The Singles Jukebox
Hat Wearing Musicians Suck

week 35, and it’s possibly the dullest Jukebox ever (and longtime aficionados will be aware we’ve had a fair few snoozers in our time). Still – Simon Webbe, Madeleine Peyroux, Elbow, Kubb, the really munting one from Busted... Let’s start as we mean to go on, then.


Daniel Powter – Free Loop
[2.60]

Patrick McNally: Here’s an iron-clad law for you - any music featuring someone who constantly wears a hat will always suck. Check the list - Jamiroquai, The Edge from U2, Peanut from the Kaiser Chiefs, and now this guy.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Better than anything off the last two Coldplay albums. And yet, still awful. Don't sing high, Daniel, it's not becoming, though at least does provide something concrete to criticise beyond "This is the guy who did ‘Bad Day’, god, I hate him". Nice warbly piano with downmixed wobbly organ (I think) break in the middle, though.
[3]

Hillary Brown: Lots of stuff this week is new versions of old things. This is the Bee Gees track. Or maybe it’s the Todd Rundgren track. It’s some kind of cracker soul with occasional high-pitched vocals and a groovy use of woodblock in the background, at any rate.
[5]

Doug Robertson: It’s not as bad as ‘Bad Day’! Which is something to celebrate at least, even if the celebrations should be somewhat muted as this is still, undeniably, a terrible, terrible song, even if, as if to compound the horror, the chorus is terribly, terribly catchy, and will have you whistling it everywhere you go until you end up attempting a home lobotomy in a bid to remove it from your brain.
[4]

John Cameron: Go away, Train. Your time has passed.
[0]


Simon Webbe – No Worries
[3.57]

Patrick McNally: “Ocean Drive” 2005.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Having been in Blue is one of those rare jobs from which metamorphosing into a one-man Lighthouse Family could actually be seen as an improvement. As far as AM radio singalongs with cliched feelgood lyrics go, there have been far worse than this kind of aimless but amiable mess - the sampled female vocals don't fit with Simon's carefree delivery, but it almost threatens to work.
[7]

Hillary Brown: Oddly reminiscent of “Afternoon Delight” (I think it’s the rhythms and something about the way it’s produced) but minus the extreme cheese-factor of that tune, making it less enjoyable.
[4]

Jessica Popper: This is not a good week for ex-boybander singles. Not because those being released are all rubbish, but because I quite like them and really don't want to. I expected Simon to follow his band-member Lee and fail miserably with his 2nd single, yet this seems to be doing pretty well and I can see why - the sample (if it is a sample - I have a feeling it might just be a session singer) works well and overall it's a big improvement on his last single. But he's still Simon from Blue.
[6]

John Cameron: Simon Webbe - What did I say last time he came through? Ah yes:

"...
[add in] this song being far too close to a generic Nashville country-pop ballad for my taste and you have a serious, string-saturated problem. All it's missing is a suitable Tennesee twang and crash cymbals. Yuck.


So now I guess Simon gets to have the dubious distinction of fucking up country-pop and contemporary R&B. CONGRATULATIONS.
[0]


Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love
[3.83]

Patrick McNally: Ersatz Betty Boop cartoon music, but not, y’know, anywhere near as good as that sounds. I mean, Betty Boop cartoons had Cab Calloway in ‘em!
[2]

Edward Oculicz: I'm not sure why Madeleine completely caging and neutering Bob Dylan songs is a good idea but her tackling Leonard Cohen is just awful. The lyric may be "dance me to the end of love" but the way the original sounded it may have been "dance me to the end of the world". So, from a dazed final dance in the lights of an apocalypse, with its attendant longing and dread, it comes to a pleasant nodfest in a cafe. Technically it can't be faulted but there's no tension, no weariness, no note of menace to speak of. Isn't Madeleine herself supposed to be a tad unhinged? Hard to reconcile with this.
[4]

