The Singles Jukebox
US vs. UK [US Edition]



so yes, for one week only the UK and US jukeboxes have switched panels to assess each other’s biggest summer hits that they haven’t already heard and which aren’t Oasis (no offence, but I just get the feeling they’d not have that much to add, somehow). Your section editor is also joining the US panel for one week only to rig the scoring help provide some kind of context. So, with panels reversed, what fireworks will ensue? Find out what happens when you leave Anthony Miccio in the vicinity of an unlocked cabinet of 0’s! Witness Erick Bieritz describe things as ‘monotheistic’ BECAUSE THAT IS HOW HE ROLLS! Thrill as the panel desperately, desperately, DESPERATELY try to be interested by ‘Roc Ya Body (Mic Check 1 2)’! Plus! So! Much! More! But first, the true sound of the British summer. How very marvellous.


James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
[2.20]
UK Chart Peak: #1 for 5 weeks
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 3.11


William B. Swygart: The man and the song that have loomed large over the UK charts all summer long, and they’re right at the bottom of the pile. Good. ‘You’re Beautiful’ is Hallmark cards on wax – here’s some classical guitar. Mm. Here’s a man whose voice sounds like an unpleasantly flapping piece of skin. Ahh. And what is he saying? “Yaw byoode-faww. Yaw byoode-faww. Yaw byoode-faww, it’s true.” Is he wanking as he writes this? Yes. Yes, he is.
[1]

Alfred Soto: I distrusted this fucker from the moment he began this inoffensive John Mayer knockoff with the line, “My life is brilliant.” And then repeated it fifteen seconds later. Girls don’t like it when guys make them feel inferior.
[2]

Anthony Miccio: Like so many young singers, his plan is flattery and the expression of vulnerability. Cheap effects - but the swearing, straining, and simple lyrics make this feel more human than most British balladry I hear these days. The Bono influence is minimal and I like that. Goes on, though.
[5]

Mike Powell: Tragically, you will almost certainly be dragged down by exactly what makes you endearing: vague, whiny attempts to dress up wanting to fuck a stranger as a lilting romantic sensitivity. Dude, your wandering-around-high-and-creepily-staring-at-people solipsism is so rich and poetic, trust me, you’re better off with the song and not the girl. I actually got a sort of carried away during the chorus, you know, when your voice gets all strangulated and plaintive, but I realized I was light headed from throwing up a little on my shirt. When the great big sky opens up, you will have written a song that at least a million other people are writing at this very moment in e-diaries across the English-speaking world and you will fade into the fray like a face in the crowds you so tritely idealize. Enjoy it while it lasts.
[2]

Matt Chesnut: I hope y’all suffer through Gavin DeGraw or Howie Day.
[1]


Daniel Powter – Bad Day
[2.33]
UK Chart Peak: #2
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 2.50


William B. Swygart: The Quayle to Blunt’s Bush, if you will – wherever one went, the other almost inevitably followed. Take out the classical guitar and replace it with a piano. Make the voice just that bit more mid-90’s one-hit wonder-ish. And then give him a really crap hat. First person to mention Gary Jules gets their toes trodden into the middle of next Christmas.
[1]

Anthony Miccio: “Mustn’t complain, mustn’t grumble” meets “Maxwell House”. Sell complacency, Daniel. Sell it!
[3]

Mike Powell: Finally, someone who knows how I feel. An unusually vapid slab of “turn that frown upside down” melancholy-lite, this song drowns in ole’ gentle shoulder-knuckling sentimentality, crappy mellotron patches, and a poor, sassy vocal interpretation of Elton John. I have this bad tendency to affirm music by calling it “human,” and “Bad Day” reminds me how sharp the other edge of the sword is. Still, he slips the chilling automaton metaphor “sometimes the system goes on the blink and the whole thing turns out wrong,” which, besides being one of the most poorly-completed lyrics I’ve heard in quite a while, acknowledges its own rote, generalized sappiness. DOES NOT EFFING COMPUTE.
[1]


