Baby Boy - Beyonce featuring Sean Paul
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #15 (Nov. 2003) buy it!
Beyonce Knowles' impressive streak of huge hits, first with Destiny's Child and now as a solo artist, continues with Baby Boy, the second single from Beyonce's Dangerously In Love CD. Baby Boy has a sound destined to make it a smash but it's not nearly as appealingly as Dangerously In Love's first hit Crazy In Love. On Crazy In Love, Beyonce abandoned her usual cool, controlled persona for a song with a joyful, liberating sound. On Baby Boy, Beyonce reverts to a professional, slightly calculated voice. Scott Storch, who's worked on hits including Christina Aguilera's Fighter, wrote and produced Baby Boy with Beyonce. Baby Boy has a good, slightly exotic sound with eastern guitar sounds and an emphatic synth that adds to the song's excitement. Baby Boy features popular collaborator Sean Paul(I prefer Breathe, his similar but warmer duet with Blu Cantrell). Paul helps increase Baby Boy's intensity with a confident but focused rap that keeps the song moving forward and avoids the silly narcissism that mars some of Paul's work . Beyonce's singing is OK. She has some of the sensuality the lyric requires but she'd be better if she seemed looser and less studied. Baby Boy's lyric is a fairly routine tribute to a guy who she can't stop thinking about who fulfills her fantasies.
Baby Come Over - Samantha Mumba
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #44 (May 2001) buy it!
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."
Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing - Chris Isaak
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #25 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing was originally on Isaak's Forever Blue record, which was practically a theme album about how devastated he was about being dumped. On first impression, Baby seemed annoying. His affected voice seemed like a pathetic attempt to show blues credibility. But Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing undeniably works in establishing the right mood for a sexy scene in Eyes Wide Shut. It has a good down and dirty groove.
Babylon - David Gray
Weeks on Chart: 34 Peak: #8 (Jan. 2001) buy it!
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.
Baby - Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #42 (July 2000) buy it!
The Blackwater Surprise are one of the best stories in rock. A group of young musicians led by brothers Michael and Andrew Nehra discovered Bradley, who's now 50, after he'd been playing for years. Baby, from the Time To Discover CD, is a bluesy ballad with a nice, relaxed musical mood. Bradley is very cool as he gently seduces a woman. Bradley has the same cocky swagger as Prince at his best as he convinces a woman that it's alright if she stays tonight, telling her he'll be her lover and her friend.
Back at One - Brian McKnight
Weeks on Chart: 15 Peak: #28 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
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.
Back Here - BBMak
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #33 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
As if we don't have enough bland boy groups, now we're importing them. The British trio sound particularly pleasant, clean cut and inoffensive, unless you're offended by their repeatedly calling a girl "baby." The harmonies aren't great and at worst, they threaten the innocuous blissful serenity of Savage Garden. Back Here, from the Sooner or Later CD is decent enough, starting with acoustic guitars and working up to an O.K. beat. The lyrics are an amiable plea for forgiveness, as a guy admits he was wrong and says nothing's been the same since she's been gone.
Back On Top - Van Morrison
Weeks on Chart: 1 Peak: #44 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
The title track from Van's very good new Back on Top cd says that after a down period, Van is back to top form and it's hard to argue with that. Back On Top and the cd's first single Precious Time both are classic Van Morrison that compare favorably to his 70's hits. Owners of Morrison's greatest hits record should know that he's making music thak would seemlessly fit on that record. On Back On Top, Van is very cool and self assured. The arrangement is classic, creating an easy feeling simply with horns, keyboards and an acoustic guitar.
