Singles Going Steady
his week in singles—nothing to write home about, unfortunately. Between The Pussycat Dolls’ statement of begrudged loyalty and Josh Gracin’s update of Nashville Skyline-era Dylan, we just couldn’t find much to chew on here, with even the triumphant comeback of Ricky Martin failing to ignite much enthusiasm. Well, they can’t all be winners, so sit back and prepare for a deserved trashing of one of the worst musical weeks in recent memory, on today’s Singles Going Steady.
Ricky Martin featuring Amerie and Fat Joe – I Don’t Care
Ian Mathers: When this started I thought he was Nelly – his comeback style is like a slightly higher pitched version of the vocals for “Country Grammar”, which makes this just about his best single ever (especially when you consider the fairly compelling percussion, nice string part and decent guest turns from Fat Joe and Amerie). And “I was starting to feel like / I should kill everything that was moving” is without question the greatest lines Ricky Martin has ever sung. Still, somebody tell Ricky that whiny dependency isn't any more charming in men than it is in women.
Anthony Miccio: It's hard to describe just how annoyed I am that Martin didn't return with another mild salsa in praise of a raging slut. "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "She Bangs" clearly beg to part of a first-single troika, a dream shattered by this mediocre attempt at overwraught Iglesias. Notched a point up for adding the "crack!" yell.
Alfred Soto: Jon Secada getting crunk with Lil Jon – except that it’s 2005. Ricky Martin needs a comeback, while Jon Secada needs help – any help.
Thomas Inskeep: Fat Joe and Amerie’s worthless contributions result in Ricky being a guest on his own worthless single. You don’t care? Neither do I, Ricky. This isn’t good as Latin, as R&B-lite, or even as pop. It’s a VH-1 wet dream, and that’s not a compliment.
D4L – Laffy Taffy
Ian Mathers: That dopey plodding keyboard part is so cheap sounding, so pokey, that it actually becomes the best thing about this. Given that all the rest of the track is are finger snaps and hi hats, this might actually make a cool instrumental – it's barely there! Sadly, the asinine chorus and incessant chanting of a bunch of semi-talented MCs prety much ruin it. Also: What exactly is Laffy Taffy?
Anthony Miccio: I guess Anton Maiden was just ahead of his time. The contrast between the crass, enthusiastic rapping and the twerpy MIDI backing is pretty amusing, but I'm scared of this Casiotone for the Painfully Erect becoming a hot new trend.
Alfred Soto: The spare arrangement – programmed hi-hat and three-note synth riff – is a worthy template for M.I.A. But a template is all it remains, including the anonymous rappers keeping each other awake with double entendres that never transcend fifth-grade playground banter.
Thomas Inskeep: Who listens to this shit?! Where Ying Yang Twins, say, are clever, this is just vulgar, with the most boring production to boot. One of 2005’s worst singles.
Josh Gracin – Stay With Me (Brass Bed)
Ian Mathers: So this would be some of that smoove country I've heard so much about. It's nice to hear mandolin again, even if this winds up being more power ballad than anything rustic. In fact, except for the signifiers in his voice and some of the instrumentation (pedal steel and fiddle do not automatically equal country, whatever Nashville would like you to think), I would have assumed this was Josh Groban-type stuff. It's not bad, in a Sunday afternoon sort of way, but he's no Nickel Creek, and this is no “When You Come Back Down”.
Anthony Miccio: A "Lay Lady Lay" for the CMT set, which I can't pretend I'm a member of.
Thomas Inskeep: In much the same way that Kelly Clarkson’s gotten past the American Idol label, Gracin’s proving you can’t limit him to that, either. He’s an affable, middle-of-the-road country singer with a winning smile and pleasing voice, here singing a PG-rated sexy song about a night spent in with his ladyfriend. Reminiscent of a slew of mid-‘90s male singers (Chad Brock, Tracy Lawrence, et.al.), Gracin probably won’t have a career 10 years from now, but he’s a fine enough addition to the charts these days.
The Pussycat Dolls - Stickwitu
Ian Mathers: If you're going to spell it “Stickwitu”, don't pronounce it “Stickwitchu”. That's just lazy. I know the lyrical sentiments are a little more enlightened, but I can't avoid thinking of this as the “you'll do, so don't leave” song. Nobody is going to take her higher, so she'll have to stick with you. Ouch. Fated to soundtrack high school proms for at least a while, and about as doomed as most of the relationships it will soundtrack.
Anthony Miccio: The verse is less than memorable, but this song has my favorite Mariah chorus of the year and it's not too much a chore to hear it.
Alfred Soto: Awright, ladies, so you got him away from his un-hot girlfriend. You gotta do more than this if you think you’re this much hotter.
Thomas Inskeep: What is this, worst singles of the year week? Quite possibly the most pointless ballad of the year - ballads are for singers, and this striptease crew may be good at what they do, but that’s strippin’. “Don’t Cha” got over thanks to Cee-Lo’s writing and production; this has neither.
Rihanna – If It's Lovin' That You Want
Ian Mathers: This is lush. Something about the way they do the echo, I think, plus the live-sounding drums, reggae guitar hits, etc. Although she doesn't sound like the same person from “Pon De Replay”, Rihanna still kills this. A little Amerie at times, but distinctive enough to carry the song. I really wish this had hit back in July.
Anthony Miccio: I enjoy the dub echo and the track is competent, but Rhianna's presence over it less commanding than Ashanti's on the similarly psychedelic "Happy." Not a good thing.
Alfred Soto: Rihanna dear, if it’s really lovin’ you want, you’re gonna need more than that walk. And guys don’t need any more friends.
Thomas Inskeep: I’m one of the few who thought “Pon de Replay” was terribly overrated, but I’ve got a feeling that more will agree with me on this one. “If It’s Lovin’” is another limp “Caribbean” groove topped by Rihanna’s wispy (read: barely there) vocals. What does Jay-Z see in this chick?
Shinedown - Save Me
Ian Mathers: For a second there the intro made me think they were going to do something surfy with this song, rather than the same ol' Default Nickelback / Creedisms. Save him from his blasphemy, or something, but shouldn't he really save himself? I think they'd like to be forboding, but they just end up sounding like a really talented Soundgarden cover band.
Anthony Miccio: It's remarkable how this track emulates both the casual musicianship of Audioslave's instrumental trio (rolling verse, genuinely dynamic climax) as well as the earnest, pea-brained wailing of Chris Corrnell ("save me if you can/ from the blasphemy in my wasteland". Is it really this hard for good bands to find inspiring lead singers or do people really enjoy the idea of a humorless Sammy Hagar?
Alfred Soto: Dear Jesus: save me from plodding white men with Chris Cornell clones at the mic who invoke thy name in vain.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-10-31