Singles Going Steady
t was bound to happen eventually—after what certainly must be an SGS record of seven 7.0+ rated singles in the last three weeks, we were bound to hit a slump sooner or later, and this week is certainly it. However, there’s stilly plenty here to chew on, from Jojo taking offense to your preposterous insinuations to Fat Joe practicing his wrestling moves on J-Lo to Hot Hot Heat’s grand farewell to popularity. So stay with us a while, and next week we’ll try to get the music industry to pick up the pace a bit.
Fat Joe / Jennifer Lopez feat. Fat Joe - So Much More / Hold You Down
[6.2 / 3.4]
Ian Mathers: The version of “So Much More” I was able to hear takes a sharp right turn three quarters of the way through and never looks back; I’m not sure if it’s another song, but in either case it’s beautifully executed. And even if I am getting a piece of another song the first three minutes of “So Much More” are pretty remarkable in themselves for that nagging, high pitched sound and Joe’s perfectly sloppy singing on the chorus. The Lopez track on the other hand, with its rippling chimes and high-pitched backing vocals is almost twee, or at least as twee as modern RnB gets. It’s definitely not as annoying as “Get Right”, but it elevates surface prettiness over any sort of forward momentum and Fat Joe doesn’t help matters by sticking in the same treacle-sweet lyrical milieu as Lopez.
 / 
Erick Bieritz: Joe leans on the ‘60s garage organ keys for “So Much More.” Someone told Joe he could sing, which was a mean thing to do. Besides that he handles this respectfully. “Hold You Down” on the other hand is dire: It tries to be dreamy and instead puts listeners to sleep. It’s spring now, Joe, you can come out of hibernation.
 / 
John M. Cunningham: "Hold You Down" proves that two poor Puerto Ricans from the Bronx, if they truly dream, can grow up to make bland, inoffensive R&B. But "So Much More" is a genuine surprise, with Fat Joe spitting out terse rhymes over an eerie, bleak beat that would make the RZA proud.
 / 
Matt Chesnut: I don’t care much for Fat Joe. I like the throbbing organ and the arrangement is a decent contribution to the icy and sparse branch of synth driven hip-hop, but the song sounds like it was written with 50 in mind (you cannot escape Curtis Jackson, sorry!) If this is the best Mr. New York can do right now, I’m thinking the South has a pretty good stronghold on rap’s spotlight. And the mushy, ew-gross-they’re-holding-hands level of sap in “Hold You Down” is probably bad for me, but the chord progression is kind of nice. I still don’t care much for Fat Joe or Ms. Lopez and I’m not buying this duet. Come to think of it, any time Jennifer Lopez professes devotion to some guy, I’m thinking it’s pretty sketchy.
 / 
Andrew Unterberger: If Fat Joe is trying to prove himself a worthy adversary to Fiddy, this is a poor Example A, but it’s still classy enough. Plus if you haven’t seen the video yet, be sure to catch it for the part where Fat Joe averts a group of potential muggers by tossing them a roll of cash and offering them jobs. Truly the Robin Hood of South Bronx. As for the duet, I suppose if you can’t get Ashanti and Ja, Joe and J-Lo are the next most marketable thing, but they lack the idiotic puppy-dog chemistry of the former couple. Maybe this summer.
 / 
Hot Hot Heat - Goodnight Goodnight
Ian Mathers: Steve Bays just has such an annoying voice. I can’t really get past it, although the reheated Strokes of the middle eight and the overall tepid impact of “Goodnight Goodnight” suggests that even if I could, I wouldn’t rate this much higher.
Erick Bieritz: It was a bad band before, but the seething awfulness has finally boiled over. Hot Hot Heat can no longer barely smuggle “irritating” by as “catchy.” The rhythm and the melody aren’t on speaking terms, and no one was clamoring for a muppet-voiced version of Pete Doherty. People who mock nu-emo and then listen to this deserve a kick in the pants.
John M. Cunningham: Not bad, but definitely disappointing compared to the winning, danceable singles from Make Up the Breakdown. I mean, they've still got that herky-jerky new-wave sound, but this feels sunnier and more streamlined, in a way that makes me long for a younger Gwen Stefani to take over and turn it into a Tragic Kingdom b-side.
Matt Chesnut: So this is the new Strokes song. Coming soon to an iPod commercial near you! Oh, how can I be so cynical about a song so jangly? Come ‘ere, you floppy-haired rascals!
Andrew Unterberger: Meh. I was hoping they’d at least prove to be White Stripes-style two-hitters, but “Goodnight, Goodnight” is most likely strike three for the dudes.
Destiny's Child - Girl
Ian Mathers: A non-uptempo Destiny’s Child track that’s actually good? In which neither Beyonce nor Kelly but Michelle gives the best performance? They am Bizaroo DC, clearly. Even though Beyonce stomps all over the chorus, each of the three gets a good verse off and the gentle acoustic guitar plus steady beat plus ambient washes backing works shockingly well. Another solid entry for their future Greatest Hits.
Erick Bieritz: Facile girl-solidarity over passable backings with only a hint of the personality or sonic spizzazz this would need to be exciting.
