Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Jennifer Lopez – Louboutins

So apparently she’s just left her label, or her label’s left her, which means that this song is somehow even less relevant than it already was…


David Moore: When I toured the BBC, the guide told me that J-Lo was the only person to demand to be driven across the yard separating the main sidewalk from the entrance, despite this being a luxury reserved only for the Queen. Flash forward about five years and she’s getting pummelled by a plodding Dream/Tricky production, Louboutin more a goal than a given. Her diva entitlement over the cheap skeleton beat creates an odd dissonance, like she drank champagne on the bus to the studio.

John Seroff: One of the great benefits of giving in to the charms of the Tricky/The-Dream monster is that you can unabashedly embrace even the most shameless product-placement jingle as long as the beat is on time, the synth bass is fuzzy and the horns are up front. The merchandise being hawked here is not so much the eponymous $800 Christian Louboutin pumps as the rapidly aging J-Lo brand. 1999’s Ms. Billion-Dollar Booty is still strutting and fretting for all she’s worth, and if the returns are diminishing, at least they’re still very much there… though I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound like her last legit club hurrah before the adult contemporary forties beckon. Show a little respect and salute, boys; that booty is at half mast.

Michaelangelo Matos: There was something on the local CBS-affiliate 10 o’clock news after the Grammys about her “comeback”, which mostly proves how little attention anyone is paying anymore, since Lopez hasn’t hit the Hot 100 in three years. If this flat-stomping fizz about her shoes changes that, it still won’t be enough: it’s like a flyer for a party that ended years ago, occupying its space with no flair whatsoever.

Anthony Easton: That sheer black body suit with gold spangles that she wore during the CNN New Year’s was the best aesthetic moment from J Lo in half a decade; I am hoping for more costumes, because this autotuned train wreck is not nearly as interesting as what she chooses to wear.

Doug Robertson: Well done. She can put on your shoes all by herself. I look forward to her next single where she describes how she can get all the toggles on her duffel coat done up with only the bare minimum of help from the classroom assistant.

Kat Stevens: I can’t quite work out the logic behind this wronged-woman brass stomper. Jen is angry at a dude for not paying her enough attention; Jen also is angry with herself for putting up with him for so long. Fair enough. But as an international megastar, Jen is certainly rich enough to afford her own Louboutins (throw your heels up at me) and talented enough to be able to walk in them. So you’d think that either the chap would be aware that he was punching above his weight (and therefore wouldn’t be quite so neglectful of Jen) or she would have been outta there long before it got to the “stressing out on the phone” stage.

Edward Okulicz: This is a complete mess. J.Lo as R&B sassin’ spurned woman is pretty much the worst idea imaginable — she can’t manufacture a believably empathetic persona to save her life, and instead comes across as haughty and hectoring. The beat is lifeless, the synth fanfare is cheap and tinny and the chorus is so dully repetitive it’s hard to believe Ryan Tedder wasn’t involved. Louboutins on or not, Lopez can’t walk the walk and make me believe she’s better than this situation. She couldn’t sell a hook even if this song had one (it doesn’t).

Ian Mathers: I’m not sure why Lopez feels the need to spend the first 30 seconds here repeating the same not very interesting line over and over ad nauseum, but it’s far from the only misstep here. Weirdly enough, the part where she sings “part time lover” reminds me every time of Chromeo’s far superior “Bonafied Lovin’,” and that just makes me even more eager to stop listening to her singing about her shoes. Maybe the production would be compelling with someone else, but I can’t tell with all the robo-Lopez (the singer here doesn’t sound like she’s ever felt anything recognizable as an emotion, and I don’t mean that in a good way) slathered around. There’s about three things here that think they’re hooks, but none of them come close to sinking in.

Al Shipley: Pop’s least chameleonic hitmaker handing out a particularly weak and transparent piece of The-Dream karaoke, but at least he handed it to someone whose career is already dead.

Matt Cibula: At the risk of pissing off Al Shipley, I will say that this grade proves that I’m not a The-Dream stan. It might, however, mean that I am a no-fun nerd who hates campy dance tracks; in my defense, I think J.Lo sucks every ounce of fun out of every track I’ve ever heard her do, so no surprises there.

