The Singles Jukebox
I Need a Papi



this week, not even getting into the top 40 can stop Victoria Bergsman sounding bored out of her fucking skull, Toby Keith has masonry issues (watch the video), Pharrell and Kanye West have the year's most inevitable collaboration, and the press release for the David Guetta single almost certainly describes something meeting something else 'down-town'. Also: Hot Chip, The Killers, and the most crushed-on presenter in the history of German music television, but to kick it all off: Snow Patrol, who appear to have broken the US by soundtracking Ellen Pompeo's lips getting a bit trembly. Congratulations, they have arrived...


Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
[Watch the Video]
[4.00]

Edward Oculicz: A comforting chug of guitars, a familiar start quiet/end loud dynamic, some vague lyrics delivered with the gravitas of something very serious indeed, and absolutely no discernible impact in the verses. The chorus is a bit better, because given some weight, the words sound meaningful to go along with the general forward momentum a rock song gets when it does the things that rock is supposed to do (i.e. be loud and enjoyable). It’s just a pity that the first half is conservative bedtime music for undergraduates.
[4]

Martin Skidmore: I find them quite tolerable in their livelier moments, but this is more like a cross between a Coldplay and U2 power ballad. It may not be as horrible as that sounds, but it's close.
[2]

Ian Mathers: When I'm in a certain mood I don't want to listen to experimental music or dazzling pop hits or whatever, I just want a big obvious soaring/pealing/chiming rock ballad with extra orchestra, and I want to sing along at the top of my lungs. Where else am I supposed to get that stuff? Coldplay? James Blunt?
[8]

Joseph McCombs: The people who claim that all ’00s Britrock sounds alike will use this as their proof positive.
[6]


Bela B ft. Charlotte Roche - 1,2,3...
[Watch the Video]
[4.40]

Mike Atkinson: A tidily constructed comic mini-drama, in which Bela rebuffs the drunken advances of some random creepy dude, before making similarly creepy moves on a Hot Chick who turns out to be Creepy Dude’s main squeeze. Uh-oh, threesome alert! What’s a guy to do?! Notable also for the ace chat-up line: “Hi, my name is Bela, I like Nelson Mandela.” Oh come on, you’ve got to admire the man’s front. (And guess what: in the nudey Swinger’s Club video, you can literally do just that!)
[8]

Iain Forrester: “Let’s swing!” says Bela, but there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm for it apparent throughout the song.
[5]

Edward Oculicz: A man with an incredibly unpleasant voice duetting with a woman about which the only sensible response is “Phwoarrr.” Over something that makes me think of bar bands from the 1970s only recorded properly. Meaning you hear exactly how ghastly it is.
[1]

Ian Mathers: Since the music is so resolutely mid-tempo and plodding (aside from a decent guitar break) the weight is wholly on Bela B.'s delivery and personality, and if you're a big fan of Die Ärzte that's possibly enough; otherwise, you're left wondering why this is a single.
[5]


The Killers - When You Were Young
[5.17]

Jonathan Bradley: Stitches the absurd grandeur of “All These Thing That I Have Done” with the hooks of “Mr. Brightside.” Brandon Flowers turns to Springsteen bites as inspiration for his bid at greatness, and for the first time it seems feasible that the Killers could be a genuinely fantastic act.
[10]

Joe Macaré: Not so much “Born To Run” as Born to be RUBBISH, do you see?
[4]

Martin Skidmore: Their usual tedious old-fashioned thrillless rock, skillfully deployed to no discernible point. There is craft here, but it's in the service of nothing worth doing.
[1]

Joseph McCombs: Has Brandon Flowers been taking voice lessons from Ric Ocasek? I’m only happy with “he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus” as a refrain because I know he’s capable of lines like “I got soul but I’m not a soldier.” The strings that arise in the background, as well-groomed as the band, go a long way toward salvaging this anti-drug oddity.
[5]


David Guetta vs. The Egg - Love Don't Let Me Go Walking Away
[Watch the Video]
[5.20]

Mike Atkinson: Guetta has grafts the vocals from his recent dance hit “Love Don’t Let Me Go” over the Tocadisco remix of The Egg’s “Walking Away,” twisting the latter’s central riff in a variety of pleasing ways, and augmenting its sturdy electrohouse sound with some of the trappings of French filter-disco. Happily, the riff is a chunky, seductive killer: an instantly recognisable “OH MY GOD IT’S THIS ONE!” affair, whose already lengthy shelf-life is hence usefully expanded by a few more weeks.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: Dull house reinterpreted by colliding it with some more dull house to create dull house.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: A mash-up of “Love Don’t Let Me Go” with a song not as good as “Love Don’t Let Me Go.” The shuddering, slightly dizziness-inducing backing does not work particularly well with the pure disco vocals of the original, which call for something a lot more fluid and smooth.
[5]

