Monday, January 11th, 2010

The Singles Jukebox End-of-Year Best-Off 2009, Round 2: “Hyph Mngo” vs. “Loba”

Match #2 is a bit like Crowded House’s ”Distant Sun” — seven worlds collide, and all that. Except there’s only two worlds, really, that of Joy Orbison’s south London dubstep and Shakira’s Latin American disco pop, both doing battle for a place in our quarter finals.

(FUN FACT – the only two British artists to have made it through to round 2 are from the London borough on my birth certificate (Camberwell) and the London borough where I was raised (Croydon). Interesting, eh? Almost as though I planned it like that…)

Ian Mathers: This one was going to hurt either way: these are both great songs. And while I’ve always loved Shakira’s willingness to be over the top and a little insane, the fact is that doesn’t always translate very well. Literally in this case – only the Spanish lyrics for “Loba” properly convey what she’s up to, and while I can look the meaning up I never feel it viscerally. Joy Orbison’s head-swelling, swirling “Hyph Mngo,” meanwhile, is as compelling no matter what language you understand.

Erika Villani: “Awooooo…” Done and done.

Dan MacRae: I think her polite “awoo” is the right tactic to employ. By not going wolfshit crazy on the howl, she’s letting you know that the “loba” is something that we don’t have to fear but instead can embrace.

Chuck Eddy: Wolves are living things; hyphy mangos are merely imaginary. Also shapeless. And they don’t howl very well.

Tal Rosenberg: Granted, it’s not as weird, but Joy Orbison is wilder and more expressive than Shakira, and there’s nothing going on but sound. The sound is richer than Shakira’s, soil thick and soaked whereas she begins to show parched dust.

Jonathan Bradley: These are almost perfectly matched in my mind; Shakira’s sinuous dance floor smolder up against Joy Orbison’s airy Purple/Dubstep is a battle between two tracks that charm with immersive experience rather than head straight for the pay-off. The edge has to go to “Loba,” however, because I can’t help but feel “Hyph Mngo” is a second division interloper substituting for premier league examples of the same form — like Joker’s “Do It” (not reviewed here at the Jukebox). And even without that, Shakira’s “Awoo”s would be a fair tie-breaker.

Iain Mew: Never mind “awoo”, the way Shakira pronounces “barrio” is the second most amazing sounding single word of the year, after Yelle namechecking Robyn.

Matt Cibula: This is only about the 5th-craziest song on the “She Wolf” album but it’s a cracking pop tune, which I favor over JO’s glitchy Pink Floyd-turns-to-rave thing.

Martin Kavka: I’ve never watched a roomful of people dance to “Hyph Mngo,” but because that song undulates like nothing this year, in my head they all have moves stolen from Twyla Tharp’s choreography for Hair. Shakira’s far more likely to turn herself into a human pretzel as she moves; I get the feeling that she as a special dance routine for when she hangs up her underwear to dry. I have a soft spot for her craziness. “Loba” is filled with lyrical moments to make your head explode: my favorite at this moment is “I have a voracious hunger and all you give me are caramels.”

Martin Skidmore: A very tight one for me, but since JO drew me into post-dubstep, it gains a touch from that and wins narrowly.

Anthony Easton: There is something gorgeous, atmospheric and just a little lonely about Joy Orbison, plus the pun in his name is kind of awesome.

Rodney J. Greene: Before hearing the open, expansive tones of Joy Orbison, I was completely skeptical of dubstep. I figured it all for some dry, academic sausage party that only operated at half the tempo it claimed. Then this track showed me that dubstep could be about love. Not like my one previous dubstep fling, Cooly G’s “Love Dub,” which was really all about sneaking off somewhere secluded to make out, I’m talking casual openheartedness here. Now I dream of WmhWUHWUHwmmmhhWHWUH in my sleep. Thanks, Joy Orbison, for showing me that I was wrong.

Frank Kogan: Joy O. starts with beautiful dark moods and then throws dirt on the gentle wash. As for Shakira, though I sometimes find her harsh voice a barrier to what’s touching in her idiosyncratic language, she low-keys the harshness this time to humorous effect on a disco-funk track that would otherwise be saying “batshit.” Edge to Shakira, altered voice beating altered moodiness.

Tom Ewing: I think I really need to hear Hyph Mngo in a club to push me from “like” to “love” – there’s a distance between me and it which headphones alone can’t resolve. But I haven’t heard it in a club, whereas when I played “She Wolf” at Poptimism and everyone did the “ah-woo” sounds it was predictably awesome.

Mallory O\’Donnell: “Hyph Mngo” is a future-forward crate-banger that effortlessly balances atmosphere and danceability. “Loba” sounds like something Tiga deleted from his hard drive in 2003.

Andrew Casillas: Joy Orbison is a nice little diversion from the typical pop that we see here at the Jukebox, but “Loba” is funk-pop of the highest order. Can’t argue with those disco strings, either.

Alfred Soto: Shakira isn’t weird or feral enough to make song about a she-wolf as juicy as X and Duran Duran did.

Jessica Popper: Not my favourite Shakira hit but she continues to be one of today’s most interesting popstars.

