Fabolous featuring Tamia - Into You
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: # 38 (Oct. 2003) buy it!
Into You is from the Street Dreams CD by Brooklyn's Fabolous(born John Jackson). I've never been a fan of Fabolous' reticent mumble, which gives the impression that he thinks he's too cool to go to the effort of being audible. On Into You, he's pretty funny and kind of cute. Hearing him roll through Into You in his rushed, uninflected way brings to mind a boy staring at his shoes as he shyly tells a girl he likes her. Ashanti sang with Fabolous on Into You's album version but the single smartly uses Tamia. Tamia's voice has a sweetness similar to Ashanti's but she seems more substantial and less deferential than Ashanti does when she supports male vocalists. Into You is pretty slight. Its music is pleasant, a little generic and not particularly interesting with a steady, easy, anonymous beat and gentle, kind of cutesy chimes. Still, Into You is very comfortable, with a good supporting vocal, and it does a good job of softening up a tough guy. Fabolous tells his girl in Into You that his "friends be thinking I'm slipping" but he would "do whatever just to keep a grin on you" and he's ready to go public with his feelings.
Faith Hill - Breathe
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: # 30 (April 2000) buy it!
The title track from the country star's Breathe record is her pop breakthrough. It's not surprising that this glossy country pop ballad is a hit but Breathe is particularly empty musically and lyrically. Hill has no desire to seem like a liberated woman. She spends the whole song swooning about her man and how she's never been this swept away. The music starts decently with an acoustic guitar but soon builds into big, boring soaring choruses.
Fastball - Out Of My Head
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: # 18 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
The third single from Fastball's All The Pain Money Can Buy is more amiable pop from the pleasantly unassuming band. With every single, they get a little less ambitious but retain their likeable charm. The Way was their most interesting, a good rocker, though it seemed less interesting after repeated listenings. Fire Escape was an enjoyable, smooth midtempo song. Out of My Head reminds me of the Cheers TV theme, another enjoyable, low key song sung by a not great singer. Its lyrics, about a man looking back to see if he could have done something different to make a relationship work, have the band's humble charm.
Fastball - You're An Ocean
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: # 18 (Oct. 2000) buy it!
You're An Ocean is from the Harsh Light Of Day CD. On the hits from the All The Pain Money Can Buy CD, Fastball were good natured purveyors of upbeat, not terribly deep pop rock. You're An Ocean has a familiar light and happy feel, thanks to Billy Preston's rollicking piano and Miles Zuniga upbeat guitar solo, which is like the ones David Lindley did for Jackson Browne. Tony Scalzo sings about being vulnerable in "a stormy sea of love and emotion." He's in suspended motion with his heart in his hands but he'd still "buy whatever you would sell."
Fat Joe featuring Ashanti - What's Luv?
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: # 20 (May 2002) buy it!
What's Luv is the first mainstream hit for South Bronx native Joseph Cartagena. Fat Joe, like Ja Rule before him, has made the pop charts by placing his rough voice into a light hip hop setting. What's Luv is laid back and slight like Ja Rule's hits and perhaps even more engaging. What's Luv sounds like Ja Rule's Always On Time and the remixes of J. Lo's I'm Real and Always On Time, which is not surprising, considering that many of the same people were involved in making each record. Fat Joe's voice isn't polished but his parts are wrapped with a relaxed beat in a catchy, bubbly synth riff and surrounded by choruses with Ashanti's ultrasweet singing and Ja Rule's distinctively cocky voice. What's Luv's lyric doesn't say much beyond it's what's love got to do with it(as long as we trust each other) chorus. Fat Joe tells us he doesn't care if you've got a man or whether you're "the office type or like to strip" as long as you have "thick hips" and don't "talk too much." What's Luv is from Fat Joe's Jealous One Still Envy CD(his 1997 CD was called Jealous Ones Envy so he presumably will eventually get around to a CD called something like Jealous Ones Still Envy my Phat Heaviness).
Filter - The Best Things
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: # 30 (April 2000) buy it!
