The Singles Jukebox
Fifth Single Syndrome



week Six, and we are bring you LOUDNESS. Scooter and Apoptygma Berzerk make with the Teutonicity, The Knife want to kill you till you are dead, Damian Marley has this one fantastic guitar noise (seriously, it’s brilliant), and AURRRRRGH KELLY CLARKSON! Before all that, though, the Jukebox gets its first taste of Christian metal, causing it to swiftly reach for the TCP…


P.O.D. – Goodbye For Now
[2.50]

Peter Parrish: And lo, God did say
“Knock it off, I need my rest”
Matthew 3:15
[2]

Martin Skidmore: Fucking hell. If you have been thinking that Limp Bizkit are great, the epitome of all that is good and true in music, but they could be improved by:
1. Rocking far less aggressively, with none of those scary metal chords,
2. Much weedier and more timid singing,
3. Committed christianity,
then P.O.D. are the band for you. Since that is surely approximately 0 people in the world, I expect this lot to vanish very quickly. (I wonder if they considered calling themselves Limp Communion Wafer?)
[0]

Mike Barthel: This is what I think of as a "home for break" song, because when I am at my parents' house for holidays and such, I drive my dad's car around, and that only has a radio, so I tend to embrace certain songs on certain stations, like, say, the modern rock station, that I would not otherwise. I know, I know, portentous riff and some dude angst-rapping, and then, yup, right on the Nickelback cue, LOUD CHORUS! But it's not that loud, which is sort of nice, and anyway, it sounds good driving along country roads at night.
[5]

John M. Cunningham: I get the impression I'm supposed to cringe at a group of born-again Christians semi-rapping and earnestly power-emoting, but this isn't half bad. In fact, the limber rhymes present a nice contrast to the soaring rock refrains, and the tragic mood conjures up a seedy SoCal dive, dim but for a lone strip of neon.
[6]

Mike Powell: “When will we sing a new song?” The answer, apparently, is never. Dependably dreadful, fatally predictable, P.O.D.
[1]


We Are Scientists – It’s A Hit
[3.77]

Jonathan Bradley: I think it’s all in the bass line. Not that there’s anything particularly special about that bass line, it’s just one of those standard four note undercurrents, but it holds it all together nicely. And then the guitars stab politely in the chorus, and the vocals are not half bad either. The whole thing is practically a formula, but indie rock can do by-the-book just as satisfyingly as any other genre, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
[7]

Steve Mannion: Like My Vitriol reworking the Stereophonics ‘Dakota’ and as thrashy yet drab as that sounds. Relationship troubles dog these so called men of science who despite their name seem to be lacking new ideas or invention, and you can’t help but suspect they’ve precious little concept of real trauma either. Think harder.
[2]

Mike Powell: What kids listening to the radio right now probably don’t know is that not all “indie rock” bands want to sound like the Foo Fighters fending off a diabetic seizure.
[1]

John Cameron: Complaints about similarities to The Killers and Hot Hot Heat, while warranted, are not quite accurate; We Are Scientists' sparer sound focuses on the energy of their performance, unlike Hot Hot Heat, whilst avoiding ostentation and warm sounds wrapping the songs up, a la the Killers. Angular because it has to be, nervous but trying so incredibly hard to sound smooth, and at the chorus it gets too upset to even try anymore. When Keith Murray hollers "I've been hit," there's genuine agitation there, and the band manages to make the bridge between chorus and verse as huge as a three-piece that sticks to three-piece music can. Calling it "dance music you can't dance to" or whatever, well, that's missing the point; it's just supposed to sound good. And it does.
[9]

Tom Ewing: Creeps who think that the point of rock is to dramatise their vapid everyday quarrels. Wretched and irritating.
[1]


Mondo Marcio – Dentro Alla Scatola
[3.80]

Mike Barthel: If there's a problem with this particular singles review format, it's that I'm pretty sure everyone else is going to say "European Eminem, but boring," because I don't possibly know what else you could say to this combo of tourist-friendly sewer-tunnel beats and freeform, monotone flow that builds a bit in intensity toward the chorus, but maybe it's only me. Maybe "European 50 Cent" is a better description.
[3]

