Pop Pap - August 16, 2006

Robbie Williams: “Rudebox” (EMI, 2006)

Robbie, darling. Maybe you think you’ve sold so many records, and made so much money that you can just experiment and genre-hop at whim? Yes, and thank god because if he keeps breaking the mold and putting out records like this, he’s got a lot more life in him than perhaps we thought. Last year’s Human League-esque “Radio” single was a brilliant new-wave pastiche and he does the same thing here for old-school hip-hop. It’s a parody of rap music, really. Our lad has been trying for years to “break America” and if this one doesn’t do it, nothing will. Robbie’s rhymes are totally fruity: at one point he encourages the listener to “shake your Playtex.” As for what’s a Rudebox, that’s left up to your imagination – it’s used as a noun and a verb – “Do the rudebox, Shake your rudebox” / “If you rudebox me, I’ll rudebox you too.” Nonsense, really. With a Casio-funk bump-and-grind beat and a synth riff stolen from under Cameo’s codpiece, it’s a little reminiscent of Midnight Vultures era Beck, but whereas Beck seemed fully detatched from the funk, Robbie wears it like cashmere tracksuit. The cherry on the white-boy cupcake is the breathy flygirl backing vox and the deep-voiced soul brother saying “You so nasty.” Mr. Williams, you just seem to get more clever with age, just stay away from the Sinatra tributes, will you love? (Rating 9/10)

Paris: “Turn It Up” (Heiress Records, 2006)

Paris Hilton’s Snatch is a national treasure, an icon. It has a career of its own, apart from that of its owner. Mentally, we detach them from each other, we keep them separate. It’s something we do perhaps out of pity for Paris - we want to take her seriously, we want to hope she might have some charm or talent. The Snatch keeps ruining things for her, popping out and behaving in a generally nasty fashion. We love them both, but for different reasons. Her debut single “Stars are Blind” was a nice bit of fluff, easy on the ear but not enough to seriously grab anyone. It wasn’t quite the huge summer hit Paris and co. were hoping for. To me, it suffered from the complete lack of acknowledgment of the Snatch. It happens again on her second rush-released single “Turn It Up.” Sorta. I mean, here it seems like Paris herself is spoiling the Snatch’s moment of glory by not letting it run as wild and free as it could across this record. Mega-producer extraordinaire Scott Storch applies his usual addictive pop sheen, creating a sexed-up club atmosphere, but Paris sounds stiff as a Barbie doll, instantly turning the track ice cold with her breathy frigidness. You can almost hear the Snatch under there, begging to be free, but Paris just won’t loosen up enough. Her vocal performance truly makes Britney sound like a talented innovator, and that’s pretty sad. Things would go much better for Paris if she dropped the notion of trying to appeal to the post-Disney crowd and hired Peaches to produce something truly raunchy and fun, a description this record is trying so hard to earn, but fails miserably. (Rating 3/10)

I don't understand why Robbie Williams is not a huge star here. Isn't he huge in just about every other country? I've always found him to have great taste in styles and production. And his voice is magnificent... One of my favorites.
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