No. 7: “Solo,” Iyaz

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, native Iyaz is poised to become 2010’s musical MVP for his collaborations with young female pop stars. He worked with Charice on “Pyramid” and Hannah Montana (aka Miley Cyrus) on “Gonna Get This.” “Solo,” much like his compulsively singable hit “Replay,” presents the U.K. chart-topper as more than just a side guy.

In his second single, Iyaz (aka Keidran Jones) obsesses over a childhood sweetheart — a switch from the finicky iPod of his first hit. With producer J.R. Rotem, the singer contemporizes his island riddims with a heavy dose of electronics, updating samples of Janet Jackson’s heart-tugging “Again” with a slew of kitchen-sink synth embellishments. Handclaps, faux laser blasts, and trebly beats skitter across the pleasing surfaces of Iyaz’s airily youthful vocals in a self-consciously nostalgic shout-out to yesteryear’s R&B. Our beach boy wanders his homeland’s shoreside spots in the track’s video, bemoaning the long-ago loss of a schoolgirl love. “I don’t want to walk this earth if I gotta do it solo,” he begs sweetly.

Happily, Iyaz doesn’t have to — at least in the video — closing the clip with a stroll across the sands with a delectable new hottie. Intriguingly, in the context of Iyaz’s career, the song seems to play it both ways: The lyrics cry out for togetherness, although the arrangement’s emphasis on the word “solo” sounds like it’s making a bid for Iyaz as a singular artist, unattached to any pop ingenue. The singularity is a legit assertion, considering that “Solo” is Iyaz’s second U.S. Top 40 hit, and he appears to have a charmed future: Akon and Wyclef Jean are said to be collaborating on his upcoming album.

–Kimberly Chun

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