The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady

this week in singles—System of a Down throw an anti-government BBBQ, Weezer head for the hills, 112 stop playing coy, Gwen Stefani resents that insinuation but still loves fruit, and Baby Bash is back, baby (finally!). All this, and more foreign language sex from Pitbull and Lil’ Jon, this week on Singles Going Steady!


Weezer - Beverly Hills
[4.2]


Ian Mathers: I think I may be failing my critical duties by not giving this a zero. But it’s Weezer, a band I have loved intensely since I was 13, and so no matter how cheesy the digital guitar solo, no matter how self-pitying the lyrics are, no matter how joyless and hookless this is, I’d still rather listen to this train wreck than any track equally dire from a band I didn’t used to love. Or in other words, I’d still rather listen to this than Simple Plan.
[1]

Matt Chesnut: Nah, this song can’t be as bad as everyone says it is. I mean, I liked “Hashpipe” and that was no “Buddy Holly.” But this is pretty dire. Criticisms like ‘too simple’ or ‘tired formula’ would miss the point: this sounds like a band that wants to wrap things up and go home after playing all night for a demanding crowd.
[2]

Anthony Miccio: The music recalls "Undone" and the delivery is reminiscent of "El Scorcho." Too bad Rivers hasn't learned a thing about life since he last vented his frustrations almost a decade ago (sounds like he's lost a few neurons, actually). He's never less than easy on the ear, but these maudlin tropes may be more annoying than the cryptic gibberish of "Dope Nose." If this is the best track on the album I'll cry.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: It’s a lazy, smugly-executed song with an equally pointless video. Weezer was once the band that swallowed KISS and Cheap Trick and spat them back in the face of rock ‘n’ roll; now it can do little more than roll over and drunkenly vomit out a thin brownish stream of Winger. I suppose one could argue that going from being accidentally boring to intentionally boring is “development,” in a sense.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: I’m sorry, but I really like this. I’ve made peace with Weezer mk. II by now, and listening to this song on its own terms, totally disassociated from the Weezer I used to know, this is just fantastic. The clunky guitars, the “Country House”-style bridge, the Frampton-esque (voice box? Guitar?) solo—it slays me. It’s no “Buddy Holly”—hell, it’s no “The Good Life”—but it’ll do quite nicely.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: You're going to hate me for this, but I sorta wish this was a Cake song. I mean, if you're going to write a silly tune about being a loser reaching for the stars, with a dumb four-chord vamp and some wokka-wokka guitar and a spoken-word breakdown, why not really make it punchy and add like a funny mariachi trumpet or something? At the very least, they'd improve upon Rivers Cuomo's tepid delivery.
[5]


Baby Bash feat. Akon - Baby I'm Back
[6.2]


Ian Mathers: Baby Bash himself is kind of just there, but Akon sweetens this song up nicely. Instead of the standard rap boasts we get instead equal mixes of braggadocio and contriteness – he was gone, he did you wrong, but he’s back and hopefully you’ll take him back. It’s not really humility, but at least it’s enough out of the ordinary to keep it entertaining until Akon starts singing again.
[6]

Matt Chesnut: Akon shows why he could have some staying power for the future: he’s perfect for singing choruses of crossover rap/R&B. He could join Ludacris on the All-Featuring Team. The beats are big and obvious, seeming to say ARE YOU FEELING ME? It’s nice.
[6]

Anthony Miccio: So soon? This is a little more Shifty Shellshock than Petey Pablo ("Let me spark your interest/ now there's no more dating on the internet/ Cause you already know how I get it wet"), but I'm cool with either. I'm not sure how your keeper can cater to you, and I doubt he knows either. Knocked up a point for some inexplicable latin lingo: "Somebody told me that the grass was greener/ on the other side, andale, arriba!"
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Two sidemen who have toiled away in a long stretch of mediocre-to-average songs suddenly break out with a legitimately fine hit of their own. Nothing flashy, just some smart little lines like “I’m here to cater to you.”
[7]

Andrew Unterberger: I like Baby Bash’s voice quite a bit, but this song is still pretty much all Akon. It’s not as good (and won’t be as popular) as “Lonely,” but it’s still a welcome respite from the increasingly unbearable “Obsession (No Es Amor)”.
[6]

