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Pop Playground
UK Singles Jukebox: Like Eating Snow




eek five sees the Jukebox hex continue, as Vitalic’s single gets shoved back a week, i.e. it’s released today. Go fetch. Beyond all o’ that, this week is the first time that no song has been awarded a 10—not to worry, I’m sure The Others are just itching to get back on the shelves—despite featuring releases by Anastacia, Razorlight, Maroon 5… ah. Also, the Brand New Heavies have returned, Interpol have a new single out...

Let’s get this over with, shall we?


Anastacia – Heavy On My Heart
[2.78]


Jessica Popper: I've only ever liked two Anastacia songs and this isn't one of them. Is it just me, or is this ‘Cowboys & Kisses’ with different lyrics? All her ballads sound identical to me, and none of them good.
[2]

Paul Scott: After an over-long and really rather unconvincing build Anastacia unleashes the Tina Turner-atop-Everest-in-a-giant-mech orchestra-fuelled uber-bombastic power ballad that has made her the darling of radio playlisters. Despite a rather nice echo effect on the vocals during the outro it’s a hell of a lot less fun than it sounds.
[3]

John Seroff: My god, could the song BE more overstuffed? The further we go, the further we WHOA; this has bluster like a twister carrying a herd of cows... broken-hearted cows. Wearing too much makeup. And renaissance fair gowns. Forget the overblown orchestration, what about those lyrics! "If I could paint a picture of this melody / It would be a violin without its strings / And the canvas in my mind / Sings the songs I left behind /Like pretty flowers and a sunset "? Good Lord, LITA FORD was more subtle than this! Is this meant to be a slow dance for divorcees? Hell's Angels wedding music? The finale for the new Andrew Lloyd Webber? Keep it away from the children! The OMGWTFLOL irony factor means this can stand up to a few listenings and if you envision Fabio when you listen, it improves the song drastically (try it!) but even with four extra sets of teeth, this would still be difficult to swallow.
[3]

Alex Macpherson: "If I could paint a picture of this melody/It would be a violin without its strings"—er, what? Anastacia is a diva who dares to be utterly ridiculous when you least expect it—i.e. she'll do until Shakira comes back. A pity that her music has signally failed to keep up with her brain's mentalism and, having exhausted itself with the Bollywood interpolations and religious psychodrama of her past two singles, has resorted to Acoustic Guitars, thus utterly nullifying the lyrical insanity.
[4]

Mike Barthel: DREEEEEEEAAAAAM OOOONNN! DREEEEEEAAAAMMM ONNNNN! Dude, my lighter’s totally ready! Oh, wait. Wretched, but I reserve the right to change my opinion once my girlfriend hears it, because she might enjoy its similarly to power ballads of yore, and anything you can dance to with your sweetie gets an automatic 5. Even this crap.
[2]


Razorlight – Somewhere Else
[3.00]


Peter Parrish: He wishes he was somewhere else. I wish he was too. Ho ho! That was appallingly lazy of me, I do apologise (true though).
[3]

Doug Robertson: Despite talking the talk, it seems like Johnny Borrell has broken both his legs in a painful skiing accident, such is his inability to actually walk the walk. This is the sort of adequate indie that’ll happily slot in-between Travis and Snow Patrol on the Virgin Radio playlist but otherwise serves no other useful purpose.
[4]

Jessica Popper: I'm not a fan of Razorlight in any way and I'm one of the Johnny Borrell Haterz Club's most dedicated members, but I have to admit this one is quite catchy. The other song on the double a-side (don't ask me what it's called) is as depressing as ever, so I won't be denouncing my membership quite yet.
[6]

Paul Scott: Perhaps the only enjoyment that can be gained from The Razorlight’s music is imagining what Johnny Borrell’s musical genius allows him to hear in this. To him, this is perhaps Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’ relocated from the NYC mean streets to the vibrant labyrinth of modern London before exploding into the passion drenched rock of London Calling era Clash with lyrics that penetrate the heart of the human condition. Unfortunately the man has a voice like a decrepit dog being violated and the song writing skill and subtlety of a plimsoll.
[2]

