Singles Going Steady
his week in singles—Natasha Bedingfield further tries to endear herself to our side of the pond, Coldplay have a lot on their minds, Daddy Yankee proves that he and Shakira are still the only people making music in other languages, and KoRn swear that their Cameo cover was not the end of their career. All this and the comeback solo single of Jamie Foxx, on today’s Singles Going Steady!
Chamillionaire feat. Lil' Flip - Turn It Up
Ian Mathers: Say what you want about Paul Wall, but one of the things he has going for him is that he's a pretty distinctive rapper. His ex-partner, on the other hand, is not, and with a (loudly boasted about) generic Scott Storch beat in the background this could be a million other rappers. It's not bad, and Lil' Flip delivers a fine guest verse, but it's not something that's going to stay with you for very long. Revenge sounds pretty much like lust and greed, it turns out.
Alfred Soto: He’s certainly got an interesting name.
David Drake: So disappointing. Super-boring Scott Storch going for a poor man's "Like a Pimp" without the heart, two incredibly talented rappers underperforming. Flip hasn't sounded the same since he dissed T.I. - his voice is deeper, he's no longer funny, and is about as convincing as Vanilla Ice when he talks about his nine, dropping all the punchlines about krispy kremes and bad table manners that made him famous.
Mike Powell: The last of the big Houston names comes to the table to do nothing in particular; Scott Storch’s nightmare lullaby vibe gets nicked from a Stephen King made-for-TV adaptation and Chamillionaire (not pronounced Chuh-millionaire) promises you that he will blow the shit out of your Camry’s woofer. Also, I think Lil’ Flip claims to be Irish somewhere in there. Unlikely.
Coldplay - Talk
Ian Mathers: Okay, yes, it's the riff from “Computer Love” (and immediately identifiable as such if you've heard the Kraftwerk track), but what was sort of diffident and sad in the original is here pumped up to the status of an actual hook. “Talk” isn't as good as its source material, and everything but that riff is very much exactly what you'd expect, but as long as they play that guitar it's massively satisfying. I'm not sure I'm looking for anything more from my radio fodder than that, and although I never would have guessed it from Parachutes, that's all Coldplay are to me now.
Alfred Soto: Computer love, computer love. Punch a few numbers and you get insta-angst.
David Drake: Underrated by many critics: Coldplay's embrace of grandeur as a musical element, dismissed too easily as empty style, propping up a lack of ideas or perhaps propping up empty ideas, concepts without substance, pure self-indulgent, self-embraced importance, etc. And sometimes they're right, when lyrics are so vague (er, "universal," cough) but here the proper melodic hook sticks like flypaper, and so the epic scope sounds perfect.
Mike Powell: I’ve got to be honest; this is the first full song I’ve heard by this band since “Yellow,” which always reminded me of a well-scrubbed Pavement. This song reminds me of a well-scrubbed Pavement wearing new linen pants and smeared with cocoa butter, but reminds me even more of the feeling of my testicles lolling in ocean water during a day at the beach: soothing, but shriveling and essentially pointless.
John Seroff: It takes work to out nullify U2, but I'm of the opinion that Coldplay is now officially the most boring band on the airwaves. This is less a single and more wallpaper; after a half dozen listens, I'm still not sure if I've heard it yet. Singularly unremarkable and utterly bland, it's hard to find much of anything to dislike about "Talk", except that in a world as full of bright and wonderful music as this one, I can't imagine why you'd want to waste your time on this blank slate.
Daddy Yankee - Rompe
Ian Mathers: It's “The Cat Came Back”. Seriously, listen to the intro again. Sadly, it quickly moves into the same beat every reggaeton track uses, and the only difference between this and, say, “Gasolina” is what Yankee chants on the refrain. Since it doesn't even have the virtue of being supremely annoying, we're left with mere tedium.
Alfred Soto: Ah-eh, ah-eh, ah-eh. RICO. SUAVE.
David Drake: In a just world, this will be just as huge as "Gasolina." All the crazy rhythmic shifts where you switch from the constant hip-locking groove to a quick shuffle, breaks with stabbing lasers, snares rolling, drum switch-ups, "nananana, nananana, nananana naaaa," record scratching, beat-boxing Timbaland-style, the shout-along chorus, and lyrics that I can only assume are as sexual as the rolling reggaeton groove. Um yes, 10 sounds about right.
Mike Powell: I couldn’t walk to my mailbox (which isn’t even outside of my building) without hearing a reggaeton beat this summer. It was fine, actually. But it’s December now. This is making about as much sense right now as Tabasco on yogurt. Time to fucking hibernate.
John Seroff: Giving "Rompe" a numerical review is missing the point; this isn't music to listen to so much as it is background wash, a soundtrack to roll up in, order a drink to or shake ass over. A relentless, critic-proof knuckleheaded bounce that bears a stronger resemblance to ytmnd loop than a complete song, the undoubtedly soon-to-be-inescapable beat sounds like it'll be better by the fourth remix. Now, it's just eating straight cookie dough and just as likely to make you sick if you overdo it.
