The Singles Jukebox
A Soft Dusky Glow



week 4, and we’ve got ourselves Nusrat’s nephew, a pair of dancehall titans, a country song about not understanding women, psycho-tastic Argentine skabilly, unexpectedly half-decent Scots disco-rock, Japanese hip-hop… so yes, we’ll be kicking off with the godawful English melodic rock track and its unnecessary gospel choir attachment, then.


Kubb – Grow
[1.91]


Martin Skidmore: Deeply horrible. Sounds like it should be a charity record about cute, brave children with brain tumours or some such, except I guess "Let it grow" would be a spectacularly ill-chosen refrain in that case. Piano, strings, hopelessly weak singing, backing one step from a juniour school choir, a guitar break that wants to be like Brian May at his permiest—totally appalling, like Coldplay remade for people who find them too dangerous and difficult. It also lasts over five minutes, ferfucksake.
[1]

Brad Shoup: Erections, amirite? Five best power ballads of all time: 5. Man Man, “Gold Teeth” 4. KISS, “Beth” 3. Steve Perry, “Oh, Sherrie” 2. Blur, “Tender” 1. Boston, “Hitch a Ride”.
[0]

Dom Passantino: Kubb have been “about to blow” for roughly 23 years now, and yet for some reason the general public doesn't seem to be going too crazy for their vaguely-less-anodyne-than-Athlete impressions. The real impression given from “Grow” is Gabrielle's lyric-writer half-heartedly singing his latest composition to her so she knows which words to enunciate properly. #28 with a bullet.
[2]

Patrick McNally: There’s nothing worse in pop than something that sounds like a safe bet, and a triangulation of Blunt, Keane and Powter might be said to be one. If a year ago I was told that there’d be groups that made Coldplay seem streamlined and acute I wouldn’t have believed them. This year I plan on believing everything anyone tells me, except good news.
[1]

Mike Barthel: The question begged by this song is: if I like power ballads so much, why do songs like this make me want to punch a baby? I think it's because we're less ashamed of power ballads these days (rock ballads being a perennial fav) and more ashamed of certain elements of power ballads. Problem is, those elements are all the fun ones--giant drums, ridiculous guitar solos, overbearing orchestration, lyrics so absurd you will quote them for years--and without them, your modern-day ballads are but empty shells. Maybe we should just ban pianos for a while and require that all snares be accompanied by at least 75% more reverb.
[3]


Billy Currington – Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right
[3.45]


Doug Robertson: Women, ey? What do they want? Billy Currington’s not sure at all, despite the fact that the answer is clearly “Not Currington”. No matter, having spent years and years fumbling around and sending away all his potential partners disappointed and unsatisfied, Billy’s finally managed to work out what to do, more by luck than judgement it seems, and has decided to write a song in tribute to his fingers and thumbs approach to the world of ladies. Rumours that the next single will be “Just Hang on a Sec, I’ve Almost Got it Unhooked” are, as yet, unconfirmed.
[2]

Ian Mathers: The only way I could hate this song more was if I was actually a woman, because then Billy would be singing to me. The absolute nadir of Adult Contemporary Country.
[0]

Patrick McNally: In a week that The Ordinary Boys tell us that boys will be boys, Billy brings us more unnecessary common sense: “a woman is a mystery a man just can’t understand.” Check out his album for some great tracks about how they also can’t get the tops off jars and can’t reverse park.
[1]

Martin Skidmore: My love for country is mostly focussed on decades past, but this is really nice. Smooth country-pop, lovely steel guitar, very nice singing, a good song (country rarely lets you down in this regard). I'm not sure whether it sounds very different from mainline country right now, but it strikes me as a very good example of that, and I like it.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: Contemporary country is still enough of a novelty for me (props to Gretchen Wilson for piquing my curiosity) that my standards aren't fully developed yet; lately, I've been tempted to give a thumbs up to anything with a slide guitar and a drawl. But although Currington's voice is strong and appropriately tender for the awestruck attitude he takes, I can't quite get over the bald sentimentality of this song. Like, in the imaginary engagement-ring commercial it plays over, there's a porch swing, some iced tea, and a soft dusky glow.
[5]


Conjure One – Extraordinary Way
[4.09]


