The Singles Jukebox

Pop, to two decimal places
KREPT & KONAN FT. CHIP, FRENCH MONTANA, WRETCH 32, CHINX DRUGZ & FEKKY - DON’T WASTE MY TIME
[4.33]


Remember when Daft Punk had that song called “Too Long”…?

Will Adams: Hey, no fair! You just wasted five and a half minutes of my time!
[3]

David Sheffieck: The feature list longer than my arm actually works fairly well together, but the production pulls this down a couple notches: the backing vocals sound consistently goofy, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never felt sicker of sirens than I did sometime around the fifth verse.
[5]

Brad Shoup: The original was so soaked in American hip-hop, why not go full Beetlejuice and summon French? He actually fits well in context — “jeweler don’t waste my time” is the best riff on the hook. The track is as grim as trailer music, lots of controlled detonations and brass rumbles. But if time so’s precious, they’ve got a lot of it to kill.
[6]

Crystal Leww: The debate continues to rage, but “Don’t Waste My Time” convincingly makes the case that regionalism in rap music is dead. “Don’t Waste My Time” has all the elements of a Chicago drill track with a cavernous beat that rattles and bangs, non-stop ad-libbing and airhorns, and a hook that is relies heavily on repetition combined with a fuck-off attitude. It’s by a few UK-based rappers and a couple of NYC Coke Boys, but it’s a track that would make King Louie and Katie Got Bandz proud… if it were something like three guest verses shorter. We get it; you have famous friends, but this beat was never dynamic enough to hold anyone’s attention for this long.
[5]

Josh Langhoff: Oh my word, this is terrible. Part of the problem (the part that’s not anti-Semitic or woman objectifying or sort-of-but-not-really apologizing for the woman objectifying) is the beat, which keeps cutting out every fourth line like it expects someone to say something witty. Nobody takes the beat up on this offer.
[1]

Anthony Easton: I am not sure if the sluggish quality of this is an (almost decadent) purposeful choice, or just a formally ossified laziness. There are arguments in favour of both, but the 2 a.m. hook, with the ooh sighs over it, suggests the latter.
[6]

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LIL BOOSIE FT. WEBBIE - SHOW THA WORLD
[5.25]


BOOSIE FREE!

Alfred Soto: Sup, Boosie! Prison has made him reflective. Sometimes he cries and he don’t know why. He can’t help what he done. He’s still got his Chris Tucker-indebted sneer. That’s all he got.
[4]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: If you spend any amount of time on Twitter, Lil Boosie’s recent release from prison may have seemed like the biggest news story of the year so far. His ever-rising profile is very much the result of intense fandom and regional heroism, but no so much one that guarantees the casual rap fan will know plenty about Boosie Bad-Ass. “Show the World” functions as a pretty good way in for the Boosie-adverse fan. In the first minute, you have an assertion of Boosie’s history of making “quality street music,” a rundown of his family life and of his love towards his fans. A moment later, you know about the family members he’s lost and the reason why he stunts hard. By the third verse, long-time compadre Webbie arrives, a sign of musical family. It’s a fair entry point for those wanting to know why it matters that #BoosieFree.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: “I just like to make people happy,” would be mealy mouthed words from near any other rapper, but in Boosie’s nasal yap they’re scuffed with an aching sincerity, and an implicit rebuke against the State of Louisiana, which, after originally incarcerating him for activity that’s probably now legal in two states of the Union, waylaid him for years on murder charges for which it couldn’t find evidence. It’s a glimpse of why this rapper has such an extraordinary following in the Deep South: he forces his words to vibrate with an uncomfortable closeness. It’s the too-close-to-the-surface intensity that made Pac an icon, and it can’t help but give his work extra dimensions. Just how much is he admitting — or demurring — with the conjunctions in, “But I’m a gangsta and I rock shows”? (Is the “but” the important part or the “and’?) “Show Tha World” has the rushed quality of a single that is not so much comeback as I’m still here, but it’s testament to Boosie’s talent that its so absorbing nevertheless. He’s better positioned than Tip or Weezy to make something of his post-prison career, anyway, and if he does, he might live up to this song’s title.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: More a post-prison mission statement than anything else, “Show Tha World” is a nice re-introduction to Lil Boosie (and a good introduction for kids who only know him through “Free Boosie” t-shirts). It’s heartfelt (“I just like to make people happy/four kids I just like being a good daddy”) but also like a moment of sweetness after a long time away. Sounds like a prelude to bigger things to me.
[6]

