Singles Going Steady
his week the Singles Going Steady crew gets in touch with its indie rock roots, examines a bit of dancehall, makes fun of pop-punk, bemoans the return of Scott Weiland and can't figure out what it thinks of the low rent Beyonce and low rent 50 Cent.
On with the show...
(STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM SINGLE OF THE WEEK)
Ian Mathers: I don’t have much of a history with Modest Mouse, so I don’t really know or care if this is a change in direction. I do know Isaac Brock sounds a bit manic here, and the way the positive sentiments in the lyrics are expressed for most of the song seems a bit bullying. You know, the whole “you’re going to have a good time, dammit!” thing. But the part at the end where Brock and a crowd chant the chorus is strangely captivating, and whether you like Brock or not, he’s fun to listen to for three and a half minutes.
Akiva Gottlieb: Who knew Modest Mouse could write such a quasi-perfect single? Taking a cue from jangly garage-rock--and milking the Pixies influence for a few more hard-earned bucks--“Float On” is a happy/scary head-bopping love fest that almost makes up for the rest of the album’s relative mediocrity. From trailer trash to studio craftsmen, Modest Mouse have finally achieved an O.J Simpson-esque level of stardom and talent; he at football/murder, they at rock and roll.
Kareem Estefan: Ten years into the game, indie pop faves Modest Mouse finally hit it big, catching the ears of The O.C. watchers and alternative radio listeners alike. While not as strong as The Moon and Antarctica’s highlights, “Float On” appeals to a greater audience thanks to its uncharacteristically straightforward, uplifting lyrics and a healthy dose of the danceable rock so fashionable these days. The song’s main flaw is its lack of development, but when it’s simultaneously catchy and affecting from the first few seconds, one can’t complain.
Gabe Gloden: “Throw on that Modest Mouse track, dog. Get it crunk!” HA! Never happen. But yet it has, and “Float On” is shaping up to be their most popular song. As the indie-rock stars align themselves for America’s inevitable disillusionment with the “new rock revolution”, we look to these veterans for chart relief. A product of Isaac Brock’s new-found optimism, the song opens with the instantly memorable line, “I backed my car into a cop car the other day. Well, he just drove off, sometimes life’s OK” and skips along, sounding very radio-ready, yet utterly Modest. There are many reasons to love this song, the best being that it’s Brock’s best stab at a hit song. Here’s to the newly anointed one-hit wonder.
Gavin Mueller: Nice and poppy, if a bit overproduced (par for the course for noncomformist rock in this post-Radiohead world). The drums are the thing here, stomping gleefully along, keeping me from blushing at the overwrought vocals. The drinking-song chorus at the end is quite nice, if not exactly original (sing us a song Piano Man!). Many good things going on -- I wish Modest Mouse hadn't spent so much time on pointlessly nuanced atmospherics.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, I gotta admit, I felt a bit if the “one of our own is making it!” syndrome when I first heard “Float On” on the radio. It really couldn’t have happened to a nicer song, if perhaps to a more deserving band. “Float On” is everything a great crossover hit should be—catchy, different, memorable, and most importantly, anthemic. Though I feel sorry for anyone who buys the album expecting fourteen more versions of this song, I still lift my glass to the lads of Modest Mouse and their newfound success. May it last a whole half hour.
Dip it Low
Ian Mathers: Shouldn’t Milian, who as far as I know is still establishing her stardom as a singer, be releasing something more distinctive than “Dip It Low”? To these (relatively untutored) ears this could easily have been a single for any of the myriad other pretty young females singers out there. Hell, Milian has co-written better songs than this (“Play” may not have been all that hot shit, but at least it was catchy). Hopefully she can do better next time.
Akiva Gottlieb: Ttoh. That’s the opposite of hott.
