The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in singles—Keyeshia Cole regrets not doing anything regretful, Lil’ Kim demands an encore to her career, Bon Jovi stick it to the man, Twista gives a long outdated shoutout to the slow jam{s} of yesteryear, and Frankie J. goes to the Extreme. All this and Gretchen Wilson gettin’ tore up, on this Friday’s Singles Going Steady!


Bon Jovi – Have A Nice Day
[2.5]


Ian Mathers: Easy enough to say you'll do what you like when you're a rich rock star. The type of person Jon Bon Jovi is aiming this song at/pretending to be here can't get away with just telling the world to “have a nice day” when it gets in his face (and also... what?), because he'd end up destitute. It's like mouthing off to the judge on TV courtroom dramas: Fun in fiction, but in reality your ass winds up in the slammer.
[1]

Anthony Miccio: Fuck off and die.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Almost 20 years since Slippery When Wet made Jon Bon-Bon the cutest poofster on MTV, you have to applaud the genuine commitment to third-hand riffage and phony rebel-rock evinced by New Jersey’s finest. The lyrics are reliably third-hand too: we got “black and white,” “rolling the dice,” “have a nice day,” “nothing’s what it seems,” “shinin’ like a diamond,” and, my favorite, “livin’ in a broken home of hopes and dreams.” Jon must have been real upset when Green Day beat them to the top five.
[1]

Mike Powell: Awful, diluted slogan-rock about trying to keep above the endless bummer of everyday life. This song belongs next between a New York Fuckin’ City t-shirt and sticker of Calvin pissing on their shriveled dignity.
[2]

Matt Chesnut: Even approaching middle age, the rebellious fire of youth still burns in Bon Jovi. “Who are you to tell me what to do with my life?” “When the world gets in my face, I say ‘Have a nice day’ (guitar solo).” Finger on the fucking pulse, man.
[3]

John M. Cunningham: Apart from Jon's voice seeming a little constricted at times, it's sort of amazing how closely this hews to the Bon Jovi of yore, right down to all the renegade cowboyisms. I mean, as soon as he declared that he'd stand his ground, I went to check if this wasn't actually the theme to Young Guns III.
[5]


Frankie J – More Than Words
[3.5]


Ian Mathers: The very concept makes me want to smack whoever thought of it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, but perhaps unsurprisingly, this is better than the original. The vocals are better, especially because they bother having backing ones. The backing is the same acoustic guitar lick, but smoother and with a better beat. If I'd been able to forget the original I could easily have thought “More Than Words” always sounded like this, and my psyche would be that much more unscarred.
[5]

Anthony Miccio: Awwww, yeah, yeah, frankiebaby, yeah, yeah, your gratuitous melismas dowowowowown't make up for a lack of expressive harmonies or quality guitar work, NO they don’t know they don't no they don't...ooohhhhhwooooo...
[4]

Alfred Soto: I’d rather hear this evergreen prom ballad recast as Babyface’s “When Will I See You?” than KISS Unplugged. But there’s a reason why Babyface and Paul Stanley don’t play much acoustic guitar these days.
[3]

Mike Powell: If I bought Frankie J. freshly ground pieces of Swiss chocolate, organic butter just out of the churn, a $40 bottle of vanilla extract, and two eggs still warm from the chicken, he’d make the kind of chocolate chip cookies that tasted like they came out of a Pillsbury tube. Seriously, “More Than Words” wasn’t like, some sort of obscure song, it was a total mega-hit, and this guy just decided to forsake the original’s drippy, pretty harmonies for corny synth whoops, melismatic vocals, and a general air of money-grubbing indifference.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: This song doesn’t need to exist. Not now. Not in the past.
[2]

John M. Cunningham: Here's a sign that I'm getting old -- not only am I realizing that most of this song's demographic won't remember the Extreme original, but in my nostalgia I'm fully prepared to argue why that version is superior. Actually, it mostly comes down to the vocals: whereas Cherone and Bettencourt root the song in surprisingly agile harmonies, Frankie J just flops around like a wet noodle.
[3]


Gretchen Wilson – All Jacked Up
[6.0]


Ian Mathers: I think I need a beer after this, but I don't want people to think I have a problem, as Wilson clearly does. Even if she didn't drink, making a fetish of overindulgence is a problem in my book. (Also, country music? I'm sorry baby, I know I said I'd try, but I just can't keep pretending I don't hate you 99% of the time)
[2]

Anthony Miccio: Those American Idol wails betray the fact that she probably wasn't all jacked up at the time of recording.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Gretchen’s in the basement mixin’ up the medicine, sassy like Dolly Parton and all fired up like Joan Jett. This has got more wit, raunch, and power than Bon Jovi and Nickleback have managed their entire careers. Why do I get suspect that Lil Kim’s joined her for shots of Jåegermeister? Rock and roll!
[8]

Mike Powell: Country music has more nuance and variety in boozing anthems than any other genre, wholesale, no contest. It’s no “There’s a Tear In My Beer,” though; the lyrics read like AC/DC w/out dicks, half as funny but twice as thick-headed. The limp “you shouldn’t drink and drive” message is pretty well-subverted by the fact that it’s buried at the end of a song that stakes its charm on getting totally pissed without premeditation, getting into a fight with a 10”2’ woman, and slamming your truck into a pole to the glee of all onlookers. Not quite as glorious as George Jones riding a sit-down lawnmower when he was denied his car keys, but definitely in the spirit. The A-side to the bad coffee and cheap faith of AA, and pretty well worth it.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: Just because you play it faster doesn’t make it CRAZY. Man, this is a song about heavy drinking. There’s like two measures of rowdiness when the violin goes all faux-guitar noise up the neck. The rest of it’s totally suitable, but fails to live up to the shenanigans implied by its title.
[5]

