Singles Going Steady
his week in singles—Juelz Santana whistles while he works, the Ying Yang Twins and Pitbull join powers in praise of a higher force (take a guess), Missy Elliott lets loose, Trina and Kelly Rowland go through the emotions, and Fall Out Boy get all Footloose on us. All this, and a sip of The Strokes, on the first ever Monday edition of Singles Going Steady!
Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance
Ian Mathers: “Sugar, We're Going Down” at least had the dubious benefit of an intensely annoying set of lyrics for the chorus, but the simultaneously arrogant and self-pitying. “Dance, Dance” is just sorta there—not as flamboyant and extroverted as their last single, and I'm willing to bet far more representative of their music on the whole. Where's Alexisonfire when you really need them?
Alfred Soto: Forget the cute bass riff with which the song opens; there’s nothing remotely effervescent about the song, which sounds like 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” played by a bar band after a few Heinekens. Someone sue these guys for false advertising.
Mike Powell: Do you really mean “we’re falling apart to half time”? This is the flimsy side of emo-pop: misguided sentiments steeped in poetic ignorance and subsequently buried in feverish desires to fuck the androgynous girls in bullet belts who fall for them. I guess it could also be a Freudian slip unmasking aspirations to be featured on Monday Night Football, though.
Andrew Unterberger: God, I am so glad these guys could pull off a second great one. “Sugar, We’re Going Down” is easily one of the pop/rock singles of the year, and this follow-up swing, swings twice as hard as the All-American Rejects (with a Smash-era Offspring bassline to boot!) And plus, “I only want sympathy / in the form of you crawling into bed with me”—the first pop-punk/emo band to actually have a sense of humor? In ages, anyway.
Juelz Santana – There It Go! (The Whistle Song)
Ian Mathers: Juelz's fairly immense charisma benefits this track immeasurably, as the whistling gimmick is about as annoying as that old whispering. This track needs: more “OK!”s, more Dipset, more focus on the percussion, less whistling.
Alfred Soto: Before you guys cream all over yourselves for discovering another “Drop It Like It’s Hot” to love, consider this: how many more listens will it take before that goddamn whistle gets annoying as fuck?
Mike Powell: Harlem’s Prince in the Wings delivers what is presumably intended to be an effortless pop smash with a monolith of a hook á la Yello’s “Oh Yeah.” Alas, despite quelling the typical Dipset bombast, the hook is a little irritating. And because the whole waddling, routinized sex-rap leans on the whistle, the song’s alright a few times, but eventually starts to crumble before you can yap “AY!”
Andrew Unterberger: Formulaic? Yeah. Trend-hopping? Almost certainly. But goddamn it, it’s still awesome—few rappers today are as charismatic as Juelz Santana, and the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t need much more than a cheap whistle hook to propel his songs. If this ends up getting all the attention that “Mic Check” deserved, shit, I’m overjoyed.
Missy Elliot – Teary Eyed
Ian Mathers: Parts of this really seem like a carbon copy of Tweet's excellent “Turn Da Lights Off”, but that song is so awesome that another quasi-version isn't really a problem. Great farty horn stabs, Missy singing passably if a bit anonymously and more importantly she's also randomly yelling in the background. Lovers of meta will like the chorus, but it's not annoyingly so; this suffers a bit in comparison to her epoch-making singles, but that doesn't make it any less than very good.
Alfred Soto: Those who claim Missy is a singles artist don’t actually own her albums. Going all the way back to Supa Dupa Fly, there are always album tracks superior to her singles. This one, biting the rhythm of Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything,” is as non-descript as “Gossip Folks” and “Sock it To Me,” and I guarantee it won’t be as big a hit.
Mike Powell: There’s that moment at each new address when you find that really great coffee place in the neighborhood. Each ounce a revelation, each sip the bluest blood of the most enviable bean, each morning turned into unimagined worlds of euphoria, your cares cast to the gutter in the face of your perfect paper cup each day. Of course, there comes that day when you get the cup and something’s off, the temperature is slightly cooler, the beans smell slightly burnt; the coffee tries to sing a heartbreak ballad to you and you’re standing on the street corner saying “you’ve made some of the most interesting pop music of the 20th century, and this is where we are now?” This is called the ennui phase of your relationship, and it’s not bad, just eh; the coffee is okay and at least it’s still caffeinated, but now you’re talking to a cup on a street corner, disillusioned and confused.
