Fiona Apple-Fast as You Can(down 7 positions)
Fast as You Can, from Apple's When the Pawn . . . CD, is one of the best, most interesting singles of the year. Apple shows growth from her debut CD, Tidal. On that record's singles Criminal and Shadowboxer, Apple projected an image of a young woman who was idiosyncratic and a combination of innocent and seductive tease. Fast as You Can is still idiosyncratic but seems more concerned with substance than image. It starts with a rough, jagged jazzy beat and a fast rush of words from Apple. The song slows down in the middle to catch its breath before racing forward and bouncing around again, all to exciting effect.
Savage Garden-I Knew I Loved You(up 1 position)
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.
Christina Aguilera-What a Girl Wants(up 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.
Eiffel 65-Blue(Da Ba Dee)(up 2 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.
Brian McKnight-Back at One(unchanged)
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.
Powerman 5000-Nobody's Real(up 1 position)
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.
Marc Anthony-I Need to Know(up 1 position)
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.
Red Hot Chili Peppers-Around the World(down 11 positions)
Scar Tissue, the first single from Californication, was a real breakthrough. The song, with Anthony Kiedis singing "with the birds I share this lonely view", had a nice sense of maturity. Around the World is more traditional Chili Peppers fare but it is a good time. Kiedis is cheerfully dopey whether crooning, doing a goofy rap or degenerating into gibberish. It's a fun love song with Kiedis singing "you say hello and I say I do" as well s a tribute to how life is beautiful all around the world.
Train-I Ambuy it!
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.
Blaque-Bring It All To Me(unchanged)
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.
Nine Inch Nails-Into The Void(unchanged)
Despite the hype accompanying the release of Trent Reznor's new CD the Fragile, its first single We're In This Together left the charts fairly quickly. Perhaps its message that Reznor might be able to make it through problems with the help of his love was too optimistic for Nine Inch Nails fans. Into The Void has a more traditional Nine Inch Nails theme. The lyrics consistent almost entirely of the repeated line "I'm trying to save myself but myself keeps slipping away." The hopeless, gloomy feeling is becoming cliched for Reznor. Like the rest of Fragile, Into The Void sounds great, showing the years Reznor took polishing the record. The forboding electronics are big and crisp. Perhaps a little sloppiness would have better served the material.
Backstreet Boys-Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely(up 3 positions)
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.
The Offspring-She's Got Issues(down 13 positions)
She's Got Issues is the fourth hit from the band's Americana CD. Part of the CD's appeal to the kids surely comes from the band's irreverent attitude. As on Why Don't You Get a Job, Dexter Holland is proudly insensitive, telling his girlfriend to "check your baggage at the door." It seems like she really has legitimate issues and Holland is too dopey to deal with them. The band's appeal also comes from their energetic, straight ahead music. While it's strangely reminiscent of .38 Special's Hold on Loosely, She's Got Issues is catchy, power chord filled guitar rock.
Celine Dion-That's The Way It Is(up 3 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.
Whitney Houston-My Love Is Your Love(down 2 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.
Jennifer Lopez-Waiting For Tonight(down 7 positions)
Waiting for Tonight is a well made, very danceable single. However, you'd figure that Lopez would want her music to have a little more personality. Waiting For Tonight sounds like tons of other dance songs. The lyrics, with Lopez singing "I've dreamed of this night for so long", as if she was a plain schoolgirl, are ridiculous when sung by a beautiful movie star.
Sting-Brand New Day(down 1 position)
The title track from Sting's new CD shows that Sting still has a way with an irresistable pop hook. But as was apparent from his boring last CD, Mercury Falling, Sting seems to have moved into the easy listening stage of his career. Brand New Day, about optimistically looking forward to a new millennium, is pleasant enough, but it's also fairly insipid and its lyrics about recapturing a lost love seem goofily naive.
Bush-Letting the Cables Sleepbuy it!
The followup to the exciting, tense guitar rocker The Chemicals Between Us is a good, moody ballad. Letting the Cables Sleep, is an anti-suicide song. Gavin Rossdale movingly consoles a trouble friend. The instrumentation is minimal with simple guitar and piano.
Jessica Simpson-I Wanna Love You Forever(unchanged)
I Wanna Love You Forever, from Simpson's Sweet Kisses CD, is way over the top in its lyrics and Simpson's singing. Simpson's models on I Wanna Love You Forever seem to be the ballads of Mariah Carey and especially Whitney Houston. The Greatest Love of All is subtle compared to the overdramatic delivery here. Simpson hits emotional intensity too early so a sense of overkill sets in. The singing does match the tone of the lyrics with Simpson desperately trying to show how great her love is.
Tracy Chapman-Telling Storiesbuy it!
Give Me One Reason, from her last record New Beginning, was Tracy Chapman's biggest hit since Fast Car. Telling Stories is the title track from her new CD, her fifth studio record.
Enrique Iglesias-The Rhythm Divine(up 2 positions)
The second hit from his Enrique CD is another calculated piece of dance pop with a little taste of genuine sounding Spanish guitar. Iglesias still doesn't sound totally comfortable singing in English though The Rhythm Divine is a little less cheesy than Bailamos. The lyrics about following a woman, knowing his charm and the music's seductiveness will make her his, are pretty slight.
Sugar Ray-Falls Apartbuy it!
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.
Len-Steal My Sunshine(down 2 positions)
Steal My Sunshine is the perfect summer single. It's light, has a good beat and is upbeat. The vocals are pretty rough but fit with the unpretentious mood. It's yet another song which brings to mind Sublime's What I Got. Caution to potential cd buyers. The rest of Len's record You Can't Stop the Bum Rush is much harder and intense rap and dance music than Steal My Sunshine.
Kenny Wayne Shephard-In 2 Deep(down 4 positions)
Though still young, Shephard long ago showed he's a fast, gifted guitar player. In 2 Deep, from Shephard's Live On CD, shows that he hasn't learned what to do with his talent. He plays fast and flashy but to no interesting end. The music is energetic but it's basically a hackneyed mix of Allman Brothers and Bad Company. The lyrics are simply awful, filled with cliches about having nowhere to hide and being caught in a hurricane.
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.