Hillary Brown: Brief flashes of Eminem meets Goblin (I think I heard him say, “I do live in a trailer with my moms”), but mostly a lot of thinking, “Dude. You really need to learn where to take a breath. Or use your inhaler pre-recording.”
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: Wonderfully menacing, this is made to soundtrack a steady crawl through opulent Roman streets in a Lamborghini, windows tinted, probably while making shady deals with Silvio Berlusconi. Marcio — I think it’s just one guy — raps with raspy determination, and even though I don’t understand a single word that he mutters, I wouldn’t want to fuck with him.
[7]

Edward Oculicz: This has a passable air of menace, and a pleasing low-end but it seems to go on forever with precious little variation, meaning that it rapidly becomes a chore to listen to. Also, that particularly annoying vocal tic that a lot of US rappers use when they're making a BIG POINT THAT IS IMPORTANT has been transplanted onto this, which, given that I can't understand Italian, seems remarkably lost on me.
[2]

Tom Ewing: I'm no expert on European hip-hop but the smattering I do hear all seems to proceed along the same lines - clenched-jaw commitment, constipated competence. It all sounds afraid somehow - afraid of not doing hip-hop right, of letting the screwface slip, of being goofy, of whatever. Obviously this is terribly patronising - I don't even speak Italian. But Mondo Marcio are moodily adept and that's the best I can really say about them. A spectre is haunting Eurorap - the spectre of Turbo B.
[6]


Black Eyed Peas – Pump It
[4.17]

Peter Parrish: Tarantino weeps
But I’ll take this in place of
More cancer lump songs
[4]

Jessica Popper: You wouldn't have thought it would be possible, but the Black Eyed Peas really have made a song more annoying than My Humps. The only memorable bit is the guy who looks a bit like Wyclef Jean and once appeared on a Sting single yelling "Louder!" No, quieter! Please!
[2]

Martin Skidmore: Nice old Dick Dale surf guitar sample. Rubbish otherwise. The rapping is ordinary (it's striving for Southern phrasing and intonation in places too, which shows just how strong the Dirty South has become), the rhymes mostly lame, the beats from Hip Hop 101: without the Dick reinforcement, so to speak, this would sound extraordinarily weak. "This joint is sizzling" they say repeatedly, more in hope than conviction.
[3]

Mike Barthel: This marks the moment when BEP took their final step into being the Puff Daddy of the 00s--coming from respectable beginnings to make a breakthrough with artistically questionable material, and finally to embrace the pop aesthetic so forcefully that it can seem repulsive. Certainly this is close to their "I'll Be Missing You" moment: a head-slappingly obvious sample not chopped in any particular way with what seems at first blush to be musically negligible additions. But it's not Puff Daddy, because it's not a mawkish exploitation of a better artist's death via straight-facedly appropriating an already horrible song. The Peas take something that's become a retro part of pop culture (and, really, when did every commercial decide to use songs first unearthed in Quentin Tarantino movies?), something that's already pretty fantastic, and actually amp it up, make it more infectious and energetic. This song first came into the spotlight via a Best Buy campaign in which the Peas appeared, touting how you could "control" them. Again, some found this off-putting, but it just seems refreshingly honest and all-embracing: control us! We are here for your pleasure! For whatever you think of the previous singles, this one seems to express that idea best: it's already precisely produced, and then they loop that one bit a little longer than it would usually, to make it ring, and Fergie, god bless her in all her embarrassing glory, but she sings a little modal bit over it that seems to make the song stop for a second, that seems to make a little bit of light shine into the room, before it goes back to its good-time party thing. It's a lovely little trick, and while it's not a masterpiece by any means, it does make me want to go back and reconsider Puffy's late-90s output.
[8]


Arash ft. Helena - Arash
[4.36]

Mike Barthel: There's a certain sense of promise at the beginning of any track, but that gets derailed here quite handily by the flamenco flourish. Barista, what's taking so long with my frappuccino?
[2]

Hillary Brown: Who knew Sweden could turn in two weak songs in a year, let alone two in a week? Apparently it can happen. Arash’s entry isn’t offensive to the ear, unlike the Knife’s contribution, but it does go on and on and on. And it sounds like the music in the background of a Sandals ad.
[3]

