The Singles Jukebox
Futurepunkelectropop



this week, The Pipettes' parents keep them from girls who are rough, K-Os exempts himself from grammar lessons, The Blood Arm are dreadfully underrated, y'know, but sod all that: MAKE WAY SANDI THOM! The bar's just been lowered even further, and guess what? It's an All-American success story!


Hinder - Lips of an Angel
[Watch the Video]
[1.17]

Martin Skidmore: A metal/rock power ballad that entirely lacks anything even resembling power. Worthless and hugely dull.
[1]

Iain Forrester: American rock with bluster set to 11, lyrics of the purest cliché, and vocals imbued with the agonized strain that so many seem to mistake for emotion.
[1]

Hillary Brown: Girl worship slathered with drool is both overly reverent and grossly sentimental.
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: Reasons for mass migration of Oklahomans:
1930s – The Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.
2000s – Five guys start calling themselves Hinder and work on creating the Sooner State’s own Nickelback.
[1]


Jesse McCartney - Right Where You Want Me
[Watch the Video]
[2.20]

Iain Forrester: Falls somewhere roughly midway between *NSYNC and Maroon 5, but sadly manages to retain few of the positive characteristics of either.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: It's almost inevitable that this former boyband star would go for the Timberlake approach, pop/R&B with some nice falsetto. He sings it pretty well, mostly, with the odd misjudged vocal move, but the production seems very unexceptionable, and the song isn't quite sure if it wants to be pop, R&B, or rock.
[3]

Doug Robertson: In terms of the McCartney name Jesse definitely takes more after Linda than Paul. Indeed, as tracks go, this is more Maroon 5 than Fab Four, more cats chorus than frog chorus, and more nut cutlet than cheeseburger. In short, a complete waste of everyone’s time.
[3]

Teresa Nieman: This song makes me want to take a shower. Not a cold one, that’d be giving him too much credit.
[1]


Diddy ft. Nicole Scherzinger - Come to Me
[Watch the Video]
[3.33]

Doug Robertson: And so the Diddyman, or whatever ridiculous name he’s calling himself this week teams up with a Pussycat Doll to give us a record which sounds like nothing more than a Pussycat Dolls off-cut and one which would fully have deserved to have missed out on its place on the album being, as it is, a bit dull. Still, if it’s good enough for Snoop, it’s good enough for Puffy.
[4]

William B. Swygart: Cassie’s performance in “Me & U” is gobsmacking, because she sounds either terrified, terrifying, or completely, utterly disconnected, and I still have absolutely no idea which it is. Nicole Scherzinger is bored. She is not bored because she is an expressive genius. She is bored because she is fucking boring.
[0]

Martin Skidmore: He's back, just Diddy now, and sounding like everybody else sounded last year, complete with a Pussycat Doll on vocals.
[3]

Teresa Nieman: Diddy (I heard he dropped the P from his moniker, but I stopped trying to keep track years ago) may have thought bringing in red-hot Pussycat Dolls frontwoman, Nicole Scherzingstervillewhatever, would guarantee him a hit. Not so, since Nicole (who should drop the last name, or just go by N-Scher or something) is restricted to the smooth-voiced video girl role. Diddy himself is slouching here, and it’s blah all around.
[5]


Lily Allen - LDN
[Watch the Video]
[3.80]

Martin Skidmore: I am a big fan of Lily Allen. She sounds easy-going and cheery, whatever the occasion. The lyric is often very dark, and I love the contrast between the sweetness and light and the undertones of the nastiest sides of city life.
[9]

Jonathan Bradley: You wouldn’t think it possible to sound more smug than Allen does when she realizes she can rhyme “Tesco” with “al fresco,” but then again, if plasticky horns have the ability to express “smug,” the fake brass on this is doing an excellent job.
[0]

Hillary Brown: As though Cinderella’s visited the rough side of town but brought her friendly singing animal companions with her.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Second single from the slightly more street Corrine Bailey Rae—and she’s still defiantly refusing to raise her game above the level of social irritant and general annoyance. Even a Fat Les comeback would be of more value than this.
[2]


DJ Webstar ft. Young B. - Chicken Noodle Soup
[Watch the Video]
[4.20]

Jonathan Bradley: Criticizing Young B’s lyricism is just plain silly; she sounds like a 12 year old girl, and her amateurism is part of the charm. She’s practically indistinguishable from the multitude of people posting videos of themselves dancing to this on YouTube, and so the siren sound effect and dumb chants that provide pretty much the entirety of this track can’t be construed as high-concept minimalism. This could be the work of the kid next door, and though its thrills are cheap and transitory, it’s fun enough to fulfill its purpose.
[6]