Crystal Leww: Guest commentary from my brother, the first time he heard this song: “It’s like they recorded this before he went to prison, and noticed that he was off-beat and off-key so they got some lady to fix the chorus.” Look, I’m glad that Boosie’s out of prison, too, but this is just lazy mixing combined with an inability to let go of creative control.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Free Boosie? More like Free Mixing Job.
[3]

Brad Shoup: Good bass! Good damn bass work. For all his talk about reality rap, Boosie namechecks a bunch of his A-list peers; there’s even a sung snatch of “Good Life” at the end. Kiara’s hook can’t match his; she’s on some low-wattage R&B station thing, but with that low-end and the twinkly piano, I guess the direction makes sense. Webbie bats cleanup, and he boosts the excitement level considerably. I want to root for this more than I want to listen to it.
[6]

Scott Mildenhall: As impressed as he is at himself for singing his own hooks, it’d be better if Lil Boosie didn’t, because his voice when not rapping here is quite annoying. Fortunately there are lots of saving graces: the time Kiara is given on the hook, the piano sounding very similar to the clavioline in Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, and the barely there shimmer of strings bringing the faintest tension, subtle enough for all three voices to underline how on top of it they are.
[6]

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WU-TANG CLAN - KEEP WATCH
[5.62]


Never say we’re not looking out for you Cappadonna fans out there…

Katherine St Asaph: The Wu are printing exactly one copy of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin — one for everyone who counts this as essential.
[6]

Patrick St. Michel: Smooth and forgettable, Wu-Tang as imagined by a factory assembly line. Except for that really grating vocal hook.
[4]

Crystal Leww: “Keep Watch” is a thoroughly unremarkable track from a legendary hip-hop group. Everyone does a verse. There’s a hook. The whole track passes by without making a single noteworthy impression. Can we all stop the Real Hip-Hop wars now?
[5]

Megan Harrington: To be a bit topical for a moment, how incomprehensibly dead was the crowd during Outkast at Coachella? I want to believe the partial reunion of the Wu is a cultural moment worthy of microscopic observation, but it is possible no one cares? “Keep Watch” is passable, but I think the A$AP mob got a better verse out of Method Man. There is no Ghostface, no Raekwon, no RZA. What we’re supposed to applaud is the remote possibility that there could be; that after a decade of hammering home the idea that the group could no longer collaborate, there’s hope it’s not true. Is this collaboration? It comes with a flip tweet from Raekwon. Am I ungracious if I admit this is not the reunion I wanted? That I’ll probably just keep listening to 36 Chambers and pretend this never happened?
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Keep Watch” is 100 per cent the wrong way to launch a new Wu-Tang Clan album: unnecessary R&B chorus, only four members present, production by RZA’s protege Mathematics rather than the Abbot himself. At the same time, these erratic qualities are oh so very Wu — despite their position as elder statesmen in hip-hop, the group keep bobbing and weaving, doing as they see fit and only when they see fit. Meth continues his post-“Trillmatic” spree, pouncing around the beat like he was still performing in front of flaming rubbish; Cappadonna raps so hard he almost loses his cool; and GZA waxes galactic, his star-searching definitions of brotherhood capping off the ceremonies (shades of 2001’s “Uzi (Pinky Ring),” the last classic group single from the group). The missing link is Inspectah Deck, who instead of bombing atomically, settles for bombing instead. “Keep Watch” won’t be entering the Wu canon, and the adventurous spirit of the 8 Diagrams era is missed, but it’ll do for now.
[6]

Josh Langhoff: Whoa, I am really bad at identifying Wu-Tang members! Method Man’s usually my favorite; I love hearing how long he can spin out a syncopated pattern. These other three guys must come from the side of the Clan I rarely listen to. (Are there internal Clan subdivisions? Maybe a Venn diagram with circles like “makes good solo albums” and “writes rhymes at the Christian Science Reading Room” — lookin’ at you, GZA!) I’m told that’s Cappadonna rapping third and killing it, displacing his rhythmic phrases by half a beat here and there, imbuing his verse with freedom and life by displacing our expectations of where syllables should fall. Now I’m thinking I should dig out my Cappadonna CD.
[6]

