Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady: Britney gets “Outrageous,” Jim Jones flashes his credentials, Jet bring “Rollover Beethoven” into the modern age, Lloyd Banks is still awesome, and The Postal Service come dangerously close to bringing the ironic indie cover into the mainstream!
Gabe Gloden: It’s always rock purists that end up ignorantly deriding sample-based dance music, and then stubbornly defending Led Zeppelin for “borrowing” nearly every memorable riff on Led Zeppelin II. To Jet: you are an AC/DC cover band, so spend less time opining and more time rocking.
Ian Mathers: Not quite as offensive as “Cold Hard Bitch”, but it tries. Stupid rockisms aren’t nearly as bad as borderline misogyny, but Jet make up for it by being teeth-grindingly stupid.
Josh Love: Is this supposed to be a rockist salvo lobbed at the dance floor, a clever riff on "Rollover Beethoven," or both? Sounds like someone's a little insecure about the future of rock in the face of urban dance culture. Oh well, the guitars sound tighter than "Walk Idiot Walk" at least.
Josh Timmermann: Anyone who can seriously attempt to defend Jet (on any level at all) has my grudging respect, from one devoted devil's advocate to another, because, to these ears, they're every bit as horrendous as their reputation suggests. I'll give it a point for it not being called "Cold Hard Bitch."
Andrew Unterberger: The lyrics of this song are kind of like a bizarre mix of The Rolling Stones’ “Dance Little Sister” and The Smiths’ “Panic”—what the fuck? I mean the song’s still fun, but come on guys, if you want another “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” you gotta give us something to work with lyrically.
Gabe Gloden: Ms. Spears is one of pop’s token conservatives, so I wondered “Why isn’t she touring in support of the Bush campaign?” but I guess her supposedly “outrageous sex drive” doesn’t exactly mesh with Republican “values”. I also wonder if she believes in contraception, because if not, she should be concerned with an unwanted, premarital pregnancy. Yes, I worry about Britney Spears.
Ian Mathers: It’s official; the wholesale co-option of East Indian sounds in pop is now boring. I suppose it could be revived at some point by someone (whither Timbaland?) but R. Kelly and Britney have dealt it a harsh blow here. Apparently her sex drive is outrageous, as is her shopping spree. Yes, all of Britney’s songs are about her, but this isn’t even morbidly compelling.
Josh Love: Almost makes up for those pics of Brit ashin' over the balcony of her hotel. Hey, you think the skank in the cutoffs and wifebeater scrounging for Subway change recognizes this girl on the radio? All I know is it's hard to take her jet-setter sex talk at face value now that you know she's married to somebody's babydaddy.
Josh Timmermann: R. Kelly more or less owns this track, indulging those Eastern affinities of his while Britney tells us about her sex drive and her shopping sprees. Say what you might about declining numbers, the music's only getting better and better as this sort of playful provocation becomes second-nature to our rightful, reigning Queen of Pop.
Andrew Unterberger: After the super-addictiveness of “Toxic” and the shockingly delicate minimalism of “Everytime,” pretty much anything would be disappointing, so I’m not surprised to be none too impressed with how unconvincing this song is—and that “shopping spree” line kills any pretense to sexiness this song could have.
On the Way Down
Gabe Gloden: I’m usually pretty open-minded when it comes to music, so it surprised me when I experienced genuine embarrassment when listening to this song. I heard my roommate’s friends enter the apartment and I quickly changed the track. If I hadn’t turned it off in time, I probably would have confronted them with my altruism, “I’m listening to this bad music so other people won’t have to.”
Ian Mathers: This is just so awful. It’s like the male equivalent of Jessica Simpson (and thus a little more generically “rock”), complete with horrible over-singing. Think an even blander, softer, safer version of Nickleback, and you’ve got this guy. Someone get me some Scope.
Josh Love: Apparently homedude quit his punk band and went the singer-songwriter route after the first time he heard Dave Matthews (I'm sure the promise of cleaner groupies had nada to do with it). Officially the second worst thing Dave's done this week, just barely behind dumping human waste on Chicago.
Josh Timmermann: Q: Could this be any more MOR?
A: No. No, it could not.
Andrew Unterberger: I actually have no problem with this song whatsoever—with its cool backwards guitar-sounding intro, nifty little percussion touches and Matrix-esque chorus, this is almost Avril-esque. If it’s not the fact that it’s a guy singing that makes this seem so hateable, I can’t figure out what else it could be.
