The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



boy, do we have a Singles Going Steady for you right here—we have brand new, hot off the presses singles from Britney Spears and Eminem, we have the lowest rated single in Singles Going Steady history, and finally, we have the only instance you’re likely to see on Stylus of Kanye West and Interpol being outscored by Brandy! All this and the only single thus far to totally polarize our writers, this week on Singles Going Steady!


Britney Spears
My Prerogative
[7.0]


Josh Timmermann: In which Mrs. Federline rolls around in her bra and panties (!) in sensuous black and white (!!) and effectively tells the gossip hounds and finger-pointers to go shove it. Hey--just like our next first lady! Well, at least, that's i>our prerogative.
[8]

Akiva Gottlieb: An inspired choice for a cover, given Britney's status as ubiquitous gossip rag cover girl. An impeccably produced dance-floor barnstormer, "My Prerogative" is hard-hitting and concise, and for what seems like the first time, Britney really really really means it, writer's credit notwithstanding. E-mail my heart to whoever conceived this one.
[7]

Josh Love: Eminem’s claims on meta-pop primacy would seem untouchable, but Britney’s done quite a head-spinning job of self-reflexive narcissism as well. Truly a child of MTV rather than a misfit like Em who somehow swiped the keys to the castle, Brit can only construct and define her own identity by referencing shared generational touchstones like Bobby Brown (not “I feel [insert emotion]” but rather “I feel like Bobby Brown did”) and Madonna videos (“I’m sexual so I writhe around on the bed like Madonna”). A negligible single but a highly revealing self-portrait, Britney’s own “The Way I Am.”
[5]

David Drake: This song is like Toxic Part 2, and it's really awesome. Except it has a much worse title. The production is sorta all over the place. Britney trying to come across as "crazy" is stretching it, but whatever. Excuse me while I have a "Dazed and Confused" moment: I just wanna DANCE!
[8]

Ian Mathers: Those fuzzy, greasy synths that open the song are really great, but they only recur a few times, and in the background at that. What’s more, I could care less about Britney’s battle to convince us all she’s… what it is she’s trying to convince us of.
[5]

Matt Chesnut; Holy Bobby Brown’s weed stash! Though her personal life has made her more into a curiosity than a sex symbol, she really does sex up an already libidinous classic. Breakbeats, “Toxic”-y squelching, a killer bridge and it’s so fucking danceable. Dance like you’re running from airport security. Dance like you MEAN it.
[9]


Brandy
Who Is She 2 U?
[6.3]


Josh Timmermann: I've always been kinda cool on Brandy (with the exception of "The Boy Is Mine"), but this is terrific and light-years better than that last single she did with Kanye. Which basically just proves that Timbaland will never ever even remotely start to suck.
[8]

Akiva Gottlieb: Wake me when we get to the exciting part.
[3]

Josh Love: This is nothing but highly-streamlined, ruthlessly-efficient, IKEA-like product from Brandy, still quality nonetheless, but also not a standout on Afrodisiac. We at Singles Going Steady define a {7} as “nothing spectacular, but definitely an enjoyable song you wouldn’t be ashamed to sing along or dance to,” a perfectly succint description of my relative ambivalence towards “Who is She 2 U?”
[7]

David Drake: I love Timbaland's production; when he hits a peak, it can be the most sublimely beautiful music a music fan could hope to hear. This song may not be an original peak , but that's OK. The grit in Brandy's voice really works to great effect here, especially in contrast to the smooth pianos and strings around it. The melody is exceptionally memorable, and at the end when Timbaland says "Timbo the king!" it makes me sad because we’re drawing near the end of the Timbo era.
[9]

Ian Mathers: Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my love and my lady is the sea. And to be clear, but “sea” I mean “Timbaland’s production”. And since in this case it’s strictly pedestrian, I won’t be listening to “What Is She 2 U?” very often. Maybe Timbaland should try one where the only vocals are his dry asides? That’d be pretty cool.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: Maybe it’s the bang on the piano to cue each bar or maybe Brandy’s showing me something this time, but there’s something about this song that’s deceptively great. The sparseness of this track works to its advantage. Interesting things barely make themselves heard, like soft vocal harmonies, organ and flute hooks, and a very understated “Woooo!”
[7]


