Rage Against the Machine-Guerrilla Radio(down 6 positions)
Guerrilla Radio is more driving, heartfelt guitar driven rock. Rage are probably the most popular political band around. While the excitement of their intense music probably attracts more fans than their left wing politics, the sincerity of their beliefs is part of their appeal. On Guerrila Radio, the band again comfortably mixes rock and rap. Zack de la Rocha sings optimistically, "it has to start something" and "can't stop us now."
Steely Dan-Cousin Dupree(up 1 position)
Cousin Dupree, from the new Two Against Nature CD, shows that Steely Dan can still create a great groove. Two Against Nature is the first Steely Dan studio record in the two decades since Gaucho but Walter Becker and Donald Fagen actually worked together for much of the 90's. Becker helped out on Fagen's last solo record, Kamakiriad, and then they toured together as Steely Dan and subsequently released Alive in America.
Christina Aguilera-What a Girl Wants(down 1 position)
Her songs are about as dopey as those of her chart mates Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears but Aguilera seems to have the best voice. What a Girl Wants isn't as musically striking as Genie in a Bottle, with its stark, crisp beat. It's more like crowd pleasing generic dance pop. Like Genie in a Bottle, What a Girl Wants makes some pretense of trying to show a strong, self respecting woman, but Aguilera seems a little too appreciative of the guy who gave her time to make up her mind.
Savage Garden-I Knew I Loved You(down 3 positions)
Like on their smash Truly, Deeply, Madly, Savage Garden seem like nice, sincere guys. They also seem a little boring. The vocals are sickly sweet. I Knew I Loved You, from the Affirmation CD, is inoffensively sweet but the lyrics of knowing I loved you before I met you are delivered very blandly.
Backstreet Boys-Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely(unchanged)
The third hit from the Millennium CD is their best single from the CD so far. It's still overemotional garbage targeted at the pre teen girls but Show Me the Meaning is a little more restrained than some of their other hits and their singing isn't bad.
Train-I Am(up 2 positions)
As I Am entered the chart, Meet Virginia was finally falling down the chart. I Am is a little more rocking but it still shows Train's ability to make music that appeals to a broad audience.
Eiffel 65-Blue(Da Ba Dee)(down 3 positions)
As Mambo No. 5 has finally fallen down the charts, Blue is the latest big novelty hit. In its low budget sound and quirkiness, Blue brings to mind some of the fun, silly disco of the late 70's. Blue begins with the surreal tale of living in a world where everything, and he means everything, is blue. Then it just drifts along with lots of da da dee's, not totally unlike Crystal Waters' homeless song. You might enjoy it for a while until hearing it repeatedly drives you crazy.
Blaque-Bring It All To Me(up 1 position)
Bring It All To Me has a nice easy groove and good crisp beats. Blaque's reedy vocals could be annoying under different circumstances but here everything is comfortable. Though their lyrics have a little too much emphasis on keeping it real for my liking, N Sync fit in well in their supporting performance.
N Sync-Bye Bye Bye(up 4 positions)
From the upcoming No Strings Attached CD, Bye Bye Bye has a decent energy but is still pretty slight. Its lyrics, telling an unworthy suitor to hit the road, are slightly bold for today's teen idols, whose songs are usually about pining for a girl or celebrating how great their girl is.
Celine Dion-That's The Way It Is(up 2 positions)
That's The Way It Is is one of the new songs on Dion's All The Way greatest hits record. Dion's music often tends towards banality. That's The Way It Is is particularly insubstantial. Its "everything will work out fine" lyrics have the depth of a greeting card and the music has the complexity of the background to a tv commercial. It's fairly inoffensive except to those who know that romantic problems aren't always easily solved.
Santana-Smooth(down 5 positions)
Carlos Santana hasn't had a hit in nearly 20 years but with Smooth, from his new record Supernatural, he's found a savvy, irresistable sound. The music is classic Santana. Carlos' guitar riffs are evocative and the percussion and horns create a great groove. The new element is the vocals of Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas. Matchbox 20 has been one of the most successful groups of the last 2 years with 5 hit singles from their Yourself or Someone Like You cd which still is getting radio play 3 years after its release. It's kind of funny that Thomas, whose success is largely based on a commercially calculated sound that works to appeal to rock fans without offending easy listening audiences, is singing about giving of your heart and not just being smooth. Nonetheless, it was smart for Santana to work with Thomas. Besides being a smart commercial move, using Thomas does work musically for Santana. His vocals are smooth and they invite you into Santana's cool world.
No Doubt-Ex-Girlfriendbuy it!
It's been 4 ½ years since No Doubt released their last album, the very successful Tragic Kingdom which contained the hits Don't Speak, Spiderwebs and Just a Girl. The pressure to follow it was apparently pretty intense. No Doubt took forever to record the new Return of Saturn CD, discarding a lot of material along the way. Ex-Girlfriend has good, frenetic energy. Gwen Stefani sings that she should have known better than to be with a love em and leave em guy and readily admits to jealousy of his next victim.
