The Singles Jukebox
Better Than Helsinki

hello there. This week, for the third time, your section editor will be writing all the blurbs. This is because the panel themselves are working on something a bit bigger and more important, which will be unveiled on Friday (though Fergal O’Reilly’s Stycast might contain the odd spoiler or two). In the meantime, they’ve done the scoring for ‘all the week’s big releases’, which for some reason didn’t include The Darkness. Hmm. Bloody release schedules. Anyway, their scores, my words, and we’re underway with…

The Used – I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)

Oh. Erm, aren’t this lot meant to be in some way rocking? I mean, those guitars are sort of vaguely noisy, and there’s ‘an electro noise’ (isn’t there always?), but how fucking weedy is this chorus? And his voice? This is like what would happen if the he-sprog from Sum-41 thought “No. No, enough with this foolishness, we’re going to sound like Aerosmith. Except whinier.” There’s not even a bit where he tries to scream and sounds like he’s lost his Strepsils. Rubbish.

Athlete – Twenty-Four Hours

There’s a double-header, eh? Possibly under-scored by about, oh, half a point or so, cos this is hardly their worst single (I’ve just tried to figure out what is, but it hurts too much) – the orchestration’s very, er, nice, and it’s all moderately serene and so on, but unfortunately it’s still saddled with His Voice and His Lyrics. “It’s three degrees/It’s something else/And you just take it all into your/Stroide…” Vague dribblings about holding on and “we’ve still got twenty-four hours” and so on happily take the place of anything worthwhile, because when you sit on your vowels like he does then presumably that does all the talking for you. This has probably been Colin & Edith’s record of the week for the past month. If I ever hear it again, I probably won’t notice.

Twista ft. Trey Songz – Girl Tonite

I often used to think – what must it be like in America, a land where people may well have some kind of idea who on earth Trey Songz is, or where Peabo Bryson or The Used or whoever have some kind of cultural importance? Then I remember – I’m currently living in a country where The Subways have had more than one top 40 hit. Anyway, Twista’s feeling sensitive. We know this because he sings “Girl, lemme fuck you first,” and Trey sings it with him, sort of like a less subtle version of Dru Hill. And then he says “Girl, lemme see you work the balls” in the manner of a driving instructor telling someone to perform an emergency stop when he hits the dashboard. At least one person involved with this record has probably compared it to ‘Ignition (Remix)’. Hmm.

Black Eyed Peas – My Humps

On the one hand: I do very much like the way she can’t quite be bothered to say the whole of ‘humps’. It sounds like she’s eating Toffos. Marvellous. On the other hand: does this really need to be this long, i.e. over one and a half minutes?

Green Day – Jesus Of Suburbia

And on a similar tip, Green Day have gone epic, which is to say they’ve done a song that lasts over nine minutes. It has distinct sections! There’s a bit that sounds like every other single off this album! They have a bit that’s like that, but slower! Then a bit that’s a bit quicker! Then one that’s a bit quieter! And a bit with a piano! And, um, that’s about it. Thank you, Billie. Thank you so bloody much.

Coldcut – Everything Is Under Control

And if this is to be believed, the most influential act in modern British dance music is now… Kasabian. It’s not going well, is it?

Enya – Amarantine

… yes. If Kate Bush is Bjork’s mum, then Enya’s probably her excessively stern aunt who comes round once a year, usually at Christmas, in order to scowl at her. There’s a whooshy wave noise, and some Latin… it’s, well, an Enya single. She used to be in Clannad, you know.

The Pipettes – Dirty Mind

Oh, naff off. Three girls in polka dot dresses do a post-modern take on the girl group sound, tidily ignoring the fact that they aren’t particularly good at singing, their lines aren’t really very witty, they try to fit too many words into the chorus and it sounds horrifically forced, and the whole thing is nowhere near as (any positive adjective) as it thinks it is. I have listened to far, far too much shitty indie in my lifetime to get anything out of this.

The Like – What I Say And What I Mean

Three more girls, this time in plaid, and apparently the daughters of that wonderful species, People In The Music Industry Who Are Very Rich That You Have Never Heard Of. Whatever, they trade in the genre that could roughly be described as ‘As Heard On The OC’, and they’re pretty decent at it. Guitars are good and scrunchy, chorus nicely frenetic, lyrics by and large utter babble, and there is a certain air that some things in the song are happening Because That Is How We Do Things In The Music Industry, but, y’know. That chorus is really very good. ‘Tight’, in a good way.

Gemma Hayes – Happy Sad

Ah, what lovely Gemma wouldn’t give to be as successful as The Like, eh? Never mind, cos she’s a tiny bit better than them – it’s similarly modern radio rockin’, in a way that her record company are presumably hoping that Jo Whiley likes, and the lyrics are a bit so-so, but her voice has suddenly acquired a certain degree of visciousness. Where The Like are all “ha ha ha, we are from California, ha ha ha, sucks to be yooo”, Gemma’s really quite cross. “Oh, it comes easy to ME-EEE…” It might sound a bit dull at first, but after a couple of goes it suddenly becomes just a bit ace. Still have no idea why she cites My Bloody Valentine as an influence, tho.

Will Young – Switch It On

Yeah, I was thinking this would do better too. For god’s sakes, it’s like ‘Cuddly Toy’ for the 2K5! He fucking KILLS on that chorus! “How can I LIVE if I wanna be FREE ?!?! This is my TIME and these are my NEEDS!!!” He’s the new Roachford, except with, like, more than one tune! “GOT to, GOT to, GOT to go CRAY-ZAYYY!” Mind you, these fuckers didn’t think that Andy Bell single was any good either, so the hell do they know, eh? (note: none of that blurb was taking the piss)

The White Stripes – The Denial Twist

Is it possible to have a rubbish title for a single? Cos something about this one is sticking in my craw, just a bit… anyway, the sound is roughly describable as ‘Dead Leaves On My Dirty Doorbell’ – piano goes hump-a-hump, Jack’s all “Eh no woman nonna leave you lo’” or what have you, it’s a White Stripes single, and as White Stripes singles go it’s a pretty good one.

Architecture In Helsinki – Do The Whirlwind

I managed to not see these playing the other week, and I’m kicking myself because this single is really marvellous. Laptop indie hip-hop stuff, kind of like a less headfucked Max Tundra. So very easy, a constant handclapped beat, keyboards like Amigas, lovely group vocals like a more socialist Polyphonic Spree – suddenly, The Go! Team sound for shit. I wanna shimmy through the office, clapping my hands like I know what I’m doing, shuffling and nodding along. However, there are people around, so I can’t. Doesn’t mean I won’t have a go, though.

Girls Aloud - Biology

But no, it wasn’t ever gonna be anything else. Not quite their best single ever – that’s probably still ‘The Show’ – but still! The blues riff at the start – where’d they get that from? The way the girls voices do all sound similar (back in the day they’d probably have called that harmonizing or something), but yet quite distinct from each other, and weave in and out of each other – one starts a line and the other finishes it and you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. And yes, it’s three different songs glued together, but there’s a thread running through them all – every section’s got a switch at the start, but it’s the kind that keeps you going, keeps you keen for more of it; it’s not disorienting, it’s bloody magic. Maybe the lyrics are a bit too obsessed with harking back to their older glories (TS: ‘dirty sheep’ vs. ‘dirty brain’), but still… best pop group on the planet once more. And that’s where we’ll leave it, because I’d reckon the odds on me writing about this one again… probably pretty good. For now, though, they’re just a little bit better than Architecture In Helsinki. Thus, they win.

By: William B. Swygart
Published on: 2005-11-17
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