Take a Picture was a dreamy, meditative departure from Filter's normal sound. The Best Things, the third hit from the Title of Record, is more traditional Filter fare. Richard Patrick doesn't seem like a very nice guy but his band knows how to create a big, compelling sound. Patrick obviously learned how to create exciting, assaultive music when he worked with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. The Best Things, which is also featured on the new The Crow: Salvation soundtrack, has a barrage of guitars and percussion. Patrick brags about how he differs fron the norm: "the best things in life aren't for me" and puts down others: "you got a green light but you're going nowhere."
Filter - Take a Picture
Weeks on Chart: 23 Peak: # 1 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
The usually intense band follow the powerful, cynical Welcome to the Fold with a change of pace from their Title of Record CD. While mellower and slower, Take a Picture doesn't sound like a sell out and still has an edge. Take a Picture has a cool, evocative atmosphere. Richard Patrick goes into his trademark scream at the end of the song but for the most part, his vocals are appealingly restrained as he sings of trying to capture a perfect moment.
Filter - Welcome to the Fold
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: # 20 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
Between their first hit Hey Man Nice Shot and their new one, Richard Patrick has shown himself to be one of the best screamers in the business. After taking an interesting diversion with the electronic collaboration, Trip Like I Do, with Crystal Method, they're back to rocking hard on their first single from Title of Record. Welcome to the Fold is intense, exciting guitar rock.
Filter - Where Do We Go From Here
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: # 16 (Aug. 2002) buy it!
Like much of Filter's music Where Do We Go, the first single from their third CD The Amalgamut, is atmospheric and intense. Musically, Where Do We Go From Here fits somewhere between Take A Picture, Filter's dreamy, mellow hit from their Title Of Record CD, and harder songs, like Hey Man Nice Shot from the Short Bus CD and their Crystal Method collaboration Trip Like I Do. Unfortunately, that means Where Do We Go From Here lacks the energy of Filter's more rocking songs and Take A Picture's pop focus. Where Do We Go From Here, with its steady rock guitar strum, sounds O.K. It has a pretty catchy chorus. It's just not that interesting. Richard Patrick's vocal is fine but, for better or worse, he never really lets loose like he has on Filter's previous radio hits. "Bruised from your fickleness", Patrick sings about wanting "ease from creatures of your greed."
Finch - What It Is To Burn
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: # 40 (April 2003) buy it!
What It Is To Burn is the title track from the debut record by the band from Temecula, California. What It Is To Burn isn't awful but it is a fairly standard power ballad. The chorus, with a huge sound of crunching guitars and string effects, has a big, yearning feel reminiscent of Our Lady Peace's Somewhere Out There, with the power and excess that suggests. The verses, featuring showy guitar effects, are less interesting. Singer Nate Barcalow seems to have a good, big voice but he's very earnest. He mixes things up, staying restrained on the verses, getting intense on the chorus then going nuts and shrieking "she burns." His explosion into ranting would be more striking if it hadn't already been done on so many other modern rock hits. Finch's big rock anthem sound seems sincere rather than just calculated to make a hit but it's both overly familiar and over the top in being so serious and trying too hard to create a meaningful feel. What It Is To Burn has dramatic imagery. Barcalow wonders about the price of glory and, I guess, admires a woman who's taken chances.
Finger Eleven - One Thing
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: # 26 (July 2004) buy it!
Finger Eleven are a band from Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Thanks to modern rock radio play, One Thing spent more than three months on the top 50 at the beginning of the year. One Thing has now found its natural home at pop radio. My opinion of One Thing hasn't improved since I wrote about in January. Finger Eleven usually play alt-metal. They made their self titled third record with Disturbed/Downing Pool/Earshot producer Johnny K. One Thing, a "hold up your lighters" style big rock ballad, sounds like a song cynically created with an eye on the pop charts. I'm not a fan of rock ballads but I concede that One Thing is effectively constructed. With a spare sound of spooky synths, simple whacked drums and sensitive acoustic guitar, One Thing has the emotional power that sells. One Thing is very familiar resembling, among others, Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn. It's also a bit drab. Scott Anderson's earnest singing is a bit boring. He overdoes the sincerity, crossing the line from sincere to overly emotive. People love mushy, ultraserious rock ballads. The sappy One Thing isn't the worst but it is pretty lame. On One Thing, Anderson apparently sings that he wants to be with someone but he's not ready yet to change his life.