Mike Barthel: I didn’t even realize this song had drums until the third listen. Christ.
[2]


Maroon 5 – Must Get Out
[3.67]


Paul Scott: After an invigorating funk rock work out, the 5 like nothing better than to kick back and knock out an easy laid back rock number such as this, ideal for reading the Mail on Sunday to before washing the Volvo. But what’s this? “Fumbling through your dresser drawer, forgot what I was searching for.” Strange perversions and short term amnesia seem to lurk behind the well tended hedges of the nu-suburban rock…
[4]

Mike Barthel: The city hasn’t made you crazy. The city made you suck.
[1]

Peter Parrish: Irrational hatred time! Maroon 5 are a twisted cancerous evil and must be swiftly irradiated from the healthy pink flesh of musical endeavour. I hate their grey, ponderous slabs of industrial nothingness served to a gruel-loving public, I hate the audible ‘studio treated’ nature of their staggeringly weak vocal offerings and most of all I hate their stupid fucking faces. Why do we put up with this? Could a record company with enough advertising power really just shit in a trough and wait for the hoi-polloi to start chowing down between sycophantic squeals of delight? All signs point to yes.
[0]

Jessica Popper: Maroon 5 seem to get a really hard time from cool music people but I am not one of them and I LOVE this band! I've been a fan for ages and I refuse to give them up. In fact I don't have a clue why they're so disliked. All point and laugh at the clueless girl! This song is very good although I'm unsure if it's the best unreleased track from Songs About Jane and I would have liked them to make a video for it.
[9]

John Seroff: It's gotten to the point in the US where you can't open a box of cereal without Maroon 5's radio-friendly sound snap-crackle-popping from within the Corn Flakes; they're not so much ubiquitous as plague-like. In their defense, at least they're innocuous; I must have heard "This Love" into the triple-digits before it occurred to me to ask why the damn thing had been playing on repeat for eight months. Expertly executed and harmlessly mediocre, talking shit about this Police-inspired lite-rock ballad is like kicking a puppy: sure, it's FUN but you don't really want to have to explain to your mother why you did that, do you? Here's a question for future pop historians: if Maroon 5 had never existed, would the world be any poorer? Mayhaps not, but it seems to me that we wouldn't be much richer either.
[4]


Brand New Heavies – Surrender
[4.11]


Doug Robertson: Is it the mid-nineties again already? Blimey, doesn’t time fly. Well it does unless you’re a member of the Brand New Heavies, for whom the clocks are resolutely stuck at dated-soul-funk-o’clock.
[3]

Paul Scott: When the Kaiser Chiefs reanimated the corpse of 1994 it seems they awoke the pop-jazz-funking Brand New Heavies, who may have sounded good back then, but The M People were awarded the Mercury Music prize that year.
[2]

John Seroff: The horns and the beat are legit (if the bass is NOT so much so) and Russo keeps this blue-eyed soul from getting too flat-footed. It never quite makes a reach for the brass ring, does it? They seem content to settle for a mellow cruisin' jam when I really want the track to BLOW UP with... well, with anything. A Black Thought from the Roots verse or a double-time breakbeat or a bassline with some muscle or SOMETHING to jump on this and give it a kick. As it is, it's pleasant but a bit flaccid and I can't see it maintaining any serious staying power around the house.
[5]

Mike Barthel: Uh, as produced by Gloria Estefan? I’m so confused. How little I knew about the Brand New Heavies! Or, I suppose, just the Heavies now.
[3]

Alex van Vliet: Moloko do Salsa classes (beginner).
[3]


Melanie Blatt – See Me
[4.25]


Alex van Vliet: If there’s an argument in favour of this, it better be to do with raising money for blind lepers or curing AIDS or something. Because otherwise this record’s suffering caused / suffering alleviated ratio is all out of wack.
[0]

