And yet it still outscores “Young Forever”…
Al Shipley: Let’s not beat around the bush: it’s been a while since Chris Brown has landed a hit, and he knocked this one out of the park. The young ladykiller is back, and he’s once again a serious threat for the competition as he takes aim at an ex, chucking a deuce and using his hands to show how he feels. I won’t bash you over the head with my point, but watch out for that hook, it might make you dizzy at first but it’ll end up giving you a real headache.
Chuck Eddy: This would be a interminably smug and shapeless bore even if these idjits didn’t think the word was pronounced “valentime,” even if it wasn’t for the gratuitous Ike and Tina stuff, even if they didn’t rhyme “about it” with “about it,” even if Chris Brown didn’t mangle syntax and spew fake emotion left and right, even if he wasn’t Chris Brown. Hell, I never thought he was any good in the first place. Points are for the rhythm track.
John Seroff: It takes R. Kelly levels of hubris for Brown to allow one of the henchmen on his new single to rap about celebrity fistfights in a car, but I suppose clear self-reflection has never been Breezy’s bag. Discounting context and two interchangeably weak g-bag guest spots, “Deuces” features some disarmingly mellow Real World-ish production and some light-handed and pretty warbling from Chris.
Martin Skidmore: I’ve approached his last couple of singles with the intent of ignoring his past despicable behaviour, but then a line like “You’ll regret the day when I find another girl, yeah / Who knows just what I need” brings images flooding back, and I can’t. This is a misogynist single, with the guests joining in, and the fact that it’s a smoothly made R&B number can’t get me past the hatefulness.
Katherine St Asaph: Actual Chris Brown song lyrics, circa 2010: “You’ll regret the day when I find another girl.” “You know women lie.” “It hit me, just like Tina did Ike in the limo” (any mention of Ike doing the same is notably absent). Why the FUCK is this guy still around?
Michaelangelo Matos: “You’ll regret the day when I find another girl/She know just what I mean… When I tell her keep it drama-free.” Are you fucking kidding me? Please disappear already.
Alfred Soto: I don’t mind admitting I avoid the intentional fallacy as much as I can in the age of Facebook and Twitter — maybe more. Pop music absorbs so many communities, prejudices, and desires that the motivations behind writing, singing, and producing the average hit single are last on the list. It’s a long way of saying I don’t give a damn about Chris Brown and Rihanna. I don’t care about this song either, which offers a boring metaphor around belligerent lyrics and a delivery that can’t spell “compassion.” I bet he thinks “I’m a dick, so it shouldn’t be that hard to swallow” is grade A wit.
Kat Stevens: So I take it Chris has stopped bothering trying to be repentant for Certain Events? He might still be taking a musical tip from his ex with hints of “Te Amo” in the background, but it sounds like he’s just rounded up some of his mates for a massive misogyny session: “You ain’t nothin’ but a vulture.” “You know women lie.” “I tell her to keep it drama free.” Guys, way to make yourselves sound appealing as boyfriend material! All three of them admit they’re knob-ends but think girls should like them anyway, and state this notion in an exceedingly pleasant manner: “I’m a dick, so it shouldn’t be that hard to swallow.” I am RETCHING.
Frank Kogan: OK, two problems that make me not want to get beyond the fact that Chris battered and choked his girlfriend. First, the synth accompaniment sounds like a slowed version of Rihanna’s excellent “Te Amo,” so I’m thinking of her anyway; and second, guest rapper Kevin McCall is going “I finally noticed it, it finally hit me, like Tina did Ike in the limo, it finally hit me.” I hope this is ignorance not malignancy, something missing in the brainbox, somehow no-one involved knowing of Tina’s having accused Ike of domestic violence. Not that I claim any moral rectitude in my taste in song lyrics: I remember chuckling happily when I heard, in the original leaked version of Ashlee Simpson’s “(I Get Away With It) Murder“, the rapped part where Travie McCoy goes “OJ’s my favorite Simpson.” But I’m docking “Deuces” a couple of points ’cause I’m just fed up with ongoing stupidity. The line “She know just what I mean when I tell her keep it drama free” isn’t a help either, nor that the rapping and singing drag down the delicate synth line.
Jonathan Bogart: Why is he still trying to be a human being? He’s a pop supervillain, and if he wants us to care about him at all he needs to start acting the part. A ballsy, unashamed ode to self would be perfect, something the pop-culture forces arrayed against him could love to hate. This is just a middling club track soaking in defensiveness and unexamined assumptions.