The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in Singles Going Steady: the column gets a makeover, Coldplay accelerates, the White Stripes accuse us/you of stealing, The Game has dreams, Fat Joe wants to get it poppin’ and more…


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From: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
To: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Mon, May 16, 2005 3:41 pm
Subject: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

Hey Andrew:

What's up? I liked your article this past week on the site about the stagnation at the top of the charts. Back in my more naive days, I wrote an ill-formed piece about the same sort of thing for Stylus. I found your take on it to be timely, though, because as you pointed out: we're nearly five full months into this year and have only had three #1 songs. It's madness.

It's not like it's Jordan and the Bulls stranglehold of excellence, either. The stuff that's been hitting the top spot is, er, spotty--I don't care what you say about Stefani's latest. But I never found the Bulls that fascinating. I was always more interested in who played against them in the Finals. Those were the real stories: the Sonics, the Suns, the Jazz. All worthy opponents with players that just wanted, and in some cases truly deserved, that one taste of the title.

One of those possible challengers seems to be Coldplay's "Speed of Sound." Besides U2, I can't imagine any rock band really having a shot at #1 right now, honestly. It's too bad the whole thing lacks that clarion call of a hook that "Clocks" moored itself upon. Seriously, I listened to this song about five times today already and still can't quite come up with the melody to it.

It's nicely constructed, and I'm sure the new album will mark them as one of the most proficient bands out there today, but as far as this single goes: it's not very convincing that this is going to be anything worth listening to outside of my radio.

What do you think?
Todd.

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From: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
To: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Mon, May 16, 2005 5:43 pm
Subject: Re: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

Well, Todd, there's certainly no one better than Coldplay at doing what Coldplay do, and even a fairly mediocre song from them still sounds fairly majestic and powerful. But this really is just a second-rate "Clocks," and if they keep on repeating themselves like this, I can't see them staying as popular as even some of the bands nipping at their adult-contemporary throne (I'm on listen #5 myself, and I was pretty sure I had the melody, but nope--we're even).

I kind of wish they had released the first song of theirs to leak on the internet as a single instead—"Talk" wasn't fantastic, but it had a nifty little Kraftwerk rip and it was actually semi-distinguishable from the rest of their back catalogue. As it is, I imagine once it starts climbing back up the charts due to actual airplay, it won't get any higher than its sound-alike predecessor.

Someone who continues to surprise me with the direction they take thier sound, however, is Kelly Clarkson and her new single “Behind Hazel Eyes”. After officially becoming the first American Idol contestant to have any sort of claim to indie cred with her nu-wave gem "Since U Been Gone," I figured that was that, and now she'd return to her standard MOR "A Moment Like This" fare. But honestly, when this song came up while I was listening to a bunch of mp3s, I first thought it was some grunge track from the early 90s. The rest of the song doesn't quite pack the wallop of the intro, but it's still surprisingly edgy and energetic and well, not average. Great ending, too. With the range shown between this and her last two singles, Kelly might've transformed from an American Idol to simply an american idol.

Chart-wise though, I can't see it busting "Since U Been Gone," which is still a damn shame.

-Andrew Unterberger

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From: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
To: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Tue, May 17, 2005 12:19 pm
Subject: Re: Re: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

Bill:

Who knew two years ago that we'd be living in a world where a Kelly Clarkson rocks harder than the Foo Fighters new one, eh? "Behind..." is, indeed, a rush, although if she doesn't "Gone," as the next single, I'll be crushed. It's like the "Sk8ter Boi" of this album—ripe to push the album back into the higher reaches of the charts, if people had forgotten about it in the meantime.

Speaking of that Foo Fighters song (“The Best Of You”?), though: uh...what happened? The first moment of the song makes me think Grohl is a dead ringer for Chad Kroeger and the music accompanying him after that isn't that much better. I'll admit it's a decently constructed song, but it's definitely not a Foo Fighters song. Are they still planning on doing that whole two-disc idea for the new album? Is this part of the ferocious rock they were promising?

Yikes.
Todd.

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From: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
To: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Tue, May 17, 2005 8:49 pm
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

Wow, Todd, I guess we're pretty disagreed on that one. I love it when Grohl really belts it out, and I think this is one of his best vocals to date. I think the chorus could be a bit better, and for the most part this doesn't sound like a single to me (not a hit one anyway), but apart from that I think it's fabulous. It'd probably sound much better in the context of an album, as well—preferably towards the end. Hopefully the next one they release will be more energetic and less power ballad-y, though for now I'll certainly take this.