John M. Cunningham: Wherein the independent women try out a back-in-the-day jam about looking after a friend, but ruin the tasteful accompaniment with their needlessly repetitive wailing. Can Beyonce have her solo career back yet?
Matt Chesnut: 2005 is shaping up to be an impressive year for female-led R&B. Amerie’s “1 Thing”, Tweet’s “Turn Da Lights Off”, and this make some sort of bring-you-to-your-knees souled-out trifecta. The power of “Girl” is primarily in its sampling material, but that’s not to discredit the effort of the ’Child. Their voices complement the recurring oboe and lush string parts. This is a must for future best-of DC comps.
Andrew Unterberger: Nice production, but lushness only takes you so far, and boring girl-power sentiments don’t make it any easier (especially when the idea of them being an unreakable, Sex in the City-style unit is so utterly implausible). Someone be sure to throw T.I. on the remix, please.
Chevelle - The Clincher
Ian Mathers: Man, these guys have really lost their shit. They’re still too off-puttingly pretentious for most people but no longer intricate and heavy enough to keep their fans. Or is there an audience out there for this middling sludge?
Erick Bieritz: A precisely good but not great rock single. It sounds like he’s yelling “now saturate!” a lot, which is what I do when I’m making Ramen. It’s like a houseplant, you have to talk to it.
John M. Cunningham: It doesn't appear to hold together at first -- the circular, gut-rattling riffs that open the song also slide into the chorus when no one's looking -- but by the end, when it's gotten dense and overdriven, the hook is too sweet to ignore.
Matt Chesnut: This song had the chug factor working for it very early, but so quickly it decided to get middling and thus turned to muck. It has its moments, most notably the throaty vocals happening with the fretboard walking. But it leaves much to be desired.
Andrew Unterberger: Unexpected quality from Chevelle—they showed signs of a possibility for genuine Deftones-like warped hookiness with “Send the Pain Below,” but this is a much more natural integration of that. It’s not perfect—the “now saturate!” parts are still a bit too Breaking Benjamin—but this is a step in the right direction for Chevelle to lose their nagging “nu-metal” tag and move on to the far more coveted “alt-metal” classification.
JoJo - Not That Kind of Girl
Ian Mathers: I wish the rest of the arrangement would get out of the way so I could properly hear the neat candied synth in the background. The song? It’s no “Leave (Get Out)”, but it’s thankfully no “Baby It’s You” either (by which I mean Bow Wow doesn’t rear his ugly head). She sounds mid-20s, sure, but she also sounds boring.
Erick Bieritz: The busy overlapping lyrics do this song a lot of favors, but ultimately they’re just concealing a bad song. But it’s great to hear 14-year-olds talking about building a “life so strong” together. For too long women have made the mistake of waiting to finish freshmen year of high school before settling into a serious relationship.
John M. Cunningham: Did she just say she's not the kinda girl to go "bar-hoppin'"? Isn't that just because she can't legally get into a bar until 2012? This doesn't match the underrated "Leave (Get Out)," but it's still a competent R&B workout with an understated bridge that saves it from seeming one-note.
Matt Chesnut: The beat is pretty exciting and along with the simple, sing-songy almost single-handedly makes up for the continued creepiness of a young teenager singing adult-themed love songs. Correct, you are not that kind of girl because you are not of age. I AM AWARE OF THE LAWS. That aside, this is JoJo’s strongest showing to date.
Andrew Unterberger: Far more lyrically palatable then her first two, I’d say, while still showing off her pipes and furthering her claim to being a genuine R&B artist. Love that (synth?)-flute on the hook, too. “Leave” is still the one she’s going to be remembered for, though.
Natalie - Goin' Crazy
Ian Mathers: Leading with a ballad can be tricky, since they’re usually regarded (not unjustly) as weaker than more banging tracks, and it’s easy to slip into schmaltz. Natalie mostly doesn’t; her vocals remain nicely restrained throughout (which works so well one hopes other upcoming singers take note), if the production sounds a little airless, it’s close to Lloyd’s “Southside” in terms of being perfectly artificial and artificially perfect.
Erick Bieritz: The fat drippy synth at the 50 second mark is sweet, but it’s about all this song has going for it. Crazy people aren’t so fucking boring.
John M. Cunningham: There was a stretch, roughly between Peabo and Roberta's "Tonight I Celebrate My Love" and Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me," where the twinkly electric piano was inescapable on smoove Lite FM hits. At some point in the '90s it fell out of fashion, but damn if it doesn't sound welcome all of a sudden, especially fused with sparse but crisp beats and hip-hop-inspired cadences.
Matt Chesnut: First reaction is to run for the hills, but that’s unfair. Maybe there’s something to it in the middle? Nope, not particularly, but the cringes have subsided. Its production value sounds a touch dated and really suffers for it.
Andrew Unterberger: Love the sort of early 90s lite-soul sound of this one. I don’t know why, but it seems like female R&B singers can really do no wrong this year. At least we still have Destiny’s Child to bring us back to reality a bit.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-03-25