Jamie Foxx feat. Ludacris - Unpredictable
Ian Mathers: I bet Jamie Foxx is actually really bad in bed. Ludacris, on the other hand...
Alfred Soto: As an actor Jamie’s got an unheralded range – much more than his voice. But his acting chops are important, as is his amiable mimicry. His intonations evoke Bob Marley and Twista without devolving into burlesque. In short, he can act like a pop star. Whether the audience will follow is another story; Collateral wasn’t a hit, and Jamie Foxx played Tom Cruise better than Tom Cruise.
David Drake: Song title begs an easy slam. Ludacris is funny as usual, wink-wink-nod humor, but Jamie Foxx's vocals are a little thin and ... its so predictable!!! Am I right folks?!
Mike Powell: I would’ve said “anything to not have to hear ‘Gold Digger’ again”; thankfully, while R. Kelly continues to gussy up his postmillennial jester routine, someone can step in to be the prince. Between deconstruction of logic and kama sutra revisions, Foxx gets to be an amateur porn auter; when he says “Girl get comfortable, we ‘bout to do something you never done before,” you don’t necessarily think he means making a song that sorta makes you forget he’s an actor.
John Seroff: Foxx's self produced first single smacks of Kanye West's influence in every way but the most important: it's not especially good. Solidly middle-of-the-road R&B only barely fit to make out or dance to, 'Unpredictable' takes no chances, carefully positioning itself in the most innocuous and radio friendly manner so as not to embarrass its crossover star with a The Return of Bruno style debacle. It's a success on that count; Foxx does faux-R. Kelly as well as he apes Ray Charles, but from the lame spoken word opening to the too-short and atypically pedestrian Ludacris guest verses to the song-ending falsetto chorus redux, 'Unpredictable' is anything but.
Korn - Twisted Transistor
Alfred Soto: These guys are still rockin’ like it’s 1999. But it’s 2005 now, I think.
David Drake: One of my friends is a 'sound engineer' and one thing that bothers the shit out of him is COMPRESSION. Not like mp3 compression from a poor rip, but the actual mastering, and how sound is smoooothed out. Usually I think dude is totally missing the forest for the trees but on this track the utter gut-pounding emotion it tries to invoke seems so tempered by the compressed mastering.
Mike Powell: The dark irony is that this song is about the redemptive power of music.
John Seroff: Okay, forget the song. Let's talk about the video. In the video, the players in Korn are replaced with Lil' Jon, David Banner, XZibit and Snoop. The Korn dopplegangers are playing a benefit for a CBGB's clone. XZibit keeps puking everywhere. David Banner almost has his eye put out by something shooting out of a smoke machine. Snoop gets snarly and diva-ish and slaps their intern around. LIL JON TAKES OFF HIS GLASSES. Clearly, this is an important turning point in the evolution of the American music video. Whazzat? How's the song? Forget the song.
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
Ian Mathers: In retrospect “These Words” is a really great single that we all sold short. “Unwritten” isn't quite as good, but it does suggest “These Words” wasn't just a fluke. Both have verses that seem kind of boring at first, but the beginning of each chorus is so wonderful that on subsequent listens you enjoy the verses as necessary preludes. She uses the semi-choral backing vocals later on very well, and like “These Words” the lyrics are just abstract enough to get interesting. Let's see if she can keep this up.
Alfred Soto: Sounding like a cross between Jane Child and Natalie Imbruglia and enunciating like she learned English in a Finnish boarding school, Bedingfield’s one more pop-savvy ingénue hoping to charm us a second time. It’ll be hard when she learns that charm’s got a half-life shorter than patience.
David Drake: This is dangerously close to a trip-hop Sheryl Crow. How affirming.
Mike Powell: Meta-fictive pop that wallows through a bunch of existential self-affirmation before wedging some eerily lifeless gospel in before the last chorus. Clever once, a little irritating every time after. If I follow the metaphor correctly, I advise you to, err, “put down the pen” or something.
John Seroff: Oh, Britain. With Rachel Stevens and Girls aloud to choose from, why export us THIS pap? Bedingfield's first single was a mystery-to-me international hit but as little as "These Words" grabbed me, this is MUCH worse. Paint-by-numbers pop should have at least a single standout moment; this tries to coast by on a Tuesdays with Morrie feel good vibe that manages to be both cloying and stultifying without breaking a sweat. "I break tradition / sometimes my tries are outside the lines / We've been conditioned to not make mistakes / but I can't live that way"? Oprah and cancer patients don't need this much glossy self-affirmation. "Feel the rain on your skin / No one else can feel it for you"? Somebody get that copy of SARK's collected works away from Jean Teasdale and get her a shot of tequila STAT. Worth avoiding.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-12-05