Bodyrockers – I Like The Way
[2.80]
UK Chart Peak: #3
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 4.30


William B. Swygart: Last summer we had Deep Dish’s ‘Flashdance’, a lovely big dark house thing with bass and reverb that stretched for miles, and a groove like a scimitar cutting through velvet in one, continuous stroke. This summer, it got taken by Your Dad and jiggled about a bit so that it became more suitable to soundtrack Formula 1 cars driving into each other – bass removed and replaced by a ‘filthy electro groove’ which sounds like Status Quo attempting slap bass on a keytar, and with a vocal wherein Your Dad c. 1986 attempts to seduce a woman by grunting “I like the way you shake your hair.” Consequently, it’s been in the top 40 for twenty-one weeks. Lovely.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: Every summer needs a big dumb song, and this appears to be it. There’s really nothing to this song except several oafish build-and-releases loaded with pointless phasing effects. That all serves as support for a series of come-ons in which the creepiness is only barely undermined by their awkwardness. Pointless, and probably the worst thing on this list.
[1]

Ian Mathers: The dance version of Nickelback's totally excrable “Figured You Out”, although not nearly as offensive. Still, the sneer in his voice as he says he likes the way you move ruins it for me even if the bland dance/rock backing wasn't doing much for me in the first place. Music for those greasy, belligerent boys who go to the “popular” bars here in town and act like assholes.
[4]

Anthony Miccio: This would be cheesy for an obscene caller.
[4]

Mike Powell: This entire track was created by a studio technician asked to make a demo of a new auto-filter equalizer for Protools, a crap stab at Daft Punk disco sleaze or Vitalic. It’s the voice that really haunts: something like a freshly-waxed James Murphy with a ponytail imitating Vincent Price narrating “Thriller.” Whilst masturbating. The vocal hook is so primed for a car advertisement it’s like a cat in heat scratching incessantly, so pitiful, but what are you going to do? Look away or laugh.
[3]


Babyshambles – Fuck Forever
[3.00]
UK Chart Peak: #4
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 2.20


William B. Swygart: Wherein Pete Doherty From The Libertines continues to wonder why people can’t just get off his case and stuff in a very drowsy manner.
[3]

Erick Bieritz: Why does this sound so dreary? It’s surely old news to UK residents, but it sounds like Pete aged about 20 years in the last two. The first Libertines record sounded like a well-produced debut from an energetic band, whereas this sounds like a leaked demo from a potbellied washed-up star on the downslide.
[3]

Ian Mathers: I was never a huge fan of the Libertines (although “What A Waster” was totally worthwhile), and I hate what Doherty is doing to himself with our help. I also hate the sentiment of this song, and luckily for my conscience it's mostly shit. Unfortunately, none of it prevents the ragged sound from having the exact effect on me that the band wants it to, and that chorus remains stutteringly, incoherently thrilling, no matter how much I want to ignore it. Blame the bass player.
[4]

Alfred Soto: I’ve taken a lot of shit for loving The Libertines, the best English band unworthy of implosion in many a year. I also love the Stones. I don’t own any Keith Richards solo albums either; this record reminds me why I keep forgetting to buy one. Not without its charms – the guitar is as ugly as Pete Doherty himself – but it needs Gary Powell’s ballast, not to mention Carl Barat.
[6]

Mike Powell: Seriously? This song is so emaciated I can’t even be convinced that they don’t care. It sounds like the Pixies stripped naked, left in the snow for a week, and then rescued by doctors have to feed them intravenously because they’re still too in shock; instead, they jack them with a blend of valium and apple juice and play them Suede through a road cone from down the hallway. Finally, they’re tossed into a studio, and hilarity ensues! Still though, there’s something there between the gall, the laziness, and the youth-sheltering quality of making drugs sound embarrassing and tedious.
[1]