Hillary Brown: I don’t think this song works in a jazzy, cool interpretation, as it tends to make the lyrics sound silly, whereas in Cohen’s version, he can sell the necessary yearning (the goal is unattainable because of his own lack of beauty, which we can hear in his voice, and therefore, it’s more moving). I don’t think I’d be crazy about it even if I didn’t know the original, though.
[3]

Jessica Popper: I just can't be doing with this stuff. I don't mind old-fashioned sounding songs if they are a) actually old or b) good, but this is neither so what is the point?
[3]

John Cameron: I think this song is the Ghost of Music Past. I say we embrace it in all its haunted-house-jazz glory: the oddly choked, aged voice; the creepy, time-capsule production; the words themselves. It gives me the chills.
[9]


Son Of Dork – Ticket Outta Loserville
[4.14]

Edward Oculicz: The best thing about Busted was their compact, but heavily produced and buffed 'til shining and mannered guitar bluster. The worst thing was the horrid, American-inflected vocal straining. Both SoD and Fightstar, far from showing artistic differences, have both decided to retain precisely the worst feature while throwing out what was good. What was the bloody point of splitting? Why would anyone buy this when you could buy the Blink 182 hits compilation, at least you get three or four not annoying songs on that.
[2]

Hillary Brown: With that sweet little pop-punk riff that kicks things off, this song should be a great example of the genre, but then the riff goes away, and we cry and miss it and get a little bored before realizing it’s still okay, just not what we had hoped.
[5]

Doug Robertson: Here James gives us a glimpse of what Busted’s third album might have sounded like, had they actually got that far. Remarkably like Busted’s second album it turns out and, indeed, like a million other songs thrown into a blender. Fortunately what comes out isn’t a sludgey mess, but instead a slightly familiar tasting, but still deliciously sweet, fruit cocktail. Hooray!
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: It’s hard to go wrong with what is basically a Blink-182 megamix. The guitar line probably came about because they knew only the first half of about five Blink riffs, so they just stuck them all together. But Son of Dork, here’s a hint: pop-punk is fun while you’re staying upbeat and stupid, but when you bring out the acoustic guitars and pianos for the bridge, the party’s over.
[6]

John Cameron: Oh fuck. Did he just refer to Groundhog Day? This is uninventive and bland. Hell, this is terrible. This is every kind of terrible. Except the Simon Webbe kind.
[1]


Kubb – Wicked Soul
[4.17]

Patrick McNally: Want to know what David Gray divided by Keane sounds like? Here’s your chance.
[1]

Hillary Brown: I guess you could call it about half-Squeezed. The wickedness propounded is very much in question as far as believability goes, but very slightly wa-wa-ed bass and thumpy piano are a good thing to build a song on.
[5]

Jessica Popper: The first time I heard of Kubb I had no idea I would be watching them play live! They were supporting Gavin Degraw, and they must have enjoyed it as much as I did because they supported him again the next time he played in London. This song is more exciting than their nice-but-dim previous single, ‘Remain’, but it's still lacking in real sparkle. However, they were pretty good live and sparkle doesn't seem to be a necessity in the charts these days, so they'll probably do well.
[7]

Doug Robertson: A more exciting Coldplay? Well, possibly, though it’s all relative really as the concept of a more exciting Coldplay does include such adrenaline free ideas as one note bass playing, watching grey paint dry, and Keane.
[4]

John Cameron: I BLAME YOU, MAROON 5
[1]


The Game – Put You On The Game
[4.40]

Patrick McNally: More of that unlikable rap that the kids seem to like (I mean it is ten year olds that buy this stuff in the UK, right?), notable only for featuring Timbaland’s worst beat ever, him sounding like a clapped-out-of-breath follower rather than a leader for the first time.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Fantastic horror movie-esque stabs and backing vocals over the intro, this is going to be great despite being a The Game single. Oh, no, he's gone self referntial within 30 seconds. Oh yes, a bit where part of the backing grinds to a halt! Oh no, an annoying chorus. Oh yes, preposterous vocal samples! To summarise: Timbaland productions - good. The Game - inconsequential. I just can't bring myself to care about anything he says, I'm sorry.
[5]