Bad Day - Fuel
Weeks on Chart: 28 Peak: #3 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
Bad Day is one of three previously unreleased songs on REM's best of CD: In Time. In Time is a bit of an odd collection. It covers 1988 on, so it misses the music from REM's early, pre-Warner years(which have their own collection, Eponymous), when they made most of their best, most consistent records. In Time misses some seemingly obvious choices like Shiny Happy People(which the band apparently hates). It's a bit lopsided, with four songs from the hit filled Automatic For The People and only one from Out Of Time and Monster. In Time doesn't really recognize the fact that since New Adventures In Hi-Fi, REM's records haven't been that good. So the CD gives you interesting mediocrities like E-Bow The Letter and All The Way To Reno. In Time does gives a home to The Great Beyond, from Jim Carrey's Andy Kaufman movie, and brings new attention to At My Most Beautiful and Daysleeper, brilliant songs from REM's largely ignored Up CD. In Time is also a reminder of how, while always sounding like themselves, REM has never tried too hard to keep up with current trends or repeat what's brought them success. So it's odd that REM have so obviously recycled one of their bigger hits for Bad Day. From its verses stuffed with Michael Stipe's rush of nonsequitors and gibberish to its simple, singalong chorus, Bad Day basically is a rehash of It's The End Of The World. While Bad Day, which was written in the 80s, is a knockoff, it does have a lot of the qualities that have always made REM's music appealing. It's comforting to hear Peter Buck's nonstop flow of varied, likable jangly guitar riffs, Stipes's stong, warm vocal and Mike Mills sweet, unpolished backing vocals. The difference in Bad Day from End Of The World is its vibe. Stipe sang with youthful confidence about feeling fine, even as the world became more confusing and screwed up. On Bad Day, Stipe sings "count your bleesings", "we all fall down" and "please don't take a picture." I also like Bad Day's video. Besides smartly capturing the information saturated screen and obsession with freakish weather events of contemporary news shows, it also presents Stipe, Buck and Mills as unassuming tv presences I'd love to see on morning tv.
Bad Magick - Godsmack
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #24 (Oct. 2001) buy it!
The band that found success by mixing heavy metal, misogyny and witchcraft are back with the third chart hit from their Awake CD. On Bad Magick, Sully Erna continues to act like one of the biggest jerks in rock music. He sings about not wanting to get negative energy from someone "looking at the world with dying eyes." Erna shows his genius and charm with the characterization: "you stare at it dead and you're giving it head."
Bad Religion - Godsmack
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #21 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
Rock radio continues to die, as it targets an audience that mainly consists of teenage males. Godsmack is a prime example of what's wrong with the format. Their hard guitar rock is murky, unexciting and pretentious. Their lyrics are a weird combination of self pity, mysticism and self aggrandizement. On Bad Religion, the latest AOR hit from their self title CD, Sully Erna sings about how he's different from other people, that the pressure he faces is making him insane and that no one understands what he has to deal with.
The Bad Touch - Bloodhound Gang
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #6 (April 2000) buy it!
The Bad Touch is from the CD Hooray For Boobies. Bloodhound Gang are proudly stupid and offensive male pigs. With their rapping and dopey bad attitude, they're a little reminiscent of early Beastie Boys though early Beasties seem remarkably mature in comparison. The music, with its cheesy keyboards, is a little like alternative dance music like Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence. The raps are an endless flow of bad, blatant come on lines and hardly subtle double entendres, climaxing with the chorus, "let's do it like they do on Discovery channel."
Bailamos - Enrique Igleias
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #27 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
With every hit the mainstream success of Latin music is looking more like a trend than a fluke. The first pop hit from Julio's kid is on the soundtrack of Wild, Wild West. Iglesias' call to dance is a weird mix of traditional Spanish flamenco and sleek, cheesy pop.
Battle Flag - Lo Fidelity All Stars
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #30 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
This single, from the How to Operate with a Blown Mind cd, is one of the most successful electronica songs. It grabs your attention with a fairly annoying introduction, "your constuction smells of destruction ..." but settles into a hallucinogenic beat filled experience. It's not warm but probably sounds great on the dance floor.
Bawitdaba - Kid Rock
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #20 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
From the cd Devil Without a Cause, this is another combination of dance music and hard rock. The confidence of Kid Rock and the power of the music are clear. But it's got a lot of attitude and it seems like obnoxiousness and smugness to me.
Be Like That - Three Doors Down
Weeks on Chart: 23 Peak: #4 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
The fourth chart hit from This Better Life is 3 Doors Down's inevitable rock ballad. Three Doors Down move into Matchbox 20 territory for a song a little like Push. Brad Arnold's voice doesn't have the strength and personality of Rob Thomas' but he's less showy as well. Be Like That starts with a quiet, reflective guitar. The band kicks in on the chorus but to their credit, they don't use the power chords and bombast of many rock ballads. Be Like That is quite ordinary and unremarkable but it's a decent song with strings, a mellow mood and stories of a guy dreaming he was a TV star and a homeless woman just dreaming she had "a safe home and a warm bed."
