Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady—Ashlee puts another nail into Jessica’s coffin, Jojo and Lil’ Bow Wow one-up Nelly & Christina, Juvenile celebrates another dance you have no idea how to do, Shyne scores another hit from behind bars, and Jimmy Eat World let you know what they’re feeling! Here’s a hint: it’s not happiness.
Kareem Estefan Over the course of six minutes, Snow Patrol’s “Run” only deteriorates. It opens with inertia to make Galaxie 500 proud: lazy, minimalist, seemingly unwilling to climax. But then it mounts into a grandiose, string-filled chorus, falling prey to the inevitable excesses of a six-minute ballad. Shame it had to go somewhere.
Josh Love: These guys are no less lovelorn or puppy-dog soggy than Coldplay or Keane, but at least their hooks have some punch in ‘em. Any true singles junkie will tell ya “Spitting Games” is the real standout on Final Straw, but “Run” is oodles more goopy, and therefore better suited to make pasty-faced Anglophilic girls go all swoony
Ian Mathers: Whoops, there goes my cred. I’m sure everyone else is scoring “Run” much lower, but there’s something about the overblown grandeur of the song and the whispered fatalism of Gary Lightbody’s voice that brings me to my feet, looking for a lighter to wave, whenever this comes on. I refuse to be cynical about this song; it’s got the emotional impact of 1,000 Coldplay singles welded together, only without the theatrics. I love it unreservedly, and I don’t care what the rest of you think.
Akiva Gottlieb: Aping just about every chord progression and mini-nuance from Coldplay's swooning love letter "Yellow"--and then turning the bombast up to 11--"Run" at least proves that the girlymen of Snow Patrol (improbable hitmakers, eh?) have good taste in corporate rock idols.
Matt Chesnut: Slow “Spitting Games” down some ticks on the metronome. The verses are sluggish and have a tendency to drag, but this song is about the chorus anyway. Speaking of The Bends, the chorus has that same grandiosity that guitar-oriented Radiohead have done in their past.
David Drake: I like this OK, but I can't help feeling that I'd find it much more touching in a movie, underlining some scene of loss or sadness followed by transcendence, because as it stands it just sort of floats along like Coldplay. So it leaves me with vague feelings of happiness but no real impulse to ever hear it again.
Shyne feat. Ashanti
Kareem Estefan: With weak lyrics, very standard delivery, and a truly insipid chorus from Ashanti, Shyne has little reason to boast on “Jimmy Choo”, but he does it nonetheless, playing the tough guy with lines like “you look like you got ya head right / I just hope you can give head right” but instead coming across as a pathetically shallow rapper who wasted a good beat.
Josh Love: Sounds like someone hasn’t been rehabilitated. Oh yeah, and that lame-ass quotable “so much cuts on your wrist it’s like you tried suicide” is just weak, dude. Leave the one-liners to Lil Flip for real.
Ian Mathers: When Ashanti is the best thing about your song, you’re in trouble. “Some hos say I'm sexist / Cause all I wanna do is stuff coke in they dresses”, eh? I wonder why. Oh, and you’ve got the most annoying flow I’ve heard in months.
Akiva Gottlieb: Onanism, misogynism, lyricism...Shyne has it all in spades. Speaking of which, does anyone else notice the lyrical incongruity between the verses and the chorus? Shyne: "Me me me, I want you to give me head, I own NY!" Ladies: "Oh, boy, our relationship sure is grand, etc." Since Shyne's in prison, I can say this is mediocre and he can't do shit, right?
Matt Chesnut: I want to be excited about this. I want Ashanti to be interesting. I want this beat to sound fresh. I want the hook to move me. I never get what I want.
David Drake: New York's gangsta noveau leaves me somewhat ambivalent--a gangsta cliche here, a gangsta cliche there, rapped over Producer Of The Minute Beat. This song is pretty much on the G-Unit end of things, although at least Shyne retains a singular interesting voice throughout. Its no "Bad Boys," - it lays in this sort of no-man's land of undistinguishing singles. More Barrington Levy please.
Kareem Estefan: “Shadow” finds Ashlee Simpson asserting herself much more than on “Pieces of Me,” but her confidence does little to redeem her atrocious songwriting. Even if none of the lyrics are as overtly cringe-inducing as the weekly rundown of “Pieces of Me,” “Shadow” still has nothing to say, and worse, it’s not the slightest bit catchy.
Josh Love: Why couldn’t you just bury this one on your album, Ashlee? Easily the nadir of Autobiography, the title track would’ve been a much better choice if Ashlee just wanted to wax philosophical about her uber-fame, this one’s just a whine fest about Jess that should only interest the kind of people who read Kitty Kelly.
Ian Mathers: The lines “Oh my life is good / I got more than anyone should” are the first sign that any member of the Simpson family is aware of the independent existence of other human beings. Sadly, they’re couched in a song far more tepid than the already not terribly impressive “Pieces Of Me”. At least she still has the best voice in the family.
Akiva Gottlieb: A song so topical, so pertinent, so Ashlee, that if she hadn't (co-)written it, someone else would have done it for her. Beside the fact that "Shadow" is uplifting, honest and almost passionate, how great is it to hear a pop star proclaim: "Oh, my life is good/I got more than anyone should/Don't feel sorry for me!" The answer: so great.
Matt Chesnut: Holy “My Iron Lung”, Batman! Does anyone else note the similarity between the intros of the two songs or am I developing a debilitating illness? The only thing missing is that totally berserk Jonny Greenwood guitar solo and some Thom Yorke histrionics.