Joseph McCombs: I can’t decide where to begin: the insipid hooks, the endless loop of low-grade alarms, the sloppy burps in the production, the untrying uselessness of the yellbacks, or the fact that somewhere someone is pole dancing to this as I type.
[0]

Martin Skidmore: A couple of teenagers from NYC have come up with a real winner here—stripped down beats on a club hip-hop number, with Young B's cute rapping (she's 16), and surprisingly gruff male vocals that I assume come from the 19 year old Webstar. I'm not sure how much I like it, but it's pretty irresistible.
[8]

Iain Forrester: Somehow, the siren that sounds throughout this song actually manages to be the least annoying thing about it. But its extreme inanity winds up being a virtue for a while. Everyone wants to be dumb occasionally.
[3]


Beck - Nausea
[Watch the Video]
[4.40]

Jonathan Bradley: I’m not sure what’s more disappointing about this: the downplayed folk-blues rattle of the verses or the weird-for-the-sake-of-weird blippy interlude that interrupts the progress of the track. The production certainly can’t be faulted, considering the excellence of all the actual sounds, but Beck used to turn those sounds into songs. This sounds more like a quick run through to ensure his studio is still working properly.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: I'm not sure why his overt PoMoisms don't appeal to as committed a Postmodernist as me, but I think it's because I feel he is using irony as an excuse for making crap and derivative records.
[0]

Iain Forrester: Beck’s voice sounds completely shot here, but that helps give a certain ragged energy to its rattling blues rock. He should just give up recording and concentrate on the puppets and bears and dining tables of his live show.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Since Midnite Vultures Beck has seemed terribly mannered, and the more his music attempts to be “loose” the worse it is. “Nausea” features a sample of a guy yelling and whooping randomly in the background, fer chrissake. I don't know how he can get his mojo back, but this ain't it.
[3]


Lionel Richie - I Call It Love
[Watch the Video]
[4.80]


Jonathan Bradley: When I listen to the Commodores’ “Easy,” I wish that I were not listening to the Commodore’s “Easy.” When I listen to Lionel Richie’s “I Call It Love,” after a minute or so I forget that I’m listening to anything at all. Hence, over the decades, Richie has shown, oh… say… three points worth of improvement.
[3]

Joseph McCombs: The touch of Ne-Yo is all over this song’s structure and arrangement, but Lionel does an astute job of not trying too hard to phrase like the current crop of R&B stylists. A successful modernization, even with what sounds like Ernie Isley circa 1973 fuzztone guitar decorating the chorus.
[7]

Hillary Brown: NeYo meets his jedi master, gets schooled. Perhaps inspired by Starburst commercials saying we still love him, Richie cruises effortlessly among beachy strings, shifting lanes expertly, breaking out his volume control at crucial moments. This is tan, umbrella’d, and fabulous.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Lionel Richie, the successful Steve Brookstein, is back and if you don’t find yourself getting all over-excited at that prospect then, well, you’re pretty much a normal, average, perfectly sane human being.
[3]


Katerine - Catfight
[Watch the Video]
[4.80]

Teresa Nieman: “You shouldn’t break a kitten’s heart” is a cute line, but when you’re not remotely intimidating and have as much sass as a science teacher, it’s not tremendously wise to make a song called “Catfight.”
[3]

Ian Mathers: This only proves that Beyonce's “Ring the Alarm” would have been better if it had included the line “you shouldn't break this kitten's heart” and, more importantly, a tremendously roaring processed nu-rock engine strapped to the underside of the song.
[6]

William B. Swygart: Imagine if Nadiya did an English version of “Tous Ces Mots,” and you’re probably quite close to how depressingly flat this one falls. “I hear you fucked my love / You kiss and tell, now you can kiss my glove”—it should be great, but the verveless rawk organ backing and Katerine’s limp, cue-carded delivery sends it stumbling into the discard pile.
[3]

Iain Forrester: Not quite as perfectly poised as her previous single, “Take Me Home,” and it does take a while for it to get going, buuuuut “Catfight”’s futurepunkelectropop brilliance soon becomes apparent (Not least in the bit where Katerine launches into a goofily energetic rap rant before pausing to whisper “you bitch” in the moment before the guitars crash back in).
[8]


