The Singles Jukebox
Singles Going Steady



this week in Singles: Kanye West eavesdrops with Adam Levine, The Veronicas make their first splash in the US, Disturbed get even further down with the sickness, and Shakira reminds everyone that she still speaks English, sort of. All this and even more 50 Cent, on this Monday’s Singles Going Steady!


50 Cent - Window Shopper
[5.8]


Ian Mathers: You could have knocked me over with a feather – 50's voice actually has some intonation (a bit of sing-song) for much of “Window Shopper”. The almost lilting chorus is quite nice (is that a hint of sympathy for the poor window shopping hater in his voice) and the slow, head-nodding beat makes the most of ambient strings and weird little funk squiggles. It's no “Ski Mask Way” (in fact. it's even more lush), but it's one of the best singles he's managed in quite a while.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: His detractors have often asked if there is anything to 50 Cent beyond his connections, his promotion and his mythic story. If nothing else, the languid half-gestures and sneers of “Outta Control” and “Window Shopper” proves he has a knack for speak-singing choruses and is usually better off doing that as opposed to actually rapping.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: His voice sounds different, like he got whatever’s usually in his mouth out of it; you can actually hear what he’s rapping here. That having been said, this is 50 on autopilot; you know the way his mentor’s about to pass his sell-by date (the hits record is the telling sign)? Give 50 about 2 more years, and he’s there, too. About the worst crime you can commit in hip-hop is to be dull, and that’s what this is.
[4]

Andrew Unterberger: It’s too bad that this song is actually pretty good, because I really couldn’t be much sicker of 50 Cent as I am right now. After appearing on six top ten singles this year and launching a seemingly endless barrage of hype for the excruciating-looking Get Rich or Die Trying, the mere sight of this dude is starting to piss me off. Still, this seems too withdrawn and lacks the necessary over-the-top hooks to be as popular as the rest of his ’05 work, so I’ll try not to be too unreasonable.
[6]

Alfred Soto: This is no “Lose Yourself” – if Fiddy had a smidgen of Rabbit, er, Eminem’s, self-consciousness he’d actually be a lot less fun – but it will do if you’re tired of hearing The Massacre’s singles on the radio. Fiddy at this point has become so non-threatening that I half expect him to flash dimples as cute as Gary Coleman’s.
[6]


Disturbed - Stricken
[4.0]


Ian Mathers: Not pop enough to be catchy, not metal enough to be compellingly harsh; this is just one long dribble of bad modern rock radio deja vu. Sure to be played at Goth Nights nationwide for the benefit of people who believe themselves to be badasses.
[2]

Erick Bieritz: The changing of the genre guard is rarely as seamless as history remembers it, with one pop genre bowing out to allow the new generation to take over. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Disturbed can chart a number one album in 2005, a full three years after nu-metal lost its dominant spot in the rock hierarchy. “Stricken” is nothing fabulous, but the world could do a lot worse than the snarling guitars and “blood-stained hurricanes” of this song.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: I’d never have listened to this were it not for SGS, but what really pisses me off is that I don’t entirely hate it. Strikes me as aggro-rock if it were performed by Dio, which is oddly more appealing than either agro-rock or Dio on its own. Not that this is good, mind you, or that I ever need to hear it again. It’s just not terrible.
[4]

Andrew Unterberger: A “Down With the Sickness” clone, inasmuch as it’s by Disturbed and has an “ooh-WA-KA-KA-KA!!!!!!” equivalent (the comparatively disappointing “OW-WOW-WOW-WOW!!!”). I might’ve thought this was an extremely bad thing four years ago when almost all rock sounded like this, but these days I’m feeling more merciful.
[5]

Mike Powell: The only thing worse than being thirteen and full of constipated angst is being twenty-three and being reminded of it.
[3]


Kanye West f/ Adam Levine - Heard 'Em Say
[6.0]


Ian Mathers: I swear, if Kanye “unh”ed one more time at the beginning I was going to slap someone. Screw Levine – this song and its weak tinkly-ass backing would be better served by that guy from Five For Fighting. Also: the fact that paranoia seems to be the only mode besides delusional grandeur Kanye operates in do not bode well for his longevity. Almost redeemed by the fairly neat drone thing in the coda, but not quite.
[4]

