The Singles Jukebox
US vs. UK [UK Edition]



as revenge for trying to sic Crazy Frog on us (for which even the US may have proved itself too high-brow for, hah), this week we’re having the Stylus UK contingent take a crack at some of the biggest singles to hit our shores this summer without making too much of a dent on theirs. Everyone from Mike Jones to Kelly Clarkson to the Click Five are covered, so stay tuned and watch the Brits go to work.


Bow Wow f/ Omarion - Let Me Hold You
[3.2]


Hillary Brown: Aww. Little man’s in his awkward stage, not believably gangsta but not as cute as he once was, and, as goes with the territory of male maturation, the vocals are suffering. The beat is a pretty little relaxed shuffle, but both Bow Wow and Omarion could be shunted aside in favor of that theremin-sounding synth.
[6]

John Cameron: Okay, I'll admit it: when this track started, I thought I was listening to a MIDI file by accident. Unfortunately, the thought that I could have been just listening to an instrumental version of this track instead of Bow Wow's updating of "banana-fanna-fo-fanna" as applied to Atlanta hung over my head the whole time. Sad, really.
[3]

Dom Passantino: Bow Wow, being the modern day Willie Nelson, and Omarion having established himself as a Julio Iglesias for the oh-fire, the obvious thing for them to do was produce a "To All The Girls I've Loved Before" for a contemporary audience. Hilariously, the beats sound like the kind of stuff rap artists signed to Lowlife or some other godforsaken British rap label would use for their "pour some liquor out for my dead ones" track.
[3]

Alex Macpherson: So not only is the erstwhile Lil’ Bow Wow all grown up and singing about crack addicts now, but he’s also going out with Ciara? Wrong, so very wrong for so many reasons. His song isn’t quite as wrong; but maybe it would have been more noteworthy if it was, because as it is, it’s merely anaemic and dull.
[4]

Doug Robertson: A song so sickly that you wouldn’t let either of them come anywhere near you, let alone hold you, until they’d had a good wash. Plus, they could use their time there to contemplate the number of opportunities for good, hard working people in the banking industry, where a lack of imagination and inability to come up with original ideas is feted, rather than frowned upon.
[2]

Patrick McNally: At three minutes in, when Bow Wow nearly broke into the "The Clapping Song" by Shirley Ellis, I nearly woke up. He didn't, so neither did I. Thank God Omarion escaped safely from hurricane Katrina though, eh.
[1]


Mariah Carey – Shake It Off
[4.7]


John Cameron: If Mariah's this bored by her own music, why should I be excited? She sounds like she can't wait to get the hell out of the studio. Hell, I'm getting bored writing about it.
[1]

Dom Passantino: Yeah, OK, US/UK cultural exchange, you giving us Mariah Carey would be like us giving you... Del Boy? Ant and Dec? Shingles? Donner kebab with special sauce, no salad? Christ knows. Anyway, yes, Mariah is keeping alive the spirit of late 1990s R&B when we were all "breathy" and "clicky" and we danced in very confined spaces.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: You can’t help but be impressed: Mariah’s such a virtuoso that she doesn’t need backing singers to sound like a girl group, she can do it all herself. And she does it in style, with layers of Mariahs harmonizing and cooing and fluttering around each other like an extra creamy soufflé, washing those troubles away with the minimum of fuss.
[8]

Doug Robertson: There are many things I don’t understand about the world. From a basic grounding in world economics to why spiders exist there are whole chunks of knowledge that have failed to take up residence in my brain. But of all the things that leave me perplexed, one which I doubt I’ll ever receive a satisfactory explanation for is the ridiculously successful career of Miss Mariah Carey. Yes, she can certainly sing, but also failing to take up residence in my brain is the memory of what any of her songs actually sound like, that knowledge generally melting away shortly after hearing the track. This is OK, but it’s nothing more than background music. Hmm, perhaps, then, the reason for her ongoing success is related to the rise in dinner parties in metropolitan areas. Someone should look into that. It’d be a bit more interesting than listening to her work, that’s for sure.
[4]

