The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week on Singles Going Steady, U2 places the blame squarely on their fans’ shoulders, Daddy Yankee gives a shoutout to everyone’s favorite energy source, Gwen Stefani fantasizes about achieving stardom and wealth, Eminem plays with his dolls and Snoop…well, you don’t wanna know what Snoop’s up to. All this and The Music’s shoutout to that poppin’-and-lockin’ classic of the 80s (you know the one), on this year’s first installment of Singles Going Steady!

Snoop Dogg - Let’s Get Blown
[5.8]


Josh Timmermann: This is SO not even almost as good as "Drop It Like It's Hot."
[5]

Erick Bieritz: Not about to let Pharrell’s charm slip through his fingers, Snoop strikes while the iron is hot with the lackluster “Let’s Get Blown.” Too vanilla for Snoop, too obvious for Pharrell and too long by a verse and a chorus, it’s only distinction might be it’s readiness for easy listening radio.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: Have I been playing too much GTA: San Andreas? Did I actually time warp back to 1992? Whatever, this jam brinks the funk, the whole funk, and nothing but the funk and it’s probably one of the best R&B songs Snoop’s done in a while. With touches of the g-funk sound, it’s some good ish as long as you don’t mind Pharrell singing (I don’t).
[8]

Ian Mathers: To say this is not what I expected the next Pharrell/Snoop collaboration to be like is practice the fine art of understatement. Is that Snoop singing the first verse? If so, he’s not bad. This song would get points just for not being “Can U Control Ya Hoe?”, but ever since then hearing Snoop act “romantic” is a bit nausea inducing. Nice, smoove production though.
[6]

Kareem Estefan: Appropriately lazy, assuredly sleazy, this is unmistakably Snoop. But after perhaps the hottest track of last year, “Let’s Get Blown” is an inevitable disappointment, so devoid of wit, braggadocio, and mouth clicks that if I didn’t know Snoop outside of “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, I’d swear this wasn’t him.
[5]

Sam Bloch: Okay, this song is way too hot. I'd be shocked if any of the panelists disliked this song. I mean, fine, call it "staid" or call it "unoriginal," but this is way too smooth to truly hate.
[7]

U2 - All Because Of You
[3.0]


Josh Timmermann: I like this less than the one in the iPod commercial. And I don't really like that one that much anyway. Bono-bashing is so predictable these days, but, man, this shit's seriously dull.
[3]

Erick Bieritz: Bono has had a few too many drinks and he just climbed up on top of the table in the middle of the neighbor’s barbecue and yelled (or moaned) some sort of unintelligible despair-disguised-as-joy noise at the 2:45 mark in “All Because of You.” “Waaaoah!”
[2]

Matt Chesnut: “Vertigo” sounded incredibly phoned-in to me and this is really no different. Again, if it weren’t for The Edge, could you distinguish U2 from any other band? Well, other than saying “they’re the ones with a mob of people trailing them.”
[5]

Ian Mathers: As with pretty much every U2 single in recent memory, I started out mildly disliking this, and after a few spins I now vaguely don’t mind “All Because Of You”. Well, except for the way Bono e-nun-ci-ates “an intellectual tortoise”, which just makes me want to slap him.
[4]

Kareem Estefan: Somehow, U2 is touted as a mature band, the type of stuff 30- and 40-year-olds can relate to. But for a band of their age and stature, their lyrics, well, they’re no better than a 15-year-old Simple Plan fan’s diary scrawlings. I have no desire to hear Bono intone that “you can make me perfect again”. From someone younger, the line would be a sign of naivety. From Bono, it’s just pathetically trite.
[2]

Sam Bloch: So what's the conceit of How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb? Well. over the summer, Stylus dispatched me to Studio U2 in Berlin, where I was able to do some on-the-scene reporting, reporting live back to Burns HQ over the latest in picture technology. Here's an excerpt.

