Cold-No One(down 4 positions)
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 good 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."
Nelly-Ride Wit Me(up 2 positions)
Nelly's second top 50 hit has his trademark easily flowing sound and fast, relaxed rap. Ride Wit Me is even smoother than Country Grammar's title track and has a good, likable feel, except for the dopey yelled "must be the money" interruptions. Ride Wit Me has another cocky, kind of silly rap celebrating getting high, girls glad to satisfy and being able to mock people who said he was a failure, with his dough and Benz.
Godsmack-Greed(up 6 positions)
The second single from the Awake CD is similar to the title track but even harsher and less appealing. Singer Sully Erna is a devout Wiccan and Greed has a bit of a spiritual sound but the song is just nasty, not exotic. The guitars thump and thud as Erna howls, "hey little bitch, be glad you finally walked away or you may have not lived another day." Amid the despicable misogyny we're supposed to empathize with Erna for feeling smothered and in need of help.
Eric Clapton-Superman Inside(down 3 positions)
I'm indifferent to Clapton's new age lyric about "gettin' closer to peace of mind" and finding the Superman inside but his "need to let it out" is matched in the music's buoyant mood. The new Reptile CD has good musicians including Billy Preston and Paul Carrack on keyboards. Superman Inside has the kind of loose, rollicking piano Preston did for the Rolling Stones. Clapton's recent singles have been so mellow and serious that it's good he's doing the kind of fun song he hasn't done much since Forever Man. Superman Inside has a big sound with slide guitar, backing vocals and Clapton confident's lead.
Nelly Furtado-I'm Like A Bird(unchanged)
I'm Like A Bird, from the Canadian singer's Whoa Nelly! CD, sounds like a pop/easy listening hit but it also has a nice, trippy edge. Especially on the verses, the sound is cool and a little jazzy. Furtado's voice is loose and playful. The beat is chunky but the feel is appropriately light. The chorus, cushioned by backing vocals and synths, is more standard pop but Furtado keeps things buoyant and appealing. She sings that, even though she's in love, she's eventually going to have to move on.
Blues Traveler-Girl Inside My Head(up 4 positions)
John Popper put out a solo record and bass player Bob Sheehan died but Blues Traveler has stayed together. Bridge is Blues Traveler's first CD in four years. Girl Inside My Head was written by new bassist Tad Kinchla, brother of guitar player Chad, and Popper. Girl Inside My Head is about a guy making himself crazy, thinking about a woman he lusts after. He's not sure whether he should let her know what he's really like or play the "jungle cat" and worries that she might actually be nice to him.
Crazy Town-Butterfly(down 17 positions)
Butterfly is from the The Gift Of Game CD. Like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Crazy Town are a relaxed L.A. band familiar with hip hop and punk. Butterfly is knowingly stupid dance pop. It has a little of the vibe of Folk Implosion's Natural One and Sublime's What I Got. The song has an easy mood and a rapped string of cliches praising the positive effects of a woman, including "it doesn't get better than this", "I see the sun break through the dark clouds", "you showed me life is precious" and "I was lost, now I'm found."
Shaggy-Angel(down 2 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.
Oleander-Are You There?(down 6 positions)
Are You There?, from the California band's Unwind CD, is fairly standard radio rock. It starts with very, big angry guitars then settles into familiar power chords augmented by a weird electronic effect. Thomas Flowers isn't a tough rock and roll singer like some of his peers. His voice is kind of thin. The lyric isn't as obnoxious as in some contemporary rock. Flowers is vulnerable, singing about needing support "when I feel too far away from where I want to be" and wondering if there's anybody there "who doesn't just pretend to care ."
Fuel-Hemorrhage(down 3 positions)
Fuel broke through with Shimmer, from their Sunburn CD. That song had a hard rock sound and was catchy but didn't seem too gimmicky. Hemorrhage, from the new Something Like Human CD, doesn't have Shimmer's light touch. With its dramatic strings and acoustic guitar, Hemorrhage is calculated to be a smash hit rock ballad. Brett Scallions is ever so intense as he sings Carl Bell's bombastic lyrics asking her not to leave love bleeding in my his hands, as if Elton John and many others hadn't thought of the image before.