Doug Robertson: Mel Blatt is back! What do you mean, who? She was in All Saints. All Saints. Come on, you must remember, they did Never Ever and were generally marketed as being the ‘credible’ Spice Girls, something which essentially meant that they weren’t quite as good as the Spice Girls. Anyway, this sounds like the sort of thing that wouldn’t be quite good enough to be an All Saints album track, but might just have turned up as a B-side. Uninspiring though it may be, she has at least maintained more dignity than her former bandmate Natalie Appleton.
[5]

Jessica Popper: I was surprised and quite excited to see Melanie back on the pop scene and I am pleased that she's here because I do like this song. Sadly it's not going to drag her out of the dumper (unless the British public suddenly develop excellent taste), so I'm going to enjoy her presence while it lasts and wonder if this is the last we'll see of any of the All Saints girls in the charts. However, I'm betting Shaznay will be a top songwriter by 2007.
[8]

Paul Scott: If Muse’s first album had been lyrically preoccupied with the kind of platitudes that sell mid range cars rather than Melody Maker angst it probably wouldn’t have sounded like this, because to my knowledge they have never been fronted by the one from All Saints who wasn’t an Appleton or the black one. It’s not really much of an improvement anyway.
[3]

Alex Macpherson: Is my favourite ex-All Saint only planning on releasing singles when she's got bills to pay? Three songs since 2001, a two-year gap between each one, is hardly the sign of a decent work ethic. Then again, it's quality which counts, and, while not as gorgeous as 2001's 'Twentyfourseven', 'See Me' hits the spot. The key is Blatt's voice, which sees every other wannabe popstress trying to 'do' sultry and raises them STEAMY and GENUINELY SEXY. She's so effortlessly swoonworthy that she even briefly convinces me that former pop stars associating themselves with the dread acoustic guitars may not be entirely bad.
[7]


Kathryn Williams – Shop Window
[4.88]


Doug Robertson: Well this is rather lovely, isn’t it? Perfect for listening to while lazing on a sunny afternoon, quite possibly in the summertime. Laid back, beautiful vocals and with a retro vibe that sounds natural, rather than forced. Perhaps Radio 2 listeners have better taste than they’ve previously been given credit for
[8]

Jessica Popper: I thought Kathryn Williams was that girl who opened the Welsh Tsunami concert but a look at her web site reveals she is an entirely different girl. I wonder who the Welsh girl actually is? Ah! I've just remembered, it was Katherine Jenkins. Sadly neither of them have realised yet that the only way to make good pop music if you're called Kathryn/erine is to shorten your name to Kate.
[2]

John Seroff: Hopeful dischordant jangle-pop is not my cuppa even to begin with and the recycled bassline, wanderingly goofy Manzarek-ish organ and confused tambourine shaking aren't really making this any more palatable. As for Kathryn, her voice is so wafer-thin that it's submerged in the rest of the muddled playing. I assume she's going for a Suzanne Vega sound, but what I'm hearing is the first singer softer than Destiny's Child's Michelle... and brother, that's SOFT. I'll admit that this has definite growth potential (it certainly sounds better on an eighth listening than a first), but it's so flimsy that I don't see why I should bother.
[4]

Alex Macpherson: Inconsequential at first, then utterly beguiling. Personality is so important to this sort of basic, pretty folksiness: there's nothing to hide behind, so you'd better be a sympathetic character or else. Inevitably, 99% of people who try their hand at it, attracted by the ease with which they can pass themselves off as artists, fail miserably. Kathryn Williams is genuine, timid, caring, and generally lovely. It's impossible to hate her - a world in which bad things happened to Kathryn Williams would be a sad world indeed. She succeeds.
[8]

Peter Parrish: Wow, this is terrifically slight and fragile - yet not necessarily any the worse for that. I imagine all of these instruments are made of paper and permanently balanced atop a wobbling pile of delicate Christmas ornaments. Except the crazy hammond-esque organ which pops up later like an overexcited pet and threatens to bring everything tumbling down. Then we’re back to wispy quiet. Sometimes we need wispy quiet.
[6]


Freeloaders – So Much Love To Give
[5.33]