Jessica Popper: This is not quite up to Arash's usual standards (his last single Temptation was one of my favourites of last summer), but it's pretty good all the same. I also once saw him being mobbed by fans next to a hotdog stand in Gothenburg, which I'm betting no other Stylus contributors can "boast". I'm not sure who Helena is, apart from not being Helena Paparizou, but she is definitely the best thing about this song - without her it would be quite rubbish.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: This song sounds like generic worldbeat, the sort of bland dance music you'd hear in a boutique that sells sandalwood-scented candles and wicker hampers. Guest singer Helena has a pretty, flutelike voice, but there's very little wow factor here.
[5]

Ian Mathers: Here's my problem: I really love Helena's guest vocal performance here. The way she sings what I assume is the chorus is gorgeous, and if the whole song was more like that, or even if that was the entire track, this would be at least a 7, easily. Unfortunately Arash and his annoyingly nondescript voice (not to mention the generic acoustic guitar production) keep intruding. I guess it is his song, but I'd much rather be reviewing a single by Helena, whoever she is.
[5]


Corinne Bailey Rae – Put Your Records On
[4.69]

Edward Oculicz: Why look, it's the triumphant return of Morcheeba! Or something. Or, another pretty-voiced singer who, for the verses, crafts enough nice moments to send you into a coma. Harmless, but not even remotely engaging.
[4]

Mike Barthel: Oh, it was so agreeable at first, so stripped-down and sunny. But then the clouds rolled in, and while clouds do not usually announce themselves with that little tinkly chime noise, in songs like this they do. Some men are apparently intimidated by strong women because they think they are all man-hating lesbians; I am scared by the women this song sounds like it would appeal to because at any moment they are likely to spin slowly in the grass with their shoes off, or ride in a convertible with sunglasses on while eating yogurt, or tell me they are soulful. Yikes!
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Every week we get the crème de la crème of the world’s current singles and every week Dear Old Blightly is represented by pap like this: bland, slightly urban, but about as funky as your grandmother. I’m getting the impression that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists entirely of Bridget Joneses who snap this shit up so they can dance around to it while they’re smoking too many fags and whinging about how fat they are and how they smoke too many bloody fags. Come on, British music can’t be this bad. Arctic Monkeys would be better than this. Goldie Lookin’ Chain would be better than this!
[0]

Tom Ewing: If Neneh Cherry came along today she'd probably be put to work singing empowering Dido-pop too, so it's not the singer's fault that the impression is of exciting talent being used for mediocre ends. Charisma to burn, and a nice chorus, but an obnoxious aftertaste.
[5]

John Cameron: The case against: vaguely cliched lyrics, hipster vocals and smooth-jazz guitar plucks, a deliberately invoked sense of nostalgia, and chimes. The case for: compulsive hooks, cowbell, harmonies that bring to mind one of my favourite Canadian artists, Melanie Durrant, and a running time that doesn't overstay its welcome.
[8]

Steve Mannion: Bailey-Rae’s voice floats in the annexe between the serene and the forgettable but there’s a charm flowing through this Summery effort that’s difficult to reject completely. More acoustic plucks and tidy brass punctuate a song that attempts to celebrate joie de vivre whilst remaining somewhat bloodless itself. As far as the Lovely But Dull super league goes, Corrine appears quite the Chelsea.
[5]


Apoptygma Berzerk – Shine On
[5.18]

Peter Parrish: Icy German guys
Mortgaging the House of Love
And buying a tank
[6]

Mike Powell: A team of German scientists and marketing experts spend the last six months crafting the Deutche Interpol in a remote mountain outpost; when the curtain is pulled back, it turns they’ve done one better: a Frankenstein’s monster of Orgy and latter-day Bon Jovi.
[3]

Ian Mathers: EBM has always made for slightly dubious music, and never more so than in the “futurepop” wing of the genre (i.e. These guys and VNV Nation). The fact that they're covering the House of Love presumably makes this either wonderful or horrible for fans of the latter, but for the rest of us this carries the distinct and unpleasant whiff of pointlessness – despite all those distorted guitars the chorus never actually lifts off, the verses make you horribly aware of the naffness of the lyrics, and Stephan Groth sounds terrible throughout. There is one kind of neat synthesizer sound, though.
[3]

