Reasons to turn the radio on or turn it off -- We give thumbs up or down to songs by Rihanna, Damien Marley, Bo Bice, and D.H.T.

By Michael Endelman
Updated July 22, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Reasons to turn the radio on or turn it off

RIHANNA ”Pon De Replay” The dancehall-reggae crossover hit of the summer, utilizing the same clap-happy beat as 2003’s model (remember Lumidee?). This recycled reggae-pop rump shaker will almost certainly expire soon after Labor Day, but until then, its catchy plea to ”Mr. DJ” is as welcome as a nice frosty daiquiri in August. B

DAMIEN MARLEY ”Welcome to Jamrock” Another warm-weather reggae single, though this surprise hit flips dancehall’s jittery pulse for a dubbed-out roots groove that Damien’s dad might dig. The lyrics are more ”Burnin’ and Lootin”’ than ”One Love,” portraying a Jamaica (a.k.a. Jamrock) filled with guns, ganja, and gangs. A

BO BICE ”Inside Your Heaven” American Idol winner Carrie Underwood fares a little better with her version of the same tune, but runner-up Bice’s over- the-top version is a formless piece of schlock. Idol may be good TV, but its musical track record is still awfully spotty: Bice’s anonymous vocal can’t compensate for the song’s lack of hooks. D-

D.H.T. ”Listen to Your Heart” Splenda-sweetened Belgian trance that has somehow managed to cross over from sweaty nightclubs to the pop charts. It’s not a big surprise that a Euro dance act sings lyrics that are trite and clichéd, but we would have expected some much cooler synth sounds from our Continental cousins. C-