Singles Going Steady
his week in Singles, Lil’ Rob’s long overdue ode to summer nights, Mariah (metaphorically) brushes her shoulders off, Relient K lay it on a little thick, and Mike Jones and the Ying Yang Twins make for the most obvious duet of the week. All this and the 10 Do’s and 1000 Don’t’s of the Black Eyed Peas, on this week’s Singles Going Steady!
The Click Five - Just the Girl
Ian Mathers: “The more she ignores me the more I adore her”. I give up – my gender and generation are hopeless. Come on, Mr. The Click Five – even you have good things about you, and somewhere out there is a girl who might actually appreciate them. Oh, and stop Autotuning your chorus vocals, it just sounds cheap. And Tal Bachman got here before, and even he was better.
Anthony Miccio: Tal Bachman is back!!! Or is it Stroke 9? Or maybe it's a bonus track from the American Pie 2 soundtrack reissue? All I know is that he absolutely loves her...when she smiles. After all, he's a teenage dirtbag, baby. I've missed this late-90s vibe.
Matt Chesnut: Is this trying to be new wave kitsch? Emo? Trad rock? Either way, it’s total balls.
Alfred Soto: Relieved that these likable poseurs chose Fountains of Wayne instead of Dashboard Confessional as influences, I relaxed, slipped into my sandals, and waited for liftoff . I'm still waiting, but I'm delighted to know they care about someone other than themselves.
Andrew Unterberger: Sounds like its five years too late for a trend that never really happened in the first place, but it’s…well, passable, anyway.
Lil' Rob - Summer Nights
Ian Mathers: That is some clumsy-ass delivery, especially since he basically repeats the first half of the song during the second half, which is even more tedious than you might imagine. Dreadful lyrics too. The backing isn’t bad (the really echoed male vocals in the deep background are pretty excellent, actually), but Lil’ Rob is nearly 100% charisma-free. Tell me this won’t be a hit, please.
Anthony Miccio: Baby Bash is Back!!! What a long week it's been without him.
Matt Chesnut: The gated guitar, bass hits; this is a pretty chill track. I mean, subject matter wise it’s pretty mundane (girl, you mean a substantial amount to me) but it’d sound good in a car. Additionally, there is some vocal sample echoing in the background that is haunting me.
Alfred Soto: Fuck Gang of Four: Nelly's the most influential artist of the last five years.
Andrew Unterberger: The rap ace-up-the-sleeve that is releasing a song with the word “summer” in the title (y’know, during the summertime) is pretty cheap for a breakout hit, and though the song is pleasant enough, he doesn’t really earn it here. Hook is semi-convincing, but the flow couldn’t be weaker. Olivia Newton-John would disapprove.
Mariah Carey - Shake it Off
Ian Mathers: Aside from the bizarre way her verse briefly emulate R Kelly, this is top quality. Mariah has gotten better at actually conveying emotion with her voice as she’s scaled back the fireworks, and Mr. The Click Five (among others) could take notes at how Carey preserves her self-respect by not allowing someone to treat her like dirt. Those massed Mariah backing vocals are great, and so is the insistent backing piano. All that and a shout-out to Calgon!
Anthony Miccio: Usher is back!!! Oh wait, it's a woman. Anybody else find Jermaine Dupri's vocal interruptions seriously ironic? Shake him off the mixer.
Matt Chesnut: The chorus has so much air-escaping-from-a-balloon breath on it. It’s a good thing.
Alfred Soto: Another welcome example of how nervous breakdowns can do wonders for your sanity. Visions of love don't suit this hussy: let's remember that Mariah's most convincing persona was as Mrs. Tommy Mottola, kicking up sea spray over the lacquered beats of "Honey" and giving Ol' Dirty Bastard a case of the giggles on "Fantasy." An even better mockingbird now than she was gunning for Whitney's throne, Mariah apes Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody" and Ready For The World's "Love You Down" in a quest for a guy who can give her love like the kind she gives her Louis Vuitton purse. What she does with the Calgon is between her and her therapist.
Andrew Unterberger: So glad to know for certain that “It’s Like That” was a total red herring—first “We Belong Together,” and now this breathy wonder. She’s still the best vocalist in the world, and we’ll likely never see her equal. It’s good to see her back on top again.