Bono: All right, Edge, time to make a new album. I think we should try to achieve the sound of our best-selling album.
Edge: I kinda wanna make another cool one, like we did ten years ago. Remember when we were edgy? Hey, that's my name.
Bono: Vetoed. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I hope this song goes straight to #92.
[2]

Daddy Yankee - Gasolina
[5.4]


Erick Bieritz: It’s mildly amazing that such a bizarre track has climbed so high on the American pop charts—perhaps reggaeton has slipped in on the coattails of its cousin dancehall. The song itself isn’t particularly great, of course, but if something this weird can climb up there, it promises good things for Caribbean music in U.S. pop.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: Think “Oye Mi Canto” minus Nina Sky plus a whole bunch more Spanish. I’m kind of curious to see how far Reggaeton will go. There’s got to be some mandatory level of English language spoken before some people get frustrated and tune out, which would be unfortunate to say the least because this is all Spanish. I’m a big fan of rowdiness and this has enough to satiate me.
[7]

Ian Mathers: I have to thank “Gasolina” for making me realize that yes, I do loe that reggaeton beat. What I don’t like is Daddy Yankee himself. I can deal, but I’d rather not. Even the verses aren’t bad, but the way he and the other singers sing the title like it’s “gas-o-liiiina” just doesn’t work for me, for whatever reason.
[6]

Kareem Estefan: I don’t understand anything except “gasolina” and maybe “casina”, but that might be for the better. This beat is pretty hot.
[6]

Sam Bloch: Dear Daddy Yankee:

Despite your moniker, I'm not sure if you really get it. This isn't the barrio, chico. This is America. Round here? We want you to rap in English. We want your voice in tune. We like our beats clean and ready for Destiny's Child to sing over. And we don't really care about gasolina. Look, ese, we got enough of that around here. Maybe in the ghetto gas is really important, like you trade it for tortillas or whatever or drink it when you get really thirsty. But not in the United States of Freedom. I mean, what do you think I'm driving? Te conoce? Ay, mami.
[3]

The Music - Breakin
[6.0]


Josh Timmermann: I suspect I might possibly like this if it weren't for that severely grating voice. Someone, quick, mash it up with M.I.A. or Jay-Z or something.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: ”UH-OH-UH-A-AH-A-OH.” “Breakin’” is something of a big jumbled mess wherein The Music borrow some old U2 chords by way of the Shins and slop them all over some distorted vocals and drums. But there’s that wonderful bridge—“UH-OH-UH-A-AH-A-OH”—and it salvages things on its own.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: Ladies and Gentlemen, Geddy Lee is back and he’s fronting a band of Brits! I’m disappointed by the lack of involvement with “Electric Bugaloo” and by the song itself, which is a pretty tired piece of quasi-arena rock. Probably.
[3]

Ian Mathers: Nooo! Bring that intro back! That opening eighteen seconds is incredible, they should have just stretched that out into a song, Ratatat style. Still, the rest isn’t awful, it’s actually much better than I’d expected from the Music. Actually, the more I listen to it, the more I like the rest of the song, specifically the drumming and the backing vocals. This song is totally the anti-“Take Me Out”—incredible intro, merely good rest of song.
[8]

Kareem Estefan: This reminds me of all the 90s alternative music I was into when I first started watching MTV, but no band in particular, evoking a swirl of vague nostalgia amidst its glorious yelps of joy. If only all rock music were this exuberant.
[8]

Sam Bloch: What's that you're saying? Not convinced of the Zep-induced rush that is "Breakin'"? Yes, the bongos are ridiculous. I, too, hate those silly disco drums during the chorus. Yes, yes, the lead singer can't quite pull off the Robert Plant. Of course that scat breakdown doesn't help. And like you, that picture really makes me want to hate this band. Yes, yes, yes, all that you are saying, it's probably true. But hey—the first four times through? Irrefutably sweet.
[6]

Gwen Stefani - Rich Girl
[4.8]