Interpol
Slow Hands
[5.8]


Josh Timmermann: Is it just me or are Interpol really dull? They sound to me like indie-rock elevator music. Listenable enough, though in case you haven't noticed, nobody ever stays on elevator any longer than they have to. Unless, of course, they're having sex, in which case, who really cares what's being played over the speaker?
[3]

Akiva Gottlieb: A funky beat does not a palatable single make. Interpol, for their considerable atmospheric strengths, is not a great singles band, and "Slow Hands" simply treads the same radio-ready path as catchier, less laconic Franz Ferdinand and Killers hits.
[3]

Josh Love: I still think Interpol has less personality than a typical public transport commuter in Shaun of the Dead, but like Franz Ferdinand they’re a terrific singles band. However I do kinda wish they woulda left out the “for hire” part from the line “We spies, oh yeah, we slow hands / killer for hire”.
[7]

David Drake: I won't be the one to bring up That Band in an Interpol review, but lets just say that I like Interpol's lead singer's voice. They've done a good job changing moods from their last album. This rocks, pretty much. The breakdown seems to be begging for a better payoff though.
[7]

Ian Mathers: One of the few songs from Antics I can recall after listening to the album, this is just great. “Slow Hands” is kind of a love song, kind of not, but more importantly a solid three minutes of chorus. There’s the bit where the chorus really gets going (the “slow hands” bit), but really it’s all like that. The quasi-disco drums are great, too. This isn’t terribly durable, but great fun while it lasts.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: I had high hopes for this new album. I clutched Turn On the Bright Lights close to my bosom in 2002. But then again, I was much more indiecentric back then and I’m so much more “You best be bringin’ it, son” now. So, Interpol, it’s not you, it’s me. But present day Matt thinks, though still a great song, this doesn’t move me the same way “PDA” did when I caught the last half of the video on MTV2 one afternoon.
[7]


Kanye West
The New Workout Plan
[5.8]


Josh Timmermann: Producing is what Kanye does best, there's no question about that, but after the poignant earnestness of "All Falls Down" and the uncommon personal conviction of "Jesus Walks," this sounds a tad lackluster, if only by comparison. Why, by the way, has Kanye still not released the track with Jay--hands-down the best thing on College Dropout--as a single?
[6]

Akiva Gottlieb: That this unforgettable, overlong absurdity is the latest single snatched from Kanye's beautiful bag of tricks is an unfortunate statement about the casual misogyny of hip-hop radio. The College Dropout features a buttload of sagacious, positive-minded songs that, incidentally, are also musically superior to "The New Workout Plan". Alas, sex still sells.
[4]

Josh Love: The Hi-NRG violins are unfuckwithable, and the concept is comical if a bit callous. In other words, Kanye talks so much shit out both sides of his mouth that I can’t really indict him for anything, but then again, it doesn’t exactly look like he’ll be Blade’s body-double anytime soon either.
[7]

David Drake: I've been listening to this song since the album came out, so I thought I was sick of it, but then I listened again and realized it's really quite fantastic. By far the best part is the house breakdown at the end, with vocoder and handclaps and then the double-time handclaps. This sounds more thouroughly CHICAGO than anything else he's really released.
[8]

Ian Mathers: This gets points for the neat thing with the violins (which doesn’t even last the whole track!), but loses major ones for the actual content. I imagine (hope) he’s being satirical, but that doesn’t make the stuff here sit any better. The only view of life more depressing than the one that assumes there is nothing more important than getting paid is the one that assumes there is nothing more important than getting laid so you can get paid. Maybe “Jesus Walks” was a fluke?
[4]

Matt Chesnut: Single number five brings Kanye out of preacher mode and back into smartass mode, which is the Kanye we fell in love with. This time around, he tongue-in-cheekly shows how girls can get dudes with ca$h if they get fit. I don’t think it’ll win any new fans, but the video is clever with its not-very-exaggerated infomercial theme. And dap is due for the double time handclaps.
[6]


Simple Plan
Welcome to My Life
[1.0]


Josh Timmermann: Better than the Bowling for Soup song, which isn't saying much. Worse than the new Good Charlotte track, which says quite a lot.
[1]