Matt Chesnut: This sounds like indie (read: this guy has a terrible voice). Really, terribly awful. Write a song? Why? Let’s just plink around for a few minutes and say a few swear words, THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM. I used to think the UK Jukebox guys gave out low scores so routinely because they were assholes. Now I realize it’s because their entire country is filled with asshole bands like Babyshambles.
[1]


MVP – Roc Ya Body (Mic Check 1,2)
[3.80]
UK Chart Peak: #5
UK Singles Jukebox Score: Not Rated


William B. Swygart: Every summer there’s at least one song that sits in the top ten for ages without actually doing anything or being talked about by anyone. This summer it was MVP, a fairly anonymous production duo/rapper/European house producer/group of European house producers/bunch of Canadians (delete if at all bothered), whose single was actually slated for review in the UK Singles Jukebox. Till we found out that no-one had anything to say about it. Like many other singles this summer, ‘Roc Ya Body’ can accurately be surmised as “like ‘Move Your Body’ except with men instead of women, plus also it’s shite.”
[3]

Erick Bieritz: Is it supposed to be watered-down dancehall or watered down hip-hop? Either way it sounds like a hodgepodge of uninteresting ideas. The chorus is irredeemable: Ordering the listener to “Rock ya body” is sensible enough, but calling for a mic check and then arbitrarily giving the DJ directives just sounds like a clumsy attempt to fill space. This kind of aimless sloganeering may have been permissible in the earliest days of hip-hop, but today at least a thin veneer of coherence is appreciated.
[3]

Ian Mathers: The intro gave me feelings of foreboding, but once the singer starts with the chorus all fears are allayed, temporarily. The raps... aren't great (and hold this back from a 7 or 8), but that chorus and the layered beat are really, really great. This would probably be amazing in the club or live, but even on record it's got amazing potential, even after the acoustic guitars (wha?) come in.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Gerardo, Haddaway and Shabba Ranks meet on a Eurodisco dance floor for responsible adult entertainment. They all fight for the honor of being designated driver.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: There have been a number of people instructing me to rock my body, and this is one of the least convincing arguments to do so.
[3]


McFly – I’ll Be OK
[3.75]
UK Chart Peak: #1 for 1 week
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 6.00


William B. Swygart: McFly do their inoffensively efficient power-pop thing and go to number 1 for exactly one week while someone somewhere says that they’re “like the Magic Numbers except better” and Is Wrong. Possibly nicks the organ bit from ‘Blinded By The Light’.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: To my perhaps misdirected surprise, this is more Matthew Sweet than Good Charlotte, and it’s a pretty decent pop-rock single, particularly when it lets everything but the drums and the keys unexpectedly drop out of the mix. It’s immediately reminiscent of “You’ve Got a Friend,” a song the band has apparently covered, which suggests there’s actually room for a band to mine an entire vein of supportive friendship songs. More power to them.
[7]

Ian Mathers: I know McFly (and Busted, their precursors) were/are big deals over in the UK, but on this evidence they don't do anything more interesting than make TV theme song music. Generically upbeat and poppy, it fails to really achieve either goal. As boring to write about as it is to listen to.
[3]

Anthony Miccio: Placid dross! Cor! Rubbish! Enough!
[0]

Mike Powell: Hating this track would be equivalent of telling a kid at a fundraising bake sale that his pecan bars were “dry” or “sucked.” A textbook exercise in well-moisturized feel-good power pop, I could still do without the embarrassing fake soul vocals which are tantamount to feeding the song’s excess fun to the hungry ghost of Hanson.
[6]


Audio Bullys vs. Nancy Sinatra – Shot You Down
[4.50]
UK Chart Peak: #3
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 4.82


William B. Swygart: Wherein the Audio Bullys realise that what that song from ‘Kill Bill’ needed was to have the bass throb from Todd Terry’s ‘Something’s Going On In My Soul’ thrown into it so that any semblance of momentum or atmosphere can be removed, and also so it can be made about twice as long as it was or needed to be. The record-buying public lapped it up. I hate this year.
[1]