Tom Ewing: Magnificently pouty Eurogoth cover of the House Of Love's one biggish hit - I will come clean and admit that half the pleasure here is imagining that old sourpuss Guy Chadwick spitting teeth after hearing it. But only half - this stiff-backed disco makeover suits the song, brings out some deep-sunk camp and charisma. It's always been a sulky little number, and nobody sulks as prettily as the goths do.
[9]

Hillary Brown: With a little push and a little more time to get used to it, this could quite become the “Since U Been Gone” of Germany, only with more Reagan Years rebellion flavor. That is, it would be very easy to get tanked and forget that you are not supposed to like it and end up yelling “she-she-she shine on!” around people who will hopefully not remember your actions.
[5]


Scooter – Apache Rocks The Bottom!
[5.31]

Jessica Popper: I hate to think that there are people out there that think this is what all Europop sounds like. This brings shame on the name of Europop. They may condone shouty Germans in Germany but they're not getting any praise out of me.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: Eurotechnoboshing (I don't think that's an official term yet), with the traditional hamfisted German rapping over a pounding beat, with added Shadows, as the title suggests - the best deployment of that tune since the Sugarhill Gang. Totally irresistible, as ever, if you like dumb old-fashioned rave with zero seriousness, and I certainly do.
[9]

Mike Powell: Plot Synopsis: DUSTDOME is the story of a dystopian universe in which the wealthiest citizens own the poor and pit them against each other in brutal fights that take place in the Dustdome, a coliseum outside of the city. Caught in the middle of utter brutality and Roman-style decadence is Scooter, an enigmatic, well-groomed character who MCs the fights. Scooter witnesses both sides of society: the trafficking and trading of human life and the animalistic drive of the slaves to simply stay alive. But whose side is he on? It turns out the answer’s more complicated than you’d expect. And also a lot more allusive to gonzo euro-trance.
[7]

Mike Barthel: Starts off with a bit of soundtrack music that goes on for at least three times as long as you'd expect it to, and when the main track clicks in it does so with an absurdist bang. I hoped that they'd bring that soundtrack bit back in, but instead they throw in the "Apache" break, not just a little, but in full. And it absolutely sinks the whole track. There's no issues of fealty here, it's novelty: I want to hear something new, so if you're giving me something old, it better be better than what came before. But it's not--it's by far the least inventive part of the song, and that's just death. This would've been a far better song without the sample, and that's a strange thing to find myself saying.
[5]

Ian Mathers: Saved from a zero by the immense silliness the relentlessly ridiculous Scooter bring to bear. I'd never actually heard them before, although I'd been reading slights in their direction for years, but until you've gone to their site and taken an hour to just listen, read lyrics and soak in the full idiocy that is Scooter, you can't really know what you're missing. “Apache Rocks The Bottom” is the latest track devoted to just how wonderful and hardcore main Scooter H.P. Baxxter is, and can really be appreciated properly in the context of their vast history of complete crap.
[1]

Tom Ewing: Scooter's visionary frontman HP Baxxter is pop's equivalent of one of those mad-eyed men who stands on street corners with a megaphone shouting about Jesus to a world which no longer cares. Except standing in for Jesus is Bill Drummond: Baxxter is preaching and living the gospel of the KLF, taking their stadium house sound and making it faster, harder, and Scooter. It's not for me to know quite what revelation inspired him to marry the riff from "Apache" to yells of "ROCK BOTTOM!" but it works. There's nobody quite like Scooter, and this is prime Scooter - rave's Ramones, only a great deal better. [10]


Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley ft. Bounty Killer – Khaki Suit
[5.60]

Mike Barthel: People talked about the Damien Marley album like it was some sorta breakthrough for reggae. It isn't as far as I can hear--just more of the same. They hit on a nice vocal melody and then just keep on doing it. Also, I dunno guys, it's called Jamrock, you know? Whole thing just evokes the scent of sod and incense rising off a filthy String Cheese Incident t-shirt.
[3]

Hillary Brown: Better than “Jamrock,” but still, this song could be an hour long, and I wouldn’t notice the difference. It’s wallpaper.
[4]

John Cameron: I've actually never really liked reggae, but Damien Marley's stuff is too Goddamn hooky, clever, fun, and inventive. "Khaki Suit" is full of grimy, scraping sounds, bassy video game bloops, spacey echoes, and hip-hop drums. The lyrics I managed to catch revealed enough social relevance, considering Marley's geneaology, to impress me, and the guest artist's voice makes me happy inside.
[9]

