The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in Singles—Kanye and Jamie Foxx get all Treasure of the Sierra Madre, System of a Down raise their hand and wait patiently to be called on, Trent Reznor is down to his last straw, and Bow Wow and Ciara celebrate the former’s newfound legality. All this and Trey Songs and Twista going the distance, on Singles Going Steady!


Trey Songs feat. Twista - Gotta Make It
[4.8]


Ian Mathers: The smoove air of desperation that clings to this one is pretty compelling, especially with that sped up sample (an over-used technique, but when it works it works). Trey is a bit milquetoast, but Twista really makes something neat out of his verse – if they’d restricted Trey to the chorus, this might be a much better song.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Promising to get his boo out of the hood so they can live good, Trey is more honest than other meretricious love men on this week’s list (he even boasts about being an entrepeneur!). This isn’t "More Slow Jamz" even though Twista drops in to uncoil another incoherent serpentine rap (Entrepeneur Trey hires nothing but the best); but this IS Trey’s "Opportunitites (Let’s Make Lots of Money)," with the upwardly mobile plutocrat’s intentions upfront and irony an indulgence he won’t charge to his VISA. Which is some kind of achievement actually.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: So… quality control? Standards? I’m pretty sure I could record a song about my girl on a cassette recorder in my brother’s basement and Twista would, like, be out on the street and perk up his ears when the record button goes “click” and by the time I finished the second chorus about how I want to lick butterscotch off her neck Twista would come running in all out of breath and deliver a totally pointless verse. And my song would still be better than “Gotta Make It.”
[3]

Matt Chesnut: Dude, there is no chance this guy is lasting past December. I like the sample just fine and how it mimics the vocal melody is class, but I’d just as soon forget this was on even if I was listening to it right now.
[5]

John M. Cunningham: Twista's appealing motormouth act goes a long way toward redeeming the fact that a Bryan Adams song title is desperately crooned several times throughout the song (although it'd be funny if it were "Summer of '69"); the skittery, Kanye-esque production doesn't hurt, either.
[5]


Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx - Gold Digger
[6.2]


Ian Mathers: This might be a case of misleading leaked MP3, but the way Kanye just keeps going under Foxx’s faux blues holler, a siren and a whole lot of cacophony is incredibly cool. For once the man isn’t the constant center of attention on his own song, and for once we were right – it’s a huge improvement. I really hope what I’m hearing now is the real track, but if it’s not, West should take some notes.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Once again, Kanye’s upstaged by the help. Here it’s Jamie Foxx hollering "I Got A Woman" like he’s still campaigning for an Oscar. Meanwhile Kanye mumbles and groans like he’s still got something to prove, which, considering how underwheling "Diamonds (From Sierra Leone)" was and this new single is, maybe he still does.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: For being such a big place Chicago only rarely exports its Mayfields and Pumpkins to radio markets around the country, and Chicagoans don’t really go anywhere expecting to hear something familiar. So turning on the radio at 5 a.m. on a Sunday in Seattle’s exurbia and hearing “win the Super Bowl and drive off in a Hyundai” from Kanye “I rap about cars” West might be enough on its own to excuse all of his faults. Even if it was not, it wouldn’t matter, because “Gold Digger” and “Diamonds” prove he’s only gotten better in the last year.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: I think it may be one of the more rewarding experiences if we get to watch Kanye progress over time from sometimes-great-but-often-irritating to King Midas. He’s getting there. This song is terrific, probably one of his best.
[9]

John M. Cunningham: I've defended Kanye all year ("Diamonds" is still terrific, even if the last-minute "Sierra Leone" add-on is dumb), but this is where I jump off. I mean, the whole thing is an irritating mess, from the piled-on sirens and shattering glass FX to the scratchy ol' hoot'n'holler in the back that just won't let up. (Yeah, I know we all said we were sick of the chipmunk trick, but swiping six-year-old ideas from fucking Moby isn't really what we had in mind.)
[3]


Bow Wow feat. Ciara - Like You
[4.8]


Ian Mathers: I actually heard this at first without checking who it was, and thought the female voice was Beyonce. That ain’t good. Bow Wow is whatever, but Ciara is better than this thickly sugary slush. The cyclic vocals on the chorus are just annoying, and this is generally a huge disappointment.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Like Aaliyah, the singer to whom she would least mind being compared, Ciara projects an affectlessness which descends into blankness if she isn’t prodded by the right collaborators. This is no “1, 2 Step” or, heaven knows, no “Are You That Somebody,” and Ciara doesn’t thaw despite Bow Wow’s almost comic sincerity. Someone give her Tricky’s phone number.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: If Ciara needs protection, she will probably just call up Petey Pablo, because Bow Wow couldn’t even escort her into a club. At least he can buy cigarettes now. He still can’t rap very well, though.
[2]

