The Singles Jukebox
MP1, MP2, MP3, Go!



so, that ban on football songs lasts an entire week, as Swedish metal supergroup Mikeyla & The Metal Forces sneak into this week's lineup by virtue of recording a slightly ridiculous metal ballad thing that doesn't contain any overt references to football as such, but is apparently about football anyway. Still, Sweden are out of the World Cup now anyway, so, er, there. Or something. Also: The Long Blondes adjust their clothes in preparation for the big time, Hector "El Father" forgets to leave his surname, Ben Gibbard has been thinking about death, and Gosia Andrzejewicz is quite comfortably the most difficult name I've had to spell since this column started. There's also star power galore in the form of Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, Outkast and Augie March, but we begin, as usual, with the week's lowest scoring single. Now, I should just point out that this is an unusually high-scoring week, with just the one single averaging a score below 5, and even that would have placed much higher in previous weeks. I say all this because when the readers of Stylus find out what this single is, they may be slightly upset...


Scritti Politti - The Boom Boom Bap
[4.80]

Edward Oculicz: Green Gartside sounds just as he ever did, but this sparse, minimalist electro backdrop makes him sound like a relic, rather than a vital force.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: He sounds much like he used to—a sweet and smooth voice, with subdued electro backing and odd lyrics. I've never really connected with them, to be honest—they irritate me in the same kind of way that the Beautiful South do, even though Green is clearly a different class altogether.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Those who have only experienced Scritti via the, uh, “hits” (including myself) are in for less of a surprise than you might think. Green Gartside's voice is still as divinely light as always, and the music still sounds stuck in 1986 when it's anything more than just a beat, but now he's singing about his love of rap and, eventually about being in love. There's some conceptual stuff at work here, but it's the sweetest and most direct Gartside's probably ever been.
[7]

Doug Robertson: “The Boom Boom Bap”? Seriously? Wasn’t there any sort of quality control going on here that might result in someone hesitantly pointing out that, come to think of it, Boom Boom Bap is an ever so slightly rubbish and embarrassing song title? Actually, on listening to it, there probably wasn’t. It’s the sound of the past trying to sound like the future and failing in pretty much every sense.
[4]


Rohff - Starfuckeuze
[5.33]

Jonathan Bradley: Apart from the incredibly annoying vocal inflection on “Starfuckeuze” in the hook, this is rather unexceptional, with Rohff riding the Scott Storch-biting beat into the ground. If he has something to say that’s worth listening to, it’s good news for Francophones, because once you get over how easily this could be a remix of “Lean Back,” there’s little left to maintain interest. Bump the score up a couple points if there is a “Lean Back” style “Starfuckeuze” dance.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: Euro-rap with silly voices and a sample that reminds me of when US hip-hop started taking wholesale from Bollywood. Rohff—is it a he, or a they—has a wonderful sense of rhythm, but the short-attention span person in me wishes there were a more distinctive, regular chorus over its five-minute length. All the elements are quite accomplished and could quite conceivably make one feel like a bad-ass if you have never heard an English rap song in your life.
[7]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I'm guessing “Starfuckeuze” is French for “Starfuckers,” it seems kind of plausible. It doesn't sound like much of an indigenous French word, though, more likely the Anglophone term superficially Frenchified—which, as a parallel, suits the song rather well. Very, but very, generic, oozing mild menace through low string grunts and twiddles of snakecharmer flute rather in the manner of “Candy Shop.”
[6]

Ian Mathers: The first line of Rohff's biography may translate roughly as “Rohff did not usurp its reputation of nightmare of the French rap,” but starting a track with someone repeating “Starfuckeuze!” as if someone's just inserted something where the sun don't shine doesn't make you sound like a nightmare; it makes you sound a bit like a slower, less intelligent Caparezza.
[4]


Augie March - One Crowded Hour
[5.57]

Martin Skidmore: Serious singer-songwriter style, mostly quiet guitars, bad, uninteresting singing and lyrics that want to be poetic and intelligent. It's more interesting than, say, James Blunt, but it sounds very old and he doesn't quite have the lyrical invention of a Lloyd Cole, for instance, to make this work.
[4]

Adem Ali: Augie March have been responsible for supplying many Australian’s with reasons to off themselves since their first EP release in 1998, and it’s bloody well good to see that eight years on, they still seem to bring out the worst in me. Whilst it’s pleasant enough, there’s only so much whining and complaining in their predictable Bob-Dylan-fashion that I can handle.
[1]