Erick Bieritz: Aside from the questionable value of Nancy Sinatra electro-stuttering “down-down-d-down,” this song doesn’t seem to want to do anything besides lay a fat sample on top of some noodling and let it ride. Between this and Jessica Simpson’s anaemic take on “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’,” it appears a regular Nancy revival is in full swing. Watch for a Britney Spears rendition of “Some Velvet Morning” by early 2006.
[5]

Ian Mathers: From the description of this on the UK Jukebox I expected not to like it at all, and I was one of the few that really loved the Bullys' debut. It still feels a little like something worked up on a whim in the studio between songs, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The added bits feel very mid-90s, in a good way, and the transition from Nancy to the dancey bits is very well done.
[6]

Anthony Miccio: Beats D.H.T.!
[6]

Mike Powell: I grew up with caring, indulgent parents who would occasionally let me do wacky things like “kitchen experiment time.” While I really didn’t benefit from my tall glass of cumin, orange juice, and flour, I was glad I tried, I guess.
[3]

Matt Chesnut: This is very nearly great, but feels like it’s missing an extra gear. Maybe the introduction of a non-sampled vocalist or more high-pitched squeals would do it. But it works fine enough on its own with a good house beat and sliced up vocal samples.
[6]


Hard-Fi – Hard To Beat
[5.25]
UK Chart Peak: #9
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 5.56


William B. Swygart: Yet more horrendo-man vocals, but this time tied to a song that recalls all the gloriously romantic pop acts of the 80’s – ABC, Spandau Ballet, Human League, all that kind of thing – along with the Clash and such things, sending the Staines chappies into the top ten for the first time. It’d be a truly remarkable record were it not for the horrendous blare of Richard Archer’s vocals and lyrics: “Turn up the thermostat/I wanna see you sweat” – are you Dane Bowers in disguise?
[7]

Alfred Soto: The song is so eager to go all disco and swishy, but the lead singer and leaden drumming keep it determinedly in White Man Land. Imagine if Goldfrapp had sunk their manicured hands into this. Or Neil Tennant.
[5]

Anthony Miccio:“Love Plus One”/”One More Time” mash-up or some shit like that.
[5]

Mike Powell: An incredibly middling and blasé performance of Interpol role-playing as a fresh faced indie-disco band, this song has some style but is totally devoid of either sex, beauty, or humor, ensuring that I would prefer to basically never hear it again. If everyone who heard the Velvet Underground started a band, this is the kind of gaping rock mediocrity that could easily drive me away from any musical aspiration whatsoever.
[4]


Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict A Riot
[5.33]
UK Chart Peak: #9
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 5.00


William B. Swygart: The Kaisers are this year’s Hot British Guitar Thing – there’s quite a few contenders, but none of them are quite as chirpy, cheeky and quote-happy as the Leeds brigade. ‘I Predict A Riot’ was more or less inescapable this summer as The Sound Of Proper Music and The Festival Season and The Great British Summer, and were it not for the fact that it had been out before could quite feasibly have been a number one. Instead it had to settle for being their third straight top ten single, and I’ve rather disturbingly managed to completely confuse it with prior hit ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’ in my head. I do not take this to be a good thing.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: I heard I would like this as long as I didn’t listen to any of the lyrics, so I’m trying to hum along as loud as I can.
[6]

Ian Mathers: Horrible fear-mongering lyrics, annoying use of “thee”, the worst bits of mid-period Blur, a pre-chorus refrain masquerading as a chorus, an utterly douchebag for a singer – I guess the Britpop references make sense. Two bonus points for the keyboards during the refrain. If the indie fanboy line goes from Interpol (good) to Franz Ferdinand (tolerable) to this (yeucch), what the hell comes next? The Hard-Fi single shits all over this one from a great height.
[2]

Anthony Miccio: Decent, but dilly-dallies compared to Franz Ferdinand. If this was a new Simon LeBon track I'd be impressed, but for young people this is simply passable.
[6]