John M. Cunningham: I think I liked it better when I thought the line was "please forgive me for reading Rolling Stone," but I'll feel this bounce all the same. Also I would like to add that there is nothing wrong with dating on the Internet. Maybe Baby Bash just hasn't met the right camgirl yet.
[6]


Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
[7.2]


Ian Mathers: The stomping and clapping and attendant fuzzy synths are great – the “that’s my shit” and “b-a-n-a-n-a-s” parts aren’t. It’s kinda funny hearing Stefani act all tough, but what it’s not is effective. The chorus feels like it should be more effective than it actually is, and Queen reference notwithstanding, the whole things winds up being strangely underwhelming.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: This just speaks for itself: “This shit is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S!” The stadium stomp wrecks and the interspersed melodic moments peel the paint off this business.
[9]

Anthony Miccio: Don't be too flattered that I showed up at your yard, Gwen. I'll take all the milkshake I can get, and I've had better.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Well this is quite an improvement over that other recent song about a girl. Gwen swipes a minimal ur-South stomp-clap beat and runs all the way to the bank with it. The lazy guitar is sweet, and the plump synth with Gwen saying “that’s my shit, that’s my shit” is key. But it’s not nearly as obnoxious as “Rich Girl,” so of course it won’t chart nearly as high. There is no justice.
[8]

Andrew Unterberger: I’m not quite sure if I see the point in spelling out the word “bananas” just to prove how amazingly bananas this song is, but aside from that, it’s a marvel. Though the song’s use of the marching band beat isn’t as breath-defying as Destiny’s Child’s was, it’s a different beast altogether, with horn riffs and guitar licks that sound as laid back as the beat is militaristic. And Gwen rides the bizarre concoction like the head cheerleader at the top of the inevitably tumbling pyramid.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: By stripping down to a bratty chant and understated synth-brass, Stefani's third single clearly bests the overcooked "Lose My Breath" in the realm of modern drum corps pop. It's that martial sparseness, after all, that allows us to savor the surprisingly melancholy pep-band swells—and sets up the year's most awesome catchphrase. Imagining pom squads across the nation cheering "the shit is bananas!" is totally making me smile.
[9]


Pitbull feat. Lil' Jon - Toma
[6.2]


Ian Mathers: Nice energy, nice bouncy sound, good Spanish chorus (some things just sound better shouted in Spanish); but the horns need to be louder, Lil Jon’s vocal tics and verse add nothing, and whenever the track slows down it just goes dead. Still better than “Culo”, though.
[6]

Matt Chesnut: While a lone guitar plinks in one ear, video game squelches fall on Jon’s massive bass hits. This isn’t Lil Jon-by-numbers (which is great anyway), in part due to the presence of Pitbull, who is like very few artists in the current pop landscape. Jumping between English and Spanish like it ain’t no thing, Pitbull should have everyone will be saying “muevelo.”
[8]

Anthony Miccio: It's a shame he feels the need to act macho & proprietary when talking to the guys, cuz when a couplet is aimed at a woman Pitbull tells a very different story. Dude's (awww) FREAKY - shameless, confident, enthusiastic - and he likes his partners the same way. "Toma" is thematically identical to "Culo" and most of M.I.A.M.I. cuz the dude can't think of anything better than a thrilling bout of breathless sex. With Lil Jon playing Lewis to his Martin, its easy to sympathize. Pitbull's charm and monomania could make him rap's Bon Scott.
[9]

Erick Bieritz: It’s a perfectly workable single for Pitbull but it’s such a fucking shame that he is tied to a certain identity for his singles because there are so much better things on his album. The Lil’ Jon tracks are the worst songs on “M.I.A.M.I.” If “Back Up” ever drops on the pop charts, it could disrupt the earth’s orbit with its groove.
[5]

Andrew Unterberger: “Toma” proves once and for all that even though Lil’ Jon’s minimalist sonic assault might be the most exciting sound in hip-hop right now, it’s still nothing without hooks. And this song just doesn’t have any—to me it seems like a boring, blustery “Culo” retread. “Dammit Man” should’ve been twice the hit that this invariably will be.
[5]