Erick Bieritz: Without the booming self-importance of “Diamonds” or the classic Kanye zingers of “Gold Digger,” “Heard ‘Em Say” doesn’t sound much better than Common’s Kanye-backed effort to rehabilitate John Mayer. Just because Jay-Z made Lenny Kravitz briefly relevant doesn’t mean everyone should try to follow his lead and stamp the wrinkled, forged certificates of relevancy for a thousand guitar slinging MORites.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Interesting choice for a third single from the album, as to my ears, at least, it’s so not-obvious. Love the tinkly piano riff sampled from Natalie Cole, which makes as much sense as Adam Levine does here, ‘cause this is basically Adult Contemporary hip-hop (even with the farty-squelchy bassline). Good, if uninspiring; he should’ve gone with “Touch the Sky.”
[6]

Andrew Unterberger: I’m sort of impressed with how low-key this is. This is the first Kanye single I’ve heard since his debut where he sounds genuinely human, not trying too hard to impress anyone with his cleverness our righteousness. The music is similarly enjoyable—Adam Levine’s voice might be auto-tuned to near-Daft Punk levels, but the halfway point found between Kanye’s soulfulness and Brion’s off-kilter sophistication makes this thing sound like a modern day Bacharach / David ballad.
[7]

Mike Powell: Considering the length of the Late Registration recording sessions and if I do my math correctly, the length of Adam Levine’s vocal on this song suggests that there’s at least a full 75 minutes of him and Kanye in the studio which runs something like this:
Kanye: More like Marvin.
[Adam Levine sings]
Kanye: Nah, more like Al Green.
[Adam Levine sings]
Kanye: Alright, let’s take another break. Will a Fanta loosen up your throat?
In the end, he might as well have gotten John Legend, but where’s the crossover potential in that? Still, yeah, difficult to argue with this one, though it drones on a bit long and the long outro has that pinched, awkward feeling I remember from seeing a smooth female stomach on television when I was five years old.
[7]

Alfred Soto: One of the few songs you can call “sweet” without looking like a fool. Kanye’s verses are okay, as if he knew who the real stars are: the production, sumptuous without being saccharine; and Adam Levine, lead pussyhound for Maroon 5, whose creamy, slightly chalky tenor has never been put to better use. This is more an album track than a single, but great all the same.
[7]


Shakira - Don't Bother
[6.3]


Ian Mathers: The opening lines had me going “Oh Shakira, never change”, because nobody wields a self-penned horrible line like she does (Paul Banks is nothing next to her, seriously, and even prime Barney cannot truly compare); but this is fairly hookless and joyless in comparison to all of her good singles; even “La Tortura” shines in comparison. The spoken word bits where she promises to file her nails and learn about football if you'll stay is priceless (and anyone who claims to like Robyn's new record needs to admit how close the two are), but Shakira's near-constant struggle against some kind of male-idealized female image is, as with Kanye, moving from lyrical quirk to object for concern. Her voice is still one of the more enjoyable on pop radio, but I'll be shocked if this is a hit.
[6]

Erick Bieritz: Dropping separate English and Spanish language releases in the same year is a novel way to try and avoid the difficult task of appealing to both the core fan base and the mainstream audience, but Shakira may have swung too far into Caucasian chick-with-guitar-chic with “Don’t Bother,” as a promising first 20 seconds and some curious lyrics give way to inexplicable Morissette vocal aspirations.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep:, Does anyone else feel like Shakira’s kinda who Björk would be were she South American and wrote slightly (but not much) more to-the-point straightforward(ish) pop songs? I love that Shakira’s worldwide success seems to free her to do weirder and weirder things with each successive album. I mean, what’s with the “I’d file my nails so they don’t hurt you” spoken-word interlude”? Plus, “and she’s fat-free” is easily one of my favorite lyrical non-sequitors of the year. Brilliantly weird, especially considering you know this is about to smother global radio for the next 3 months. And that scream at the end? Lita Ford couldn’t hit that note, oh no.
[8]

Andrew Unterberger: Shakira might be the one TRL mainstay deserving of accusations that the image is the only reason people care about her. Without the video of her cavorting in her underwear with anonymous topless dudes in the shower, I really just can’t imagine why anyone would care about her froggy, incomprehensible vocals and her uninspired, jangly pop. Blegh.
[3]

Mike Powell: The Cranberries in hip-huggers with a positively bonkers talk section where Shakira tries to lure you away from the “perfect woman” (knows French, is tall) with promises to move to communist countries and learn about football. Shakira, a word of advice: you’d probably freak the guy out a little less if you stopped writing awesome ether-rock anthems and singing like your voice was a ribbon fluttering in a sandstorm. Just sayin’.
[8]

