The Singles Jukebox
The Wheat



hello again, and welcome to the concluding part of this week’s UK Singles Jukebox, aka The Bit Where We Get To Be Nice. We’ll be taking in the guitarist from The Longpigs, the crappiest moustache in Detroit, the third most famous member of Take That, a girl from Newcastle being even worse at mock-carrying a tyre than she is at mock-fainting, a girl from DC who’s worse still at spinning some car keys round her finger, a cartoon crocodile from Germany, and Sleater-Kinney. We begin, however, by wondering if thinking that something is better than Tyler James covering ‘Your Woman’ actually equates to thinking it’s any good. In the case of the Kaiser Chiefs, perhaps not.


Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot
[5.00]


Jessica Popper: The Kaiser Chefs were my favourite indie band, until everyone else liked them. See, I really have turned indie! No more popular bands for me!
[8]

Joe Macare: Thoughts on listening to 'I Predict A Riot' closely for the first time: 1. Isn't this about the third or fourth time this has been released? 2. They're very irritating, the Kaiser Chiefs – when I saw footage of them at Glastonbury, it was an emergency scramble for the remote control. 3. This song's sort of catchy, I guess... 4. Wait, did he just sing “I tried to get in my taxi / A man in a tracksuit attacks me”? 5. And “Girls ride around with no clothes on / To borrow a pound for a condom / If it wasn't for chip fat they'd be frozen”? 6. This song is the equivalent of those hilarious websites and books about 'chavs'. 7. The Kaiser Chiefs are genuinely evil.
[0]

Paul Scott: Ten years down the line Menswe@r are little more than a punch line, a byword for the more vacuous excesses of the Britpop period, the hollow coke riddled results of over enthusiastic A&R men let off the leash. Thing is, barring a few wobbles, Nuisance is a fantastic record. Their spiritual descendants are clearly not in the same league yet – whether they are capable of recording anything as emotionally devastating as Being Brave remains to be seen. But for now ‘I Predict A Riot’ has lost none of its boisterous fun, despite being Menswe@r’s ‘Hollywood Girl’ with a bit of tacked on “social commentary”.
[8]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I have a great respect for the Kaiser Chiefs. They have one great talent: no band, right now, is better at being irritating. The clipped and oh-so-wry "not very pri-tty, I tell thee" - 'thee'! - and the yowling, luxuriant way he wrys and preens through the lyrics; the way they've internalised every rule of catchy indie, one jump louder halfway through the verse, descending plunk-plunk keyboard on the bridge, then chorus, then repeat, and you just know how they'll tack something on the chorus to drag it along-- That takes skill, and more than skill, dedication to the art of being smug indie bobbins. And I just can't get enough of the peverse pleasure of a catchy and hateable song.
[6]

Abby McDonald: Accurate and energetic evocation of a Friday night on the town, or a patronising derision of working class pursuits? I don’t particularly care, but having spent my life side-stepping throngs of binge-drunk girls puking on their white stilettos and skin-head teens in tracksuits drinking cider amongst the broken glass rubble of my local bus-stop, I’d have to go for the former. I would have given this a 6 or so the first time round due to general jauntiness, but pointless re-releases irk me on principle.
[4]

Tom Ewing: Swiftian satire of town centre conflict confirms Ricky Wilson as the Richard Littlejohn of the student set and should make Britpop vets deeply grateful that Shed Seven left the 'commentary' songs to Blur. The sole positive is that the re-release of this ugly thing may signify that the muse has left the Kaisers for now. Their catchiest song, which my pop judgement tells me is worth exactly two points.
[2]


Amerie - Touch
[5.69]


Dom Passantino: Rehashes of "Yeah" feature around this place only slightly less frequently than bands signed to pseudo-indies whose first single got to #33. What extra addition are Amerie and Rich Harrison bringing to the table? Why, some "very special school assembly" African drumming, and a woman singing, rather than a peanut-headed twat. Well done.
[5]

Abby McDonald: Sometimes things just aren’t right. Instead of a coherent whole, there’s just a vapid mess where otherwise music would be – disordered, awkward and generally repugnant. (And no, Mr Macpherson, the disjointed nature of the song does NOT add to its all-round genius!)
[2]

Alex Macpherson: Most of you won't like this as much as '1 Thing', this year's official critic-sanctioned commercial R&B smash it's OK for the indie kids to like. You will look down your noses at the pneumatic Lil Jon production, the way 'Touch' slips more easily into familiar r&b territory (though it doesn't, really, when you think about it). You might even use the word 'generic'. You'd be completely wrong, though: it's within the narrower parameters of a sound that everyone's doing that Amerie can best show off what sets her apart, the desperate thrill in her voice acting as the perfect counterpoint to Lil Jon's amped-up rave squeals and finding its perfect outlet in that genius lyric "what it is I really want is for him to do to me what he wants to". And you know that 'Baby Boy' was better than 'Crazy In Love' all along.
[10]