David Drake: Compared to "Lala," this song is a wet blanket, a sub-Xtina ballad of bland. Her album is pretty good on the whole, but this cut definitely falls into the "utter crap" category. The melody is simply anemic.
Jimmy Eat World
Kareem Estefan: The idea of quasi-intellectual punk-poppers reaching for loftier heights does not appeal to the ears. But on “Pain”, Jimmy Eat World, perhaps the lowest form of clichéd emo-rock, indulges in some of the most deadly alt-rock traps – dance beats, muted guitars, and keyboards – and emerges triumphant. For a band whose only virtue was a so-bad-it’s-brilliant single (“The Middle”), that’s pretty good.
Josh Love: So let me get this straight: Jimmy Eat World’s new single is called “Pain”? Isn’t that kind of like Lil Kim doing a song called “Fucking” or U2 doing one called “Pretension” or Phish calling their next 20 minute jam “Hacky Sack”?
Ian Mathers: I am apparently severely in the minority for liking Jimmy Eat World’s last album, even if I have agree the singles weren’t the best (why not “A Praise Chorus”?). This, though, is just okay. Better than, say, Simple Plan or what have you, but the chorus isn’t as sticky as their past efforts, and it feels strangely dumbed down.
Akiva Gottlieb: The tightest pop/punk outfit in the world is back with a single that's dark, scabrous and criminally sexy (but mostly dark and scabrous). Nevermind the blunt irony of a workhorse veteran band finally breaking through to sell millions of albums, only to name their first post-blowup single "Pain". Somehow, when Jim Adkins sings "these are hard times," we know, at least implicitly, what he's on about.
Matt Chesnut: You guys remember “The Middle”? Yeah, that was a really great song. The palm muting was ridiculously infectious. Here, it doesn’t even feel like a Jimmy Eat World song. This could have been done by anyone of the dozens of new bands being distributed. A sad day for emo.
David Drake: This guys bring loads of hooks, so where recent songs by whining white kids with guitars normally fail, they succeed. Incredibly catchy, and full of adrenaline. I feel their pain. These guys do the whole cliché quite LOUD quiet thing better than your favorite band.
Jojo feat. Bow Wow
Baby It’s You
Kareem Estefan: Complacent, simple, and inoffensive, “Baby It’s You” seems more appropriate for a fourteen year-old than “Leave (Get Out)”, which is both its virtue and its vice. At least “Baby It’s You” doesn’t reek of evil marketing like “Leave (Get Out)” did, but if it’s less contemptible, it’s also flat, emotionless, and another waste of a good voice.
Josh Love: See the Jimmy Eat World comment re: redundancy: add Jojo and “pedophilia.”
Ian Mathers: Pretty much everything I liked about “Leave (Get Out)” is absent here. Hell, even Bow Wow drops by to add a bland as hell verse. Not only is this generic balladry at its worst, for the first time her youth makes the song seem weird.
Akiva Gottlieb: JoJo, I did NOT just hear you deride MTV. You better leave (get out!) right now, and apologize. You would not HAVE a second single if it wasn't for incessant video saturation, so leave the lectures to Tim Robbins.
Matt Chesnut: I feel it would be a conflict of interest to attempt an unbiased critique of a love song by someone I could potentially babysit. The beat from “Dip It Low” has been usurped for this mostly bare track. And the Bow Wow/Jojo connection…hee hee, they thinks they’re grown-ups. Like teen-aged Nelly and Ashanti? Whatever, this seems innocent enough.
David Drake: The production on this is really tight, and the weird vocal distortions halfway through are hot, but JoJo is really, really boring. Also, I don't believe her when she says she doesn't care about spinning rims. Who doesn't want spinning rims? Were I married, I'd leave my wife for someone who has spinning rims. It don't stop.
Kareem Estefan: Old-school effects + horns = greatest song ever (for a week).
Josh Love: Second straight Juvenile single this summer with a shit-hot, strangely meditative beat, first “Slow Motion” and now this one, just deliberately drawn-out strings, a little synth whistle, and that inscrutable, omnipresent Nolia Clap. The raps are instantly forgettable, but it’s no matter with a track this fiyah.
Ian Mathers: I like this song far less than the screwed and chopped version slumping through my head right now. The one line chorus – “Y’all hear that nolia clap” – is pretty damn catchy, but those chopped up bass string stabs really deserve to be slathered in slowness with the voices slowed down to basso profundo tones.
Akiva Gottlieb: I hate it when popular songs describe dances that I invariably can't do myself. And yet, "Nolia Clap" is so above-decent that I wouldn't feel bad just standing to the side, listening along, thinking about that girl I used to know...
Matt Chesnut: The beat’s hot complete with electro-cowbells. There are lots of fun little sounds like a whistling rocket going by and the staccato synth strings is down right playful. Add that easily learned “Ya’ll hear that Nolia Clap” line and this is some goodness.
David Drake: Although its certainly not Cash Money's heyday any longer, most of the era's biggest stars have made 2004 a banner year--Mannie Fresh getting REAL BIG and B.G. finding new life and here Juvenile displaying some vitality on par with his peak work. This track is much better than the dreary repitition of "Slow Motion" and considerably more replayable. The beat is grimey and interesting, a new direction for a crew so dependent on Mannie Fresh's genius. That said, it's no "Back That Azz Up," - it has that song's creativity without its momentum.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-09-24