Jonathan Bradley: Glenn Richards sounds like he has invested more effort here in creating the imagery and wordplay he uses to describe infatuation than some people spend on entire relationships. Lines like “If love is a bolt from the blue, then, what is a bolt but a glorified screw, and that doesn’t hold nothing together” are only the beginning; marvel as Richards’ lets his carefully crafted words stand strong amidst the track’s turbulent crescendo, singing about his “wreck and ruin,” and learning to speak the language of lions, as if relating a classical myth rather than a pop song. In contemporary Australian music, there is little better.
[10]

Barry Schwartz: If you subscribe to the theory “If you want to write rock lyrics, you must learn about where the Hobbits dwell,” Glenn Richards’ literary lyrical acrobatics may be for you! But as we’ve established earlier, chicks dig the following: soul, class, style, and bad ass; Augie March is pleasant, cheerful, polite, and fucking borrrrrrrrrrrrrrring.
[4]


Mikeyla ft. The Metal Forces - Glorious
[5.67]

Martin Skidmore: Scandinavian metal with a chorus of voices (is that the Metal Forces?), a hair metal tune, and a female lead who wants to be powerful but kind of isn't. It sounds like a gothy metal band that has got its mates in to try to beef it all up, but they've actually just bulked it out.
[3]

David Moore: Is there even a Swedish word for “irony?” Mikeyla doesn’t think twice about laying on arena-rock(-opera) bombast in her World Cup single and, guess what, it works because it works. You can shout along to it without a smirk. Or smirk away, the “Metal Forces” won’t care—they sound like studio musicians. And anyway, they all knew that “Glorious” would get on the Swedish charts by default; there’s no overestimating the power of World Cup fever.
[7]

Iain Forrester: There’s a certain level of pomp and drama that a song can reach after which it stops sounding annoying and ridiculous and becomes convincing again. Or at least that’s what Mikeyla (featuring, rather brilliantly, ‘The Metal Forces’) seem to be gambling on, employing crowd noises, ominous strings, squealing guitar and a massed, reverent choir. And who am I to argue that they’re just a little short of a song to go with all the trappings?
[6]

Hillary Brown: I’d thought cheerful stadium metal was only back in the context of reminiscing about it, but it’s clearly a bigger movement than that. Or perhaps Europe feels the need to pump its fists more than usual lately. Not awful, but the unified voices on the chorus don’t make it any better.
[4]


Gosia Andrzejewicz - Pozwol Zyc
[5.71]

Jessica Popper: This is rather good in a t.A.T.u wannabe way, although Gosia is actually Polish, not Russian. She's young and blonde but sadly seems to be the Polish answer to Stacie Orrico since she has a huge mole on her face.
[7]

Edward Oculicz: I've got no idea what to make of this—every single piece sounds absolutely ridiculous. The clutter of the percussion, the wonky glam touches to the intro guitar, the delicate verses that sigh like only the Slavonic tongues ever do, the electro-touches that come into their own at the end, and nothing remotely approaching a chorus to speak of. It's an interesting, lush pop single and I appreciate it even as I don't exactly love it.
[6]

Ian Mathers: It starts with the stomp-and-clap from “We Will Rock You” overlaid with grainy synth bleeps: Genius. Gosia has quite a nice voice, and although the verses are strictly placeholder quality (why would you drop it down to just drums and an acoustic?) she really nails the chorus, complete with extra handclaps and a double-tracked call and response. In the context of the rest of the production and her performances, that stomp-and-clap goes from rousing to somehow yearning, which might sound odd in theory but is fantastic in practice.
[7]

Doug Robertson: I didn’t know Skin was Polish.
[5]


Hector "El Father" - Calor
[5.80]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Oh, oh, this is awesome—short-attention-span reggaeton, shifting up and switching every other repeated phrase, stark against the sparsest of frameworks. Sometimes it's soundtrack-dark and spooky, sometimes parping with football-game plastic horns; sometimes girls breathe and sneer, sometimes he cackles like a cartoon villain and yells "non spiiki inglish!" like it's the funniest line he's ever come up with. It's like an overlong carnival-of-horrors montage in the middle of an action film, nothing but an exercise in atmosphere, no structure or coherence, and unexpectedly likeable for it.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Absolutely exhausting, although I get the impression it is supposed to be fun (and there are inklings of this amusement occasionally; they just wear off extremely fast).
[3]

Iain Forrester: It would be a very good danceable party song anyway, but, even more than the booming bass, I think that it’s the airhorns which totally make it. Possibly gains slightly from not being able to make out a word apart from “coochie coochie coochie”.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Calor seethes with quiet menace in its fantastically dramatic intro, and though it doesn’t really ignite the way the title suggests it should (“Heat”), it doesn’t matter. This is a slow burn, the reggaetón beat holding the lighter steady beneath the track as it percolates.
[6]


Death Cab for Cutie - I Will Follow You into the Dark
[6.00]

Jessica Popper: All I know about Death Cab For Cutie is that Seth from The OC likes them. It's not quite as bad as I was expecting, but for some reason the singer sounds like he should only ever sing Christmas songs. It keeps almost breaking into “A Spaceman Came Travelling” but never quite gets there, which is a shame cos it would be much better than this. “And it went la-lala-la...”
[4]

Barry Schwartz: Ah, tender is the touch! Suppose you could admire Gibbard’s restraint for not turning this fragile ballad into the massive arena-ready anthem it easily could be (and the producers of Smallville desperately wish it would be); but then what was the point of signing to Atlantic if not to get the Boston Philharmonic and record 12 guitar parts monophonically. Christ, you can cut their reluctance with a chainsaw. Do chicks dig that?
[5]

Ian Mathers: I normally find Ben Gibbard intensely annoying for reasons that are mysterious to me, and I assumed that a song that's just him and an acoustic guitar would have only made me grit my teeth more forcefully. But Ben manages to win me over, and worse, he does it by sheer force of sweetness. Somehow modest and unprepossessing even as he pledges to forgo the afterlife for you, he's charming, funny, even mildly insightful. This makes me wonder if Gibbard shouldn't give up this whole band thing and just roam the land as an acoustic troubadour. When I start talking nonsense like that you know the song is good.
[9]

David Moore: The Decemberists might have turned this sappy acoustic guitar number into a half-decent indie sea shanty or something, which wouldn’t stop it from being bland, but at least there’d be a pirate backdrop to look at absently while they churned it out. It must be about the lyrics. But who could be bothered to pay attention to those?
[3]


End of Fashion - The Game
[6.33]

Martin Skidmore: This is a Strokesish rock-pop number, with a singer with a very nice and flexible high voice. When he tries to growl on the heavier parts he's less expressive, though still not bad at all. There isn't quite enough tune, not enough of a chorus, but I like the sound well enough, and the vocals are very good, so I expect good things from them in future.
[7]

Iain Forrester: “The Game” has a nice keyboard and chugging guitar background that means it has its moments as average rock. The singer’s voice is way too annoying for it to be anything more though, and the screaming towards the end is just horrible. Ends up serving as a worrying reminder that Jet are soon to return.
[3]

Adem Ali: End of Fashion’s last single “Oh Yeah” was horrific on so many different levels, so it’s refreshing to see their latest is actually somewhat outstanding. There’s an absolute plethora of wondrous sounds going on in the background during the chorus, it’s just not sure if it wants to be an electro-pop or electro-rock song! And just when you think the song cannot get any better, there’s a key change halfway through the chorus’ second run. Genius.
[10]

Barry Schwartz: End of Fashion score points for knowing a dumb song can be done really well: Justin Burford’s Jack White yelp singing “I don’t know which way to point my kiss” over Jet-for-people-who-aren’t-idiots guitars gets the job done. Keyboards are killing me, though.
[6]


Tony Matterhorn - Dutty Wine
[6.40]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: There's not much point to this song unless you're dancing, unless there's another body to be winding up to and grinding into and dancing out the moves for. And even then—honestly speaking, I'm generally far too embarrassed to ever actually do any of this on the dancefloor. As an individual song, I suppose it's pretty generic—bragging, demanding, that same beat that wants your hips to twist like this—but all the better for it, for the feel of imagined basement rooms and sound systems and all the dancing I'm not brave enough to do.
[7]

Hillary Brown: This is short, but bracingly direct and paced like a hand-cranked egg beater being spun with serious muscle.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Tony Matterhorn charges straight at us from the first snare hits and with those spiraling strings propelling him forward, all we can do is await the onslaught of rapid fire phrases he slings out. The best feature, though, is the way his hard-edged rapping turns into soft, sweet singing, adding a tinge of sadness to the frenetic assault. The patois obscures a good chunk of his lyrics, but those moments of crooning mean the intelligibility is no impediment to enjoyment.
[7]

Ian Mathers: Energetic dancehall (wait, is that redundant?) where Tony clearly takes pleasure in saying the word "fuck" repeatedly in quick succession. Admittedly that part has a certain juvenile thrill, but that constant little synth-string fillip that hectors away at the edge of the production gets a little tiring and grating after three minutes. Much like Mr. Matterhorn's delivery.
[5]