I'm So Fly
Gabe Gloden: Lloyd Banks comes again with another keeper. The same playful production featured on “On Fire”, with a nice flute hook, while Banks blows smoke up his own ass with lines like “Banks is cooler than the other side of the pillow” and “Difference is I'm eating in Rome and you eatin’ Roman noodles”. Well, I think that it’s “ramen” noodles Lloyd, but hey, I’m not the one who’s fly, so what would I know?
Ian Mathers: Lloyd Banks may well be the most inessential rapper of the new millennium, but at least his singles are getting better. “I’m So Fly” is nicely low-key and not as chunky as “On Fire”, and while it’s nearly as full of itself this song still works. The miracles of a nice chorus, I guess.
Josh Love: Hope Mr. Banks has another album in the vault, ‘coz after "On Fire" and this equally terrific single there's not a whole lot of meat left on Hunger For More. The difference-maker here isn't even Timbo's dominance, but rather that Banks flashes some traits sorely absent from the rest of his debut, like charisma and wit.
Josh Timmermann: This is pretty much the same thing we heard from the Big Tymers several weeks ago, and it's only slightly less dull here. Which isn't to say that I have anything against self-aggrandizing odes to the wretched excess of celebrity per se; it's just that a little cleverness goes a long way. How 'bout at least a "Sue me / Fuck you / What's a couple dollars to me?"? Just something more than, "I'm so rich / I'm so famous / Halle Berry totally wants me!"
Andrew Unterberger: With the release of this, the third awesome Lloyd Banks single this year, he remains in a tie for best rap breakthrough of the year with the similarly three-for-three Twista. Most likely, it’s gonna be a dead heat until the end of the year. I can’t wait.
Against All Odds
Gabe Gloden: Reviewing the Postal Service masterplan, the band was successful in accomplishing step #1: Winning the hearts of the people by becoming the most popular synth-pop outfit of the new millennium. On to step #2: Testing the loyal’s tolerance for syrup and cheese by rendering a notoriously saccharine ballad even more putrid. Hopefully, this will weed out all but the most faithful fans because step #3 is, you guessed it, Flock of Seagull haircuts.
Ian Mathers: Guys: You didn’t need to make the song interesting. It already was. To take such a great pop song and mute it doesn’t often work, and it sure as hell doesn’t here. A prime example of the Awful Indie Cover syndrome, and more proof that you can’t fuck with Phil Collins.
Josh Love: Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle defending these guys. Normally I think the forward-thinking, communally-oriented pop structures onto navel-gazing indie-rock pretension juxtaposition is fascinating and the pop still splendid, but here they succumb to the always-disastrous call of the faux-earnest indie-ironic cover. Wholly inferior to the original, and I hate Phil Collins even more than Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
Josh Timmermann: So why again was such a fuss made about the Postal Service last year? This is standard-issue emo with better beats, people—how terribly innovative! Now, admittedly, the duo is responsible for some genuinely sublime songs, but this one is nothing to, ahem, write home about. Although that slightly Timbaland-esque stutter in there is kind of a nice touch.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m totally unfamiliar with the original song here (funny that I’d feel guilty about not having heard a Phil Collins song), though given how bland and uninspiring this version is, I doubt it’d help much. I was all excited about a possible PS breakthrough here, but I guess it’s back to listening for “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” in the background on MTV news.
Gabe Gloden: Prove it. Let me see that Gangsta Certificate you talk so much about. I don’t believe you. Back in my time, gangsta rappers would have to record their albums after doing time for the same shit they rapped about. It’s just not the same anymore.
Ian Mathers: The track is a bit “generic rock backing for rap song #492”, but it’s still nicely minimalist. And I’m a sucker for that kind of brutally lean backing. The rapping’s nothing special, but at least we’re beginning to require that our gangstas be properly accredited.
Josh Love: I don't know if Jim Jones is this cat's real name, but if Kool-Aid's not prominently involved in his promotional campaign then I've got no use for him whatsoever.
Josh Timmermann: I like the Young Buck song more, but this still takes care of business just fine.
Andrew Unterberger: All I have to say is, when listening to a song makes me nostalgic for the Lil’ Scrappys of yesterweak, that’s pretty goddamn low.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-08-27