Peter Frampton. It’d be sick if we found out that T-Pain actually was Peter Frampton.
HAMMOND: I’d let him buy me a drank.
SAMBERG: There’s no reason not to!
Pop’s most under-the-radar wallflower mounts a comeback with a hook-free dance song that became a hit anyway.
HAMMOND: Could you just leave my response completely blank? How can you even judge it? I mean, a writer wrote the song, the producer produced it. I guess she’s singing, but she sounds like a robot.
SAMBERG: Maybe Peter Frampton is Britney Spears.
HAMMOND: There’s really nothing left to say about her. “This song is great when you’re dancing in the club. It takes away all my worries!”
SAMBERG: “When my boss is getting me down, I can just cut loose!”
Sunny Canuck pop that for some reason makes us want to buy a Nano.
SAMBERG: One thing I want to get off my chest: I saw Steven Tyler recently and realized that if you’re a rock star, you can dress like a lady.
HAMMOND: All those older rock stars wear garments that are looser.
SAMBERG: They’re wearing gowns. There’s pirate shirt, and then there’s women’s blouse, and often the twain shall meet. Anyway, I’m a huge fan of Canadian songbirds. I liked her last record, too.
HAMMOND: I really love that all the members of Broken Social Scene are always working together or going off on their own.
The spunkiest, sing-alongiest anthem about a girl’s descent into junkiedom you’ll hear this year.
SAMBERG: It sounds like the video would show them playing in a living room in the suburbs.
HAMMOND: “Dad, I hate you!”
SAMBERG: Is it like “The world is against me,” or is it like “Hold your boner against me”? You might be surprised to know I would be a fan of that band. “Come on, guys, we’re gonna go to the Hold Your Boner Against Me! show.” I am there!
Tiny terror dislikes your choice of significant other, and she’s not afraid to say so.
HAMMOND: Mickey Mouse finally made a record. I’m happy!
SAMBERG: I like Avril, but this one is a little bit bubblegummy for me. Does she say “fucking” in this? That’s a fucking punk move.
HAMMOND: With her and Gwen Stefani, everything sounds like a ninth-grade cheerleading competition. She was more serious on her first record, when she was younger. Does she write her own songs?
SAMBERG: I’ve heard she writes a lot of her own shit. She was good on SNL. She can sing her ass off.
HAMMOND: To truly be a pop star, you kind of have to. I couldn’t pass American Idol.
SAMBERG: You could do okay on Britain’s Got Talent, though.
HAMMOND: Maybe. I’m going to pitch myself for that.
SAMBERG: Let me put it this way: Avril is no T-Pain, but I ain’t mad at her.
“What I’ve Done”
Despite having sold a bajillion albums, Chester Bennington continues to self-flagellate.
SAMBERG: Is this Linkin Peezy? I like Linkin Peezy. I’m not going to front.
HAMMOND: It just doesn’t connect with me. I always want to know why things like this appeal to a mass of people. You must do the same with comedy, right? You have the stuff you like to do, but you also want to appeal to a larger group of people.
SAMBERG: You have to try to balance what you love with what you think will make other people laugh. It can’t be purely self-indulgent. But Linkin Park really won me over. When they first came out, I ignored them, but they started becoming a guilty pleasure that I’d crank up in the car.
HAMMOND: You can totally see the band changed, though. Their guitar player wears a suit — they weren’t wearing suits before.
SAMBERG: Chester is fucking rad. His voice is so awesome. I’m going to make up T-shirts that say ALBERT HAMMOND JR. LOVES LINKIN PARK.
HAMMOND: And I’d wear one!
“Throw Some D’s”
Young Southern rapper loves himself some fancy rims.
SAMBERG: Rich Boy! Rich Boy is my fucking joint.
HAMMOND: I could sing the Avril song over this. She should do that remix. I don’t know any rap or hip-hop, so I trust that this is good.
SAMBERG: I love the line “Every freak should have a picture of my dick on their wall.” You know what, Guest Rapper on Rich Boy’s Song? Every freak should have a picture of your dick on their wall, and the reason is because you said that in a song.
HAMMOND: I have a picture of his dick on my wall, I must confess.
SAMBERG: He hands out head shots of his dick at shows.
Britt Daniel sticks it to the Man in the best song Billy Joel never wrote.
HAMMOND: This isn’t the same song, is it?
SAMBERG: That’d be a sick twist if Rich Boy put this in the middle of his song, but this is Spoon. This song is great.
HAMMOND: I got into Spoon after watching Stranger Than Fiction. They had an amazing song in that, over the credits. I kept rewinding after watching it in a hotel.
SAMBERG: They played SNL, and they were awesome. Everyone agrees on this song.
HAMMOND: This is what I mean — trying to find that universal quality. They found it! I think someone who listens to rap or reggae would still like this song. Spoon, you’ve done something right.
Rihanna, featuring Jay-Z
The summer’s most inescapable gynecological metaphor, with an assist from the chairman of Roc-AFella. Ella. Ella.