John M. Cunningham: The only other Gretchen Wilson song I've heard is "Redneck Woman," but damn, girl makes me grin. She's in full command here, confidently zipping through clever lines about a drunken night at the bar, all the while dancing around a lively fiddle part and cheered on by a rowdy crowd. I'll buy her a shot any time.
[8]


Keyshia Cole – I Should Have Cheated
[6.0]


Ian Mathers: The backing is about halfway to Anita Baker in sound, but of course she's really yelling at him. That tension, between the kind of song I associate with cooing soft nothings and Cole's fairly furious tirade at the guy she's fed up with provide what interest there is here, but the whole “you're accusing me of shit you've done” thing ran out of excitement a couple of hundred iterations ago. And I never liked “Sweet Love”.
[3]

Anthony Miccio: Dump me already, girl!
[4]

Alfred Soto: Boasting a lyrical inversion that would have made Smokey Robinson proud, this song is all the more impressive by featuring a pained vocal performance by Keyshia. Whose creamy high end and gritty bottom redeem an arrangement that’s all’s too reminiscent of 1997-era Missy-and-Timbo.
[7]

Mike Powell: A martyr-ballad about the regret of not doing something that you know would’ve been immoral from Keyshia, one of those up-and-coming “real urban songstress” types. It’s got what you’d expect: melty strings, cascading vocals, that whole looking out the window all sad-like with your head cocked and the feel of pitter patter slo-mo in the street, etc. What’s great is that she doesn’t sound particularly angry in the song, but you still feel like throwing bricks at her man’s car for doing her wrong.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: This song’s about the little details. The clicks echoing off into nothing; the introduction and elimination of strings; the picked guitar. It all adds up to a bittersweet tune brimming with regret. A different kind of “lost love”, certainly, but the regret of not cheating is still regret.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: This strikes me as the same sort of no-frills, sophisticated R&B as Teedra Moses's "Be Your Girl," and though I probably prefer Teedra, I appreciate this song's casual groove and the genuine emotion I hear in Keyshia's voice.
[6]


Lil' Kim – Lighters Up
[5.8]


Ian Mathers: Lil' Kim didn't always sound so Jamaican, did she? The “welcome to Brooklyn” bit puts me in mind of Damian Marley. The lyrical content is pretty drab but this is an effective head-nodder, just voice and piano chords and the beat. It's not too heavy but not faux-minimalist, either, just nicely off-kilter. The piano on the chorus is easily the best part, but Kim doesn't do badly by herself.
[6]

Anthony Miccio: You'd think she got arrested for something other than perjury.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Fuck Sean Paul: Kim Little shows those young bloods what they’re gonna miss while she’s doing time. Speaking expert Spanish, calling out for drinks from a bartender who’d be stupid to turn her down, this unreformed slattern cops to something like wisdom. If James Brown and Martha Stewart could score comebacks…
[8]

Mike Powell: Planting some seeds of parochial love before going off to jail, Lil’ Kim tosses off some bored-sounding verses about getting high, loving Brooklyn, etc. Scott Storch’s beat kinda saves the day here, because I don’t know how much I can get behind the pandering dancehall flavor of the chorus.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: Before she gets hauled off to jail for a year, Lil Kim is making sure everyone (and she covers pretty much every major hip-hop city in America) in the country cares when she gets out.
[7]

John M. Cunningham: It's kinda fun to hear Lil Kim try out the distinct tropical cadences of "Welcome to Jamrock" -- she even adopts a fake Jamaican accent -- although all the place-name shout-outs get tiresome after a while. (Also, speaking as a Chicagoan, can we have moratorium on rappers saying "Chi-town"? Just because Kanye says it doesn't mean it doesn't sound stupid.)
[5]


Twista feat. Trey Songz – Girl Tonite
[5.7]


Ian Mathers: I'm torn – Twista sounds more like a novelty act the more I hear him, and the lyrics here make me giggle, but the chorus is actually pretty catchy. It shouldn't be, and sex ballads need to stop namedropping the creators of previous sex ballads, but the bits where Trey pretends to be Twista's girlfriend are just priceless.
[6]

Anthony Miccio: I love Twista's guest raps but his singles almost always bore me. It's the darndest thing. I'd almost rather talk about that "Gotta Make It" track, but this is neither the time nor place.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Dude loves his R&B collection more than his ho’s (Jamie Foxx and Kanye should remind him that Jodeci, Shai, and R. Kelly are hardly the best influences). And he loves the sound of his own voice even more.
[5]

Mike Powell: Shouldn’t there be some sort of self-imposed standard of being half-clever in writing fuck-tunes these days? I do get a kind of disgusting and self-conscious delight out of “show me how you work them jaws, and in the bed when the faucet run, you will catch that drain.” Actually, the line “come and fuck me in reverse now girl” makes me think that not even Twista really listens to what Twista says. Too busy panting?
[5]

Matt Chesnut: 80’s revivalism hits R&B. This would fit nicely on the old school jams station. Twista doing things slow is like regular speed for everyone else, so he’s on a speed most comfortable. Trey Songz makes the chorus extra lush with about a dozen layers of vocal harmonies. Class.
[8]

John M. Cunningham: I really could listen to Twista rap all day -- it's not just that he's fast, it's that he articulates with such dexterity that each line sounds appealingly alert. Too bad he wastes much of his skill on unexceptional songs like this.
[5]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-10-07
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