Patrick McNally: Rhys Fulber, aka Conjure One, is possibly the only person to have worked with Fear Factory and Sarah Brightman. He’s also from clunky and stupid 80s industrial rock ‘pioneers’ Frontline Assembly so it’s maybe not too much of a surprise to find him in the 05 wanting to make “ambient, epic music… without the constraints of a specific genre." Or bad pop trance, as you and I call it.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: The chap behind Conjure One was also one of the chaps behind Delerium, who (along with guest vocalist Sarah McLachlan) had a UK Top 3 hit in 2000 with “Silence”. This is essentially more of the same: melodic commercial trance with soft female vocals, and the sort of non-specifically “deep” lyrics that can readily be customised to soundtrack the peak-time, big-room, rushing-on-the-second-pill e-piphany of one’s own devising. (“Oh God, this is ME! How did they KNOW?”)
[6]

Ian Mathers: That Cascada song last week was actually pretty cool because it took the way this kind of semi-trance often sounds ridiculously candy-coated and worked with it, the cutesy vocals and fairly strong beats playing off of each other. Conjure One have a better sound but a worse vocalist, one trying to be all cool and aloof while singing utter nonsense. When the backing kicks back in after the pro forma mid song pause it's actually pretty cool, but this one would be much better as an instrumental.
[4]

Joris Gillet: There was a time when the Dutch music-channels were full of this kind of stuff: Alice Deejay, that Paul Van Dijk-single with Sarah Cracknell and, well, mostly Alice Deejay to be honest. Good to notice that this kind of trance-pop is still around. Whereas the over the top mechanical/orchestral emotion of most real trance leaves me totally cold, this hits the right buttons. It's probably the (female) vocals that make it personal and draws you in and makes you care.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Ah, what could be more enjoyable than listening to some vaguely verbose but entirely dated trance? Other than pretty much everything in the entire world with the possible exception of dancing to some vaguely verbose but entirely dated trance, of course. There’s no magic here, and certainly nothing extraordinary, just a will-this-do trudge along a road so well travelled it’s been re-tarmaced twice and is currently awaiting even more repairs from the local road authority.
[4]


The Ordinary Boys – Boys Will Be Boys
[4.33]


Patrick McNally: “I’ve had nights I will never forget, I’ve had nights that I’ll always regret”—it’s almost too tempting to read it in light of Preston’s Celeb Big Bro appearance now, even if Pete Burns has hopefully taught him that boys won’t always exactly be boys. But no, it’s still an unresonant song, pretending that the status quo is cheeky and cheery and all those other horrible words, aimed at those who read both NME and Nuts. In the ideal world only ordinary boys will be boys.
[3]

John M. Cunningham: I clearly have no idea what's going on in the UK: are you guys ten years late with the third-wave ska revival? Although if memory serves, Goldfinger and Less Than Jake never employed an actual dancehall rapper like the Ordinary Boys do here with the Beat's Rankin Junior. His turn at the mic is the most surprising part of this sunny but not particularly remarkable tune.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: The Ordinary Boys seem content to inhabit a perpetual Autumn 1980, and on the strength of this dinky little 2-Tone pastiche (the only such number in their repertoire, which mostly tips its hat in the direction of Paul Weller) I’m not about to rock their boat. With the breakneck tempo of Bad Manners, the block chords of Madness (specifically “Baggy Trousers”), the horns of The Specials, and even a guest appearance from the son of The Beat’s Rankin’ Roger, it scores full marks for verisimilitude. I once saw Phil Jupitus sing guest lead vocals on this, on stage at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. And very good he was too. Better than that jumped-up media whore who usually sings with them, at any rate.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: We've had Madness once, and that was fine, but I'm not sure we need them back again. I always liked Madness, but I'm not sure they've weathered well, feeling forced and too Olde England, almost, by now—there were difficulties with an all-white ska band then, but they survived them convincingly enough; but a quarter of a century later in a week when we also have Sean Paul for instance, it feels painfully insular. This is presumably an old album track without even Suggs singing, and not among their better moments... it's what? Oh. Why?
[3]

Ian Mathers: You know, Reel Big Fish's debut was actually pretty good. And unlike the Ordinary Boys, who are totally insufferable, they coupled the ska-rock and horns with songs that were about being pathetic messes in the form of slackers, and this is vaguely offensive “guys are AWESOME” bullshit. The kind of thing that makes sense when you're so drunk you also think mouthing off to that cop is also a good idea, but sadly less entertaining than when you invariably get thrown into the drunk tank.
[2]


Tiffany Foxx ft. Snoop Dogg – Shake That
[4.58]


