It’s Vaguely Threatening Screengrab Monday!…
Michaelangelo Matos: I found him perfectly serviceable, and likeable enough, on “Down”. Then it went to No. 1, and that mildness became a hindrance. Steady charting in the (U.S.) Top 20 indicates my expectations that people will stop caring altogether might be mislaid, but I have hope.
Martin Kavka: In 2005, Nickelback became entrenched as the butt of jokes as a result of an internet mashup that proved that “Someday” was just “How You Remind Me” with different lyrics. In 2010, Jay Sean courts the same fate by releasing a second hit single that sounds like a slightly remixed version of the first. At least Nickelback had the decency to wait two years before waiting to deploy their formula again. Sean didn’t even wait two seconds: on the US version of All Or Nothing, “Down” and “Do You Remember” are adjacent tracks.
Cecily Nowell-Smith: Every time I hear this song I feel a light touch of nostalgia: pretty nifty when the chorus is all about bringing the past back. Yet, oddly, whenever I try to pin down what exactly those perky strings are bringing to mind, all I can think of is… a different Jay Sean single. This just shouldn’t be as likeable as it is. Sean Paul is just phoning it in. Lil Jon does his thing amiably enough, though there’s this bit where he barks out “do you rem-em-ber?” with the angry determination of a man stuck in an endless argument about who took the rubbish out. And even in a world of unspecific pop lyrics Jay Sean’s got some particularly vapid lines — “do you remember all of the times we had?” Yes, I remember, we have certainly has some times, so important and personal that not a single one of them can be elaborated on in any sort of detaill. I mean, I love generic lyrics, but these are so vague they might as well not exist. But still — every time I hear this on the radio it’s like stepping into a patch of sunlight, a gentle warm contentment.
Doug Robertson: Nostalgic yearning has never sounded so fun and upbeat. There’s only one part of their relationship he’s really interesting in rekindling and if she doesn’t oblige then having to find a girl that will isn’t going to be too much of a disappointment for him.
Matt Cibula: A thoroughly banging cut, just always SPRINGS off the radio. Nothing original in the damned thing but he is an engaging enough vocalist I guess and the track is… well, buoyant is about the best description I can summon.
Martin Skidmore: Pleasant enough R&B with ragga touches, partly from Sean Paul, who is very much needed to bring a bit of vigour and energy to this now and then. Jay Sean is okay, with a nice enough voice, but it strikes me as kind of dully boyish, like a third-choice singer in a boyband. The beats are bouncy enough, but it seems very lightweight.
John Seroff: Who in their right mind though a light retread of “Forever” with Lil Jon’s incongruous shouting over it would be an improvement? Sean P’s guest verse isn’t bad but J. Sean must have left his personality in his other suit.
Alex Ostroff: Do you remember when Lil’ Jon was a gloriously inescapable fact of pop culture? So does he, possibly, since he spends the whole song yelling “BRING IT BACK!” and trying to forget that his most notable appearance in 2010 has been in a Vampire Weekend video. Do you remember when Sean Paul “was still your number one“? It was almost four years ago, but so does he, nostalgically, since he reminds us in the middle of his verse. I’m not sure if there are two artists more constrained by their ties to momentary trends in Noughties pop culture (crunk and the dancehall revival, respectively), but absent purposeful irony, there’s no good reason for either of them to be present here. That said, the blame for the tepid nature of “Do You Remember” lies solely at the feet of Jay Sean – “Down” was a masterful use of the Big Dumb Hook, and nothing here is as big, as dumb or as hooky.
Ian Mathers: I really do miss having Lil’ Jon show up to just shout shit in the background of a track. He’s just as winning as ever; Sean Paul’s verse is a little perfunctory but a decent change of pace, and Jay Sean continues to do quite well as the vaguely anonymous guy who sings the chorus. I probably sound like I’m damning this with faint praise, and I am, but sometimes it’s nice just to have some professionals cover all the bases, and do it well. I’d never be excited to hear this come on the radio, but I’d never switch stations on it either — hell, I think I might even like it a little more than “Down”.
Alfred Soto: For the first time in ages those ugly sawtooth synths arrange themselves into an agreeable pattern (wistful even!), and damn if Jay doesn’t actually tug, ever so gently, at something that might be my heart. Sean Paul’s bit reminds me of the obnoxious pal who reminds you of why reminiscing sucks.