Hillary Brown: Another entry in which the Game does his thing. That is, the track is pretty gorgeously put together (it could be a little more creative in terms of the sounds used, but it moves well), and the rapping is at least competent and sometimes better. Not truly amazing, but credit where credit is due.
[6]

Doug Robertson: It’s a shame that, after the brilliance of Dreams, even if it did drop more names than a clumsy Yellow Pages delivery boy, The Game has returned with this vaguely muscley but generally pretty lightweight slice of by the numbers hip hop. As games go, this is less basketball, more netball.
[5]

John Cameron: This song isn't not terrible; the Game just kind of annoys me, does nothing creative with his rhymes or flow, and uh I guess makes himself into a metaphor. Also I think he thinks he's N.W.A. and Public Enemy, despite being, well, neither. So I refuse to review it based on the Game. Instead, let me tell you that if you can mentally turn his voice into the white noise that Public Enemy's sound collages were notable for, then Timbaland's crafted another one of his surreal, menacing hip-hop tracks. The "nanaooh" chipmunk at the end is especially awesomes. It's too bad the Game had to come in and fuck it up. I guess a zero and a ten balances out then.
[5]


Corinne Bailey Rae – Like A Star
[5.00]

Patrick McNally: That woman who pick the bands for Jools Holland’s Later must have had to change her knickers after hearing this as this twee jazz-lite could be made specifically for the show. Listening to it brings to mind disturbing thoughts of Jools’ sweaty fingers tickling ivories in ways that they shouldn’t be tickled.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Oh, pretty, especially the bit with the prominent cello. The swelling strings the song builds up to actually reduce the impact; Corinne's voice sounds best with minimal adornment, when accompanied by everything but the kitchen sink she sounds as if she's stretching to be heard over it while still retaining her voice's euphonious soulful qualities. As such, she sounds a bit diluted in these bits, which you notice as it's so lovely at the minimal start and end.
[6]

Hillary Brown: Plush, but with a few vocal serrations. She sounds like a Phil Spector gal with much quieter production. Ronnie Spector meets Tweet or something.
[7]

Jessica Popper: On first listen I hated this song and it's singer. I wrote her off as another dull female singer, far too young to want to be the new jazz sensation. She should be up on stage doing dance routines and avoiding being shot into space by a dodgy pyrotechnic, not sitting on a stool performing on Later With Jools Holland! However, I will let her off for the moment at least because this has really grown on me - it's actually a lovely song. She just better do a disco-inspired number for her next single, or I'll have to stop being so forgiving.
[7]

Doug Robertson: It’s Emiliana Torrini! Only not as good! Or as interesting! Oh well!
[4]


Li’l Kim – Lighters Up
[5.17]

Patrick McNally: Maybe chucking rappers into chokey is a good idea bcz it’s caused Lil’ Kim to finally make a good record, one that rides the rarity of a good, non-mimetic Tuff Jew beat. Although Kim does take up Storch’s baton by totally biting Damian Marley’s vocal melody from “Welcome to Jamrock.” In a rare display of restraint, Kim only mentions the Notorious B.I.G twelve times during the course of this song.
[8]

Edward Oculicz: On the strength of this, I can only assume that Li'l Kim is putting out mediocre dross so people don't miss her too much while she's in the pokey because she can be so good when she wants. One would have thought impending incarceration might have given her a little bit of grit and determination, but this boats lacklustre delivery, toothless and lame self-aggrandisement, some really annoying vocal inflections on the chorus and well, the beat doesn't do anything special either.
[3]

Hillary Brown: Cute. Lil’ Kim’s been listening to the radio, and I think she’s heard some Rihanna. Unless this is a different Lil’ Kim. But her encouragement of my excitement as expressed via flame isn’t working. I might do it for a few seconds, but not for four minutes. My arm gets tired.
[4]