Hillary Brown: It’s trying so hard to be sexy, but that squeaky noise sounds like someone letting air out of a balloon, and deflation isn’t exactly what you want to think about when you’re in the middle of a make-out session. Amerie, sing louder, sweetie.
[6]

John Cameron: I get really bad vibes from this song. It's not the rhythm, it's not the synths, and surprisingly enough it's not even the guy in the background moaning "Oh!" throughout the verses. No, it's the creepy Stepford Wives horny-subservient-female lyrics that get me. And the bridge where Amerie pretends she's having sex? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
[0]

Tom Ewing: Amerie gets crunked with lashings of "Yeah"-style synth squeals. There's something about the pitch and penetration of those sounds which screams anxiety to me, though - worked great on that Usher song, where the contrast between hyperconfidence and nerves brought the febrile, competitive club atmos to live. In a more intimate context, though, implied performance anxiety is kind of a turn-off. Who's afraid here, exactly?
[7]


Sleater-Kinney - Jumpers
[6.17]


Fergal O’Reilly: Hearing these Sleater-Kinney singles pop up from time to time in the Jukebox serves as a pleasant reminder that this guitars n'shouting lark can still be pretty great when done by people who are skilled/aware enough to do something interesting with it and not just fall into the same maddeningly overdone patterns. I mean, it ain't rocket science. Here they sound a bit like the Delta 5 on rage-inducing drugs; awright.
[8]

Joe Macare: Yes! This is what I want from Sleater-Kinney. The guitars are crunchy, but propel the song along and interweave with the vocals, rather than being deployed to show how much the band can quote-unquote rock. Every melody is a hook. The lyrics are angsty and evocative, with the political context left to be inferred. (Not that straight-up political ranting can't be good – I just think that's not Sleater-Kinney's strength, for reasons both artistic and political.) 'Jumpers' is at least partly about suicide, and yet somehow it leaves me feeling incredibly energised. More like this, please!
[10]

Tom Ewing: I don't enjoy the big rock chorus, but the verses are good in a paranoid skanking sort of way. It's about suicides who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, and with that kind of subject I'd hope it would make me feel more - but no, for all its bluster. It feels detached, literary almost, like writing "Jumpers" was a creative assignment Sleater-Kinney had set themselves (& the Wordsworth reference doesn't help!). In that context there's some fine imagery early in the song but the climactic line - "Four seconds was the longest wait" - is banal.
[5]

Edward Oculicz: For something so loud and crunchy, it's got remarkably little tooth. The quiet-loud dynamic, rather than giving the chorus more oomph and impact, just makes the whole thing sound tentative and weak, which is surely not the intention.
[4]

Hillary Brown: Chug chug. The redeeming factors of Sleater-Kinney are when they rock the hell out and the pace compensates for the irritation (by which I really don’t mean the vocals), but that is not the case here except in an instrumental break about two minutes in. Let’s go, damn it!
[3]

Alex Macpherson: Taut. Edgy. About suicide. Sounds surprisingly good in a club sandwiched between NORE and Vitalic. So tightly interwoven with the rest of its parent album The Woods that writing about it as an individual entity seems inadequate. Despairing, but not hopelessly so because that isn't the whole story. Unable to play it without thinking of the American election. Makes me want to visit the Golden Gate Bridge.
[9]


The White Stripes – My Doorbell
[6.54]


Tom Ewing: FOR FUCKS SAKE RING THE FUCKING DOORBELL AND SHUT HIM UP OK? Especially if it plays the Crazy Frog.
[7]

David Meller: WOW! TWO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN MARRIED TO EACH OTHER AND MIGHT HAVE SHAGGED CAN MAKE THE NOISE OF FOUR! GOD THEY DON'T HAVE A BASSIST! OH! CYMBALS! CHRIST, WHATEVER NEXT? OH! THERE'S EVEN PIANO AS WELL! Fuse it with Schnappi, then maybe it might sound interesting.
[5]

Edward Oculicz: Jack White attempts these sorts of nostalgic blues so often it's a pleasure to report that on this occasion, he gets it absolutely spot on, because he remembered to put the "pop" into "pop pastiche". Meg's flailing, spastic drumming is a real boon here, too.
[8]