John M. Cunningham: I bet there could be a really awesome song someday that mines the intersections between crunk and reggaeton, a jam-packed fiesta where icy growls collide with sweltering Latin rhythms. This isn't that song.
[4]


System of a Down - B.Y.O.B.
[6.5]


Ian Mathers: For a serious, politically minded progressive metal band, System of a Down sure is fun. Serj is as operatic as he is on all of their best singles, but “B.Y.O.B.” actually has a laid back, sunny chorus (complete with decent vocals from the guitarist!). And then the blastbeats start again and they start yelling “Why don’t Presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?” And it’s still fun. Not quite as awe-inspiring as “Chop Suey”, but still splendid.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: System of a Down is always reliable for a shot in the arm full of bizarro-political-metal. This one is, well, the war. I mean, what else is there to talk about? Social Security reform? I can’t rock out to private accounts. “Why do they always send the poor?” is the mantra of “B.Y.O.B.”, shouted throughout various sections of the song’s mutations. Hear it loud or don’t hear it at all.
[7]

Anthony Miccio: Stupid but political. Annoying but not pop. There are people who would consider these to be positive traits.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: Manic, festive, briefly funky? It’s a weird detour from the relatively faithful “Cigaro,” a clumsy blitz that again proves System of a Down is one of the most interesting groups on the modern rock charts.
[7]

Andrew Unterberger: Only System of a Down could get away with a song like this. I can’t imagine it being as successful as the Toxicity trip-tych, but I still look forward to hearing it next to Audioslave and Unwritten Law on radio sometime. Well, I would if alt-rock radio still existed, anyway.
[6]

John M. Cunningham: I can't imagine this band being from anywhere other than the multi-culti pits of southern California, as they carom from breakneck screeches to mock-bombast to some sweet whammy action up Isaac Brock's alley, before settling on a blissful crunch where it's all about partying and good times, bro. That part's especially nice, but it'd be nothing without all the manic bricolage around it.
[7]


112 feat. Foxy Brown - U Already Know
[5.2]


Ian Mathers: I have a soft spot for rap productions that twinkle, and “U Already Know” does that, and the first guy from 112 who takes a verse is smooth enough to fit in with the music. But the rest of them and Foxy just sort of blare out over top of it, and that doesn’t work nearly as well. This type of song needs to start getting more, not less, subliminal, because they work best when they glide by and barely touch.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: This is pretty undistinguishable from other R&B singles. But aside from being utterly forgettable, it’s not a bad bit of “ooh girl.” The keys twinkle and there’s an elastic bass line that rears its head every so often to slink around. Still, the hook wears out its welcome quickly and you’re left wanting to hear the next song.
[4]

Anthony Miccio: I totally prefer the Foxy-free original (though having a woman bring draggy bluster to a great R&B track is novel), but this remains another solid single from one of the most underrated vocal combos out there. Lithe crooning, rolling hooks, reminds me that I've got to find a DeBarge album or two one of these days. Not that El would note his favorite position is the backdoor, least of all in the CHORUS.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: This is a decent song, and in an off year, it might have a shot. But 2005 R&B has been dripping in brilliantly sweaty sexy excellence and these no-panties, back-door sex raps just ain’t gonna cut it. Good effort though.
[5]

Andrew Unterberger: I’ve had a soft spot for 112 since their fantastic “Only You” (almost a decade ago—my god), and this is probably their best song since that R&B classic. It’s more as a result of the twinkling, almost Vespertine-like beat than Foxy’s clumsy guest rap or the group’s (still remarkable) singing, but in any event it’s a welcome addition to the hugeroster of fantastic, boundary-pushing R&B tracks that have enraptured us thusfar in 2005.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: For a track that's supposed to be racy, it just feels so limp and unmemorable. Not even Foxy can save 112 from all their weak, sub-Usher crooning. Sigh.
[3]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-04-15
Comments (5)
 

 
Today on Stylus
Reviews
October 31st, 2007
Features
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
Reviews
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Features
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews