Karma is from Diffuser's Injury Loves Melody CD. The music is hard rock without a nasty attitude. Karma is pretty standard power chord driven rock and roll but it has good energy. The philosophy-lite lyrics aren't as spiritually meaningful as the band thinks but they fit the band's pleasantly searching persona: "sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get what you need, but you're always going to get what you deserve."
Everlast-I Can't Move(unchanged)
On I Can't Move, the second chart hit from the Eat At Whitey's CD, Everlast's subject matter is typically serious. He wants to face the outside world, claims he isn't scared then he's paralyzed by fear. The music and Everlast's delivery are also serious but not quite as heavy and solemn as on Everlast's last few singles. The music is pretty cool with Everlast's acoustic and a good beat.
The Offspring-Want You Bad(unchanged)
The second single from the Conspiracy Of One CD follows the colorful silliness of the rock/hip hop hybrid Original Prankster, with a returns to The Offspring's punk pop signature sound. Want You Bad is also stupid, a dopey male fantasy, but it's very energetic with fast, fun guitars and drums. With his typical yell, Dexter tells his girl "you're too nice" and advises her to get tattoos and mistreat him.
Voices, the second hit from the Sickness CD, isn't quite as unpleasant as Stupify but I still find it unappealingly nasty. David Draiman angrily roars that he's "gonna talk about some freaky shit now" then asks "are you breathing now?" and says "someone's gonna die." Voices is probably about Draiman's troubled mind. It ends with some garbage about feeling "the subliminal need to be one with the voice and make everything all right" but Voices' imagery is still distasteful. The heavy, atttacking guitars creating a menacing, though powerful, atmosphere.
Dream-He Loves U Not(up 2 positions)
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.
Madonna-Don't Tell Me(up 5 positions)
Don't Tell Me, the second single from the Music CD, was written by producer Mirwais Ahmadzai and a pop music odd couple, Madonna and her brother in law, atmospheric folk rocker Joe Henry. The lyrics are pretty familar. Telling Madonna to stop loving her man is like telling "the rain not to drop", the wind not to blow" and "the sun not to shine." Henry's minimal, twisted writing style isn't too evident, except maybe towards the end: "tell the bed not to lay, like the open mouth of a grave/not to stare at me, like a calf down on its knees." Don't Tell Me is pretty insubstantial but it has a good, easy mood. The sound is clear and simple with acoustic guitar, solid beats, strings and some silly sonic effects to spice things up. Madonna's vocals are pleasant and not too bad.
Dust For Life-Step Into The Light(down 8 positions)
Step Into The Light is well made if familiar alternative rock from Dust For Life's self titled CD. Step Into The Light is reminiscent of Stone Temple Pilots, swinging from quiet, thoughtful verses to rocking choruses with big guitar chords. The songwriting, by Chris Gavin and guitarist Jason Hughes, is fairly typical and cliche ridden though not as angry as much contemporary rock. Gavin sings about being deceived and abandoned but still having "an ocean of laughter" and being able to "step into the light" and "find I'm not alone."
Destiny's Child-Independent Women Pt. 1(unchanged)
The latest of the string of hits from the hot female r&b trio of the moment is from the Charlie's Angels soundtrack. Independent Women was probably thrown together quickly for the movie and it sounds like a throwaway. Still, it has the sleek sound of much of Destiny's Child's music and the women smoothly race through their vocals. The lyrics, with their repeated refrain "I depend on me", are an inspirational message saying women don't have to depend on men. They take on a bit of a taunting tone, celebrating how they can buy diamonds, cars and houses, saying that their hard work made it all happen, without conceding that others might not be so lucky.
Shaggy-It Wasn't Me(unchanged)
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.
Barenaked Ladies-Too Little Too Late(up 12 positions)
BNL's main singer Stephen Page is outdone on the Maroon CD by Ed Robertson, who has two of the new CD's best songs, Pinch Me and Falling For The First Time. However, Page has a few good songs and Too Little Too Late may be the best of them. Maroon's second single is a little like Stunt's It's All Been Done. Too Little Too Late is fun, high energy straight ahead rock with Robertson's good, tight guitar riff. Page's self centered character blames his partner for his bad behavior, saying he would be good, "if I knew I was understood" and dooms the relationship by always being a little late in correcting his faults.
K-Ci & Jojo-Crazy(up 8 positions)
Recently, smooth African American love men have been seriously outnumbered at top of the pop charts by R&B divas and white teen pop singers. K-Ci & Jojo Hailey, brothers who were formerly members of Jodeci, return to the charts with a soul ballad from their X CD. They're one of three groups that entered the top 50 within a week in January with a very mellow song about a guy who's nothing without his woman and is willing to do anything for her. K-Ci & Jojo seem like better singers than 98 Degrees and BBMak but their delivery is ridiculously overemotive. The pathetic lyrics apologize for being a fool, beg for her to come back and repeat how obsessed he is with her. Crazy has easy listening backing with a restrained beat and tasteful piano though the chorus tries to spice things up by distorting the voices with a silly vocoder effect. Crazy is also on the Save The Last Dance soundtrack. It's had incessant play on MTV which, not coincidentally, produced Save The Last Dance.
A song with Shaggy thanking a girl, to the tune of Angel Of The Morning, for giving her love, over a riff copped for Steve Miller's The Joker, is not promising. However, as on the silly, very un-politically correct It Wasn't Me, Shaggy's charm overcomes a lot. Shaggy's cocky even when he's supposed to be humble("I called and you heeded, mission completed") and it's hard to believe him suddenly realizing his girl should be treated like a queen but his confident, deep Jamaican rap and easy charm("she was there through my incarceration, I wanna show the nation my appreciation") explains why women would want to believe him. As on It Wasn't Me, Angel wisely pairs Shaggy with a smoother singer though Rayvon's Angel Of The Morning chorus is sickly sweet. Angel, from the Hotshot CD, has a clear sound with a strong, steady beat and the Joker riff works pretty well.
Five For Fighting-Easy Tonight(down 7 positions)
Five For Fighting is singer/songwriter John Ondrasik's project. It's easy to imagine Easy Tonight with just Ondrasik's voice and piano but he gives it a big production with a big beat on his America Town CD. With his easy, adult sound and sensitive but intense vocals on Easy Tonight, Ondrasik sounds a little like Shawn Mullins. They're both also a little affected. Ondrasik sings about a woman who's now gone. His recitation of all the things she was(you were wrong, you were right, you took a ride on the suicide romance) and his attempts at self expression("I don't know where I'm going but I sure am getting there") are a little corny.
Evan and Jaron-Crazy For This Girl(down 1 position)
The most interesting thing about Evan and Jaron Lowenstein is that they're probably already the most successful Orthodox Jew twin brother singers in pop history. Crazy For This Girl owes some of its success to being on the second Dawson Creek's soundtrack CD. On Crazy For The Girl, which is also on their self titled CD, the boys have a smooth, sincere, clean cut sound as they sing about the girl they think about constantly who "don't know how I feel." The sound doesn't have much more edge than the teen pop boy bands. But like Hey Leonardo, another song by adults that was aimed at a young audience, Crazy For This Girl is a guilty pleasure. It's superficial but with catchy hooks and good, tight guitar riffs on the chorus.
Mya-Case Of The Ex(down 1 position)
Case Of The Ex is from the Fear Of Flying CD. Case Of The Ex sounds a little like Aaliyah's Try Again. It's got a sleek, stark sound with a good shifting beat. Mya's voice seems O.K. and it's adroitly covered for most of the song by good background vocals. Case Of The Ex is a fairly nasty tale. A guy's current girlfriend demands to know how he's gonna act when his ex wants him back. She figures the ex has heard he bought her a "brand new Benz" and wants a piece of the action. The girlfriend's not subtle. She reminds him the ex "turned trick" when they broke up and says she's seen the ex's picture and "she ain't even all that."
Of the two singles from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, My Generation got most of the early play. Modern rock stations are now focusing more on Rollin'. Both songs are hard edged but Rollin' is even more urgent and edgy. The band's mix of hard rock guitar and hip hop beats has energy and undeniable power but Rollin' is so harsh that it's hard to like. As usual, Fred Durst's rap is the weak link. His squealed rhymes are typically paranoid, singing about people who "wanna mess with Limp Bizkit." We hope that he's gently mocking rap cliches when he urges us to "put them hands in the air." The dopey chorus tells us over and over again to keep rollin', rollin, rollin'.
Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera-Nobody Wants To Be Lonelybuy it!
Nobody Wants To Be Lonely, from Ricky Martin's Sound Loaded CD, is another celebrity duet that seem more like a contest than a collaboration. Martin's pleasant, unremarkable voice is better suited to light, dance pop so it's not surprising that Christina Aguilera's showy vocal acrobatics grab the spotlight on this sleek, empty piece of pop. The song starts with a slight Latin feel but soon has a glossy, generic feel and an uninteresting, repetitive beat. The lyrics are fairly lame. Martin asks someone whose "heart is cold and lost the will to love, like a broken arrow" "why don't you let me love you." The song drifts innocuously as Martin sings about his longing. It gets interesting for a moment on the chorus as Aguilera soars over Martin singing, "Time is precious and it's slipping away and I've been waitin' for you all of my life" but then slips back into repetition.
