The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in Singles Going Steady: Lil’ Flip goes Ja Rule, The Hives return, Jadakiss asks why and more!



Jadakiss
Why?
[6.8]


Akiva Gottlieb: Top-drawer hip-hop with a social conscience. Why did Kobe kiss that whore? Why did Bush knock down those towers? Why doesn’t Jadakiss have a fact-checker? So his commentary is just this side of incisive…that doesn’t mean “Why” isn’t a soulful song of summer dissent. Somebody has to ask the tough questions, and sweet musical loops and passionate background vocals always help.
[7]

Gabe Gloden: Decent ponderous lyrics. Solid soulful chorus by Alexander Hamilton wasted over repetitive beats. Sounds like a “6” to me!
[6]

Josh Timmermann: This song reminds me of a book I was given as a kid called "The Big Book of Tell Me Why," which contained scientific answers to questions such as "Why is the sky blue?" and "Why is the grass green?" Jadakiss should write an updated volume of this book. I can't wait to read his answer for "Why did Bush knock down the towers?"—not to mention "Why do niggas lie in 85% of they rhymes?"
[4]

Ian Mathers: Everything from “Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get a Oscar?” to “Why did Bush knock down the towers?” and “Why are you even alive?”, and, of course, “You know why they made the new 20s, ‘cuz I got all the old ones”. That the backing is as good as the rap is gravy; compulsive and smartly written, this is my favorite rap track since “Jesus Walks”.
[9]

Andrew Unterberger: Jadakiss really blew it with this one. He had it all—a powerful music video, a heartbreaking hook and a soulful chorus, and some great, moving verses, but then ruins it with lines dissing the witness protection program (bizarre target) and concluding with the hypocritical arrogance of “you know why they made the new 20s? / ‘coz I got all the old ones—that’s why”. To you Jadakiss, I gotta ask: Why?.
[7]

Josh Love: Think Talib Kweli’s “Get By”, but about a million times better. Of course, several radio stations and video channels have opted not to broadcast the original version, in which Jada claims Bush knocked down the Twin Towers, the most shocking lyric-censor controversy since MTV bleeped out the “cold” from “Nate Dogg’s about to make some bodies turn cold”. Still, it’s the closest any of us will ever come to hearing Immortal Technique on Hot 97.
[8]



The Hives
Walk Idiot Walk
[6.0]


Gavin Mueller: You know, I really have nothing more to say about these one-riff-wonder MTV2 bands.
[5]

Akiva Gottlieb: A catchy, propulsive, lyrically daft slice of garage bravado (with a killer video), “Walk Idiot Walk” is formula through and through. The single is no match for the battle cry of “Hate To Say I Told You So”, but The Hives have nonetheless rescued themselves from their inevitably encroaching irrelevancy.
[6]

Gabe Gloden: The Hives win for sheer entertainment value. Sure, it’s got a quasi-Axl Rose “Lie-ee-iii-eee-iii-eee!!” akin to “You could be mi-ee-iii-eee-ine!” and it’s nowhere near as good as “Hate To Say I Told You So”. But what it does have is one of the better Stones-aping riffs to come out of the garage rock scene this year and a hummable melody. Works for me.
[7]

Josh Timmermann: I have little to say about the Hives (who are so three years ago) or about this song, in particular (which isn't half as catchy as "Hate to Say I Told You So" or "Main Offender") so I'll instead use this as another opportunity to plug a much, much, much better Swedish rock group: The Sounds. They should be huge by now because, you see, they're fucking fantastic. You know that "c'mon get up an' dance with me!" song they play on VH1? That's them! Forget the damn Hives and their upcoming album--buy the Sounds' Living in America instead. I swear, they'll be your new favorite band!
[4]

Ian Mathers: Hey, it’s the Who! And don’t the Hives know: “They say it’s new but I had to doubt it”. Who gives a shit? I’ve always liked the Hives’ singles, but this is the first one I’ve really fallen for. I couldn’t tell you why, since it follows the blueprints of their previous work, but it’s a definite improvement. There should be more rock singles like this, full of energy and flair (and bass and drums and interesting vocal tics).
[10]

Andrew Unterberger: Dumb, fun, and catchy. It’s like with The Strokes—you know what you’re getting with a Hives single and it’s either your thing or its not, but it’s not going to change from song to song.
[6]

Josh Love: The only good part is how they hold out the last note on the chorus and make me think of Aerosmith on Pump. Oh yeah, and also how they talk about robots.
[4]



Lil Flip feat. Lea
Sunshine
[4.5]


Gavin Mueller: It's summer! Time to team B-level rappers with anonymous R&B girls and hope to strike some gold with boring ballads. 2003 had Fabolous and Tamia, 2002 had Ja Rule and Ashanti, and now Sony Music's banking that 2004 will be the summer for Flip and, uh, Lea. I fear not even an expertly executed screwed and chopped remix could save Flip from himself -- his last verse has some horribly amateur flows, and the lyrics are all around unimaginative. Lea claims that "we don't have to be in love; we can just be friends"; Flip demands she cook him spaghetti and shrimp. As if he needed to get any lazier.
[2]

