The Singles Jukebox
Nobel Peace Prize



this week, the current UK number one and two, in the shape of Fedde Le Grand and Bodyrox, force themselves into the Jukebox by public demand; Gnarls Barkley—one of only three acts to win two Jukeboxes this year—make what will probably be their last appearance for a bit; Cheb Mami meets Diam's uptown, and some arms probably get waved about a bit; U2 and Green Day collide to make the most political record since that Rage Against The Machine one with the swearing; and, er, Incubus. They're back. Wahey. First, though, McFly were number one in the UK last week. This week, they are not. Good.


McFly - Star Girl
[Watch the Video]
[2.20]

Kevin J. Elliott: Wasn’t this the theme song to some cancelled sitcom wedged between “Family Matters” and “Full House,” during ABC’s stellar, mid-90’s TGIF line-up?
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: At the point in the Disney Channel movie where the clean-cut tweens miraculously form a band and attract the attention of record company executives who will surely propel them directly to a life of fame and fortune, the song they play sounds like this.
[2]

Doug Robertson: McFly are like birds. Not in the sense that they’re covered in feathers and have a habit of crapping on windows—though this may well be true—but because they have a fondness for swallowing down the sounds of the past, in this case Rod Stewart’s “Ooh La La,” and regurgitating them back up in an unpleasant, stinking mess which is nonetheless swallowed up eagerly by the hungry mouths of their target audience.
[2]

Teresa Nieman: This song is a fan-made Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask YouTube video montage waiting to happen. Crap, I just admitted I know the name of Sailor Moon’s love interest.
[2]


U2 ft. Green Day - The Saints Are Coming
[Watch the Video]
[3.20]

Joseph McCombs: Letdown! You’d think that with Bono’s God complex he’d have done a lot more arena bloviating with this; the pairing was a splendid idea that deserved bigger and better than this inexplicably anodyne studio treatment.
[5]

Teresa Nieman: These two bands collaborating is probably one of my worst musical nightmares. Both are completely ignorant of the word “subtle,” and like to hammer their message into the unsuspecting ears of listeners worldwide, with plenty of overly dramatic lyrics and power riffs. Ugh.
[1]

Iain Forrester: Once you get past the awful, leaden pomposity of this (and the moment when Bono’s voice first tears in is ear-covering stuff) the real question is what Green Day are meant to get out of it. They’re practically bigger than U2 now anyway, have about as much political clout and seem unlikely to convert any of their entrenched audience, so what gives? Does Larry Mullen have some dirt on them?
[2]

Erick Bieritz: As if they weren’t each mustering enough hubris on their own.
[2]


Christina Aguilera - Hurt
[Watch the Video]
[4.60]

Joseph McCombs: She’s taken a bit from her performance of “A Song for You” with Herbie Hancock last year, no? Nice to hear that she might finally be recognizing the value of subtlety. To the extent that anyone who’s ever posed in prostie heels on a diving board can ever approximate subtlety.
[7]

Teresa Nieman: Xtina may be trying to buck the trend of “talentless” female vocal acts by desperately showcasing her pipes, but she’s forgetting one thing. A powerful voice over crap lyrics and music is a thousand times worse than a crap voice over an infectious pop song.
[4]

Martin Skidmore: I used to think that, despite her magnificent voice, she'd never make a record I much liked. I was immensely wrong—she seems to get better and better, having learned a mature control and judgment to go with the range and colossal power. She's even throttled back on the pointless melisma.
[9]

Ian Mathers: Yes, she has a very nice voice. In what world does that alone make “Hurt” a worthy follow-up to “Ain't No Other Man?
[2]


Unk - Walk It Out
[Watch the Video]
[5.80]

Erick Bieritz: Unk’s decision to build the song around “walk it out” is questionable. Jumping around or stepping in the name of love are the sort of imperatives people can get behind, but walking it out? Any dance based on what athletes do after a ball takes a bad bounce and nails them downstairs is a bad idea.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Folks keep lumping this in with dance move tracks like “Chicken Noodle Soup” and “Shoulder Lean,” or even worse, execrable novelty bullshit like Jibbs’ “Chain Hang Low.” Don’t judge “Walk It Out” by the company it keeps; this is a club monster. Unk assembles a barrage of blips and a naggingly unforgettable hook to service his… um… fitness PSA? Whatever, if you want decent rapping with your dance directions, look no further than the remix with Andre 3000 and Jim Jones. BALLIN!!!
[8]

M.H. Lo: The Mashed Potato and the Macarena are all well and good, but this song, with its attendant pool palace dance, has something that those other tracks don’t. Namely: the potential, if it uses its power for good and not evil, to bring about world peace. Israel, walk it out! Palestine, walk it out! A Nobel Peace Prize surely awaits.
[6]