Andrew Unterberger: Considering how immediately “Lose Control” blew up, this one’s definitely taken a while to gain momentum—probably because Missy’s not exactly known for her, well, tearful sincerity. And admittedly, it’s not as interesting as Missy’s best, most innovative stuff (and the “holla!” shouts in the background definitely undermine the song’s emotional effect), but this is still pretty compelling, moving stuff—Missy’s too smart to ever make an out-and-out misstep, and she’s not starting here.
Ying Yang Twins f/ Pitbull – Shake
Mike Powell: If someone can give me some direction in this mess, I’d really appreciate it. Check: lone doo-wop baritone in hyperspace, pounding “Latin” segment (Pitbull: speaks the Spanish language), Twin Peaks synth part with haunted house vocals spooking the backdrop. I don’t think they’re saying anything markedly more offensive than they usually do, but I was a little disappointed in the Lion to learn that the yellow brick road is just glutted with “naked hoes.” Have a heart, dude.
Ian Mathers: Do you ever get the feeling that Pitbull thinks if he just yells fast enough and loud enough we'll all start dancing?
Andrew Unterberger: “Badd” was fine, but this one is, indeed, a killer. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything quite like this before—the baritone back-up vocals throughout the song, the bizarre snare sound and echo effects on the chorus, the creepy synths, the kitchen pot percussion—my god, this is fabulous. The YYTs do their thing, but this is Pitbull’s show, commanding that chorus like no one else could. Mentirosa!
The Strokes - Juicebox
Ian Mathers: I'm not saying heavy metal is a bad thing; I'm just saying it's a very bad approach for the Strokes' guitars to take. Julian, who has been telling you to sing without the customary claustrophobic distortion? Your voice is fine, but the way you used to do it was so distinctive and it served the foreshortened thrust of the music perfectly. But even though this is as short and fast as past singles, the adjectives I used to use to describe the Strokes—tense, clipped, urgent, fierce—don't seem to apply any more. Not horrible, but sounding more like everyone else is exactly the wrong tack for them to take.
Alfred Soto: Showing off a new set of recycled hooks (in this case a ‘60s spy-show riff and a lousy allusion to the Stones’ “She’s So Cold”) and Julian Casablancas’ unfiltered voice, the Saviors of Rock & Roll return with a would-be hit that’s a bit of all right. But they’re gonna need more than this if want to keep getting cover stories.
Mike Powell: Finally, the collective wedding of Nirvana, Henry Mancini, early Supergrass, and frustrated expectations you never really wanted to attend, but certainly wouldn’t mind quickly getting drunk at and waiting for more interesting times.
Andrew Unterberger: This just isn’t happening for me. Clunky riffs, lousy verses, unmemorable chorus (is there one, even?) Normally, a Casablancas coo of “why don’t you come over heeee-errrrr” would be one of the most irresistible propositions possible in pop music, but here he’s not even cooing, he’s just screaming. C’mon, Julian, didn’t the Ying Yang Twins teach you anything?
Trina & Kelly Rowland – Here We Go
Ian Mathers: Nice to see Kelly getting some work, and there is some humour/interest in hearing Trina doing her thing over what could otherwise be a standard gloopy ballad, but after the novelty wears off you have a standard gloopy ballad with more swearing and death threats than normal.
Alfred Soto: If Trina’s so tough, why does she need to play Nelly to Kelly’s Kelly Rowland? Because she’s no Lil’ Kim, that’s why.
Mike Powell: Scene: you and Trina are out at dinner, like crystal goblets & white tablecloth dinner, played by Kelly Rowland and Acoustic Guitar/Piano-based R&B Jams. Trina starts grilling you about late night calls from another woman. Predictably, you squirm under the name of your transgressions; there is electricity in the air, waiters and other diners take uncomfortable notice as etiquette is cast aside and the vibrations of Vengeance Exacted ripple through Trina’s exceptionally out of place aggro-rapping straight through your hollowed soul. Bitter, dramatic, somewhat hilarious, but more to gawk at than really enjoy.
Andrew Unterberger: This isn’t the Trina I came to expect—she’s barely even growling or anything. Anyone remember “B R Right”? That song was great. This, aside from working a comfortingly familiar piano-led backing track, not so much so.
By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-10-17