Fiona Apple - Fast as You Can
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: # 14 (Dec. 1999) buy it!
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.
Five For Fighting - 100 Years
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: # 23 (April 2004) buy it!
John Ondrasik, the guy who made Superman a new age wimp on his 2000 hit, is back with more sentimental crap by his band Five For Fighting. On 100 Years, from Five For Fighting's The Battle For Everything CD, Ondrasik again tries to make us think. Ondrasik moves back and foward from his current age, appreciating highlights, remembering that life is short and apparently advising a 15 year old that "there's still time for you." There's nothing wrong with 100 Years' concept but, lyrically and vocally, Ondrasik isn't insightful enough to justify the smug self righteousness he projects. He's so sensitive and thoughtful and so lacking in edge or self doubt that he seems a little lame. On 100 Years, Ondrasik shifts from an undramatic voice to a high vocal that seems intended to match the tone of his piano but is annoyingly reedy. With strings and his showy but bland piano playing, Ondrasik tries for a sweeping sound but the uninteresting result makes me long for Bruce Hornsby's similar but better songs.
Five For Fighting - Easy Tonight
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: # 31 (Jan. 2001) buy it!
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.
Five For Fighting - Superman
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: # 7 (Dec. 2001) buy it!
Superman is the second chart hit from Five For Fighting's America Town CD. It's the latest in a long series of Superman rock songs by groups from The Kinks to, more recently, Three Doors Down, Crash Test Dummies and Our Lady Peace. Like many Supermans, Five For Fighting's is an aging young man's attempt to feel better about the fact that "it's not easy to be me" with the idea that even the man of steel has problems. It's lite-fm pap. Superman should kick Five For Fighting frontman John Ondrasik's ass for putting new agey jargon like "I'm just out to find the better part of me" and "wish that I could cry" in his mouth. Superman's music is tasteful and wimpy with a quiet piano eventually joined by polite drums.
Fleetwood Mac - Peacekeeper
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: # 37 (April 2003) buy it!
Say You Will is Fleetwood Mac's first record of all new material featuring Rumours era members Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie(Christine McVie chose not to participate) in 16 years. Buckingham and Nicks both wrote nine songs that made Say You Will. Maybe the new record isn't just an excuse for a lucrative tour. Peacekeeper is a bit of a mess but it's a worthy addition to Fleetwood Mac's oeuvre. Peacekeeper is clearly a Buckingham composition. It has the combination of weirdness and Beach Boys style harmonies and pop sonics that made Buckingham my favorite Mac member(and made me a big fan of his 1992 Out Of The Cradle solo CD). Buckingham's vocal is a little scary. Nicks is as hoarse as ever but her harmony softens things up and makes Peacekeeper a little more melodic. There's something comforting about hearing familiar voices, more than 25 years after Fleetwood Mac's commercial peak, fighting the challenges that age presents. Buckingham smartly wrote a song that's both likable and interesting. The verses, with a good snappy beat and Buckingham's basic guitar line dissolve into the very catchy chorus that lets the harmonies shine. There's also a good, quiet bridge before the last verse. Peacekeeper ends with a nice, big finish. Buckingham lets loose a little with his singing and plays a good guitar solo with reassuring similarity to ones from other Fleetwood Mac songs(like Go Your Own Way). Despite its title and the timing of its release, Peacekeeper has little to do with war. The lyric is some vague message about how we screw things up and should fight for the "sweet surprise" that is love.
Fleetwood Mac - Say You Will
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: # 49 (Aug. 2003) buy it!
