Blink 182-Man Overboard(up 1 position)
Enema Of The State's fun, fast pop is still selling but Blink 182 is already back with a new CD, The Mark, Travis and Tom Show. Man Overboard sounds a lot like Enema Of The State's Dumpweed, as well as kind of like a fast version of Peter Schilling Major Tom(Coming Home). Once again, Blink 182's music is pretty light but energizing, unpretentious and solidly constructed. Man Overboard is about being sad that things can't be worked out, but deciding that a friend has screwed up too many times.
Pink-Most Girls(down 1 position)
Most Girls isn't quite as interesting as There You Go, Pink's feisty take on the TLC sound. Most Girls, from her Can't Take Me Home CD, is more routine, but it has an effective groove. The lyrics don't totally ring true but Pink continues to show personality. She sings that, unlike other "flygirls", she's more interested in a real love than a "g" with the "mean green" who gives his girl diamond rings.
Eve 6-On The Roof Again(down 4 positions)
On The Roof Again is the second chart hit from Eve 6's Horrorscope CD. Keyboards and Jon Siebels' crunching guitar chords create an appropriately edgy feel for this tale of a young man easily pushed to desperation by romantic problems. As on much of Horrorscope, the band's ability to create exciting music is underminded by dopey, often offensive lyrics and unappealing great vocals. Max Collins strangely shows his sympathy for the jumper by repeatedly singing "your heinous highness broke her hymen."
Samantha Mumba-Gotta Tell You(up 5 positions)
Mumba is the latest young female getting the big record company push. Gotta Tell You is the title track from Mumba's CD. Gotta Tell You is fairly routine dance pop. The lyrics are O.K. Mumba sings about wanting her guy to get more involved in their relationship. She doesn't want to love him if he doesn't love her. On the verses, Mumba's voice is hard and unappealing but at least somewhat distinctive. On the choruses, thanks to backing vocals and heavy, generic production, the song turns into catchy, perky Britney-style pop. Mumba's personal story of a black Irish teen who became a pop star is undoubtedly more interesting than the song.
Stone Temple Pilots-No Way Out(down 9 positions)
Stone Temple Pilots have made a fairly strong comeback after declining record sales, Scott Weiland's incarcerations and the band's breakup, mostly thanks to Sour Girl, which showed they still can appeal to a mainstream audience. No Way Out, the fourth chart hit from the No. 4 CD, is a spare rocker like Down, 4's first single. Scott Weiland angrily tells us he's troubled, screaming, "I'm going under, I'm suffocating." Dean DeLeo's guitar creates an appropriately edgy sound with hard, jagged riffs.
N Sync-This I Promise You(unchanged)
This I Promise You is the third hit from the No Strings Attached CD. It was written by Richard Marx, who had a brief period of pop rock stardom in the late 80's. This I Promse You is a fairly routine, sappy ballad. They sing about being her strength and giving her hope. They promise that "never will you hurt anymore" and to hold her "until the day my life is through" but even their preteen fans probably know that such promises, said by teens, aren't necessarily meant to be taken literally.
Backstreet Boys-Shape Of My Heart(up 3 positions)
Shape Of My Heart is from the Boys' new Black and Blue CD. Shape Of My Heart is the kind of song they do best, a well made ballad like I Want It That Way. The singing and harmonies aren't bad. Shape Of My Heart is fairly innocuous but the preteens won't mind. On Shape Of My Heart, they ask her for forgiveness, playing into the fan fantasy by asking her to "save me from the man I've become."
Dexter Freebish-Leaving Town(down 10 positions)
Leaving Town is from the Austin band's major label debut, A Life Of Saturdays. The band makes radio savvy alternative pop in the vein of Matchbox 20 and Vertical Horizon. Leaving Town is a bitter tale of the guy left behind as his girl pursues success in the big city. Kyle sings, "when you're broken down and no else is around, you'll come running back to this town and I'll be there." Leaving Town is familiar and unoriginal but Dexter Freebish work the formula well when the power chords kick in on the chorus.
Shaggy-It Wasn't Me(up 13 positions)
It Wasn't Me, from the Hotshot CD, perpetuates the idea that a charming rascal can wink and lie to a woman and get out of any problem. Still, It Wasn't Me is so silly and ingratiating that it's hard to dislike. The song is well structured with Rik Rok playing the man caught "red handed creeping with girl next door." Shaggy is his foolish buddy telling him to deny everything despite physical, eyewitness and photographic evidence. The contrast between Rik Rok's high, loose, youthful voice and Shaggy's deep Jamaican style rumble is appealing. The song has a good groove with minimal, well chosen synth effects and Shaggy's fast, nearly indecipherable toasting.
