The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in singles—311 exorcize their inner Metallica, Young Jeezy and Mannie Fresh hold out for a sequel, Coldplay play doctor to a hurting nation, Switchfoot go astrological and BSB go hair metal (well—in the video, anyway. Look for it sometime!!) All this, and the latest British Invasion in the form of an animated all-too anatomically correct amphibian, coming up on Singles Going Steady!


Backstreet Boys - Just Want You to Know
[6.2]


Ian Mathers: Oh, shit. I guess I have to drive back to my hometown and apologize to all those girls to whom I used to say that the Backstreet Boys would never make a good song. I mean, it sounds nothing like the used to sound (they’d never used a sound as neat as that little phased guitar… thingy on any of their old singles), and it’s more than a little Kelly Clarkson (although again the Boys technique of everyone singing the same thing at once adds a little more oomph), but quality pop is quality pop, even coming from some of my teen-age nemeses.
[8]

Erick Bieritz: Since You Been Back(street). The decision to blast into the U2asphere near the end of the song is certainly a bad one, but other than that, this is a sincerely shameless bandwagon jump that is really the most logical step for the Boys to take in 2005.
[6]

Matt Chesnut: I like the little electro bits fine, but then they want to be Kelly Clarkson and it doesn’t work as much. Dudes, you aren’t Kelly Clarkson.

[4]

Andrew Unterberger: Though this song probably isn’t as good without the shockingly well-done Heavy Metal Parking Lot accompanying video, it’s still the most impressive thing they’ve done in ages—the pop/rock direction was definitely the way to go for these guys. Let’s hope it sticks around a bit longer than “Incomplete.”
[8]

Alfred Soto: I am relieved that "Since U Been Gone" is already having a seismic effect on the pop landscape. Too bad Nick Carter is not as convincing a belter as Kelly Clarkson, or that the rest of the Boys don't unleash some weird harmonies intended to clash with the surprisingly robust rhythm section and Pro Tooled guitars. "Incomplete" was a decent comeback. Isn't it time the Backstreeters hire Brian Eno already?
[5]


311 - Don't Tread on Me
[4.2]


Ian Mathers: The Stone Roses threatened to knock someone down and it sounded coolly menacing. Eternal pantywaists 311 do the same and it just sounds like they realize they can’t do anything more impressive than shove someone. Just as bad as every other one of their (non-Cure cover) singles.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: My friend and I got into a bit of an argument about ska revival Friday night at the bar. I convinced him that it was still too soon, but he in turn made me realize it’s not that far off either. The United States is due for another round in the next year or two. This song is actually decent ska-esque preparation, so anyone who wants to be ready can use this as an opportunity to break out the suspenders and freshen up their skanking.
[6]

Matt Chesnut: Isn’t the greatest hits comp usually a death knell for a band’s career? Anyway, 311’s back! Collegians, more soundtrack to your lives! Have fun!
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: Looks like these guys are never going to go away, which is mostly cool with me—“All Mixed Up,” “Down,” “Amber” and “Love Song” are all deserving alt-rock staples—but this one’s just kinda weird. Passively aggressive and with no discernable tone or meaning, it’s probably their weakest single since “Transistor.” Still, good to know they’re still around.
[4]

Alfred Soto: I last heard these guys while driving to a friend's farewell party in spring 2000. The buddy giving me a ride loved 311. "These guys are fun." Soli didn't listen to much music, but he knew what he liked. By now these guys have outlasted Bill Clinton, No Doubt, and bete noire Sublime, and you can still skank to them. A welcome anachronism.
[6]


Coldplay - Fix You
[4.2]


Ian Mathers: Recently I was re-listening to Parachutes, which has aged astoundingly well, and it made one thing clear: Either Chris Martin’s voice is getting worse, or the music Coldplay makes has gotten less and less suitable for that voice. The early, quiet bits of this are painful, and of course the lyrical conceit is risible (yes, we need another rock messiah, don’t we?); Yes the end where everything gets loud and they actually give the drummer something to do is pretty decent, but it doesn’t quite make up for the rest.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: Prepped and ready to vie with Crazy Frog for the #74 spot on the Billboard Charts. This song is about his dog, right?
[5]

Matt Chesnut: This is like a Sigur Ros song, except in English and without the bowed guitar with lots of reverb so all you can hear is the screech of the bow echoing. Like many Coldplay tunes, it’s always tease tease tease. So close to building up to a climax and then settles for getting almost there.
[5]