Say You Will is Fleetwood Mac's first record featuring Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks doing all new material in 16 years. It hasn't inspired too much interest but it has given us two good singles. Peacekeeper was distinctively the catchy/interesting/slightly weird work of Lindsay Buckingham. Say You Will's title track is a Stevie Nicks song with a likable feel that reminds me of her Gypsy. Say You Will is one of Nicks' best songs in a while. It has a familiar sound that's right for a beloved band that's been around for a while. Nicks' voice started out with a little rough huskiness. It's even craggier now but in a way that's comfortable and endearing. Say You Will is always pleasant. It rolls forward effortlessly on Mick Fleetwood's easy, rolling beat. But Say You Will's real charm is in an upbeat, infectious chorus that practically begs you to sing along. The chorus has harmonies between Nicks and Buckingham that work and feel real and definitely not too pretty. Throughout Say You Will, Buckingham throws out a series of compact guitar riffs that are smart, sometimes showy but always appropriate to the song. He helps create the chorus' joyful, soaring feel with a slowly climbing guitar part. Nicks' lyric is sweet if somewhat slight. She salutes the guy who "brought out something that I've never been since." She asks for another chance, confident that she can change his mind "if I can get you to dance."
Foo Fighters - All My Life
Weeks on Chart: 30 Peak: # 5 (Jan. 2003) buy it!
All My Life is from the One By One CD. It's long been clear that Dave Grohl won't approach the brilliance and significance with Foo Fighters former bandmate Kurt Cobain did with Nirvana. But Grohl has already achieved a longevity that Cobain sadly could never have and amassed a solid body of work. Foo Fighters have continued to make decent music and retain a fan base, even as the rock audience's taste has changed. Grohl's music has remained fairly uncomplicated and ungimmicky and he still has a good knack for a hook. While not obviously following trends, Grohl has also kept an eye on the competititon, most recently playing drums for good hard rockers Queens Of The Stone Age. Like a lot of Foo Fighters music, All My Life is not great but good. While it doesn't have their personality, All My Life is very reminiscent of the Foos' best intense rockers like This Is A Call, Monkey Wrench and Everlong. It's fast, fun and lean. Grohl keeps the crunching guitar coming. Grohl isn't the best singer but he's aware of his limitations and, as usual, it's a hoot when he whips himself into such a frenzy that he can't help but scream. On All My Life sings and rants about how he's always been "searching for something", presumably love, but the "something never comes." Haunted by a ghost of someone from the past, Grohl simultaneously rues and exalts in the fact that with women it's "done, done then one to the next one."
Foo Fighters - Breakdown
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: # 12 (June 2000) buy it!
Breakdown is the third chart hit from There Is Nothing Left To Lose. It's not quite the pop masterpiece that the brilliantly buoyant Learn To Fly is but it's more fun than the very heavy Stacked Actors. Breakdown most closely resembles the band's fast, exhilarating Monkey Wrench. It isn't complex, just nonstop, hard rocking fun. The lyrics, about Dave Grohl's problems with his therapist, aren't very interesting but the energy of the music is undeniable.
Foo Fighters - Darling Nikki
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: # 49 (Feb. 2004) buy it!
The cover of Prince's Darling Nikki was meant as a throwaway. It's an extra track on the CD single for Have It All, an unremarkable, typical Foo Fighters rocker which is the fourth single from the pretty bad One By One CD. Radio prefers the b-side to the a-side. Darling Nikki, on the Purple Rain soundtrack, showcased Prince's irresistable cockiness, his love of racy, sexual subject matter and his ability to create a striking sound. The stark verses featured just Prince's mischievous voice and a muted bass drum beat. The chorus had an icy sound. Its industrial crunch, along with the story of an encounter with "a sex fiend", has apparently made it a long time favorite at strip clubs(where Dave Grohl presumably got the idea for the cover). Foo Fighters' version is less subtle and less distinctive. Grohl beefs up the beat, making the music more rocking but less interesting. He also adds rock guitar of the sort that Prince used to play but, seeking a cool, erotic beat and synths sound, didn't use on Darling Nikki. Its worse addition is a bloated ending with Grohl screaming and playing showy guitar lines. Otherwise, it's fairly respectful and not too bad. Grohl shows some of Prince's playfulness, pronouncing masturbating in the whitest way possible. Grohl kept the lyric, which has twists including the discovery that if you want Nikki to grind, you have to "sign on the dotted line" and the ego stoking ending where she thanks him "for a funky time." Since it was apparently done as a goof and didn't turn out too bad, it's hard to be too tough on Foo Fighters' mediocre version. Still, it best serves as a reminder of Prince's early to mid 80's golden age and as encouragement to dust off, or buy, his wicked, wildly creative records.
