The Singles Jukebox
Mesh Jerseys



less than three weeks to Christmas, but the Jukebox hasn’t got time for those kinds of shenanigans. Not when there’s Shitdisco singles that need reviewing. Also pulling into the station: Scissor Sisters get their Bond on; Lil’ Chris continues to be 16 years old; Eminem’s mate Cashis probably isn’t named after the French for ‘blackcurrant’; plus your friends and mine, The Hold Steady, by which I mean that I think they’re the only one of our acts this week to have had an advert on these pages, so it seems only fair that we give them an extra-special hello.

HELLO, THE HOLD STEADY!

Gosh, we’re a right bunch of sweethearts. Anyway, this week we kick off with Paula DeAnda, who is currently #28 in the Billboard Hot 100. And is from Corpus Christi, Texas. And is 17 years old. And that’s about as fascinating as she gets, really…


Paula DeAnda ft. The DEY – Walk Away (Remember Me)
[Watch the Video]
[3.40]

Doug Robertson: Every day you see and hear a million and one different things, but your brain, being a bit on the smart side, doesn’t bother keeping note of all of these things and ditches all the irrelevant, pointless, unnecessary bits and bobs which aren’t worth remembering, leaving plenty of space instead to store all the useful bits of knowledge you need to carry around, such as your home address, the last twenty winners of the Eurovision song contest and whether you like tomato sauce or not.
[2]

M.H. Lo: The lyrical path is well-trodden (Paula doubts that she and her ex are happy with their respective new beaus), and the attempts to infuse fresh detail are a bit too risible to be successful (“Does she rub your feet when you've had a long day? / Scratch your scalp when you take out your braids?” Was Paula the girlfriend, or a spa worker?). And yet, there is something affecting about this rueful song. The way the chorus oscillates between (1) staccato phrases (“I. Can’t. Ex. Plain. This. Feel. Ling”), (2) dragged-out descriptions that turn into injunctions (“It. Gets. So. Hard. To walk awaaaay, a-a-ay. Walk awaaaay, a-a-ay”), and (3) promises in which the words, flushed with emotion, can barely keep from tumbling over each other (“Imgonnarememberyou / Yougonnarememberme”), perfectly captures the conflict Paula feels about whether she should—whether she can—leave it all behind. A great lesson in how phrasing can say more than the words it is working with.
[9]

Joseph McCombs: Between this and that wretchedly dumb “Doing Too Much,” I suspect DeAnda may be the least talented person in music today. At best she’s a parrot, at worst injured waterfowl. I’ll meet her halfway and just walk away.
[1]

Rodney J. Greene: The worst line ever dropped into a song: "Does she know that you like to play PS2 'til six in the morning like I do?"
[1]


Akon ft. Snoop Dogg – I Wanna Fuck You
[Watch the Video]
[3.60]

Erick Bieritz: “I’m In Love With a Stripper” was almost insulting, in a sense, to the degree that it conflated love with what was obviously lust. The premise of this song is that Akon and Snoop are exposing that lie by making the same concept preposterously brazen.
[2]

John M. Cunningham: Like most people, my first introduction to Akon was as Mister Lonely, a benign cartoon with a yearning, froglike voice, so all the lewd talk on this track comes off as laughable. Of course, the radio edit excises the F-word, but in a way it's worse, since then we're forced to believe he's in love with a stripper, and we've already swallowed that claim once this year.
[3]

Rodney J. Greene: Akon integrates atmospheric Phil Collins synth-and-croonery into an aftercrunk framework and it makes him all horny and stuff. This is actually one of those rare songs where the radio edit is significantly better than the dirty-dirty, but even the "fuck you" version doesn't seem nearly as inane as his other current hit.
[7]

Mallory O'Donnell Umm... points for honesty?
[5]


Damien Rice – 9 Crimes
[Watch the Video]
[4.40]