Seven Mary Three-Waitbuy it!
On 1995's Cumbersome, Jason Ross was one of the first singers to borrow Eddie Vedder's serious, deep vocals for a successful rock ballad. Wait, from The Economy Of Sound CD, is more of the same, another intense rock ballad. The lyrics, about regrets of missed opportunities and dreams of a world where "the damage is undone", aren't bad but the music has nothing new to offer.
Weezer-Hash Pipe(up 1 position)
It's been five years since the release of Pinkerton, a good, fun pop rock CD that sold disappointingly. Weezer should regain some of their audience with Hash Pipe, the first single from their Green Album. It rocks harder than anything they've done before. Weezer previously mixed rock guitars, poppy hooks and a sense of humor. On Hash Pipe, they just want to rock. Brian Bell and Rivers Cuomo make a big, menacing guitar sound. Cuomo starts the song singing a hook like Lita Ford's Kiss Me Deadly in a forceful falsetto, as if he wants to be Robert Plant or Geddy Lee. He generally sings without his earlier tentativeness. The only humor comes from the sense that the band must be goofing in so strongly embracing arena rock and wacky lyrics like "these players come to get me 'cause they like my behind." With its whoa-oohs on the chorus, Hash Pipe sounds great. The band create the exhilaration of good hard rock without too much excess.
Joe-Stutter(up 1 position)
MTV's now playing a remix of Stutter. The second pop hit from the My Name Is Joe CD needed a little more edge. Stutter is inoffensively sleek with bland verses. The chorus is better but repetitive, telling us over and over that he can tell she's lying because when she's replying, she stutters. Joe has a decent, smooth voice but Stutter only really comes alive on Mystikal's angry, attitude filled rap.
Lenny Kravitz-Again(down 2 positions)
It's galling to me that someone's decided that Lenny Kravitz's uninspired Hendrix and Sly Stone retreads deserve a greatest hits CD. Still, this new song isn't as annoying as most of his work. It has a nice groove with a good bass and drums high in the mix. Kravitz' vocals are typically complacent and his lyrics are pretty terrible as he sings about hearing a cry in his soul and about never having "a yearning quite like this before" and wondering if he'll ever see his "sacred gift of heaven" again. Kravitz also pulls off an awful, cliched rock guitar solo in the middle. However, while Again is pretty insubstantial, it has a appealingly easy mood.
Maynard James Keenan's run on the top 50 continues. Just as The Hollow, one of three chart songs from A Perfect Circle's Mer De Noms, was falling off Schism, from Tool's Lateralus CD, entered the chart. Schism continues the quieting of Keenan's sound he began on Mer De Noms. Schism isn't harsh like a lot of Tool music but it's sad and cold. Keenan keeps the screaming to a minimum and communicates his torment through a serious, downbeat vocal. Schism isn't enjoyable but, despite an intense, meaningful tone and dissonant guitar effect, it generally avoids pretension. Keenan sings of the disintegrating and "fundamental differing" of two lovers. As he mourns the "atrophy" of a "sense of compassion", Keenan obsesses about a time when "the pieces fit."
Matchbox 20-Mad Seasonbuy it!
Mad Season's title track and thrid hit is like its first single Bent. It's a mellow rock song that's a little draggy but also has some edge and atmosphere. Kyle Cook's guitar line is cool and langorous. Like on Bent, Rob Thomas does a self pitying vocal about how screwed up he is("I'm lost and I'm hopeless, bleeding and broken/though I've never spoken I come undone") and asks for a woman to save him("are you gonna help me out, you need to be together now, I need you now").
Dream-This Is Me(unchanged)
Except in self confidence, the young women of Dream, the latest addition to Sean Combs' show biz empire, are unremarkable in every way. They've become MTV stars despite looks, dancing skills and voices that are, at best, mediocre. Perhaps the youth of America relate to stars who are unthreateningly ordinary. Dream vaguely recall the Spice Girls' glamorized averageness, with less personality. With a big beat and vague, smooth synths This Is Me, from It Was All A Dream, slips by innocuously. Dream are a little like N Sync with an even more lightweight sound and thinner voices. On This Is Me, Dream play the supportive girlfriend trying to convince a guy that she'll love him faithfully and that she's nothing like the girl who stole his heart and then broke it.
