Singles Going Steady
his week in singles—Jessica Simpson tries out her southern FemBot getup, Green Day hit the snooze button, 50 Cent lends Tony Yayo his one guest spot freebie (next one’s gonna cost you, Yay), and DHT take a page out of Roxette’s advice book. All this, and information on Mike Jones’s current ho status (things are finally starting to look up!!!)...
Mike Jones – Back Then
Ian Mathers: Jones’ sour-grapes shtick was tiresome enough as a small part of the otherwise-great “Still Tippin’”, so the result when he tries to make it a whole song is predictable. If the chorus refrain (lifted straight from “Still Tippin’”) has been screwed, why does it sound faster? It repeats often enough to give you a headache. There’s nothing else to “Back Then” but a slight organ drone, some scratching, and the rap equivalent of “Beverly Hills”.
John M. Cunningham: Essentially "Still Tippin'" redux, to the extent that the chorus hook is a screwed-and-chopped variant of one of that song's rhymes. But hey, that's fine with me: I'm still attracted to Jones's ingratiating persona, even if he didn't pick up the phone when I called last night.
Matt Chesnut: Last year, I was hoping Houston rappers would explode, but I didn’t expect for the first to be Mike Jones. This song was seems to have been made to egg on his detractors as he does his say-one-thing-many-times shtick many times. The organ is pretty nice, but it alone can’t save a pretty mediocre outing. Countdown ‘til Chamillionaire steals his spotlight in 3, 2…
Anthony Miccio: I'm down for screwed hooks, its a logical replacement for the chipmunk. I prefer this guy to Paul Wall because I'm not ready to hand the platinum to the goofy white guy of the scene yet. I still wish he didn't introduce himself to the masses by complaining about hangers-on.
Andrew Unterberger: Hey, everyone: let’s stop trying to find virtues in this dude and just admit that this is the mind-numbingly stupid song since “Make ‘em Say Ugh”. That said, classic video.
Erick Bieritz: Boosterism and self-promotion have been important skills in mainstream hip-hop in the last ten years, and when used correctly, they have magnified the careers of its biggest stars. In his brief time in the spotlight, from “Still Tippin’” to “Back Then,” Mike Jones has taken these methods to previously unexplored extremes. As a piece of marketing it works well, and the song’s half-self-depricating tone is welcome, but the track itself becomes so mercilessly repetitive that one can’t help but wonder if Mike is borrowing recklessly from his future to finance a big splash in the present.
Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
Ian Mathers: I’m still surprised at their choice of singles from American Idiot (what’s next, “Are We The Waiting”?), but since I love the whole album I can’t really complain. Personally I love the way the drums and then the guitars come in, and although I admit this loses much of it’s force out of context (by itself it just sounds emo), it’s still great.
John M. Cunningham: Until I realized this was a 9/11 song, it seemed rather pointless. I still think it's too long, and it substitutes a start-stop structure for a memorable melody, but Billie Joe's plaintive declarations are now at least somewhat affecting. Meh.
Matt Chesnut: Like the cover of “American Idiot,” it seems they are trying to bleed dry the album of every single they can. And while my opinion of the previous American Idiot singles has been either passive approval or outright indifference, I can’t help but have a gut reactive NO to this song. Awfully syrupy.
Andrew Unterberger: And Green Day contains to churn out reliable, highly competent and sorta even maybe slightly exceptional singles from their most successful album in a decade. They don’t break their streak of reliability with this one, but they don’t forge too much new ground either. Works for me.
Erick Bieritz: Green Day isn’t typically going to do slow songs as well as they can do urgent punk stompers, but they are smart enough to build this up from quiet beginnings to some big electric guitar washes.
Tony Yayo feat. 50 Cent - So Seductive
Ian Mathers: Well, the song itself isn’t very seductive, but that slight shuffle in the drums and the wash of the synthesizers are pretty awesome regardless. Yayo has a less annoying style than either 50 or Lloyd Banks, but really on this sort of song the vocals are an afterthought.
John M. Cunningham: I like the brushed beat on this latest G-Unit track, but the lyrics are irredeemably dumb. 2 Live Crew excepted, has the word "horny" ever been used in a song without sounding either jokey or pathetic?
Matt Chesnut: The G-Unit mini-empire grows once more, and it sounds like 50 told Yayo, “Follow my lead.” Yayo’s chorus singing pales in comparison to 50’s, though, and this style of production continues to leave me cold.
Andrew Unterberger: Yayo’s clumsy flow is forever going to leave him as a G-Unit 4th-stringer, but hell, any song with 50 on it is essentially a 50 song anyway, and that drum-wash beat is more than enough to sell me on this.
Erick Bieritz: There’s a scene in Three Amigos where an older woman tries to prepare the young heroine for her impending forced wedding to villain El Guapo, and the older woman asks the heroine if she knows the meaning of “foreplay.” She says no, she doesn’t, and then the older woman says, “good, neither does El Guapo.” The same sentiment applies to Tony, with his ham-fisted sex raps and sketchy concept of seduction, and although this is a pretty good beat, the preponderance of such songs from the gangster camp that showed so much muscle on “Stunt 101” is confusing and a little disheartening.