M.H. Lo: Blatantly contravening Chekhov’s law, the loaded gun that “9 Crimes” introduces in the first chorus shockingly does not go off later. Of course, that might be because there’s not much of an Act 3, since the song largely consists of the same verse and chorus batted between Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan several times. I fully acknowledge that many will consequently find the song droning (instead of spookily effective), although I have more trouble accepting the comparisons of Rice, whose songwriting is therefore much less conventional (if a little self-important), to people like James Blunt.
[6]

Ian Mathers: This is at least as much Lisa Hannigan's song as Rice's, and she is ridiculously good on it. On most of the rest of 9 I can see the comparisons to someone like James Blunt, but on this song he and Hannigan tap into something deeper, bleaker and more affecting.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Is this more like fancy loose tea with impeccable pedigree that you bought from a glass jar high on a shelf in a focused store? Or is it more like the Tazo box at Starbucks? Answer is undetermined, but in either case, it’s tea, which is for wusses and those with the flu, and not, say, hot chocolate, which can be dark and lovely in a totally different way.
[4]

Doug Robertson: This is what death sounds like.
[1]


Charlie Brown Jr. – Senhor do Tempo
[4.40]

Martin Skidmore: What the hell is this? Brazilian indie? It has that likeably relaxed Brazilian vocal tone, but otherwise it sounds very indie indeed, the words being spoken/rapped , the dismal music making sure no one will have any fun listening to it. Worst Brazilian record I've heard in years.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: That kind of warm, cascading guitar music only rarely comes up in European-American music, and it’s a shame. It’s a good reminder that Brazil has more to offer than just funk carioca.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: The delicate tension between the playful, half-rapped vocals and the droplets of new-age piano makes this song a pleasant listen, but given that the lead singer resembles a Brazilian version of Fred Durst—mesh jersey and all—I'm sort of happy I don't actually know any Portuguese.
[5]

Kevin J. Elliott: I’m familiar with Charlie Brown Jr. only because they sound-tracked my wife’s high school days in Brazil. That’s where the love stops. At least they had the good sense to lift the piano part from one of my favorite 80’s ballads, the name of which eludes me right now (anyone?).
[2]


The Hold Steady – Chips Ahoy!
[Watch the Video]
[5.00]

M.H. Lo: Aside from some “woah-oh-oh”s in the chorus, a mostly dreary Joe Jacksonesque song about a girl who “put nine hundred dollars on the fifth horse in the sixth race/I think his name was Chips Ahoy.” And his jockey, one assumes, was a Keebler elf.
[3]

Ian Mathers: His third person shtick still isn't as clever or compelling as Craig Finn thinks it is, but when he briefly breaks into directly addressing the problem/girl (the two are kind of the same for the Hold Steady), “How am I supposed to know that you're high if you won't let me touch you?” actually cracks the reserve. Next time more woah-oh-ohs and directness, less shaggy dog stories about gambling on horses.
[6]

Joseph McCombs: Naming the song after an only half-remembered horse name is a telling choice, but I’m not sure what it tells. Probably just that he gets stoned a lot. Dude, if she’s not enjoying the sex, maybe it’s you.
[5]

Hillary Brown: It’s the rare song that’s harmed by a headphone listening, but dear God is this ever one of them. I haven’t been on board with the Hold Steady much (songs too long, too Bruce), but I did kind of like this song when it was streaming as a single. Now, though? Ow ow ow. Either learn where to put your instruments/mics or go back to mono!
[4]


Eminem ft. 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks & Cashis - You Don't Know
[Watch the Video]
[5.00]

John M. Cunningham: Between Eminem's skittish nasal flow and 50 Cent's marble-mouthed drawl, the two mega-stars prove to be natural foils on this energetic collaboration. I can't be the only one, though, who wishes the bleach-blond rapper completed the rhyme "If there's a problem we solve it, if we don't resolve it" with "check out the hook while my DJ revolves it."
[6]

Ian Mathers: Eminem seems to have gotten a little of his old fire back, but he's shockingly anonymous on this posse cut, especially since this week we have another song that references his ability to tear shit up. If only this was anything more than another pro forma G-Unit banger.
[5]