Be Mine - David Gray
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #44 (March 2003) buy it!
Be Mine is the second chart hit from David Gray's A New Day At Midnight CD. To Gray's credit, it doesn't seem like he made himself crazy trying to make a commercial hit to follow Babylon. Gray is still making pleasant, unassuming music. Gray's lyrics are often gloomy but Be Mine is upbeat, celebrating the woman who "reached right into my head and turned on the light inside" and made "all the dreams I held in my heart" come true. She isn't smitten like he is yet but Gray, in his low key way, is optimistic, feeling that a love so strong can't be wrong.
Be With You - Enrique Iglesias
Weeks on Chart: 15 Peak: #28 (June 2000) buy it!
Be With You is pretty generic, if effective, dance music. Iglesias' voice rides fairly effectively with the cold, steady beat though he sounds a little uncomfortable when his singing is rushed(perhaps electronically) to keep up with the beat. Iglesias is generally presented as a macho guy. I don't get why the lyrics make him seem like such a pathetic loser. Iglesias sings about his tears, how his life is meaningless without her and how the sound of her voice could save his soul.
Beautiful Day - U2
Weeks on Chart: 33 Peak: #1 (Nov. 2000) buy it!
After spending much of the 90's making cynical, edgy and more dance oriented music, U2 return to the purer sound of their Unforgettable Fire/Joshua Tree era for a great single from the new All That You Can't Leave Behind CD. Beautiful Day starts like a New Order dance song but quickly shifts to the band's classic sound with The Edge's chiming guitar and Adam Clayton's percolating bass. Beautiful Day is about appreciating life. Even if "you're out of luck and the reason that you had to care", you're not a hopeless case so don't let the beauty get away. The music parallels the optimistic lyrics with Bono and The Edge's optimistic, yearning lead and backing vocals.
Beautiful Stranger - Madonna
Weeks on Chart: 1 Peak: #38 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
Beautiful Stranger, from the Austin Powers soundtrack, is good fun. With the exception of the great dance song of its title track, the mysticism of Madonna's last cd, Ray of Light, got a little too heavy. Madonna seems to have a good time with the breezy, unpretentious pop of Beautiful Stranger. The song is well crafted in a 90s way and is enhanced by cute 60s style psychedelic sound effects. Its relaxed feel fits well with the Austin Powers ethic.
Beautiful - Christina Aguilera
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #16 (Feb. 2003) buy it!
After Dirrty, Christina Aguilera's update of Redman's Let's Get Dirty, had a fairly short stay in the pop top 20, there was a lot of talk that poor song selection and image presentation would lead Aguilera's career into a nose dive. Aguilera has proved the doubters wrong. Beautiful, the second single from Aguilera's Stripped CD, is one of Aguilera's biggest hits. Aguilera wisely worked on Beautiful with writer/producer Linda Perry, who did Get The Party Started for Pink and is sure to be an extremely sought after collaborator for the forseeable future. Beautiful is smartly constructed. It starts with very minimal music and slowly builds from Perry's piano. The strength of Aguilera's voice has never been in doubt. She again shows impressive range and, while her singing will never be subtle, Aguilera shows some restraint. Lyrically, Beautiful gets off to a bit of a shaky start. Aguilera shares her insecurity about her fame before declaring that her detractors can't "bring me down." But, in conjunction with a good video and an empathetic musical feel, Beautiful's uplifting message of self respect take on a more universal feel that young listeners have latched onto.
Because I Got High - Afroman
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #26 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
Debuting on the top 50 the week after Start The Commotion, Because I Got High is an even more unlikely out of left field hit. Because I Got High was originally released in 2000 on a record with the same name that was sold at Afroman's shows and the local Hattiesburg, Mississippi record store. Word of mouth made Because I Got High a southern frat hit and the buzz eventually got Afroman(born Joseph Foreman) a record deal. Because I Got High is now on Afroman's Good Times CD and the Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back soundtrack. You can see Because I Got High as an antidrug song. It lists all the things Afroman didn't do because he was high. Still, Afroman doesn't seem too concerned that his pot use makes him screw up. Because I Got High is appealing because it so accurately depicts a relaxed, weed induced mood. With backing that's mostly a very simple beat and a very loose mood, Because I Got High sounds like the guys just showed up wasted at the studio and decided to do it.
