1. R. Kelly, “Trapped in the Closet (Chapter 1)” (Jive). iTunes
  2. Tweet ft. Missy Elliott, “Turn da Lights Off” (Atlantic). iTunes
  3. Quasimoto, “Rappcats Pt. 3” (Stones Throw). iTunes
  4. Trillville ft. Cutty, “Some Cut” (Warner/BMG). iTunes
  5. Big Boi ft. Bun B, Big Gee & Gee Rock, “808” (Purple Ribbon mixtape).
  6. Kano, “Reload It” (679, U.K.).
  7. 4Hero, “Journey From the Light” (Reinforced; originally released 1993).
  8. Luke Vibert, “Funky Acid Stuff” (Planet Mu). iTunes
  9. Barbara Morgenstern & Robert Lippok, “Please Wake Me for Meals” (Monika). iTunes
  10. Mu, “Out of Breach” (Output). iTunes
  11. Swampdweller, “Crunchtime” (Freetone).
  12. Feist, “Mushaboom” (Interscope). iTunes
  13. Electrelane, “Bells” (Too Pure). iTunes
  14. The Costello Show, “Suit of Lights” (Rhino; originally released 1986).
  15. Jo Dee Messina, “My Give a Damn’s Busted” (Curb). iTunes
  16. Cowboy Troy, “I Play Chicken (With the Train)” (Warner Bros.). iTunes
  17. Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” (RCA). iTunes
  18. The Twin ft. Avenue D, “Fire-Desire” (More Protein).
  19. R. Kelly, “Trapped in the Closet (Chapter 2)” (Jive). iTunes

In the gap between making this CD and writing about it, two more chapters in R. Kelly’s new five-part saga have come to the world’s attention, and I’d shoehorn them in if only I weren’t so damn lazy. Really, though—the first two are enough for any sane person, which Kelly clearly isn’t, something that, as any of the “Trapped” chapters are playing, we should all be extremely grateful for. I’m already envisioning what “Chapter 5” of this sucker is gonna be like. Here’s what I hope ends up being the case: It’s eight-and-a-half minutes long; someone is shot, most likely the narrator (maybe he’s even telling the tale from beyond the grave!), but it’d be great if R. doesn’t actually do any shooting himself, despite having held the gun for the bulk of the song’s duration; the closet has a secret trapdoor that leads him to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (convenient back story for R.’s 2003 album, Chocolate Factory); that he doesn’t change the backing music at all. I’m sure that only the latter will actually be the case, but really, I can’t remember the last pop song that left me on the edge of my seat like this. More mini-radio dramas please, R&B singers.

The two “Trapped in the Closets” surround lots of songs that are hits, or were earlier in the year: Tweet, Trillville, and Clarkson are all radio singles that have (mostly) already run their course, while Jo Dee Messina and Cowboy Troy are still coming on. (At the EMP Pop Conference, Jon Caramanica played “I Play Chicken” as an example of modern country-rap, and everyone around me turned to each other like, “Cool!” Then he cut it off and said, in essence, “That sucks.” Wrong!) The Twin (aka Boy George) turns electroclash also-rans Avenue D into a wonderful accoutrement for his lunatic-genius move, a dancehall single about desiring chi-chi men; dunno if it’s getting club play, but it’s certainly getting plenty of P2P traffic. Kano’s is the most anticipated grime album of the year, barring another from Dizzee Rascal; the Big Boi et al. track comes from one of the season’s hottest hip-hop mixtapes. 4Hero was a dance-floor hit back when “rave” was still used in the present tense. In other words, it dwells comfortably on the margins, just like the rest of the cuts here.