Limp Bizkit-Take a Look Around(unchanged)
The second hit from M:I-2 is a good time musically. Rock guitars and keyboards riff on the Mission Impossible in a fairly predictable but enjoyable way and the music has a good beat and good energy. Fred Durst's rap also keeps things moving. Durst hasn't always been the most positive character so it's questionable whether he has the right to bemoan the fact that "hate is all the world has even seen lately." Of course, Durst's real concern isn't hatred in the world but people hating him. He's got a point about critics giving him a hard time but for someone who presents himself as a tough nonconformist who doesn't care what people think, it's a little inconsistent that he lets the criticism get to him.
With its edgy but inobtrusive beat and keyboards and Aaliyah's confident presence, Try Again, from the soundtrack of the movie Romeo Must Die, is very cool hip hop with a good, smooth sound. Aaliyah presents herself as an appealingly strong woman. Wary of being thrown a line, keeps a guy on his toes, making it clear she's into him like he's into her but not wanting to be used and discarded. She asks to wait and see, looking for him to earn her trust and hinting that his persistence will pay off even if she "might be shy on the first date."
N Sync-It's Gonna Be Me(unchanged)
It's Gonna Be Me sounds like No Strings Attached's first single Bye Bye Bye. It's got a little bit of a harder dance edge but it's still genial and unthreatening. The words are more standard than the breakup lyrics of Bye Bye Bye, trying to convince a women who's had a bad experience that all men aren't bad and he's not like that. It's Gonna Be Me is pretty slight but the young girls are bound to make it another big hit.
Joe-I Wanna Know(unchanged)
I Wanna Know is from the My Name Is Joe CD. Joe's singing is pleasant and appealingly smooth, if unremarkable, as he croons over easy beats. However, the main reason for I Wanna Know's success has got to be the lyrics, which set him up as the ideal sensitive man. Joe plays a man trying to convince a woman that unlike her current, undeserving guy, he understands what she's worth. He lays it on pretty thick, telling her that she takes his breath away and knocks him off his feet and that he'd do whatever he could to please her.
Jessica Simpson-I Think I'm In Love With You(unchanged)
I Think I'm In Love With You, from the Sweet Dreams CD, tries to separate Simpson from the other teen blondes with a slightly strange mix of teen pop, dance music and a classic rock guitar riff. With a good beat and the irresistable hook from John Mellancamp's Jack and Diane, I Think I'm In Love With You is a can't miss hit. Simpson comes off as a bit of a Mariah wannabe but her singing is pleasant and her voice seems fairly strong. With Simpson melting every time some boy comes around, the lyrics are as awful as those for any of her contemporaries. She sings about being "crazy in my head for you." However, the song is listenable and relaxed, if lightweight.
Third Eye Blind-Deep Inside Of You(up 15 positions)
Third Eye Blind try to make music that can fit on as many radio formats as possible from easy listening to alternative. So it's not surprising that they follow the punky Anything and mainstream rocker Never Let You Go with a pop ballad from their Blue CD. Deep Inside Of You is like their first record's How's It Gonna Be, pleasant and sincere but a little boring. Stephan Jenkins sings about loving a woman who's messing up his life.
Destiny's Child-Jumpin' Jumpin'(up 2 positions)
Destiny's Child's Writing's On The Wall CD has produced a ton of R & B hits. Jumpin' Jumpin' is their second big pop hit after Say My Name. I found Say My Name repetitive and draggy. Jumpin' Jumpin' is considerably more lively. It has a nonstop, frantic energy with a good, crisp beat and staccato keyboard notes underlining the vocals. Jumpin' Jumpin' is hardly weighty but it has a positive feel to go with its lyrics inviting men and women to leave their partners for a night and go to a happening club.
As if we don't have enough bland boy groups, now we're importing them. The British trio sound particularly pleasant, clean cut and inoffensive, unless you're offended by their repeatedly calling a girl "baby." The harmonies aren't great and at worst, they threaten the innocuous blissful serenity of Savage Garden. Back Here, from the Sooner or Later CD is decent enough, starting with acoustic guitars and working up to an O.K. beat. The lyrics are an amiable plea for forgiveness, as a guy admits he was wrong and says nothing's been the same since she's been gone.
Creed-Higher(down 2 positions)
The tremendous impact of Creed's My Own Prison CD at rock radio was one of music's most bizarre success stories. Nearly all of their songs were overtly about God or christianity. You have to assume that Higher, about a place where blind men can see, is about heaven. Most of their young male audience could care less about the religious message. As with their earlier work, the appeal of Higher comes from its meaty guitars and Scott Stapp's charismatic, anguished vocals. Higher, from their Human Clay CD, is their most polished single yet with a chorus that begs the kids to sing along. With so many rock bands playing angry heavy metal or rap edged rock, Creed's fans must be reassured by their familiar arena rock and meaty power chords. But Higher is tediously predictable and repetitious.