Patrick McNally: Melodic references to "Ignition (Remix)" are not a good idea. Now I want to listen to that instead.
[1]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I kind of wish that this song had been given to Usher, because it's his style she's picked up on the verses and he'd sound so much better singing this than any of the slow ones off his last album, but then I realized that Mariah Carey could have made even 'Confessions Part II' sound like a good song; and that Mariah Carey is the greatest thing to happen to slow jams, once again. Those doop doop backing vocals are so bubble-pop shiny and perfect, that twitchetty chitter in the beat so dismissive, and I've no idea how but the tinny clavichord sounds practically gold-plated.
[7]


The Click Five – Just the Girl
[4.0]


Hillary Brown: It’s the ground between imitation AM Gold and pop-punk, but the chorus sells the hell out of it. Modified vocals on the bridge and a brief slow-down right after it almost ruin the tune but manage not to.
[6]

John Cameron: I would like to avoid comparing this song unfavorably to Tal Bachman's "She's So High," on the basis that everybody else who's ever heard that song is going to do so, but frankly, it's impossible. It's this carbon-copy of the late-90's pop-rock sound; in fact, I don't think it's so much that they're mining the late 90's for their inspiration as much as they were all just born about a decade too late.
[3]

Dom Passantino: As far as I'm aware 80% of all American music sounds like this.
[4]

Doug Robertson: I went to see Weezer play a few weeks ago and, whether for the purposes of ‘hilarity’ or because he genuinely thought they were the band he was there to see, some bloke behind me spent a large part of the gig shouting out hopefully for ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. Unsurprisingly, he was to be disappointed, but throughout this track I had to resist the temptation to shout the same in an accusatory fashion. This isn’t as irritating as that track – few things are - but it does lead us to the same conclusion that the girl at the centre of the song is quite right to be avoiding the protagonist, what with him clearly being a whiny git. Much like a swing, this sort of music will come and go, but it’ll never be quite as much fun as it really should be.
[6]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: It's the American Noise Next Door!
[1]

Paul Scott: Throwing together pop punk dynamics, harmonies, falsetto and the kind of lovelorn (post) high school lyrics that make teen comedy soundtrack compilers weak at the knees this is tailor made for a video where clips of the band performing are interspersed with a montage of fun, like that bit in American Pie where Jim falls over a hedge, and hey, look it's Mena Suvari or someone younger in a low cut top, those sort of clips from an upcoming surprise hit film. It stakes out the middle ground between Bowling for Soup and The New Pornographers because, well, someone has to, but they’re in as good a place to be in as any really.
[7]


Ludacris f/ Bobby Valentino - Pimpin’ All Over the World
[6.1]


Hillary Brown: I spent at least one entire day with this song on repeat, and I didn’t get tired of it by 5. If you don’t like it, you’re not listening to it loud enough. That intestine-shaking bass rumble-thump alone might be the best sound I’ve heard this year. The summer jam of 05.
[9]

Dom Passantino: Wherein Ludacris, geed up by the successes of "Yeah" and "Oh" tries his hand at some straightforward rap 'n' bullshit, and produces a lot more of the latter. Inoffensive in the same way that unattractive people are.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: The skeleton of a great summer jam lurks somewhere in this cut, but the execution is clumsy and lazy: an underwhelmingly by-the-numbers performance from Luda which is utterly lacking in subtlety, and a hook so hookless that I was still wondering where Bobby Valentino’s bit was when the song finished.
[5]

Doug Robertson: The temptation here is to make a Status Quo reference, despite the fact that it would make little sense to our transatlantic chums, so I shall avoid going down that route, even though I’d la-la-la-like it. Instead I’ll say that this, lyrical content aside, is a rather lovely, laid back track and something of an heir to

Will Smith’s “Summertime” crown. But really, “Pimpin’ all over the world?” Come on! There’s no way customs would let you in if that’s what you answered when asked what your reason for entering the country was.
[7]

