Singles Going Steady
his week: Mariah lets us know what it’s really like, Lil’ Jon unleashes his newest protégé on the world, Frankie J. gets us confused with that guy from Johnny Zero, Interpol get sinister, and 50 Cent has us in for a treat. All this and the return of Queens of the Stone Age on this edition of Singles Going Steady!
Frankie J. feat. Baby Bash
Obsession (No Es Amor)
Matt Chesnut: Do you hate high school poetry and turgid crooning? Who cares, the video has the girl with the large ass that’s in the StufFHMaxim mags so much.
Erick Bieritz: A lackluster R&B song with a lackluster rap in the middle. We give up. We’ll take our Usher singles quietly from now on.
Andrew Unterberger: Really good up until the chorus. Is the Spanish part of the chorus and title really necessary?
Sam Bloch: This song mirrors my ever-growing addiction to Us Weekly. I’ve tried to stop myself, but it’s just so easy to get into that reading-it-every-day groove, hopelessly turning pages and looking for behind the scenes dirt and pictures of pretty celebrities. And I don’t really remember anything. It’s just sort of there. Obsession ... no is love ... awful chorus ... I like the way you’re freaky like that ...
Ian Mathers: As you can probably tell, I am rapidly running out of things to say about the current spate of post-Usher R&B crooners. As with most of these, Frankie J isn’t quite as good as the industry standard but won’t tax your attention for the duration of his single. Calling your song about lost love “Obsession” probably isn’t going to help you not seem like a stalker, though.
It's Like That
Matt Chesnut: Once more, I cannot fathom that this is Mariah. Maybe she’s just been out of the public, er, ear long enough to where I’ve forgotten what she sounds like, but even when she’s on full larynxial gymnastics mode, it doesn’t even occur to me that it’s her. That business aside, drum machine cowbells. Can’t beat them.
Erick Bieritz: The beat is faking like it’s one of those cool post-Timba vibes and not fooling anyone. Mariah says “you got me inspired” but does not sound convinced. And Fatman Scoop is a poor substitute for Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Andrew Unterberger: This is shockingly OK. Yeah, of course Mariah is the worst thing on it, and the chorus chant couldn’t sound more tired, but whatever, ignore her and you’ll find a beat that marks the exact halfway point between the minimalist bubble-crunk of “Goodies” and the throwback 808-slam of “How We Do”. Needless to say, it’s a good thing, but it might take a remix with less of Mariah on that for that to be totally clear.
Sam Bloch: Yes, that’s absolutely right: this song does not sound like a normal Mariah Carey song. Oh, you Stylus kids are so smart. You know the answer to the question before it’s even asked. So, really, I don’t even have to ask you what you think about the Jermaine Dupri production--you already know this shit’s gonna suck.
Ian Mathers: So now Mariah is going to be Mary J. Blige, huh? Only with even more production fluff, but it’s pretty good fluff. Mariah’s voice sounds back to normal, and her decision to rely on a less melismatic (less shouty too) style is to be applauded. Of course you have to have shouting, but that’s what Fatman Scoop is for.
Nivea feat. Lil Jon & Youngbloodz
Matt Chesnut: Is this the first Lil’ Jon song that uses a major key? This probably has more melody than any of his singles. And that worm line is so damn hummable. I’ll be whistling this for at least two weeks.
Erick Bieritz: This may be the friendliest and most upbeat crunk single Jon has done, even surpassing Trick Daddy’s warm “Play No Games.” The biggest reason crunk is a lasting force in hip-hop and not just a passing fad is that it has two personas offering different things to listeners; muscle-flexing metal crunk and cooing luv crunk. Well done, Jon.
Andrew Unterberger: This is good in a really predictable sort of way. Kinda hard to get excited about.
Sam Bloch: This major-key girls’ night out tale is punctuated by fleeting strings, coquettish coos, and, after every line, OKAY! This song is the point where Lil' Jon truly reaches ubiquity: I don't care that he produces half of all top forty hits. It's just that his crunk wails are completely inappropriate for a song like this and he just doesn't get it. It's a lot worse than Pharrell making smoove after every verse for a moment and P. Diddy adding what or unh to accent some hollow Bad Boy bragodoccio. I shudder to think of his wedding.
Ian Mathers: Between this and Ciara, it’s becoming rapidly obvious that I most like Lil’ Jon when he’s working with female singers. I’m tempted to say this is no “Goodies,” but that took a month or so to really get to me, so I’ll leave it at saying Nivea is good enough here on both verse and chorus to make me wish the Youngbloodz would stop rapping, because as a pop song this is pretty awesome. Love the cute little whistling sound, too.