Hillary Brown: Is this better-than-average dance music, or am I just in a fine mood on this slightly cooler than usual Monday morning after a brief vacation from the day job?
[5]


Alesha - Lipstick
[Watch the Video]
[5.25]

Edward Oculicz: If glam had been urban in its genesis, it might have sounded a bit like this. Alesha can rock pretty convincingly—her whoa-ing is pretty impressive. Slick and enjoyable, but hardly the sort of debut you’d expect from a high-profile, exciting solo prospect.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Tremendously lively and fun—something that would get me dancing and shouting and perhaps even punching the air, on a good day.
[9]

Mike Atkinson: Nearly three years after Mis-teeq’s last hit, Alesha Dixon returns with a self-penned solo debut, which maps out very different territory to her former band’s tolerable if unremarkable soul-pop. Fatally—because I can’t think of one instance where this has ever worked—she has pitched herself to a younger demographic than before, attempting to unite warring factions in playgrounds across the land by means of a latter-day anthem to Girl Power. Having dutifully played this track at least half a dozen times over the past few days, I find myself bitterly resenting every second that I have spent enduring this wretched, wretched piece of work.
[1]

Rodney J. Greene: One of those brilliant and infuriating pop singles that after one listen is the BEST! THING! EVER!, the second hearing is spent wondering what sort of merit you found in that horrid mess, and the rest of its existence is a search for a happy median.
[4]


Shareefa ft. Ludacris - I Need a Boss
[Watch the Video]
[5.50]

Martin Skidmore: R&B with a fairly tough sound and an inevitable guest verse from the always wonderful Ludacris.
[8]

Ian Mathers: “I need a papi, someone I call daddy”—I know, I know, it's all slang; but surely I'm the only one more than a little creeped out by Shareefa here? It's good to see the new, slightly more serious Luda can still give us a good verse, though, and stutters are always good. Always.
[5]

Hillary Brown: I’m halfway there on this song. Somehow the switching between left and right speakers ends up taking away from the tinkly little tune that meshes nicely with this kind of grinding tempo.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Seems a shame to waste a perfectly good Luda verse on a song this anonymous. Couldn’t they have just added him to that Ciara track we had last week instead?
[4]


Hot Chip - Colours
[Watch the Video]
[5.75]

Hillary Brown: In some ways, this seems like the Hot Chip song most likely to be a hit in the United States, or at least to get picked up for an M&M’s ad, because it’s chirpy and mellow at the same time—techno folk. You could dance to this, but it would probably consist of moving slowly while snapping your fingers and sticking your ass out.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: A technical masterpiece rather than the well-rounded achievement Hot Chip have the capacity to produce. The drum programming, particularly the sparse bass hits in the opening, bounce intriguingly off-kilter, and even the too-cheery keyboard bubbles swell and drift intriguingly below the radar, doing fascinating things for longer than they need to. But it seems clever purely for the sake of it.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: I like them in about inverse proportion to the amount of vocals on their records—and this is dominated by the singing, particularly early on. When did singing as if you wanted the audience to hear some feeling or have some fun go out of fashion?
[4]

Ian Mathers: It really is all about Alexis Taylor's voice, the indefinable emotion he hits singing “There's nothing in this heart but me” wrings me out every time.
[8]


Toby Keith - A Little Too Late
[Watch the Video]
[5.80]

Rodney J. Greene: Toby Keith is much more tolerable when he's not playing up his red-blooded American-ness. Here he delivers a solid ballad with just-short-of-maudlin strings and tender steel guitar picking. Don't tell my liberal friends, but I kinda dig this.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: It's very smooth and lush, and he can sing, but I think the vocal needed heartbreak rather than weariness, something a Merle or a Willie could have pulled off but Toby can't, quite.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: What the hell happened? I’d only ever known Toby Keith to be a jingoistic novelty, hardly worthy of attention, but this is fucking good! Excellent songwriting and an effectively understated vocal. I suppose he’s been holed up with Billy Sherrill records and the collected 1973 output of B.J. Thomas and Charlie Rich.
[9]

Hillary Brown: What is this? The song to make Natalie Maines like you now? Boo to the kindler, gentler Toby Keith, even on a breakup song. And why stuff his voice under layers of weak instrumentation?
[3]


Da Buzz - Without Breaking
[5.83]