Alex Macpherson: It's a fantastic little tune, that piano plinking merrily away is tremendous fun, and unbelievably Meg White's incompetence still hasn't gotten irritating, but you can't help but feel it would've been even better if Dolly Parton had been the one in charge, as nature surely intended for a song as bouncy as this.
[7]

Abby McDonald: I like the first 30 seconds of this. Unfortunately - like foreplay - when it gets repeated six times with scant variation, it loses its allure somewhat.
[4]

Hillary Brown: Listen to how blurry that kick drum is versus the way the tambourine’s almost piercing. And think about how this song could really just be the chorus, over and over and over again. This is anticipation done in song form, weird pacing around one’s room translated to music.
[9]


Rihanna – Pon De Replay
[6.55]


Joe Macare: There's a certain moment when a dancefloor first comes alive, that tells you this is going to be a good night. That moment when people are first staring to get up and move, not going crazy yet, but, y'know, just starting to really get into it. Whereas there are quite a lot of obvious examples of great songs that sound like the same dancefloor, an hour later, going totally wild, maybe there are fewer that capture the sound of that moment. 'Pon De Replay' is one of them. It sounds like everything coming together. It sounds like it could be the start of something wonderful.
[9]

Dom Passantino:"Hey, boss, yeah I've just got the singles we need to review for this week. Yeah, there's a problem with one of them. "Pon De Replay", that's the one that's been a big hit over in the States isn't it? Forefront of a new musical genre and all that. Anyway, yeah, you've actually sent me one of those stupid mash-ups where some guy has "hilariously" put the vocal line over the backing track of "Mambo Number 5”. What do you mean this is actually how it's meant to be? Seriously? Well, yeah, but that pwns this. My boy Lou Bega had a girl in Paris, Rome, and the Vatican Dome. Rihanna just has a misspelt name and the breath control of Big Pun having run up five flights of stairs…"
[2]

Alex Macpherson: This year's 'Move Ya Body': everything about it so simple, so basic, from the knocked-off riddim to the lyrics about putting your hands in the air, but so unutterably right. Rihanna's voice is rich and creamy like chocolate and goes straight to your ass; it's hard to say which line is delivered best, with that perfect mix of insouciance and sexiness. "Let the bass from the speakers run through ya sneakers" is in contention, but possibly trumped by the way Rihanna holds that note for an extra half beat on "shake it til the moon becomes the sun", and - hang on, no, it's obviously "run RUN run RUN everybody move RUN", innit.
[10]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Not much more dancehall than Will Smith's "Switch", but way sexier. One of those build-up songs, 10pm songs, maybe just feeling brave enough to start moving in a crowd of your mates songs. There's something oddly anonymous about Rihanna, with her Britney-voweled 'me's and standard faffing melismas, that for some reason makes it even better - the song's about dancing, for dancing to, and anything like sex or personality from her would obscure the point, detract from the beat.
[7]

David Meller: Oh! It mentions sex! But luckily, it's absent of any naughty words; Perish the thought.
[4]

Paul Scott: With a bass line that vibrates like Rolf Harris trying to start an earthquake with his wobble board and a beat that has the pounding momentum of a race horse this manages to exude both the atmosphere of some sexy, sweaty dancehall whilst the subtle gloss makes the track as suited to daytime radio. Rihanna’s playground chants and exhortations to turn the record up are at once flirtatious yet completely untouchable. It’s not you, it’s the music.
[7]


Schnappi – Schnappi Das Kleine Krokodil
[7.09]


Hillary Brown: Is what they have in the UK instead of “Who Let the Dogs Out” for novelty hits? Because a slightly stuffed-up German kiddie singing a song about a crocodile over xylophone that sounds half-Jon Brion/half-Residents is what I’d vastly prefer. Heil Schnappi!
[9]

Tom Ewing: Schnappi was written and sung by toddler Joy Gruttman, about a teething baby crocodile. Researchers from German tabloids have now uncovered a suspicious aunt who may well have been the true creator, but so what, it's Gruttman's singing that makes the record. Check out the supremely earnest way she picks out every "Schni schna" and the adorable first "Kroko-diiiil", a combination of gurgling enthusiasm and total belief in her material which should be an inspiration to us all. Check out also the variety of surging amateur remixes of "Schnappi" that have emerged, mostly keeping the song respectfully intact - a sign, like the playing of the record before an AFC Wimbledon game this summer, of the record's genuine charm. A true childrens' classic - my wife put the excellent 'Raveheart Remix' of "Schnappi" on a CD for her tiny Anglophone cousins and they went crazy for it, chasing each other around the table shouting "Schnap schnap!". If you have or know any pre-schoolers, this should be an essential buy.
[10]