Patrick McNally: If DHT can get it together to cover Roxette then why can't Ludacris get it together to sample Status Quo/John Fogerty? The theme of this song is that Ludacris goes on Club 18-30 holidays a lot so he can perv at women. It even has a bit where the holiday rep gets everyone to play an ice breaking game where they raise their arms in the air and shit. I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't li-li-li-like it.
[1]

Paul Scott: A smart and sprightly shuffle brought breathlessly to life with an inhuman level of panache by Ludacris, his charm and character filling every second. Bursting with a good humour and laid back vibe that defuses the queasy morality of the Pimpin' concept. So cartoonishly fun that with a few tweaks it wouldn't be inconceivable to see Will Smith grinning his way through this and there's something slightly reassuring in that.
[8]


50 Cent – Just a Lil’ Bit
[4.8]


Hillary Brown: Why is it that Snoop can make sounding like he’s about to fall asleep cool, but 50 can’t? For the same reason this monotonous flute-heavy track results in boredom: it’s a generation later, dude. Do something new.
[3]

John Cameron: When Fiddy says that he wants a lil bit, he means that he wants to get into your pants, which begs the question: what would he classify as "a lot?" Unfortunately, I doubt the answer involves a different beat than the one he's used in seemingly every single he's ever released. And I think it probably involves even more goddamn flutes.
[1]

Alex Macpherson: My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Scott Storch produced this: who better to complement Fiddy’s robo-mumble than the master of hyper-shiny metallic beats? ‘Just A Lil Bit’ doesn’t disappoint: crafted rather than created, it’s buffed and polished so much it positively gleams. And the gaping drop drop drop moment when the bass slides in underneath the chrome treble is astounding.
[9]

Doug Robertson: This is good advice from Fiddy as, as any one who’s been to even one Home Economics lesson will tell you, it’s best not to over egg the pudding. Unfortunately he’s taken this advice a bit too far as this track so defiantly manages to avoid any point of interest or excitement, it can only lead to the conclusion that in his desperation to avoid over egging the track, he hasn’t even been anywhere near a chicken. This doesn’t stop it being rather fowl, however.
[3]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Imagine if “Candy Shop,” rather than being faintly embarassing, was hypnotic--slick and sultry, Fiddy purring and mumbling over a sparse fluty loop in that half-arsed way he has and it for once working. Imagine Fiddy remembering that he's at his best with the most generic lines, the obvious ones, and strewing his verses with them, getting his drink on, getting crunk in the club, off the chain. Imagine the 'just a liiiil bit' tag dropped with lazy intent, murmured like his fingers are already curling under the waistband of some girl's low-riding jeans, and she's trapped like a rabbit before a boa constrictor. You get this, the rarest of things: Fifty Cent, and fucking sexy.
[9]

Paul Scott: Like criticising Last Of The Summer Wine for over doing it on the pensioners rolling downhill jokes, criticising 50 for only having one song is starting to feel a bit pointless, one has to look however hard for the differences rather than dwell on similarities. Here there's a vaguely Indian flavour provided by a snake charming flute sample, but like the many ingenious set-ups Roy Clarke has devised in the last thirty years to get them crazy pensioners going arse over tit, the punch line is the same: he's into sex, he ain't... you know the rest. Whether he can stretch his one joke out for thirty years is debatable but at the moment we can still savour the set ups.
[5]


David Banner – Play
[5.3]


Hillary Brown: Hand-fart noises make their way into the serious musical world? Maybe it’s because the Ying Yang Twins look like the gross older guy in the club and Banner doesn’t, but this is significantly hotter than “Wait.”
[8]

John Cameron: Oh my God. It sounds like a sex offender bought a terribly obnoxious synthesizer. Despite the sexy rhythm, I need to wash this song off of my skin.
[3]