Foo Fighters - Learn to Fly
Weeks on Chart: 22 Peak: # 1 (Dec. 1999) buy it!
Dave Grohl has the ability Kurt Cobain, his Nirvana bandmate, had to make a melodic song with a good pop hook that still rocks. He's made great rockers like Monkey Wrench, This is a Call and I'll Stick Around and very good pop songs like Big Me but Learn to Fly, from Foo Fighters' third CD There is Nothing to Lose, is the best combination yet of Grohl's rock and pop skills. With its fun video, Learn to Fly deserves to be a hit. The music creates a buoyant mood. The lyrics aren't as strong as the music but Grohl delivers them with likeable enthusiasm. In his singing, Grohl emphasizes the word "looking". He seems clearer about the fact that he's looking than about what he's looking for. The message about trying to shake up his life, looking "for a complication" or a "new evolution" shifts in the second verse when Grohl says he "can't quite make it alone and asks for "one last try."
Foo Fighters - Low
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: # 26 (Sept. 2003) buy it!
The Foo Fighters' One By One CD has been embraced by modern rock radio. All My Life and Times Like These have probably gotten as much rock airplay as the singles from any of the band's first three records. Times Like These's chart life was extended by the release of an acoustic version. It's as if Times Like These's kind of obvious "you gotta live life even when we're at war and the world is screwed up" message becomes more meaningful and powerful when Dave Grohl plays the song more quietly and slowly and enunciates better. I'm still of the opinion that One By One, one of Foo Fighters' hardest rocking records, isn't very good. All My Life is pretty exciting but nothing else is really memorable. Low is one of the better songs on One By One but it's a good example of how the new music rocks hard but is kind of pointless. Low is driven forward nicely by Grohl and Chris Shiflett's matching pair of guitar riffs and Taylor Hawkins' strong drumming but not much happens. Grohl restrains himself vocally, sticking to a fairly quiet voice that creates a little edge but not much energy. He even avoids the kinds of screams he usually works towards, trading the excitement of a climax for a steady, decent rock sound. Low is apparently an attempted pickup. He offers to pass through and take "you as low as you go."
Foo Fighters - Next Year
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: # 12 (Oct. 2000) buy it!
With the exception of the very good Learn To Fly, most of the rockers on There Is Nothing Left To Lose are fairly routine. Two slow songs, Ain't It The Life and Next Year, are among the most interesting on the CD. Next Year has a good dreamy atmosphere. Strings give it the feel of a thoughtful late Beatles ballad. The lyrics seem to use a trip into space to represent a break in a relationship that will make things all better.
Foo Fighters - The One
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: # 18 (Feb. 2002) buy it!
The buzz that accompanied Dave Grohl's first post-Nirvana release is long gone. Grohl's band have become modern rock journeymen of sorts, making three strong, if unremarkable, records and numerous good singles that show Grohl's ability to make music that's appealingly poppy but still rocks. The One, the second hit from the Orange County soundtrack, is short and a little dopey. It's even more disposable than most Foo singles but it's tight, catchy and hard to resist. The One is simple but effectively concise with thumping verses and a chorus with guitars and Grohl's voice howling. On The One, Grohl realizes the mistake of going back to an old flame but still appreciates the pleasures she offers.
Foo Fighters - Stacked Actors
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: # 15 (March 2000) buy it!
Dave Grohl took a shot at Courtney Love on I'll Stick Around from Foo Fighters' debut. Stacked Actors seems to be another attack on his ex bandmate's widow. Grohl's anger is clear as he apparently mocks Love's plastic surgery, claims her sadness after Kurt Cobain's death was an act and calls her a liar and a faker. With its harsh guitar riff and screamed vocals, Stacked Actors is easily the hardest rocking song on There is Nothing Left to Lose. Stacked Actrors isn't very likeable and there's not much to it besides its rage but the intensity is undeniable.
Foo Fighters - Times Like These
Weeks on Chart: 28 Peak: # 5 (March 2003) buy it!