Pink-There You Go(down 4 positions)
Pink is the latest female artist to have a CD released by LaFace records, who also make TLC's records. There You Go, from Pink's debut CD Can't Take Me Home, starts out sounding just like No Scrubs. Pink doesn't equal TLC's cool ease but There You Go has a decent groove and she has a fairly distinctive personality, even if song isn't particularly distinctive. The words are designed to make a female audience feel good, getting the last laugh and taunting a formerly neglectful boyfriend who's now coming back begging for her.
Mandy Moore-I Wanna Be With You(down 1 position)
The title track from Moore's I Wanna Be With You CD shows her to be even blander than her young female competition. I Wanna Be With You is a pretty wimpy, treacly ballad that uses strings and other lulling effects to create a smooth sound. Moore's vocals are pleasant but light and breathy as she sings about being head over heels over a boy. Girls with crushes will undoubtedly relate to Moore singing about not being able to think of "anything but you" and being happy for whatever attention he'll give her.
Korn-Somebody Someonebuy it!
The third single from the Issues CD is another barrage of guitar noise. Somebody Someone packs some excitement but it's mostly just harsh without the sonic distinctiveness of Falling Away From Me. Jonathan Davis sounds even more troubled than usual. He sings "seems it never ends" and his torment does have less effect as you hear about it in song after song. Davis cries out for help. All he needs "is to be loved just for me." He sings that he feels like a fool inside, that he's nothing, he's dying.
Wheatus-Teenage Dirtbag(up 4 positions)
The teens were bound to love this story of a school kid who gets pushed around. Teenage Dirtbag is on the soundtrack of the movie Loser as well as Wheatus' self titled CD. The song and the movie have similar plots. Brendan Brown sings that the girls don't know who he is and the guys in the school give him a hard time. Like the movie, the song has a happy ending. The song's ending is probably supposed to be a fantasy as the girl of his dreams likes him after all and shares his love for Iron Maiden. Wheatus resemble Weezer in combining power chords and a nerdy persona. But Brown, with his twerpy, high pitched voice which he doesn't have to change much to play the song's female, is a little more of a smart ass and doesn't seem to sincerely feel his character's pain like Weezer's Rivers Cuomo does.
Toni Braxton-He Wasn't Man Enough(up 1 position)
Toni Braxton has had most of her success with big ballads. The first hit single from The Heat, Braxton's first CD in four years, is an attempt to show that she's kept up with the times. He Wasn't Man Enough is a sleek dance song with a good, light groove. But it isn't the best showcase for Braxton's vocal talents. She's stuck in a low, mannered tone. The song does do a good job of weaving her voice with more energetic backing vocals. He Wasn't Man Enough is basically the musical version of a catfight. Songwriter/producer Rodney Jerkins makes Braxton seem pretty nasty. The lyric quickly makes the point that Braxton's old flame's new girl doesn't have to worry that Braxton is still interested since she let him go. Braxton's dis of the guy is so harsh that it makes her look bad as she repeatedly sings that he begged her to stay.
Bon Jovi-It's My Life(down 1 position)
His record sales fell in the 90's and his movie career has gone pretty well. You'd figure Jon Bon Jovi wouldn't have to make terrible music like It's My Life anymore. However, He and Richie Sambora have done such a good job of recreating the You Give Love A Bad Name era sound that, even with a different pop audience, It's My Life was bound to be a hit. Like Bon Jovi's 80's hits, It's My Life, from the Crush CD, is wildly overproduced. It's got too much background singing and keyboards and Sambora's bad heavy metal guitar solo. Jon's vocals are an unmelodic choked yell. While the safely rebellious theme will appeal to many, the lyrics are truly terrible. Bon Jovi sings about his life being an open highway. He throws in every predictable defiant rock song line: "I ain't gonna be just a face in the crowd", "it's now or never" and "I want to live while I'm alive." He even alludes to Frank Sinatra and My Way.
On the likably relaxed Heavy Things, from the Farmhouse CD, the band invites the Grateful Dead that have followed Phish for years. Trey Anastasio's vocals, singing about the things coming down on him and referring to women he's known, have a Garcia-like modesty and he finishes the song with a nice loose guitar solo. With good harmonies and keyboards, the skilled band creates a positive vibe.
