Oh I Think They Irk Me: Round One

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Some of these artists I usually like, but lately they’ve bugged me. Others I can’t stand and simply want to disappear.

Gwen Stefani

When she finally announced plans for a solo project, I was intrigued. When I found out she worked out with a heap of producers in an effort to construct the perfect ode to the fun and dance-friendly times of the 80s, I was ecstatic. When she spun around in the video for the Linda Perry-penned “What You Waiting For,” I began to count down the days until her solo album’s release. After finally getting my hands on Love Angel Music Baby, I cheered for her success.

A year following its release, I can only say this about Gwen: She irks the hell out of me.

Yes, I’m one of those. Love you for one minute, and then beg you to depart from Earth the next. Well, not really, but Gwen has been grating my nerves lately. I think my change of heart has a lot to do with her being a culture vulture. The Harujuki Girls shtick is cute in an Asian version of Amos and Andy sort of way. Much like Madonna, Gwen preys on other cultures, learns as much as she can about these cultures, then moves on to pimp said cultures to the masses. Sometimes it’s fine, other times it’s just irritating. She fits the latter.

Gwen reminds me a lot of Madonna — 80s Madonna anyway. The only difference is she comes across a bit more calculated than Madonna (I’d prefer the challenge of taking time to figure out how calculated you are versus guessing off the bat). She’s very safe, the darling of one of the most powerful labels out there (What it do, Interscope, hook me up with a deal). I’m sure her sophomore effort will impress me (then again, I hear she’ll be incorporating screw into her sound, so if I hear this chick utter the phrase “Whut it dew,” I’ll lose it), but today, she bores me.

Mike Jones

Yes, I have hometown pride and I’m happy to see someone from Houston make it. But, this Donatello from the Ninja Turtles looking Negro has gone platinum while Slim Thug’s Already Platinum is “awwready” on the clearance racks. It’s just not right. I’m not really knocking this dude’s hustle, but he never piqued my interest before he went national and he still doesn’t. Come back to H-Town and you’ll hear similar responses. Z-Ro, Slim Thug, Hawk, and a number of others just have more to offer, in my own little opinion.

Alicia Keys

Actually, I’ve warmed up to her, but that doesn’t mean I can’t vent past frustrations about her. She’s not the best singer, but she sings with sincerity — though she howls like Rulf from the Muppets at times. She’s a decent producer, I’ll give her that. As a songwriter, though, eh, I don’t think anything she’s written really separates herself from the other singer-songwriters in her age group.

To this day, I wonder why haven’t James Brown and Aretha Franklin sued her over sampling their material without being credited on her debut (“This Is A Man’s World” and “Natural Woman,” respectively). I gather Clive broke them off under the table.

The Diary of Alicia Keys suggests that she has the potential to deliver a classic album. “You Don’t Know My Name” is one of the better R&B records to come out in years. Ditto for “If I Ain’t Got You.” And when I saw her live in concert, besides the ill fatted attempt at duplicating Mary’s classic bowlegged rhythm less strut across the stage, (Think What’s The 411? Era Murry), I have no complaints.

In fact, after the concert, I refrained from taking shots at Alicia (Shhh, Trini!). Alright, maybe not as many shots. Then I heard “Unbreakable.” Now why exactly would anyone in love want to fight like Ike and Tina? I don’t know about you all, but being forced to eat cake (that’s not what we mean by “cakin” in Houston), being hit with a goldfish-filled platform shoe, and being damn near choked to death doesn’t exactly set the mood for me. Even with that line removed, I still find the song corny. Fortunately, “Stolen Moments” keeps me interested in future studio offerings.

I’m dancing my main point, so let’s hop to it: I think she’s so good to people because everyone else is so bad. I feel the same way about John Legend. Both are talented, both are full of potential, but if Lauryn, Maxwell, Erykah, and D’Angelo were all on the up and up, I wouldn’t be surprised if neither attained half the success they currently enjoy.

Or maybe I just need to lay off the girl (which may very well be true, but that doesn’t fit the theme of this entry, now does it?)

Marques Houston

Why is he still around? No really, why is he? He can’t sing particularly well. He’s robotic Usher-inspired dance steps don’t exactly wow the crowd. Most of all, his songs are mad corny. Go home, Roger.


“Ooooooh” this dude cannot sing. I know he can dance, I know the girls like him, but unless he gets a shot of bass in his voice or is forced to devour a box of throat lozenges, I don’t want to hear his wack ass anymore.

*picture unavailable…too damn ugly*

Pretty Ricky

Ain’t a damn thing pretty about nann one of these bammas from Florida. They’re like an ugly, untalented version of Jodeci and that’s just not cool. Go.away.please.

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