Patrick McNally: US hip-hop is more into scat than the German porn industry and here’s a track about watching a girl have a crap. “Shake that shit”—yeah you don’t want it half out yer arse, that’d be unseemly. Snoop gets in a guest verse so poor that he phoned it in on two tin cans connected with string.
[4]

John M. Cunningham: Right about now, raspy-voiced Ludacris protege Shawnna must be feeling like Noah Baumbach did when he discovered that "Untitled Will Ferrell Soccer Movie" had acquired the title Kicking and Screaming. Except this time, there's not nine years and a wildly different demographic between the original and its title clone; it's barely two years, and both songs are the debuts of saucy female rappers in tandem with cartoonish hip-hop icons. But this is clearly a case of diminishing returns: whereas "Shake That Shit" rode a sly, exotic bounce and featured magnetic performances from both of its stars, the new "Shake That" merely recycles the "Drop It Like It's Hot" beat, and in the face of Foxx's relative lack of charisma, Snoop is reduced to lamely shizzling all over the place.
[5]

Doug Robertson: That “izzle” thing is getting really annoying now. If izzle wazzle tozzle tryzzle anzzle revizzle thizzle singzzle in that style, not only would it be unreadabizzle, but it plays merry hell with the spell chizzle. Still, that aside, this is the sort of thing that Snoop can turn out in his sleep—and giving the izzle dominance there’s a good chance that this was written using what he mumbles while sleeptalking—and Tiffany seems to be little more than a prettier Snoop, rapping in a higher register. It’s passable but, like a diet composed entirely of crackers and water, it’s pretty unsatisfying.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Yeah, of course it’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Right down to the Snoop rap, shameless imitation of the Neptune’s beat (no tongue clicks this time) and… um… the phrase “Drop it like it’s hot,” appearing within the first few lines. But, don’t get mad: “Drop It Like It’s Hot” was a damn good song, and a redux, even a brazenly derivative one is far from unwelcome.
[6]

Robert Walsh: Hey, the beat sounds like “Drop it Like it’s Hot”! Foxxx even makes a blatant reference to this in her verse! What Mr. S-N-Double-O-P taught the world in the wake of Chingy’s “Holidae Inn” is that he has a perfect voice for a chorus. He could easily put Nate Dogg’s baritone out of business. When a beat is this skeletal it pushes the vocals directly to the front of the mix, and the rhymes take center stage. No longer regulated to use as melodica, the flow is going to matter considerably more. Snoop and Tiff fail here on all counts. Call the pound and euthanize these dogs.
[3]


Mr Vegas ft. Lexxus – Taxi Fare
[4.83]


Dom Passantino: Considering it’s been seven years now since he had a hit with “Heads High”, you gotta assume Mr V has big things on his mind. Some hefty social issues to tackle, some troot to lay down to the yoot. And so he's recorded a song about... women who don't take enough taxi fare to nightclubs with them. Oh, the social mores of the contemporary dancehall scene...
[4]

Brad Shoup: It’s like a Bad Boy demo, simple and ingratiating. Also wheedling; forgive my lack of stylistic currency, but the scrawny one is Mr. Vegas, and the Bounty Killer dude is Lexxus, yes? The bass pulse is the real star here, but only like a medium-small fish in a tiny pond.
[3]

Robert Walsh: From the simply overused stock dancehall backing track, this is a throwaway song from the rather prolific Mr. Vegas. In this week’s dancehall single battle the prize goes to Sean Paul. Maybe being related to King Solomon will do that for a person.
[6]

Patrick McNally: Is it just the people that I hang around with or does no one talk about dancehall anymore? Perhaps it’s because the bits of Jamaican music that hip-hop bit have now been chewed so much that they’ve lost their flavour or maybe it’s just records like this—boring remixed Baddis riddim inaction with no sly hooks or crazy paving beats.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: If I was a taxi driver, and Mr Vegas and Lexxus got into my cab, and tried to pay me with that synth line, I’d drive them to their destination and send them on their way with a smile and a wave. A great synth line just really will work wonders for you.
[7]


El Presidente – Turn This Thing Around
[5.00]


Dom Passantino: I assume I'm not the only one who's spent the past nine months studiously avoiding El Presidente's music based solely on their awful name (the last thing we need in 2006 is to be reminded of Drugstore), but, damn me, they're pretty great. Scissor Sisters minus Elton John plus The O'Jays, if you will. Or maybe Wild Cherry if they knew their way around a pair of straightening irons.
[9]