Akiva Gottlieb: I've got a bad feeling about this. "Welcome to My Life" is the cringeworthy nadir of the earnest, faux-mature, slowed-down pop/punk genre--NOT to be confused with emo, post-emo, emo-core, recent Blink-182 et al.--and thus the nadir of modern pop music. About an hour ago, I thought this was too bland, too innocuous, too ephemeral to possibly deserve a 0, but sometimes emotion trumps logic.
[0]

Josh Love: Sometimes I think that if I was 16 now I’d listen to Simple Plan, that their music would resonate deeply within me, and that I’d marvel at how well they understood my private loneliness and my darkened, troubled soul. Don’t worry, though, I would’ve kicked my ass too.
[1]

David Drake: If it wasn't for this shit and Eminem, this would have been like the best week ever. That's not really fair to this song; it at least has a hook, which is more than can be said for Eminem.
[2]

Ian Mathers: I take back anything bad I’ve ever said about any emo act who isn’t Simple Plan.
[0]

Matt Chesnut: Indistinct emo whinging: minus a billion points for Simple Plan (British spelling of “whining”: plus 10 points for me). “No, you don't know what it's like.” No, I DO know what it’s like you presumptuous prick (alliteration bonus for me: 10 points). Since when does suburban malaise have exclusive rights to pain? Take a note from Good Charlotte. They upped the ante, you didn’t (BURN: 100 points). Winner: Me, 120 to –1,000,000,000.
[2]


Eminem
Just Lose It
[5.0]


Josh Timmermann: This is Em's first lead-off single that doesn't clearly sound like it's going to be the hugest thing ever and, for better or worse, instantly enter the cultural vernacular. That's admittedly, a lot to live up to, and the track's otherwise okay, I suppose, but when you're the nation's (world's?) biggest (greatest?) pop star, that's, frankly, just the way it is.
[5]

Akiva Gottlieb: What? Half-assed postmodernism is back?! Eminem's realization that his own hyper-masculine affectations are something to laugh at has produced the most liberating pop song of the past year. "Just Lose It" is more than the disinterested throwaway it pretends to be; it's an existential tome. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are interchangeable, as are all pop songs, days of the week, and girl girl girls. Eminem wants his system re-wired, and that's the most improbable, courageous thing I've ever heard in my life.
[10]

Josh Love: Em’s leadoff singles are always cartoonish fluff and poor prognosticators, and maybe Em did make this one purposefully dated to parody the abbreviated shelf life of his first singles. But if so he succeeded—it’s been less than 48 hours since I first heard this one and already it’s a relic. All that really matters though is whether Encore will be another Passion-worthy exercise in self-flagellation like The Eminem Show or a return to less ponderous fare. One thing “Just Lose It” does prove—Em’s still holding all the cards.
[5]

David Drake: Let's face it straight up - this song sucks. Eminem sounds bored and listless, and it has absolutely NO hook. Most fascinatingly though, it sounds like he's bored ON PURPOSE. This poses so many questions to my mind - his motivations for releasing a song so awful as a leadoff single are extremely hard for me to fathom. More interesting than this song, I think, will be the reaction from his fans - will they like it? Is this destined for #1 or will it hit the bottom of the charts and slide down? This is the most fascinatingly shitty song I've heard in a good while.
[0]

Ian Mathers: I do like the geeky laugh sample, but mostly this sounds like a meltdown. Dude, stop making jokes about Michael Jackson and find something to get pissed off about again. The first bad Eminem single, although the bit where he mocks the quiet serious parts of rap songs and “Lose Yourself” are still fun.
[6]

Matt Chesnut: I was hoping that “My Band” was not a sign of things to come, but it was. This beat’s flaccid and is that Paul Rebens-as-Pee Wee sound effects being hit repeatedly? Em also revisits lines from his past hits like it’s clever, which it may be but I can’t tell. There’s not much of a hook, but there are potty jokes, gay jokes, and pedophilia jokes. Hmm.
[4]



By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-10-01
Comments (6)
 

 
Today on Stylus
Reviews
October 31st, 2007
Features
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
Reviews
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Features
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews