The Singles Jukebox
Bubble Yum!



this week, Yung Joc's name hasn't got any better, Debojit brings the onomatopoeia, Trace Adkins' biceps are bigger than your head, People Are Still Under-rating Marisa Monte, and Fergie goes shopping for a new flow. For no particular reason, she appears to have chosen J-Kwon's. Ho-hum. Anyway, we kick off with Laura Lynn, the self-proclaimed "schlager-queen of Flanders." We here at the Jukebox decided to try her out on some people who aren't from Flanders. The results...


Laura Lynn - Jij Bent De Mooiste
[Watch the Video]
[4.00]

Mike Atkinson: The “Schlager queen of Flanders” doesn’t quite scale the dizzy heights of last year’s sublime “Je hebt me 1000 maal belogen,” this being more of a straightforwardly traditional, four-square, oompah-at-the-beer-fest belter: all blaring brass and sturdy unison, and unapologetically old-fashioned in a late 1960s/early 1970s Eurovision kind of way. I had no idea that people were still making Schlager records like this, and a large part of me is immensely cheered by the discovery.
[6]

Hillary Brown: I feel about this song the way I feel about Belgium: it seems like it’s full of nice people, and I hear they do some things well (fries, for example), but mostly it’s Europe’s Midwest, meaning they seem a bit clean and ordinary. It’s passable Europop, but seems to lack a sense of irony.
[4]

Ian Mathers: The sing-along refrain sounds almost exactly like what you'd hear at a semi-classy wedding. Absent too many drinks, this goes over spectacularly poorly.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: I have nightmares about songs like this.
[1]


Kasabian - Empire
[Watch the Video]
[4.14]

Jonathan Bradley: Listen to Kasbian’s half-hearted stab at belligerence in the form of a politely farting bassline, and suddenly all those British boys that give guitars a bad name don’t seem so bad. It isn’t only that Kasabian make rock sound dull, it is that they do it even while in possession of the musical arsenal to create a genuinely exciting single.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: Much as it pains my kneejerk if-the-NME-likes-it-it-must-be-shit sensibilities to admit this, Kasabian—much like their close contemporaries Razorlight—are beginning to show signs that they could develop into quite a decent little band. The neatest trick on display here is the tempo shift into the schaffel-glam-stomp of the chorus, with its nods to “Rock And Roll Part 2” and its insistent chant-along refrain. (“We’re all wasting away!”) They could still do with a decent lyricist—but, you know, small steps.
[6]

Hillary Brown: It sounds like there was too much hair product involved in the making of this record.
[3]

Fergal O’Reilly: Pretty much the kind of rubbish beer n’fags Indie Anferm you’d expect, although the distorted string bits and “heeey, eeey, eyyyy, eyy”shouting on the chorus are OK and engender a pang of reluctant enjoyment.
[5]


Debojit - Jeena (My Heart Goes Duma Duma)
[Watch the Video]
[4.17]

Adem Ali: Sounds like a cross between a Bollywood Movie Soundtrack reject and a ballad version of French Affair's Eurodance hit "My Heart Goes Boom" from a few years back, but without the fun. Terrible.
[2]

Martin Skidmore: The music here barely sounds Indian—the sort of bland MOR you might have heard on a variety show in the '70s, sung by a woman who is famous, but you don't know why. The lyrics are mostly in an Indian language (bar the parenthetical subtitle), and the singing is equally banal—inoffensive to the point of offense for many people, I would imagine. I don't really mind it, but it is totally wet. Avoid unless you consider 'syrupy' to be a compliment.
[4]

Andrew Unterberger: Hey, this is pretty nice. From the one or two English phrases in the song, it’s fairly clear that I’m not missing much by not understanding the verses, and the hooks are bright and sunny and loveable the way only the best Los Lonely Boys songs are. The production makes it sound like a late-80s Rick Astley ballad, but I guess that’s not such a bad thing.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: “My heart goes dumb-a, dumb-a, dumb-a,” would make for a great follow up to E-40’s “Tell Me When to Go,” but Debojit is not getting hyphy. No, this is cheesy slow-balladry of the sort usually kept on ice until Eurovision, at which time people are slightly more forgiving of such pap.
[2]