Brad Shoup: Some people get excited when they spot Cappa in the credits; I start tugging at the collar. But like Genius says, the connect is brotherly. Method Man jumps back from 1994, Mathematics meets him on the opposite trip, and they grab Nathaniel out of the void. The Wu’s never been about breakneck speed, but there’s something a little disconcerting about GZA’s pauses, even if his subject matter is winningly agnostic toward his mates’.
[6]

Alfred Soto: It’s never not exciting to hear Meth, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, and the rest rap abstrusely over minimalist loops. The sung chorus sucks though — let these MCs have their say.
[6]

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Five Years of the Singles Jukebox

We’re not usually big on self-aggrandisement or mythologising. More or less, we just do one thing — we rate pop songs out of ten — but we love it and we do it well. We don’t pay attention to the consensus around us; we build our own (sometimes, but we often disagree). And we’ve now been doing it for five years.

Of course the story of the Jukebox goes back further than that. We started as a pair of columns on Stylus, one for UK singles and one for US singles, which ran until the site closed in 2007. A chance meeting between two writers in a pub led to a few emails going across the globe, and all of a sudden the band was back together, just like we’d never split up. Sure, our friends at Pitchfork began to focus on individual tracks in earnest a month earlier, stealing our thunder somewhat, but we’ll always have the extra decimal place.

In the last five years, there have been nearly 3400 songs covered from over 60 countries, with about 30,000 individual paragraph-long reviews from us adding up to about 2,000,000 (two million) words. It’d take you a week solid to read the site from front to back. We don’t recommend you do that, so here are some highlights from our first five years. Feel free to share your own in the comments!

Here’s to another five just like these.

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TEEFLII FT. 2 CHAINZ - 24 HOURS
[5.25]


Yo. How ‘bout some Hostess cupcakes?

Anthony Easton: I just bought discount Hostesse cupcakes at the Ben Soir, while talking to a friend about math education. I will do some Jukebox work, and then read for class tomorrow. Then I will go to sleep around 4 a.m. I have a less interesting 24 hours than these two, although I don’t make bad Wafflehouse references (though I do follow them on Twitter)
[5]

Alfred Soto: Way too serious-dumb until 2 Chainz and his Waffle House refs, at which point the song turns fun-dumb.
[5]

Patrick St. Michel: It is a credit to how great 2 Chainz has gotten that the first thing I did when hearing this song was jump to his part to see if he delivered. Sort of — a great Waffle House intro, but tough getting over the record-scratch that is “womb service.” DJ Mustard’s beat, though, was a lovely bit of intimidating plinky-plonk.
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: TeeFlii came to cult prominence last year with “This D”, a song that essentially sums up his entire oeuvre: one-dimensional, rattling, horndogged beyond all comprehension. He has a squeaky voice, an inflection indebted to Michael Jackson (“Annie!”), and a tiny moustache that makes him look like Steve Albini. He won’t be a star, but the all-important DJ Mustard cosign could help him along - remember thinking that YG was boring before Mustard guided him through the excellent My Krazy Life? “24 Hours” is a song both TeeFlii and DJ Mustard have done multiple times over, epitomised by the qualities detailed above, but it remains a brutally effective formula. The only upgrade evident is 2 Chainz replacing ride-along rookies like YeaDat and Big Scrap, and with puns about “womb service” (I laughed), he certainly isn’t operating far outside his host’s comfort zone.
[6]

Megan Harrington: Not enough 2 Chainz! Never enough 2 Chainz! The vast majority of “24 Hours” (all but about 30 combined seconds, let’s say) is swallowed piecemeal by DJ Mustard’s beat — TeeFLii’s verses do not equal its enormity. Until 2 Chainz shows up, the song is 3,000 pounds of sleek German engineering sitting in the driveway, key in ignition, pinging its reminder to get out or get moving. 2 Chainz is the engine revving, vrooming out cute puns like “I ask them who is it, they said ‘room service!’/Gimme one minute she getting her womb service.” He acts, he cooks, he jumps TeeFLii’s dead battery.
[7]

