Seven Deadly Singles #41: Sapville
Mandy Moore - "Extraordinary"
It's so cute when tween popsters discover the big, bad machine behind them, do a few faux-indie flicks, and ditch those evil, evil blonde roots that made them whores in the first place (yeah, right), to start thinking outside the box and add. . .guitars and drums. Was that pause dramatic to you? I bet Ashley Parker Angel and Nick Lachey chortled in their soups. Look where it got LFO. Always more likeable than Jessica Simpson if less feisty than Xtina or iconic than Britney, Mandy Moore's gotten damn far playing the nice girl. At least as far as Liz Phair. Except Phair has an edge to fall back on, as exemplified in her own "Extraordinary," and talent only matched by PJ Harvey, who's so far in the opposite direction by now that she's left Vincent Gallo's cum streaked across a Shepherd's Bush highway somewhere. Moore, unfortunately, is going to have to fall back on A Walk To Remember's DVD royalties when this one politely flops. B-
Common feat. will.i.am - "A Dream"
What many have accused Common of and I've always feared would actually happen now conjoin as will.i.am burns himself a fresh new circle of Hell. It's one thing for Mr. i.am to confirm the worst there is to believe about his own blandalicious "conscious" rap with the occasional inextractible pop hook, and even to live his dreams by burning out Nas and Michael Jackson like the out-of-touch geezers they are. But to aid and abet Common's always-threatened banal instincts without ?uestlove or Kanye in attendance to save him is just cruel, a black mark he just didn't need on a fairly solid permanent record. Here he's a living, breathing, boring hack, letting will.i.am repeat the MLK quote until it feels as pointless as Freedom Writers rather than the great moment in history it remains. And let's face it, Kanye was the genius behind Be, not the flake in the sweater vest. D
Daughtry - "It's Not Over"
Look, I respect the guy as much as anyone else for trying to inject some guitar-based integrity into Simon Cowell Land on the way to beating Taylor Hicks in the chart race. But proof that good singing doesn't mean Jack Shit in Great Song Land is that the guy chooses to sound exactly like Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd with what he's given, rather than aiming for Cobainesque strength, if not risk, brains or insight. I couldn't tell you a thought in his head. This is what Fuel has wrought, not to mention Rock Star: Supernova: indistinctive white-bread pounding that lacks identity, power or any attractive qualities. Kelly Clarkson is relatively Andre 3000. C-
Nelly Furtado - "Say It Right"
Nelly Furtado - "No Hay Igual"
So it turns out this mildly edgy (only when compared to Fergie, Gwen, et al) dancefloor chica only knows two songs. For more "Promiscuous" chintz-blather with a swooshing 80s sheen, press 1. For another medium-spicy "Maneater" tidal-wave synth monster, this time with the prequisite Spanish rapping press 2. "Say": C-, "No": B
The Fray - "How To Save A Life"
Oh Mark, Mark, Mark. Mark Pellington. Yes, you directed "Jeremy," what a smart and astute boy you are! Feeling the plight of angsty high-schoolers is surefire way to strike up a career, I mean, who doesn't love children? And moreso, what rock stars shouldn't be shown surrounded by these adorable human shields, so ugly and exploited and ripe for the suffering, whilst you bellow a suicide lament even shallower than "The Freshmen?" Yes, I know that's how you feel. It just doesn't work for everyone. Hey, I know it's unfair. All rock stars should be graced with Eddie Vedder's patented Squint-'n-Lip Bite. But they ain't. F
John Mayer - "Waiting On The World To Change"
Aren't we all, John. Leave it to this schlockmonster to come up with the least-protesting protest since TV On The Radio's "Dry Drunk Emperor" almost nodded a head. This guy's career has basically been "waiting," with his lazy tunes whose sophisticated college student audience he "waited" for, the credibility from blues- and hiphop-identified black musicians he's been "waiting" for and the Grammy nominations he continually "waits" to roll in. The cute thing is that the sweetly unpretentious bastard always gets what he wants, so if Mayer wants Bush gone, it must be only a matter of time. I'm pulling up a pillow. B