Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady—LL Cool J hushes up the competition, Marilyn Manson goes from antichrist to personal jesus, Slipknot prove themselves once again the most literate (and gross) song titlers in nu-metal, and Lil’ Wayne gives the D.J. props (finally!). All this, and the first ever Gwen Stefani solo single!
Used To Love U
Matt Chesnut: “Maybe it’s me/ maybe I bore you.” Maybe.
Kareem Estefan: From the sound of “Used to Love U”, it seems John Legend wishes he were Justin Timberlake. Here, he boasts the same kind of jazzy cool JT demonstrated best on “Senorita”, especially with the playful piano and the sloppy drums, but Legend lacks the unique charm to pull it off.
Andrew Unterberger: Though the “Whitney and Bobby” line is kinda weird considering recent events between those two, the nu-soul sound of John Legend is fairly nice. But man, is that production getting tired. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. What am I going to do with you?
Matt Chesnut: The wooshes are a nice touch to an already nice beat, complete with subterranean rumbling. And Mannie Fresh is definitely trying to give Lil Jon some competition as producer-in-demand. It’ll take some time before he’s as big as Jon, but he’s off to a pretty decent start.
Kareem Estefan: Lil’ Wayne’s “Go D.J.” gets a little repetitive after nearly five minutes, especially with a chorus revolving primarily around the two-word title, but one sound effect makes this song worthwhile: “sheeee-awwwww”.
Andrew Unterberger: This song sounds exactly like the Big Tymers’ “No Love (Beautiful Life),” doesn’t it? That was pretty good, but a lame and lazy as hell chorus like “go D.J. ‘Coz that my D.J.” just can’t compete with that falsetto “byoooootifuulllll!!!” from “No Love,” can it? Come on Mannie, you gotta give us more than this.
LL Cool J f/ 7 Aurelius
Matt Chesnut: And the mouth noises club has one more member! This time, though, they’re totally overshadowed by the palm-muted guitar and bass line. And those rushes of vocal echoes are incredible. One of the year’s best rap ballads.
Kareem Estefan: Between its sublime keyboards and LL Cool J’s earnest delivery, “Hush” packs enough power to make even the most jaded long for eternal love. Along with Lil’ Flip’s “Sunshine” and Lloyd Banks’ “Smile”, this is one of the best love songs in mainstream hip-hop this year.
Andrew Unterberger: The originator of the original hip-hop love song (“I Need Love”) proves once again that nobody does it better. It’s just a generally touching love song with a sweet chorus and some nice mouth noises. My only problem with it is when LL talks about what’ll happen after his six-pack fades—never, LL! Don’t let me hear you be talking that way!
Matt Chesnut: Years after he’s scared the Bible Belt, Marilyn (like Korn and Britney before him) is back to promote his greatest hits with a cover of a popular song from the 1980’s! His success on this track lies somewhere between the others. It’s more fun than the Korn single but not nearly as jammng as Britney’s. But then again, I would kind of hope he wouldn’t be as jamming as Britney.
Kareem Estefan: Although the brilliance of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” still shines through Manson’s cover, in transforming the original’s plodding guitar into a distorted mess, the ominous feedback, the eerie electronics, and worst of all, the commanding voice are lost. Between today’s technology and America’s favorite antichrist, you’d think this song would sound scarier than it did fifteen years ago, but alas, it just sounds staler.
Andrew Unterberger: This is one of those songs where you know exactly how it will sound before hearing it. You know Marilyn’s going to seethe through the verses giving the song new shades of MENACE and PSYCHO-SEXUALITY and then he’s just going to erupt during the chorus. It takes real fucking skill to ruin “Personal Jesus,” and Manson certainly doesn’t do it here, but there really is absolutely no point for a song to exist which you can already hear in your head.
Matt Chesnut: Slipknot is still creepy as far as I’m concerned. That dude’s voice is on Vincent Price levels of scary when he says, “She isn’t real” at the end. And they have passages of soaring melody followed by sinister, brooding chunking, muddy guitars that will send neighborhood dogs running.
Kareem Estefan: When lead singer Corey Taylor breathes the word “forever” in as horror-movie a voice as he can muster, it unforgivably dilutes the awesome force of Slipknot’s guitars. This song has power, but it lacks subtlety.
Andrew Unterberger: Slipknot once again hold the alternative-metal gauntlet down in the unfortunate absence of System of a Down and Queens of the Stone Age (and the unfortunate presence of Audioslave). Those pummeling drums, those morse-code guitar taps in the chorus, and those last “she isn’t real” screams—it’s fabulous stuff. Too bad this won’t get half the airplay of fucking Breaking Benjamin.
What You Waiting For?
Matt Chesnut: The final “fuck you” to No Doubt. This disco number is all right, but the lyrics are too dumb for their own good. “Take a chance, you stupid ho.” “You’re still a super hot female.” Huh? I usually don’t let these things get to me, but the only thing I get from this song is the couple of silly lines.
Kareem Estefan: For about a minute, Gwen Stefani’s latest single is blissfully energetic, but like every song with the line “Life is short”, “What You Waiting For?” wears thin as quickly as its advice. Most allegedly inspiring songs don’t end on requests as eloquent as “Take a chance, you stupid ho”, though. I’m not really sure what Gwen was thinking with that one.
Andrew Unterberger: Fun, silly dance pop from the queen of fun, silly dance pop. True, this is a little bit sillier than anything she’s done yet, but hey, without the emotional gravity of her breakup with Tony Kanal to balance her, she’s bound to go a little happy-happy. And say what you will, I’ll never get tired of that “take a chance, you stupid ho” line.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-10-22