Kevin J. Elliott: By teaching 11-year olds from the inner-city, one begins to learn a thing or two about the culture of disposable hip-hop. If the number of times I’ve heard word for word a capella versions of “Walk it Out” is any indication, it’s bound to be huge. Then again, the week before, all they were singing was that Jibbs jam.
[6]


Incubus - Anna-Molly
[Watch the Video]
[5.80]

Doug Robertson: What can be said about Incubus? What, indeed, would anyone want to? Any metal influences they have previously worn proudly have now been so thoroughly watered down that, other than a bit of a grumpy attitude, this is little more than a standard rock track which is probably already being lined up for use in the next series of “Top Gear.”
[5]

Joseph McCombs: I’ve missed gaps of their catalogue, but I have to think this is their best work to date. Setting poetry to music is often hazardous but they pull it off, enough so that I didn’t even cringe at the “anomaly” titular pun. The MySpace bands could learn a lesson here in how to deliver passion sans whining.
[9]

Teresa Nieman: Incubus is one of those bands that have always been irrelevant, yet continue to be fixtures of the “scene,” with single after single. This is just another one to add to the pile, and I couldn’t separate it from their others if my cat’s life depended on it.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Incubus deserves recognition for its versatility; every time I hear something new from these guys, they’ve found a completely different way to approach earnestly dull modern rock. It is as if the band has never realized music could be thrilling or moving.
[3]


Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up for Detroit
[Watch the Video]
[6.00]

Martin Skidmore: If the title makes you think of the earliest techno, you're not wrong, except there is also a large touch of acid house in this. I liked both of those things, and this is strongly done and very accurate, but I'm not sure there is much more virtue in recycling ancient styles of dance than in trying to sound like the Beatles or Kinks. I like it well enough, but I don't know why it exists.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Waking up every morning as the citizen of a country reviled in many parts of the world isn’t always so great, so it’s really nice and reassuring to know there are Ameriphile Europeans out there still willing to pledge their love to a rotting Midwestern eyesore, in an act of romantic admiration based almost entirely on the accomplishments of a small cadre of commercially insignificant innovators from the mid-‘80s.
[6]

Iain Forrester: This feels a little bit workmanlike, and there’s no way that it needs to be six minutes long outside of a club. But once it eventually kicks in, it has one hell of a riff. That sort of thing is difficult to quibble with.
[6]

M.H. Lo: “No, that’s okay. I’m good.” – Love, The City of Detroit
[5]


The Magic Numbers - Take a Chance
[Watch the Video]
[6.00]

Doug Robertson: It’s somewhat ironic that they’ve called their single “Take a Chance” given that this is so safe and by-the-numbers they might as well have pulled this straight from the template marked “Upbeat, Vaguely Cheery, Radio 2 Friendly Songs.”
[4]

Joseph McCombs: Pleasant windy pop, and a reminder of how frustratingly arbitrary it is that Snow Patrol goes Top 5 in the States while better models of the same make stay unnoticed.
[6]

M.H. Lo: Unlike some of their other singles, this one lacks handclaps, but it makes up for that oversight with some glorious backing vocals. Most prominent are the “ah ah ah ah”s that kick start the song, lead us into the verses, and then reappear in the background of the sub-chorus; but subsequent listens also reveal the subtler “ooh, aah!” bits in the background in the second go-round of the song. Such cunning variations make the track seem way less repetitious than it actually is. Well-played, Magic Numbers, well-played.
[8]

Iain Forrester: “What’cha gonn do?” There’s sticking to what you know, and then there’s using the exact same opening line as your biggest hit.
[5]


Gnarls Barkley - Who Cares?
[Watch the Video]
[6.00]

Joseph McCombs: You have to be really invested in Cee-Lo’s paranoiac portrayal to not find diminishing returns here. And I’m not sure that the “Hello, Kingfish” delivery of the title needed to appear once, much less five times. Still—it’s aight.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: With Gnarls Barkley steadily mining the album’s filler for single releases, it’s getting tough to believe that even those who like this kind of pretend hip-hop will go nuts for this track.
[4]

Martin Skidmore: Act of the year, I guess (given that Marit Larsen hasn't had the same impact). I totally love Cee-Lo's voice—there have been few singers over the last few decades whose routine lines I enjoy as much, and he has great big notes too and bags of personality.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Avoiding the all-too-obvious rejoinder, the fact is that this is one of the tracks from St Elsewhere that totally gets away from Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse. Aside from the brief drum skitter during the chorus, this is deadly boring as far as sonics go, and the lyrics are as dire as it's possible to be when all you have is a dictionary so you can look for antonyms and have a perverse urge to be even more clever-clever than Elvis Costello at his worst.
[4]


Sugababes - Easy
[Watch the Video]
[6.20]