Relient K - Be My Escape
Ian Mathers: I will admit a fondness for the line “but the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair”, as well as the Straylight Run single that this is clearly the Pop/Rock version of (as opposed to Ballad), and okay the lyrics are decent for this sort of thing. And his voice is much less whiny than the industry standard. And yes, the chorus is good and the ending is nicely understated. So, though I am by no means endorsing any wave of piano-based emo that could result from this, I will admit to liking “Be My Escape
Anthony Miccio: A New Found Glory is back!!! Only now they're trying to rip off the All-American Rejects' panoramic pop-rock. Too bad they're still gloppy and insufferable. "And all I’m asking is for you to do what you can with me," barf.
Matt Chesnut: Compared to The Click Five, this is absolutely refreshing. Too bad it has to get judged on it own terms. The bulk of it is standard issue skate rock (it’s not emo, I guess). But give it props for trying a lot of dynamic shifts. The coda with the vibraphone is totally unexpected and, frankly, could have and should have carried the song.
Alfred Soto: Therapy-rock, with tricky time signatures. The singer thinks he’s real smart hurling lines like “The beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair” at his lover; unfortunately it doesn’t scan, and she’s not impressed anyway. So he settles for being a selfish asshole. “I’m just trying to save my own skin,” he confesses, which is at least more honest than “I am a hostage of my own humility.” At least Rob Thomas is a horny asshole.
Andrew Unterberger: It’s hard to gauge just HOW annoying this band is without being able to view the OH LOOK AT ME I’M TORTURED AND CUTE AND EVER SO COMPLEX the look this band’s lead singer wears in the video while listening to the song, but (un)fortunately, I’ve seen it enough that grasping this concept will never be much of a problem for me. Dismal. Waste of a promising intro, too.
Black Eyed Peas - Don't Lie
Ian Mathers: The exact same “no no no”s as the completely awful “Don’t Phunk With Me Heart”. Characteristically awful lyrics and performances. But hey, at least they’re not trying to (a) party or (b) educate, so this automatically becomes the most I’ve ever liked a Black Eyed Peas single. Still, the end cannot come soon enough.
Anthony Miccio: OMC is back!!! I miss the grain in Pauly's voice and his raps could be stronger (he was "immature" like "The Predator"?), but I've missed this late-90s vibe.
Matt Chesnut: I’m warming up to the Black Eyed Peas as a vaguely hip-hop influenced pop group if their latest single output is any indication. It may be because Will.I.Am is preferable as a sing-songy rapper than a straight up rapper. And this must be bring out the old instruments week or something, but this employs a harmonica rather well.
Alfred Soto: The Peas continue their tour of the rock museum. Where “Don’t Phunk With My Heart” stopped in the Freestyle Collection for an admiring glance at Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, “Don’t Lie” lingers for a quick one in the English pub-rock. The har-har wordplay can’t match Elvis Costello’s (“In the book of lies I was the editor!”), but in the context of iTunes Radio it’s unexpected and rather clever. Too bad there’s too much sincere bullshit: acoustic guitar, belting soul divas, references to strained emotions.
Andrew Unterberger: Every time the Black Eyed Peas seem like they could be a genuinely enjoyable pop group, they strain suspension of disbelief just a little bit more. I liked “Phunk,” but I’m at breaking point here with the “I was the PREDATOR and the AUTHOR and blah blah SIGNATOOR am I shocking you with my CANDOR” business and Fergie’s no longer remotely enticing “no, no, no, no” shit. Gimme something to work with, guys.
Ying Yang Twins f/ Mike Jones & Mr. Collipark - Badd
Ian Mathers: Could… could Mike Jones actually be growing on me? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t just repeat the same thing forever here, but he easily has the best verse. I love that echoed ping and the sound they use to censor words here (I’m always a fan of times when the radio edit shows a little bit of imagination, you know?). It’s not that all is forgiven from “Wait”, it’s that this is a much better single.
Anthony Miccio: Good woman, badd bitch, stripper tips, beer & pizza - I might use different terminology, but I can definitely relate.
Matt Chesnut: Anytime I can say “I really dig this sitar hook” it’s a good time. The beat is insane. Mike Jones revisits his roots as a strip club rapper and teaming with Ying Yang Twins makes so much sense it’s ridiculous.
Andrew Unterberger: Lascivious Tweety Bird references and a beat solid enough to make Mike Jones bearable. Sorta by the numbers after that, but it’s enough.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-07-29