Yung Joc - I Know You See It
[Watch the Video]
[4.20]

Jonathan Bradley: You didn’t expect you’d have to release a second single, did you Joc?
[1]

Fergal O’Reilly: A parade of lyrical couplets that are so daft they’re kind of great despite themselves, the highlight being perhaps “I know you want some, you’re chewing on the pussy like a piece of bubblegum.” The fact that it’s set to this rudimentary, vaguely melancholic synth melody raises the weird quotient somewhat.
[7]

David Moore: The production is so stripped down that all I can think about are those gruesome lyrics—don’t want to seem like a prude, but really, “chewin’ on a dick[/pussy] like a piece of bubblegum”? As an instructional tool, this song fails miserably.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: If only I could ignore the amateurish production and cheap synth squiggles and inelegant refrain. Then I could focus on what really counts, Yung Joc’s remarkable appreciation of the complexity of the female gender—especially when there are three or four of them. Most places I’ve checked, chewing on genitalia “like a piece of Bubble Yum” doesn’t win you style points, but hey, if that’s how he rolls, at least he’d do less shitty rapping with his mouth fulla twat.
[2]


Fergie - London Bridge
[Watch the Video]
[4.33]

David Moore: I’ll never defend anyone’s decision to bring up that picture of Fergie peeing herself in a discussion of her music (which until now I’d defend). We’ve all had accidents, so in a way this song is much worse—any embarrassment resulting from it is completely Fergie’s fault. The production is sluggish, but it’s Fergie’s inexplicable lack of charisma, personality, or humor as a solo lead that makes the whole thing tank.
[2]

John Seroff: A window-rattler of a summer hit powered by a snortling sax, a We Will Rock You beat and wonderously ADD production from Polow da Don. I'd love to hear a remix with a verse from Missy or with Gwen or Lady Sov or heck, Nelly Furtado. Anything would improve on the faux drawl, affected manner, and screaming wackness that "Fergie Ferg" dismally contributes. At best she's a distraction, at worst she threatens to scuttle the whole track. It speaks well of Polow as a producer that he keeps this leaky freakshow afloat; more of him and less of her next time.
[7]

Joseph McCombs: Oh good, an August heat wave was the perfect time for the official Summer Skank Anthem to arrive. It’s quite an audacious production (that bassoon!), but repeating the first verse is almost as lame as deriving your delivery style from a single Missy Elliott stanza, which is almost as lame as referring to yourself as “Fergie Ferg.”
[4]

Fergal O’Reilly: It interests me that Fergie doesn’t actually provoke any ire in me, so much as an unusual mixture of embarrassment and fear. This ties in quite nicely with the guys prophetically shouting “OH SHIT…!” at the start of her debut solo single. As if they know.
[1]


Adem - Launch Yourself
[4.71]

Iain Forrester: I saw Adem play a really wonderful unplanned acoustic set a couple of months ago—he has a very distinctive voice that probably couldn’t be called beautiful, but is full of warmth and wonder nonetheless and his songs gave it space to fill the room. Unfortunately, for “Launch Yourself” he’s chosen to bury said voice beneath aimless clattering and a total lack of a tune.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: I’m intrigued by the vocals on this, the way the bass vocal’s harmony with the lead produces a warm hum under the wood blocks and xylophones and other toy-box percussion. Some kids fucking around and having fun. Is this what I missed with Animal Collective?
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Dismal emo indie singer-songwriter stuff. This wants respect rather than a Blunt audience, and the quirky instrumentation is at least vaguely interesting, but I find it thoroughly tedious.
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: See, if you sound bored, I will too. No matter how many neat little handclaps you put in there.
[4]


Sistem - Never
[Watch the Video]
[5.00]

Mike Atkinson: Sistem are the Romanian Stomp-esque percussion troupe who backed Luminita Angel at Eurovision 2005 (a.k.a. The Night Of The Big Drums, as all who witnessed it will testify). This suffers by comparison, being let down by a weedy, under-par vocal and a disappointing lack of variety in the banging and crashing department (although this is partially redeemed by a rather nice marimba break). It also suffers by comparison with Mihai Traistariu’s mighty “Tornero,” which has set a benchmark against which all Eurovision-related Romanian dance music must be judged.
[5]