Everlast-Black Jesus(down 10 positions)
Black Jesus is from Everlast's Eat At Whitey's CD. On What It's Like and Ends, Everlast preached about the hardships faced by needy and troubled people. Black Jesus is a natural extension of that persona, with Everlast toying with the image of being a messiah. Everlast's dramatic, unadorned presentation is striking. However, I find him self important and repetitive, especially after a few listens when his message becomes clear.
Orgy-Fiction(She Dreams In Digital)(unchanged)
Orgy's hard rock/industrial bludgeoning of New Order's Blue Monday may have been my least favorite single of 1999. Fiction, from their new Vapor Transmission CD, isn't as offensive but it's nearly as stupid. The music and lyrics are both cheesy sci-fi. Over hokey electronics, Jay Gordon sings about a robot girl he created who's gone haywire. "Now that control is gone", "my finger's on the kill switch." Whatever. Orgy take the big guitar, big atmosphere sound of bands like Korn and do it in the least interesting way possible.
Debelah Morgan-Dance With Me(up 2 positions)
The title track from the Dance With Me CD is a bit bizarre but it probably works O.K. on the dance floor. With its insistent violin, Dance With Me is a little like Marc Anthony's I Need To Know but the recent hit it most resembles is Sonique's It Feels So Good. Both are throwbacks to the dopey hits of the late 70's. Dance With Me is eerily like a hit from the peak of the disco craze in its use of a gimmick, an arrangement based on the tango Hernando's Hideaway from the Broadway musical The Pajama Game, and its very simple lyrics extolling the benefits of dancing. Morgan's singing is pretty good but the words are moronic with every cliche you could imagine including, "the night is young and so are we", "when we hit the floor you'll be asking for more" and "I feel the music inside."
Ricky Martin-She Bangs(down 1 position)
She Bangs is from the new Sound Loaded CD. Like on Livin' La Vida Loca, horns and percussion create a high spirited party mood though Martin's vocals and the song in general are more leisurely paced than on Martin's huge hit. She Bangs is somewhat silly but fun Latin pop. Martin sings about an imposing lady who looks like a flower but stings like a bee. She's playing with him. After she "lit a fuse" she blew him off.
Radiohead-Optimistic(down 19 positions)
Radiohead's new Kid A CD is interesting and annoying, ambitious and self indulgent. The songs are often spacy and atmospheric and don't really go anywhere but Optimistic is fairly linear. It's a little like OK Computer's Paranoid Android with a little more juice. Unlike some of the Kid A songs, which have no guitar, Optimistic has a good direct, scratchy Jonny Greenwood guitar line which keeps the song moving. It also gets good texture from forboding percussion. Thom Yorke's vocals are compellingly tortured and not too idiosyncratic. Yorke starts the song with gloomy images of vultures circling and big fish eating little ones and evokes a unconcerned world. Presumably ironically, Yorke tells us it's good enough if you do the "best you can."
Green Day-Minority(down 8 positions)
Fans who were concerned with the maturity Billie Joe Armstrong showed on Time Of Your Life from the Nimrod CD can be reassured by Minority, the first single from the Warning CD. Minority has the likably simple feel that made Green Day a huge success on their Dookie CD. Billie Joe sings that he doesn't want to be a conformist and is happy to stand alone.
Dream-He Loves U Notbuy it!
Everyone wants a piece of the lucrative teen pop market. Puffy Combs is among those behind the latest package of young females. He Loves U Not, from the CD It Was All A Dream, has a familiar sound that basically guaranteed its success. On He Loves U Not, Dream sound like Christina Aguilera without Aguilera's vocal personality or a white Destiny's Child without their sleek sound. He Loves U Not also resembles N Sync's It's Gonna Be Me. It has efficient, basic music with a big, stuttering beat. The singing and lyrics have a youthful simplicity young girls can handle. The girls claim not to care about another girl who is trying to take a boyfriend since they know he only loves her.
Shawn Mullins-Everywhere I Go(unchanged)
You could love or hate Lullaby, Mullins' big hit from his Soul's Core CD, but with its spoken verses and evocative, if obvious, lyrics about a woman screwed up by growing up in a weird Hollywood world, it got your attention. Everywhere I Go, from the Beneath The Velvet Sun CD, isn't going to approach Lullaby's success because it's barely noticable. Everywhere I Go is pleasant light rock influenced by the easy California sound of artists like The Eagles. The production is sleek but the result is innocuous. Mullins' voice doesn't have much personality. The mystically tinged lyrics are pretty nice. Mullins sings about the image of his lover guiding him and grounding him when he's on the road.
The lyrics about there being no place to hide from an angel's eye are ridiculous except as a tie in to the Charlie's Angels movie. At least Angel's Eye isn't as bloated and obviously commercial as I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, Aeromith's contribution to the Armageddon soundtrack, which was written by successful hack Diane Warren. Angel's Eye's music is fast and loud, with good energy. Joe Perry has a decent guitar riff. Steven Tyler is his usual over the top self, yelling the gibberish about feeding your fantasy, a "halo on fire" and "running in place like a rat in a race."