Matt Chesnut: “Like You” employs a handfulla electro-funk sounds, . Also, Ciara cascading up and down a scale: swoon. It’s on some Sound of Music tip.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: Man, remind me never to rely on my iPod headphones again while listening to singles for this column. Until now, I never realized that sawtooth synth was so woozy at first, and Ciara's up-and-down scale-skipping didn't sound quite so deliciously dainty. And that low end! Congrats, Bow Wow, you just got an eleventh-hour boost.
[7]


Lyfe Jennings - Must Be Nice
[3.6]


Ian Mathers: That constant passive-aggressive mutter of “must be nice” after each entry on the list of things that Jennings wants is incredibly grating and more than a little emo. If the rest was more than generic R’n’Balladry that’d be one thing, but as it isn’t this is a dud.
[3]

Alfred Soto: After a long night I put on BET. Gold diggers are a real pain, I agree, remembering that Kanye already told me so, as I fall asleep.
[3]

Erick Bieritz: I need short, snappy Miccio lines for these songs because I always draw a blank with the mandatory bland R&B track. If I engage in a nostalgic montage of romantic scenes this could come in handy. Otherwise, it’s dross.
[4]

Matt Chesnut: This week has not been kind to gold diggers, it would seem. I think there was some harp in this, but other than that, there is not much to distinguish this song from any other anonymous R&B guy. Fairly listenable the first couple of times, though.
[4]

John M. Cunningham: To his credit, Mr. Jennings transforms a phrase I usually utter with seething contempt into something far more wistful; too bad the song ends up being just kinda blah. But he should call up Kanye for sympathy re: those pesky gold-diggers; at least they could hit up a few club VIP sections together and just kick back and have some fun, you know?
[4]


System of a Down - Question!
[5.8]


Ian Mathers: I think I speak for most casual SOAD fans when I say that while “B.Y.O.B.” was great, it’s time to rein in the little guy from singing very much. It’s not as if Serj Tankian needs the vocal help. But really the main problem with “Question!” as opposed to “B.Y.O.B.” or “Cigaro” or their older singles is that it is not manic. And lacking the glee and fire of most of their singles, just is just another slab of predictable radio ready new millennium hard rock. Ick.
[4]

Alfred Soto: Somebody’s gotta write more “Enter Sandman”s now that Metallica’s too busy filming themselves, right? Points for urgent ontological inquiry.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: It’s mercifully restrained, in relative terms, after the one-two blasts of “Cigaro” and “BYOB,” but it still finds time for shredding in between eerie lyrics about ghosts and shit. System of a Down seems fully prepared to carry heavy rawk’s unconscious form through 2005, but listeners would feel a lot better if a few other bands took after SOAD’s excellent example.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: Is that…a mandolin? During the chorus, some old world instrument is getting plucked! So awesome!
[7]

John M. Cunningham: SOAD scale back their schizoid tendencies but still zip from bare, minor-key harmonies to sudden thrashes. Of course, you can tell they're smarter than most metal bands from their lyrics: "Sweet berries ready for two / Ghosts are now waiting for you." It's about FrankenBerry, right?
[6]


Nine Inch Nails - Only
[7.4]


Ian Mathers: Woah – Reznor gets funky! And right from the get-go with that drum break, which is only enhanced by the pretty cool bass line and odd humming noises. Hearing angst over this sort of back drop is a bit odd (if a nice change of pace), but it turns out he’s a lot easier to take when he makes his self-loathing conversational and the music independently compelling. Surprisingly great.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Trent Reznor does almost as much with Visage’s long-legged "Fade to Grey" riff as Kelly Osbourne. I must admit I never gave a shit about his problems, but Reznor’s worked on his beats as assiduously as he’s worked on his self-loathing, and this has a confident bounce. And the guitars sound cool.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: The DFA remix of “The Hand That Feeds” is nice, but anyone can just douse a substandard single in bleepy indie disco the night before it’s due and call it a remix. Here Trent does dance-punk one better with a funky (but still very hurtful) song called “Only.” It’s disconcerting that he’s standing at the edge of the dance floor and shaking his fist at everyone, but at least he came out of the basement.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: I’m losing my edge. I’m losing my edge to the kids in Skinny Puppy shirts.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: The distorted vocal drawl and the shuffling disco beat here call to mind that new over-35 pasty white guy who's into grinding dance-rock: I mean, speed it up and your indie party's got a perfect segue out of "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" (even if Murphy might not stoop to the ridiculous talkin' blues meter Reznor lapses into at one point). Whee!
[6]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-08-12
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