Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady—Beyonce’s obsessiveness becomes a health concern, Scott Weiland tells all, Sum 41 go thrash (really!), Andre 3000 goes intergalactic and Dem Franchize Boyz start the most participatory-friendly fashion craze since ever. All this, and the long-awaited return of Destiny’s Child—we always knew Beyonce was the least of the three.
Matt Chesnut: I like this, but I think it’s about time we ask Andre 3000 to drop the “stank you smelly much” business, though. And what is with that video? The general fuckedupness of the whole thing is interesting, but ultimately too strange for me (white-haired alien Andre impregnates random photogrpaher).
Josh Love: An obvious emulation of mid-80s Prince, you can tell Andre wants to take it further and really explore the implications of the song title, but can’t quite make claims on the genius Prince flexed back on “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” that gift for psychosexual incision and pattern recognition of cultural and coital roles.
Josh Timmermann: More than any other album that I really liked last year, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below has not help up well at all—the music tends to dazzle initially but eventually start to grate. Also, though, how could one not be burnt out on OutKast after the full-scale media blitz of the past year? "Prototype" wasn't among my Love Below faves even back when I could still listen to the record through without getting slightly nauseous; revisiting it now, it sounds like an even slighter slice of R&B psycadelia.
Ian Mathers: I still think Speakerboxxx is the better half of the album, but if I was trimming The Love Below down to size I do admit I’d keep this. It sounds weightless (that falsetto!) but it wraps around you like a warm blanket. The “stank you smelly much” part kills the mood a bit, but this is still angelic loverman funk of the highest order.
Andrew Unterberger: I’m seriously curious as to whether or not the public’s gonna buy into this one—how many slow love jams do you know with lyrics like “stank you smelly much”? And the video—it’s practically evidence for Andre 3000 quickly becoming the Michael Jackson of our generation. Let’s hope not.
Lose My Breath / Dangerously in Love
[7.8] / [3.6]
Matt Chesnut: A marching band drumline and the return of the girl group of our time? Someone upstairs likes me. But Beyonce disappoints on her next solo dish. She classed up the joint with “Crazy in Love”, sexed up the joint with “Naughty Girl”, then decides that it’s time to slow things down and practice vocal gymnastics. Ah, better stick with your crew on this one, Beyonce.
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Josh Love: Linking up Beyonce to a drum line was pure genius – they’re both communally engaging but still culturally resonant inheritors of African-American artistic expression. Meanwhile, the ultimately empty synth stabs signify the pop-gloss Beyonce who rears her head on the unmemorable title track to Knowles’ last album, a melody-bereft vanity piece that robs Beyonce of her personality. So lose the synths – LMB shoulda just been straight up DC over a marching band anyway.
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Josh Timmermann: It probably says quite a bit about my tastes that I'm way more psyched about Destiny's Child recording together again than about the Pixies reuniting. "Lose My Breath" isn't a classic on the level of "Jumpin' Jumpin'" or "Say My Name", but I'm excited enough to hear Kelly, Michelle, and...that other chick nailing those ridiculous harmonies, that it will take a while for me to actually register the track qualitatively. For now, an eight sounds about right. B's digging deep for singles off her solo debut, it seems; "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy" are about as good it gets; "Naughty Girl," "Me Myself and I" and this title track sound like just better-than-decent filler, which is, sadly, pretty indicative of her album on the whole.
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Ian Mathers: I’m not normally a fan of these guys, but this is brilliant; the drum corps yes, but more importantly the breathing sounds and the cheap “dark” synths and that truly sublime moment of echo near the end. Plus, Kelly and the other one have never sounded better. The best song mocking male prowess since Elastica’s “Stutter”. Beyonce’s solo single, meanwhile, has some really gorgeous harmonies during the chorus but is otherwise stillborn.
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Andrew Unterberger: I don’t like Destiny’s Child much, and I don’t really get the popsters who seem to think they’re the best thing since CrazySexyCool. Still, this song is pretty great—closer in spirit to recent Beyonce singles than the DC singles of past, and that’s definitely a good thing. The breathing noises at the end of the chorus are perfect. Beyonce solo goes for smash #5, and I don’t think she’s gonna get it—slow, but not as sleek as “Me, Myself and I,” love-drunk but not as delirious as “Baby Boy”.
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We're All to Blame
Matt Chesnut: Oh, what a sweet opening. Though, I’m not sure what to make of it as a whole. Thrash metal followed by a chorus of straight up guitar pop: it’s ambitious, to the say the least, a very distinct hybrid of hard-edged and sweet (something for the fellas, something for the ladies?). Maybe it’s my recent Slayer fascination, but I really love the thrash bits on here.
Josh Love: So, the pop-punk nose-pickers wanted to get serious and Talk About the Issues, which is fine, but who the fuck told ‘em you have to shamelessly rip off System of a Down to do it? Granted, it’s cool to finally see post-9/11 discontent trickle down to the mainstream (first Jada, then Green Day, now this), but since most of Sum’s fan base is under 18, you wonder how much of this they’ve absorbed, especially since the song is maybe a little too lyrically opaque for its own good.