Mallory O'Donnell We've run through so many ways of knowing, not knowing, what you know, what you don't know that I'm completely confused about exactly what I am or am not supposed to know and why. Luckily, to borrow another cliche, I don't give a fuck.
[2]

Rodney J. Greene: This sounds surprisingly vital considering the cast of characters. Fiddy is cruising on standby, but is completely within his element on a track that could work as either club banger or street anthem. Eminem actually carries himself off well, delivering flashbacks of "Renegades" until his verse devolves into dated Snoop izzleonics. Cashis and even Banks sound fierce to greater and lesser degrees. A disappointment really, as it isn't nearly as bad as I wanted it to be.
[6]


Shitdisco – Reactor Party
[Watch the Video]
[5.60]

Mallory O'Donnell Klaxons with a really bad headache: frothy enough, but not much fun.
[5]

M.H. Lo: If you’re going to walk around with a “KICK ME” sign for a band name, and compound matters with a messy dirge of a dancepunk number built around a throbbing-but-by-now-rote bassline and little else, it would take a strong, strong man not to kick away. Objection, your honor! Counsel is baiting the witness!
[1]

Erick Bieritz: I’m really sorry they decided to make this really lyrically (but not sonically) arch and tricky. That stutter and those helium voices in the first ten seconds? That’s where the action is.
[5]

Kevin J. Elliott: Regardless of the scene which Shitdisco claim to represent (i.e. day-glo, new rave, the horribly over-hyped Klaxons) this single crams a perfect balance of post-punk, snot-nosed abandon and gabber-disco, nitrous-trails into a potent pop acid trip.
[10]


Cham – Rude Boy Pledge
[5.60]

Mallory O'Donnell Cham isn't much on his own, but the instrumental here is charming enough—just the right touch of steel drums and a singsong backbeat—in other hands it could be pure butter. Here it's just a tablespoon of oil on the countertop.
[4]

Ian Mathers: I kind of wish Cham would spend the whole song extending the metaphor that he spends the first 35 seconds detailing, the one where failure is a curve and jobs are flat tires; it's inventive and entertaining. The oompah dancehall he launches into instead is pleasant enough, but a little colorless in comparison.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: I like this a great deal—slowed-down dancehall, at the pace of much of the vintage '70s roots reggae I love best, very well produced with some sweet steel drums, and delivered with force, weight... gravitas, even.
[9]

Erick Bieritz: The driving metaphors at the start sure beat the clumsy chorus. And Cham sure sounds like Beenie Man.
[5]


Scissor Sisters – Land of a Thousand Words
[Watch the Video]
[5.80]

Doug Robertson: Yes, there’s a lovely tenderness to this track, particularly in the vocal, but as a whole it’s about as emotionally satisfying as a Will Ferrell movie. Still, at least it might mean the end of “Don’t Feel Like Dancing” being played every single bloody hour on the radio.
[5]

Mallory O'Donnell Once, the most beautiful star in existence rose upon a nearly-empty sky. All was well and grand, right up until the moment someone told it it was the most beautiful star.
[3]

M.H. Lo: Landing on just the right side of bombastic (though that falsetto freak-out at the end makes it a bit touch-and-go for a while), this crashing 70s style ballad is obviously the Sisters’ bid for the UK Christmas No. 1, or at least for a new concert closer during which the audience can hold up their lighters cell phones and sway along. Hearing the way Jake’s voice lilt over a line like “And that’s the nature of the chase,” I find myself wishing them well in their endeavor.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: It's no secret that Elton John is a key influence on the Scissor Sisters, but this is the first song of theirs I've heard where the mimicry extends beyond a generous use of piano and a devotion to campy 1970s AM-radio pop. Maybe it's because I was in an actual piano bar the other night where almost every other song came from the Bernie Taupin songbook, but I listen to the plodding piano and grand sweep here and ponder: "Elton totally would've made that chord augmented, too." In his prime, he also would've made the melody more memorable.
[6]


Lil Chris – Gettin’ Enough??
[Watch the Video]
[6.00]