Mike Powell: When there was hope, The Clash offered “White Riot,” when there was skepticism, the Mekons claimed to have “Never Been in a Riot,” and now, in this post-millenial age of pop reference, frightening demonstrations of faith and conviction, and blistering apathy, the Kaiser Chiefs go an offer this, a prediction. Prophets, hardly. Armchair fuckwits, maybe; I mean, come on, they admit to getting beat up by guys in track suits, and I can only gather by their anemic take on the “freak-out” towards the end that these are actually long distance runners joining in on the fun while the Kaiser Chiefs are busy being observant and puritanical (not to mention bruised). Still, the pale, anonymous machismo of their neo bland-rock is a little irresistible, I must admit.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: A really infectious chorus and bridge make up for lackluster verses. The escalating aaaahhh (preceding the la la la la laaa laaaa) has been in the back of my head for months when I first caught this on TV.
[7]


The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You
[5.33]
UK Chart Peak: #12
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 5.56


William B. Swygart: Despite not scoring a top ten single just yet, The Magic Numbers wound up being the Hot British Guitar Things that garnered the most headlines this summer after becoming the first band to walk out on Top Of The Pops, following host Richard Bacon’s decision to introduce them as ‘a big fat melting pot of talent’, which they took to be some kind of weight based insult, or something. Eh, it got them in the papers for a bit, anyway, and I rather like them, even though it would appear that no-one else in the Jukebox system agrees with me. Tambourines and harmonising just make me go a bit weak-kneed, I suppose.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: Surely the biggest mom-approved song on this list, “Love Me Like You” would drift into a vast and murky college radio pit of ‘60s-inspired songs in the United States, wedged shoulder-to-shoulder with third-string Elephant 6 bands. But in a parallel universe, it hit #12. Charming, but there is absolutely no reason for this be almost five minutes long.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Everything’s hunky-dory until the chorus, which is some soggy shit. The rest sounds like the theme song to a TV show: a hip one, the kind that play the Postal Service. And not enough Prince.
[4]

Anthony Miccio: I’m suffering from a mild British pleasantry burn out here. I’m starting to get why you guys just give everything zeroes, but I’m not that indignant about all the porridge yet, just tired.
[4]

Mike Powell: It’s too bad this song stopped sounding exactly like the Strokes after the first 15 seconds; I mean, it would’ve been fine if the singer didn’t sound like a sexless, twee Iggy Pop with a higher voice. At nearly 5 minutes it’s asking a lot, but the 90 second bridge makes me want to play a tambourine and wear a bandana around my neck, two things I’m rarely inspired to do.
[4]


Tony Christie – (Is This The Way To) Amarillo
[5.50]
UK Chart Peak: #1 for 7 weeks
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 4.90


William B. Swygart: It’s the biggest selling single of the year! Seventies crooner Christie is given an unexpected return to the spotlight following this song’s prominent usage in the BBC’s Comic Relief telethon, and this song soon becomes an anthem for drunk people shouting up and down the country. Driven fearlessly and guilelessly by the power of entertainment, Sheffield Tony bellows his devotion for his girl as horns and strings explode merrily alongside him. Can get rather overbearing and flimsy after a while, but it’s a lovable old thing all the same.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: This is what really separates the willfully diverse UK charts and the monotheistic US charts. The US charts don’t feature surprise indie hits and weekly battles for the number one spot, but as a sort of compensation, they are immune to the Cheeky Girls, resistant to Crazy Frog and indifferent to this. Removed from the television show and whatever other social and commercial factors made this a huge hit, it seems more odd than actively bad for a 30-year-old Neil Sedaka song to suddenly top the charts. Is it a virtue that callous appeals to days gone by are less brazen in the United States? Is it good that the cult of the new precludes youth-obsessed America from embracing this? Well, sometimes, yeah.
[5]