Pink-You Make Me Sick(up 3 positions)
I'm tired of Pink's narcissistic, tough girl video persona but her Can't Take Me Home CD keeps delivering good dance pop songs. You Make Me Sick is similar to There You Go and Most Girls but has its own sound with a good, dancable groove from strong rhythm tracks and an efficient beat. The lyrics don't go far beyond "I want you but I'm hatin' it" and the idea that a guy who makes her sick also makes "my knees get weak" but Pink's fast, confident vocals help keep the song's momentum going.
Semisonic-Chemistry(down 7 positions)
Semisonic's first release, 1996's Great Divide was smart and subtle and didn't sell many copies. They found success in '98 with the fun and often dopey Feeling Strangely Fine, which had the repetitive, ridiculously catchy Closing Time. Singer/songwriter Dan Wilson and Semisonic are back with the All About Chemistry CD and its first single, Chemistry.
Rage Against The Machine-Renegades Of Funk(down 2 positions)
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.
98 Degrees-My Everything(down 6 positions)
I quite liked Give Me Just One Night, the first single from the Revelation CD but My Everything is bland, even by boy band standards. You'd figure even the preteen girl target audience would be bored by the endless string of wimpy declarations of love for the girl who saved him when "my eyes had no more tears to cry": "nothing your love won't bring, my life is yours alone/the only love I've ever known", "all my hopes and all my dreams are suddenly reality" and "every night I pray on bended knee." My Everything sounds like other easy listening favorites like I Believe I Can Fly but its treacly sound, with piano and ladled on strings, is even tamer.
Everclear-When It All Goes Wrong Again(down 12 positions)
AM Radio, the second single from Learning How To Smile, the first volume of Songs From An American Movie, has just followed Wonderful to top 40 radio. It will have to compete for airplay with the first single from the new CD: volume two, Good Time For A Bad Attitude. A lot of Everclear's music sounds alike. When It All Goes Wrong Again sounds like Santa Monica and You Make Me Feel Like A Whore, from Sparkle and Fade. Still, it's a good formula. Everclear create an exciting, full sound. Everclear songs, like Wonderful, often start quietly and build to an intense finish. When It All Goes Wrong Again, has an energized sound from start to finish with big drums and guitar chords. Art Alexakis sings and, as usual, screams in the end that he's not afraid of life's inevitable downturns and, in fact, relishes facing his next crisis.
Outkast-Ms. Jacksonbuy it!
Outkast's Stankonia was justifiably one of the most critically acclaimed CDs of 2000 and Ms. Jackson is one of the best songs getting heavy play on MTV. Ms. Jackson has a cool, easy groove with a simple, piano effect. Two good, contrasting rappers work on a baby's mama's mama. Big Boi barely contains his anger through a fast, dextrous rap, complaining about paying the bills for his baby but never getting to be with her. Andre 3000's rap is looser. He hopes his relationship will last forever then realizes how long forever is. Ms. Jackson finds some basis to the stereotype of the irresponsible estranged African American dad, but humanizes the character.
Three Doors Down-Kryptonite(unchanged)
Kryptonite, from the young Mississippi band's Better Life CD, is a phenomenon. It's been in the top 50 since the first week of March 2000 and was one of the biggest hits of 2000. The song's success is probably about having a slightly new, fresh sound while still seeming familiar. Kryptonite has a solid, sturdy blues rock sound, a little like the classic rock staple Radar Love. Matt Roberts' guitar line is good and incisive. Kryptonite has an easy, unpretentious feel. Brad Arnold's lyrics are appealingly understated and vulnerable. Instead of being macho, Arnold sings about having a troubled mind. He needs reassurance that even if he goes crazy, his girl will stay by his side and treat him like her Superman.
Backstreet Boys-The Callbuy it!
The Call, from Backstreet Boys' Black and Blue CD, is another song written by teen pop svengali Max Martin and it's a pale imitation of teen pop hits like It's Gonna Be Me and Baby One More Time. The Call's music is cold and strained. The setting becomes silly and overdramatic with a choir effect. The insistent, metallic beat and the vocals, featuring A.J. McLean, are harshly staccato. I guess the lyrics are a cautionary tale for the male fans. The character lies to his girlfriend, goes home with another, gets found out and is still saying I'm sorry two years later.