Radio Ga Ga
he return of the UK Singles Jukebox? While it won’t be quite weekly, we thought a counter to Swygart might be nice every few weeks. As such, we’ll be asking three or four of our overseas correspondents to weigh in on the most interesting new singles coming out Across the Pond. This time out, we have some pop schaffel from Rachel Stevens, J-Kwon, the Moz and more…
Dave McGonigle: Loaded this up, listened to the first 20 seconds, stopped it, checked the file name, did some research—yes, this IS Rachel Stevens, ex S-Club (7) lass and lager-drenched poster girl to the UK's closing-time hordes. So why does her latest single sound like the bastard child of Garry Glitter's "Rock N' Roll" and a Death In Vegas b-side instead of her usual anonymous R&B-lite? Dunno, but its bouncy electro-lite shennanigans are really quite irresistible, even if it is really about having to massage someone's man-meat to 'get on' in Tinseltown. Rachel didn’t write it, though, so it’s OK.
Colin Cooper: Sounding like she's singing inside a shower cubicle, there's something cold about the electronics of Stevens' production, but the grown-up attitude to her solo career is welcome relief from the faux-Motown childsplay of her S Club days. This shows pop promise beyond many of her contemporaries, but maybe some girls have to stop sounding so neutered, if they're going to flourish.
Peter Parrish: Morrissey already did this song and it was bigger (than others). And, you know, this might sound half-decent, if the whole thing hadn’t been sliced, spliced, blended and squeezed through one of those crazy play-dough factory gizmos. Processed. As. Fuck. Was this to protect Miss Stevens’ suspiciously weedy vocals? Plenty of people will undoubtedly go crazy for it. Not me though; I hate fun.
Dave McGonigle: Dupri's new teenage prodigy is J-Kwon, and 'Tipsy' is his homage to being underage in a club, watching *other* people drinking. *Other* people, though, not J-Kwon. So…you're just investigating under-age drinking for your new single? Look: that excuse didn't work for Pete Townsend and it certainly won't work for you, young man. And your beats suck, too.
Colin Cooper: Last Friday night I was in the pub, and trouble was afoot. It seems the local constabulary have been sending fourteen year-olds into pubs and bars in the area, in attempt to reprimand those license-holders selling beer to underage drinkers. As a result, regulars of the pub (some as old as 28) were being turned down for drinks if they failed to show ID. At the beginning of "Tipsy", J-Kwon announces that "drinking is bad" but conversely (although how I'm not sure), states that he "has a fake ID". This reminded me of the pub last week (where they did for some reason serve me without ID) and I don't remember the rest of the song but suffice to say Usher, 50 Cent and music lovers everywhere probably won't be very happy. 
Peter Parrish: I like playing “Spot the Underaged Drinker” too, but we have enough problems with chav scum already. Umm... Morrissey had a drink, once. Probably.
First of the Gang to Die
Dave McGonigle: I like it more than “Irish Blood”, but I just don't buy the fawning masses insistence that Mozz's latest album is a return to form—he's still ploughing the same furrow he's been stuck in since Maladjusted, and it's becoming harder and harder to jutisfy his current output based on his past glories. “First...” is yet another middle-of-the-road bully-boy-worship anthem; look, Mozz, write a novel or something, ok? Or change your name to MC Mozz and make some nosebleed techno. If you want to be a romantic figure, my dear, you have to either succeed with honour or fail gloriously.
Colin Cooper: Morrissey's recent ridiculous pantomime to this on Top Of The Pops was all wrong. It’s something that he probably felt he was above when he did "This Charming Man" for the show twenty years ago, but that youthful arrogance hasn’t transferred so well to his mid-forties. As a result, the performance lacked the vitriolic power of "you have never been in love", and dragged the grace of the song into idle disrepute. However, there is grace present in the song’s tale of Mexican gangs in LA, as there is sporadically throughout You Are The Quarry. Morrissey just needs to commit himself to it.