John M. Cunningham: I appreciate how "Khaki Suit" updates Marley's classic reggae style (on "Welcome to Jamrock") with a sharp, modern facade, but everything about it feels like a warm-up for a song that never actually arrives.
[5]

Steve Mannion: Bounty Killer invites us to compare Mr Junior Gong to Hitler and the Ayatollah here, presumably based on the cultural impact he's making in his homeland size wise. Okay! The old skool riddim goes down nicely with a screechy sample representing the recurring hook. The two bounce off each other well enough to create a pleasant affair, if not as riotous as it could be.
[7]


Purple Ribbon All-Stars – Kryptonite (I’m On It)
[5.90]

Tom Ewing: My inner nerd, never deep-buried at the best of times, rebels against this: Kryptonite isn't a drug, it's a deadly poison (if yr Superman) or an ordinary mineral (if yr not). My outer barely-less-nerd would like to protest, but reluctantly has to admit that this leaden stomp doesn't exactly bristle with other comment hooks.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Well, it’s good. I nod my head when I listen, and that rolling piano is like a musical perpetual motion machine. Being on that Kryptonite means you don’t have to obey the laws of musical thermo-dynamics. And what about that hook? Big, ungainly and unstoppable, it crops up more often than seems natural, like an overly-friendly rugby player who’s had a few too many and wants to talk to everyone at the party because he’s just that kind of guy. Yet the whole thing leaves me distinctly unexcited. Perhaps it’s the rapping; the repetition of “I be on that Kryptonite” must have steamrolled the impetus for anyone to say anything else at all memorable. I’ve had this track for months and I can’t bring a single word of Big Boi’s to mind.
[7]

Mike Barthel: Reminds me of that Juelz Santana single, I think because both are trafficking in one of the most confusingly long-lived but strangely edifying trends in hip-hop production: repeating the shit out of an annoying noise and making it work. I didn't think it did with "Goodies," but other people disagreed, and as with Juelz's and, come to think of it, Lil Wayne's recent singles, Big Boi and company manage to work around the repeated Fonzie noise in productive ways, i.e. they make me want to bop my head on the one and put my drink up in the air.
[7]

Edward Oculicz: The schlocky piano sample on this reminds me of nothing more than... early Black Eyed Peas. Further, the stuttering, cut-up parts of the vocals grate on the ears in the extreme and there's absolutely none of the charm, flow or wit the components of this "all-star" group show on their regular work. It's just very, very uninteresting stuff that relies on one particular sonic trick that doesn't actually work.
[2]

Martin Skidmore: Overtly Southern rapping, with a fine Addams Family organ (harpsichord possibly?) backing that I really like. It's a hugely confident record, with enough sureness to drop the music in parts and let the voices carry it, and there are no missteps or misjudgements there or elsewhere. Even if I can't make much sense of it (is there more to it than 'kryptonite' sounding like 'crib tonight'?) I think they pull it off very well indeed, and I like it.
[8]


Gabriel Rios – Broad Daylight
[6.23]

Edward Oculicz: Spooky and ethereal, by a Belgian from Puerto Rico and involving the producer of Technotronic. A striking collage of creeping, eerie backing vocals, yelping children, clapping and tinkling pianos. Filmic atmosphere, an aural swoon to die for and the video has people dressed as skeletons. What is not to love?
[9]

Hillary Brown: Puerto Rican-Belgian should be bacon and ice cream (to borrow a phrase from Lou), but ends up being maybe more pistachio and ice cream, strengths of each compensating for the other’s weaknesses. I have this impression in the back of my head that the lyrics may be stupid, and they are rather intelligible, but luckily the “aaahs” and the claps are distracting enough.
[6]

Mike Powell: It’s the kind of song that you could easily fall for – midnight cartoon jump-blues/swing gone through the mini-pop grinder. Which means nothing, except how well do you remember “Tom’s Diner,” really? “Lucas With the Lid Off”? Those were good; this isn’t, really. Does the idea of Felix the Cat swinging a cane rhythmically in a music video appeal to you? That’s a very nice sweater, Mr. Rios. Best of luck in all your negotiations with advertising and marketing urchins, Mr. Rios.
[4]