K-Os - Electrik HeaT/The SeekwiLL
[Watch the Video]
[5.00]

Iain Forrester: The sort of thing that comes from a long career perfecting being worthily good, to the point where no spark whatsoever remains.
[5]

Joseph McCombs: The Jamiroquai poetry at the 2:30 mark is a lot more interesting than his Easy-Bake EZ Rock doddering. And I docked a point for the title.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: I’m going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was misguidedly made as a display of skill rather than out of any desire to create something enjoyable to listen to.
[4]

Hillary Brown: I thought I’d never say it, but scratching might be over.
[4]


The Blood Arm - Suspicious Character
[Watch the Video]
[5.17]

Jonathan Bradley: It’s one thing for The Blood Arm’s Nathaniel Fregoso (great name) to say that he “like[s] all the girls, and all the girls like [him].” But he hardly sounds like he believes either clause of that statement. Besides, if the girls wanted Franz Ferdinand, and I believe they do, surely they would go for the real thing?
[4]

William B. Swygart: Piano-humpin’ garage ain’t easy. Shuffle yr shoulders. Fuckin’ glide over that floor, y’know? Chorus idly boasts and is terrified that it’s gonna get called out (everyone else’s record company holds them off that, apparently), that news-stand choir is fantastic, and all those who would like to think they’re ‘over this sort of thing’ need to be shown exactly where to go.
[9]

Hillary Brown: This is Franzy, but the flirtiness is lacking, leading the song to sound like a pickup line delivered in all seriousness because the person using it isn’t old enough to know that gravitas is overrated.
[5]

Doug Robertson: Things we’ve learnt: He likes all the girls, and all the girls like him. Though whether he likes all the girls to the same level isn’t made adequately clear. It seems unlikely. After all, it’s hard to imagine that anyone, save Lorraine Kelly’s husband, would have the same sort of affection for Lorraine Kelly as for, say, Lindsay Lohan, but we only have his word for it. Also casting doubt on the veracity of his account is his claim that all, not “some,” note, but all the girls like him. How does he know this? Because they’ve told him so. This also seems unlikely, after all there’s a lot of girls in the world, the vast majority of whom have never even heard of the Blood Arm, let alone found time to form an opinion on the lead singer, and for them all to have told him of their feelings, whether by phone, text, or MySpace personal message, would probably take slightly longer than he’s had on this planet. He’s probably making the whole thing up. What? Oh, the song? Yeah, quite good. You’ll probably like it, and it’ll like you.
[6]


UFO Yepha - Hængekøjen
[Watch the Video]
[5.20]

Joseph McCombs: It’s the best European ska I’ve heard since, um, Opus’s “Live Is Life.” Couldn’t even hazard a guess as to what it’s about (though the word “bartender” jumped out at me); I’m just in it for the marimba.
[7]

Ian Mathers: I'm sorry, but the beat just sounds like synthesized farting to me. I can't take a song seriously when it reminds me of the infamous baked beans scene from Blazing Saddles.
[4]

William B. Swygart: Glockenspiel AND synth-accordion? You bastards saw me coming, didn’t you? Dansk-rappers keep it coming in a steadily mid-tempo-type manner, my head nods just about out of synch. Lord, why did you make me such a pushover?
[7]

Martin Skidmore: It's Danish, the beat is perfunctory reggae, and we get a couple of white male voices on top, one sort of singing, one rapping with a lack of ease the like of which I haven't heard since the late '80s.
[1]


Lil' Chris - Checkin' It Out
[Watch the Video]
[5.33]

Jonathan Bradley: The guitar is nicely trashy, but it doesn’t actually have a song to play, and Chris, his voice still bratty and prepubescent, sounds like Karen O being suffocated. Horrible, of course, but rather than being a deeply unpleasant song, it sounds more as if Chris is just some kid who had no business making a record, but got shoved into a recording studio anyway. Since this is the product of some Gene Simmons-affiliated TV show, that surmisal could well be accurate.
[3]

Hillary Brown: Adolescent punk rock Antony minus the Johnsons. My ears still refuse to believe Chris is a boy, as he vocally makes about the coolest girl ever, but regardless of gender dysphoria, this is sweetly snotty, aggressive stuff with a much more serrated edge than anything coming out of the U.S. currently.
[8]

Iain Forrester: 16 year old reality TV ‘star’ turns out irritating yet marginally charming rock. Film at 11.
[4]

