Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

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Better as a song? Or a ring tone?

April 30, 2009 |  2:23 pm

The singles artist has returned.

Take Flo Rida. By the time his sophomore album, “R.O.O.T.S.,” was released in March 2009, he had already sold more than 2.4-million digital downloads of lead-off single “Right Round,” according to Nielsen SoundScan. In about one month, the album has sold just over 122,000 copies, but in the last week alone, "Sugar," the latest single by Flo Rida (pictured), sold 127,000 downloads, Billboard reports.

And one of the greatest-selling artists of the digital era is back on the charts, proving that he’s no one-hit wonder. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em’s “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” has sold more than 5 million in digital downloads, and his “Kiss Me Thru the Phone,” featuring Sammie, hit the top 10 in spring 2009. But the album it’s on isn’t even in the top-50 on the U.S. pop charts.

Perhaps these are singles that translate better as ring tones than album tracks. Check the video for “Crank That,” which may as well be an advertisement for carrying a data plan, as cellphones are featured as prominently as the artist. The relaxed steeldrum beat is plainly calm, and it's recognizable if blasted out of a tiny speaker in someone’s coat pocket. It’s the song as ring tone.

We take a look at some recent hits to determine whether they work better as a ring tone (meaning we don’t need to hear more than 10 seconds to get the full picture) or as a fleshed-out work.

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