Gabe Gloden: So, you’re considering a date with Li’l Flip? Well, just know he needs someone who is “short and tall, but not too thick” and “knows how to cook… spaghetti, shrimp and steak”, because “a nigga like to eat.” What do you get in return? Well, Li’l Flip promises he’ll “treat you like milk… do nothing but spoil you.” OK, OK… but ultimately though, it seems to me like he’s getting the better end of the deal since you’d have to give more than he could possibly reciprocate. I’d hold out for 50 Cent.
[4]

Josh Timmermann: Ugh. It sounds virtually identical to those Ja Rule/Ashanti numbers. Which is to say, completely uninteresting, in every way, on every imaginable level, and certainly nowhere near in the same universe as Mary J. Blige's classic duets with Ghost and Meth or, hell, even Nelly and Kelly, which has it charms. This is charmless.
[2]

Ian Mathers: Eh. If it was winter I‘d be tougher, but those soft guitar licks and the gentle female chorus is just fine in the heat. There’s a nice bit of darkness near the end where, after professing love the rest of the song, she softly sings “we don’t have to be in love” (well, darkness or hedonism, depending on how you take it).
[5]

Andrew Unterberger: This is just great. I’ve got a soft spot for hip-hop love songs, I guess (especially where both guy and girl appear on the track) but this is particularly excellent. And that line I’m sure everyone else is gonna be quoting—“I’ll treat you like milk/I’ll do nothing but spoil you”—definitely deserves classic status. Flip’s two for two.
[9]

Josh Love: When Lil Flip introduces "my girl Lea" it sounds like "Aaliyah" and so I'm thinking this is gonna be one of those cool singing-with-dead-people songs, but no dice. Flip barely redeems himself for biting Luda on "Yeah" about wanting a lady in the streets but a freak in the bed (not the most original of sentiments, but still) by dropping a ridiculously choice pickup line where he claims he'll "treat you like milk / I'll do nothing but spoil you."
[5]



311
First Straw
[3.0]


Gavin Mueller: Ok, so, as Anal Cunt so aptly put it, 311 sucks. But they're at least original in some semblance of the word, wearing self-consciously diverse influences on their Adidas-embroidered sleeves. Their mixture of reggae, punk, jam band, and rap was sort of like a frat party bug juice—throw in several types of cheap liquors with some cheap soft drinks for results that get the job done, but never with any degree of expertise. In their old age, 311 has matured into something far more reprehensible, jettisoning all their energetic elements in favor of meathead easy listening. Kick back, drink some brews, catch some rays, forget about your Sociology 200 paper, and please, shoot yourself in the face.
[1]

Akiva Gottlieb: Remember when “vanilla reggae” died? 311 didn’t get the memo. 311 never gets the memo.
[2]

Gabe Gloden: Given the decent performance of 311’s Greatest Hits package on the album charts, there must still be plenty of fans out there. Craziness. I guess if you’ve continued to listen to them since their MTV success in the mid 90s than you’ll probably like this song. And for the rest of us who have forgotten, this won’t help you remember.
[5]

Josh Timmermann: I have never understood why people actually like 311. They sound like a lot of other bands who aren't very good but are better than they are. Their songs never go anywhere at all, but rather just sort of hovering there in mid-air—inoffensive, sure, but profoundly unexicting. At least that one from a few years ago, "Amber" or whatever, was kind of vaguely pretty in a listenable-while-you're-shopping-at-Target sort of way. This one just depresses me. They're old and lame and still making date-rape songs for frat parties.
[0]

Ian Mathers: I’m sure 311 are kind to puppies or whatever, but coming right after the genius that is “Walk Idiot Walk” only makes this more painful. “First Straw” reminds me of Sublime (not good), contains some idiotic pseudo-rapping (not good) and actually proves that 311 sound worse than I expected them to (three strikes!). Why would this be on the radio?
[2]

Andrew Unterberger: 311 are actually quite beautiful when they take it slow, but this new one doesn’t really match the dreaminess of “Amber” or their excellent “Love Song” cover. But as far as obligatory-new-single-from-the-greatest-hits singles go, it’ll do I guess.
[6]

Josh Love: Good stuff first: this one's got some nice harmonies, there's not nearly as much lame-ass Pacific Sunwear skank to stomach and it's certainly not half as objectionable as their noxious cover of "Love Song". Unfortunately, not only did they write a song based on a terrible metaphor (like the opposite of last straw, bro), but they spend an entire verse explaining to us how it's a metaphor, just in case we, you know, spaced on that.
[5]



Avril Lavigne
My Happy Ending
[5.4]


