Singles Going Steady
his week in singles, Three Doors Down beg for release, T.I. faults us for our ignorance, Fantasia speaks the truth, Eminem sings his daughter a lullaby (her name’s Haylie, by the way), and everyone’s favorite emocore-prog-fusion band takes over the airwaves! All this and the most nauseating song title in years, on this week’s Singles Going Steady!
Ian Mathers: This is much less Bodyguard-era Whitney Houston–and thus better–than “I Believe”. But it’s still nothing spectacular. The relative placidity of the arrangement, just gentle beats and muted, almost music box-esque piano. It’s lovely, and could be the basis for something much better than “Truth Is” actually is.
Matt Chesnut: The dusty, stutter-stop piano loop is a nice touch to an otherwise by-the-numbers R&B ballad. It looks as though the American Idol franchise is trying to turn it around. All I need is for Ruben Studdard to record something I don’t hate and for Clay Aiken to do a few numbers with the Scissor Sisters.
Andrew Unterberger: Huh? What’s with this new trend of American Idols making songs that don’t suck? After “Sorry 2004,” I thought that was the end, but now we’ve got that great Kelly Clarkson song and this fairly good number from Fantasia. Her voice is still kinda shrill to me, but the tune is impeccable, and the piano hook—near music-box in its delicacy—is simply great. Color me impressed.
Erick Bieritz: It’s warm and inviting, and Fantasia carries herself better than some of her Am-Idol predecessors, but the unenthused songwriting and musical backing don’t give her the opportunity to prove she’s actually worthy of that loftiest of titles.
Nate De Young: Hmm. After Kelly Clarkson's emergence as a rocker with "Since You Been Gone," I've held out hope for the rest of those Idoled Americans. But Fantasia is really letting the title down, with "Truth Is." The song has the underwhelming slow-jam style, with the typical twinkling piano and a chorus that begs for definite articles. Meh.
Ian Mathers: I’ve never listened to his albums, but this is the first time on Eminem’s singles, at least, that Kim has been depicted with anything approaching empathy. Of course, it also ends with a profane, vengeful (and funny) spin on the old “Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird” song, and the contrast and interplay between those two elements of Mathers’ musical personality make for a better track than his last few releases. The production is nothing special, but it does the job.
Matt Chesnut: As I was about to say, “I get it, you love your daughter and you’re not that bad a guy,” Em comes back with this: “And if the mockingbird don’t sing and the ring don’t shine/ I’mma break that birdy’s neck/ I’ll go back to the jeweler who sold it to you/ And make him eat every karat.” In the context of an incredibly gushy song for his daughter, this sizzles.
Andrew Unterberger: God, this kid is gonna have one miserable adolescence.
Erick Bieritz: Has any popular artist done a series of singles as bizarre and erratic as Eminem’s string from his most recent album? He’s jumped from a faux-gay dance floor anthem to a murder-suicide club dirge, from a beef braggadocio to a nursery rhyme for jilted children. “Mockingbird” is alternately heartbreaking and painfully cheesy, and it proves Eminem’s ability to hold pop culture’s spotlight despite his wild inconsistencies.
Nate De Young: Am I the only person who doesn't really understand the 'revealing' Eminem? Whatever I dug about his flows and persona in the past ("Your style is like dying in my sleep / I don't feel it") is pretty much lost on his "progression" or "development." So, we're stuck with Eminem the Artiste. Yippidity fucking do.
Three Doors Down
Let Me Go
Ian Mathers: Three Doors Down have always felt different from the bands usually taken to be their contemporaries, mainly because they seem like simple, straightforward rock and roll rather than alt- or nu- anything. Their singles are usually good but not great and “Let Me Go” continues the tradition. It may not be thrilling, but it’s solidly comforting, and a damn sight better than Nickelback.
Matt Chesnut: Retire.