Josh Timmermann: Between this and the Snoop track, the theme for this week's singles jukebox should be So-So Second Singles That Make You Glad You Didn't Buy the CD Based on the Strength of the Lead-off Single.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Gwen and Eve both sound rather nonplussed on this ordinary affair that never really takes off. What’s the point of this song? Why is Eve here? Were they reading magazines as they recorded it? Gwen has demonstrated a keen ability to hold style over substance in the past, but here it slips out of her grasp.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: Without any jarring lyrical bombs this go around, the transformation of Gwen Stefani to total pop star is pretty much complete barring anything drastic (actually a man, actually 54 years old, et al). The guitarish key or keyish guitar hits sound a bit like the rhythms of reggaeton (how’s that for cross-referencing?) and the chorus is pretty damn infectious.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Hey, I normally love pointless “na na na”s as much or as more as the next guy, but using them as a replacement for the second line in your song makes it sound like you’re running out of ideas. So do the lines “If I was a rich girl… I’d have all the money in the world”. And the reference to the clothing line. And even the “Harajuku girls” thing. Of course, if this was even a pale reflection of the genius of her first single, it’d be forgivable, but it’s not. Could someone release the Andre 3000 tracks already?
[3]

Kareem Estefan: Like “What You Waiting For?”, “Rich Girl” is oblivious to the fact that it’s about ephemeral pleasure. The first time the sharp guitar stroke teams up with the somber piano chord to create a discordant, ominous atmosphere over the thumping club beat, it’s pure thrill. But after four minutes, this admittedly original cover might as well have done nothing but set updated its predecessor’s beat.
[5]

Sam Bloch: Dre probably knows he's out of his element here: surely there'll be no Scott Storch ghostwriting on this album. So he pulls the same glitzy reggae that blew ya mind three years ago. You know, guitar on the off beat, the strings swell, the piano bellows, we build! Cut to Gwen's pirate shanty hook. Think of the Neptunes on autopilot. Think of the Bacharach disasters. We're getting there, I hope.
[4]

Eminem - Like Toy Soldiers
[6.5]


Josh Timmermann: You know, it's really a shame Em wasted one of the best beats on the record and an absolute stroke-of-genius sample (Martika!!) on a song about the stupid "Ja beef." Just think if he'd used this instead of that phoned-in Dre beat for "Mosh" And it would've been eerily appropriate, too: "Step by step, heart to heart, left right left, well all fall down, like toy soldiers." Still, hearing Eminem demand "no more blood for oil" is pretty compelling regardless—and this sounds fantastic.
[8]

Erick Bieritz: If Eminem’s string of 2004/2005 singles have been a deliberate and frequently confusing attempt to either pillage, parody or pulverize his past, “Like Toy Soldiers” is perhaps the most explicit. Rocking a big Kanye-style sample over military snares, he eschews the dank, clunky production mode he has had trouble moving beyond in the past. He tries to also scrape his various beefs off his plate and his conscious, and while the lyrical housecleaning isn’t as thorough as the sonic one, it’s still a bold and largely successful move.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: This is my favorite Encore single to date. While that’s not saying a lot for me, it’s nice to hear Shady try to patch things up with Benzino. But who are we kidding, Benzino isn’t going to stop hating on him after this. Would I even know who Benzino was if it wasn’t for this beef?
[6]

Ian Mathers: The more of Encore I hear, the more I find myself in agreement with Josh Love. The Martika bit isn’t bad, honestly, although I’ve never heard the original so maybe what I like is the way the sample is distorted. But hearing Em bitch about Benzino and Ja Rule and so on and so on about the burdens of being a role model for thugs just makes me want to hit skip. Anyone else remember when his serious tracks weren’t so goddamned turgid?
[3]

Kareem Estefan: I’m ashamed to feel Eminem tug at my heartstrings just a little here, but that hackneyed chorus actually does get me. Still, his production is at its most predictable, the drums following a mechanical march (get it, like toy soldiers!) while the elegiac piano dutifully embellishes aphorisms like “I’m so busy being pissed off / I don’t stop to think” which Em didn’t find sufficiently melodramatic.
[5]

Sam Bloch: Whoa! Thank fuck for the first song in this panel that's actually, you know, surprising and interesting and bucks the artist's status quo. I hope this is what more Eminem songs are like, watching him getting lost in his head and a sea of empathy, neuroses, and cloying Martika samples. I hope I don't love this song only because it's so different, the shock (novelty?) of Eminem releasing a genuine cautionary tale (and, for that matter, a video where a little white and black kid together read a book about the "toy soldiers"). Whatever. I don't think I do. In any event, this song is just so weird. Just like Wilco.
[9]



By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-01-07
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