Crystal Leww: If YG is the ideal rapper for a DJ Mustard beat, TeeFLii is the platonic ideal of a DJ Mustard pop R&B singer. Like YG, TeeFLii is no bandwagon artist jumping on the DJ Mustard train; DJ Mustard produced a few songs on his mid-2013 tape AnnieRUO’TAY 2, and TeeFLii had a co-writing credit on the terribly catchy DJ Mustard-produced Kid Ink single "Show Me" with what sounds like his part going to the just terrible Chris Brown. TeeFLii is basically the same mold of R&B rascal that Chris Brown is, delivering compliments through a smirk with lines like “you should be the type to profile that pussy” and falling in line with current Bay Area boy obsession with bad girls. 2 Chainz continues to be a twisted uncle rapper, with terrible dad-level puns like “off white like eggnog” and telling dirty jokes “your nigga ain’t hard; he erectile!” delivered with such enthusiasm and panache. All this is grounded by a Pop Mustard beat, my favorite version of DJ Mustard. He brings back that synth line, the elastic pinging that brings some much needed dynamism to his usual bass/snap beat combo. If this is how DJ Mustard decides to cross over into the pop fray rather than stuff like this, we might be seeing the return of the hip hop crossover producer.
[9]

Brad Shoup: Great timbre on the arcade-cabinet hook, but I wish the melody dropped at the end. The “heys” are like a Getty Images watermark at this point; they can’t crowd out TeeFLii, so what’s the point? Like any great working comic, 2 Chainz got to me eventually, though.
[4]

Mallory O’Donnell: Spoiler alert: it’s not a Joy Division cover, just a song that covers your joy with a thick blanket of anemic beats and stale sexist banter. But if I bet you like getting smothered, you were probably asking for it.
[0]

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SEVYN STREETER FT. KID INK - NEXT
[6.00]


She won’t stop collaborating with dudes beneath her.

Anthony Easton: Often lovely, but the point the references (what is with the prickly electronics, why does this sound like Adele doing Bond doing Beyonce — is this song about her or about him?) disrupts the process. I am not sure that this is a good move.
[6]

Alfred Soto: One of last year’s loveliest moments, “It Won’t Stop” even endured the presence of Chris Brown. This isn’t at that level, but “It Won’t Stop” took its time too. Injecting considerable yearning and rue into the line “why is my ex boyfriend my next boyfriend,” Streeter makes a deal she knows she’ll lose, Kid Ink’s avowals notwithstanding.
[7]

Crystal Leww: Sevyn Streeter has had two songs now that were really great with just her and dudes were added that did absolutely nothing of value. While "It Won’t Stop" added Chris Fucking Brown, nEXt adds his co-conspirator Kid Ink, who adds an intro, some flat and slightly out of tune harmonies, and a guest verse that literally does nothing for anyone. Meanwhile, Sevyn Streeter continues to straddle the line between old-fashioned and trend-chasing particularly well. The tempo is slow and the harmonies are present, but they neither overwhelms the rest of the track. She doesn’t shy away from emoting either even if she’s not quite the belter that the Braxton sisters or K. Michelle are. This could have been great without the addition, but still, it’s mostly very good.
[6]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: DJ Mustard’s rise to pop glory has come with plenty of anonymous artists savvy enough to pay for a hit: Tyga, B.O.B., Kid Ink. Ink is a listless performer, emblematic of an artistic shift towards cadence and cult signifiers, rather than… y’know, good strong songwriting. He’s Diet Tyga, if you can imagine such a thing, and he appears on “Next” as a gust of air on a hundred degree day - briefly noticeable but unnoticeable. Sevyn, as always, has a great name but boring songs. In the middle of it all, a bluesy guitar curdles out of a melody, the dissonance bringing something briefly interesting to the track.
[4]

Megan Harrington: Riddle me this: if you’ve got the good sense to give Sevyn Streeter a minimalist R&B beat and she’s got the good sense to keep her lyrics similarly sparse, what math justifies the inclusion of Kid Ink? He is just dreadful, though I suppose that’s his role in the song’s narrative. His bookending verse juxtaposes “might say tonight was the last straw/but in the morning I’ll be sipping from your glass jaw” with “never been a pimp or a backhander.” Sure, he won’t hit you, but he knows if he did your face would shatter. If that’s your ex-boyfriend, I don’t know, try Tinder.
[6]