Joris Gillet: It's not that I'm fundamentally against anyone sounding like a cross between the Scissor Sisters and the Darkness it's just that this comes across so desperate. Going a bit funky on your guitar doesn't make you automatically disco just as singing in a yelping voice doesn't make you sexy all of a sudden. It's like one of those Local Bands trying too hard to sound like a cross between the Scissor Sisters and the Darkness and thát is most certainly very, very wrong.
[2]

Martin Skidmore: Part of this is word for word and note for note out of “Your Song”. Otherwise we are more in Scissor Sisters territory, high-voiced disco rock. It doesn't have quite the high-gloss glamorous production, and the singing is much more strained Jagger than Bee Gees. Actually, if you think weedy Stones b-side to something like “Miss You”, you'll have a fair idea what this sounds like.
[4]

Brad Shoup: Axl Rose made his first public appearance in four years last week, at a tour-commencement bash for the boys in Korn. He chatted amiably with the adoring throng, even dropping hints as to the aesthetic approach of his long-suffering long-player Chinese Democracy. “Well, you know, we’re going for a pop-disco vibe, circa New Radicals, transitional Kylie, that whole sort of 1997 thing,” Rose said while twiddling a wayward dread. “I mean, G ‘n’ R pretty much closed the book on metal, and I was real inspired by these dudes”—and here he gestured to Korn—“and ‘Word Up.’” I’m eager to prove myself on this new front.” He didn’t commit to a tour just yet, but coyly hinted that “a major South American drug” would somehow be involved.
[5]

Doug Robertson: There’s nothing earth shattering here, no boundaries are broken, there’s nothing you haven’t heard before and all barriers remain resolutely uncrashed through. But! Like putting on your favourite t-shirt, there’s something quite comforting about the traditionalism on display here. It’s just a good, straightforward, down the line, indie-pop song. Sure it’s got “Fourth single” written all over it, and whether you buy it or not, your world isn’t going to be changed in any way whatsoever, but for it’s 3 minutes, 47 seconds, a smile will be raised and your foot will start a tapping, and sometimes, that’s all you need.
[6]


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaaye
[5.33]


Mike Atkinson: Having served since boyhood as an apprentice to his late uncle, the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat was officially appointed as his successor, taking over the Qawwali master’s musical entourage upon his death in 1997. So, no pressure then. OK, so maybe Rahat is no Nusrat—but he’s a fine singer all the same. Taken from the soundtrack of the recent Bollywood smash Kalyug (a genre-busting exposé of the porn industry, no less) this old-fashioned romantic ballad has just reached Number One in the Hindi charts, giving Rahat a renewed visibility and a welcome career boost. This is the sort of thing which presses all of my buttons, and I think it’s perfectly lovely.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Nusrat was probably my favourite Asian singer. I was expecting a modernisation here, perhaps with some western electronics (Nusrat dabbled, now and then) mixed with the traditional qawwali instrumentation, but no. He doesn't have the sinuous power of his uncle, but he has a beautiful voice, and can muster some force when needed, and he captures much of the same mesmeric, compelling quality of his uncle. I imagine the market in the west for this beyond a devotional moslem fanbase is tiny, but I like it very much.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Obviously I have no idea what he's singing, but this is industrial strength soothing, especially when he just repeats the title phrase. A bit too long for it's own good, but that chorus is so pretty you can forgive it, even during the pan flute(?) parts. Next time more singing and melody like that chorus, less of everything else, please.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: You can get away with murder if you’ve got a flute and you’re not singing in English. Murder and/or the musical equivalent of C-SPAN. As such, in spite of a surfeit of chanting that makes old-timey elevator muzak sound inspiring, this is bound to find its way into the collections of thousands of liberal wankers who think they’re special because they get their records from the Barnes and Noble World Music section. Or Starbucks. Maybe in India, upper-middle class trendies listen to Dido and feel terribly cultured.
[2]

Mike Barthel: Look, to be perfectly honest with you, unless this kind of thing is serving as ironic counterpoint in an Oliver Stone movie, I have a hard time paying attention. I blame the flutey thing. Man, I'm wishing I took that ethnomusicology class right about now.
[3]


Kapanga - Rock
[5.36]


Patrick McNally: The Pogues write a comedy rock musical. It closes on the first night.
[2]

