Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera-Nobody Wants To Be Lonely(up 5 positions)
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.
K-Ci & Jojo-Crazy(up 2 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.
Josh Joplin Group-Camera One(down 8 positions)
Camera One is from the band's Useful Music CD. Camera One is serious but catchy, kind of like old Peter Gabriel or Genesis but a little more obvious. With production by Jerry Harrison, Camera One sounds good. Camera One is another cynical tale about how pursuit of a Hollywood dream can have disappointing results. Joplin's tale is hardly subtle as he dramatically intones that "you're playing you now."
Dream-He Loves U Not(down 1 position)
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.
Shaggy-Angel(up 4 positions)
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.
Eric Clapton-Superman Inside(up 8 positions)
Superman Inside is the first single from Clapton's new Reptile CD.
Oleander-Are You There?(up 3 positions)
Why I'm Here and I Walk Alone from Oleander's February Son CD were favorites at rock radio. They were influenced by grunge and classic rock sound and had intense, emotional vocals. Are You There, from the California band's new Unwind CD, keeps the band in the same unoriginal vein.
David Gray-Babylon(down 9 positions)
The Welsh singer/songwriter has had a loyal following for a while but it's grown significantly thoughout 2000. It's reassuring that, after spending four months at the low end of the top 50, Babylon, from the White Ladder CD, has found a wider audience. Unlike so much popular music, Babylon isn't gimmicky or pandering. It's quiet, thoughtful and very good. Gray presents an appealingly humble and unassuming persona. He owns up to his mistake in a relationship, admitting he's "been a fool to ever open up my heart to all that jealousy, that bitterness, that ridicule." Gray asks 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, atmospheric keyboards and a steady beat.
Disturbed-Voices(down 4 positions)
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.
Frontman Travis Meeks fired the rest of Days Of The New, guitarist Todd Whitener, bassist Jesse Vest and drummer Matt Taul, before recording Days Of The New's second CD. Since then Days Of The New II sold disappointingly and Meeks' ex-bandmates are doing pretty well with their new band Tantric and their self titled CD. On Breakdown, the Louisville band create a potent, well produced sound with power chords, a big beat and a touch of synths. But the vocalist they chose, Hugo Ferreira, is just another intense, mannered overwrought rock singer. And the lyrics are fairly pointless, taunting someone who seems "to have it all", "to have control" who's losing it and trying to "find the reason that no one else is living this way."
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.
Strait Up featuring Lajon-Angel's Son(down 5 positions)
Lynn Strait, Snot's lead singer, died in a car accident two years ago. Angel's Song is from Strait Up, a CD with the surviving members of the band and various modern rock singers. Lajon Witherspoon is Sevendust's singer. He reminds me of Jeffrey Gaines and Living Colour's Corey Glover, two other African-American rock singers, but Lajon might be better than either of them. Unfortunately, his singing with Sevendust is often overdramatic and buried under harsh guitars. On Angel's Son, even with less cluttered acoustic backing, Lajon is too emotive but his tribute to Strait is heartfelt and moving. He sings that he "can't go on without you rearranging" and regrets that he never said goodbye when he "had so much left to say."
Pink-You Make Me Sick(unchanged)
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.
Limp Bizkit-My Way(up 11 positions)
My Way is the third chart hit from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water. It sounds like Rearranged, Take A Look Around and a lot of Limp Bizkit's other music. The music, though familiar, is pretty good with an edgy, forboding mood on the verses and good rock energy on the chorus from Wes Borland's fast, hard guitar and John Otto's dynamic beat. But, as usual, Fred Durst messes things up with his mediocre talent and stupid attitude. Durst's thin voice is barely adequate on the verses then he does his distinctive hoarse yelp on the chorus. The lyrics are a typical paranoid Durst rant similar to Rearranged's. He resents a woman looking down on him, pathetically demands respect("it's my way or the highway") and convinces himself "you'll be the one who's left missing me."
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.
