Singles Going Steady
t’s sadly the most mediocre week for singles Stylus has yet covered, with only one song rising outside of the 4-6 range with our reviewers. However, it’s also one of the most diversely mediocre weeks yet, ranging from little-sister bubblegum to country crossover to nu-metal, nu-metal, nu-metal. So enjoy, and let’s hope next week bears more promise for the state of modern music.
Evanescence / Seether feat. Amy Lee
Everybody’s Fool / Broken
[4.8] / [2.6]
Josh Love: Face facts—if Amy Lee was a dude, shit would be unlistenable (scratch that – shit would be Seether). Carbon copy rewrite of “Bring Me to Life” – if someone hadn’t already done the trick with Nickelback, you could play the two songs simultaneously in different speakers to the absolute disbelieving delight of your fellow hipster nu-metal hataz. And is Amy Lee still dating this fuck mook from Seether? Seriously, can’t we just break into this dude’s house, leave some pictures of Scott Stapp on his bed next to a bottle of Jergens and some balled-up Kleenex, then let Amy have Chino Moreno’s phone number?
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Ian Mathers: Evanescence are one of those bands I had no interest in hearing at first, but have found their singles utterly fantastic. “Everybody’s Fool” is better than most of them so far by virtue of being short and sweet with a pretty killer chorus. Pop metal at its best. Amy Lee’s contribution to a re-recorded song by her boyfriend’s band, on the other hand, can be summed up simply: Too much verse (and too much male vocalist), not enough chorus. By the time the song gets utterly ridiculous near the end (listen to those strings!) it almost works, but the first half is too boring for words.
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Josh Timmermann: Virtually metal-dude-free (and isn't an Anne Rice opera ballad, ala "My Immortal," either), and yet, somehow, it isn't nearly as good as “Bring Me To Life”. "Everybody's Fool"'s still quite fine, in its own right, with Lee sounding terrifically fiery—just not especially thrilling, in comparison. I have no idea who Seether even is, but at any rate, it doesn't sound like I'm missing all that much. Are they, like, a Staind side-project or something?
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Andrew Unterberger: My friends always say that Evanescence is like a female Linkin Park, and I agree with them. Only difference is that I mean it as a positive and they mean it as a resounding negative. I keep fighting the good fight, but songs like “Everybody’s Fool” and unofficial Evanescense tune “Broken” aren’t helping much, lacking both the hooks of “Bring Me To Life” and the gloriously theatrical melodrama of “My Immortal”. Of the two, “Broken” comes closer, but not close enough—let’s hope they can pick it back up before I permanently lose conviction.
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Akiva Gottlieb: “Broken” somehow manages to sound less sincere than a token Staind dirge, like one of Alice In Chains’ lesser acoustic tracks, stripped of twangy melody and subversive humor. Evanescence, the lady-Linkin Park, showcases a similar aesthetic, with a lifeless, lugubrious retread of “Bring Me To Life”, sans angry screaming guy. Make like Linkin Park and get thee to a drum kit, both of ye, pronto.
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Josh Love: Knowing your audience or blatant target marketing? Naw, nevermind, rednecks don’t shop at Tar-jhay, this is Wal-Mart country motherfucker and Gretchen even says it. Really though, the genius here is how it’s not just a validation for daughters of the soil, but a vicarious thrill for everyone else—9-to-5ers, soccer moms, and suburbanites who secretly wish they could go honky-tonkin’ on Friday night instead of staying home to watch JAG.
Ian Mathers: I’m sure this song will be huge in large sections of North America (including my hometown), and I fully expect this song will speak to a certain segment of the population. Which is fine, even admirable—just keep it away from me, please. The song itself is pretty standard pop-country, not my favorite thing by a long stretch, but the fact that some people will wind up using it to justify their ignorance turns me off it completely.
Josh Timmermann: This is fun enough, but, frankly, I'm too taken with the Big & Rich album, at the moment, to really bother with this.
Andrew Unterberger: Ideologically, I have no problem with this song, and the nicest thing I can probably say about it is that it absolutely deserves to be a crossover hit—it doesn’t get more anthemic than this. But, that doesn’t mean that I have to relate to it or even enjoy it one bit. So I’ll compromise my score as such.
Akiva Gottlieb: The latest example of an ironic, empowering appropriation of a derisive term, “Redneck Woman” is, like, the biggest thing to ever happen to country music. Rightly so. Simple, sing-along honky-tonkery that embraces cheap beer Wal-Mart lingerie, Wilson’s hit has little crossover potential, but her rags to, well, rags ethos is kinda inspiring.
Diamond In The Back
Josh Love: After 693 guest appearances since his last solo shot, Luda’s back with this strangely half-assed bid for poignancy built off the long-since-overbitten 1974 William DeVaughn hit “Be Thankful For What You Got.” We learned on “Rollout” that he’s got “Playstation 2 up in the ride,” but here he confesses he used to be “blowin’ Nintendo cartridges” like the rest of us mouthbreathers. Powerful stuff.
Ian Mathers: The best song to adapt in any way William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful For What You’ve Got” is still the version Massive Attack had on Blue Lines, but this comes fairly close. At first it just sounds like Luda is reversing the original anti-materialist idea of DeVaughn’s song, but subsequent listening reveals a slightly more complex story than that. More importantly, the washed-out, echoey, slightly hissing vocal delivery by both rapper and sample are utterly captivating.
