The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady

this week on Singles Going Steady – Terror Squad try to follow up what was possibly the jam of the summer and Ciara does similarly, Jay-Z and R. Kelly truly show us the best of both worlds, Lil Jon and the East Side Boys bully us into submission, and Crossfade represent the last dying gasp of the Candlebox legacy. Godspeed, post-grunge!

R. Kelly & Jay-Z
Big Chips
Nate De Young: This song sounds like a perfunctory party track at best - not too surprising for two artists that have dropped more than 9 albums and countless singles in the last four years. While the tales of nouveau riche have provided countless mythic-building fodder, bragging about gambling prowess puts these two in the same category as my grandmother. [4] Josh Love: “I think I just saw a dolphin” should be the next super-hot catch-phrase, except the only time I think it’s applicable is if you’re in Jamaica and happen to spot Ricky Williams buying weed off a local. Also, I’m starting to think Jay-Z’s not really retired after all. I mean, my grandfather’s retired, and he didn’t do an album with R. Kelly. [6] Matt Chesnut: Does Jay-Z still get his pension money after this? We all knew the retirement stuff was to sell more copies and to take a much-needed vacation. And he comes back to avenge the flop that was The Best of Both Worlds. And the results are nice enough. Kelly isn’t talking about Jesus saving him from cancer, but psst, R., I think you’re supposed to cut out pointless banter. [6]

David Drake: I want to like this more than I do. It seems like Jay is really on autopilot, and R Kelly is doing his best to make it work but its rather uninspired I have to say. Both artists can do better, and have done so. [6]

Andrew Unterberger: R. ‘n’ J. going through the motions, proving what we already know—after a decade in the game, they can do this shit with their hands tied behind their backs. Never mind that the two have no chemistry whatsoever (note how Jay even refuses to answer R.’s call-out towards the end), this is still foolproof stuff. [6]

1, 2 Step

Nate De Young: Although I have only a peripheral knowledge of Ciara from "Goodies," I feel like I've heard this production so much already that I practically want to call it a riddim. Ciara's bubblegum-crunk gets a tech-click percussion that pricks the ears with headphones and disorients on speakers. Does Missy even get through 8 bars on her mini-verse? [7]

Josh Love: On this sophomore single followup, Ciara doesn’t stray too far from “Goodies” in her delivery, keeping it very cool and composed over a hot effects-heavy Jazze Phizzle producshizzle. Reviews for her album as a whole haven’t been too complimentary, but even if this one doesn’t touch the instant impact and replayability of “Goodies” (what does?), it’s hardly a slouch itself. [7]

Matt Chesnut: The thing I like about Ciara is that she’s so nonchalant. She doesn’t do the vocal gymnastics nor does she try to be coy. Her melodies are really simple and perfectly suited for the tracks she sings over. But I’m sad to say Missy sounds bored. The tympanis area welcome addition, but Jazze Pha has better songs attached to his name. [6]

David Drake: Jazze Pha is really hit or miss but this one is positively perfect - just like "Dro in Da Wind" and "Sick of Being Lonely," Pha is best when he tempers his smooth organ-style funk with more sudden and surprising sonics, like the high-pitched percussive effects that sound like it could have been used by Isolee or something. This is in the spirit of "Goodies" and although it's not quite as good, being nearly as good is good enough for me. That bridge really makes it! [9]

Andrew Unterberger: Ooooh-WEEEEE!! Starts fabulous, loses steam a little of the way through, but Ciara ones again excels in the restrained crunk-‘n’-b that she showcased so well on “Goodies” (still the most unexpected monster hit of the year). Hope this one fares as well. [7]

Terror Squad
Take Me Home

Nate De Young: While the generic commercial r'n'b vibe of "Take Me Home" sounds watered down to the point of intoxication, the one redeeming grace is the song' s biting of Kanye West. While the sped-up sample hook is trademark West, it draws a beautiful connection to Joe Meek in a flock of chipmunk chicks. [5]

Josh Love: Two questions: First, with “Goodies,” “Shake That Shit,” and now this, does 2004 signal the true beginning of a post-Lil Kim golden age of equal-opportunity ribaldry? And second, after the fiasco in Athens, shouldn’t Stephon Marbury be working on his midrange jump shot? [5]

Matt Chesnut: Does the chipmunk soul singing count as worn or trite now? I don’t care enough to write anymore about this song because the Sawx won last night. All pop culturists must observe a moment of silence or something. [5]

David Drake: This is some good feelin' funk shit and I like it. Breakfast in the morning. Yeah. Hot. Remy Martin has a cool husky voice. [7]