Outkast - The Mighty O
[6.80]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I get so excited when this starts—it's like a soft-shoe shuffle on clattering tin cans with a lazy playground nonsense chant. And then the verses start and it's slow, staid, flat, and heavy. The rhythms don't change, the beat goes thunk rest thunk rest thunk etcetera etcetera and they get about a minute and a half each of uninterrupted burble. There were rumours somewhere that this was rush-released to prove the pair were still together, and I'd like to think they were true. At least then I can go on convinced that, given time, they're still sharp and exciting as I believe, and want to believe, they are.
[5]

Barry Schwartz: What’s cooler than being cool? Cab Calloway!!! For all the talk this song’s going to get for Andre 3000’s return to rhythmic African Poetry Big Boi comes off really kinda nice on this. “No gats or no raps you get slapped about that / As a matter of fact, not fiction / Rumpelskiltsken you WACK.” One thing’s for certain: this song is really gonna get people amped for Idlewild when it hits theaters in 2009.
[9]

Jonathan Bradley: What’s pleasing about this is how everyday it sounds: Outkast as talented rappers with a new single out rather than zeitgeist-defining pop superstars. One could dismiss the simplistic organ driven-beat as laurel resting by one of hip-hop’s most creative duos, but instead it allows Big Boi and Dre to focus on rapping (yes, Dre raps and is still incredible) and sounding like they’re having a great time doing it.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Those of us who preferred Speakerboxxx to The Love Below, prepare to be disappointed. Big Boi starts slow and tired and he never quite gets back up to form. Andre sounds like hasn't rapped since 2003. The chorus, such as it is, sounds like they couldn't think of anything else so they threw in a variant of the “Minnie the Moocher” scat. The production is decent and has a couple of neat noises, and both rappers get off a few good lines, but this is about as bad as you'd fear, given the stratospheric expectations.
[4]


Guillemots - Made Up Love Song
[6.83]

Doug Robertson: Despite having an “Everything including the kitchen sink” approach to making music, The Guillemots sound is surprisingly low-key. It all builds so subtlety that you’re not aware of how much it’s built and soared until the end, sadly, arrives and everything starts dropping out and you’re left with a feeling of loss and sadness that belies the euphoria of the preceding three-and-a-half minutes. Gorgeous.
[8]

Adem Ali: Whilst it begins all too ropey for my liking, it does manage to progress into a half decent song one minute in. Overall it’s not bad really, but not exactly anything groundbreaking either, and a bit like every other avant-garde alternative act gracing the airwaves.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: I saw this on Top Of The Pops (RIP) recently, and I decided this lot will probably be very big, catching the Coldplay audience that they are clearly after. I can't say I was pleased by this thought. There's a lot of fiddling around on what I take to be some sort of accordion or pump organ, which I usually like but here it seems twee and annoying. I've a strong feeling I'll really hate this lot by the end of the year, and I am already well on the way to that.
[0]

Jessica Popper: I wouldn't necessarily call myself a Guillemots fan, but I have somehow been to see them live twice, and they are very good at that, although some of the songs go on a bit. Fyfe is a great singer and gives quite amusing interviews, but it's a shame that not all the songs are quite as ace as he seems to be. Still, this is one of the best ones and I'm pleased they're beginning to gain success because they truly deserve it.
[8]


The Long Blondes - Weekend Without Make-Up
[6.83]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I quite like being out of the indie world—I feel it's given me the right kind of perspective on the whole business, so when I hear "exciting new hope for music!" I can recognize this means "competent throaty-girl-fronted indie with rather jangly guitars" and not feel too ripped off. There's a bit of a chorus, surprisingly catchy, that ought by rights to have handclaps; there's a bit of a guitar solo, rudimentary and unnecessary; there's a bit of polite angst, a bit of restrained yowling, and there's nothing more.
[6]

Doug Robertson: The Long Blondes are, of course, all kinds of aceness, and this single counts for at least 19 of them, bouncing away like an over-excited Labrador made up entirely of space-hoppers, only without the unpleasant slobbering that that would entail. See, kids, indie music can sound fun.
[8]

Adem Ali: Borrowing bits and pieces of several different Blondie tracks, the art-punk sound The Long Blondes have beaming through this number is nothing short of ace. Not only is it laced with guitars, but it has a killer hook, a poptastic chorus, and a downright dancey feel to it. What a tremendous way to make music with guitars.
[10]

Iain Forrester: “Weekend Without Makeup” unveils its story well enough over its course but musically it’s far too calculated and knowingly slick to really convince, without being catchy enough for that not to matter. When it launches into desperation at the end, it sits really uneasily. It’s a shame that they’re beginning life as a signed band with easily their weakest single to date.
[5]


Love Is All - Busy Doing Nothing
[7.29]

Adem Ali: This sounds like European pop that’s been ripped right out of the late 70’s. The vocalist sounds quite similar to a cross between Bjork and Silvia Night, which certainly makes for interesting listening, and the male sing-a-long toward the end is quite the superb nod to The Doors’ “Soft Parade,” isn’t it?
[8]

David Moore: Disco-rock rhythm section with some haphazardly blurted sax adding color. The messy production tries to hide the fact that they’re a pretty tight pop group, but it still comes through. Josephine Olausson’s vocals are playful and kinda sexy—she’s got that implacable Scandinavian charm that drives all the guys wild.
[6]

Doug Robertson: What’s the modern equivalent of home taping? MP1, MP2, MP3, Go! doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as C-30, C-60,C-90, Go! but this does—albeit dealing with an entirely different subject matter than the Bow Wow Wow classic—with a touch of Yeah Yeah Yeahs thrown in for good measure. And, as everyone knows, anything that sounds a bit like Bow Wow Wow is cause for celebration indeed.
[8]

Ian Mathers: That spirited guitar/trumpet refrain that almost can't wait for the singer to finish yelping “nine times the same song!” before busting the doors down (again) really make “Busy Doing Nothing.” And Love Is All know it. They wisely give it some space in the middle of the song so we can all just appreciate it for a minute. But there's more, from Josephine Olausson channeling Colin Newman during the “oh why for does the wind blow?” bit to the fantastic backing vocals at the end; “Busy Doing Nothing” starts off strong and actually improves a little when it gets quiet at the end. Class.
[8]


Paris Hilton - Stars Are Blind
[7.33]

Adem Ali: Like Gwen Stefani with a serious case of laryngitis doing UB40’s “Kingston Town.” Which therefore makes it brilliant.
[9]

Jessica Popper: Car-crash pop and heaps of fun. Of every act I expected Paris to rip off, it certainly wasn't Ace of Base, but I'm far from complaining—in fact I'm quite excited. Paris is nothing if not a trendsetter, so if she says Euro-reggae is cool, soon everyone will be doing it. I can't wait!
[7]

Martin Skidmore: I didn't know what to expect. We get a perky reggae beat, and her rather weak vocal on the top, which doesn't have the richness to match the seductiveness she is striving for. Otherwise the sound is perfectly acceptable, if ordinary, and there is a decent enough tune, but she has little to offer. Give this to someone with the voice of Kelis or Cyndi Lauper or Xtina and it'd be terrific, but it doesn't work with her at all.
[3]

Barry Schwartz: One Night in Paris is exactly the length of ten “Stars Are Blind.” I’ve done the math and decided this couldn’t possibly be a coincidence. Much like sex with Paris Hilton, “Stars Are Blind” is breezy and fun and she’s kind of disinterested but like in a cool way and she sounds like Nina Persson from the Cardigans and at the end there’s one too many choruses
[8]


Christina Aguilera - Ain't No Other Man
[7.67]

Barry Schwartz: “Ain’t No Other Man” reminds me of Metallica’s “St. Anger” because the track sounds like it was recorded in some asshole’s basement but the vocals were cut and Melodyned in the vacuum of space. But at least now we know this Premier/Christina collaboration won’t be a total disaster: Primo sounds completely rejuvenated (it’s amazing what a little peroxide can do for your horn stabs), and Xtina, flipping that “Pusherman” melody, sounds like she’s actually having some fun singing over shit that isn’t dirrrty in name only.
[6]

Jessica Popper: At first when I heard this I was underwhelmed, but I've grown to really like it and now I definitely think it was a good choice for a comeback single, even if it does sound just like “Real Things” by Javine at the beginning.
[8]

David Moore: This song needs to be bigger. It’s almost great, but it needs to be a blockbuster, like Xtina’s X-Men 3. It needs to throw caution and subtlety and character development and coherence to the wind and revel in its glorious, bloody overkill. Why is she holding back now? It’s fucking hot outside! Pummel us into submission, please.
[7]

Jonathan Bradley: Premo takes the Rich Harrisons of the world back to school, lighting a fire under co-instructor Xtina, stoked by boom-bap drums, bass pops, and sizzling horn blasts. It is all breathlessly exciting, the return of two veterans in their respective fields, and both confirm that even outside their established domain, they remain a force to be reckoned with. It is, admittedly, neither artist’s best work; the funk jamming is a little too familiar—at moments the instrumental sounds regrettably like a car commercial—and Christina’s vocal sounds a little too tossed off, but as a continuation of R&B’s recent interest in live-sounding production, it promises improved radio listening for us all long after the reign of crisp keys and drum machines ends.
[8]


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


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-06-27
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