John M. Cunningham: So let me get this straight: Lil Chris is not someone like Chris Brown pulling a reverse Bow Wow name-wise, but some white kid from the UK, and "Getting Enough," which he gamely yelps his way through, is basically a mash-up of a beat from Joe Jackson and a lyrical/melodic motif from the Buzzcocks? I'm left wondering why he didn't just sample or cover "Ever Fallen in Love?" outright, but whatever. I like his pep.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Young boys singing about sex are just as creepy as young girls, but unlike, say, JoJo, Lil' Chris has a voice halfway between Ric Ocasek and an upset cat. Perversely enough, that's enough to make “Getting Enough” strangely awesome, although the purely amazing video doesn't hurt.
[7]

Hillary Brown: Half-listening, one mistakes the words on the chorus for “Are you getting it up with someone?” which is kind of better. Still, it’s not about the sentiment so much as it is the attitude, which is as carefully crafted as the graffiti on a freshman’s notebook cover.
[6]

Joseph McCombs: Preferred by 9 out of 10 NAMBLA members.
[7]


Jamelia – Beware of the Dog
[Watch the Video]
[6.20]

Joseph McCombs: Before you get upset over the mimickry of “S.O.S.,” ask yourself: Does rewrite-by-numbers construction make “(It’s the) Same Old Song” any lesser a tune? “All Day and All of the Night”? How about “Yeah!” or “Candy Shop”? Then why can’t we enjoy this for the confection that it is? A touch more obvious with the sample that Rihanna’s producers gifted her, but great use of the stomping beat, and the “you better reach out and touch me” lends the cautionary tale a faint and unexpected lesbian subtext, hinting at why this is a big deal to her: What’s the dog got that Jamelia hasn’t?
[9]

Kevin J. Elliott: Where Rhianna’s “S.O.S.” is full of grace and slick sophistication, Jamelia’s Depeche Mode karaoke stab is brash and shameless. “Reach out/ Touch me,” for chrissakes.
[3]

Doug Robertson: Of all the things Depeche Mode lacked—a welcoming warmth, guitarist with the ability to dress himself, many years of drug-free existence—it’s unlikely that many would have placed “Surprisingly fertile voice of coffee table vaguely urban music singing over the top of it” at the top of the list of things which should be rectified immediately. But lack of public demand—and we don’t just mean the fact her last single ever so slightly flopped—hasn’t stopped Jamelia, who comes up trumps with this: a sexy, feisty purr along to “Personal Jesus,” with the familiarity of the sample failing to dull the impact. What’s next, Miss Dynamite rapping along to Bauhaus?
[8]

Rodney J. Greene: British pop frightens and fascinates me.
[4]


The Game – Let’s Ride
[Watch the Video]
[6.20]


Kevin J. Elliott: More like a sidebar to the Game’s triumphant resurrection and face-saving PR campaign, “Let’s Ride” is a certified club jam, complete with “hydraulics in your g-string.” Scott Scorch weaves color-by-numbers g-funk so crisp and indiscreet, you may just forget about Dre. The Game certainly has and here it sounds as if he’s been smoking the good doctor’s ashes.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: At least he's not quite as obsessed with Dr. Dre on this one (he still gets mentioned, though). It's kind of by-the-numbers hip-hop lyrically—rolling to the club, smoking blunts, fucking—but he does it with such confidence and a smooth and lively flow that it's kind of irresistible anyway.
[8]

Rodney J. Greene: Scott Storch has made a career as a Dr. Dre imitator/understudy, and this is as close to nailing the Good Doctor's sound as he's ever come on his own. It doesn't have the energy needed to fulfill its intended purpose as a club joint, being a tad too slow for even a two-step. Game carries his verses well, but if this was a real Dre production, it would have a hook.
[6]

Hillary Brown: Lesser Storch contains all the elements of greater Storch but mixed by a bartender who’s been sampling the wares all night. Too many sugary ingredients and not enough smooth liquor to counter them.
[5]


Omarion – Ice Box
[Watch the Video]
[7.40]