Andrew Unterberger: Hey, this song exists.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Didn't we review "City of Blinding Lights" already?
[2]


Switchfoot - Stars
[6.0]


Ian Mathers: Turns out that Relient K song didn’t mark the sudden dawn of my appreciation for crypto-Christian rock after all. The part where the chorus vocal fires up without any guitars to buoy it emphasizes just how much the singer needs them. Oh, and “I’ve been thinking maybe I’ve been part of the cloudy / Maybe I’m the chance of rain”? Points for imagination, but points off for the result.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: This song immediately brings to mind the song of the same title by Hum, and the opening guitar cascade and the bridge sound very similar to the alt-space rock sound of ten years ago. The verses structure is weaker, but the lyrics do double duty on the secular and religious fronts in the way that only a truly clever Christian crossover can.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: Riff riff riff! A part of me wants the singer just to get all guttural and starting screaming out an enflamed appendix. The more sensible part of me likes this just fine. It jams well (for the bros) and has some pretty bits, too (for the ladies).
[7]

Andrew Unterberger: If it takes a Christian-rock slant to get this sort of mid-90s guitar sound on the radio, than so be it. Switchfoot had a pair of great crossover MOR singles last year, but this is even better—tuneful, well produced alt-rock that, regrettably, probably has only a fraction of the pop-chart potential of “Meant to Live” or “Dare You to Move”.
[7]

Alfred Soto: As anyone who's followed my work in this column will tell you, I'm a fan of songs in which singers revel in assholedom. The rest of the band's gotta keep up, though, which doesn't happen on this track: yet another post-grunge stormtrooper, with a Creed-Nickleback sheen on the guitars. The lead asshole emotes cutely, showing genuine concern that the stars tut-tut at the "entropy and pain" on Earth. But not to worry: when he looks at the stars, "I feel like myself."
[4]


Crazy Frog - Axel F
[4.4]


Ian Mathers: Wait, I was told those little frog songs would make this worse. The kind of novelty single you can really get behind for a week or two and then maybe loathe for the rest of your days.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: It feels somehow wrong to rate this without the omnipresent commercials that made it such an object of pagan horror in the UK. Naked and alone, it just sounds like a silly, tossed-off mistake, stripped of the lethal might with which it bloodied Chris Martin’s nose and sent him, weeping, back to the album charts. Hello today, Crazy Frog, and goodbye tomorrow. Say hello to the Cheeky Girls on behalf of Uncle Sam.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: Britain, what is wrong with your socialist dystopia when this goes numba one? JAMSTER RINGTONE, GODDAMN YOU.
[2]

Andrew Unterberger: OK, fellow novelty singles, when your name is called, say “here,” and then drop to your knees and forsake all others before your digital ruler.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The English have a charming weakness for novelty songs. I am reliably told that the 12" version of this ok cover of the Harold Faltermeyer evergreen is amazing. Since I haven't heard it yet, I'll have to settle for this one, and it's a bit of alright. The genius stroke is using Ewok vocals imported from Newcleus' great 1984 breakdance hit "Jam On It."
[6]


Young Jeezy feat. Mannie Fresh - And Then What
[5.4]


Ian Mathers: Aww, Mannie just called us “Scallywags”. God bless that drum machine, everything else is dressing. Tasty dressing, mind you (especially Mannie’s bits), but dressing nonetheless.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: Mannie Fresh isn’t the best hip-hop producer of the last 10 years, but he may well be the most severely underrated. Punctuating banging beats with odd humor long before anyone knew who Lil’ Jon was, Mannie made what would have been a modest regional label a nationwide force. And he still hasn’t lost his touch, throwing this stadium-shaker to Jeezy at the far end of the Louisiana Superdome for a touchdown.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: There are few men greater than Manford Q. Fresh. His snare cadences alone are grounds for celebration. And now he’s lending his services to new blood, one Young Jeezy, who doesn’t have to lean on the strength of the production so much (i.e. he’s no Webbie!)
[8]

Andrew Unterberger: I’m not exactly staying tuned for this song’s thrilling conclusion, but it’s interesting enough for the time being. Hey, remember “Real Big”? Whatever happened to that song?
[6]

Alfred Soto: Aw, why are you dissin' Patrick Swayze? He starred in Dirty Dancing and Red Heat (and, OK, Ghost). What have you got? "A nigger doctorhood" in "million dollar dreams and federal nightmares." And recidivist tough-talk Patrick Swayze can deliver with greater flair.
[1]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-08-19
Comments (8)
 

 
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