Dom Passantino: It sounds like Argentina's third biggest selling “rock e roll Americano” artist of 1967 has decided that he needs a blue-eyed soul filtered through power-pop folk sound in order to mark his TV comeback special. Points lost for the unnecessary echoing of “Living On My Own” as well.
[3]

Brad Shoup: It’s Ska Expo Week on the ‘box this week. Intro drums cribbed from “that Cadillac commercial” and the juiciest trills north of a drag queen Charo. The hardcore breakdown—what was up with that? I like the chorus all right, but this isn’t for the radio, it’s for a high school graduation block party.
[4]

Mike Barthel: This song was a 10 on first listening due purely to the first twenty seconds, in which Led Zeppelin is quoted and then made fun of via an accordion and the way the backup singer rolls the R in "rrrrrock." And some dude says "lonely lonely!" But then I considered and realized I just like people making fun of Led Zeppelin, or I guess making what could be a Weird Al parody (quoting! accordion!) but isn't, and is in fact a very good, um, latin-ska-pop song? I mainly just wish they played this in bodegas. It's almost reggaeton, right?
[9]

Mike Atkinson: So you were back-packing through Argentina, and you ended up in this little place in the middle of nowhere, where you spent every night getting hammered on tequila slammers at the bar in the main square, and two or three times a night someone would walk up to the battered old jukebox in the corner and put this record on, with its raucously good-humoured Manu Chao-esque blend of ska and thrash and accordions and the whole bar would start shouting along and stomping their feet and bashing their pool cues on the ground, and someone would always grab you from your seat and start whirling you round, while chickens scattered out of your way in the dust, and grinning, toothless grandmas emerged from the kitchen, nodding their heads from side to side and rattling their pots and pans, and, well, you had to be there really, but hearing this brings it all back. Even if you were never really there in the first place.
[8]


Lil Wayne - Fireman
[6.18]


Mike Atkinson: Known to us Brits—if indeed he is known at all—as one of the two guest rappers on Destiny’s Child’s godawful “Soldier” from this time a year ago, Lil’ Wayne turns in an efficiently workmanlike piece of lumbering, lascivious, amiably menacing crunk. Hmm, crunk. We don’t get that much of it over here—but when we do, it’s mostly provided by Lil’ Jon. So is that a crunk “thing”, calling everybody Lil’ Something-or-other? And if so, where does that leave Lil’ Kim? (As you might have gathered, I am paddling in unfamiliar waters. But this is quite good.)
[6]

John M. Cunningham: The trouble with listening to hip-hop while driving in the city is that I always think the sirens are outside the car, and I'm constantly monitoring my rearview mirror, just in case. But I'll take the risk and turn up "Fireman," in which actual emergency sirens compete with a high-pitched rotating synth, because I'm also drawn to Lil Wayne's casual drawl.
[6]

Robert Walsh: I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the net support for the young mini-Carter. Leno appearances and University of Houston (GO COUGS! WHAT!) attendance aside, this single is nothing special. Sometimes the production is enough to render the lyrics meaningless, but we find here that the beat is as mild as the rest of the track; it’s futureproducers.com message board material. The lyrics serve no purpose except to deflect attention to the beat: turgid battle rhymes and a smidgen of sex talk. Utterly disappointing.
[5]

Brad Shoup: I know being au courant this hour means giving dap to Weezy, but as long as he hands checks to Birdman, I can’t tipple the Kool-Aid. Once you get money, you’re supposed to buy better electronics, not this eight-bit cop car shit. Respect for holding down the track himself, but I prefer Wayne when he’s mixed louder and his flow is a drawl.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Club bangers have no need to be this ridiculously great when most of the time audiences are happy to shake their ass to third rate G-Unit shit. But Weezy responds to rap’s 911 call with sirens blaring, tearing through the streets and letting line after stunning line dribble from his lips in that weary croak that sounds simultaneously experienced beyond its years and still young and hungry. And shit, this isn’t anywhere near the best track on the record.
[10]

Mike Barthel: I don't know about you, but this song seems even dirtier to me than it was probably intended to given that I keep thinking of that South Park episode in which a penis was repeatedly referred to as a fireman. Lil Wayne is a penis! He also does a good job of taking a beat that should cause God to abandon the world to evil and making it perversely listenable. God is love, after all.
[8]


Sean Paul - Temperature
[6.27]


