Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady: Lloyd Banks gets semi-contemplative, Prince tantalizes us with the unfortunately unfulfilled promise of him covering Neil Young, Duran Duran are back for some reason, My Chemical Romance let us know what’s up with them, and Sarah McLachlan starts caring about stuff. And so does Wyclef Jean, but that’s a little bit more predictable.
(Reach Up for the) Sunrise
Kareem Estefan: I think I prefer it when bands that have been around way too long just seem tired. Instead, Duran Duran sounds sickeningly adult-pop, aiming for energy or dance or whatever it is the kids like but clearly failing because they’re BORING OLD MEN. Worse, they try to inspire us: “Reach up for the sunrise…Feel the new day enter your life”. Right. Give us something to work with here.
Nate De Young: Meh. Although I feel like I've started coming around to synth-pop in full embrace, I still can't understand Duran Duran. This sounds like the churning Euro-disco in its most bland excess. Anthemic, yes, but captivating? I'd take the glee of USE's simulacrum anthem dance-pop any day over this.
Ian Mathers: MOR AOR! MOR AOR! It’s so much fun to say. Still, this doesn’t sound like Duran Duran. It sounds like… uh… I can’t put my finger on it, actually. Some crappy third-tier pop rock outfit. For what it is it’s surprisingly tolerable (the decent chorus doesn’t hurt), but goddamnit, it’s Duran Duran! They can do better.
Kareem Estefan: With “Karma”, Lloyd Banks delivers another solid single, full of his signature charm (see lines like “My heart’s colder than sandwich meat”) and pronounced delivery. This is also Banks’ most mature, touching narrative yet, expertly capturing the nuances of a thorny romance.
Nate De Young: This sounds like holding up the 90's r'n'b – none of the crazy production, but taking it slow-jamz style. From the first bar of music, this is a song that will fuel a capella groups on college campuses everywhere (across the Midwest at very least). But I'm pretty ambivalent to what that actually means. At very least, the video is inspiring – from "secret location" to text messaging courtship, it's the time and trials of the nouveau-riche.
Ian Mathers: Banks’ voice works surprisingly well with the lush background, but the ridiculous neediness in the chorus render the whole thing laughable; “I’m down for a one-night stand, I’ll accept it any way that I can” isn’t exactly impressive. Oh, but Lloyd’s dick is “hard as a missile”, so he’s got that going for him. Decent piano loop, though.
My Chemical Romance
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
Kareem Estefan: I like it when the lead singer decides the line “I’m not okay” isn’t expressive enough and amends it: “I’m not ofuckinkay”. This song is hilarious.
Nate De Young: Big hooks, high energy, face paint? Well, before everyone shuns goth-pop-punk, singer Gerard Way gets out a couple yelps that slip around the grandiose and intimate in self-aware glee. I'm starting to catch up with all those great moments where rock can be adolescent and okay – not perfect and proud of it.
Ian Mathers: My feelings on this album are already documented on Stylus, especially my love for Gerard Way’s little interjection during the middle eight here, but allow me to elaborate: My Chemical Romance makes me want to dress all in black and bite the heads off of chickens. They’re a shot of adrenaline in the heart of rock radio; if Simple fucking Plan can make it big, these guys should be stars.
Kareem Estefan: So Wyclef Jean releases a single called “President” asking us “Who you gonna vote for?”, then talks about how he wants to find the cure for AIDS and cancer. Is this song supposed to be relevant to last week’s election? Are we to write in Wyclef in 2008? Or is the ex-Fugee merely observing that war is wrong? I’m not sure, but I’ve heard this before, and it’s not normally so muddled.
Nate De Young: I think this might be the first song that has made me completely hollow to this year's election. All I can think about is Wyclef singing "Fortunate Son" to some crappy Jonathon Demme brainwashing remake and it gets me pissed off. How much money can be lost and made from an election? Wyclef's idyllic turn as president just sounds as empty as any other campaign promises I've heard recently.
Ian Mathers: Woah, that vocal doesn’t sound like Wyclef. Is it him? Surrounding the rather melodramatic contention that he would be shot the day after getting elected are some pretty standard suggestions for US government, but I’m getting a little sick of singles that claim “radio won’t play this”. And musically? Well, there’s a reason I’m not really talking about it. It’s too generic.
World on Fire
Kareem Estefan: Apart from some bland imagery (“The cold is closing in on us”) and an uninteresting melody, “World on Fire” isn’t too offensive. But from the sound of these vague observations, McLachlan doesn’t have much to say (though she still sings quite well) and consequently, we have little reason to listen.
Nate De Young: While McLachlan's music video provides a critique that would make film school kids blush with liberal guilt, her music doesn't seem to have changed much since I last heard her. Please respect her though, kiddies, because now she really cares. I'm starting to believe Bono spreads like a virus.
Ian Mathers: Like every other Sarah McLachlan song ever, this is quietly pretty until to listen to the lyrics, at which point it becomes significantly darker. But still pretty. It’s no “Adia” or “Sweet Surrender”, but there are certainly worse ways to get your CanCon (coughNickelbackcough).
Kareem Estefan: Although the rock’s a little too restrained for my liking, Prince deftly tells the story of a girl of mixed heritage who “never knew the meaning of color lines” until 9/11 on “Cinnamon Girl”. A commendable balance between catchy riffing and politics, but mostly because Prince doesn’t take too many chances with either, glossing his production excessively and keeping the finger-pointing at a low level throughout the narrative.
Nate De Young: While everyone and their mother must have said that Prince has "come back," this song sounds like what I think of when I hear the words 'pop song.' While a generation inspired by Prince plunge through his minimal funk mannerisms, it's both scary and intriguing to hear that the source has been just pushing on.
Ian Mathers: I was really, really hoping this was a Neil Young cover. I still like a few of Prince’s singles, and remain willing to be convinced of his total genius, but this ain’t going to do it. It’s just sort of… interminable. And vaguely “uplifting”.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-11-12