Backstreet Boys-The Call(unchanged)
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.
Everlast-I Can't Move(down 9 positions)
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 Deftones-Digital Bath(up 1 position)
Digital Bath, the second chart hit from The Deftones' White Pony CD, is about an intense relationship. Like Change, Digital Bath is effectively spooky and atmospheric. For most of the song, the guitars and Chino Moreno's vocals hold back their fury and drums and keyboards create an edgy but restrained sound. It's powerful when the guitars are unleashed and Moreno lets out an anguished cry, "tonight, I feel like more."
A Perfect Circle-The Hollowbuy it!
Tool's new CD is coming out soon but Maynard James Keenan's side project keeps getting radio play. After moving even farther away from the Tool signature sound with the folky Three Libras, Mer De Noms' third chart hit sounds like its first, Judith. The guitars aren't quite as big and the atmosphere isn't as angry and oppressive as on a typical Tool song but The Hollow is still serious with a sweeping sound and Keenan's dramatic vocals. Billy Howerdel creates a good, metallic guitar sound. Keenan sings about someone with a constant need to satisfy his libido. The Hollow is fairly interesting but not too different from Keenan's usual tales of obsession. It lacks his usual climactic payoff and doesn't really go anywhere.
Matthew Good Band-Hello Time Bomb(unchanged)
Sadly, Hello Time Bomb's tale of someone "ready to go off" is as timely today as it was when the song first came out on the Canadian band's Beautiful Midnight CD in 1999. Hello Time Bomb seems exploitative and obvious, with its ticking sound and sinister effects on the verses, angry guitar power chords on the chorus and Good's cold, cocky vocals. Hello Time Bomb tells of a young man whose life finds a reason and an answer for a life that can "push and push 'til it hurts" as he presumably plans an act of mass destruction and dares the world to "see if I'm kidding."
ATC-Around The World(unchanged)
It makes sense that the totally edgeless Around The World, from ATC's Planet Pop, is a big international hit. You don't need to know English to mindlessly sing along with the La La La La Las and it's best not to understand the rest of the stupid lyrics. The music is familiar generic Europop. The drum machine makes it easy for the undemanding to dance. Around The World resembles the dopey synth pop song Blue without that song's endearing quirks.
Cold-No Onebuy it!
On No One, from Cold's 13 Ways to Bleed On Stage CD, Scooter Ward is another serious singer with Vedder-like intensity. At least, with a fluid sound, loose drumming and bass playing and a subtle guitar, Cold's Pearl Jam/STP imitation has pretty music. Ward sings about being left alone "with no one sent to get me", feeling "like I'm being erased." He apparently isn't dealing well with a breakup and is "so sick of this terrible instinct."
Diffuser-Karma(down 11 positions)
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."
All About Chemistry is Semisonic's third CD. Semisonic found success with Closing Time, the repetitive, ridiculously catchy single from the Feeling Strangely Fine CD. Chemistry lacks Closing Time's rock guitar heft and is unlikely to change the band's one hit wonder status. Chemistry is very likable, if slightly wimpy. With a steady, upbeat piano, the verses have the perky pop charm of a song like Billy Joel's Allentown. The choruses are buoyed by a Cars style synth line and Dan Wilson's open, good natured vocals. On Chemistry, Wilson treats his romantic experiences as one big experiment. With a little guilt, Wilson gives thanks for the lessons from "fine, fine women with nothin' but good intentions and a bad tendency to get burned."
American Hi-Fi-Flavor Of The Weakbuy it!
American Hi-Fi are another band like Presidents of the USA and Weezer with a fondness for fun, somewhat silly rocking pop artists from the late 70s like The Knack, Kiss and Pat Benatar. Flavor Of The Weak, from the band's self title debut CD is a good time with a simple sound and big power chords. The lyrics are appropriately basic. A teen wishes he could make his unrequited love see that her boyfriend "don't know anything about her, he's too stoned" and that he'll soon dump her.