Behind Blue Eyes - Limp Bizkit
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #7 (Feb. 2004) buy it!
After irritating millions, Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst seemed to have ensured a steady career decline. But, like Kid Rock, Durst has enough commercial savvy that he can't be counted out. At least Kid Rock's pointless cover of Feel Like Makin' Love didn't go anywhere but Behind Blue Eyes, the second single from Limp Bizkit's Results May Vary CD, is Limp Bizkit's biggest pop hit ever. Limp Bizkit's version of the Who classic is pretty terrible. Limp Bizkit's cover obviously owes much of its success to the familiarity of the original and to a video where Durst acted out the fantasy of making out with Halle Berry. I guess you have to admire Durst's restraint. His arrangement, with his vocal and an acoustic guitar, isn't too showy. Maybe some people prefer Durst's control to Roger Daltrey's over the top wail. But I don't really see the cover's point. Pete Townsend's lyric is about barely controlled emotion and hiding anger behind a placid facade. Oddly Durst, who's known for venting rage on record and in real life, does a mellow, serious, boring vocal that lacks any emotion or anger. Durst removes the original's raging, rocking bridge. The part where Daltrey howled at us to crack open his fist when it clenches, tell him some bad news when he smiles and put your finger down his throat if he swallows anything evil is the original's most exciting part and has its most interesting writing. Durst has replaced that part with a bizarre section where a computerized voice spells out L-I-M-P and says discover a lot. The Who's Next version is a bit self indulgent and overdramatic but it's also a heartfelt, powerful epic. Limp Bizkit's is a narcissistic exercise. Except for showing that Durst can kind of sing, it's unclear what its purpose is.
Bent - Matchbox 20
Weeks on Chart: 26 Peak: #1 (June 2000) buy it!
It's hard to imagine, but since Matchbox 20's debut CD Yourself or Someone Like You sold eleven million copies and Smooth was the biggest single of 1999, Rob Thomas is probably the most successful rock singer around these days. With its appealingly familiar, slightly adventurous and mildly rocking sound, Bent, the first single from the Mad Season CD, keeps the string of success going. Thomas' lyrics are typically cliched and his vocals emotive as he again plays the beleaguered male. At least he's not dreaming of pushing a woman around and taking her for granted as he asks his lady to pick him up, dust him off and be his breath so he can walk. The music does have a good atmospheric edge and restrained mood.
The Best Things - Filter
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."
Better Days - Citizen King
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #11 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
The ska/dance/pop made popular by Sublime and Mighty Mighty Bosstones is apparently going to be around for a while. It's kind of like What I Got-light. It's got the scratching and the time shifts but lacks the soul. This single, from their album Mobile Estates, is pleasant listening without the ambition of their forefathers. It has a little edge and is inoffensive, a little variety for pop radio that won't clash with the other hits of the day.
Between Angels and Insects - Papa Roach
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #34 (April 2001) buy it!
On Between Angels and Insects, Papa Roach again seem less commercially calculating than their modern rock peers. They're serious and intense if a little simplistic. After songs about a troubled mind on Last Resort and a youth's troubled home life on Broken Home, Papa Roach move into Rage Against The Machine territory for the third chart hit from the Infest CD. Over big, hard guitars, Coby Dick alternates between tortured singing and an angry rap. He tells us "take your money, burn it up like an asteroid/possessions are never gonna fill the void." He gives us a philosophy lesson. He doesn't need possessions " 'cause everything is nothing and emptiness is in everything."
Big Machine - Goo Goo Dolls
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #37 (Aug. 2002) buy it!