Mark Knopfler-What It Is(unchanged)
Since the huge success of Dire Straits' 1985 Brothers In Arms record, Mark Knopfler has kept a fairly low profile, working on soundtracks and not trying to be too commercial in his subsequent Dire Straits and solo work. What It Is is from Knopfler's new Sailing To Philadelphia CD. What It Is is reminiscent of Knopfler's great work before Money For Nothing. It's a distinctive, textured rocker like Making Movies' Tunnel Of Love. Knopfler's guitar playing is seemingly effortless as he unshowily sprinkles interesting riffs. His assuming voice easily twists around the shifting meters. What It Is is nicely detailed with vignettes about a small Scottish town and lots of observations including the fact "everybody's looking for somebody's arms to fall into."
Kandi-Don't Think I'm Not(unchanged)
Don't Think I'm Not is from the Hey Kandi CD. It's a little weird musically. The music shifts from austere piano to lush ballad with very heavy strings. Then the strings are awkwardly thrown together on the chorus with hard, synthetic beats. The lyrics are kind of weird too. Kandi brags that while her guy has been playing around with someone else, she has too. I understand her happiness at not being a total sucker and getting some revenge but it doesn't sound like a situation to be happy about.
Soul Decision-Faded(down 6 positions)
Faded is from the Canadian trio's Nobody Does It Better CD. They're being promoted to the preteens as the latest hunky boy band but Faded isn't that bad. It sounds like a George Michael dance song with a decent, synthetic beat. They try a little too hard to seem black and cool but they basically have the sound down. The parents might not be too happy about the boys trying to convince a girl "it's time we went a bit further."
Incubus-Stellar(down 9 positions)
Like Pardon Me, Incubus' hit from the Make Yourself CD, Stellar is hard rock with a bit of an unusual edge. Stellar has jazzy, psychedelic verses that give way to harder, guitar driven choruses. Brandon Boyd sings about being amazed by his lover asking, how do you do it, and equating having sex with her with the sensation of being in outer space.
Rage Against The Machine-Renegades Of Funkbuy it!
Renegades Of Funk is from Renegades, a record of political songs originally done by people like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Cypress Hill. It's Rage Against The Machine's last CD with Singer Zack De La Rocha, who is leaving for a solo career. Renegades Of Funk is a cover of an Afrika Bambaataa song. Zack gets into it, having fun with the commands to move and groove. Rage always claim a single minded determination to fight for justice so they must like Renegades Of Funk's sweeping statements. Renegades' hook, "no matter how you try you can't stop us now", has the optimism of a Rage song like Guerilla Radio. There's also a little self aggrandizement. They boast, "we change the course of history" and compare themselves to Martin Luther King and Tom Paine. Renegades Of Funk is more about beats and less about guitars than the usual Rage song. The cheap Sci Fi synth recalls the sound of Afrika Bambaataa's time. The beats and the simple idealism create an appealing energy.
Marilyn Manson-Disposable Teens(down 3 positions)
Disposable Teens is from Marilyn Manson's Holy Wood CD. Especially since the shock value of his weird androgynous image has faded, everything about Manson seems kind of obvious. Disposable Teens has harsh, hard guitars but the sound is merely unpleasant, not overpowering like his role model Trent Reznor's. Manson's tough guy vocals are kind of silly. After some people held his music responsible for the Columbine killings, Manson is more self pitying than ever: "I've got a face made for violence and porn and I'm a teen distortion, survived abortion." Claiming to speak for today's youth, his rebellion shows the sophistication of a 13 year old: "the more you fear us, the meaner we'll get." He dares to allude to the Beatles, singing, "you say you want a revolution, I say you're full of shit."
Stan, the latest single from Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP, is one of most interesting singles to hit mainstream radio this year. Dido's easy vocals and the unhurried groove, with Mike Elizondo's smooth bass line, provide a great contrast with Eminem's fast, fluid rap that becomes increasingly agitated along with his character's troubled mind. As usual, the lyrics alternate between fascinating and irritating. Eminem concedes he has an effect on his fans. He raises legitimate issues about a society where people are encouraged to believe celebrities are just like them. Stan is a frightening, obsessive character, "a biggest fan" who bases his life on Eminem, menacingly suggests "we should be together" and is infuriated when his idol doesn't respond to his letters. Stan is undoubtedly based on real people who want to connect with Eminem, sometimes in scary ways. I'd prefer Stan without its self serving final verse. Eminem suddenly becomes caring, writing Stan that he shouldn't take his self destructive lyrics seriously and should get counseling and treat his girl better. The end is silly. Eminem warns Stan not to end up like a guy he saw on TV who killed himself and his pregnant girlfriend and then realizes,"his name was . . . it was you. Damn."