It’s getting colder in D.C. as autumn descends upon us. Luckily, when the leaves began to drop, so do some of the best singles of the year. There should be some very high-profile releases every week until year’s end, which makes for a bona fide party for the Singles Mingle. This week takes a look at new turns for pop sirens, the same old from techno gods and pop covers from a Belgian girls’ choir.
Basement Jaxx, “Hush Boy”
On first listen, the lead single from house deities Basement Jaxx’s new album, “Crazy Itch Radio,” comes rushing through a boom box (or more likely an iPod Nano) with bundles of energy. This should be one of the best musical moments of the year - come on, it’s the new Basement Jaxx single! And yet, it doesn’t wow. Sure, it’s pretty catchy, and there’s a really good bridge, but it is sort of underwhelming. Unlike past lead singles such as “Romeo” and “Lucky Star,” which sounded like nothing else Jaxx had done on their last album, “Hush Boy” is what is expected from the group, and for a band that has produced so many unexpected moments in the past, that’s not a good thing.
Danity Kane, “Showstopper”
There has been significant discussion in the music world over artificial pop music and if there is such a thing as a genuine pop song. Danity Kane, the third group featured on “Making The Band,” is perhaps the best example of the former. Created by mastermind P.Diddy, the group’s exploits were televised, allowing the world to not only see that the five girls didn’t even sound good together, but also the even sadder sight of the group squandering big-name producers such as Timbaland and Scott Storch. This song is produced by neither of those two, so it’s not that big of a waste of talent, and thus, not the worst pop single on the charts now. That, of course, would be “London Bridge.”
Scala and Kolacny Brothers, “Heartbeats”
USA Today recently took a poll that found most Americans like to get their party started with Belgian girls’ choirs. Okay, that’s a lie, but as every party ends, it’s always necessary to have a chill song, and this is the calm after the storm known as “Gold Digger.” This recording of Swedish electronic group The Knife’s 2004 single, “Heartbeats,” has famously been covered by Jos? Gonzalez and featured in a Sony ad, so it has to be tight. But this version, with only a piano and some light strings, relies upon the voices of these Belgian girls. Maybe it’s just a testament to the original that with every passing year and new cover version it still proves to be one of the defining pop songs of the decade.
Beyonc?, “Ring The Alarm”
Beyonc? is pretty mad. Nay, she’s livid. It’s easy to catch that drift on “Ring The Alarm,” her new single off her album, “B’Day.” Unlike “Crazy in Love” or the tepid “D?j? Vu,” Beyonc? is not singing a great paean of the triumph of love over evil in her world. No, instead, she is singing about her man cheating on her, which leads to the obvious question: “Who in their right mind would cheat on Beyonc??” The song is much more abrasive than her past polished pop efforts, and sirens and driving beats aid the angry lyrics. It’s slightly unbelievable to hear this coming out of sweet little Beyonc?, but damn if it isn’t fascinating.
Junior Boys, “In The Morning”
The Junior Boys, whose new album “So This is Goodbye” came out on Tuesday, are perhaps the most wonderful electro-pop group in the world right now. “In The Morning” adds to their credentials. When the calendar flips to a new year, this song will very likely be declared the sexiest song of 2006. It’s easy to attribute this to the refrain of “too young,” which sounds incredibly like “do ya,” but credit most also be given to the music, which slinks and uses tight percussion to make any listener exclaim “me so horny” for five glorious minutes. Yes, people will probably still want to grind to “Promiscuous” and any new R. Kelly single, but one can only hope with all of their heart that this will be the soundtrack to their next sexcapade.