Erick Bieritz: It’s nice, but it’s risky to sound a bit boring when your chart competition includes post-boy band boy bands, a hyper-verbal five-foot-one MC, and Meat Loaf.
[5]

Doug Robertson: This has been written with some members of Orson, so in essence it sounds like the Sugababes singing an Orson song. Or, to clarify matters slightly, it sounds like the Sugababes singing a song by Maroon 5 trying to sound like the Scissor Sisters and failing miserably. Even a sphere has more edge than this.
[5]

M.H. Lo: “Easy” does what “new tracks” on greatest hits collections should: gesture back to the group’s history (a grinding electro riff) while also hinting at future directions (this time, more prominent guitars). If the song can be faulted for anything, it would be that it takes a little too long to explode. Whereas the first chills in “Freak Like Me” come twenty seconds into the song when the quivering synths blow up, here in “Easy,” before the urgent bridge and the technicolor chorus burst forth, we have to wade through two verses. And listen to Keisha invite us to pet her pretty kitty. But it’s worth it. We do what we must.
[9]

Ian Mathers: Except for a brief bit of Hellogoodbye/Van She style 80s dancefloor euphoria during the first half of the chorus this is the kind of damp squib you really don't expect from the Sugababes.
[5]


Fat Joe ft. Lil Wayne - Make It Rain
[Watch the Video]
[6.60]

Erick Bieritz: No offense to either party, but it would make a lot more sense if Lil’ Wayne did the verses and Fat Joe stuck with choruses. And Storch can go get them coffee if this is the best he has to offer behind the boards.
[5]

Ian Mathers: In his seeming crusade to be everywhere Lil' Wayne proves again that he can do just fine just adenoidally groaning out the hook, and Fat Joe is almost unrecognizable from the last couple of pop exposures he's had, and is miles more compelling. The almost aggressively cheap synth horns are definitely an aesthetic choice, and they totally work— “Make It Rain” has a rinky-dink charm that feels both slightly unearned and totally endearing.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: I always like storm and rain sounds on records, and I almost never dislike hip-hop tracks. Having said that, I'm not much of a fan of either party here. Fat Joe is OK now and then, but Lil Wayne really isn't any good at all. The whole thing is only really pulled up to average by some solid production by Scott Storch.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: “Why’s everybody so mad at the south for / Change your style up, switch to southpaw.” Joey Crack will never be one of hip-hop’s most exciting artists, but his willingness to follow that quoted advice is the reason behind his surprisingly high strike rate with singles. It also helps that with such low expectations, his good performances come off even better for their unexpectedness. The assist from Lil’ Wayne on the hook does wonders, too; it is incredible how great Weezy’s greasy croak can sound even when reduced to a few lines in the chorus. Imagine how magnificent this would be had he been given an entire verse.
[8]


Bodyrox ft. Luciana - Yeah Yeah
[Watch the Video]
[6.80]


Erick Bieritz: Sure, half the songs in this week’s Jukebox use big starchy ‘80s synths, but “Yeah Yeah” uses them best. The mercurial addition of a Sovereign-ish MC is particularly opportunistic.
[8]

Kevin J. Elliott: Electronic artists from Daft Punk to DFA take note, you ought to be pilfering those dusty Mantronix records like Bodyrox has done here; strewn with robot guts and sub-crust bass throbs. Even without Luciana’s crafty performance, the track could stand alone as the pulse of the future.
[10]

M.H. Lo: “Raw dirty pop track / Push it in and pull it back / Am I glamour pussing it / See if you can top that.” It practically reviews itself.
[4]

Doug Robertson: More dirty, grimy dance goodness with a hook that’s stickier than the floor of your local low-end provincial nightclub and the sort of muddy sound that normally comes from hearing it while standing in the queue outside to get in, tapping your foot eagerly and impatiently as you desperately wait to get inside and start shaking your bits awkwardly, yet enthusiastically, to the hits. We like it, in other words.
[7]


Cheb Mami ft. Diam's - Non C'Sera Non
[6.80]

Kevin J. Elliott: Reggaeton meets Bollywood in a Franco-Moroccan brothel. Usually a confluence of this many colors renders the results unpalatable, but here I’m intrigued, albeit confusingly so.
[8]

Jonathan Bradley: Now don’t get me wrong, the way this beat rockets along is a lot of fun, and you might even find me dancing to it if I should ever, by some odd circumstance, find myself in a club playing it. However, without a solid hook to sell it, I can’t really get excited.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: One of my favourite Rai singers since the '80s, so I was very pleased to see this on our list this week. It's a pretty successful blend of fast French pop with modern Algerian styles, with plenty of energy and bounce and snap, and for me Mami's extraordinarily agile, urgent and strong soaring voice is what makes it more than just pleasantly fun.
[8]