Goo Goo Dolls keep putting out a mix of tame, soaring rock ballads and harder, but still poppy, rockers in an effort to maintain mainstream pop success and hold onto their older audience. Dizzy Up The Girl followed pop rocker Slide with lofty ballad Black Balloon. The first single from the Gutterflower CD was mellow Here Is Gone and the new one is mid tempo rock song Big Machine. Big Machine is a glossy rocker that's a lot like Slide with a little less concision, energy and distinction(I enjoyed how the drums came in right before the chorus on Slide). I still basically enjoy Big Machine. lt's totally forgetable but amiable. Johnny Rzeznik plays good guitar. Tight power chords alternate with a ringing guitar line that I like but reminds me of the one from 10,000 Maniacs' pleasant but hardly rocking Candy Everybody Wants. The lyrics have the "you're screwed up but I'm still sad you don't want to be with me" theme of songs by sensitive rockers like Weezer's Gone Fishin'. Rzeznik sings about waiting, torn in pieces for a woman who's "so vain" and living in a world moving "way too fast" where "nothing's real and nothing lasts."
Big Yellow Taxi - Counting Crows
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #12 (May 2003) buy it!
Counting Crows' version of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi was originally on the Two Weeks Notice soundtrack and wasn't on early pressings of the Hard Candy CD but it's now Counting Crows' biggest pop hit since Long December. There's something ridiculous about Counting Crows doing Mitchell's delightfully buoyant hit. Mitchell's vocal was light and playful and helped Mitchell's complaint about crass money grubbing ruining natural beauty go down easily. Adam Duritz can't help but sing in a mannered, self satisfied way. He's more relaxed than usual on Big Yellow Taxi but he's hardly as charming as Mitchell. The original's slightly subversive vivacity is replaced by smooth professionalism. Duritz shifts the focus from paving paradise to the lover's departure that led Mitchell to whimsically muse about how "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." The new version has a spare, pleasant sound and a crisp beat. Vanessa Carlton's brief ooh bop bop bops go a long way in softening the stiff feel Duritz creates. And you can't go too wrong with a song with that still has that great line about putting trees in a tree museum. But I really don't see the need for a smooth, string filled muzaky version of a classic.
Bigger Than My Body - John Mayer
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #5 (Nov. 2003) buy it!
I feel like John Mayer has the potential to be interesting but his hugely successful Room For Squares CD was too mild and inoffensive for my liking. There were encouraging signs for Mayer's new Heavier Things CD. When he won a Grammy, he conceded that his music had not yet justified his rapid rise to stardom and promised "to catch up." Heavier Things' title also seemed like an acknowledgement that Mayer's music has been a bit light and an assurance that the new CD would be a little more substantial. Heavier Things is something of a mixed bag. Some of the music is a bit harder but the vibe is generally mellow. The CD's title presumably refers to the generally depressed, kind of self pitying nature of the lyrics. Bigger Than My Body is one of Heavier Things' more upbeat songs. It's quite charming. Bigger Than My Body has No Such Thing's easy, smooth feel but it's not as annoyingly whimsical and it has more going on musically. Mayer is a talented guitar player but he often seems too modest to show his skills. Bigger Than My Body has a good, distorted guitar effect. It also has a nice, simple piano line. Mayer's whispery, self effacing vocal can be cutesy but it fits nicely with Bigger Than My Body's steady flow. Bigger Than My Body shows Mayer's tendency for safe, easy listening music but it also shows his ability to be endearing in an unforced way. Bigger Than My Body's lyrics are cautiously optimistic. Mayer sings that his wings have been clipped but "someday I'll soar."
Black Balloon - Goo Goo Dolls
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #2 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
Only a few years ago, it seemed that Goo Goo Dolls were doomed to an O.K career as a n ot particularly original but fun, solid rocking band who readily admitted being influe nced by the Replacements and other post punk bands. Then they discovered the rock ball ad and their career has taken off. They stumbled on the formula with Name from a Boy N amed Goo. Then they had a monster hit with the appealing but overblown, string laden I ris, from the City of Angels soundtrack. Iris, along with Black Balloon and Slide, is also included on Dizzy Up the Girl. So far, Goo Goo Dolls have been able to keep their cred with rock radio by mixing harder songs like Dizzy with the slow ones. But with B lack Balloon, Goo Goo Dolls are in danger of seeming like an easy listening band. It' s hard to call it a sell out. It's natural that the band would slow down as it gets ol der but Goo Goo Dolls are getting dangerously close to background music. Black Balloon , Johnny Rzeznik's sad, sincere tribute to someone the world didn't understand is well made but it's also a little boring.
