The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week on Singles Going Steady—Ashlee Simpson actually backs up her badass reputation, Ja Rule proves his loyalty, 50 Cent shows up here and there, Sugarcult remind you how RockPaperScissors works, Three Days Grace get homesick and Eminem shows up for one last encore. We can stop cheering now.


Eminem feat. Dr. Dre and 50 Cent
Encore
[5.4]


Ian Mathers: The bizarrely sleepy chorus really does sound like the end of something, and since I downloaded the album version I got to hear Eminem mowing down the crowd and himself at the end (is that on the single?). It’s weird to hear Dr. Dre talking about being crunk and that’s only one way this mess sounds tired. Josh Love wuz right, guys.
[3]

Erick Bieritz: A club banger that doubles as a funeral dirge, “Encore” asks people to “swing one last time,” which could describe a party or a hanging.” “Mosh” is a surrender, a threat, a not-waving-but-drowning middle finger to the politicians, the rappers, the fans, the critics and anyone else caught in Em’s yellowish stream of disgust. It’s a less obvious but even more frantic cry for help than “Just Lose It;” but Em has cried wolf too many times, and now everyone just chortles as he pens his suicide note.
[8]

Charles Merwin: It's generally agreed that Eminem is interesting to talk about, always confounding expectations, etc. etc. So why does this song sound boring? It seems like "In Da Club" without the swing and "Just Lose It" without the personality.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: Em, thank you for trying this time. See, this is how I remember Eminem. The bounce and the braggadocio and the theatricality are back without sacrificing one for the other. Emphasis on the bounce this time. Still not sure what to make of the end where he shoots a whole bunch of his fans before killing himself, though.
[7]

Andrew Unterberger: It’s impossible to have clear expectations for a new Eminem single after the 4th quarter blitz of “Just Lose It” and “Mosh,” possibly the two most expectation-confounding singles released this year. Still, I think I like this—Em’s sense of grand drama is back, but not in a ridiculously overwrought way or anything. It won’t be a huge hit but it’s good enough.
[6]


Ashlee Simpson
La La
[6.0]


Ian Mathers: That processed, dull roar of guitar is possibly my least favorite sound this week. Yes, it’s all about sex – shocking! I am certain no other 19 year old out there likes sex! Actually, no. And not sexy either, which must have taken some doing. It’s sad that “Pieces Of Me” appears to be, more and more, Ashlee’s high water mark.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: The man who understands Ashlee is a man who knows she wants to be thrown like a football. Or drinks milk like an alley cat. Or perhaps he is the man who nods with sympathetic understanding even though he has no idea what the fuck she’s talking about. It’s also a bit of a mystery why Ashlee wants to sound like a 40-year-old chain-smoking Vegas Chrissie Hynde impersonator, but it does obscure how nonsensical her similes are. And hey, check those drums!
[6]

Charles Merwin: It'll be interesting to see how this single does, notwithstanding her recent SNL…er…situation. But Ashlee couldn't have picked a better song from the album to launch an answer to her critics: it's a rollicking good time, makes you feel a bit creepy for liking it so much and has a great video to accompany it.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: Upstroke guitar stomp during the verse, downstroke for chorus. Oh, also, “I like it better when it hurts.” AUTOMATIC 10. Oh, I wish. But still good, neh? “La la” is likely a metaphor for: (a) dancing or (b) masturbation. This has to qualify as her “Naughty Girl”, which means…Mr. Simpson doesn’t approve of Jay-Z? I don’t know where I’m going with this.
[8]

Andrew Unterberger: So I guess this is why she’s the punk one, huh? Not bad.
[6]


Three Days Grace
Home
[4.0]


Ian Mathers: I have listened to this ten times, and still have yet to retain any of it. I’m going to err on the side of charity, though.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: Delivering a dreary rocker several years late to move units, Three Days Grace apparently hasn’t heard that kids want their angst in sugary emo-punk-pop style or awkward-white-boy-dancing form nowadays. Canada must be truly pissed at the States to launch this noise across the border.
[4]

Charles Merwin: There's this great moment that's repeated throughout this song where the singer yells "Home!" and the guitarist plucks one note along with his exultation. That's the only great moment, though, among the nu-metal lyrical concerns and post-grunge musical backing.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: I like the part that goes duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh. You know the one.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: Sounds a whole lot like “Just Like You”. The guitars are murkier this time. Angst is still in place. Good dynamics, fine chorus, but a bit too sludgy for my Three Days Grace tastes.
[5]


Ja Rule feat. Fat Joe & Jadakiss
New York
[6.2]


