Seven Deadly Singles #37: Rubberband Men
Lil' Wayne & Robin Thicke - "Shooter"
I'm more than kind of embarassed I only truly got into this song more than a year after The Carter II had already set the blogosphere ablaze with "Best Rapper In The World" hype. Excuse me for not believing a fucking Ca$h Money rapper would turn into Jay-Z faster than Jay-Z would turn into Chris Martin. I'm still reeling from the idea that the "Rubberband Man" guy could wring out enough inspiration for "What You Know." And "Shooter" is hardly the most instantaneous track on the admittedly excellent Carter II, in fact, it's a true slow burner. The concept: by some ingenious twist of fate, Lil' Wayne heard the barely known Timberlake-wannabe Thicke's song "Oh Shooter," a delicious biscuit of funk-ay organ-and-bass jamming itself, and decided it would be kickass to rhyme over the instrumental breaks, without looping or changing a thing. Holy shit did it work. The whole easygoing funk thing might be why it didn't catch on like "Fireman," but maybe it'll get a second chance to set the world on fire in 2007 as Wayne is now in the position for a crossover smash and the Timberlake model is officially a viable career path. I mean, even the "Rubberband Man" guy got a piece of that. A
The Decemberists - "O Valencia!"
I feel weird admitting the Decemberists are a totally reliable song band, having bashed Colin Meloy's pretentions until the backlash became chic. Even Stephen Colbert's doing it, to an audience who hardly knows who they are, so I need a new perspective. So let's posit for a moment that Meloy isn't actually pretentious, but just a nerdy guy like you or I who's found his niche on the third try, in the annals of his excessively large vocabulary, which gets the fans. One thing that supports this is that Meloy can crank out completely normal three-minute pop tunes like this one, without even cracking a thesaurus, which gets the respect from even those of us whose girlfriends he's stealing. A
Sean Paul - "Temperature"
What is this, more one-hit wonders who turned out not to be? And not just that, who knew when "Gimme The Light" broke that this guy turned out to have pioneered an entire genre takeover (not just a crossover fad, says hardly-proven minor star Daddy Yankee) that surprise, surprise, the diversely ethnic kids of our fine nation would rather hear on the FM than 3 Doors Down or Nickelback. I don't really understand where the Latin ends and Jamaican begins in Reggaeton, but I certainly understand hooks, and this guy had a few more up his sleeve than previously thought, so maybe Andrew WK and The Vines just made me cynical. Maybe enough that said takeover will bleed into record sales. B+
The Pack - "Vans"
Cute, cute. Bone-spare beat with tough-talking amateurs loving on their favorite shoes gets nationwide semi-buzz. It's cute because Run-DMC did the same thing in 1986 with "My Adidas" and it was unprecedented that someone would do it again. It's unfortunate that these guys lack the authority and instant distinguishability Run-DMC had that led to a career. Yeah, I didn't think "Rubberband Man" or "The Block Is Hot" did either. But I'm almost certain The Pack are more likely to be heard in a 30 second snippet during Run's House than be the next Run-DMC no matter how long they stay a chart entity. After all, Run-DMC didn't get branded something as ridiculous sounding as "skate rap." B-
Lily Allen - "Smile"
Does anyone remember Betty Boo? She was this 1989-1990 type British chick who did a sing-rap thing over a less-updated jazzy-kinda funk everyone's giving Lily Allen props for. Given, Boo wasn't as tough-talking as Allen, and as Eminem proved over Bubba Sparxxx and Paul Wall, nice guys finish last. So this intriguing blend of Alanis-tagged revenge-spew meets Nelly Furtado light-eclecto-funk meets flat-out meanness might prove more than the intriguing (and okay, catchy) blend it is. B+
Panic! At The Disco - "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage"
I'd say "Anyone who thinks this barely-punk outfit of young privileged shits' introductory manifesto is any less worthy than 'Formed A Band' is being ignorant," only that would mean the entire music world except for Hot Topic rockers, who God knows are more ignorant than indie-rockers, and Rolling Stone, who've gotten shockingly accurate in their late Christgau days by including this excellent song on their year-end list. So this review's kind of pointless, because I'm not convincing anyone who doesn't already hate them on principle, but I will knock off the misogyny charges by reminding the snobs that the Sex Pistols' "Bodies" was far more sexist and immature than anything these whiners could grumble up, and their irony margin was shortened a long time ago. On the other hand, there's nothing punk about a title nicked from Fight Club either, so maybe the Hot Topic rockers would have won if they weren't allergic to melody this great. I mean, even the remix was good. A
Juvenile - "Get Ya Hustle On"
Problem: when a guy from New Orleans really means to make a heartfelt Katrina-victims tribute/anti-Bush revolt but fails by throwing in too much generic and off-topic coke-rap ("We take the pyrex and then we rock wit it, roll wit it") over a thin, stereotypical-crunk 808s-and-pizzicato beat that sounds too bored to get a walk to the post office on, much less a hustle, much less a national call-to-arms. Yeah, yeah, at least he tried, yeah, yeah, I'm glad Lil' Wayne sticks to what he knows. C+