Alex Ostroff: While I’m on the record as a fan of both dissonant angry pop music and Jennifer Lopez, the two of them just aren’t a good match. The pulsing beat in the background sounds like an alarm siren at an industrial plant and the horn line is shrill where it should triumphantly announce the return of Lopez. Beyonce’s B’Day was an entire album that treated material consumption, self-sufficiency and status symbols as solutions to the problem of cretinous, unfaithful men, and “Ring the Alarm” or “Freakum Dress” are infinitely better examples of both how to dominate this sort of beat and how to tell off unworthy suitors.

Additional Scores

Pete Baran: [4]
Martin Skidmore: [6]
Alfred Soto: [2]

25 Responses to “Jennifer Lopez – Louboutins”

  1. I would never be pissed off by anyone renouncing Terius worship and pledging their freedom to enjoy R&B that doesnt’ come out of The Eh-Eh-Eh Factory.

  2. should be Fact-Eh-Eh-Eh-ry, no?

  3. Facterius, surely.

    Agree that this song either sucks or is bleh (can’t be bothered to work out which) but J-Lo really shouldn’t be retroactively painted as a terrible pop star just because her time has passed, the woman has some total classics in her discography.

  4. Name a worse major pop star of her era.

  5. Brandy? Janet Jackson in her last gasp of chart dominance?

  6. “Doesn’t Really Matter” and All For You‘s singles > J.Lo’s discography

  7. Cor, lots of hatorade for Jen! I didn’t think she was the problem so much as the weak song, which is still catchy (hence my 6) but utterly dumb. Jen is dumb too, but not *that* dumb.

  8. Any discography that includes the Murder Remixes of “Ain’t It Funny” and “I’m Real”, which are two of the absolute pinnacles of 00s pop, cannot be dismissed! “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, “Get Right”, “Whatever You Wanna Do”, “Jenny From The Block”, “If You Had My Love” and “Control Myself” are all good-to-great jams too.

    Obviously Britishers have an unfair advantage in answering Al’s question given our plethora of utterly shit pop stars but even if you took all the songs I’ve mentioned out of J-Lo’s discography I would still take her over Robbie Williams, Atomic Kitten, Geri Halliwell, McFly, fucking Busted, Natasha Bedingfield, Enrique Iglesias, Westlife and Gareth Gates.

  9. And “Waiting For Tonight”, which I heard played at a Fashion Week party last night! Back to back with Ciara’s “Work”.

  10. “Waiting For Tonight” is still my favorite Lopez jam, but, damn, her voice is so flat.

  11. Good J-Lo singles: “Waiting For Tonight” (COMPLETE BANGER, easily the best thing she will ever do), “I’m Gonna Be Alright”. Um. Yeah, beyond that it’s pretty pants, though the Murder remix of “I’m Real” is pretty funny and fun in the right mood.

    also BABIES BABIES! BABIES! proves Lex wrong about J.Lo > TashBed. And the first Atomic Kitten album is actually good! The other artists are shit, but it’s hardly a fair fight – “Jennifer Lopez isn’t completely terrible because look, here is some complete shit to make her look good next to”, and besides which, Jennifer has always been painted as some kind of globe-straddling colossus, sort of a 21st Century Janet Jackson, which is on a different planet to purely, er, regional concerns like Gareth Gates who are in no way “major” as per Al’s challenge. Enrique and TashBed are the only ones of those with more than one proper US hit! I mean, if you compare her to Missy Elliott, Shakira, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, etc and the ones who are the real “major popstars” from the beginning of J’s singing career, she looks pretty damned awful.

  12. dammit i shoulda known Lex was gonna go for the loophole of me not specifying American

  13. Who on earth has ever said J-Lo was a 21st century Janet Jackson?! I don’t think anyone’s ever made any claims as to her artistry or vocal ability – she’s a pop star with an appealing persona (if you’re into, you know, glamour and ego) who hit on a really good streak of singles that either sidestepped her weaknesses or turned them into strengths. Kind of like Rachel Stevens, except with attitude.

    And it was a really good streak, if you’re dismissing the Murder Remix of “Ain’t It Funny” (come ON: “it! must! be the ass!”) or “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, the sheer wrongness of that makes further debate pointless.

  14. Actually I am pretty sure that I like more J-Lo singles than Shakira singles, tbh. And her best are better than Shakira’s best.

  15. “Objection (Tango)” >>>> all J.Lo singles.