Andrew Unterberger: I actually like this faux-Kanye shit more than most of the shit Kanye himself has been doing recently. Plus, chipmunk vocals! Like, ’92 rave-style! Can’t go wrong with that. The Terror Squad are still fairly mediocre rappers (Fat Joe excepted of course) but they know a good hook when they hear one. [6]


Nate De Young: Putting my post-grunge biases aside, Crossfade's power hooks are overshadowed by 'blander than thou' lyrics and delivery. The song's nostalgic, stoic-cum-"evocative" lyrics find that self-parody has folded into the chorus "What I really meant to say / Is I'm sorry for the way / I am / I never meant to be so cold." Try saying this into a mirror for a couple hours a day and maybe catharsis will slap you across the face. [3]

Josh Love: So is this Cold doing a song called “Crossfade” or a song called “Cold” by some new piece of shit band called Crossfade? As if I already didn’t have reason enough not to care, now they’ve made shit confusing as well. How’s this for typical rap-rock nu-metal bullshit--the lead singer actually gets a hot girl in his video (one up on Nickelback), then completely ignores her so he can furrow his brow and work on his solo. [2]

Matt Chesnut: It’s like the last five years of rock radio flashed before my eyes. What else is on? [2]

Matt Chesnut: I'm sorry about all the lies. This song is awful. [2]

Andrew Unterberger: It’s cool, just let ‘em get it out of their system. Only a couple more of these bands before the Nickelback / Puddle of Mudd school of post-grunge dies out completely. Patience. [3]

Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz
What You Gon' Do

Nate De Young: With a tickling synth on the chorus that brings back vague memories "Get Ur Freak On," Lil Jon, et al riles the world into dancing their asses off. Lil Jon's mechanical efficiency of banging club tracks is explicitly pushed onto Lil Scrappy's metallic robo-delivery of "shit, motherfuckers, dicks and niggas." In a world where melody is excess fat, to all my motherfuckers, this is sick as shit. [8]

Josh Love: Lil Scrappy’s weirdly metallic verse is probably the highlight here, otherwise the biggest lesson is that Lil Jon’s usually better off when he’s behind the boards. This one’s perfectly serviceable, but nonetheless kinda one-dimensional compared to “Goodies” or “Freak-A-Leek” or “Yeah!” or one of Lil Jon’s other 1147 hits from summer ‘04. [6]

Matt Chesnut: This guy has some sort of Midas touch where everything he touches goes gold (or more fitting here, platinum). The Lil Scrappy guest spot sounds like they recorded in a tin can for the first few bars and it’s awesome. And for once, Jon is shouting over more than the chorus. [8]

David Drake: This is no "Get Low" and it tends to tread stylistic ground but the main rhythmic bass synth sounds unusually round and bouncy compared to most of Lil Jon's stuff. Its a great song on the whole, and I like Lil Scrappy a lot. [8]

Andrew Unterberger: Sounds as unstoppable as ever. Lil Scrappy almost steals the show with his verse, but this is still Lil Jon’s show—just those mammoth fucking beats, those awesome whistling synths, and that growl-shout choruses—the guy’s as much a master of his craft as anyone making music right now. [8]

Avril Lavigne
Nobody’s Home

Nate De Young: This could be the yang of Crossfade's "Cold." I think Avril avoids the same pitfall by her brilliant delivery – especially how her voice cracks and how her breath is *just* heard during the bridge. While there's enough Avril-love on Stylus, I'd say this song could work just as well, if not better, unplugged. While not major problem, I also wouldn't mind it if they took away those awful background synth strings. [7]

Josh Love: There’s a a terrific rocker called “He Wasn’t” still buried on Under My Skin, and it’s inexplicable Avril would rather release this dreary bit of adult contempo fare instead. Interesting too how Avril equates “homelessness” with “looking like Ashlee Simpson.” [4]

Matt Chesnut: This is a pretty safe pop-rock ballad and aside from Avril’s earnest delivery, there’s nothing too remarkable to note except for the bridge. In fact, if the whole song were the bridge, I’d probably love it. [5]

David Drake: When the atmospherics start I was wondering if it was a new U2 song or something. This isn't bad for contemporary pop, certainly has some interesting melodic parts. Her voice sounds really surprisingly powerful during the chorus and especially the bridge. Boring arrangement though. [6]

Andrew Unterberger: Good intro, the rest is sort of eh. Doesn’t grate on me quite as much as “My Happy Ending” has started to do, but I still don’t like it nearly as much as “Don’t Tell Me” or any of the singles off the first one. I really hope she has at least one rocker left in her, that’s when she really shines. [5]

By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-10-29
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