Mike Atkinson

Stylus Singles Jukebox, 14th March 2005

Posted in singles reviews, Stylus by Mike A on March 14, 2005

Basement Jaxx – Oh My Gosh 

“Based on Wordy Rappinghood”, they told me. Damned if I can hear it, though. Which is no great loss, considering that ‘Oh My Gosh’ is my favourite single of 2005 thus far. Like all the best Jaxx singles, this feels like it’s sitting right at the centre of something, with 50 different ideas all going on at once; so much so, that it’s almost impossible to cram them onto one track, but – like 50 rag week students squeezing themselves into a phone box – they somehow manage to pull it off. (10)

Beck – E-Pro

Having wasted the opportunity of having a Gary Jules-esque slow-burning crossover cover version “cult” [sic] movie smash with “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime”, Beck – always at his least convincing when attempting to Rock Out – instead serves up a tepid, grungey, downright BORING din, of no discernible purpose. (3)

Tony Christie – Is This The Way To Amarillo?

A long, long time ago, I found something powerfully sexy about this, particularly the almighty pelvic thrust of the bridge section: “Sha la la, la la, la la la, THWACK! BOOSH!” [Hey, I was too young for Elvis.] However, any residual erotic charge has now been thoroughly defused by Peter Kay’s Comic Relief video: admittedly delightful, but distinctly detumescent. I hope all of this makes Christie a bob or two, though; he deserves to be remembered as more than a chicken-in-a-basket Tom Jones. (10)

G4 – Bohemian Rhapsody

If Frasier and Niles Crane had ever attempted to form a pop group, with Gil Chesterton the restaurant critic and Noel the trekkie dragged in to make up the numbers, then this extravagantly baroque folly is probably what it would have sounded like. [“Ooh! Ooh! I know! Let’s replace those vulgar electric guitars with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra!”] With a shining-eyed sincerity of purpose and an innocence of its own ridiculousness which borders on the heroic, what could so easily have been unlistenable dreck is instead elevated to the realms of High Camp. (8)

Jem – They

Great choice of sample: a jaunty, Swingle-ing Sixties affair. So great, that it all but carries the rest of the song along in its slipstream. Take the sample away, and you’re left with a slight, disposable piece, with just about enough residual breezy charm to get away with it this time. (7)

John Legend – Used To Love U 

Nice jazz piano, nice Stevie Wonder-style massed choral wailings, nice dinner-party R&B vibe. All very Paying Due Homage To Classic Soul Roots, all very Guest Spot On All Star Quincy Jones Project, all very Rebirth Of The Cool/Jazz Café/Straight No Chaser/Trevor Nelson inna 1994 style. If this WAS 1994, this would have been my single of the week, no question. But we move on, don’t we? (6)

Mars Volta – Widow

Last time I ran across this lot, they were all squiddly-widdly neo-prog-metal eight-minute workouts of overweening extravagance and excess. Not for me, but admirable for its aspirations. On the strength of this disappointingly straightforward clod-hop, they seem to have settled for being Muse, albeit leavened with a smidgeon of Rush. Admittedly, there is a small soupçon of squiddly-widdliness towards the end, but it’s still too little, too late. (6)

Queens Of The Stone Age – Little Sister

Boring generic plod is redeemed firstly by an attractive incidental “NEE-NA NEE-NA” guitar figure, and secondly by a pleasurably intense-yet-musicianly guitar freakout climax thing. (5)

Shapeshifters – Back To Basics

In which the Shapeshifters resort to the time-honoured ploy of following up a major dance crossover hit by jiggling its constituent parts around a bit, putting them back together again in a different order, and attempting to pass them off as a brand new song. Such timidity inevitably leads to diminishing returns. Have we learnt nothing from Rednex? (6)

Gwen Stefani ft. Eve – Rich Girl

The namechecks for haute couture designers. The wholesale vampiric appropriation of a semi-digested sub-cultural youth phenomenon type thingy, but hey, it’s JAPANESE! and hence unimpeachable mm-KAY? Big wigs, big gowns, fit dancers, The Gays All ADORE ME You Know. Little smidge of a Jew-cool sensibility tossed into the Pan-Eurasian stew. Big fuckoff production job, to mask that tinny little Minnie Mouse helium squeak of yours. All lingering memories of those naff old AOR power ballads firmly snuffed out, because now you’re so achingly Zeitgeist that it HURTS, missy. Gwen Stefani is the continuation of Madonna by other means. Discuss. (5)

T.I. – Bring ‘Em Out

There’s a fantastic sense of momentum to this big dumb booty-shaking bits-wiggling beer-blasting juggernaut of a monster monster party tune. Is this what the youngsters are calling ‘crunk’, or does this bear as much resemblance to the genre as the Boomtown Rats did to punk? Rather than risk betraying my ignorance, I’ll simply dub this a ‘Jump Around’ for the 2000s, and move swiftly on. (9)

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