Josh Timmermann: They're getting better, which I guess means more tolerable, but that doesn't mean that I'd ever put this on by my own volition. And if this is intended as some sort of election-year rally call, they definitely need to try harder.
Ian Mathers: Okay, yes, it’s Sum 41 gone socially responsible, but musically this is still pretty solid. For the verses, at least. It sounds like a shinier happier version of recent Killing Joke, everything similarly overamped to the point of psychosis. The chorus then goes all melodic and reflective on you, which just kinda sucks. As do the vocals. Those verses, though…
Andrew Unterberger: This song is fucking bizarre—the intro is total thrash, the lyrics weirdly topical. Are these the same guys who were singing “we like having fun at other peoples’ expenses” over the brattiest guitar riffing you ever heard only three years ago? Blink-182, Good Charlotte, now Sum 41—pop-punk is growing up for certain. I’m impressed, if not particularly compelled to listen.
Dem Franchize Boyz
Matt Chesnut: A fashion statement all creeds and colors and budgets can latch onto and it’s set to 808 kicks so potent, they can cure cancer. What a perfect way to finish off the summer months.
Josh Love: The most sartorially spartan hip-hop hit since Run DMC rocked Adidas, DFB lays out a fashion strategy just as stringent as anything you’d see on E!, the only difference being Fruit of the Loom’s getting all the love reserved for Louis Vitton. Plus it’s nice to hear a true crunk club anthem that doesn’t kill a little piece of my soul every time I listen to it.
Josh Timmermann: The video for this reminds me, for whatever reason, of that story in Spin about hip-hop clowns, which kind of makes me like it more than I might have otherwise. Though it's still quite alright either way. I'm not a fan of white tees myself (especially when worn with red Yankees caps), but I guess I'll let that slide.
Ian Mathers: This is so lo-fi in comparison to most of the rap we get here than it’s fascinating for a while. The constant repetition of “in my white tee” is kind of compelling, but eventually the chintzy drum machine and less than stellar rapping get to you.
Andrew Unterberger: This is some mean-ass crunk shit. Do you hear those meancing keyboards and ticking 808s? Damn. Not exactly catchy or particularly enjoyable, but booming as hell. And there’s a place for that.
Fall to Pieces
Matt Chesnut: Aside from Slash’s guitar work, there’s not much going on here. Scott Weiland’s voice is audibly deteriorating and no amount of Pro Tools can cover that up. I guess that the worse thing I can say about this song is that it sounds dated, but what do you expect from a band whose members have all seen better days?
Josh Love: Comparable to a substandard hip-hop track that gets over on a great sample, except here the “sample” is that endlessly-ringing, universally-recognized GNR guitar tone, an easily translatable reference that locates the listener and puts him on familiar ground. Scott Weilend’s an absolute afterthought here – “Fall to Pieces” is all about I Love the 80s: 1987 Edition.
Josh Timmermann: Yuck. This is unlistenable. Or as Miss Jean Brodie would say, "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."
Ian Mathers: Now this is how you do a power ballad. The rest of the song is enough unlike G’N’R that I can appreciate Slash’s guitar, and the verses are mere placeholders, but when Weiland rips into that chorus, really giving it one, it’s atavistically thrilling. This really deserves loud volumes and air guitars.
Andrew Unterberger: I defend post-Appetite GnR, I defend Stone Temple Pilots, I defend “Slither” and I’ll defend this. It’s not terribly exceptional but it’s still solid hard rock from the best of both worlds. What more do you guys want? Disturbed? Breaking Benjamin?
Christina Milian f/ Joe Budden
Whatever You Want
Matt Chesnut: Boy, Christina is gonna make us all believe she’s a sex symbol or else…we get more Joe Budden! It’s no “Dip It Low” and for that, it loses points. But it’s another “this grrl is in charge” statement albeit less directly than Ciara. I just have one request of the music business: please, do not make a star of Joe Budden.
Josh Love: One of the more inexplicable disappointments in hip-hop over the last couple of years, Joe Budden was a sure-fire star who somehow never blew up. Blame it on poor marketing perhaps, but now Budden’s got a chance at redemption with Ms. Dip it Low and doesn’t drop the ball, ensuring you’ll remember him for something more than barking “Pump it Up” every 45 seconds on Madden 2004.
Josh Timmermann: It's kind of your basic diva anthem with a hip hop star guest spot. Passable, but not especially remarkable, which is disappointing, seeing as how "Dip It Low" is, like, the best thing ever. (More or less.)
Ian Mathers: I wasn’t sure if Milian could win me back after “Dip It Low”, but the chorus here is brassily endearing. The synth bass just keeps plugging away and a doubletracked Christina really gives the refrain some oomph. Joe Budden is merely okay, although his delivery on the Michael Jordan one liner is nice.
Andrew Unterberger: “Crazy in Love,” anyone? It’s pretty much the same song, down to the horn sample, the chorus and the guest rapper. And it’s almost as good, too—I get the feeling that if this was released first instead of “Dip it Low,” we would’ve been hearing an awful fucking lot of it this summer. So I guess Christina has her “Crazy” and her “Baby Boy” out of the way—now onto “Me, Myself and I”.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-09-17