Iain Forrester: Starts off sounding ominously like bog-standard eurotrance, but then takes a turn into pounding disco and near aceness, with vocals pitched at the fine midpoint of the usual “detached” and “bellowing” modes.
[7]

Edward Oculicz: Excellent Swede-disco in a vaguely Eurovision 2002 style. Though not quite the equal of Da Buzz’s zenith, the magnificent 2004 single “Dangerous,” the beat is insistent and the chorus becomes increasingly more penetrating every time you hear it. An uncluttered song, suited to a cluttered dance floor.
[9]

Mike Atkinson: In which a late 80s Stock Aitken Waterman Hi-NRG vocal rides atop the sort of burbling chugalug “wally disco” rhythm that might have graced something by Kelly Marie or Liquid Gold in 1980, the sum total also sounding rather like a typical Scandiwegian Eurovision entry from the early 2000s. The musical equivalent of a “shit, why did I do that” hit of stale amyl nitrate, from the dregs of that funny little bottle that has been lurking at the back of the refrigerator since the night when… yes, well.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: I would listen to this at a club, dance to it, tell you I liked it afterward, maybe even ask you who it was by, and then by the next day have forgotten all about it.
[5]


The Spinto Band - Oh Mandy
[Watch the Video]
[6.17]

Mike Atkinson: At the very real risk of repeating what everyone else has to say about this (because I think we might safely hazard a reasonable guess), there’s just no getting away from the fact that “Oh Mandy” has “Arcade Fire” written all over it—albeit an Arcade Fire stripped of its grandeur and depth, and replaced with a winsome, plaintive, floppy-fringed indie-boy feyness.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: The musical equivalent of stumbling around drunk late at night, equal parts spooked and lovesick. The verses become more tense and fraught in the vocal delivery and the progressively more intense music before the chorus, which is calmer and sounds like the moment of clarity that comes with the gradual process of sobering up.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Perversely enough, “Oh Mandy” is one of those tracks where something that would normally be annoying (the singer's nasal whine/fake croon) works perfectly well with the setting and actually winds up being an asset, over the thrumming, constant blur of the instruments.
[7]

Iain Forrester: “Oh Mandy” is very much the opposite of “Chasing Cars.” It’s all sweet nothings, harmonies and such breezy, effortless joy that their singer’s slightly questionable grasp of the tune is no big problem. Does make you wonder how it takes six people to make such simple music, though.
[7]


Pharrell ft. Kanye West - Number 1
[Watch the Video]
[6.40]

Rodney J. Greene: The Neptunes have been making brilliantly smooth R&B singles lately. What makes this one work is the contrast between the verses' dusky keys and the perky synths of the refrain. That Pharrell's singing has improved enough that he doesn't embarrass himself also helps.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Pharrell’s started his rap career in ignominious fashion, stacking In My Mind with tracks that imitate Kanye’s Louis Vuitton Don onanism, but neglect his more human elements. Kanye, for his part, shows no desire to moderate Pharrell’s impulses. They’re good kids, really, but good lord do they bring out the worst in each other.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: I've been losing faith in Pharrell/the Neptunes of late, and I've never been as crazy about Kanye as most, but this is great. It's light and lively, smooth and sexy, and Pharrell is really making the most of his rather lightweight voice at last.
[10]

Joe Macaré: I can't help but suspect that these two would get back to making their best stuff if they were knocked off their perch a little bit—y’know, so they started sounding hungry again—and “Number 1” will probably help speed up that inevitable fall from grace, given that it is an enormous act of hubris. “We’re number 1, so why try harder?” Perhaps so that even the people who generally like you stop wanting to see you fail?
[6]


Peter, Bjorn, and John ft. Victoria Bergsman - Young Folks
[Watch the Video]
[6.50]

Edward Oculicz: There’s something very old-timey about this, the minimalist drumming and bass line, the hollow whistling and the numbed, detached singing; not really a duet in that there’s not much interplay other than the chorus. Nimble, but completely dead at its centre, and yet strangely enjoyable.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: Swedish indie with highly uninterested, too cool to care vocals. It's pretty well put together and well produced, and I have heard countless worse indie records, but when the man is singing I dislike it, and when the woman is singing I don't care.
[3]

Jonathan Bradley: This is not quite the Euro-pop Swedish kids usually like to fuck with. These guys mix it up with spry drumming, a whistled melody and sloppy singing that hints ever so slightly at indie rock. Peter, Bjorn and John should just feel lucky I’m From Barcelona are around to cop the brunt of my desire to detest at least one Nordic act.
[8]