Alex van Vliet: You can sneer at the whole Dangerous Dave Pearce-ness of it all if you want, but this is what you secretly want to hear on a night out. Glow sticks and white tees as far as the eye can see. Hurrah!
[6]

Paul Scott: Hijacking the “So much love to give” sample from the head-slamming-against-concrete brilliant Thomas Bangalter / J Falcon track from a few years back for a bit of high street house. Despite an over riding ambience of Barcadi Breezers and taxi rank fisticuffs, it still manages to provide a few moments of fist-punching, lunatic-grinning joy.
[7]

Peter Parrish: The diametric opposite to “Robot Rock,” this week’s other one-hook-wonder. Instead of representing an inventive piece of repetitive art which the brain gladly grants temporary residence to, this tries to bury its malignant ideas inside your cranial flesh through sheer brute force alone—a bit like Michael Howard. You may also notice that this is barely any kind of hook at all, it’s merely some twats going “so much luuuurve to giiiiive” for no discernible reason. Therefore, it is shite.
[1]

Alex Macpherson: Oh, Jesus, hi-NRG overload. I'm sorry, no, this is the reason I don't go to G-A-Y unless Girls Aloud are present. Slightly petrifying in its relentless energy. Like being felt up by aging, wild-eyed queens—it could be fun if certain very fundamental aspects of it were different, but as it is it’s uncomfortable and icky.
[2]

John Seroff: Whup, I'd swear I was listening to Daft Punk there for a second... or maybe a couple hundred or so seconds. This is some exceedingly mindless foofahrah of the "getting-ready-to-go-out-on-a-Saturday-night" variety that does what it says on the tin. It's also some unabashed straight up cribbing of the Daft club style, but I can't even pretend to hate. I've already downed the E-spiked Kool-Aid of unabashed loop love and I got my glow sticks at the ready, so this'll do till last call.
[6]


Secret Machines – Road Leads Where It’s Led
[5.78]


Mike Barthel: LCD Soundsystem covering an unreleased U2 song! Sweet.
[8]

John Seroff: I'm invoking bias against this track from the git-go. Here's the thing: I didn't like U2 much the first time around. Heck, post 1990, I didn't like them at all. Why must I be forced to listen to the caterwauling of their fellatio-obsessed spiritual children?
[2]

Alex van Vliet: When that kid in Denver or something shot up his classmates the other week, did anyone else feel totally nostalgic for more innocent times in American National Tragedy? Like 9-11 never happened, and all the Yanks had to worry about was the teen mass murderers. Oh, and Marilyn Manson. Anyway, if I was planning my own schoolyard genocide, I’d definitely put this song on a mix CD to hype myself up. The bassline beats out every word of the kill-kill-kill chorus. Blowing All The Other Kids Away! Bang Bang Bang!
[8]

Peter Parrish: Is he singing about blowing kids away? Controversy! Add to that a gratuitous semaphore reference for seemingly no reason whatsoever and we have a song I can respect and appreciate. Flag based communication is tragically under-represented in the sphere of .. well, everything. Over here there is quite a lot of rhythmic excellence. And for a few seconds it sounds oddly like “Theme for Great Cities”. Greatness.
[7]

Alex Macpherson: As featured on a Snow Patrol mix CD (a concept which computes so little that my head is spinning). Exactly the kind of song you'd expect to be on a Snow Patrol mix CD. Indie kids really have absolutely no idea about dance music, do they?
[2]


Daft Punk – Robot Rock
[6.00]


John Seroff: The boo-birds and haterz have come out in full force to shit ALL OVER Bangalter's new one; months before "Human After All" hit the streets, leaked copies circulated amongst the electronic cognoscenti and the general consensus was that the whole mess needed to be shoved back into the oven for another month. "Robot Rock" was generally held up as an exception to that rule; by taking a snippet of a Breakwater song and generally padding and chopping the hell out of it, DP ended up with something that was demonstrably better and more vital than the sum of its parts. I don't think many of the tracks on "HAA" can stand alongside anything off of Daft's first two albums, but this one sure can.
[8]