Dom Passantino: If "Wait (The Whisper Song)" was, ummm, British Sea Power, then this would be the Kaiser Chiefs. I think I've gotten that right. David Banner takes a five minute break from being referenced by lots of American music critic types and never actually being heard of outside of the 50 states to advocate better cunnilingus technique. Does he host the US version of Sex Tips for Girls?
[3]

Alex Macpherson: Most chivalrous single of the year: note how David Banner’s sole focus is on his girl, and all he can think about is ensuring that she has the best fucking orgasm of her life, and he’s willing to do anything to make it happen, and he doesn’t care if she smells funky because the thrill for him is entirely bound up with her enjoyment, and all the signs are good because at least he knows where her clitoris is, whereas I doubt the Ying Yang Twins even care what it is. This song is as fun as making boys get hard-ons in public.
[10]

Patrick McNally: David Banner wants his girl to cum but because doesn't know how to make it happen he tells her to masturbate instead! No wonder he's talking quietly – I'd also be ashamed to say that I can't give a woman pleasure. (Note: I can.)
[6]

Cecilly Nowell-Smith: So basically it's the non-violent 'Wait', 'Wait' without those lyrics that had me twisting my brain in knots trying to work out whether I liked the track and whether I should, whether it was just good-beat-bad-words, whether you could let one override the other... no such considerations here, this is lady-friendly lechery, getting the pussy wet not beating it up. So it must be great!, you'd think, the whisper-in-your-ear, the drop it like it's minimal beat, squirls of synth inching back and forth and up and around-- and yet it's, well, boring. He's heavy-breathing all over the place, mighty impressed with himself for using the word 'clit', and after about a minute it might as well be investment banking he's hissing about for all the interest it's raising.
[3]


Kelly Clarkson – Behind These Hazel Eyes
[6.0]


Hillary Brown: Suck it, Poison! Take that, Extreme! Kelly rides through the wilds of hair metal on a unicorn, her mascara running all over her face, and whacks off her competitors’ heads with a mace. The way she hits that “anymore” is as good as the guitar that begins “November Rain.”
[9]

John Cameron: I'm getting increasingly impressed with Ms. Clarkson's chops as a rocker; she has more punch and inventiveness than a lot of her female pop-rock soloist contemporaries. Her lyrics are unfortunately cliched (insomnia and asthma seem to be problems a lot of rockers face, and I guess Clarkson's one of them now), but they're buoyed by some above-par, straight-ahead rock music, the standout part of this song being the incredible intro. I might be jumping the gun if I say that songs like this will guarantee her a career, but I can damn well hope it.
[7]

Alex Macpherson: So yeah, everyone managed to avoid the fact that ‘Since U Been Gone’ was powered by a soft rock heart behind its Interpol/Yeah Yeah Yeahs/Avril affectations, but the big hair’s coming through loud and clear here with all its consequent macrodrama and it feels like LIBERATION.
[9]

Doug Robertson: This is what Anastasia reckons she sounds like. Of course, while sounding like Kelly is certainly something for Anastasia to aim towards, for those of us that have to listen to it, this sounds somewhat below par. It’s punchy enough, but despite the energy in the vocals, the main feeling which pervades the track and lingers around afterwards like the stench of garlic is “Will this do?”. The video for this probably involves leather trousers. Songs like this always do.
[6]

Patrick McNally: Worth it's existence purely because of the possibility that I may, one day, see this being karaoke'd by a pissed and fat-thighed Geordie lass.
[5]

Paul Scott: As a number of Stylus readers have astutely noted, Kelly Clarkson is no Colin Meloy. This lacks the dynamic rush of “Since U Been Gone” and slides quickly into the sort of defiantly depressed mush that Avril Lavigne has based her carer around. She should keep the pop rock backings, perhaps up the jauntiness a bit, but take some tips from The Decemberists and do a bunch of songs about pirates and soldiers. That would be more exciting than this tiresome moroseness and in theory keep everyone happy.
[4]


Mike Jones – Back Then
[5.0]