William B. Swygart: He sounds like Ari Up! Or Lene Lovich, I can’t quite tell. Of course, his ‘people’ would like him to be soundtracking a department store chase scene in a modern remake of One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing, ideally ending with Marcia Cross’ evil beautician falling face first into a cake of some description, and they appear to have given him some of The Datsuns’ lyrics by mistake, and to describe the backing vocals as being ‘apathetic’ would be being rather too polite, but let me re-iterate: he sounds like Ari Up! Or Lene Lovich.
[6]


Orange Range - Un Rock Star
[Watch the Video]
[5.67]

Ian Mathers: Apparently these guys have previously ripped off “The Locomotion” and “The Banana Boat Song” for the Japanese youth market, but if they're doing the same thing here they've lucked out and picked a song I haven't heard before. Instead we get a modern wall of (guitar) sound, lots of yelling and “ooh, yeah”ing and “na na na na”ing, and as little non-chorus as you can get away with and still be verse-chorus-verse. Seeing as how Japanese pop music's motto seems to be “the more over-amped the better,” it actually kind of works.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Japanese rock that starts lo-fi and quiet then tries to crash in, but it doesn't quite have the force or pace to carry it off. They have more ideas and freshness than the album title Viva Rock would suggest, but it's rather too untidily structured to work for me.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: I can’t get behind this. Unless it’s to push it down a stairwell.
[3]

William B. Swygart: Rockin’ the quiet-loud to ridiculous degrees, except the ‘quiet’ isn’t actually very quiet at all (it just happens to be the bit where they aren’t shouting). A generic riff is turned up very loud in order to annoy everyone you know. Here’s some men to shout “OOOOOOH yeh! OOOOOH yeh! WHOA-OH-OH-OH!” This is the fun at least 90% of this year’s Jukebox candidates should have been having instead. Especially the German ones.
[8]


The Pipettes - Judy
[Watch the Video]
[6.50]

Teresa Nieman: Aww, the Pipettes want to make friends with a mean girl, soften her up a bit, and show her the error of her ways. How very 7th Heaven. It works because of the retro swagger on display—and because this is the type of thing you’d expect to be sung by a male. Of course, then it would probably be him wanting to get into Judy’s pants.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: I wish they weren't so inept, but I guess that's part of their aesthetic. I love old girl group pop as much as anyone, but I don't see this kind of shambolic indie nostalgia as being its heir, in a world where we have the Sugababes and Girls Aloud.
[2]

William B. Swygart: British 90’s indie production meets doo-wop in a slightly will-this-do sort of a way, i.e. a minor Divine Comedy single as sung by girls.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Give them credit for, if nothing else, attempting to replicate not just the sound of the great girl groups but the type of murky, suggestive narrative they used to employ, too. Of course, you should also give them credit for crafting another slice of sighing, string-kissed perfect pop, but some people just hate fun. That's okay, we understand (freaks).
[8]


Justin Timberlake ft. T.I. - My Love
[8.60]

Jonathan Bradley: Ignore the lyrics, they fail on every level. In fact, Justin’s delivery isn’t that hot either. But even so, his falsetto melts into the Timbaland goblin laughs and trance synths so effectively that the limpness must surely be by design; a carefully crafted element in a concoction that succeeds by making its components synch up like the workings of an excessively complex cartoon contraption.
[9]

Teresa Nieman: First we’re teased with Timbo and JT chanting things like “if that’s your girl, you better watch your back / ‘cause you’re burnin’ up for me, and that’s a fact” on “SexyBack.” It doesn’t get more sexually (or sexily) ambiguous than that. Now here’s “My Love,” which is decidedly more sincere, and less mischievous. But with the pulsing club beat, and T.I.’s simmering verse (“you ain’t been seen with a man so fly!”), it’s still pretty damn hot.
[10]

Joseph McCombs: JT takes us to the same bridge three times, which is at least once too many, and I’m not sold on Timba’s inflexible foil style. But it’s an astonishingly good production and is further proof that Justin earns his chart positions more than people think he does.
[7]

Hillary Brown: Unlike the last underwhelming single, this one is a grower, rising and falling like one of those desktop wave machines encased in glass—that is, it’s repetitive yet swirly, fractal-esque, hypnotic. Justin’s still on the wrong side of bad singing turning into good singing, but the rhythms suck one in like a whirlpool that’s also somehow a hot tub.
[7]


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


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-09-26
Comments (2)
 

 
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