Janet Jackson-Doesn't Really Matter(up 3 positions)
Janet Jackson became a multiplatinum act in the late 80's thanks to the Control record and the tough, no nonsense image she presented with songs like What Have You Done For Me Lately and Nasty. Since then I've found Jackson(now simply calling herself Janet) a little fakey when she's tried to present herself as the innocent girl next door. Still, she is appealing on Doesn't Really Matter as her nearly whispered vocals glide easily over the pleasant, light dance music of the song from the Nutty Professor II soundtrack. The saccharine lyrics match her sweet, too good to be true character from the movie. Janet sings, it "doesn't really matter what the eye is seeing, 'cause I'm in love with the inner being." and "what matters is you're nutty, nutty, nutty for me."
With its familiar crunchy guitar chords and piercingly shrieked vocals Satelite Blues, from the Stiff Upper Lip CD, finds AC/DC in their simple, classic mode. It's very similar to the band's popular songs like Hell's Bells and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and their core fans probably don't mind. Angus and Malcolm Young's lyrics are as unsophisticated as ever as Brian Johnson sings about a woman who "make the place a jumping", "brings me to the boil" and "like to give it up some." They then apparently move on to complaints about a satelite dish that won't work.
Babylon, from Gray's White Ladder CD, is a very nice introduction for the Welsh singer/songwriter to a larger audience. Gray presents an appealing humble and unassuming persona. He owns up to his mistakes in his relationship, admitting he's "been a fool to ever open up my heart to all that jealousy, that bitterness, that ridicule." He asks for another chance, singing "the love that I was giving you was never in doubt" and asking his partner to "let go your heart, let go your head and feel it now." The music is good and minimal with a little acoustic guitar, piano and a steady beat.
Vertical Horizon-Everything You Want(down 8 positions)
The title track and second chart song from Vertical Horizon's CD has striking guitar effects but is otherwise pretty generic sensitive rock. Matt Scannell is ever so serious singing about a woman who's never satisfied with a man. His tone is so bitter that it's not much of a twist at the end when he reveals himself to be the he who is everything she wants.
Rage Against The Machine-Testifybuy it!
Testify, the third chart hit from the Battle of Los Angeles, debuted on the top 50 as the band was playing a protest concert outside the Democratic Convention. One of the pleasures of the convention coverage was watching anchors trying to explain the band. Despite the impression some of the reporters gave, the band are idealistic and somewhat simplistic but they know what they're talking about. Testify is about coverage of the Gulf War. They argue that the killing of Iraqis was all about oil profits and that the media put a soothing face on atrocities but had a responsibility to expose the dark side of U.S. actions. As always, the passion of the lyrics and Zach DeLaRocha 's singing grabs you but Tom Morello's big but melodic guitar sound keeps things appealing.
Christina Aguilera-Come On Over (All I Want Is You)(up 1 position)
After showing off her pipes on I Turn To You, the ballad by songwriter to the stars Diane Warren, Aguilera is back to light dance music on the fourth single from her debut CD. Come On Over is a little less gimmicky than her previous hits. The strength and maturity of Aguilera's big soulful voice show that comparisons to Mariah and Whitney are more appropriate than those to Britney. Come On Over is smooth and pleasantly perky. She again is the very available fantasy girl she first played on Genie In a Bottle, telling a guy that she "never felt this way before" and "you've got all I'm looking for."
BT-Never Gonna Come Back Downbuy it!
Brian Transeau is skilled at constructing atmosperic beat filled dance music. Especially at its start, the collage style sound, ironic samples, nonsequitor lyrics and uninflected white rap make Never Gonna Come Back Down, from the Movement in Still Life CD, sound like a Beck tribute. The song's chorus is catchy but fairly routine. Undoubtedly, Never Gonna Come Back Down does the job on the dance floor.
Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise-Baby(unchanged)
The Blackwater Surprise are one of the best stories in rock. A group of young musicians led by brothers Michael and Andrew Nehra discovered Bradley, who's now 50, after he'd been playing for years. Baby, from the Time To Discover CD, is a bluesy ballad with a nice, relaxed musical mood. Bradley is very cool as he gently seduces a woman. Bradley has the same cocky swagger as Prince at his best as he convinces a woman that it's alright if she stays tonight, telling her he'll be her lover and her friend.
XTC-I'm The Man Who Murdered Love(down 3 positions)
XTC's last CD, Apple Venus Vol.1, was a well made but very subdued record. Wasp Star(aka Apple Venus Vol.2) is considerably more fun and lively. I'm The Man Who Murdered Love is reminiscent of their cheeky, energetic rock songs Peter Pumpkinhead and Mayor of Simpleton. Despite its topic, Man Who Murdered Love is high spirited with a good, clear guitar line. Andy Partridge shows his ability to be simultaneously cynical and light hearted. He sings that he's doing a job for all humanity, assuring there'll be no more pain from broken hearts. He claims that, after a bad century, love begged to be put out of his misery.