Robert Walsh: While this may sound like sacrilege, initially I wasn’t a fan of Usher’s ‘Yeah’. That is until I heard it in a club setting, amassed shoulder to shoulder in total mob mentality, acting out each of the call and response dance cues (P.S. we’re totally re-creating the communal “have you heard of that new dance?” era in music). This song is not too dancehall for the club denizens; instead, it’s pure playing-to-your-audience fire. A perfect example of the voice as pure melodic instrument refracted through stellar use of the 4/4 count.
[8]

Martin Skidmore: Wow—I was listening to this for the first time in my office, and I could barely stop myself dancing as it got started, and within 30 seconds I knew this was something I'd be playing out, given the opportunity. I was already a big fan, but I think this may be his best yet. The beats are just irresistibly stomping, even if he doesn't flow over the top quite as happily as on Get Busy,” say.
[9]

Mike Barthel: It suuuuure is dancehall. At one point they use that keyboard sound they used in every soft-rock ballad between 1977 and 1982, but not really well enough to get bonus points. If someone can work Billy Joel into a dancehall song, though, then you get mega-bonus points.
[4]

Patrick McNally: The Applause riddim does it’s thing, which is nothing fancy, just a head nodding swap between propulsive thumping noises for grinding to and trebly clacks for getting yr breath back. Sean Paul does his thing, which is nothing fancy, just what he did on ‘We Be Burnin’ but a little less melodic and catchy. But that’s sometimes all you need.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: I always go through phases with Sean Paul songs: at first I find his monotone shout irritating, then it becomes oddly entrancing, and next thing I know, I'm walking down sidewalks randomly singing, "WE BE BURNIN, NOT CONCERNIN WHAT NOBODY WANNA SAY," fake patois and all. With "Temperature," I went through the motions perhaps quicker than usual; maybe I'm just amused at the prominence of the word "tactics" in describing the man's sexual strategy.
[6]


t.A.T.u. – Friend Or Foe
[6.50]


John M. Cunningham: Until a sailor friend of mine actually used the phrase "a foe unvanquished" in normal conversation the other night, I was all set to write about how cute it is when non-native English speakers use words that aren't in common parlance. Oh well. Of course, the key to t.A.T.u.'s tale of trouble in faux-lesbian paradise lies not in their nursery rhyme-like word choice, but in those sweet, guileless voices and, as usual, addictive melodies.
[7]

Dom Passantino: Meta (Greek: "about," "beyond"), is a common English prefix, used to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to analyze the latter.
[8]

Joris Gillet: Isn't it strange that at the same time the stories around T.a.t.u. get duller, their music loses its spark too? The music here sounds cheaper and thinner than before and the girls don't seem to care very much either. Too bad. Even though it was just pretend they sounded really good when it was them two against the rest of the world.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: T.A.T.U.? Well, that’s an automatic 10 round these parts, right? Listening to the actual song should be little more than a formality, since I know it’s going to be a melodramatic, heart-stopping, us-against-the-world sapphic teen anthem. O.K., load it into iTunes, play… hang on! It turns out there’s something wrong with the T.AT.U machine! Its shrieks are ineffective and its hook isn’t pop-bliss catchy, it’s bland-radio-song catchy! Weren’t the Russians hoarding gas from the rest of Europe for a while last month? Perhaps Putin’s also put on an embargo on quality pop music. I say we send Trevor Horn to negotiate before the situation gets further out of hand.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: Written by Dave Stewart from the chart-topping Eurythmics! Featuring chart-topping Sting on bass! And sounding just like any other Tatu single, but polished up a bit, and thoroughly de-lesbified of course, and not quite as shrill and breathless and urgent as they were in the old days, but then they are All Grown Up Now, and Re-establishing Themselves In The Global Marketplace, and clearly No Longer Ruled By An Evil Svengali Figure, and therefore Free To Be Themselves At Last, and, yeah, you know the script. Never being much of a fan of Trevor Horn Faux-Lesbian Tatu in the first place (except when they scandalised Eurovision, which was FACKING MEGA), I can’t say that Dave Stewart Adult Contemporary Tatu either improves or dilutes the original blueprint in any significant way.
[5]

Doug Robertson: This isn’t so much a Tatu song, more what someone would write if they were asked to do something that was like a Tatu song. Indeed, it almost sounds like it should be appearing in a French and Saunders Christmas special, with Dawn and Jennifer in ill-fitting school wear, ‘hilariously’ snogging the faces off each other. Having said that, Tatu by numbers is still better than many band’s entire recorded output, so there’s still a lot to enjoy here, but still, try and put a little bit of effort in next time, girls. Thanks.
[6]