Steve Mannion: A little reminiscent of KT Tunstall's 'Black Horse & The Cherry Tree' and That Kind Of Thing with it's jaunty hop-skip beat represented purely by 4/4 handclap. Over acoustic plucks and stuttering cymbals Rios's soft voice begs to not be left alone in the broad daylight, murmurs something about 'burning your sperm' and by the time you’ve processed this bit it's all over, with not a great deal to treasure nor be offended by.
[5]

Mike Barthel: Where you expect a big, bouncy bassline to jump on that shit, it never does. But it does twist an orchestra sample into synth-bells and a vocal hiccup, then overlay handclaps with a nice little melody, throw in tiny bits of a break in the chorus (but not enough to qualify as a beat), bring the orchestra back in a bit, and then the kids start yelling! That all sounds like it adds up to a "whuzzah?" but it actually equals a resounding "wheedle!"
[8]


The Knife – Silent Shout
[6.25]

Peter Parrish: Fantastic blip-pop
Exudes an aura of cool
Before it stabs you
[7]

John Cameron: This song scares the shit out of me, and I think it's supposed to. It's menacing, but interesting; a killer holding you hostage, explaining his evil plan, and although it's horrifying you can't stop listening.
[9]

Hillary Brown: Very much like the crappy avant-garde parts of the Beaches soundtrack, when the Bette Midler character is doing her fancy theater thing, which is maybe somehow futuristic and involves a lot of fire and chanting. There are moments where I almost think I could like this song, but then it goes back to making me itchy like a poorly woven turtleneck.
[2]

Martin Skidmore: I get the impression we are supposed to look on The Knife with reverence for past glories - or a past glory - but I'm not sure I've heard an unremixed Knife track I've loved - it was the Rex The Dog mix that made the name, surely. I've listened to this several times in recent weeks, and it remains underwhelming, I think: nice things going on throughout, and it sounds good - I like the production - but it seems subdued, underpowered.
[5]

John M. Cunningham: Based on their past singles, the electro-pop duo known as the Knife hasn't shied away from chilly surfaces. But this song, like most of the Silent Shout album, actually sounds like the desolate northern lands, with skittering ice-crystal synths, deep muffled beats, and low voices emerging from the wilderness like woolly mythological beasts, unearthing ancient Norse secrets. I'm not sure it's immediate enough to completely work as a stand-alone single, but as an opening track, it's quite enchanting.
[7]


Delays - Valentine
[6.46]

Peter Parrish: OK, here is the plan
Stay indoors next Valentines
And bathe in beauty
[8]

Mike Powell: It took me a few listens to get past the idea that bands are already starting to copy the vibrant Carnival Cruise/Hewlett-Packard rock cleanliness of early-to-mid 90s Duran Duran, but after that, the first thing I realized was that this song is actually pretty weird. The singer is unnervingly androgynous, the chorus isn’t that catchy, the lyrics are grandly nonsensical, and it’s got a bridge that sounds like Moroder meets Beach Boys. All of which is to say that I have never been closer to thinking that yes, pubic grooming is an excellent idea.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Delays seem to have overdosed on Madchester or something, or whatever it was that came after Madchester, because this has all the hallmarks of rock kids trying to dance and be soulful and do all those things certain drugs tell you to do. Over-exuberant, excessive and very unpleasant.
[2]

Edward Oculicz: If it weren't for the slightly heavy-handed references to New Orleans dragging it down a little, I'd say that this was a fantastically boppy, jaunty, handclap-enhanced bit of indie-pop. Really, how can you combine references to "water surrounding me" and New Orleans with handclaps? Should be a law against it. Nonetheless, the chorus to this is a delight, the bass line is almost disco and the whole thing is effortlessly sunny and memory-resident from listen one.
[10]

Jessica Popper: On first listen I was very disappointed - it seemed messy and strange, but as I listened more and got used to it I began to love it and I now consider it one of my favourite singles of 2006 so far. I don't know if the Delays are normally categorised as indie but with this exciting, unusual and overall excellent single, they've definitely graduated. I now officially declare them pop!
[10]


Kelly Clarkson – Walk Away
[6.92]