    Jokes about having a modest rack >>> big arses.

  16. I don’t want to make any claims for J-Lo as the crucial artist on her good songs of yore, but she wasn’t the total dead weight that she is on this track. And fwiw, “Everybody’s Girl” is worth listening to, in fact is only really one element away from being fine dance-pop, the element being the need for another singer. Also, personally, I like Janet in the ’00s as much as Janet in the ’80s and ’90s, which isn’t much, but do appreciate tracks where she gets mired in the production, not that I can remember any song titles.

  17. I definitely agree that J-Lo had some great singles, just to be clear that I’m not debating that. But I don’t know if any of them were particularly great because of her (maybe even in spite of her in some instances), and in that 4-year period that she was racking up all her big hits I do think it’s fair to say she was a mediocre pop star compared to her competition.

  18. I think the “Ain’t It Funny” and “I’m Real” remixes work because of her – her light, noncommittal, slightly dreamy half-pout really works for them; that sort of blasé froth is really key to all my favourite summer jams, actually (see Lumidee, Nina Sky, Cassie). The “Ain’t It Funny” coda in particular is wonderful, and she delivers it perfectly, the way she just stretches out “giiirlfriend”, “boyyyfriend”, “beee friends”, midway between playground taunt and casually outstretched olive branch.

    “Play” and “Waiting For Tonight” are at the superior end of generic club jams that literally anyone who can hold the notes could deliver well.

    “Jenny From The Block” and, to a lesser extent “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, worked because of her public persona – this ridiculous ego-fuelled diva running rampage across the globe demanding white candles and kittens in all her dressing rooms, but because they just had super-strong hooks they ended up being great pop songs on every level rather than just J-LOL.

    I mean, at the time she didn’t really code as a Great Pop Star by any means – half her singles don’t ring any bells for me at all – but that’s more because she didn’t really code as a pop star as such, not in the way that Shakira or Missy or whoever did – she was always celebrity first, for both good and ill. And in retrospect I’m just very fond of enough songs I associate with her, and her image, that I’m fine with her being called a good pop star/not fine with her discography being dismissed out of hand.

  19. I shall have to respectfully disagree with all of you. To me she codes as nothingburger. Songs should not have to overcome the obstacle of their charmless singer — although (as usual) Lex’s assessment of her vocal worth will probably end up making me think twice.

  20. Lex, I really felt as if with the arrogantly expansive extended videos she was shooting for Janet Jackson – the intro to “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” is pure Janet. Just occurred to me, I perceive her almost entirely as a videos artist (none of her singles since “Jenny From The Block” get on radio here, and even that one was marginal, her last big radio smash I can remember being blanketed was “I’m Real”), and most of the things I don’t like about her come across in that medium most of all – like how “If You Had My Love”s video must be like seven minutes long [okay, five and a half] with that preposterous DANCE bit in the middle. The Ja Rule videos showed off a more playful side to her which suits her a lot better than whatever the hell this song is trying to be – haughty wronged diva chucks a tantie?

    As you point out, Rachel Stevens is a far better British parallel in terms of actual status and ability.

  21. Yeah, but you still like Rachel Stevens a lot, right?

    “Arrogantly expansive” – dude she is a ridiculous celebrity diva, this is sort of the POINT (and also why “Louboutins” fails, it’s not enough). And while J-Lo as an artist doesn’t remotely stack up to Janet, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” as a song does.

  22. Yeah, because the money behind Rachel Stevens bought her 13 great songs on one album. The money behind Jennifer Lopez was never that efficient.

    Also, those extended videos I described as arrogantly expensive are embarrassing – do people remember the awful green-screen in “Love Don’t Cost A Thing” and that hideous mid-song dance cut-sequence in “If You Had My Love”? That’s not celebrity diva, that’s embarrassing.

  23. Oh, fine, 10 great songs, 2 good songs and one that’s a tiny bit iffy.

  24. no one would argue that she’s got a solid greatest hits album tho’, right? For some reason, that’s my benchmark for “pop star”

  25. She has some singles that no matter what anyone says are duff. “Let’s Get Loud” = she must have lost some kind of bet. Solid’s probably the right word, if you tank most of what came after “Get Right” plus shit like “Feelin’ So Good”.

    But, you know, it’s not exactly going to be this now is it.