Juana Giaimo: I don’t consider myself too demanding about lyrics, but as if the chorus wasn’t silly enough, hearing lines like “but he loves my face with no make-up” and “never been a pimp or a backhander” — as if those were exceptional and unique manners of his personality— hurt my ears.
[4]

Brad Shoup: I thought no more songwriting juice could be squeezed out of crazy love. Turns out you can drill a hole with guitar and organ. After Streeter wrings the musing of the chorus for all it’s worth and Kid Ink makes his modest appeal, the instruments unstem over and over, giving our kids plenty of time to curl up against the sunset, putting everything out of mind.
[9]

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JAY-Z FT. BEYONCé - PART II (ON THE RUN)
[4.50]


Jay, we made the same face when we learned this was the next single!

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Before anything else, click THIS - yeah, THIS. You back? The artist Raymond Pettibon is most famed for two iconic images: the Black Flag bars and the cover to Sonic Youth’s 1990 album Goo. That album’s hand-drawn cover presents a couple coolly driving away from a vicious crime. A citation rests at the image’s side, a macabre micro-story of sex and murder now worn on the shirts of a million hipsters: “IT WAS ALL WHIRLWIND, HEAT, AND FLASH. WITHIN A WEEK WE KILLED MY PARENTS AND HIT THE ROAD.” Click back on that T-shirt linked above, which places Jayoncé in the getaway car and turns that citation into the “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde” hook. The great “Part II” acts as a sequel to that 2003 mega-middler, but there’s a lot more going on inside of Timbaland’s sleek, alien two-stepper. Beyoncé plays gangster’s moll, wizened enough to know the misdeeds her relationship causes but left starry-eyed by the rush; Jay is all fire and brimstone, manically aligning himself with hotheads like 'Pac and Juvie in the name of protecting his beloved. It ends in blood, flames and a promise to skip Heaven and Hell in the afterlife. This is pure theatre - Jayoncé aren’t really #outchea, obviously. But the concerns are immortally fascinating: romance, adventure, violence. It’s fatalism, but scrubbed up and gleaming until it’s irresistible, like one of those paintings Blue Ivy’s allowed to desecrate. It’s all whirlwind, heat and flash, flash, flash.
[8]

David Sheffieck: How many more favors does Beyoncé have to throw Jay before he stops insisting on ruining her songs? It’s admittedly endearing to a point, but even before taking Jay’s contributions into account, this is no “Drunk in Love.”
[2]

Anthony Easton: Beyonce’s sections are pleasant and a little anonymous, like Lindsay Buckingham’s last solo album, which didn’t sound as interesting as it sounded expensive. Sadly, Jay-Z’s self aggrandizing bad-guy conversations shred the care that Beyonce is working out here, with too little tension to be really interesting.
[4]

Alfred Soto: My students know acknowledging cliches does not exonerate a writer. Marriage to a rapper in decline doesn’t awaken him from creative paralysis either. Serving as the best part of this and “Drunk in Love” doesn’t exonerate Beyonce either.
[3]

Crystal Leww: Can you believe this goes on for five minutes?
[3]

Brad Shoup: The outlaws in autumn. Bey picks up a gun after putting down the wineglass; Jay slips into something a little more comfortable, like a Juvenile record. The track unwinds with all the sophistication and smoothness of a car elevator bearing its owner to the penthouse.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Wikipedia says this is “a smooth slow-tempo electro-R&B love ballad which is equipped with a steamy, retro and retro-futuristic groove that creates an acute level of moody texture.” Which sounds amazing. Garbled, but amazing. It sounds like “Climax”. That was a good song. This does not sound like “Climax”. It is not a good song. It’s got an atmosphere, and it maintains that atmosphere for about a decade, with Jay-Z careful not to upset it by actually appearing on it to any worthwhile degree, but if it’s atmosphere you want you go to Russ Abbot. Listen to “Drunk In Love” instead.
[4]