Joseph McCombs: The tragically acronymed PB&J have thrown me for a loop here. Why do I keep hearing, in that whistled riff, the notes that accompany the entrance of the “Oriental” character in a 1960s movie? Why does Victoria sound like she’s singing from the great beyond? And aren’t those congas really a bit much?
[5]


Monica ft. Dem Franchise Boyz - Everytime the Beat Drop
[Watch the Video]
[6.83]

Joseph McCombs: The FBz still haven’t learned how to do anything but lean wit it and rock wit it, but at least they do it better than before on this relentlessly hi-hatted paint-by-numbers. Would be better if the now indistinguishable Monica reclaimed a little personality.
[6]

Joe Macaré: I love it when R&B embraces the more ominous sounding types of hip-hop production. It's true that Monica has also embraced the Dirty South with rather convenient timing, but can you blame her? I had my own passport changed so it lists my place of birth as “Bankhead” last month.
[9]

Jonathan Bradley: Look, I like “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” but I refuse to believe there is anyone who heard that track and thought, “Damn, those rappers are so dope, I need me a guest verse from them.” This would better be attributed to Monica and Some Diabolical Synth Stabs feat. A Neat Little Chime At The End Of Every Couple Lines. (Then again, if Dem Franchize Boyz are referring to computers and not a stripper move with their line “Fucking with a laptop,” I’ll happily reinstate their claim to authorship.)
[6]

Ian Mathers: Are we sure Ciara didn't buy the rights to Monica's name just so she could have two singles out at a time? This is far more forceful, and not coincidentally better, than “Get Up” and even Dem Franchise Boyz are entertaining over those shadowy banks of strings and that indelible triangle stab.
[7]


Outkast - Morris Brown
[Watch the Video]
[8.20]

Joseph McCombs: Hearing the drumline in the intro made me fear for a moment that Andre had positioned himself as the Brian Wilson to Kanye West’s Paul McCartney. Which is wrong on many levels, I know. I shouldn’t bother with such thoughts anyway, because this is so much better than “Mighty ‘O’.” There’s so little structure to it—you never know how long a stanza will be—I must congratulate them on playing by so few rules.
[7]

Ian Mathers: I personally could care less about whether Big Boi and Andre 3000 stay together or what have you, or about Idlewild. What is important to me is the sheer magnificence of this single (oh, just credit it to Big Boi already!). For the duration I, too, am a fan in the stands, and my heart is like a marching band.
[10]

Rodney J. Greene: The grand tradition of brilliant Outkast singles continues. Big Boi rhymes in concentrated bursts between sing-along Cadillac shoutouts, his faint defensiveness slightly at odds with the song's carefree tone. That Scar's part feels so made-for-Andre might not bode well for Outkast's future, but it’s a credit to him that he can sing the words "My heart is like a marching band" over said musical arrangement without it seeming hokey or contrived.
[9]

Hillary Brown: The drums sound higher and thinner and (obvs) don’t make your heart thump in your chest, but the lack of literal body shaking is compensated for by that pretty melody. What this says to me is that these boys from Atlanta can handily beat the other two who’ve dominated the summer, in soul, in tunes, and probably in out-and-out effortless weirdness.
[7]


Cansei de Ser Sexy - Let's Make Love and Listen Death from Above
[Watch the Video]
[8.40]

Joseph McCombs: They’re adorable. I’d do it. But I’d point out to them while doing it that that’s damn near “The Hustle” playing in the background amidst the bleeps and claps.
[8]

Rodney J. Greene: A blatant take on "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" that, with its Lego blips and guitars hewn from bakelite, sounds closer to Daft Punk themselves than to LCD. Hipster bullshit of the best kind.
[9]

Joe Macaré: I'm thinking of getting a CSS tattoo. They're that kind of band. “Let's Make Love...” is their solid gold pop hit single masterpiece (they do several different kinds of masterpieces). So much about is perfect: the rebirth of the theremin, the segue into stompy rock pastiche, the endlessly quotable lyrics—of which the highlight has to be “you knew my ideas when they were in my head”, unless it’s “wine, then bed, then more, then again!”—and Lovefoxxx’s spirited delivery, at once both totally and unguarded and genuine and yet also effortlessly, hopelessly cool, which just about sums Cansei de Ser Sexy’s entire appeal.
[10]

Iain Forrester: It’s difficult to pick a favourite part of CSS’s fantastically arch, slightly Avalanches-esque party jam. Maybe the excited emphasis in ”this is how we call it a coomeback!”? The distorted “Spirit in the Sky” interlude? Perhaps the cute not-quite-English embodied in the title? Let’s just go for all of it.
[8]


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


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-08-15
Comments (4)
 

 
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