Ian Mathers: I prefer Vans. And “Vans.”
Jonathan Bogart: I know it says “Clarks” on the title, but I keep hearing “clogs” (oh, these regrettably American ears), and that, as much as the bouncing beat and the unexpected loveliness of — I think — Gaza Slim’s verse, is enough to make me smile.
Chuck Eddy: Clocks? Clogs?? (CD sleeve I saw on line did have a picture of shoes on it, but they didn’t look like the sort Appalachians would do old folk-dances in). Whatever, this song somehow reminds me why I loved the first dancehall reggae I heard way back in the mid ’80s, before it got harsh; no idea if it’s considered a throwback, but there’s a warmth, humor, melodiousness, and mysteriousness to it that almost all dancehall I’ve heard since has missed out on. Good chance there are plenty other current examples I’m missing out on myself. But for now, this will do.
Alex Ostroff: The sharp synths and ascending piano line that coast under the chorus seem to take cues from hip-house, but dancehall hasn’t been on North America’s radar since c. 2004, so it’s possible that the entire genre is always this wonderfully ebullient. The clincher, however, is Gaza Slim’s verse, which preaches the virtues of Clarks on the basis of “proper hygiene”: the shoes prevent Athlete’s foot, while pointed shoes give you corns, and “bagga sneakers gi’ you cheesy foot.” On that note, I have some shopping to do.
Mark Sinker: Gaza Slim aka Vanessa Bling! Why put up with one great pseud when you can rock two! The video-edit does her no favours — all choppy cutting when her very brief but very marvellous next-to-no-length contribution works as a perfect lithe continuity (tho I don’t think it actually is) — but it helps Vybz. He’s framed against a wall and dominant, declaiming his magnificent yet practical passion for all-weather suede, and somehow this highlights and foregrounds the high growl in his gorgeous voice. Heidegger had a whole thing about well-made shoes and this song is why.
Martin Skidmore: The female voice is very appealing, and Vybz is energetic and fun. I sometimes felt the synth washes didn’t work with the punchy beats, but generally this is bright and very enjoyable.
Iain Mew: On first listen I couldn’t make out anything much of this apart from that they were pleased with smart new shoes but loved the escalating piano line that joins the crashing synths later on. A little later and I still can’t bring myself love the main singer (a bit too right there in my ears the whole time while gamely but barely hanging on to the tune). I am increasingly enjoying all the other small details though, from the hygeine considerations of “cheesy foot” to the sequence in which all of the possible situations the brand suits are listed.
Katherine St Asaph: This would normally irritate me, but when you’re selling your product with verses about how to avoid “cheesy foot” or clean the shoes with a toothbrush, you’re either the worst advertiser ever or you’re sincere. Of course, product placement can feel sincere — in fact, that’s the most effective kind — but this is so exuberant that even if Vybz got a nice fat check after this, he probably at least framed the thing.
Michaelangelo Matos: They’re talking about shoes, right? Doesn’t really matter: the light shadowplay of the track’s elements are the draw. That, and the fact that Popcaan is the best musician name I’ve encountered in eons.