Jessica Popper: Do they allow lighters in prison? They don't want the naughty ladies trying to start a fire so they can be evacuated and escape. I bet that's her plan - how sneaky!
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: The self-described “hottest bitch on the planet,” gives up rapping about magic sticks in favour of shouting out a million cities across the U.S. and faking a Jamaican accent. For such a blatant aping of the hot sound-du-jour (reggae/dancehall) and the hot single-du-jour (Welcome To Jamrock), it’s pleasing to hear this turn out so well. It works mostly because Li’l Kim stacks on about a million hooks, from the four-chord piano line to the recurring “Welcome to Brooklyn,” and “put your lighters up” call and response throughout the chorus. And just when you think she’s squeezed everything she can out of the track, she seals the deal with the bridge and its “Bartender you can gimme one mo’” hook.
[9]


My Chemical Romance – I’m Not OK (I Promise)
[5.86]

Patrick McNally: For the kids who mistake passive-aggression for sensitivity.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: The relationship between the lyrics as they'd be written down on a page and how they're actually pronounced is so complex and unpredictable you could write a PhD thesis on it. Significantly less can be said about the rapid-fire, unstoppable riffs and hooks laid end to end, the fantastic vocal interplay in the breakdown that is half unhinged and half ridiculously put-on, it may have zero emo cred, but as a pop song, it rocks hard and fast and that's more than enough for me.
[9]

Jessica Popper: I have heard so much of this song in the last month from my newly goth-wannabe sister's that I would not be surprised if I've been singing (or wailing as is more appropriate) the chorus in my sleep, yet I can't seem to remember any more of the song apart from the bit about "dirty looks". Those of you who are too old to live with a young teenage girl in the throes of amateur angst should think yourself bloody lucky. If she's listening to this rubbish at 14, I dread to think what her favourites will be by the time she's my age, although I suppose by then she'll be at the stage where liking anything you did when you were 14 is not allowed, so she may even have good taste. Hmm, maybe that's a bit too optimistic.
[0]

Doug Robertson: Apparently he’s not OK. We believe him, he sounds bloody awful here.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: As unbelievably brilliant now as it was last year when MCR were just a ridiculous bunch of weird goth kids taking over MTV by doing their best Rushmore impression (“You like D&D, Audrey Hepburn, Fangoria, Harry Houdini and Croquet. You can’t swim, you can’t dance, you don’t know karate: face it, you’re never gonna make it”). This is still the shamelessly unironic metal-revival that kicks all kinds of Darkness ass by virtue of its emo brilliance. Best bits: “Trust me.” the bitchin solo, the piano interlude, “I’m not O-fuckin-K,” And on a non-musical note, Gerard Way should do shampoo commercials, because his hair has great shine.
[10]

John Cameron: I think Dave Grohl likened these guys to Queen once and I can't disagree with him. They have all the excessive drama, all the showboating, and all the campy fun of Queen's bombastic side in a punk rock context, and it works so fucking well that it's incredible. This song is, of course, the most bounce-out-of-your-chair, hyper-fun single they've released, and you can tell: it brims with adolescent energy. I don't mean it sounds like it brims with energy, or they're trying to sound like they brim with energy. They just do. God bless 'em.
[10]


Bananarama – Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)
[6.00]

Patrick McNally: A comeback is pointless when there was no personality or aesthetic there to revive in the first place.
[2]

Edward Oculicz: Most of the great bits about this are down to the source (My Mine's "Hypnotic Tango"), but the interplay between the alternatingly vocoded and not vocoded lines in the verses is good, and the chorus, bearing in mind this is Bananarama, is understated, subtle, and very good. Significantly, they look better in this video than the last one, too.
[9]

Jessica Popper: This should have been their comeback single instead of Move In My Direction, because it's much better. The comeback may not have been hugely successful, but the music they're making is perfect for them. They're like Girls Aloud's older sisters, or at least their cool young aunts, and the music is great, but just a bit more laid-back, mature and comfortable with itself, despite not being quite what the taste-challenged youth of today is looking for.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Who would want a world without Bananarama? Fools, that’s who. Poor, miserable fools. They might be old enough to be, if not the Mums, then at least the Auntie’s of the current crop of girl bands, but they still sound fresh, exciting, and easily hold their own amongst the young upstarts currently taking control of the charts. If only more bands made records that sounded like this, if only so we’d have more of a chance of hearing it on the radio.
[7]