SAMBERG: This song is good enough that it will come on for the next 50 years at bars, and every time the whole place will go, “Ahhhh!”
HAMMOND: I was in England and this song was huge over there. It was No. 1 for, like, 15 weeks.
SAMBERG: This goes on the list with “In Da Club,” “Hey Ya!,” and “Crazy.” I heard a bunch of people passed on this song. Britney passed on it. The producer shopped it around, and it ended up being the biggest hit of the year.
HAMMOND: Isn’t that what usually happens, though? There’s always some big guy who passed on something.
SAMBERG: Like Tom Selleck passing on Indiana Jones.
HAMMOND: Or the guy who passed on the Beatles who said that guitar bands are out.
SPIN: Or Scott Baio passing on Maverick in Top Gun.
SAMBERG: That would have been a very different movie.
HAMMOND: I can’t imagine an old angry guy like Scott Baio playing that role.
SPIN: Well, it would have been the 1986 version of Baio.
HAMMOND: It doesn’t matter. I can’t get the bitter Baio out of my head.
Meaty, growly arena stomper with a chorus that dares to ask, “If Dave Grohl is the most well-adjusted guy in rock, what is he so angry about?”
SAMBERG: I’m not going to say anything bad about Foo Fighters, because they did a digital short with us [“People Getting Punched Just Before Eating”]. They sold those punches really well. They’re very comedy-friendly, but I don’t think their music is supposed to be funny.
HAMMOND: Grohl is really amazing. Everybody always says that, but it’s true. He’s just a great, genuine, funny guy. I really think that’s a big secret to his success.
SAMBERG: I also think everybody’s got a buddy who Dave Grohl reminds them of.
HAMMOND: To his fans, he feels like their friend who plays music.
Peter Bjorn and John
Three Swedes craft a whistle-while-you-work ditty for the ages.
SAMBERG: I feel like it’s been around for a long time. It’s a good song. It was a hit for a reason.
HAMMOND: I saw them play this on Conan. They were pretty good.
SPIN: Did they whistle live?
HAMMOND: I imagine there was some sort of loop.
SAMBERG: I think their whole album is whistle-heavy, isn’t it? Somebody in that camp can whistle his ass off.
HAMMOND: Whistling live is the hardest thing to do.
SAMBERG: Did Axl ever do it live for “Patience”?
SPIN: He usually relied on the crowd to do it for him.
HAMMOND: That’s the genius of being in a huge band. It’d be great if I could just do a little shake onstage, and that means that the crowd should take over.
SAMBERG: You want to be careful about whistling too much. You don’t want to blow your lips out. It’s a hazard. You see these old rocker dudes walking around with their lips hanging around their titties.
“All My Friends”
Nearly eight minutes, a single piano riff, and a compulsively danceable meditation on being too old to keep partying but too young to go home.
SAMBERG: This song is really rad and the video is great — it starts on a close-up of his face, and he’s got some cool Bowie makeup on, and it slowly pulls back and reveals the whole band and all this crazy shit going on behind him. I love videos that match the energy of the song. A lot of bands have a hit because of a really funny video, and you’re not even sure if you like the song or not.
HAMMOND: Like that band that did the treadmill thing?
SAMBERG: OK Go!
HAMMOND: The only problem is, now they have to find some other thing, otherwise they’re going to be stuck having to do that every time.
SAMBERG: They don’t want to be the M. Night Shyamalan of music videos. Everybody’s just sitting around going, “What’s the twist, OK Go?” You know they’re going to be on stationary bikes next. But LCD Soundsystem don’t have that problem.
Retro-soul bad girl refuses to be treated for her addictions. How’s that working out for her?
HAMMOND: Sonically, this song is amazing.
SAMBERG: This is…it’s good, I guess.
HAMMOND: Spit it out! Spit it out, you nice bastard!
SAMBERG: It doesn’t really strike me as being too crazy-different from the shit Erykah Badu was doing with Mama’s Gun, which is one of my favorite albums.
HAMMOND: This is one of those situations where I’m going to wait to see what she does for her next album. I think that’s where you’ll get your answer.
SAMBERG: Amy Winehouse’s biggest challenge is going to be not dying, right?
The Great White North’s greatest and whitest deliver a grandiose, caustic, organ-driven hymn that makes going to church sound awesome.
SAMBERG: There’s nothing to say about this, because it’s just fucking great.
HAMMOND: I’m looking forward to seeing what they do for a third album. They’ve established their sound, and now I want to see where they take it. They are so much better live than on record. I don’t think you can capture that kind of energy they have.
SPIN: They also sweat their balls off onstage.
SAMBERG: They do. And it’s weird that they play without pants so you can see their balls. Are you going to put your lines in this so my comments don’t just come out of nowhere? The whole thing is going to be, “This song’s great — now what do we think about their balls?”
HAMMOND: I can’t wait to read this.
SAMBERG: Win Butler definitely has the nicest balls.