Andy Hutchins: Jay is here, barely; he has three verses, one four bars, one 16, one 12. The Timbo beat is also here, barely, orchestral swooning and bleeping electronic squibbles that wrap themselves around the star. But the star is HERE, and no one but Bey could pull all this off. “Part II,” which feels far more like a song from Beyoncé than the late-breaking final single from Magna Carta Holy Zzzzz, survives on Bey’s woozy, intoxicated love; here, she is Bonnie to a largely disinterested Clyde, and the femme fatale could convince anyone of anything. No one else working in pop music has the charisma that drips from Mrs. Knowles-Carter’s melisma on a single “ta-a-a-a-a-aaaa-a-aaaaaaaake.” Long live the queen.
[7]

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THE BLACK KEYS - FEVER
[5.17]


Not a Peggy Lee cover…

Megan Harrington: “Fever” is both adequate and slightly over-produced. The Black Keys are slicker with each release, so this retro hallucination is expected. They’re catchy and sturdy, the time-keeping is tenuous and the keyboards are mashed. Your parents came around to “Let My Love Open the Door,” and you’ll find “Fever” worthy of deep cut status in a couple decades. Weighing the counterbalance, Danger Mouse is completely groan-worthy here. Why is there a vocal echo? Why are the bass levels distorted? These are such distracting choices. My score nods towards forgiveness; there’s solid songwriting here.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: In which The Black Keys go to a garage sale, by some rinky-dink organ you’d expect to hear on Nuggets, and come up with a song that still just sounds like The Black Keys.
[4]

Alfred Soto: You boys sure love your organ! As usual, they make mirror movies before an audience ready to applaud them for embracing verities no band did in 1983, 1976, or 1965.
[3]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The drum jabs that open the track are easily the most interesting thing to listen to - the rest is overpriced barroom backing noise. And I like overpriced barrooms as much as the next guy! But those drums — and that creepy funfair riff — sound like a far more entertaining dive bar.
[5]

Iain Mew: Featurelessness doesn’t seem like the most obvious of things to compliment about a song, but in The Black Keys’ case sanding off their edges to become a Broken Bells with nominal blues trappings is a step up. I’ve never been so unannoyed by their vocals, and the way the song tilts on its axis and pours into the coda is lovely.
[7]

Brad Shoup: Maybe the “Abracadabra” synths help take away from his wheedle. The rumbly bass and general rock statis ensures this will stay on rock radio for weeks purely by default.
[5]

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TAKING BACK SUNDAY - FLICKER, FADE
[4.50]


Forget flickering and fading; Megan goes straight in for the kill.

Jonathan Bradley: If there are second acts for American bands, “Flicker, Fade” is Taking Back Sunday’s, and it’s fitting that it’s so focused on self-destruction. The band exists as one half of a Long Island punk diptych completed by a group led by a founding TBS member — Jesse Lacey’s Brand New threw shots at his old band when he made Brand New’s first album, and the old members answered in kind on theirs. Then John Nolan and Shaun Cooper left. Then Fred Mascherino left and Nolan and Cooper rejoined. The ensuing tour, of a band reunited in a form that had only existed for one, beloved album, seemed both an effort an effort in magic and monetizing nostalgia. Could it be possible that the Tell All Your Friends crew was back? And could a group known for one (wonderful) album really trade on past glories? “Flicker, Fade” knits the gestures at opulence of Nolan’s old band Straylight Run with Adam Lazzara’s endless predilection for drama to create operatic throwback emocore that’s opulent even by the standards of a band that did much to create this aesthetic. The band that paved the way for Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance has finally grown out of its twenties and found an old age afterlife to its thirty perfect 2002 minutes. That it negs Kings of Leon is just a bonus.
[8]

Patrick St. Michel: So this guy likes that one Kings of Leon song, but he told someone he likes he hates it because…even he doesn’t know? And he needed to make a fuzz ballad about it?
[4]

Alfred Soto: More like “Snicker, Made.”
[4]

Edward Okulicz: You know, this song about something that flickers and fades… its verses aren’t that different from Cheap Trick’s “The Flame.” Except with a big, muscular EMO SHOUTING CHORUS. “Destroy what you create!” is silly but pretty satisfying — it’s not an improvement, but it doesn’t hurt.
[6]

Will Adams: A triple meter at this tempo typically sounds more lively. Fair enough; the chorus alone provides enough heft to carry the rest of this standard torch ballad. The word “flicker” is flung twice with the same rhythm, like a lightbulb pulsing its last beams. The “fade” is held on the same pitch as the first syllable of “flicker,” providing the same image of that light as it finally dies. It’s a wonderful example of text painting that retains melodic value. Shame that there’s not much more to recommend this.
[6]