Also in the poor single choice department we find The Game. I think all three of his singles so far have been great, but I can't for the life of me understand why he decided to release his two songs with 50 Cent as singles before this one. Sure, they might've catapulted him to stardom faster than they would have without 50, but in the long run I think he's really going to suffer, as a lot of people now see him as just another G-Unit member riding the coat tails of 50's success. And unfortunately, I think this single is going to suffer for it—"Dreams" is fabulous, an honest and utterly captivating Game performance over one of Kanye's best beats in ages, but he just hasn't made enough of an impression outside of 50 to be able to carry a single as personal as this by himself.

-Andrew Unterberger

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From: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
To: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Wed, May 18, 2005 1:45 pm
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

Andrew:

I love that your end-line for complimenting the Foo Fighters song is "...for now I'll certainly take this." It's the lead single! You're not supposed to take it, you're supposed to love it and make you want more, more, more! I doubt when people think Foo Fighters, they're listening to this song and hoping to get an album anchored by this dud. But, hey, to each his own.

I have to be honest with you regarding that Game single you mention, "Dreams" right?, this is the first time I've heard his stuff. I avoided the album and don't listen to the radio that much, so I've succesfully not consciously heard any of his previous work. I have mixed feelings about this song: from everything I've read, it seems this guy has no personality whatsoever. Instead, it's all being lent to him by collaborators, producers, and inspirations. And after hearing it a couple of times, and reading the lyrics, I've gotta say: suspicions confirmed! Sure, there's no problem having a love letter to everything that you enjoy on your record, but after it was all over, I didn't remember anything: MLK (check), Aaliyah (check), Huey Newton (check), 50 (check), Nas (check). Does this guy actually have any of his own dreams? Or are they all just borrowed from people more famous than he? Now that he's probably rich, maybe he can buy some.

A song I'd much rather hear on hip-hop radio, if the cars from my Brooklyn neighborhood took a break from the reggaeton (note to neighbors: Don't take a break from the reggaeton! It's great!), is Fat Joe's "Get It Poppin'" which I initially feared was a cover of the Lil' Bow Wow / Swizz Beatz collab a few years ago. Luckily, it's not. It's got a hot beat and I can dance to it. A-.

Todd.

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From: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
To: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Wed, May 18, 2005 6:41 pm
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Singles Going Steady at the Speed of Sound

But I don't think "Best of You" is a dud at all—it just sounds more like something like an album-closer to me than a lead single. But hey, the song's already in the top 40—the public obviously disagrees with me, so cool.

About The Game—yeah, he's a bit heavy on the inspiration front, but hell, it's the dude's first album and I think it's kinda refreshing to hear a rapper so in love with hip-hop in general that he can't help but namedrop left and right. Especially when compared with someone like 50, who doesn't really appear to care much about rap at all beyond being a means to an end, it's great to hear someone who actually loves doing what he's doing. Plus, I think he's a great story-teller (better on this track than anything else I've heard from him) and once the OMGICANTBELIEVEIMWORKINGWITHDREAND50ONMYOWNALBUM excitement wears off, he could be a rapper to go the distance. Maybe not, we'll see.

"It's got a hot beat and I can dance to it" is just about all there ever is to say about a Nelly or Fat Joe song. I guess that's OK for a while, but honestly, I can't think of two rappers out there right now who I'm more sick of than these two. We covered Nelly on this column SIX TIMES last year—that's even more than Eminem's blitz, and frankly, the dude isn't worth this many hit singles. Fat Joe had a deservedly huge hit last summer, and now I'm more than ready for him to leave us the fuck alone. Still, you're absolutely right—it's got a hot beat and I can dance to it. Maybe it'll sound better in a year or two, but for now, I'm too fed up with these guys to care.

A far more welcome return, for me at least, comes courtesy of The White Stripes. They've always had a way with lead singles, and “Blue Orchid” is no exception—as utterly expectation-confounding and just as awesome as "Seven Nation Army." Like usual with these guys, I have absolutely no idea what the fuck Jack White is going on about ("you took a wild orchid DIDN'T YOU???" Uhhh...maybe?) but the level at which the jams are kicked out more than makes up for it—Meg inches ever closer to actually being able to keep a steady beat (almost there, girl!) and in this case, it's got a near disco-punk edge to it. It's less DFA than DFA1979, but for these guys, I think that makes sense. I think it's one of the most exciting singles of the year so far, and one of the most surprising—I just hope the rest of Get Behind Me Satan maintains the balance of awesomeness and ridiculousness as well as this.

-Andrew Unterberger

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From: todd_burns@stylusmagazine.com
To: andrew_unterberger@stylusmagazine.com
Date: Thu, May 19, 2005 11:45 pm
Subject: White Stripes

Well, I’m still waiting for the day that Lightning Bolt will release a single to massive acclaim, though for now I'll certainly take this.


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-05-20
Comments (2)
 

 
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