Singles Going Steady
his week on Singles Going Steady, we check in with two obvious wannabes for official jam of the summer, learn how to do the rockaway, get blasted back to the UK in 1997 and come back in time for (another!) hot rock group from down under. It’s gonna be epic, stay tuned.
Walkie Talkie Man
Ian Mathers: This sounds like Gob with extra rapping help courtesy of the annoying guy from Wheatus. Only it’s great. Utterly disposable pop, and all the better for it. The yarn-based video is a hoot, too.
Akiva Gottlieb: AMG calls Steriogram New Zealand’s Sum 41, and that description lands completely on target. Supremely annoying, with Sum’s patented riff-raff rap verse and punk shout-along chorus, Steriogram’s lackluster single makes me wish that Michel Gondry’s polymorphous video could be somehow transplanted onto, like, a Bruce Cockburn song.
Kareem Estefan: Where Jet rips off one artist after another, cashing in on hits with obvious equivalents from the 70s, Steriogram simply makes a rock song. It is no more original, no less indebted to the past, but it is far more refreshing. The ridiculously fast rap-sing in the verses helps as well, and the chorus is far catchier than the average modern rock hit. Although “Walkie Talkie Man” is certainly not as weird/delightful as Australian neighbours Bumbelebeez 81’s “Pony Ride,” Steriogram is still a welcome alternative rock breakthrough.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, this is fun. Not quite memorable enough to have garnered airplay if it wasn’t for that Gondry video (god bless him) but enjoyable enough to make me thankful that it did.
Flap Your Wings
Akiva Gottlieb: The cowbell is pretty inspiring, the command to “drop down and get yr eagle on” less so.
Kareem Estefan: Pro: Interesting assortment of percussion.
Con: I don’t think there’s a melody here.
Pro: Nelly’s delivery is still impeccable.
Con: What the hell is “getting your eagle on”?
Andrew Unterberger: This is that rare, rare summer jam that’s so fucking bad that it’s actually preferable to almost everything else on the radio. From the utter lack of (musical) hooks to Nelly’s stupid vocal interjections (“BLING!”) to not one, but two hysterically lame attempts at spawning a “Hot in Herre”-type catchphrase. I gotta give it a zero, though if we were talking in strict terms of pure enjoyment, I’d probably have to give it a ten.
Terror Squad feat. Fat Joe and Remy
Akiva Gottlieb: Can I take the fifth? I mean, there’s nothing appealing about this song. The backing track is repetitive, the MCs say nothing of note, there’s no soul, no backbone, no vibe.
Kareem Estefan: Can a heavy beat make a song? Yes, it can. Don’t look for variety within this song, just nod your head slowly to the bass drum, note the strings along the way, and lean back. The Terror Squad will take care of the rest.
Andrew Unterberger: I seriously hope the “rockaway” becomes the newest dance craze. Can’t you just picture a whole room of clubbers folding their arms like Usher and just sort of rocking back and forth? Post-modernism on the dancefloor. Hot shit.
Akiva Gottlieb: Not a great song by any means--think Fatboy Slim meets Right Said Fred--but its lyrics are more penetrating than the standard club fare. Racism, fear, and inaction are the real weapons of mass destruction! Why didn’t anyone coin this phrase before? I’m serious…these are incendiary words of dissent. “Whether you’re in nirvana, or far-vana…” Okay, maybe that one isn’t so great.
Kareem Estefan: Man loves his dad. But all is not well in the world. “Racism”, “greed”, and “fear” are all weapons of mass destruction, says Faithless, and he won’t let us forget it. But even if “Mass Destruction” comes across a little too solemn, it doesn’t get too preachy, mainly because the vocals are kept as minimal as the dark beats. The melody isn’t very memorable, but the production is quite nice, and overall, “Mass Destruction” is pretty average.
Andrew Unterberger: What, is it 1997 again? What the fuck is Faithless doing getting play in the states? Anyway, this is a fine single to do it with—slick as hell production, a couple of nifty sample-hooks and a catchy (though not exactly thought-provoking) chorus. Seeing this on MTV will continue to make my day for a little while.
You’re the Only One
Akiva Gottlieb: “You’re The Only One” is sardonic, tuneful, hilarious, and sometimes very awkward--girls should not be singing about putting their hands between boys’ legs. No, wait, they should. I am an asshole. This song, for its considerable subversion of pop formula, is a breath of fresh air. Maria Mena may not have Nellie McKay’s musical skills or vocal range, but she is certainly the Punky Brewster of this week’s pop charts.
Kareem Estefan: Behind Alanis and Avril comes Maria Mena, who’s produced an extremely catchy, but painfully irritating love song with “You’re the Only One.” The way she trivially runs through her boyfriend’s qualities in such a cutesy “he’s special” manner is sickening, not to mention the shameless self-deprecation (don’t mistake it for honesty), and the grating delivery. This 18-year-old can sing, write a good melody, and even tie her words together pretty well, but God, is she annoying.
Andrew Unterberger: I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. I’m a sucker for the Joni-esque vocal calisthenics on the verses and the Avril-esque belting on the chorus, but a whole of the lyrics are kind of awkward. On second thought, though, that kind of adds to the charm. So I guess I can be conclusively positive about this one. Bravo.
Akiva Gottlieb: Hott, sexy, chickeebaby…apply all these adjectives, wait an hour, re-apply.
Kareem Estefan: This is sexy. It’s got a hot beat, irresistible vocals, but best of all, there are sirens to announce that the song’s about to blow up. Not that it ever really does explode, but such a threat keeps listeners on their toes. “Scandalous” might not be remembered for long, but with this kind of heat, it’ll make a great summer single.
Andrew Unterberger: Uh-oh. Are those sirens, bass rumbles and fizzing sound effects I hear? Hoo, that’s seriously dangerous. Woah, so there’s a pretty good song here, too? Bonus.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-07-02