Scott Mildenhall: This lives and dies by its chorus’ yellability. “Flicker, flicker fade” is a letdown — not enough syllables, four fifths of them quickfire repetition of a sound that doesn’t flow. “Destroy what you create” fares better, but it’s a little bit one-level. And “you wonder why it always ends the same” — like the song, too long. Kings of Leon actually understood all of this better.
[5]

Megan Harrington: This is a symbolic zero awarded on behalf of everyone who was ever told they didn’t know the first thing about good music. For me, that person called Taking Back Sunday their favorite band. It’s been a slow road to vengeance, but I knew I’d claim it someday and I was right. Personal vendetta aside, I also hate their fake Evan Dando lead singer and kitchen-sink mentality to anthems. Quiet/loud dynamics, string section, full band sing-along chorus — pick one, all three and you’re desperate to reconnect with an audience that would rather play Candy Crush Saga than listen to your song.
[0]

Brad Shoup: A movie where the guy breaks up a wedding with a speech about how much he tolerates the bride’s love of “Sex on Fire” sounds like the worst thing tho.
[3]

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FUTURE ISLANDS - SEASONS (WAITING ON YOU)
[5.38]


The Singles Jukebox: Covering songs before they become memes since 2011…

Katherine St Asaph: Seasons change, instrumental palettes change, but bad indie rock vocalists still stay exactly the same. When you start going Kroeger, that shouldn’t be an improvement.
[4]

David Sheffieck: I kinda dig the production and hook here, but the affected Elton John-isms are too distracting to even begin to see past. Future Islands have been around for a while; if the rest of the band really care, why haven’t they had an intervention to tell the vocalist he’s embarrassing himself?
[4]

Alfred Soto: A couple weeks after Samuel T. Herring’s quasi-triumph on “Late Night with David Letterman” reminded everyone of the drunk queen at gay karaoke doing “Mr. Brightside,” we get the studio version — as passionate and silly as I expected, with Herring assuming vocal contortions I haven’t heard since the days of Roland Gift. The melody and arrangement are 1978 Barry Manilow.
[7]

Patrick St. Michel: Taps foot along to opening beat, hears opening lines and moves head a bit, pounds chest with closed left fist come the chorus as if to say “this is good, this is good!” "People change/but you know some people never do," hits chest harder, makes scrunched up face like tears are about to flow. Keeps nodding to song, but also glances at watch, as Future Islands are just kind of repeating themselves without any pay off at this point. Clicks related-link to David Letterman performance on side, and makes shocked, over-the-top face at it, shocked at how much stronger it seems to be fine. Still musters a vigorous head nod, though, dramatically points hand at song. This, this song will do.
[7]

Cédric Le Merrer: No, Future Islands singers, the changing of seasons is not a good metaphor for your passive agressive assholery. Seasons have no choice in what happens to them. They have no regret, either. What they have, however, is blundering incompetents butchering them and then calling it the New Normal because like you, they won’t take responsability for their destiny. I kinda like how the band tries for epic without ever letting go enough to really get there. It really illustrates well the clunkiness of the metaphor. Unfortunately, I don’t think Future Islands are self conscious enough to be acknowledging their own douchebaggery.
[3]

Brad Shoup: He’s got a great morning-after voice, an Eltonian kind of imparted wisdom. I thought the synths were doing the work, but they flash after he inflects. If our grown men have abdicated this kind of synthrock, this will work as a substitute.
[7]

Megan Harrington: I like this song fine, but this whole Springsteen with synthesizers thing — it’s not blowing my mind anymore. I like the Killers’ approach much better (because their scale is so grand), and Springsteen himself used synthesizers. I also vehemently disagree with this description used as praise because the implication is that synthpop is still illegitimate and it’s only in a rock context that the synthesizer is an authentic instrument. None of this is Future Islands’ fault, and nothing says dramatic, hopeless love like a few well-placed synth notes. Add a few dadly dance moves and you’ve wandered backwards into a meme. Good for them.
[7]

Mallory O’Donnell: Future Islands or Archipelagos of the Past? You decide.
[4]

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