Kareem Estefan: For the first minute or so, “Dip It Low” is pretty good. But then instead of getting better, it continues just the same. The instrumentation initially suggests some potential appeal, introducing an acoustic guitar that hints that some sort of life might inhabit the song, but rather than add new layers, Milian’s producers opt to keep the groove steady. The result is a song that bores more and more with each listen.
Gabe Gloden: Ah well, another Christina on the radio then, eh? But this one sounds like Beyonce. I guess it’s up to you whether you think we need another one of those. “But it’s got Fabolous on it! It’s got to be hot.” Now you know that was never true.
Gavin Mueller: Ah, currently the best reason for me to turn on MTV. And not just because of the video! Slinky Eastern strings (where are they from? India? Arabia? Armenia? Does it matter?) languidly waft around Ms. Milian's cooing. Wisely, the song withholds its best asset until the first chorus, a beautifully syncopated bassline, a garagey waltz for Christina to "pop-tss-pop-tss-pop that thing" along to. She may be a budget Beyonce, but this is producer-driven pop at its best.
Andrew Unterberger: The song could never be as hot as the video—which comes dangerously close to Janet Jackson’s “If” in terms of temperature, a feat rarely achieved by anyone--but it’s still relatively awesome. Definitely sexier than Beyonce, and I never tire of the eastern influence thing. Whatever, I’m a sucker, I admit it.
New Found Glory
All Downhill From Here
Ian Mathers: Why is it that every male emo/pop punk singer has the same nasal voice that sounds like a 13-year-old trying to emote? That alone makes New Found Glory (and their singer, the marvelously named Jordan Pundik) pretty damned annoying, but at least “My Friends Over You” was kind of amusing in its petty spite. This song, about that girl who says she hates you but she really likes you (or is that backwards?) is just plain formulaic. Bad vocals don’t automatically doom a song, but if there’s nothing else to focus on they’re pretty damned fatal.
Akiva Gottlieb: Yes! Watch New Found Glory get with the times! It happens at about the 2:39 mark, when the fat guy screams like MCA just retracted the record deal. Not that MCA would ever do that, since “All Downhill From Here” pragmatically provides a little bit of NFG’s signature pop-punk to hook our little sisters, and a little bit of the screamo to divert xXmypersonalhellXx from his computer long enough to prevent daily LiveJournal post number 53 (and that’s a world record, bro!). It’s not the best single NFG has released, but it’s further proof that the band is melodically unfuckwithable and emotionally in tune with post-Limp Bizkit-era youth. Don’t even deny it.
Kareem Estefan: Seven separate occasions where the guitars enter LOUDER THAN EVER BEFORE: 9 Drama like “Your good intentions slowly turned to bitterness / Reoccurring episodes with each and every kiss”: 7 Unabashedly emo title: 8 Acoustic guitar interlude before the big finale: Fucking TEN
Gabe Gloden: You know what sucks about emo? OK, besides from the obvious subject matter, the haircuts, the suburban romanticism, the three same chords, the fact that they make good emo (where are you Jimmy Eat World?) sound much, much worse. The vocalists just NEVER shut up. The song kicks into to gear and the vocalist never gives the song a chance to breathe. shutupshutupshutupshutupshutup!!!
Gavin Mueller: Dear Pop-Punk: It's been going downhill for a while, though I don't think we've quite hit bottom. Keep on trucking; I'm sure we'll get there soon.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s been a goal of mine recently to try and get over my natural predilection against The Emo Voice, and some recent singles—Blink 182’s “I Miss You,” Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue”—have done wonders for me with their more redeemable qualities. But this one isn’t helping one bit—I can’t recall ever liking a New Found Glory song, and this just really is the pits—just more emoting, with no good music at all to cover. Once again, though, killer video.
Ian Mathers: Two lackluster verses and a chorus that sounds like it’s half-asleep do not mid-album filler, let alone a “hot” (har har) single make. C’mon Lloyd, you know you can do different, even if you are going to keep rapping about the same subjects until the sun explodes.
