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Vote now! Backstreet Boys vs. Jill Scott!

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Bsbjill_lThere are epic battles, like Godzilla vs. Mothra, and then there are arbitrary ones, like today’s PopWatch battle between a pair of popular recording artists with little in common, other than the fact that they’re hoping to take back the charts with their respective new singles. But will that stop any of us from taking to the stands with our homemade placards and screaming abuse at the opposing side, until the whole crazy imbroglio is settled? I sure as heck hope not!

So without further ado, in the red corner (and streaming here at YouTube), we’ve got Backstreet Boys’ “Inconsolable,” the group’s first effort sans Kevin Richardson. Right off the bat, I’m surprised the Boys would put out a song with a title that not only echoes their most recent (and superior) hit, 2005’s “Incomplete,” but also Beyoncé’s ubiquitous (and fabulous) “Irreplaceable.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s only a title, and a lot of words begin with the letter “i,” but it’s telling that after four consecutive listens, I’m fixated on such a picayune tidbit. I mean, where’s the hook? Love ’em or hate ’em, I bet every person reading this blog can immediately hum the chorus to Backstreet’s “I Want It That Way” and “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” — and, if we’re being honest, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).” And that’s why “Inconsolable” is so disappointing. The lyrics (“I try to sleep, but the clock is stuck on thoughts of you and me”) aren’t half-bad (in a power-ballad kind of way), but the melody sounds like it was developed by a second-rate scientist at the Lite FM Laboratory.

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In the blue corner (and streaming here at her MySpace page),we’ve got Jill Scott’s “Hate on Me,” and the opening blast of hornsalone feels like a slap of funk to the face (and no one’s wearinggloves, I might add). It just gets better as Scott jumps right in andstarts bellowing the hell out of a melody that’s as delectable as it isimmediate. As much as I loved “Golden” and “Gettin’ in the Way,” I’dargue Scott has never released a single quite this radio-ready. Let’sjust hope she doesn’t ultimately have to deliver her poetry (“Wonder ifI gave you diamonds out of my own womb/ Would you feel the love inthat, or ask ‘why not the moon’?”) to the timid programmers of today’shumdrum airwaves.

Anyhow, that’s one vote for Scott from JudgeSlezak. Listen for yourselves, then show your scorecard in the commentssection below.