Ian Mathers: Ignorant Westerner that I am, I was hoping for some more “Desert Rose”-style ululations but they're mostly backgrounded on “Non C'Sera Non.” Mami's got a great voice and delivery, but paired with what is apparently one of the young stars of France's rap scene he's saddled with an overly busy beat/accordion/string combo, and Diam's is never much more than a distraction.
[5]


Lady Sovereign - Love Me or Hate Me
[Watch the Video]
[7.20]

Jonathan Bradley: Sov is the perfect singles artist. Her brat-rap is too one note to last across an entire album, but condensed into three and a half minutes, she wins the game simply by showing up. “Love Me or Hate Me” is a fantastic barrage of punch lines, with a great hook and a beat that finds an effective halfway point between grime and American hip-hop. No wonder the TRL kids love it.
[8]

Ian Mathers: The bleeptastic production combines nicely with Lady Sov's... idiosyncratic (read: love it or hate it, indeed) delivery, and luckily she still seems to have a knack for a catchy chorus.
[7]

M.H. Lo: It’s an expression that I’ve always found hyperbolic and untrue: most of the time, I just don’t feel that strongly about whatever it is that is supposed to be so polarizing. Here, I’m not even given enough reasons to help me decide. Lady Sovereign keeps telling me that I’ll love her or hate her, but the track itself doesn’t provide any interesting or complex reasons for either stance. Sure, the lyric says that Sov is small-breasted, and has hairy armpits that she keeps covered, but those don’t form an adequate basis for me to make a decision to love or hate. I just don’t want to be impulsive, you know?
[4]

Doug Robertson: How can anyone hate Lady Sovereign? Well, yes, she did team up with The Ordinary Boys, but other than that the whole concept seems about as likely us waking up one morning to discover our hands have turned into two juicy joints of ham. Sov spits with sass and style over a dirty backing track and, frankly, if you do hate this then we can only concur with her own response.
[8]


Patrick Wolf - Accident & Emergency
[Watch the Video]
[7.20]

M.H. Lo: It’s unfortunate that the new elements in Patrick Wolf’s sound—a bigger beat (even in the Fatboy Slim sense), a more “positive” lyric that encourages us to draw strength from misfortune, the newly red hair—all coincide with the boy wonder’s move to a major label, because many reviews of Wolf’s new clothing will undoubtedly only attribute the former to the latter. But even if “Accident and Emergency”—which at points remind me of Björk doing “It’s Oh So Quiet,” except with more sirens—represents a more accessible Wolf, it’s still not exactly muzak that could be piped into an actual A&E room.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: Music rarely sounds as sweet as it does in the rare meeting between heartfelt songwriting and mechanical construction. Contradictions—even delicious ones—rarely sit well with the charts and the public, but if Wolf can get crazy famous too, then all the better, because it sounds like he deserves it.
[8]

Iain Forrester: Fitting his lycanthrope image, Patrick Wolf has always been great at portraying beautiful, mysterious wilderness with a hint of danger. Now he’s decided to do all that and be a proper pop star too. With trumpets and stuttering samples and glitter and huge, celebratory choruses and everything! Not even inviting in one of Larrikin Love can stop the resultant song from being one of the most exciting singles of the year.
[9]

Joseph McCombs: Put this on a 1985 Brat Pack soundtrack and I’d be none the wiser. It’s somehow midway between “I hear a hit here” and “I hear an outsider artist here,” and I’m not sure which way the brass band is leaning toward.
[7]


All Saints - Rock Steady
[Watch the Video]
[7.40]

Doug Robertson: Despite the fact that their split was greeted with less of a wailing and despair from the general public and more of a disinterested shrug, All Saints have decided that the time is right for a comeback, news of which was greeted with less of a celebratory cheering and more, well, of a disinterested shrug. However! It’s perhaps unfair to be quite so unenthusiastic about their return as this isn’t all that bad actually. It’s no classic and it’s unlikely to find itself being clasped to the nation’s hearts, but it’s certainly up there with “Pure Shores” and “Booty Call,” so we’ll give their return a polite, yet cautious welcome, even if we don’t bring out the best china for them.
[7]

Iain Forrester: If UK rock can so successfully adopt dub and ska, someone’s reasoned, why not pop? The result is a middle eight that sounds just like Robbie Williams’ “Trippin’,” but also a comeback single that’s ten times better than anyone had any right to expect.
[8]

Ian Mathers: It sounds a bit like a Girls Aloud leftover, which just emphasizes how far the field has come, as nice as “Never Ever” and “Pure Shores” were.
[6]

M.H. Lo: With a brilliantly insistent chorus, a backing track that deftly weaves a ska rhythm around a kind of breakbeat, the song will not leave your mind as long as you’re willing to give it three spins. The golden age of British girl bands receives reinforcements.
[9]


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


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-11-07
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