Akiva Gottlieb: Twenty-five seconds into this track, and I’ve already heard beats robbed from 50 Cent, a lyrical conceit--“take it off/if it get too hot”--that smacks of Nelly-already-done-this-with-more-gusto, and an obligatory P-Funk “tear the roof off this mu’fucka” that only sounds halfway reverential. And why does Banks keep emphasizing the last syllable of every liiine? Oh, right, because Chingy did it like six months ago.
Kareem Estefan: Now that I think about it, rap songs and action movies aren’t all that different. Money, sex, braggadocio, fire, the two are practically meant for each other. Lloyd Banks not only proves this with “On Fire”, but specifically scores his single for the Tom Cruise vehicles, blending extreme tension with inimitable cool to create the aural equivalent of Mission Impossible. With summer right around the corner, “On Fire” is a lethal weapon.
Gabe Gloden: Now that 50 Cent is off the charts (temporarily), we’ve got his cohort in G-Unit to keep us company while 50 goes off with Em and Dre to cook us up something salty-sweet. Surprisingly, this track bests anything off the G-Unit album and ends up being the hottest shit since “In Da Club”. Chunky multi-tracked vocals, silky horns, an appeal to strip equal… well, just good hip-pop. “Nigga, what you say!?”
Gavin Mueller: G-Unit Production #2505 ready for inspection. Enervating tempo? Check. Beat that sounds like something Irv Gotti coughed up and tried to flush down the toilet? Check. 50 Cent doing an instantly forgettable sing-song hook? Check. Tepid lyrics from the leader of the least charismatic crew this side of Big Brovas? Check and mate.
Andrew Unterberger: Though it’s got some tired elements—how many G-Unit/Lloyd Banks/50 Cent songs are gonna start with “NEW YORK CITY!” and “G-UNIT!” shoutouts?—Lloyd Banks’s breakthrough hit is one of the most captivating so far this year. The guy himself is the coolest ubiquitous newbie since Sean Paul captured the nation’s hearts last year—he looks like he’s sixty and he sounds like he’s sixty, but somehow this just adds to his mystique. And the production—courtesy of Eminem, I believe—is fantastic, made all the more so with its use of the very underrated lighter sound effect. Such a great sound—how come I never thought of that?
Elephant Man f/Twista
Jook Gal (Remix)
Beenie Man f/ Ms. Thing
Ian Mathers: “I want a dude who would do me in his van”? Did I hear that right? Still, all the best sex jams have a sense of humour, and the remix of “Dude” is no exception. That slightly digitized female refrain is damned catchy, and I certainly hope that when Beenie sings “she want a real man she don’t want a nerd” he’s making fun of Pharrell. “Jook Gal”, on the other hand has only a digital twinkle and Elephant Man repeating the title four or five times every ten seconds. Borrrring.
Akiva Gottlieb: Shaggy, Sean Paul, et al., look what you have wrought. “Jook Gal” has a propulsive enough beat to locomote one’s gluteus, but it lacks both a melody and a message of inspiration (you know, for the kids). It’s actually quite frightening, especially since I don’t know what “Jook” means. “Dude” fares slightly better, with steel drums that made me drop my trousers. However, I re-clothed my shivering lower body after quickly realizing that this dancehall/riddim craze needs to end, right now, case closed.
Kareem Estefan: Nine minutes worth of Rastafarian rap about sex that pretty much blends together. Whether the dudes are chanting, “Shake that booty / Turn it around / Back that ass up / One more down, or the chicks are asking for “a dude who will do me in the van”, it’s all the same. “Dude (Remix)” might try to trip you up with slide whistles and steel drums, but such ornaments lose their novelty fairly quickly. Decent, but very tiresome, these two belong together.