John Cameron: As hard as this song is trying to get me to dislike it, I can't stop listening. Whatever's being said, though, it isn't nearly as interesting as the backing track. The organ is compelling. The guy mumbling is annoying as all hell, but I want to try and figure out what he's saying because I get the feeling it's a secret only he and I will know. And what the hell is behind that flanger? Only time and repeated listens will tell.
[7]

Dom Passantino: Right, so... Mike Jones is the American Goldie Lookin' Chain then? Or Crazy Frog? I'm not quite sure. Could you please ensure that he never comes to this country so I don't have time to work that out properly?
[1]

Alex Macpherson: Less “Still Tippin’” redux than a brilliant sequel: retaining still-effective foundations (whiplash beats, a tempo so smooth and slow that it’s decadent, “Mike Jones! Mike Jones!”), rearranging other components (the audacious hook, merely a screwed and chopped line from ‘Still Tippin’ which is somehow even better as ‘Back Then’s centrepiece), and adding carefully selected ingredients to the soup (the hypnotic organ riff, swaying and slinking through the mix with an understated swagger. Familiarity breeds not contempt but excellence in pop music, after all.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Blimey! Hasn’t the guitarist from The Clash moved on! What? Oh…
[6]

Patrick McNally: Mike Jones whines on about how when he wasn't famous no-one wanted to know him and they even treated him "like a shrub" (?) Golly though, now he's famous everyone wants to know him, especially girls! Feller, if people didn't want to know you it's probably because you're an annoying unpleasant cock.
[3]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I'm not sure that when you're in the business of calling women whores it does you any good to get all surprised when they act a bit, uh, meretricious. Just saying, like. That needling screwed hook is great, yowling against the organ, but it's the only interesting thing in a mess of repetitive, grumbling rubbish.
[4]


Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
[3.8]


Hillary Brown: Nice vocal tone on this to suggest vulnerability, but they could do with a few lessons from Kelly about conveying anguish. And the instrumental break? WTF?
[4]

John Cameron: Green Day's been putting the "pop" in "pop-punk" for almost twenty years now, and they're getting pretty good at it. While I don't like the superfluous touches in this song as much as I liked those in previous singles off of American Idiot (the xylophone notes, while nice, don't match the sheer coolness of the little piano bit in "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams"), the tune itself is much stronger, with a far better melody and dynamic range. Coupled with the fact that it has one of the better videos I've seen all year, it's easy to think that this could be the one to make Green Day a certifiable Band That Matters.
[9]

Dom Passantino: Like Eminem, Billie Joe Armstrong is quite clearly a closeted doesn't seem to realise that the only time the music he makes is worthy of repeated listenings is when he's making dumb cartoon tunes for you to throw yourself off the wall to. This failed attempt to pwn Dubbya, that's not as good.
[3]

Patrick McNally: Is American radio meant as a sedative? (Don't answer that.) Wake me up when this song ends. It's not as long as September but it sure feels like it.
[3]

Cecily Nowell-Smith: Awful, mawkish twaddle, Billie Joe blaring away over the most obvious acoustic-into-epic they could have thought up. Whoo, he rhymes 'rain' with 'pain'! Whoo, there's a slow and rather simplistic guitar solo! Whoo, they've got a glockenspiel and they don't know how to use it! I like whiny indie and even I think it's shit. What's the rest of the world's excuse?
[3]

Paul Scott: Like the post-Richie Manic Street Preachers, the current incarnation of Green Day are very adept at selling the idea of their music as politically motivated without actually having much in the way of actual political content in there music. This is could be about the events of September 11th, but it could it just easily be about being a bit mopey because you're going back to school. It taps into that vein of wide screen open highway adult orientated rock that America seems to cherish so dearly, it's a lot more Eagles than Dead Kennedy’s, more comforting than rebellious. It would seem a desperate inditement of mainstream American culture if something this neutered is held up as some sort of subversive gesture.
[4]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-09-12
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