Gavin Mueller: Avril tracks are comforting, the kinds of songs that you can sing along to without having heard the track before. Every chord change is perfectly intuitive, the rhyming lyrics predictable, and the explosive chorus as predetermined as another Al-Qaeda attack. I don't buy her move to the bitter in her latest singles—her fifth-grade reading level vocabulary makes her trite sentiments ("Your friends are jerks!") sound all the more juvenile. Wide-eyed innocence suited her, world-weary cynicism doesn't work at all.
[5]

Akiva Gottlieb: Doesn’t this sound a lot like a grungier take on Michelle Branch’s “Everything To Me”? Then again, the first couple times I heard “My Happy Ending” on the radio, I thought it was the latest incarnation of Alanis. The truth lies somewhere in between. Avril doesn’t sound like a kid anymore on this innocuous piece of piano-verse and cathartic-chorus corporate claptrap, but she’s yet to temper her “maturity” with insight, coherence or even irony. Liz Phair may have copped her sound, but she’s also weathered enough to pull it off.
[4]

Gabe Gloden: I knew this day would come. It’s not like the thought of it kept me up at night, but Avril has finally released her first, full-fledged dentist waiting room single. “Don’t Tell Me” flirted heavily with Alanis-style blandness, and now “My Happing Ending” completes the insidious 180 degree turn from quality radio pop to radio slop. Good news: it’s bound to get better from here.
[4]

Josh Timmermann: This is definitely the best thing I've heard yet by Avril, especially the chorus, which is kinda impossible not to get into. That "oh-oh oh-oh" part is pretty great; only when she foregoes it around the 2:25 mark do her Alanisisms become grating. She sounds less snotty and a bit more sincere, and, lyrically (she enunciates too well to ignore the words), this isn't as cringeworthy as the one where she sings about how she ain't gonna "give it up." She's still clearly unwilling to delve into the more interesting messiness of specifics, sticking instead to the safety of broad outlines and catch-phrases. But that doesn't mean this isn't leagues better than anything off that last Liz Phair record.
[7]

Ian Mathers: So far the singles for this album seem to have more actual emotion in them than last time, which is good, but “My Happy Ending” is hampered by the usual combo of bad lyrics/unconvincing delivery. But, that aside, we have a nice chorus and better delivery on some of the lines (the emphasis Avril puts on “You were everything, everything that I wanted” is perfect). Avril’s voice is getting better, too. Her best single aside from “Losing My Grip”.
[7]

Andrew Unterberger: This one isn’t really clicking like her others. Typical loud intro/quiet verse/titanic chorus Matrix thing that’s made the rest of her stuff so fabulous, but…I dunno, there’s no distinctiveness to this one. She doesn’t even have any cute Canadian-isms in this one. Ah well, maybe next time.
[4]

Josh Love: Getting caught rocking out to this song at work would only be slightly less embarrassing than having it known Aaron Carter's website was your homepage (believe that), but you can't deny it plays to its demographic brilliantly, and not just that (because honestly that's little more than a backhanded compliment when a critic says it, even me) the chorus is damned addictive and affecting.
[7]



Houston feat. Chingy, Nate Dogg & I-20
I Like That
[3.9]


Gavin Mueller: AKA "Right Thurr Pt. 2", "I Like That" resurrects the greazy bass squelch of its predecessor and adorns the corpse with an unholy Disturbing Tha Peace alliance. There's far too much going on here—Nate Dogg is totally superfluous, and I'm not even sure what top-billed Houston actually contributes to the song. However, I can rest easy knowing that somewhere Ludacris is making money off this top-heavy beast.
[6]

Akiva Gottlieb: I like dis, but ain’t it a bit repetitive? Chingy completely brings the party in his guest appearance, and the bass practically shakes my sub-woofer’s moneymaker, but I don’t ever want to hear the rhythmic hook again. “I Like Dat” is a great track played out after three listens.
[5]

Gabe Gloden: Three things. First off, what’s with this guy’s name? Houston!? Horrible name. And then there’s the song. Horrible song. And finally, my tolerance for this pop-crunk stuff. Horrible, horrible tolerance.
[1]

Josh Timmermann: This is ear candy—and its appeal has very little to do with any of the performers appearing on it. The hook is hardly memorable, the verses even less so. It's just the sort of song that sounds right blaring from a car stereo at 11:30 on a summer night.
[5]

Ian Mathers: I normally wouldn’t say that, but this song needs more Nate Dogg—the rappers are all interchangeable, but I can barely make out Nate for most of it. And since he’s usually the best thing about the singles he’s on, “I Like That” suffers as a result.
[4]

Andrew Unterberger: Needs more Nate Dogg and less of everything else. David’s gonna give this at least a seven, isn’t he?
[3]

Josh Love: Misogyny! I'm Lovin' It! Back it Up for a Big Mac! Seriously, does Mickey D's even give a shit what's goin' on in the song they hand-picked to sell heart disease? So let me guess, does Burger King respond now with a french fry commercial based on the Ying Yang Twins' "Salt Shaker"? Addendum: I am so fuckin' singing this song to Chingy when I see him working at McDonalds three years from now.
[3]



By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-07-16
Comments (6)
 

 
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