Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady: T.I. calls out his foes, Jesse McCartney burrows his way into the hearts of 12 year-olds nationwide, Muse claim what is rightfully theirs, and Lil’ Jon and Ice Cube take attendance—tardiness will not be accepted!
Matt Chesnut: Are you a pre-teen girl looking for someone’s face to plaster on that blank spot on your wall? Did you just gush to all your girlfriends about A Cinderella Story after you saw it the third time? Well girls, Jesse McCartney is here to sweep you off your feet with an affirming song about how important it is to be your own damn beautiful self! Of course, so none of you are offended, he’s going to do it without the slightest bit of charm or genuine feeling! But his non-threatening teen male presence will be accepted by your uptight parents whose incessant coddling will in turn make you a dependant head case by the time your 25!
Ian Mathers: Why do acoustic guitars sound so good when they’re all artificial-ed up? Textural notes aside, McCartney isn’t bad with a melody, but he’s not great either; this is just workmanlike, but that alone puts him miles above, say, Ryan Cabrera. That’s not terribly high, mind you; and the bit where it all goes a bit “rock” is pretty risible.
Nate De Young: Taking the pro-tooled precision to its logical pop extension, McCartney swoons over the best minimal instrumentation money can buy. The bridge is boring with the bombastic "dissonant" fuzz, but on the whole this is a surprising treat. Please point me in the direction of dub version of this track.
Charles Merwin: There’s an incredibly fine line between light and rockin’ and McCartney doesn’t really do a job of skirting it. The bridge here is an embarrassment of epic proportions, and when it’s only being held up by non-descript syncopated verses where the sole highlight is a guitar that kind of resembles Sixpence None the Richer, it’s time to rethink your production team. Decent voice, though.
Bring 'Em Out
Matt Chesnut: Rowdy. Apparently there’s some T.I.-Ludacris beef now and since this song is in a similar vain to last week’s Luda offering, I think it’s fitting to compare the two. Horns? Yup. T.I. has whistles, but Luda had a better beat. ‘Cris by a hair.
Ian Mathers: It’s a little scary how nice it is to hear Swizz Beats again; I’ve always liked his chintzy synthesizer sound when done right, and the incessant sports whistle here is strangely addictive. T.I. for me falls into the large subclass of rappers I think are perfectly talented but have never really gotten into, but he does fine here. I really like the production, though—the chorus is nicely bullying.
Nate De Young: While TI spits the lines that don't exactly inspire rewinds, the production fares better, predictably biting Kanye West with a helium-tinged bouncy "yeah" as the backing track. There's nothing particularly innovative, or even catchy about the track and it's pretty noticeable after the third spin.
Charles Merwin: Very reminiscent of Joe Budden’s “Pump It Up”, innit? Like any record destined for heavy airplay, this one doesn’t make a lot of sense to me on first listen, but has rewarded all subsequent encounters with a little bit more understanding and enjoyment.
Lil' Jon & The Eastside Boys
Matt Chesnut: Aah, the fun of the Lil Jon edited version. If you haven’t heard the explicit version, let’s just say he’s not shouting “I don’t like dem boys.” And this gem: “T n A ain’t worth a nigga’s DNA.” This safe sex message brought to you by Ice Cube courtesy of some ass-stomping piano banging. Yes, the Ice Cube. Rapping. A reunion with Dr. Dre is in order!
Ian Mathers: Ugh. If they take all the “nigga”s, the “ho”s, the “fuck”s (of various deriviations) and the “bitch”s out for MTV, this will be a five minute blank spot. Not that so much profanity is intrinsically bad, but here Lil Jon reminds me that he’s rap’s answer to Jacob Two-Two, and that gets old fast. Ice Cube actually works, though—he sounds angrier than Jon, which shouldn’t be surprising but is.
Nate De Young: Ice Cube makes his appearance and not much beyond that. The piano-driven bassline, gently falling (and phasing) percussive synths, and shouts make me second David's call for Lil Jon to be accepted as a true auteur. This sounds like Lil Jon in automatic mode, but still is a hell of a lot better than any other song this week.
Charles Merwin: Despite the subject matter being utterly repugnant, the sonics are far more interesting than any other entrant into this week’s jukebox. It’s typical Lil Jon squelch and doom-bass, but the screaming strings the ever-ascending synths make this a lovely listen. IF those lyrics weren’t there. The idea that a “real nigga” is one that goes to a club and breaks skulls on a regular basis is an unfortunate narrative that’s become the overwhelming one in crunk, though. And one that will soon become overbearingly boring, I imagine.
Na Nana Na
Matt Chesnut: Better use of “na na na na”: Master P’s “Make ‘Em Say Ugh”. I’m going to listen to that instead.
Ian Mathers: It’s getting so every time I hear Jazze Pha announce “Ladies and Gentlemen…” I start grinning. His two singles for Ciara were great and so is “Na Nana Na”. Between this and “Over And Over” I’ve actually liked Nelly’s last two singles, which given how much I hated “Country Grammar” and “Hot In Herre” and everything else, is saying something. Either I’ve just come around to pop rap (likely), or Nelly’s getting better (equally likely).
Charles Merwin: The opening moment of the album track is all you need to know about this one: “To tell you the truth all I want to do is go to the club”. The only thing that’s surprising or enlightening is that we find out why he took that band-aid off. Too cocky, apparently.
Hysteria (I Want It Now)
Matt Chesnut: They’ve been playing this nonstop on MTVU (it’s like MTV, except for college!) This is almost as derivative as Jet, but I still like it? I’m so conflicted! Also, I think I’ve exhausted my supply of exclamation points.
Ian Mathers: Well, it gets points for being not quite such an obvious rip from The Bends. But the brand of maximalist vaguely pretentious hyper-rock still makes me want to listen to nothing but folk music for a year. And I’m one of the rock fans around here.
Nate De Young: Muse sounding like they're trying too hard again for something that should sound natural. They're going through the motions/riffs/falsetto and make me think that Dave Queen is a god among men.
Charles Merwin: I have to imagine that this song really hits the spot live in a setting built for anthemic rockers. That being said, it doesn’t hit the right heart-strings that massive anthems hit to enter into the collective unconscious of rock history (recent cf. Coldplay’s “Clocks”). As an American and new to the Muse, I have to admit how surprised at how hard this song sounds, but tellingly that was the only real surprise here.
Look What You’ve Done
Matt Chesnut: Jet is making a run to be the most successful cover band of all time. You heard them play Iggy, you heard them play AC/DC, now come ‘round and hear their take on any Beatles piano ballad of your choice!
Ian Mathers: Surprise, surprise: I much prefer Jet copping a feel from old Beatles ballads than from Iggy Pop. I think it’s something in the piano sound and the slow build of the beginning of the chorus (and especially the bit at 2:00 where everything gets a bit louder and slightly stompy) that reminds me of the Fabs, but this is actually shockingly lovely and not annoying at all. I don’t think it quite atones for “Cold Hard Bitch”, but it’s getting there.
Nate De Young: Ack. People who write awful ballads should be condemned to hell. I often picture bands savvy enough to understand demographics must decide to bring a piano on tour to make sure no matter how bad the throw-back rock schtick is going, the ballad will REALLY bring in the big money.
Charles Merwin: Looks like they do Keane even worse than they do AC/DC.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-12-17