Alex Macpherson: Of the manifold reasons that loving this song is as natural as breathing, one of the best is Joy Gruttmann's vocal performance: the way she delivers the chorus with an air of finality, "schni schna schnappi schnappi schnapp!" Even better are the weird post-Crazy Frog, post-Medúlla throat noises she makes over the very last chorus. Best of all, though: der Schnappidance! You have not lived until you have done der Schnappidance. Schni schna!
[10]

Abby McDonald: I hate this with a fiery passion and vengeance, yet the memory of a couple of Jukeboxers clapping their arms together with such joyful enthusiasm to its dulcet tones manages to save it from total irrelevance.
[2]

Dom Passantino: Considering that one of my all-time desert islands musicians would be Franco Godi, I was always going to be well-inclined to twee/deranged cartoon songs about animals. The problem with Schnappi? Too much twee, not enough deranged. Like if one of the Magic Numbers were pregnant, and this was the child they gave birth to. Except it's German.
[5]

Joe Macare: But peruse the translated lyrics, and it turns out that Schnappi the little crocodile is no joke! Schnappi has “sharp teeth, and many many of them!” Schnappi schnaps what's there to schnap, Schnappi schnaps and is good at it! In other words, Schnappi will f – that is, mess you up if you mess with Schnappi. Out of the mouths of babes.
[8]


Richard Hawley – The Ocean
[7.10]


John Cameron: Ah, a slow, relaxing torch song. Hawley has a very nice, old-man-playing-Elks-Lodge style croon, and it complements the song's main request very nicely. The music here is especially well-done; the whole thing is very evocative and fits in nicely with the lyrics. It does go on for a minute too long, but it's generally very suited to simply revolve around the nice orchestral melody.
[7]

Alex Macpherson: So unpromising on paper - solo career of Britpop also-ran - but so shockingly good in practice. The key is Hawley's voice: a rich, rumbling instrument, its mixture of gravitas and creaking making it sound as if it's coming from a man much older than Hawley in fact is. He's halting at first, almost Johnny Cash-like, but gains in confidence as the strings swell repeatedly around him until the astonishing final crescendo, where that low voice suddenly takes off unexpectedly and breathtakingly.
[8]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Funny, you'd never guess what this song was called, not with every other line ending with "to the ocean", "by the ocean", "in the ocean", "ooh, the ocean". There's this wonderful thing called a rhyming dictionary, Mr Hawley, maybe you should invest. The song sort of shimmers along, thick with overemotive strings and basso-profundo vocals, maybe even a hint of cooing woodwind somewhere deep in the mix. Like watching waves do their crashing on a shore thing, it could be either tranquilly beautiful or brain-numbingly tiresome; unfortunately, it's the latter.
[4]

Tom Ewing: Mogadon balladry: inoffensive, well-sung and not unpretty, but there's a lovely day ahead and right now I hope I'm never old enough for this.
[6]

Edward Oculicz:Richard's best songs float along in a vaguely sunny, country-ish way, so it's a surprise that this song, on which his voice throbs with the depth of an actual ocean, and probably goes on a bit long is actually as affecting as it's intended to be. The gradual increase in the ornateness of the backing combines with a divine climax on which Richard croons as if he's not sure if he wants to be Scott Walker solo or the Walker Brothers.
[10]

Fergal O’Reilly: I was always a touch sceptical at claims that this little wiry guy that used to be in the Longpigs had a "rich croon", or similar, but damn, he is good. This sounds very gentle and otherwordly and curiously old; it's not often you hear a record that evokes this kind of weirdly potent nostalgia straight away. It is quite gorgeous and feels like it goes on forever, in a good way.
[9]


Mark Owen – Believe In The Boogie
[7.50]


Abby McDonald: You’ve got to have respect for the man. Gary disappeared into obscurity, Robbie disappeared up his own behind, Jason disappeared altogether, and Howard? Not even a day-time TV soap walk-on for the man. But wee lil’ Mark? He’s spent the last decade churning out mildly jaunty guitar pop songs that nobody buys, and by god he’ll just keep doing so! There he is: strange faux-indie fashion styling, real instruments and all, singing blindly in wind of utter public indifference. This one really is rather divinely swooping - all energetic ‘oh oh oh oh oh’s, ‘woo woo woo’s and climbing chord progressions. And then the chorus hits, with a jagged strum and fierce optimism, and I can’t help but be swept along in this man’s peculiar vision of music karma.
[8]