Ian Mathers: Yeah, you can tell it's (very, very) old, and it's a bit Tom Jones-ish, but this is great, what with the horns and the “sha-la-las” and such. The kind of single radio, and phrases like “impossibly joyous”, were made for. Now somebody tell him where Amarillo is, fer chrissakes.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Camp nonsense that Tom Jones would discard like a pair of unseemly knickers, it also sounds like nothing else on the charts, English and American. Which is some kind of achievement, I guess. Points for rhyming the title with “pillow.”
[5]

Anthony Miccio: Tom Jones is probably a genre over there, right?
[4]

Matt Chesnut: I will say very little about this oldie, but dudes, have you been to Amarillo? The Texas panhandle is total death. This is not a desirable location. Although I guess if I were living in England where you are surrounded by guys like Babyshambles and baked beans, endless stretches of desolate, infertile land might seem kind of awesome?
[5]


Charlotte Church – Crazy Chick
[6.00]
UK Chart Peak: #2
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 7.58


William B. Swygart: Britain’s favourite child-soprano-turned-teen-booze-monster brings her formidable personality and pipes to bear upon a song with lyrics that sound like they were written by someone called Les (note to pop musicians – in real life, no-one says ‘chick’. Ever) and the kind of production job that’s cemented Lemar’s position at the cutting edge of modern R&B. She wins by late stoppage, the power and volume applied in a much more focused manner than Joss effing Stone (dear Lord, could you not have done a better job of picking out people to be influenced by Janis Joplin?), plus which the high note she hits toward the end could de-scale battleships. She’s great, her material is pish, and so it goes.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Having polled her audience and noted that a large number of them consist of crazy chicks, Charlotte Church sings a song about and to them. “I need professional help,” she intones in starched, Tory tones, and she gets it, all right: this is studio-rock of the highest caliber. Sounds way too much like Eurythmics’ “Would I Like To You?” played at half-speed, which is bad enough; Annie Lennox is a distinctly un-manic singer anyway.
[6]

Anthony Miccio: Joss Stone covering "Would I Lie To You?" The bland sanity of the music and vocal gives it a trace of ironic charm.
[5]

Mike Powell: This doesn’t really lose that “getting hit in the face with an uncooked steak” effect, though its sexiness is much more conventional. A sturdy neo-Motown shakedown pinned by stomping funk-less drums and basted with Hammond organ and naughty trombone slides, it’s one of the least subtle pop songs I’ve heard in quite a while, the kind that would cause your mom to say “oooh, this if fun!” if it came on the radio. Church’s ample vocal sounds like Jessica Rabbit getting hip-bumped out of your adolescent fantasies, and it’s the probably best careless invocation of mental illness since “Insane in the Brain.”
[8]

Matt Chesnut: If this is supposed to be the soundtrack to her insanity, would her sane moments be her murmuring over Music For Airports?
[5]


Goldfrapp – Ooh La La
[6.17]
UK Chart Peak: #4
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 6.75


William B. Swygart: Goldfrapp finally got their proper-proper crossover by nicking the bassline from ‘Spirit In The Sky’ and going all sex over the top. But my word, it’s so… lifeless, isn’t it? Boxes ticked, images lived up to, brand re-affirmed, metaphor metaphor breathy breathy bleepy bleep – there’s energy in the arrangement, but sometimes soullessness really is just soullessness and not much more.
[5]

Erick Bieritz: Thank goodness this charted, because Goldfrapp as successful pop act is actually much more appealing than Goldfrapp as cult indie group. There’s a glut of artists doing slinky electroclash and Goldfrapp is not the best of them, but the band is the best to have charted so high, and in the context of a pop chart it sounds fresher than it should. The song itself is pretty much like every single Goldfrapp has done since “Black Cherry,” and if anything it’s a notch below “Strict Machine” and “Train,” but it’s superior performance excuses – or at least disguises – any flaws.
[7]