Hillary Brown: Why, yes. You go girl. Go on witcher bad self and your girlfriends and please dance it off. Then, once it’s out of your system, write me a better break-up song.
[4]

Ian Mathers: For a band of five drummers (sorry, “percussionists”) with a guest vocalist, “Never” comes out sounding surprisingly conventional; sure, the main beat is a little more complex and interesting than most techno pop songs, but there's a basic drum machine right there, smack dab in the middle of the mix. That's just lazy. Luckily the actual song is pretty ace, thanks mostly to the non-drum bits.
[7]

Fergal O’Reilly: This is bringing back partly-suppressed memories of the 2005 Romanian Eurovision entry, but by those standards it’s actually disappointingly muted, not conjuring any real excitement and failing to develop its excessively repeated “I am never gonna be the same without my baby” lyric into anything particularly evocative.
[4]


Michael Gray ft. Shelley Poole - Borderline
[Watch the Video]
[5.17]

Adem Ali: I got slightly excited and thought this was going to be an amazing house-reworking of Madonna's "Borderline." Instead, it was just another run-of-the-mill generic house track. Even the beauty of Shelley Poole and French house can’t save this one.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: Great house hits like this always make me wonder what it must be like to live in a country where such hits are commonplace. Just a simple vocal hook, a great Armand Van Helden-style string/horn loop, and that unstoppable beat. Imagine turning on your radio hearing this on US Top 40 instead of Yung Joc or Panic At the Disco for the millionth time. America needs to get its groove back, and badly.
[8]

Joseph McCombs: Love the standard-issue disco string washes and their ability to negate the overstated lyric, but singer Poole is pretty inconsequential in this distant cousin to the remix of EBTG’s “Missing.”
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: It is unfortunate that the vast majority of DJs are too anonymous to ever receive the attention of a Behind The Music episode. I would love to see Michael Gray, whom I am inexplicably imagining looks like a fat old metal guy with a British accent, saying “Yeah, wot, well we had this real bland instrumental, like, we stole Basement Jaxx’s swooping strings and pissed on the track so that it sounded… well, piss-weak, yeah? And I said, wot we really need now is a bored sounding bird singing the same two lines over and over again, yeah?” To which I say, well, Mr Gray, I understand that vocal complexity is not that necessary in dance music, but that’s when the vocals say things like “WHERE’S! YOUR! HEAD! AT!?” It must have taken time to produce a track even this bland, but not so much that you couldn’t apply a little effort in coming up with a few interesting lines to loop over the top of the instrumental.
[3]


Kasey Chambers - Nothing at All
[Watch the Video]
[5.29]

David Moore: Kasey Chambers reminds me a little of Kelly Clarkson, beating herself up for circumstances beyond her control and then claiming she’s left with nothing. But the words belie how sweet the song is, like she’s reminiscing about a break-up (or maybe something bigger) over lemonade on a porch swing. She puts an amiable, anonymous face on her angst, which might be interesting if she wasn’t so wishy-washy about it.
[6]

Andrew Unterberger: Somehow I thought music like this just wasn’t being made anymore—that shy girls with super-vulnerable voice and lyrics and Dawson’s Creek-style musical accompaniment had just stopped performing altogether sometime between the end of the Lilith Fair and the rise of Avril Lavigne. Can’t say that I’ve missed it too much, however—it’s sweet, sure, and I guess at this point it’s a refreshing change of pace, but it’s also cloying, unimpressive and extremely ordinary. If this is the legacy of the 90s female singer/songwriter boom, then we need Lisa Loeb back now more than ever.
[3]

Joseph McCombs: A more countrified Michelle Branch, Chambers has come up with something feather-light and delicate here that the No Depression intelligentsia will cream over but that will be unfairly ignored by pretty much everyone else.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Chambers can do a cute little song like this nicely, but her voice isn’t strong enough to confirm her as a real country singer. She’s more like the Samantha Mathis character in The Thing Called Love than even like, say, Carrie Underwood.
[5]