Peter Parrish: Magnificent! Soaring! Poignant! Oh heavens, can I gush enough hyperbole about this in so few words? “Irish Blood” was entertaining enough, but this is the real Moz-deal. Classic references to potentially mundane things, reformed and re-made into something beautiful. Critiques of gang warfare touched with gentle humour (the “Oooh my!” which follows each swooping chorus sums up everything you need to know about the attraction of all things Morrissey). Easily my favourite single of the year, thus far. Should I give it ten? Can I? Dare I? Oh yes.
Can't Stand Me Now
Dave McGonigle: Hang on—didn't I just listen to Morrissey? From its near-perfect first line 'An ending fitting for the start', this is the sound of a band locked into an Escher-like cycle of splitting up to get back together to split up again, and sounding all the better for it. Like sitting in a marriage counselors' office while the Jam practice next door, Pete ‘n Carl manage to turn their band's personal psychodrama into smashing scrumpy-fuelled punk rock. Not sure about that harmonica, though.
Colin Cooper: Once again tipping their hats to the diversity of the capital, taking in Chas and Dave, The Clash and "Oliver!" along the way, The Libertines’ messy, infectious formula wins over. Songs like "Can't Stand Me Now" flaunt perfectly the dynamics of Doherty and Barat's partnership: rugged enthusiasm and a connection between the two that has been less well represented in the tabloids recently, but is abundant in its ubiquity here. Lovely harmonica to close.
Peter Parrish: Apparently Pete Doherty is addicted to Toblerone or something. He likes to keep a low profile in the press though, so it’s difficult to be sure. Prior to this, I’d only heard “Death On The Stairs” on some crappy freebie from The Guardian. It wasn’t even the best song on that CD. This, however, is far superior. Bouncy, jaunty, twinkly and quite miserable—hurrah! But Morrissey is better at not standing people. Now.
Sick And Tired
Dave McGonigle: Anastasia is a singer who can't finish a single line without doing that Alanis Morrissette/Billy Corgan trick of adding 'ys' to all their vowels. So 'warning' becomes 'wayrnying', world becomes 'woooooyyrld'—you get the ideayyyy. I assume that the video will feature a first half which shows how perfect the singer's relationship has been before the second half uses images of slamming doors, teary-eyed clowns and empty slaughterhouses to suggest 'something's gone wrong'. I'd rather watch the video than listen to the track again.
Colin Cooper: Anastasia is the most self-assured woman I don't know. Fresh from the fallout of the over-brash Girl Power movement, feisty young women with talent are cropping up everywhere. Here Anastasia continues the theme, with accusatory lyrics and striking guitars. In fact, the only recognisably masculine contribution to the song is the frankly unnecessary gibberish that links chorus to verse. Girl Power is back, and this time it's brought singers.
Peter Parrish: I’m as pleased as anyone that she managed to escape the Bolshevik revolution (and thrilled to be able to make that joke for the 167th time on record). What better way to celebrate than with a strings-n-power-chords tale of ... something to do with love? I think she’s trying to deal with having to dump some guy, but it’s all quite abstract. Most disappointingly, the chorus stubbornly refuses to take off like it should. Besides, Morrissey is more conflicted.
Dave McGonigle: Bugger. I always thought I’d never have any time for the genre that I disparagingly refer to as ‘handbag house’: universally positive, hands-in-the-air office night out, cocktails 2 for 1, isn’t that Maureen with the head of advertising?, vocal-led house music. Sadly, here’s “Lola’s Theme” to prove me wrong, with the Victor Calderone mix, in particular, nearing bacardi breezer-esque levels of hedonism.
Colin Cooper: It seems ironic that in an age where dance music has become fodder for owners of fairground attractions and easily-satisfied Saturday kids, "Lola's Theme" features both in its video. The lady (whoever she is) sounds like she could have a voice as big as Anastasia's, and definite kudos for the cascading trumpet riff in the chorus. Not much else, though.
Peter Parrish: A track with dubious time-bending powers. I swear it felt like I was listening to it for a solid fifteen hours, instead of.. uh.. about three minutes. When I finally awoke the world was full of hover cars and silver velour jumpers. The horror. Still, those sampled horns sound pretty swish. And yet, Morrissey is more of a disco diva.
By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-08-11