Ian Mathers:“Strict Machine” was modern day Donna Summer and so glorious, but this is a huge disappointment. It might have worked as a b-side to “Strict Machine”, but as a big First Single from the New Album it's flat and more than a little boring. I'm just rockist enough to believe in a distinction between “album tracks” and “singles” (some of the time, anyway), and this is most definitely the former.
[5]

Alfred Soto: The subtle way in which these guys manage to insinuate the electro-fied “Green Onions” hook into this compendium of car-advert beats and junk guitar says loads about them. It helps that the lead sex kitten draws inspiration from Christina Amphlett instead of Ladytron.
[7]

Mike Powell: It’s like, 2030 or something adequately futuristic, and ZZ Top (still rocking, you better believe) return to “La Grange” to find it has been swallowed by leathered cabaret demons with backgrounds in the graphic arts and a fond memory of that electroclash thing. The vocal is so hot and bored the singer’s lipstick melts into Billy Gibbons’ beard. ZZ Top lowers their sunglasses in concert, and a cyborg Marc Bolan (the proprietor of the establishment) takes the chance to sear their eyes with his flaming fingertips to spare them the overload of their mortal perceptions. They dance the dance of desperate men, and it all ends a little too soon.
[7]

Matt Chesnut: This seems like it should be much sexier than it is. As it is, it’s an electro-blooz stomp with soft vocals. Maybe it needs VISUALS, and I don’t mean the Game Boy commercial to which this is the soundtrack.
[6]


Mattafix – Big City Life
[6.80]
UK Chart Peak: #15
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 6.88


William B. Swygart: One of the best things about the Jukebox is when something comes along that everyone fails to notice and then blindsides them quite hard. Mattafix are perhaps the best example we’ve had of this, and certainly the only one to have any impact on the charts – what was just another name on the Radio 1 playlist genuinely blossoms in a White Town kind of way, its almost ridiculously dated, minimal beats initially sounding too basic to be believed, the whole “I’ll share some wisdom with you” thing in the lyrics makes you want to slap things… but somehow, the motherfuckers seduce you. It’s so laid-back (not ‘chilled’), so easy-going, uncomplicated, and just plain charming. It’s hard to explain. Oh, and it prevented Goldfrapp from winning that week’s Jukebox, which helps.
[9]

Alfred Soto: Juxtaposing a vocal pitched at a key of unadorned nervousness against an insistent low synth-bass is a great idea: the ideal meeting of form and content and all that. Urban despair almost always sounds seductive. The track's wisdom is that the singer wants to share some wisdom with us. Rare is the urban desperado who acknowledges that there's a hundred thousand other lonely souls.
[8]

Anthony Miccio: Eamon and the Primitive Radio Gods team up to ragga-fy Coolio’s “C U When U Get There.” Touching, passionate, novel yet anonymous and disposable, it screams one-hit wonder and deserves a similar immortality in the US. These unexpected miniature masterpieces are what make pop worthwhile and redeem your cold fish culture.
[8]

Mike Powell: Did you even notice that the track is a gorgeous, open-air embrace of dancehall vocal, rap, trip-hop and synth gauze, or were you too busy staring at rivers, biting your lip, and genuinely wondering whether or not the routine of daily urban life totally obliterates your ability to empathize with your fellow man? Sadly, it loses points for the wince-worthy lines “right now Babylon, dey ‘pon me case” and “don’t let the system get you down.” Still, good thing we can retreat into art about alienation rather than staring it in the face.
[8]

Matt Chesnut: Oh, next.
[1]


Girls Aloud – Long Hot Summer
[6.80]
UK Chart Peak: #7
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 7.92