Josh Timmermann: “Diamond” is a nice change-of-pace single, but it lacks his usual, club-anthem-of-the-moment magic. In fact, this is the first Ludacris single I've heard that I can recall practically nothing about after three listens
Andrew Unterberger: Luda—the man can do no wrong. Every verse he ever spits just knocks me off my feet—he’s truly the king of over-ennunciation. Which is why this song sorta takes me back—even his last obligatory slow jam, “Splash Waterfalls,” packed more attitude than this laid-back riff off “Be Thankful for What You Got”. Ludacris is still Ludacris, and it’s a nice enough sample, but it just doesn’t feel as inspired as the rest of his stuff.
Akiva Gottlieb: A low-key, almost jazzy track from the normally hyperactive Ludacris, halfway reminiscent of Ahmad’s “Back In The Day”, but without much of a hook. Even so, it’s a pleasant enough throwback from a genre that seems rightfully intent on pushing music forward.
Pieces of Me
Josh Love: Not half bad, nice line when she says “I can finally rest my head on something real / And I like the way that feels.” But if you’re ever gonna step out of your sister’s shadow, Ashlee, you’re just gonna have to start saying shit like “Why do they call ‘em hamburgers if they don’t got ham in ‘em?”
Ian Mathers: No, I don’t like this better than most of Jessica’s work because it’s got, like, guitars, and stuff. I like it better for two simple reasons: Ashlee has a better, if less flashy, voice than her sister, and she sounds a lot more into the song than Jessica ever has. As if she might actually, you know, enjoy making music.
Josh Timmermann: Being blonde and adorable goes a long way. Plus, this is actually better than any Jessica Simpson song I've heard, except maybe that new(ish) one where she says "with nothing but a t-shirt on" (or something like that).
Andrew Unterberger: This is more like it, but only really when compared with the competition, sister Jessica. Like her sister, Ashlee doesn’t pack much in the way of personality or distinction, but unlike her sister, she at least packs a couple decent hooks to make up for it. May you be equally successful with the TV show, Ash.
Akiva Gottlieb: Nepotism has yielded some unsightly fruit into the trash bins of pop music, and little Ashlee Simpson—who got a record deal simply because ofher kinship to Bart and Lisa—politely declines to break the mold with this Avril-lite debut single. Dead on arrival.
Breaking the Habit
Josh Love: I hate to be flippant when it’s clear this song is about suicide, and I’m sure it’s done more to comfort its fanbase than, say, A.C. Newman, but if this millenia only gets one rock-radio self-slaughter ballad, it should be “Adam’s Song” by blink-182 instead.
Ian Mathers: My God, it’s a Linkin Park song not full of screaming. Still firmly in the “there’s something wrong with me, but YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT UNLESS IT’S MY FAULT” mode they normally adopt (seriously, band and fans both, cheer the fuck up), they at least keep it all melodic, occasionally twitchy and with a great increasingly repetitive guitar part. And it’s too short to get tired of. My God, I just gave Linkin Park a 7.
Josh Timmermann: Every Linkin Park song I've heard seems to be about the exact same thing: the singer guy loathing himself for being a no-good fuck-up, while lashing out more vehemently at the repressive social constructs that have made him a no-good fuck-up. Except that, you know, he's kind of not a fuck-up at all, unless "multimillionaire fuck-up" isn't a blatant oxymoron.
Andrew Unterberger: Like Blink-182, Linkin Park consistently stay one step ahead of their peers, with far superior production, hooks and…well, not lyrics, anyway. But they’re hardly essential for enjoyable nu-metal, and dammit if Linkin Park haven’t proven themselves once again with “Breaking the Habit,” a damn-near innovative number with its dance beat and gorgeous production. Lyrics still suck, but whatever, I’ll take it.
Akiva Gottlieb: Is this really a new single? More painted-on Linkin Park angst, but with a beat.
No Love (Beautiful Life)
Josh Love: My attempts to be like Milton from Office Space and listen to my work radio “at a reasonable volume” have been frustrated in recent days by the random off-key crooning of “beeyoootifuhuhuhul,” presumably delivered by some Cash Money Millionaire with his nuts in a vise. Joke’s on me, however—what I thought was the worst part of the song turns out to be the best now that I bump it at full volume—the rest is just depressingly unimaginative misogyn-ickiness.
Ian Mathers: Mannie Fresh’s off-key falsetto reminds me of Beck, but aside from that, the song’s pretty standard, with both Mannie and Baby’s verses being pedestrian but enjoyable. What really sticks, and makes the song worth hearing at all, is Jazze Pha’s ridiculously gleeful hook (“colourful ice”, “all my shit be designer baby”, all that). Now if only that was the whole song and it was two minutes long, this would be classic.
Josh Timmermann: "All my shit be designer, baby." Oh, whatever.
Andrew Unterberger: Oh yeah. Fine jam, and that falsetto just seals the deal. It’s kinda lame that you have to spend the entire song waiting for one word, but it’s so worth it.
Akiva Gottlieb: Byooootifuuuhuuuhhhuuuhuulll. That dude with the high voice in the chorus should offer his latrocious backup vocals to every group from D12 to The Mars Volta. I used to tell my guidance counselor that I wanted to grow up to be a debaser, but now I want to be a part-time tymer, baby, to supplement my income.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-06-18