Dave Grohl has become an elder statesman of modern rock. 2003 started with songs he played on by Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Queens Of The Stone Age in the top 10 and the hits keep coming. Times Like These is the second top 50 hit from Foo Fighters' One By One CD. Times Like These isn't quite as good as All My Life but it has a superficial charm and is one of the better songs on a fairly bad CD. It's got the unremarkable competence that marks so much Foo Fighters music. The most striking thing about Times Like These is its guitar riff, copped from The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, which gives the song some excitement(and, along with the lyrical allusion to Husker Du's New Day Rising, a 1985 vibe). Otherwise, Times Like These is innocuous but fine. Grohl's voice seems even less skilled than usual. It's hard to argue with the lyrics' message that, even in a screwed up world, you have to live and love. But it ain't exactly deep and reminds me of the lame post September 11 claims that the terrorists win if we don't do things(go shopping, take that flight, go ahead with the Emmys).
Fountains Of Wayne - Stacy's Mom
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: # 14 (Nov. 2003) buy it!
Fountains Of Wayne released two good, smart pop rock records in the late 90's and seemed destined to a career with a small, devoted following. Thanks to one of the catchiest songs of the year, Fountains Of Wayne has, at least temporarily, made a quick transition from critics' darlings to pop stars. Welcome Interstate Managers is one of the best records of 2003. It's a likable, thoughtful group of rockers and ballads. While the rest of the record is catchy, carefully constructed and often subtle, the sleek, perky and not subtle Stacy's Mom stands out as FOW's most commercially savvy song. On Stacy's Mom, FOW openly embrace The Cars' power chords and shiny keyboards formula. From an opening stuttering guitar riff to beeping synths to a tight, electronic beat that precedes each verse to the delirious wash of synths and big guitars on the chorus, Stacy's Mom keeps coming and building with different, appealing sounds. Jody Porter plays a winning, triumphant guitar solo then the chorus comes back one more time for a big finish with an even more exuberant mix of harmonies, hand claps and keyboards. Singer Chris Collingwood plays straight man to the flamboyant sounds but his vocal has a guilelessness that works with the sincere lyric. Stacy's Mom isn't my favorite FOW song. Especially after hearing it a thousand times, I don't love its glossy perfection as much as the more personal, idiosyncratic feel of other songs. But there's little doubt about Stacy's Mom ingeniousness. Fountains Of Wayne's songs have vivid detail that's rare in pop music. As they do on many of their songs, Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger write on Stacy's Mom about a simpler, youthful time. But the melancholy of many FOW's songs is replaced on Stacy's Mom by the giddiness of depicting the ridiculous, charming overconfidence of a kid sure he can convince his friend's mom that she "could use a guy like me."
Frankie J. - Don't Wanna Try
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: # 33 (July 2003) buy it!
After years in the music business, including a stint with Los Kumbia Kings, Frankie J Bautista has a hit with the first single off his What's A Man To Do CD. Don't Wanna Try is a very basic ballad. Its success is probably due to its simplicity and familiarity. Don't Wanna Try has a standard soaring string sound and sensitive piano and synths but it doesn't overdo things. Similarly, Bautista's vocal is pretty typical for a song about a wounded lover but he largely avoids overemoting. Don't Wanna Try is pleasant and has a bit of real pathos. The downside is that Don't Wanna Try doesn't have much of a personality. There's no sense of Bautista's latin pop background or anything else distinctive. Bautista's resigned lack of inflection makes Don't Wanna Try's lyrics even colder. Hurt by the "things you said" and exhausted after trying "to save it so many times" but only ending up with fights and angry words, Bautista refuses his woman's request for another chance.
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: # 32 (July 2004) buy it!
