January 14, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 57  

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For the Love of “Mono”: a kiss from Courtney

the single guy
by brian wong

Courtney Love: “Mono”

America’s sweetheart finally delivers the song she’s promised for months, and it’s a blazing ramble that teeters between muscle and loose-cannon mess. Blending the pop-sheen of Celebrity Skin and the blistering take-all punk of Live Through This, “Mono” possesses a monstrous guitar riff that’s completely infectious. Love’s huge voice is as brash as ever, belting out a thundering state-of-rock anthem stating that rock isn’t nearly the same without C-Lo: “Is this the part in the book that you wrote where I gotta come to save the day?/Did you miss me?” Oh yes, we did.

Jin: “Learn Chinese”

I’ve always been a self-proclaimed “chink,” but it’s damn exciting to finally hear the word on a hip-hop record. Miami-born Jin tha MC is about to become the first Chinese rap star in North America; Wyclef Jean produced this quirky single from his upcoming debut record The Rest is History (out Mar. 23), and it’s the best union of black and yellow since Rush Hour. The track employs some tacky Asian sounds — the beloved mandolin — as well as shout-outs in Cantonese, but it’s all grounded in dark, thuggish hip-hop beats. In 2004, y’all gon’ learn Chinese.

Incubus: “Megalomaniac”

Incubus have always had a leg up on their new-rock brethren and their new single (from the upcoming A Crow Left of the Murder, out Feb. 3) demonstrates why. Balancing melodic verses with Stone Temple Pilots-like guitar riffs, “Megalomaniac” is a steam-engine of a political song that benefits from textured instrumentation. It’s just too bad Brandon Boyd’s clear voice lacks any guts or grit and can’t rise to the challenge of the frantic chorus. However, points for the eye-popping video directed by Floria Sigismondi.

Usher ft. Lil’ Jon & Ludacris: “Yeah”

Adopting the less-is-more ethos of songs like Kelis’ “Milkshake,” the first leaked track — not the official first single — from R&B pretty boy Usher’s upcoming Confessions record (due Mar. 16) is a minimal number; there’s intermittent bell-ringing and whistling, and the beats are mere pulses and robotic claps, but it’s the synths that drive this song, making it perfectly cool and dirty for the club.

Metric: “Combat Baby”

Life is a fight, but the fourth single from Metric’s Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? makes the fight sound positively upbeat with its clatter of synth-pop and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll. “Combat Baby” is the most joyous — and catchiest — number on the Canadian-by-way-of-New-York-and-L.A.’s debut record. It uses some dense guitar lines to create a bubbly groove for singer Emily Haines’s feisty vocals, as she begs the listener to “fight off the lethargy.” It’s a track worth fighting for on an otherwise disappointing record.



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