Birdman ft. Lil Wayne - Stuntin' Like My Daddy
[5.80]

Andrew Unterberger: Birdman never really impressed me much before, but maybe he was just never supported by a beat this good—provided by Mannie Fresh, I can only presume, in one of his strongest performances to date. The “number one stunna” routine is getting kinda tiring, but it’s more than made up for by “BITCH I’M THE BOSS,” which I can only hope becomes the rap catchphrase of the late summer.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Mr. Cash Money with one of his kid sidekicks. I've never been that huge a fan of the label, and I don't think Birdman, as he calls himself when he records, is much of a rapper. Lil Wayne helps in that regard, but this string-heavy southern number lacks any punch-the-air hooks, doesn't quite get a party bounce, and doesn't have anything new to say.
[6]

Ian Mathers: You can get lost for literally hours if you try to read up on these guys (ghostwriters and beefs and no homo, oh my!) but aside from the never ending soap opera that is modern hip-hop fandom the big singles always manage to at least be listenable.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Credited to Birdman artist, but Weezy gets the hook and two verses, so either it’s a ploy to relaunch the elder’s commercial potential, or Lil’ Wayne is using his mentor to offload a single not up to Tha Carter III standard.
[6]


Trace Adkins - Swing
[Watch the Video]
[6.00]

Hillary Brown: Trace Adkins might sound a bit like that one big scary dude Adam Sandler likes to give cameos to (e.g., in The Waterboy), but he’s out to beat Big & Rich in their own backyard: namely, honky-tonk ass-kickers that can underscore a sports montage. Fact is, Adkins has a great rough country boy tone to his voice, and he sells this number as a rollicking drunk-ass joyous throwdown.
[6]

Joseph McCombs: Just let this play behind the highlight-reel footage it was written to accompany and ignore the song’s essential message: that if you drunkenly hit on enough people you’ll eventually find someone even drunker to drag home. Maybe there’s hope for Kenny Chesney after all.
[3]

David Moore: He calls it a “home run,” but he’s probably exaggerating.
[7]

John Seroff: “Badonkadonk” was unlistenable less for its aspirations and sophomoric content than for its lack of a decent hook and lethargic pace. I have no such arguments with “Swing”; every bit as dumb as you'd imagine it would be, Adkins' second at bat is a speedy and satisfying electric guitar romp through a singles bar.
[8]


Marisa Monte - Pra Ser Sincero
[6.25]

Fergal O’Reilly: A Brazilian singer on a very delicate, slow-paced acoustic jaunt. It’s quite a subtly built song, with little flourishes of electric guitar and organ worked in well, but at the same time without understanding the Portuguese lyrics it can end up a bit soporific and hard to concentrate on, which is a shame.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: This is rather lovely: Brazilian pop with subtle and attractive production, and she has a beautiful voice, that laid back dreamy richness that you seem to only get with Latin American female singers. I wish I knew what it meant.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Would you please make something deliberately ugly, full of facial piercing and pus, Brazil? Your pretty perfection is starting to work my nerves.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: Frustratingly enough, my favourite song on this week’s Singles Jukebox is also the song about which I can find the least to say. Marisa Monte belongs to the same culturally well-connected Brazilian popular music tradition as Caetano Veloso, and “Pra ser sincero” is a fine example of that tradition: graceful, sophisticated, elegantly restrained music for grown-ups, which shimmers like fireflies at dusk, and soothes like an ice-cool Caipirinha after a hot shower.
[7]


Shanadoo - King Kong
[Watch the Video]
[6.67]

Mike Atkinson: Girlie J-Pop meets boshing Eurodance, as specifically engineered for the German and Austrian market by Swiss producer David Brandes. However, it’s the Eurodance that wins out: swamping the winsome Japanese four-piece with all the usual tricks: orchestral synth stabs used as counterpoint, one-fingered rinky-dink melodies in the bridge between chorus and verse, and a general relentless giddiness which eclipses even the 2001 original by fellow Brandes protégés E-Rotic.
[6]