Common feat. Kanye West and John Mayer – Go
Ian Mathers: I wish people would quit acting as if the combination of Common and John Mayer was some sort of sign of the apocalypse. They’re no Nelly feat. Tim McGraw, and this is no “Over And Over”, but surprisingly the most annoying thing about “Go” is… Kanye. Seriously dude, just shut up. Mayer’s echoed backing vocal contribution is nicely used, and Common isn’t bad, but this is so light and uncompelling sonically (except for the drums that come in near the end, a nice touch) that I’m just as likely not to notice it on the radio.
John M. Cunningham: Mayer's one-word cameo here is cute, but the whole track is really just irresistibly smooth and appealingly brisk. Perfect for these long summer days, right when the sun starts to sink down.
Matt Chesnut: The keys here are so classy. Kanyeezy’s annoyability is kept at bay. And the addition of congas toward the end gives it some more juice. Nice. And just where is John Mayer on this? You can’t really tell and that’s probably for the best.
Anthony Miccio: Common's having thinking man's sex with his hat on, John Mayer's watching from the window, and you know Common knows because he acknowledges the hook. It's wrong, its a boho z, but I do like that beat.
Andrew Unterberger: When John Mayer is the most sympathetic member of your trio and he only gets one word to sing, things are not looking up for your song.
Erick Bieritz: It’s really a shame that “Go” isn’t a better song than this, and that the slightly-better “The Corner” wasn’t also a little greater than it was, because the two songs complement each other so well. “The Corner” was winter, concrete buildings, insistent, driving importance. “Go” is mahogany and amaretto, vinyl records, summer nights. Both “The Corner” and “Go” in particular lack a centralized purpose and feel more like a vague associations than specific messages and they suffer for it, even as they do an excellent job of creating mood.
Jessica Simpson - These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
Ian Mathers: The backing is actually kind of neat, sort of a Bubba Sparxxx for Dummies arrangement, but the only redeeming feature of Simpson’s performance is to remind me of how much I love the original. Don’t get me started about the video, or the interpolation of the Dukes of Hazzard theme, or the new bits (God help me, I think she’s trying to be sexy – and I think she thinks it works). And Willie, you know better. You should be ashamed of yourself.
John M. Cunningham: Look, I like OMGWTF, I don't mind covers of classics, and I even think that "With You" was an underrated gem -- but this is a total mess. Simpson erases all trace of the original song's cool assertiveness by giggling ("go boots!") and struggling to enunciate over the muddy sub-Big & Rich arrangement. Meanwhile, Nelson just sorta grunts – and who could blame him?
Matt Chesnut: I thought this was going to be a disaster, but the pastiche of bluegrass, Nancy Sinatra samples, and club beats and bass is, in a word, AWESOME. I especially dig the banjos and fiddle jumping out of individual channels. Jessica Simpson-as-sexy hillbilly is much preferable to whatever she was before.
Anthony Miccio: Maybe if we ignore her she'll go away!
Andrew Unterberger: Treads the same dangerous territory between annoying and wonderful as “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” and “Hollaback Girl”. Whenever I hear it, it’s a coin toss whether I’m gonna hate it or love it, but I’m feeling generous so I’ll rate it as the latter. A word of advice to Jessica, however—yes, your movie may be set in Atlanta, but that’s still no excuse for being so ridiculously and unnaturally tanned. Tone it back, girl.
Erick Bieritz: So, this works quite well, doesn’t it? It’s the sort of song that someone like Jessica can sing well. Making the country more explicit than the original is sensible and the fight noises liven it up quite a bit. Good work.
DHT - Listen To Your Heart
Ian Mathers: Dance music? On the US charts? This must be from a movie or an ad or something. For a second there it felt like it was going to go all “Sandstorm” on us, and admittedly it’s not too far off, but then they introduce vocals. It’s no “Avalon”, but it’s surprisingly good. That post chorus bit is so perfectly trance-y, it takes me back to highschool. We all got sick of this stuff after a couple of months, but the occasional dose is surprisingly fun.
John M. Cunningham: As a rendition of a late 80s ballad given a mid-90s club-mix treatment (bring on the saw synths!), this feels by turns generic and confused I'm sticking with Edmee's Unplugged Vocal Edit, which strips the song to solo piano, Gary Jules-style, and comes off, appropriately, as gorgeously intimate. (I'd also give it a full three points higher, fwiw.)
Matt Chesnut: Let the 90’s revival commence.
Anthony Miccio: Why what who when nevermind I don't care.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s a little bit sad when the mere sound of a dance beat on the radio is enough to get me excited. Seems like sorta regardless of how good this is (which is sorta), I gotta give it at least a
Erick Bieritz: There are too many beats per minute and too many blustery trance breakdowns in what one can only hope is not an impending trend of paper-thin dance covers.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-07-08