Queens of the Stone Age
Matt Chesnut: Cowbells. Can’t beat them. And I love QOTSA’s guitar sound. The mud-on-mud saves what’s a pretty ordinary arrangement from getting tiresome. Not to mention that floating, lulling vocal bit towards the end coupled with the crying guitar solo. When are these guys going to be heralded as the Nu Rock Saviors? They can hold their own against the Stripes.
Erick Bieritz: “Little Sister” is pretty typical of the Queens, a band that can reliably churn out consistently good hard rock with little variation. That may sound like backhanded praise but it makes them a good band to have around in post-nu-metal hard rock radio.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s enjoyable enough, but I think this single could mark the end of QOTSA’s flirtation with mainstream rock success—unless it’s got a video as good as “Go With the Flow,” this isn’t nearly distinctive enough to get play once the good will they’ve built from “No One Knows” runs out. Nice for a couple of weeks, though.
Sam Bloch: "Little Sister" is completely forgettable in every way, other than the fact that, after the departure of bassist Nick Olivieri, there’s a curious lack of low end. I guess Josh just couldn’t do it without him.
Ian Mathers: Oh, man. After the machine-tooled perfection of “Go With The Flow” and “First It Giveth” it’s near impossible for this to not disappoint, but it doesn’t even seem to be trying. The chorus is pretty good, but the song just kinda goes sludgy at the end. It sounds pretty tired, and all of a sudden I’m worried about the next QotSA disc.
Matt Chesnut: After the yawnfest that was “Disco Inferno,” Fiddy needs to remind me why I should give a shit about him anymore. And this…yeah. Like a snake charmer’s tune set to a snap-heavy beat. And he’s been shot in the face before! Okay, he’s still cool.
Erick Bieritz: If it was really 2050 the beat would be even cooler and 50 would be 74. The leering innuendo is rather creepy, but the Lean Backish beat compensates well. Fun fact: The music industry will collapse completely if a week goes by without a single from the G-Unit camp.
Andrew Unterberger: 50 already sorta used this idea with “The Jump Off,” but as far as retreads of past glories go, this is a bit nicer than “Disco Inferno”’s approximation of “On Fire”. At least 50 really sounds like 50 again. And if we’ve learned anything from pop music, it’s that a food-as-sexual metaphor song is guaranteed to go top five no matter how good it is.
Sam Bloch: I know everyone likes 50 or whatever because "he sounds like he isn’t trying!" Yes, well, that would explain the curious lack of effort behind this song. I mean, didn't he make this same puns and intimations with Lil' Kim? Granted, the beat's a little different this time around, but ... look, if she really is "so seductive," why is he the one leading her around? I dunno. Thanks, "Lurrrve Doctor."
Ian Mathers: If this was an Olivia song, it’d be much better. They trade halves of the chorus and hers sounds much better over the backing, which sounds exactly like something remixed from Final Fantasy 3 for the SNES (think of the Veldt, for those in the know). At least 50 seems a bit more engaged than some of his recent singles, but I still don’t get the monotone. The Olivia bits I quite like, though.
Matt Chesnut: This is probably best representative of Antics as a whole. Lots of parts that sound like their debut, except not as fresh (single guitar breakdown, the hooky bassline). Even when the chorus gets Really Big as the organ makes its presence felt, it’s pretty underwhelming.
Erick Bieritz: “Slow Hands” sounds so much better now, months down the road. “Evil” comes close to being a worthy single but it never really takes off. The chorus, which should be so needfully insistent, sounds painfully insincere instead. Too bad.
Andrew Unterberger: You gotta love any rock song that starts out with just a bassline—it’s been a classy move for over 15 years now. Besides that, some people have speculated that this will be Interpol’s “Take Me Out,” but I don’t see it—like “Slow Hands,” once you get past the intro, there’s really not too much to go on besides Interpol’s well-established formula. Plus, lines like “Rosemary, heaven restores you in life” don’t exactly pack Franz’s chant appeal. Hope I’m wrong, though.
Sam Bloch: Interpol would be such a fun little dance band if they did less of that brooding stuff and more groovy songs like this.
Ian Mathers: See, if the whole LP had been this good I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. Not only is it impossibly catchy, the chorus sounds like he’s beating your head against the wall while spitting out the words, courtesy of Sam Fogarino’s drum work. Yes, I even like the lyrics. Yes, even the use of “semi-erotic.” If they’d just release “Not Even Jail” I’d really be happy.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-02-04