Black Jesus - Everlast
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #18 (Oct. 2000) buy it!
Black Jesus is from Everlast's Eat At Whitey's CD. On What It's Like and Ends, Everlast preached about the hardships faced by needy and troubled people. Black Jesus is a natural extension of that persona, with Everlast toying with the image of being a messiah. Everlast's dramatic, unadorned presentation is striking. However, I find him self important and repetitive, especially after a few listens when his message becomes clear.
Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love) - JC Chasez
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #39 (March 2003) buy it!
The fun, frenetic Blowin' Me Up With Her Love ensures that Justin Timberlake isn't the only N Sync-er finding solo success. While it doesn't indicate that Chasez will replace Timberlake as pop music's top hunk, I actually prefer Blowin' Me Up, with its sense of mischief, to Justin's carefully crafted hits. Blowin' Me Up is on the soundtrack to Drumline, a movie about competitions between school drumming groups that often infuse their synchronized performances with a hip hop sensibility. With its energy and big beat, Blowin' Me Up is a strong companion to the film. Deploying different riffs in different sections but maintaining a strong, stirring beat, Producer Dallas Austin(TLC, Boys II Men, Pink) creates an anything can happen feel and has more to do with Blowin' Me Up's success than its fairly innocuous singer. I don't love the way Blowin' Me Up starts with Chasez trying to sound cool but coming across a little lame. But the song improves as backup singers and beeping effects juice things up. Blowin' Me Up catches fire about two thirds of the way through with horns and drumline style percussion cueing Chasez to show a little more life as he proclaims "now it's on tonight." Blowin' Me Up is a fairly standard come on to a sexy girl in a club but the sleek sound emphasizes the lyric's sensuality.
Blue Sky - Patty Griffin
Weeks on Chart: 1 Peak: #48 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
The album, Flaming Red, is a bit of a disappointment. Griffin often seems to be trying too hard to prove she can rock. But it does have at least two great songs, One Big Love and Blue Sky. Blue Sky is a fascinating dreamy rocker. The music communicates well the lyrics' message of transcending petty failure to find peace and happiness.
Blue(Da Ba Dee) - Eiffel 65
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #25 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
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.
Blurry - Puddle Of Mudd
Weeks on Chart: 37 Peak: #1 (March 2002) buy it!
On Blurry, the second single from Puddle Of Mudd's Come Clean CD, Wes Scantlin follows Staind's Aaron Lewis, a fellow Fred Durst protégé, in showing his mellow side. Blurry really strikes me as lame; another rocker showing his troubled, sensitive side. Blurry's verses have a fairly interesting atmosperic guitar effect but its melody is surprisingly similar to Duncan Sheik's adult pop hit Barely Breathing. On the chorus the band, of course, has to show they can rock so the guitar sound gets bigger and Scantlin's vocal approaches the fury he showed on Control. The young males can't get enough of songs about how awful a guy feels about being mistreated by his ex. On Blurry, Scantlin seems to want her back, singing about how meaningless things are after she left him. But he also rages at her, complaining about how she could "take it all away" and shove his pain in his face.
Bodies - Drowning Pool
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #12 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
Bodies, from Drowning Pool's Sinner CD, will never recapture all the airplay it had when it nearly made the top 10 the week before the World Trade Center attacks but many rock programmers decided in October that enough time had passed that it was o.k. to play a song with the chorus: "let the bodies hit the floor." It's understandable why stations would want to keep playing Bodies. Bodies is big and striking with a catchy chorus and an intense sound that mirrors its lyrics. Dave Williams, with his tough, attention grabbing wail, has more presence than many other troubled rockers these days. But, especially in an year that's seem enough violent images, I feel like we can do without this nasty tale of a guy who strikes out after deciding he "can't take much more."
Bohemian Like You - Dandy Warhols
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #30 (Sept. 2000) buy it!