John M. Cunningham: What's cooler than being cool? Being Omarion, apparently, who follows up the underrated lite-funk workout "Entourage" with a spacious, pristine Timbaland track that's every bit the equal of the producer's work this year with Nelly and Justin. In fact, the frozen synths echo "My Love," with the advantage that Omarion's superior voice allows him to rise above the intricately spooky textures, not be smothered by them. Goth R&B at its finest.
[8]

Martin Skidmore: Post boy-band R&B of a very impressive kind. I'm not especially taken with his weak and slightly strained nasal vocal, but the production is really gorgeous and original.
[9]

Kevin J. Elliott: Sadly Omarion looks to J.T. for inspiration rather than Teddy Pendergrass. He has legitimate talent and quite a range, but unfortunately “Ice Box” is “My Love” with less sex.
[4]

Rodney J. Greene: Usually it's the young ladies of R&B who try to execute frosty detachment, and it should come as no surprise that Omarion's withdrawal springs from a different source than the ice queens: internalized heartbreak, rather than wary distrust. Of course, this means that his disengagement is merely a facade, and there are intense emotions roiling beneath his thick-skinned act. He's crying as he tries to coax himself into numbness. As ludicrous and stagy as all that sounds, Omarion manages to pull it off by virtue of his determinedly semi-passionate performance.
[8]


Charlotte Gainsbourg – The Songs That We Sing
[Watch the Video]
[7.80]

Mallory O'Donnell This is rather gorgeous and shows the definite hand and loving touch of Serge-ophiles Cocker and Godrich, said to be involved in Charlotte's new project. A bit epic, but not too much to overwhelm the fragility of the vocals and the lovely undertones hidden beneath the mighty sweep of the thing.
[8]

Doug Robertson: There are some things that we, much like the dogs of Pavlovian fame, are always guaranteed to respond to in a positive manner. These include posh girls singing in a bored sort of way and anything with synthy horn stabs. As gorgeous as a summer meadow and as sulky as a child denied an ice cream, it’s a delicately melodic Whistler-esque slice of genius. We may have fallen in love. Woof.
[9]

Hillary Brown: Chimes at the early-bird dinner hour—at the beginning, it seems like there will be real drama and an arc to this song. It ends up more like scanning the room for the guy who refills the iced tea.
[4]

Joseph McCombs: Knowing next to nothing of Charlotte or her recording career, I have no idea if it was conscious homage or eerie coincidence that this song shares the dizzying, disorienting strings of pere’s “Bonnie et Clyde.” Either way this is a simply gorgeous track that’s surely got Dido pouting in her bedroom right now.
[9]


Nelly Furtado – Say It Right
[Watch the Video]
[8.00]

M.H. Lo: Although it employs a Timbaland beat that links it to the previous up-tempo releases from Loose—there’s even a slight reggaeton tinge to it that therefore recalls “No Hay Igual”—“Say It Right” sees Nelly taking a bleaker and more trip-hop turn. (Notice, for example, how the second verse picks up some subtle backing vocals that repeat and reinforce the end of Nelly’s lines, creating a haunted, ghostly effect.) If it didn’t lack a middle eight and hence appear just a bit directionless by its third minute, and then unsure of how to end (it opts for a half-hearted guitar solo), the track would rival or even surpass “Maneater” and “Promiscuous.”
[9]

Hillary Brown: One should normally be able to draw a diagonal descending to the right to plot the course of single quality as more and more are released from an album. Not so here, and though it’s possible Timbaland’s been overloved in his career, it sure doesn’t feel like it when you get to throw yourself completely into the warm waves of production this deep and beautiful.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Iif you’re not keen on this one, don’t worry, there’ll be another one along in a minute.
[6]

Rodney J. Greene: I underrated last week's Nelly Furtado ballad. It is absolutely gorgeous, and this one is similarly so. Timbo lays down a rainforest soundscape and Nelly plays well on this, her voice falling in short drips during the verse before opening up into a euphoric deluge during the refrain.
[9]


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


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-12-05
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