William B. Swygart: Girls Aloud’s least successful single in more or less every aspect – there’s just something not particularly special about it, perhaps in the way that you can identify all the component parts as coming from other, better Girls Aloud songs – the chorus is like ‘Androgynous Girls’ with less impetus, the end is like ‘Some Kind Of Miracle’ but less remarkable, the inappropriately juxtaposed lyrics don’t stick like they usually do, the bit where Cheryl Tweedy’s required to reach a high note that she has absolutely no hope of getting just isn’t anything like as much fun as the equivalent moment in ‘The Show’… it’s a decent single on its own, but I can’t shake the feeling that if it had been on What Will The Neighbours Say? it would have been the song no-one would have mentioned. And that’s including the ballads.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Bouncy, skipping guitars and lyrics that are typically Aloudian, skirting between flirting and taking the boy down a notch with car metaphors. It’s a good single, but it’s also territory they have mined before, and it consequently sounds a little weak on the heels of “Love Machine” and “The Show.”
[7]

Ian Mathers: Nice crossdressing reference to get us started, but sadly this isn't as good as most of their big singles. Still, middling Girls Aloud is roughly 400% better than most of what gets up the charts, and this is pretty infectious. We shouldn't hold the fact that it isn't “The Show” against it, because what is?
[8]

Anthony Miccio: Pleasant, exuberant but…I dunno, it’s all British and stuff. A little sterile. There may be some subtle, droll wit I didn't notice. Happens.
[6]

Mike Powell: I AM “LONG HOT SUMMER” BY GIRLS ALOUD AND MY TITTILATING BUT SOMEWHAT ANONYMOUS BRAND OF DANCEABLE FIZZ-BANG! POP-ROCK WILL BE IN YOUR FACE AND WILL STAY THERE, GYRATING FREELY FOR THE NEXT FOUR MINUTES. And while I’m channeling voices, I might as well nick the adorably clumsy sass-rap from “Wannabe,” too.
[7]


Roll Deep – The Avenue
[7.17]
UK Chart Peak: #11
UK Singles Jukebox Score: 6.67


William B. Swygart: The year’s least likely local radio staple? Wiley’s habit of ending every line with the same word (TS: that vs. MIKE JONES) collides with a perfectly picked sample from the 1980’s which sort of owns the whole thing, but It Just Works. The beat what keeps you clapping along, but it all meshes so very well that this smile just Will Not Be Repressed. Loverley.
[9]

Erick Bieritz: It’s an interesting idea for a song, and the looped sample of forgotten ‘80s hit “Heartache Avenue” pushes it along well. But each verse sounds progressively more harried and frantic, and it sounds more like a mash-up than a proper song. Like the Roll Deep album, it’s entirely sloppy and unfocused, and without grime beats it just becomes… well, UK hip-hop.
[6]

Ian Mathers: I know what I'm really loving in “The Avenue” is the song the backing is constructed from, whole big chunks just plopped in place to great effect. But the rapping has gone from being an unwelcome distraction to, over my last few listens, an essential part of the slack feel of the whole thing. It shouldn't be good but it is, and like the sample, you just want to loop it over and over and over... Bonus points for the least annoying Wiley rap I have yet to hear, the part where one of them kind of sings along for a bit and the lines “You want to meet me at the yard / I'll be there in a minute” which I unaccountably love.
[9]

Anthony Miccio: Sounds like decent British rappers going off over an instrumental break but forgetting to remove the rest of the original track. I'm guessing that there's more to it than that, some unnoticed craft, an INTENTIONALLY clumsy mix, but I don't really care.
[5]

Mike Powell:“Grime” hits the big time! Wiley, one of the most distinctive and talented producers in the genre, reheats a 1982 No. 7 hit by the Maisonettes and does absolutely nothing to the beat. Sounding about as comfortable as tacks in a shoe, Roll Deep slog through yearning romantic couplets like “feelin’ sharp pains in my left tit.” Magically, it’s good, and probably the most bewildering sell-out since Green Gartside turned Scritti Politti into a pop reggae combo with Derridean leanings. Still, it would’ve been better if they just re-released the original and had one overdubbed track of Roll Deep counting money and sighing.
[5]

Matt Chesnut: Even though “The Avenue” leans heavy on the sample, Roll Deep’s verses give it the enthusiastic lift it needs to be a total good times jam.
[9]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-09-12
Comments (1)
 

 
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