Take Me Out is from the self titled debut CD by the Scottish band named for the Austro-Hungarian Archduke whose assassination led to World War I. Franz Ferdinand are in the fairly large group of current bands(e.g. Hot Hot Heat and Interpol) who echo the late 70s/early 80s new wave sound. Take Me Out indicates that unlike some bands, who do slavish imitations of their heroes, Franz Ferdinand bring energy, novelty and wit to their retro sound. With Modest Mouse's Float On and Take Me Out topping the modern rock charts, maybe there's hope for the normally numbingly familiar, unimaginative format. Franz Ferdinand and Modest Mouse have similar surreal videos and present themselves as genial oddball Talking Heads fans. Take Me Out doesn't have a David Byrne soundalike vocal like Isaac Brock does on Float On. But Take Me On's chaotic, strangely joyful spirit and shifting rhythms bring early Talking Heads songs like Tentative Decisions, Psycho Killer and I Zimbra to mind, especially when the song slows down and beefs up the beat. Take Me Out starts with Singer Alex Kapranos crooning over a simple driving guitar line like the band is a sincere U2 or Coldplay knockoff. But a minute in, Take Me Out becomes gloriously messy. Working around a killer attacking riff, Nick McCarthy and Kapranos trade guitar lines that thrust, stomp and twist over Paul Thomson's appropriately muddied beat while Kapranos rants with a Byrne-like combination of confidence and disorientation. Synth effects complete Take Me Out's trippy soundscape. Take Me Out's is goofily melodramatic. Kapranos knows "I won't be leaving here with you" but keeps begging "take me out", warning otherwise "you'll leave me broken, shattered."
Fuel - Bad Day
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: # 3 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
The third chart hit from the Something Like Human CD is another power ballad. The music and Brett Scallions' singing aren't as overwrought as on Hemmorhage and Innocent but Bad Day is still very intense and serious. Bad Day sounds like a hit, using the formula of starting with acoustic guitar and letting the rock sound build. The lyrics are OK, a simple tale of a girlfriend whose problems may be more serious than she's letting on.
Fuel - Falls On Me
Weeks on Chart: 29 Peak: # 10 (Oct. 2003) buy it!
Pop radio has embraced Falls On Me, the first single from Fuel's Natural Selection CD, so it's returned to the top 50. My opinion of Falls On Me hasn't improved. It still seems like another lame attempt to reach a larger audience with an intense, overblown rock ballad. Fuel's Hemorrhage(In My Hands) provided a prime example of the emotive hit. Following a similar blueprint, Falls On Me has recaptured Hemorrhage's success. Falls On Me isn't as overdone as Hemorrhage but it's pretty boring amd obvious. The Hemorrhage similarity begins early as Falls On Me starts with quiet, meaningful strumming then Brett Scallions does a quiet, meaningful vocal. Predictably, big guitars soon come in. They're not so bad. Falls On Me has a decent sound. It's fairly catchy and has emphatic bursts of drums and guitar but Falls On Me has no spark or excitement. Scallions' pretentious, self important vocal doesn't help. Neither does Falls On Me's familiarity. Besides Hemorrhage, Falls On Me echoes Collective Soul's Heavy with a nearly identical hook: "all of your weight falls on me." Carl Bell's lyric apparently thanks a woman for breaking "my disease", so "I can breathe."
Fuel - Hemorrhage
Weeks on Chart: 40 Peak: # 2 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
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.
Fuel - Innocent
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: # 12 (May 2001) buy it!
The promise of Fuel's last CD, Sunburn, is unfulfilled as they follow the first single from the Something Like Human CD, the ever so intense power ballad Hemorrhage, with the even less interesting musically and more commercially calculated Innocent. The lyrics are self pitying garbage. Singer Brett Scallions sings of a complicated life with "smiles all confiscated", complaining that "when we were innocent", "never were we told we'd be bought and sold." Innocent has many of the standard, contrived elements of a hit rock ballad. It starts with meaningfully strummed acoustics and builds with tasteful drums and soaring guitars while Scallions strains to show emotion.
Fuel - Last Time
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: # 39 (Dec. 2001) buy it!
On Last Time, Fuel are in a harder rocking mode than on the three previous chart hits from their Something Like Human CD. Last Time has a tougher rock guitar and Carl Bell angrily yells the lyrics with great intensity. Still, Last Time has the slick, superficial, calculated feel of the other songs from Something Like Human. Bell promises in Last Time's pretentious lyrics that he will soon leave an addictive, controlling woman.