Steve Mannion: Clarkson wins points by not indulging in the melisma as much as occasional soundalike Joss Stone. Still this is pretty workmanlike stuff ultimately amounting to very little, merely a demand for a man to confirm he's up to the task of listening to her talk about her feelings about where things are going interspersed with footrubs and the popping of chocolates into her gob now and then. But she belts it out impressively at times and the continued sexualisation of her persona generally will be judged by many as welcome.
[6]

Ian Mathers: This would be a perfectly fine album track. Maybe it's time to stop trying to squeeze releases out of Breakaway, because this suffers from a serious case of Fifth Single Syndrome – the chorus sounds like a rehash of something, and about the only interesting production touch is that odd little keyboard motif in the background.
[5]

John Cameron: Guitars that go "stab-stab" and "whahahaha" and sultry, sexy vocals from a woman whose pop-rock concoctions continue to impress me. This is reminiscent of whomever I said sounded like the soundtrack to the Ninja Turtles' fourth video game a couple of months ago, in that it sounds like that point in time; however, it comes across as more confident and straight-ahead pop-rock and roll. In summary, it's more than a little brilliant.
[10]

John M. Cunningham: Oh, Kelly. I came into this prepared to be disappointed, and while I don't yet think it's the equal of her last three singles, she's apparently too charismatic to completely let me down. "Walk Away" finds her still focusing on self-sufficiency (the main theme of her ouevre so far), which is actually fine, because wailing about not needing someone is a perfect match for those powerhouse pipes. And though the stylized choppiness of her verse vocals initially put me off, it coalesces nicely in a confident snarl at the end.
[7]

Tom Ewing: Faultless exercise in new-wave frustration, might also be bloodless exercise in same were it not for Clarkson's expert application of dynamics: as you'd expect from an Idol winner, she has chops and she knows exactly when and how to apply them (gritted-teeth verses, girly contempt brush-off, range used in anger). As strong as it is immediate, this surely is exactly the kind of record the Idol system was meant to result in.
[9]

Mike Barthel: It's the little things: it's the "finger on my trigger" line, the weird extra tom beats in the first verse, and the way it teeters between genres before it gets to the chorus, which embraces a heavy country vibe. Anything that both grooves and makes me picture drinking cans of beer and playing pool with Kelly is a good thing.
[8]


Madonna - Sorry
[7.00]

Mike Powell: I’m really not sure how else to handle this except to say that it’s “Hung Up” with a far less memorable chorus, no ABBA hook, and an embarrassingly ineffective spoken French bit. Can’t wait for the 6th single!
[4]

Steve Mannion: The best Stuart Price productions tend to be his grandiose string-led efforts and they're working to full effect here, illuminating the predictably bland lyrics to give it more gravitas and urgency. No surprises really, but this must be Madonna's fastest single since ‘Hanky Panky,’ which feels noteworthy somehow. Price takes assembly-line production to new heights, knocking out variant after variant of his slow-roasted 00s disco blueprint with seeming ease - so for this to couple with a fairly average performance from the great lady and still sound magic just highlights the greatness of both parties further and further.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Recent Madonna strikes me as more than a little functional. With a few exceptions (“Frozen”, “Hung Up”) she's been putting out singles that I'm glad to hear on the radio while walking through a mall or out at a bar and are certainly a cut above most of what else is out there, but not so good/distinctive that I actually want to keep them around. The extremely smooth but a little hokey “Sorry” fits perfectly into that template, unfortunately.
[6]

Jessica Popper: I don't think Madonna will ever make a track that I love more than “Hung Up,” but this is a fine effort and certainly superior to anything from her American Life album. I was rather disappointed not to see her performing on this week's Brit Awards as it might have made sitting through all the unfunny jokes and James Blunt appearances a bit more bearable, but at least she avoided being associated with surely the worst Brits in recent years.
[9]

Edward Oculicz: A cool air of disdain from the Queen of Pop accompanied by synth bass that recalls an old Commodore 64 game. The distorted backing vocals are very cool, but when that bass line comes in, it's like the world basically ends. Probably the least complex single she's put out in 20 years, but nonetheless, don't say it too loud, but it's probably her strongest single since "Take A Bow", Madonna seemingly having remembered that she used to be a supremely gifted writer of simple, addictive vocal lines, of which this has an absolute belter.
[10]


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-02-21
Comments (2)
 

 
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