Stabbing Westward-So Far Away(up 4 positions)
Stabbing Westward established themselves, along with Korn and Tool, by making dense, gothic nearly industrial music. So Far Away, from the band's self titled fourth CD, isn't exactly light but the sound is fairly clear rather than murky. So Far Away is very serious, soaring rock without the pretension of, say, Creed.The filtered guitar is piercing but Christopher Hall's vocal is straight forward if uninteresting as he sings about wanting to "find a way to smash through these walls" that separate him from his love. The chorus("every time that I touch you, it feels so far away") is almost catchy.
S Club 7-Never Had A Dream Come True(down 4 positions)
The marijuana arrest of some of the S Club kids is the most interesting thing about this boring, squeaky clean British addition to the Radio Disney crowd. The lyrics, about having trouble moving on after the end of a once prefect relationship, aren't awful, just familiar. Jo O'Meara tries to add a little soul and her singing isn't as bad as Britney's on the similar From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart. But the music is bland even for the genre. The violins are ladled on and the dramatic drums and keyboards should be backing a bad easy listening lounge act. Never Had A Dream Come True was first an English single benefitting a children's charity. It was later added to S Club 7's 7 CD.
On her 1995 Hello CD, Poe sometimes seemed more concerned with gimmicky attention grabbing than actually making good music. Hey Pretty, from Poe's second CD Haunted, is also based on a contrivance but it's so striking that it's hard to resist. Hey Pretty is based on a passage from House Of Leaves, a book by Poe's brother Mark Danielewski. On the verses, Mark reads a tale of an encounter with a temptress in a BMW. Poe's attitude filled vocal is well used on the chorus as she plays the woman inviting the guy to take a ride into her world. The atmospheric synths and beat complete the song's cool, seductive mood.
Samantha Mumba-Baby Come Over(unchanged)
Like Samantha Mumba's first hit, the title track from her Gotta Tell You CD, Baby Come Over is a simple but appealing song that alternates between a rough verse and a catchy, sunny chorus. Baby Come Over is familiar dance pop but it has a breezy charm. Ringing synths and beats create an upbeat feel on the chorus and the verses are sleek and kind of sexy. The lightweight lyrics match the music. Having checked "your records", Mumba succumbs to a guy's request "to be more than just your friend."
U2-Walk On(down 6 positions)
Walk On, the second chart hit from All That You Can't Leave Behind, shows how U2 have returned to the sincerity and idealism of their 80's work but express it in a more subtle, mature way. Walk On is a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her brave struggle against the repressive Burmese government. Bono's admiration is clear as he sings, "you could have flown away, a singing bird in an open cage who will only fly for freedom." But Walk On avoids the stridency of the band's early political songs. Bono's vocal is appealingly restrained. The music, with The Edge's glistening guitar line, has a quiet beauty as well as a solid Larry Mullen beat.
A Perfect Circle-The Hollow(down 12 positions)
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.
Eve 6-Here's To The Nightbuy it!
It's a cliche of contemporary rock for an otherwise tough band to include a slow song or two on their CD in an attempt at pop success. Here's To The Night stands out jarringly among the otherwise tough, somewhat unpleasant rock songs on Eve 6's Horrorscope CD. With its strings and pleasant but empty pop sound, Here's To The Night probably fits more comfortably on pop or easy listening radio. It resembles an 80's rock ballad like John Waite's Missing You. Max Collins tries to sounds to like a sensitive male but the lyrics, like many of Horrorscope, are pretty backward about women. Collins tells the woman he lied to, "don't let me let you go."
Black Crowes-Lickin'buy it!
For the first song from the Lions CD, other formats chose the stirring, gospel tinged Soul Singing but rock radio is happy with the silly if fairly fun Lickin'. Lickin' doesn't pretend to be anything but dumb rock boogie. The dopey lyrics warn a "queen of the underage" who's "got me ranting and raving" that "you gonna catch a lickin'" The music pulls a goofy 70's trick by underlining the vocals on the verse with fuzzy guitar and keyboards. The chorus is standard Black Crowes with Rich Robinson's jamming guitar and Chris Robinson's cocky Mick Jagger-as-soul singer vocals.