Ian Mathers: I cannot believe that a Ja Rule single is the best thing we’re looking at this week. This really is a dead time of the year for pop. Blame Fat Joe (especially his line about Mase) and Jadakiss for this one, plus the neat little bubbly synth percolating throughout the track. The rest sounds like something from a bad SNES game’s background music, and I do mean that as a compliment.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: It’s more like the theme from Escape From New York with those Italo-synths and buzzing beats. Fat Joe brings some “bling like the ring around Saturn” and Jadakiss brings some much-needed gravitas to Ja Rule’s bid for thug credibility. Did Ja just reference the “Vagina Monologues” or am I having another one of those bizarre dreams?
[7]

Charles Merwin: With all the trouble that The Inc. has found itself in recently, perhaps the worst blow to the label was the loss of 7 Aurelius. The producer's glistening synths made the label the go-to answer during the summer of 2002. This one brings them back and with the lyrical help of capable work from Fat Joe and a typically strong verse from Jada (in fact, even Ja is surprisingly strikingly verbose), it's probably his best single since those halcyon days of duets with J. Lo and Ashanti.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: Those blips sound like if the Postal Service smoked weed and got in fights as teenagers (as opposed to their real pasts involving drinking their parents Merlot and getting beat up by the metalheads, which I’m pretty sure happened). I don’t know what to say. Two Ja Rule singles in a row that I’ve enjoyed in spite of him. One more and he gets a free drink with the purchase of any bean burrito.
[6]

Andrew Unterberger: Ja comes dangerously close to adding one more notch into his belt of totally wasted good beats, but luckily he brought a couple friends along this time, which come even closer to making this a damn fine single. But then Ja had to sing on the chorus. Still 100x better than “Wonderful”.
[5]


Sugarcult
She’s The Blade
[4.6]


Ian Mathers: To make a Sugarcult: Take one Jimmy Eat World, dilute in water. Strain through Taking Back Sunday. Mince the same damn guitar sound everybody uses this days; sprinkle over mixture. Separate out and throw away Simple Plan. Mix well and garnish with “emo”. Serves no one.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: ”She’s the blade and you’re just PAY-PAH!” It’s a clunky metaphor, but it gets the point across. Sugarcult slathers listeners in reasonably spiky post-emo pop rock. Listeners can’t complain, but don’t expect them to be thrilled, either.
[6]

Charles Merwin: It seems like just as Blink 182 branched out to take care of artistic matters that a whole host of other pop-punk upstarts popped up to take the mantle that they held on to for so long. Sugarcult is perhaps the most mediocre of these groups, inspiring neither ire nor joy. "She's The Blade" comes in no different than their previous work, hitting all the right notes, but never for long enough to make me, or anyone else, remember it five minutes later.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: I’ve run out of worthy criticisms for Sugarcult and bands of their ilk. The sneaky-clean style and Earnest ™ delivery and palm muted eighth notes and and and…this is listenable, certainly, and reminds me a little of some old Foo Fighters song, minus Dave Grohl. Hence the score.
[4]

Andrew Unterberger: Hooky, energetic pop-punk, but not a tinge of emo to be found, really. Moreso it sounds like a great third-person Cars song, and it’s one of the freshest sounding modern rock songs in weeks.
[7]


The Game feat. 50 Cent
How We Do
[4.8]


Ian Mathers: For once, blessedly, 50’s deadened delivery actually works on the chorus. The whole thing is so washed out and uncaring that it achieves a kind of goodness. But when the bit I like best is the one-finger synth that sounds kind of like a triangle, you’ve got problems.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: Fitty’s lazy saturation of TV and radio is beginning to wear even on those who listened to “In Da Club” thousands of times without getting tired of it. “How We Do”s sluggish lack of personality puts it well below “Let Me In,” “On Fire,” “Welcome to the South” or any other recent G-Unit product.
[3]

Charles Merwin: Like most rap fans that came to the genre via indie music and the great pop migration of the early 2000s, the first thing I notice about tracks are the production. Here, it's defiantly old school with a nursery rhyme melody winding their way underneath The Game's unremarkable verse (save the Master P reference). Passable, but not something I'd seek out to listen to with any frequency.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: Everyone, guess where this will be come January? If you said anything but “the abyss”, please make clean erasures on your scantron. The beat’s decent, but everything else is totally negligible. It’s still too early to write The Game off at the Boost Mobile commercial, but this ain’t helping.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: This is really quite good. After 50’s disappointing solo comeback last week, it’s good to see him in two solid guest spots this week, and The Game seems like a worthy enough G-Unit third-stringer. Plus, that beat—808s and tinny strings sound cool again, thank god. And a good “Make ‘em Say Uggggh” reference will get me every time.
[8]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-12-10
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