Peter Parrish: ROCK *biddle diddle doo* RO-BOT ROCK *biddle diddle doo dee doo*. Blimey, that’s a hook of almighty proportions you’ve got there. That’s a hook worthy of landing Moby Dick after a titanic struggle, justifiably epic enough to waggle at Peter Pan and his irritating fairy friends; even strong enough to hang an entire single on. Almost. If this would only have the decency to end at the two minute mark it could stride away proudly, safely embedded inside everyone’s feeble minds. Instead I found myself bored and resorting to being rather juvenile for the rest of the song, replacing the word ‘rock’ with ‘cock’ for cheap thrills.
[8]

Jessica Popper: After enjoying the last Daft Punk album and its poptastic singles, I was looking forward to hearing what they came up with next, so I'm rather disappointed with this. I'm not totally opposed to this style of "synth-rock", but this song is just too repetitive and boring. I quite like the electronic sounds that they've used but one listen was plenty enough for me.
[3]

Mike Barthel: My enthusiasm for this song can be graphed as a sine wave, shifting but cyclical. On the one hand, if you don’t think Daft Punk are really repetitive, do you have a different mix of “Around the World” than I do? On the other hand, it is pretty much just “Release the Beast” looped, and not necessarily an improvement. In the end, though, I think the riff is so Daft Punky that there wasn’t really anything else to do but steal it, and it is really enjoyable to listen to.
[7]

Alex van Vliet: Mums always say that dance music is just the same noise repeated over and over again. They might have a point there.
[5]


Interpol – C’mere
[6.00]


Alex Macpherson: What a bizarre choice of single. My tolerance for the Interpol template is very stretchable, but this just feels like all the Interpol signifiers—doomy vocal, jagged guitars, overwhelmingly layered production—sellotaped together in lieu of an actual song entity. Aren't bands normally supposed to hold this shit back until they're famous enough to release an album of demos?
[6]

Peter Parrish: “The trouble is / That you’re in love with someone else / It should be me / It should be me”. That’ll be the song summed up, then. A no-nonsense trundle through unrequited love featuring some guitars that kind of go like this; ching .. chr-chr-chr-ching .. *ching!* .. chr-chr-chr-ching, whilst a man performs an admirable Kitchens of Distinction vocal impression over the top. Unfortunately, that comparison doesn’t carry any further.
[5]

John Seroff: I think it's great that Morrissey got back together with the Smiths and it's a real shame that his voice got so screwed up from all those cigarettes and I'm sure I'd have a lot more to say only this is boring the hell out of me.
[4]

Jessica Popper: Despite being a pop girl through and through, I must confess a slight leniency towards Interpol. They're way too scary looking and sounding for my liking (yes I am a wimp) but their songs are better than lots of indie/rock/whatever-it's-called music. Plus, they are The Ark's cool American cousins so we must pay them some respect.
[6]

Mike Barthel: I like this song, but I wish it were the latest missive in the transatlantic Scissor Sisters-Interpol beef war, which would undoubtedly involve walk-offs culminating with Jake ruffling Paul’s hair and Carlos trying to rip out Ana’s extensions. But maybe I’ve been watching too much America’s Next Top Model.
[8]


Ciara ft. Missy Elliott – 1 2 Step
[6.33]


Paul Scott: The over-excitable intro promises so much, proclaiming it a “Jazzifizzle Produchizzle” amongst other things. Whilst it does pop and whistle nicely, with all sorts of quirky little nooks and crannies, Ciara herself seem to fade into the background and disappear into the sonic mulch, leaving it all a bit empty.
[6]

Alex Macpherson: Ciara's strategy of stripping the flesh from her songs, as if she's trying to find the barest minimum of sound and melodic range with which she can still get crunk, continues apace to delectable effect. Echoing heartbeat snare; buzzing electro-noises like strawberry frosting; candyfloss vocals, teetering on one note like it’s a highwire. Even Missy calms down somewhat, though it's good to see her wit remains unblunted: she eats filet mignon and she's nice and young indeed. I'm increasingly convinced that all songs which start "this is a Jazze Phizzle produc-shizzle" are automatic works of genius, too.
[9]