Cecily Nowell-Smith: I would like the record to state that in listening and re-listening and re-re-listening to these two songs in order to work out which one I really did like better, I ended up singing “Loba” in double-time over the top of “Hyph Mngo”. It… sort of works! Sort of. There’s something oddly subdued about “Loba”, maybe the light touch of those disco strings, and the thick curdled cream of her voice somehow different, the way a trumpet sounds different when you’ve put a mute in it. It doesn’t quite satisfy. Nor in its own way does “Hyph Mngo”, for all its skittering tenderness. I sort of worry that I might end up overhyping it, that it serves as my stand-in for a whole bunch of more beloved idm-ish dubstep that the Singles Jukebox never covered. I guess what I’m saying is: “Hyph Mngo” has the shiver and the warmth, the spikiness and the shimmer, it’s not quite as good as [insert Ikonika track here] but it’s still a thing of sheer loveliness.

John Seroff: As much as I enjoy “Hyph Mngo”’s lovely throwback ambient IDM texture, I daresay it will take more than “lovely” to knock out Shakira’s breathy, hypersexed grrrrrlpower sirocco. Fun Fact: If this had been “She Wolf” vs. “Hyph Mngo”, I might have voted the other way.

Jordan Sargent: Even though I sometimes love The Field, “Hyph Mngo” is what I wish that guy’s music sounded like all the time. It’s a full-blooded headrush that still remains warm and sensual, which I believe qualifies as having his cake (or the British equivalent — crumpets?) and eating it too. “Loba”/”She Wolf” is easily the most insane and hilarious pop single of the year which gives more of a reason for Shakira’s existence than just about anything else she’s ever done, but to be honest I prefer the English language version. It flows better.

Pete Baran: As much as I like “Hyph Mngo”, in the end “She Wolf” /”Loba” is just such a solidly silly pop song it trumps Joy. I am looking forward immensely to more Joy Orbison stuff though.

Alex Macpherson: I like Shakira fine and enjoy her eccentricities, but she never manages to turn me into a quote machine à la Electrik Red, even though she really should. Joy Orbison ended up soundtracking my life far more this year.

Doug Robertson: Ultimately, great though the Joy Orbison track is, and it fully deserves the italics in this great, it’s the sort of track that’s easier to admire than to love and what it’s most likely to do is inspire a bit of chin stroking. It’s probably best not to think too much about the sort of stroking that Shakira might inspire, but the sleekly feral sound on show here gives an aural infection that’s hard to shift.

Edward Okulicz: “Loba”, while just a Spanish teaser to promote the English “She Wolf”, is a delightful exercise in ransacking incredibly unhip genres – 70s disco, and not the basslines for a change – and then ranting like a complete lunatic over the top of them. Forget “She Wolf” and its oddball ESL lyrics, even on “Loba” she sings like Spanish is about her twentieth language, so strange is its sound. “Hyph Mngo” is fine and all, but it floats by without commanding attention or leaving much in the memory, whereas “Loba” is irresistible, strange, essential and coyly thrilling.

David Moore: This Shakira song gets better every time I hear it. Joy Orbison sounds nice enough, I suppose, but it really can’t hold a candle to Shakira’s disco chintz, or even her mildly abused communal coffee machine.

Erick Bieritz: There were better dubstep tracks than “Hyph Mngo” in 2009; “Loba,” on the other hand, was the absolute pinnacle of bilingual lupine disco seductions.

Al Shipley: Sexy video beats stupid name every time.


“Hyph Mngo” – 12 (Martin Skidmore, Alex Macpherson, Cecily Nowell-Smith, Mallory O’Donnell, Anthony Easton, Michaelangelo Matos, Ian Mathers, Alfred Soto, Jordan Sargent, Renato Pagnani, Tal Rosenberg, Rodney J Greene)

“Loba” – 21 (Iain Mew, Chuck Eddy, Dan MacRae, Frank Kogan, Martin Kavka, Briony Edwards, Alex Ostroff, Doug Robertson, Tom Ewing, Jessica Popper, Andrew Casillas, Pete Baran, Edward Okulicz, John Seroff, David Moore, Erick Bieritz, Al Shipley, Anthony Miccio, Erika Villani, Jonathan Bradley, Matt Cibula)

As PJ O’Rourke might say, strings & glide beats camera-shyness and a bowlcut. Or something. Anyway, Britain’s interest in the tournament officially ends as Shakira slinks her way through to a quarter-final meeting with T-Swizzle. Up next – Moroccan blues take on Jamaican Africanisms, as DJ Quik & Kurupt face off against Busy Signal…

12 Responses to “The Singles Jukebox End-of-Year Best-Off 2009, Round 2: “Hyph Mngo” vs. “Loba””

  1. I ended up singing “Loba” in double-time over the top of “Hyph Mngo”.

    I trust someone here will take up the challenge and create this mashup.

  2. Ask and ye shall receive…

    Joy Lobason – Wolf Mngo

  3. Btw, Andrew Saag’s house remix of “Hyph Mngo” might be even better than the OG.

  4. “Mngo” could use a good house remix, still can’t imagine dancing to this. (Here’s the Youtube of my stupid thing.)

  5. And a link to the Saag remix which is good.

  6. This is a snippet, but it’s the only version on youtube. I’d post a link to a full download, but I’m not sure that’s kosher.

  7. btw jordan, we do have cake in england.

  8. from wikipedia:

    The phrase’s earliest recording is from 1546 as “wolde you bothe eate your cake, and have your cake?” (John Heywood’s ‘A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue’)

  9. I am thoroughly enjoying “Wolf Mngo.”

  10. I want this! Shakira is high grade. This is fun! I love mngo’s

  11. Another thumbs up for Wolf Mngo here.

  12. alright, so who’s going to mash up the other finalists?