Latest Jukebox pieces. Published pieces linked. Unused or heavily edited blurbs are published below in full.
Kanye West ft. Mr Hudson – Paranoid
On an album that is 50% majestic melancholy and 50% tuneless burbling, Paranoid stands out. Upbeat and danceable, Kanye’s rap-adjacent verses have strut and ire, and the occasional quotable (Heartbreak Hotel). Truthfully, it’s the only song on the album that SOUNDS anything like a “radio-friendly single”. But Mr Hudson’s sing-along chorus is mediocre, boring and undermines what is otherwise a solid piece of disco fluff.
Tinchy Stryder ft. Amelle – Never Leave You
Lethal Bizzle ft. Donae’o – Go Hard
Micachu and the Shapes – Golden Phone
Mary J Blige ft. Drake – The One
MJB doesn’t need autotune. I don’t object on principle, but I miss the unmistakable tones of her voice. Average post-T-Pain production with some nice off-kilter drum fills ensures this will be at least a midlevel hit. Its existence is justified by Drake, who I might have written off unfairly as a Canadian, Jewish, actor-turnt-rapper. “While my brother Wayne rockin’ out like a White Stripe / Ima kill the game / I’m the Young Money white knight.” Indeed.
The Dead Weather – Treat Me Like Your Mother
Aiming for Courtney’s growl, but landing somewhere around Stefani. Guitars can’t decide if they’re funky or grungy. While I admire the attitude and swagger, it never pulls me in.
(Note: I somehow had no clue that this was Jack White’s new band when I wrote this. Not sure if this would affect the score, at any rate, for better or for worse)
Paloma Faith – Stone Cold Sober
Full horn section, with a touch of menace, and Paloma’s accent stuck halfway between Winehouse and Stackhouse, Duffy and Dusty. Southern Soul via Northern Soul via Kate Nash. I grew tired with this meme somewhere around Adele, but the chorus has some punch and she enunciates “stone cold sob-ah” with relish, so it escapes a  and instead gets a
Ciara – Like a Surgeon
R Kelly ft. OJ Da Juiceman – Supaman High
Marit Larsen – If a Song Could Get Me You
Keri Hilson ft. Keyshia Cole and Trina – Get Your Money Up
The Mars Volta – Cotopaxi
Make The Girl Dance – Baby Baby Baby
Sway – Mercedes Benz
Spinnerette – Baptized By Fire
Richgirl – He Ain’t With Me Now (Tho)
Cobra Starship ft. Leighton Meester – Good Girls Go Bad
Pat Green – What I’m For
Shakira – Loba
Major Lazer – Hold The Line
Booty Luv – Say It
Paperboys – Lonesome Traveller
Jamie T – Sticks ‘n’ Stones
Nelly Furtado – Manos al Aire
Speech Debelle ft. Micachu – Better Days
Appropriately enough, in my iTunes library, this immediately precedes Take Me Home, the Spice Girls’ attempt at trip-hop circa 1996. Better Days has a similar vibe to it, and pleasantly drifts in and out of your consciousness without leaving much of an impression. Micachu is far more tolerable submerged under the murkiness. The bittersweet past embraces the tonal darkness of the genre, but the overall hopefulness of the song seems at odds with its texture.
Bisso Na Bisso – Show Ce Soir
Dizzee Rascal ft. Chrome – Holiday
50 Cent – OK, You’re Right
MPHO – Box ‘n’ Locks
Chicane – Poppiholla
Colbie Caillat – Falling For You
Despite the ubiquity of ‘Bubbly’, I never paid attention to Colbie until her feature on Taylor Swift’s Breathe. Therein lies the key to Caillat. Her light, frothy AM radio fare is the inverse of Taylor’s: pop tending towards the edges of country. Melodically, musically and even vocally, there are Taylor-adjacent moments here, but where Taylor takes cliche and transmutes it to painful realism, Colbie has the unique ability to leech a situation of all specificity.
Bashy ft. H-Boogie – Your Wish Is My Command
Mr Hudson ft. Kanye West – Supernova
This bunch are a marked improvement over my earlier Jukebox pieces. Start to find my voice properly somewhere around the Keri Hilson. The Cobra Starship blurb might be the least serious piece of writing I’ve done lately, but it was the most fun to write. Also, Good Girls Go Bad remains a totally killer summer jam.