Ian Mathers: The Rosetta Stone for understanding Shanadoo's new single is finding out that, although the singers are Japanese, the song and the producers are German. “King Kong” is thus more Eurodance than the kind of inspired lunacy the Jukebox is used to hearing from the land of Godzilla, and suffers accordingly.
[3]

David Moore: Japanese girl group (based in Germany) pulls off sublime Aqua novelty techno, triumphantly belting the chorus like pipsqueak divas but goof-rapping the verses. They put their faith in the power silliness. It might be funnier if I knew what they were saying, but unapologetic wtf-pop is a universal language.
[8]

Fergal O’Reilly: Agreeably batshit, apparently Japanese synthpop at a speed somewhere in the region of 860bpm. About King Kong. I’m not sure I could listen to it at great length without becoming in some way mentally ill, but, y’know, I’m relatively glad that it exists all the same.
[6]


Joan as Police Woman - Eternal Flame
[Watch the Video]
[7.00]

Andrew Unterberger: Not a Bangles cover, unfortunately, but a pleasant surprise nonetheless. A very nice waltz-time ballad with a Broken Social Scene-like outro, delicately produced and sensitively performed. I’d bet a hundred bucks on this not making too much of a dent in the States, but if no one takes the bet, I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Joan’s odd, caught-in-her-throat voice is a spectacle in itself, and it does most of the work here. It has to, contending with a too-slight instrumental. Where acts like TV On The Radio benefit from leaving yawning gaps in the instrumentation for their booming voices to fill, the vocals on “Eternal Flame” would sound more comfortable sitting amidst slightly fuller production. A wisp of a song, to be sure, but a pleasant one.
[6]

Iain Forrester: I go on about Guillemots rather too much, I think, but Joan has recorded and toured with them recently so I have a decent reason to bring up the fact that “Eternal Flame” could practically be one of their songs. It’s a complete mess in many ways, seeming to drift along in no fixed direction except when occasionally coalescing into the chorus, but even when at odds with itself every moment is full of imagination and beauty.
[8]

Joseph McCombs: My, Joan is very handsome. And this is an inventive arrangement, with the 3/4 time and staggered vocal tracks. Best of all, it’s not a Bangles cover. I think I love this. So what am I so afraid of?
[8]


Ciara ft. Chamillionaire - Get Up
[Watch the Video]
[8.00]

John Seroff: AKA "Beyonce Flinched," which is to say that While B's Rodney Jerkin produced second go at a Jay-Z duet fizzled prematurely, Ciara and Jazzy Pha came correct in '06. After brashly announcing his Kraftwerk pedigree, Pha proceeds to unleash a bumping brigade of kettledrums, handclaps, synth flutes, and ersatz plucked strings in what amounts to a gleaming bike for Ciara to ride. And make no mistake, girl can ride; Ciara's voice, flow and timing have only improved since "Goodies." Throw in a decent couple of bars from Chamillionaire, a late burst of Janet Jackson style balladeering and some odd bongo support in the last few verses and you've got musical catnip.
[9]

Ian Mathers: Ciara's hushed, insistent delivery on the verses is the still the best thing about pretty much any single she participates in, but unlike “Oh” this song suffers noticeably when she tries actually belting it. And Chamillionaire, of course, is no Ludacris.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: This has tension throughout, something like the same way Prince's "Kiss" managed. Chamillionaire sounds stellar too—it's ages since I heard a flow I loved and admired as much as his. But that's just a guest verse, it's the taut control that Ciara shows (which may partly be down to her own vocal limitations), and the matching production, that makes this so very good.
[9]

David Moore: I’m not sure if everything in this songs works, but it all works together—Ciara’s lightweight vocals, Chamillionaire’s irreverent, kinda inspired cameo, the nod to “Somebody’s Watching Me,” the slip into breezy major-seventh territory, the way she takes charge and shows us the dance moves and promises we could do it forever. It’s a party just shy of frenzy.
[8]


Check out the Singles Jukebox podcast to hear some of the tracks talked about here.


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-08-08
Comments (1)
 

 
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