Alfred Soto: All jacked up like Alanis will never be, in part because she sounds like a freaky bitch. Shakira seems to be shuffling between personae midsong, which no doubt helps. If this becomes a big hit, we’re gonna start hearing more about how Latina women are less uptight than their Anglo sisters.
[7]


The Veronicas – 4ever
[4.8]


Ian Mathers: The opening sounds like it might be a Girls Aloud cover band doing “Since U Been Gone”, and the rest of the song doesn't really shake that comparison. The chorus is properly storming, although it’d be nice if they could integrate the steady pulse of the verses into it. Incredibly effervescent, this leaves very little behind when it goes (although “let's pretend that you're mine” is a nice touch) but is terribly fun while it lasts. Sometimes, as the man says, a simple approach is the best.
[7]

Erick Bieritz: Apparently this is the most recent chapter in the diminishing returns of Lavigne/Clarkson pop-rock. My brain, searching for older contexts within which to plug this song, keeps segueing laterally into the chorus from Bon Jovi’s rendition of “It’s My Life.” It’s not a good sign.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: Paint-by-numbers girl pop – don’t think t.A.T.u., think Hilary and Lindsay if they duetted. I guess I’m supposed to be impressed that this pair of Aussie sisters write their own material, but you’ve gotta actually write something worth hearing for me to be impressed. The TRL crowd loves it.
[3]

Andrew Unterberger: In a year that’s been impressively dense with explosive, largely female-led pop / rock, The Veronicas do a surprisingly good job of holding their own. This rocks harder than most of those singles again, from the Manics-like intro to the muted guitar chugga-chuggas on the pre-chorus. Between this and t.A.t.U’s “All About Us,” which they apparently co-wrote, the Veronicas show enough promise to at least make them the new Republica.
[7]

Mike Powell: Four girls with guitars playing a neo-new wave/stadium rock hybrid and feigning abandon and but actually sounding like Bon Jovi soundtracking a mountain climbing sequence for a film promoting a middle school magazine drive, just with a lot more awkward sex.
[3]

Alfred Soto: It’s some kind of achievement to unearth the bloodline connecting the Pretenders, Belinda Carlisle, and “Since U Been Gone.” But learning about your family also means you got a lot to live up to.
[5]


Weezer - Perfect Situation
[3.8]


Ian Mathers: I will reiterate my demand that Weezer release “This Is Such A Pity” as a single; until they do, I'm not tolerating the crap from the rest of their first awful album. They have taken everything that used to be wonderful about Weezer (hint: the hooks) and replaced it with guitar wank. I'd rather have 30 glorious minutes than 50 pedestrian ones.
[3]

Erick Bieritz: When did forcing out these clumsy lyrics become such a toilsome chore for this band? Rue the day that Rivers Cuomo figures out that “moon” and “June” rhyme.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: Well, damn, first I don’t completely hate Disturbed and now I find something to actually like in a Weezer single?! What, am I becoming a 14-year-old str8 boy? Melodically, this has plenty more going for it than that crap “Beverly Hills,” even with the needlessly wonky guitar. This reminds me of a ‘70s Cheap Trick track, if they were much more reliant on piano riffage.
[5]

Andrew Unterberger: The good news: They sound like Weezer again. The bad news: They’re not as good at sounding like Weezer as they used to be. “Beverly Hills” was satisfyingly cocky, “We Are All on Drugs” was lovably surreal, but “Perfect Situation,” with a startling line like “What’s the deal with my brain / why am I so obviously insane” and simpering “hero” / “zero” rhymes is just sort of awkward. And not in the good way.
[4]

Mike Powell: Let’s lay bare the economy first: there’s a guitar intro, a wordless chorus, a guitar solo, a bridge that is basically just the chorus, and then a lengthy outro, all in around four minutes. In that sense, it continues Weezer’s paradoxical huge-waste-of-space phase—Rivers writes five hours worth of music for each album and the songs still cannibalize themselves—not to mention that the lyrics are in the same feeling-space as “Tired of Sex” except without the nuance and effort. The Daft Punk of rock music, Weezer is the only band that can get away with being a lifeless parody of themselves. Still, it’s kind of like I’m lying on the floor with my mouth open and they’re pouring a slow leak of chocolate syrup into it, i.e. I’m definitely not going to get up.
[5]

Alfred Soto: I’ll never say anything nasty about The Click Five again.
[2]


By: US Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-11-14
Comments (6)
 

 
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