John Cameron: This sounds only slightly better than the techno we usually review, except with competent vocalists over top of it - and just as uninspired. Bananarama, what happened? Where did you go wrong?
[4]


Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World
[6.40]

Patrick McNally: No matter what the music here sounds like, Elbow lose all points for the facile, clichéd and plain wrong observation that “the leaders of the free world are just little boys throwing stones.” I hear better political insights than that at work and I work in a postoperative lobotomy clinic.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: Plodding and lumbering a bit, perhaps a demonstration as to why you shouldn't release title tracks as singles, but the spacy, spooky atmospheric noises that come over the chorus show there's somewhat more going on than tedious indie noodlings in Elbow's collective heads. They can do pop as sound well enough within their template, one day they'll learn to write choruses and the world will be theirs for three months.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Far more interesting than any other Elbow songs I’ve heard, largely because it lifts liberally from the Beatles (“Happiness Is a Warm Gun” most immediately) and gets big and warm rather than tinny and indie, which it promises at the very start.
[6]

Doug Robertson: Having successfully managed to evade the hordes of people who, every November the 5th, see nothing wrong in hunting him down, placing him atop a shoddily constructed mound of wood and sticks before setting fire to him, Guy Garvey here takes his own shot at bringing down a government, even if his attentions seem to be focused across the water, rather than in his own backyard. It’s decent enough, piano led track, even if it’s hard to truly trust the opinion of someone who felt that dating Edith Bowman was a good idea.
[7]

John Cameron: There is no joy to this song, but it's better served for it. There's a huge, hypnotic sort of feel to the stomp Elbow has going; the sound of Spoon getting a little desperate, and on the dangerous precipice of apathy. Also, with very nice electronics thrown in. The sing-a-long of "the passing the gun from the father to feckless son" is proof, of course, of this song's crushing awesomeness, and accompanied by some serious classic-rock moments. Making this, of course, classic rock.
[8]


Madonna – Hung Up
[7.86]

Edward Oculicz: Disco disco disco disco disco! It's pretty useless arguing where this stands in the parthenon of absolutely storming Madonna dance classics, because when it's playing, it is a non-stop, relentless, dangerous disco juggernaut ready to run you over. A little impetuous and sulky, but hugely danceable and addictive.
[9]

Hillary Brown: I was bored at first, and now I am less so. The weird ways the sound surges are sort of like following someone with a boom box on his or her shoulder, and there’s no question you can dance to it. Right now, I’m thinking it’s solid middle-range Madonna.
[7]

Jessica Popper: Unless you're completely insane, you won't need much persuading that Madonna is one of the best pop stars ever and this is one of the best pop songs of the year. With the combination of a poppier Gwen-ish sound and an Abba sample, I was on board well before hearing the song and once I did hear it I loved it straight away. It may take a pop icon to do it, but for once a song is getting the success it deserves and, for a week at least (while it's no.1), all is right in the world of pop.
[10]

Doug Robertson: This is a good song, but it’s not good because of Madonna - though the “Time goes by so slowly” bits are rather ace – it’s good because of the Abba sample running throughout the song, even if said sample suffers because it brings back memories of the godawful BBC sitcom, Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie, but what do we know? We still think, despite overwhelming public opinion to the contrary, that Dear Jessie was her best song so we’re probably not in the best place to judge.
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: The Thin White Duke probably has a button in his recording studio that he can press to filter everything and turn the most mundane things into trance gold — it even worked with Starsailor, so it has to be special. So when something that sounds awesome anyway gets the treatment, like the hook from Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, the whole thing becomes fantastic. Unfortunately for us, though, Madonna sounds lost, perhaps because she forgot to get a real song, and has to rely on repeating, “time goes by… so slowly,” in place of an actual verse. Certainly not an unwelcome addition to radio playlists, but not at all necessary if you’ve already got the remix of “What You Waiting For.”
[6]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-11-11
Comments (5)
 

 
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