Andrew Unterberger: Hey, I don’t hate this. It’s got a bit of the Vertical Horizon thing going on, and for me, that’ll never be a bad thing. The chorus is kind of a let down (I actually really like the “you love me but you don’t know who I am” part, but the “let me go” sentiment comes out of nowhere), but apart from that, good stuff. MOR in 2005 is off to a good start.
Erick Bieritz: So bland it almost makes listeners miss “Kryptonite” Almost, but not quite.
Nate De Young: With uncanny precision, TDD hit the two major themes of alternative rock damn quickly in the chorus - "you love me, but you don't know who I am" and "let me go." Let's call them seasoned vets and hope they get back problems soon.
U Don't Know Me
Ian Mathers: Well, on the one hand I don’t know T.I. But the implicit point of songs like this always seems to be that since we aren’t close to the rapper in question, we cannot/should not comment on them. And of course there’s the question of who, if anyone, does know T.I. More importantly than all theoretical questions is the fact that the production here isn’t quite as compelling as “Bring ‘Em Out” and the titular refrain suffers a bit as a result, and T.I, doesn’t seem quite as inspired on the verses this time either. Must do better.
Matt Chesnut: Full of menace and malice and ire, T.I. is getting threatening and has the musical accoutrements to match with what sounds like a lead pipe banging on every other downbeat, monster choral lines and all sorts of snare roll cadences. If I ever become a professional wrestler, I want this to be my entrance theme.
Andrew Unterberger: So this is the song from the end of the “Bring ‘em Out” video. Delivers on its promise, pretty much—appropriate hotness from the self-proclaimed King of the South. He’s getting there.
Erick Bieritz: “Get Back,” part two. “U Don’t Know Me” jumps on low horns and high percussive tings with T.I. perpetually in style on top. T.I. gives the middle finger to feds, would-be drug slingers, police and guys on the receiving end of his drive-bys. Hot.
Ian Mathers: I’d rather listen to “Supper’s Ready”. And that shit is fucking interminable.
Matt Chesnut: Like OK Computer much? Well, add a trumpet, more throaty vocals and a touch more guitar solo and that’s pretty much what you’re getting.
Andrew Unterberger: Listening to the radio one day and hearing “coming up, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Linkin Park and Mars Volta” is not an experience I’m likely to forget soon. It’s not even like this is that different from their other stuff—aboslutely nothing about this song screams “single”. It’s a mostly stilted tune and has virtually no hook, but it does have a cool sense of menace and makes for a nice change of pace, I suppose.
Erick Bieritz: Two members of one of the greatest bands of the ‘90s now spend their time churning out overwrought, dull prog-plop. What a terrible waste.
Nate De Young: Stripped-down, at least from what I expect from Mars Volta, "The Widow" is a pretty nice surprise. The slide guitar, trumpet, skittering electric guitar, and organ create an unsettling, but intriguing palette of instrumentation. Plus, Cedric Bixler's voice fits nicely into the concoction.
Existentialism on Prom Night
Ian Mathers: Straylight Run was formed by some ex-members of Taking Back Sunday, so it’s not surprising this isn’t miles away from emo. But it’s much closer to post-Coldplay pop than most emo. But don’t think this is Simple Plan crossed with Keane; “Existentialism On Prom Night” is actually pretty good, a stirring piano-led ballad that manages to be less angsty than most of the competition.
Matt Chesnut: And the winner of the 2005 senior song is…well, doesn’t it feel like the last song that will be played before everyone graduates and the girls all cry and the guys also cry but not as much and certainly not as visibly? Don’t blame me, I voted for Ludacris.
Andrew Unterberger: Taking Back Sunday with piano, essentially. Any good will I would normally have towards this song was sapped out by the god awful “Everybody Hurts”-aping video (following in the proud footsteps of Simple Plan, are we?). Not gonna do it.
Erick Bieritz: “Existentialism” is a pleasant song, much closer to late-‘90s emo than some of its pop-punk brethren. But the heavy-handed arrangement severely muffles the potential teenage epiphany implied by the title.
Nate De Young: The breakbeat drumming on this song makes the painfulness of emo more tolerable. Just a little.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-02-11