Gabe Gloden: I’m all for a dancehall takeover of the airwaves. It wasn’t long ago when Shaggy crashed the charts with some crossover success and then Sean Paul kicked the door down and let in Beenie and Elephant Man here. Both succeed on the same levels as their chart predecessors. “Dude” is more Shaggy to “Jook Gal”’s Sean Paul dancehall crunk (he spits a verse here). I’ve never heard a dancehall song that has intrigued me enough to throw down some cash for the album, but I have a feeling that historic event is somewhere just around the corner.
Gavin Mueller: The current climate in hip hop radio allows practically any dancehall single to shoot into heavy rotation, regardless of quality. From what I can tell, there are essentially two types of riddims: spooky, slinky jams ("Get Busy," "All Out") and MIDI-rodeo suckfests ("Pon De River", as well as these two tracks). "Dude" is just bland, but "Jook Gal" borders on reprehensible, equal parts Macarena and Electric Slide, with the stateside rappers sounding quite out of their element. Is this what passes for hot in the clubs these days?
Andrew Unterberger: Dancehall has got to be one of the best musical trends of recent years, but it has produced a dud for every gem. Most of those duds come courtesy of Elephant Man, quite possibly the most obnoxious, loud and annoying guy to be associated with popular music in the last couple years. “Jook Gal” continues the trend—not quite as offensive as “Pon de River, Pon de Bank”—but still damn near unbearable. However, once in a while a jam like “Dude” will come out to remind us why we fell in love with the genre in the first place—clap-along rhythms, addictive hooks, glorious ragga vocals—and make us hope that maybe the trend gets a shelf life of another year or so. Here’s hoping.
Ian Mathers: Does this sound like a mash-up to anyone else? It sounds painfully obvious to me that what we have here is the voice of the Stone Temple Pilots (a grossly undervalued singles band) and the guitars of Guns N’ Roses. Slash is undeniably talented, but a lifetime of hating his former band and the fact that this doesn’t have the songcraft of one of the good STP singles means that “Slither”, at best, bores me. But to any GNR fans who never liked Axl’s voice anyway: This is your dream band.
Akiva Gottlieb: Granted, I was expecting a rapturous battle-cry on the level of “Big Bang Baby” crossed with “Welcome to the Jungle”. This sounds more like Audioslave meets White Zombie. So corporate it almost oozes greed, “Slither” still sounds about five years too late to the hard rock dance. I probably would have loved this in my G’N’R/Nirvana/Soundgarden phase, but now it seems like a sad afterthought, from the Slash-aping guitar solo to Scott Weiland’s watch-me-Daddy-I’m-still-a-rock-god preening. Tolerable, I guess, but depressing.
Kareem Estefan: The first copy of “Slither” I downloaded consisted of ten seconds of applause followed by six minutes of white noise, interrupted by the actual song for a mere five seconds. The next one, which probably resembles the single more directly, features Slash (of GnR) and Scott Weiland (of STP) collaborating to make a gritty hard rocker. I’ve listened to both versions twice, and I think I’m ready to admit that the one with four minutes of music is probably better than the one with six minutes of noise. But not by much.
Gabe Gloden: I don’t know guys. A newly re-built Guns N’ Roses hiring has-been heroin posterboy Scott Weiland to front a “rawk” band… call me a crazy conspiracy theorist or whatever, but this sounds like a cash-in. Sure, Slash fuckin’ axes his way through a boss solo in there, but you have to sit through nearly three minutes of this Core b-side. It’s songs like these that have kept me away from mainstream rock radio.
Gavin Mueller: I could go on about how old people can't rock, but the main problem here is that the song sounds like something a high school grunge band would throw together for their school talent show. At least the name of this supergroup is marginally better than Audioslave, if equally as crappy musically.
Andrew Unterberger: Stone Temple Pilots combined with modern-day Guns n Roses? Of course everyone but the hard-rockers are gonna hate it. I gotta say, though, it’s pretty catchy—definitely much less dire than expected, as well. And it’s always nice to see everyone’s favorite rehab junkie, Scott Weiland, given a new lease on life. Congrats, boys.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-05-21