Paul Scott: Opening with reverential incense scented organ before suddenly bursting forward with a surging momentum that fails to let up for almost four minutes. As text the title’s sentiment may sound ridiculous but it’s rammed home with such conviction, Owen’s ragged voice exuding a desperate optimism, a hopeful humanism. Whilst the music swells and breaks around him, multi tracked voices cresting a pounding wave of instruments, calling out to a friend in need the seemingly trite “I Believe In The Boogie” refrain becomes a declaration of faith in the sheer redeeming power of pop music. The nearest reference point is the Arcade Fire at full throttle, except the power maybe out in the heart of man but the boogie is most definitely on.
[9]

Fergal O’Reilly: When I first heard this, I thought "that oh-oh-oh hook is annoying". Seconds later, I thought "oh, this is Mark Owen, aw, he's a good lad". This is the Mark Owen Effect, and I imagine that if he were to accidentally run over a policeman he'd be let off with a caution once he got out of his car looking vaguely lost and apologetic. This isn't his finest hour, but there are some nice little waily harmonies and he says "things will come awound" at the end, goddammit.
[7]

Tom Ewing: Mark Owen is as likeable as his high-tempo power pop, lisp and all, and I wish there was more of an audience for him. To my ears "Believe In The Boogie" is as good as anything the New Pornographers have ever done, in fact I like it a lot better, because his voice is so earnest and optimistic. Keep going little fella, you're worth a thousand James Blunts!
[8]

Alex Macpherson: I'm happy that you're happy, Lil Marky! And my, you do sound as if you're revelling in the joys of life - this is an eager puppy of a song, from the moment the most enthusiastic intro in the history of pop music bounds into your path, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, stands on its hind legs and begs to be played with. I'm more of a cat person myself, though.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: Mark casts off his things-are-getting-worse schtick in favour of four minutes of glorious, shining, keyboard-blurp-enhanced optimism, every line bursting with either resignation or infectious reassurance that it's ALL OKAY, because everything's going to work out fine. Lyrically, it's self-aware of Mark's own decline ("from the Albert Hall to the uni ball"), but never sneeringly meta to spoil the taste, loaded with great lines and generally honest and witty, without making the likeable everyman act cloying or put-on. Musically, it's rousing, addictive, good-natured, big-hearted, all-dancing guitar-pop of the highest order from the only one out of Take That about which it could be said: "You would, wouldn't you?". Exceptional pop.
[10]


Girls Aloud – Long Hot Summer
[7.92]


Hillary Brown: Robot tambourine fruit smoothie!! Girls Aloud will kung-fu fight you into submission if you do not admit this summer has been long and hot, but they are correct in their weather assessment.
[9]

John Cameron: The huge problem I have with this song is that it just kind of sits there; it kicks in loud, and it never changes. It's not dynamic at all, and that detracts heavily from its summer-anthem goodness. I couldn't tell that the end of the song had arrived until it started fading out suddenly. Being vaguely catchy isn't enough to save it.
[2]

Dom Passantino: Girls Aloud should be *our* band, irrespective of whoever *we* are and the issue with "Long Hot Summer" is that it could quite easily be The Sugababes or the reformed Bananarama, rather than the spiked-heeled juggernaut that has torn through pop for the past three years. The Betty Boo-inspired rap is a nice touch, but the end result just feels like "The Show" has lost some of its shape in the heat.
[7]

Jessica Popper: I know that some fans have been disappointed with this new single as it's not as new-sounding as some of their previous hits. But it still sounds much more modern than anything in the current top 3 singles (all 3 feature boys with guitars, an instrument that has been in use for centuries and doesn't really sound much different) and I, for one, I'm quite happy for GA not to change their sound since the last time they did we got "I'll Stand By You". I think you get my point.
[10]

Alex Macpherson: There'd been hints, but this makes it official: Girls Aloud are Little Baby Blondie. It's the safest possible route they could have taken - none of 'The Show's sonic headfuckery here, I'm afraid, and you kind of wish our brilliant, beautiful Girls wouldn't bow so much to the tyranny of public opinion. Nevertheless, this is no disappointment: the tune is a stormer, Nadine's far more enjoyable when she's channeling Debbie Harry in a whiter-than-white rap than when singing properly, and finally it's the lyrics which win you over, the line about running down that Old Kent Road making you squeal with delight, and that's before you've even got to "I've ricocheted / around the world / drinking pink champagne / it's easy"...
[9]

Tom Ewing: The girls walking around with nothing on may greatly offend the Kaiser Chiefs but they listen to, and make, better pop music. "Long Hot Summer" is one part sweetly traditional ba-ba-bas, one part confident nonsense one-liners, and about eight parts bounce and fizz. Audio lemonade.
[10]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-08-23
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