RIP SLYME – Hot Chocolate
[7.27]


Doug Robertson: Horn stabs! There’s not enough horn stabs in music these days. Or melodicas, either, but that’s a debate for another day. Depending on your frame of reference, Hot Chocolate is either a drink that gains popularity as middle age arrives thanks to its sleepiness properties or Errol Brown’s pension fund. This takes its inspiration from neither of those things, instead being an upbeat slice of J-Hop which isn’t recommended for pre-bedtime listening as the restless legs it causes will have you kicking your covers about all night long.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: I wouldn't have guessed this was Japanese. It's funky, boogying, kind of old-fashioned rock and roll (and not at all a tribute to Errol Brown and his group), and all over the place at times, but its shuffling, almost Bo Diddley beat is always very appealing. I would have marked this higher in a less terrific week for singles.
[7]

Ian Mathers: I'm loving the fact that we seem to be covering Japanese music regularly in this column, because so far it's been mostly good and entertainingly random. Given band and song names this quasi-rap with bonus cheery chorus is totally not what I expected, but the handclap/beat/acoustic guitar is truly great and hearing the vocalists go from saying “sex machine” to that addictive “love somebody” chorus complete with horns and “whoop! whoop!”s is pure gold. You can tell they're being so bad ass on the verses just from the inflection, and then the chorus is just so friendly. I wish this was a hit in North America.
[8]

Mike Barthel: Who knew that somewhere in the world people were listening to Land of the Loops and thinking "oh, let's make a pop song like that"? This starts off like The Real Tuesday Weld playing it hot instead of reserved, then slides into the chorus with a trombone and proceeds to pile more things on top of each other than ever thought they could fit in that little clown car. I'm not familiar enough with J-Pop to say whether combining certain sounds has become its own style or not, but the sublimity of this suggests a direction more Western artists could stand to pursue.
[9]

Brad Shoup: Oh, those drums are awful, like distant thunder on a storm window. Thankfully, someone saw fit to leave the click track running: I have that Casio, too. This is flow as Non-Black America circa Gerardo envisions it, completely catchy, non-sequitorial, and immune to snipes. As soon as the tin horns back some “love somebody” niceties, it’s total pop! Five strata of expert car-stereo pap: gentlemen, congratulations.
[9]


The Source ft. Candi Staton – You Got The Love
[7.36]


Patrick McNally: It seems a long time ago now. Check the clunky, chunky 8-bit breakbeat, muddy and compressed as a whole instead of the pin point, automated EQ and compression of today. Check the ricocheting phased cymbals, the ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ key washes and digi-piano. It still sounds great. (But why is it back?)
[8]

Mike Barthel: Annoyingly unwilling to commit to being either blissful or banging, it probably should have gone with the big-drums-loud-synths thing.
[2]

Ian Mathers: Having never heard either The Source or Candi Staton before, this was a massively pleasant surprise. I heard a ton of sampled diva techno (or is this house? I'm always confused) songs like this in high school, I have a fairly low tolerance for them, but the vocal performance is great and while the strings are fairly standard the odd, gnashing beat is perfectly suited. Doesn't do anything unexpected or earthshaking, but is the very epitome of the form.
[8]

Joris Gillet: Although I recognize the song I have no clear recollection of what the original version sounded like. Did it have just as much in common with Massive Attack's Unfinished Sympathy as this new(?) remix? Of course it's got the same sort of sad, but soulful vocals but also the same sort of heavy, orchestral feel and big triphop beats. It feels a bit strange something só early nineties-y between all the modern dancehall and hiphop of this week, but also comfortable and it is a strong and gorgeous song whatever way you dress it up.
[9]

Martin Skidmore: Almost any second of this is worth 10/10—it's one of my favourite singles of the '90s, and my only discomfort with giving it my first ten of the year is that it's a rerelease (why?). Candi Staton was a great deep soul singer before she recorded arguably disco's most beautiful record in Young Hearts Run Free—and when she went into overproduced gospel in the '80s we mostly thought we need pay no more attention. Her utterly beautiful plaintive voice is lovable from the first word here (and the triumphant return of one of the greats may have been part of the immense appeal), and her power and control are magnificent and moving. Add a great tune, and one of the strongest and most confident remixes of the decade—those reversed cymbal crashes!—and we have a total masterpiece, a record I'll keep relishing for as long as I live.
[10]


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-02-07
Comments (4)
 

 
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