Powerman 5000-Nobody's Real(down 3 positions)
The followup to When Worlds Collide, from Tonight the Stars Revolt!, is another totally over the top song with a futuristic sci-fi feel. I guess their cheesy, dramatic electronic sound is entertaining but it's also kind of goofy. It's hard to take the hysterical lyrics, with their allusions to sinister forces, seriously.
Brian McKnight-Back at One(down 3 positions)
Back at One is pretty sappy: "one, you're like a dream come true; two, just want to be with you, three, it's plain to see you're the one for me." But McKnight's singing is heartfelt and stronger than most that of most of his contemporaries on the pop charts. The music is also nicely subtle, starting simply with a lone piano.
Lit-Miserable(up 6 positions)
The most notable about Miserable, the third chart hit from the band's Place in the Sun CD, is its video with Pamela Anderson playing a giant Amazon babe who's literally a maneater. Miserable doesn't have the fast stupid charm of My Own Worst Enemy and Ziplock. Miserable, with A. Jay Popoff singing about being unavoidably attracted to a woman who ruins his life and makes him miserable, is slower. It's fairly entertaining but unremarkable, with big power chords.
Tracy Chapman-Telling Stories(up 1 position)
Chapman is characteristically simple, direct and moving in her vocals and lyrics on Telling Stories, the title track from Chapman's fifth studio CD. She sings about how a lie is sometimes better than the truth. A driving electric guitar gives the song good energy.
Sugar Ray-Falls Apart(up 1 position)
The third hit from the band's 14:59 is another pleasant piece of pop. The band once tried to mix ska and fast punkish music but they've found success in genial, less ambitious, music. While the lyrics are about a young woman going through a tough time, the music doesn't get too heavy. It has a nice dynamic, shirting from mellower verses to rougher choruses when the guitars kick in.
Stone Temple Pilots-Heaven and Hot Rods(down 21 positions)
Down, the first single from STP's No. 4 CD, had an interestingly grungy sound but it was also a little harsh and didn't have the band's usual catchiness. It fell off the charts fairly quickly. Heaven and Hot Rods, which made the chart about the time Scott Weiland finished doing his jail time for a probation violation, is more of a basic straight ahead rocker. There's not much to the song with Weiland singing some gibberish about trying to get to heaven on a Sunday but it has an appealing driving beat, big rock guitars and a pretty cool mood.
Marc Anthony-I Need to Know(down 5 positions)
Anthony is the latest Latin pop star to make the move to being an American pop star. It makes sense than Anthony makes a smooth transition since he grew up in New York and has English singing experience from starring on Broadway in Paul Simon's Capeman. The lyrics are fairly dopey. The song starts with Anthony singing that he heard a woman he likes asked about him. The rest of the song is just him repeating that he needs to know if it's true that she's interested. However, the key to the song is the music and I Need to Know has a nice, easy groove.
Whitney Houston-My Love Is Your Love(down 4 positions)
At times on her My Love Is Your Love CD, Whitney Houston sadly tries to sound like today's hot hip hop artists. She shouldn't worry about sounding like anyone but herself. Houston doesn't seem totally comfortable on the CD's title track, but it does have a good, smooth groove and Houston has a great voice. The lyrics are sweet if unexciting, proclaiming that her love would survive World War III, judgement day or, God forbid, the loss of her fame and fortune.
Our Lady Peace-Is Anybody Home?buy it!
Is Anybody Home? is the second hit from Happiness . . . Is Not a Fish You Can Catch. Like most of the Canadian band's work, Is Anybody Home? is serious and intense. It also shows Our Lady Peace's ability to create a good atmosphere with interesting shifts of dynamic. The music varies from Mike Turner's hard rocking guitar to Raine Maida's a capella vocals. The lyrics say that everybody's needy, we're all scared.
Britney Spears-From the Bottom of My Broken Heart(down 2 positions)
The fourth hit from Baby One More Time is a fairly uninteresting ballad. Spears once again presents herself as a fairly stereotypical submissive female, openly pining for a lost love. Spears voice isn't much and, unlike on her dance songs, she can't hit it behind the beat.
Kenny Wayne Shephard-Wasbuy it!
Shephard's talent as a guitar player and respect for his rock and blues predecessors is always more apparent than his originality. Was, from his Live On CD, is hardly anything new but the spare blues setting serves him well.
Incubus-Pardon Me(down 2 positions)
Pardon Me resembles a lot of music on rock radio with its anthemic choruses and power guitar chords. The anguished lyrics about having had enough of the world and being on the verge of spontaneous combustion aren't that unusual these days. But Pardon Me does have some distinction with its good, jagged beat and interesting touches like the sound of scratching records.
Moby's great Play CD has yielded a half dozen singles. That is justified since so many songs on Play, including those based on samples of old blues songs, are remarkable, deserving and standing up to close attention. Currently, Natural Blues, Moby's reshaping of Vera Hall's stirring Trouble So Hard, and Porcelain are getting airplay on different formats. Unlike many of the singles from Play, Porcelain is not primarily based on a sample of another song. Most of the vocals are Moby's. His eerie, electronically altered singing matches the song's haunting tone as he sings about dreams of dying. The striking music is fleshed out by a simple, elegant piano.