John Seroff: I'm VERY endeared to Ms. Harris; handpicked tracks from "Goodies" have been on heavy repeat around the house for a month now. Even so, I was never especially fond of "1-2 Step" (this track was a #2 hit in the US and was played RELENTLESSLY on the radio/MTV/streets/barbershop/grocerystore/prison/coalmines of America). Be on the lookout for Ciara's "Oh", which you'll likely get in about a month and a half; it's far superior. The upside of "Step" is that it's an easy remix; I imagine y'alls DJs are lickin' yer chops as we speak. Can I also say that altho' Ciara's lil' tomato-bottom is hot an' sticky as a tar pit (chick with dick or not, s/he's fine), THE GIRL CANNOT DANCE. Seriously. She looks spastic. Her big show-stopper is falling backwards on her knees and wobbling in place. That ain't right.
[5]

Mike Barthel: It takes the name of the clap in vain, so I don’t want it to be satisfactory for the lyrics to just point out the awesomeness of the beat, but it is. Think of it as the tariff for Maroon 5.
[9]

Peter Parrish: You must remember them from school; those little pocket devices with a selection of buttons capable of emitting a variety of ‘pyoo pyoo!’ type noises on command. They appealed to the inner need of all children to run around pretending to shoot each other with lasers/grenades/egg whisks in an orgy of violence which would put professional soldiers to shame. Anyway, the point is there’s clearly someone playing with one of those devices on this track. Naturally, this makes it several thousand times more fantastic than it may otherwise have been.
[5]


Juliet – Avalon
[6.89]


Mike Barthel: It suffers from not being a house version of “Sleep the Clock Around” like I thought it would be from the intro, and for a pop single, I wish all the build would hit more of a definite release, but man, that chorus makes a believer out of me.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Like eating snow, this provides a brief moment of pleasure which is swiftly forgotten a few minutes after the event, replaced with a faint feeling of disgust and shame over what you’ve just done.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: Yes! Yes! The handbag house revival is upon us! I've been waiting for this for years. A ten-minute crescendo of everything that is good and right about music: a purring, prowling vocal, Juliet stirring herself into a frenzy as the song progresses; whirrs and whooshes and blast furnace bass falling gradually into their rightful places, the soundtrack to a Magic Eye picture revealing itself. That moment of dazzling clarity when you look up into the glitterball's glare for a second perfectly captured at 'Avalon's peak. And, oh my, Jacques Lu Cont remix: check it!
[9]

Alex van Vliet: Listen now, so you don’t have to bother when Ibiza Chillout-Dullmix 2005 comes around. Yawn.
[4]

Peter Parrish: Gah, wandering theremin sounds always give me the creeps. That somewhat ominous bassline doesn’t help much either. This could secretly be all about the joy of fluffy kittens, but it would still induce considerable psychological unease. And it’s not about kittens. Much like a priest in a room where the walls are bleeding, I can sense great sadness and unrest here. I’m loving those lone piano notes at the end. Is it getting cold in here?
[9]


By: Stylus Staff
2005-04-11


Comments
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Posted 04/11/2005 - 12:18:07 PM by BillyClyde:
 The chorus of "C'mere" has a hook that will drag you out of your house, and kick your ass down the block. Watch out, it's not going to be happy about that bullshit score.
 
Posted 04/11/2005 - 08:01:28 PM by IanMathers:
 "C'mere" is one of the worst bits of an intermittantly boring record, and is an utterly baffling choice as a single. It should be pleased it got a 6.
 
Posted 04/11/2005 - 08:51:00 PM by Ferg_OR:
 Yeah. It's pretty feeble, like.
 
Posted 04/12/2005 - 01:20:45 PM by hutlock:
 When are people gonna mention the absolutely awful set of hairstyles going on in Interpol?!? Calling the fashion police!
 
Posted 04/12/2005 - 08:35:50 PM by Utica5:
 as long as we're talking about awful things and interpol, could i bring up their music? calling the shit police!
 
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