Bohemian Like You, from the Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia CD, is one of the best singles of the year. The band have previously shown their ability to create a psychedelic groove. On Bohemian Like You, the band build a great wall of sound with fuzzy guitars, retro organs and, of course, a tamborine. Courtney Taylor is appropriately deadpan for the funny lyrics about trying to convince a downtown girl that he's right for her since he waits tables and plays in a band too.
Boom - P.O.D.
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #33 (June 2002) buy it!
The first two singles from the San Diego band's Satellite CD described religious rebirth and a school shooting. P.O.D's third chart hit has a more standard topic for a rock rap song: celebrating and bragging about the band's success in rocking "the masses". Because it's less about the meaningfulness of Sonny Sandoval's pronouncements and more about the music and because it rocks harder, I don't dislike Boom as much as Alive and Youth Of The Nation. I still find Sandoval quite annoying. Boom sounds like lots of songs that mix hip hop and hard rock. At its best, it has the hard, no nonsense edge of Rage Against The Machine. At its worst(when Sandoval chuckles "is that all you got? I'll take your best shot."), it has Limp Bizkit's silly narcissism. Marcos Curiel creates a good, big guitar sound. In parts, Sandoval's rapping is tough and not bad. In other parts, he's just obnoxious.
Bootylicious - Destiny's Child
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #18 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
As the women mock a potential dance partner and challenge him to show he can handle them, Bootylicious is another show of Destiny's Child's confidence. But unlike the exhausting brag about Beyonce's success on Survivor's title track, Bootylicious is fairly good natured. Bootylicious is effective dance music. A steady electronic clap supplies a good beat. A riff sampled from Stevie Nicks' Edge Of 17 was a strange choice but it adds an edge otherwise missing from this very simple song. Even with it, Bootylicious' repetitiveness means diminished returns from repeated listenings.
Bother - Stone Sour
Weeks on Chart: 23 Peak: #2 (Jan. 2003) buy it!
Stone Sour is a side project for Corey Taylor and James Root, Slipknot's singer and guitar player. Slipknot's intense thrash rock and theatrical presentation have gained them large record sales and live audiences but radio has largely ignored them. Bother, from the Stone Sour CD, is considerably more radio friendly than Slipknot's music. I'm usually amused and disgusted when hard rockers suddenly become mellow and sensitive. Bother has many of the trappings of the music that annoys me: strings and a very serious vocal and subject matter. While Bother kind of bores me, it doesn't have the excess of much rock balladeering. I'm not really interested in introspective, subdued rock songs about self hatred but I understand the appeal of Bother's restrained guitar and Taylor's genuine sounding sadness. Taylor sings about a pain that makes him wish he was too dead to cry. He chastises another for not bothering with him and himself for "my deceit." Bother has suicidal imagery but Taylor sings that, while he keeps "slipping farther", he "won't let go 'til it bleeds."
Bottom Of A Bottle - Smile Empty Soul
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #13 (Oct. 2003) buy it!
Bottom Of A Bottle is on the self titled CD by the Santa Clarita, CA band. Smile Empty Soul singer/guitarist/songwriter Sean Danielsen has a good grasp of the kind of sleek hard rock that's crossed over to the pop charts. Bottom Of A Bottle has a chorus, with Danielsen ranting over a big guitar sound, that reminds me of Linkin Park's In The End. But Bottom Of A Bottle is pretty unpleasant stuff. It's presumably meant to be a cautionary tale but the "I do it for the drugs" hook is still pretty nasty. The glib, showily harsh quality of Danielsen's singing undercuts any sympathy the song creates for its troubled protaganist. Danielsen sings that in a "scared and lonely" life, drugs and alcohol make him feel alive and loved.
Bounce - Sarah Connor
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #31 (April 2004) buy it!
Sarah Connor is a pop star in Germany. Her self titled CD collects songs from her German records. Connor says she's a long time fan of American r&b. Connor and cowriter/producer Bulent Aris have done a good job of using their knowledge of American music on an effective simulation of contemporary dance pop. Aris' most significant previous American work was cowriting and producing Get Down(You're The One For Me) from Backstreet Boys' first CD. Aris is apparently a fan of Mary J. Blige's Family Affair. Bounce's production closely matches the one Dr. Dre gave Family Affair. Bounce's appropriation of American sounds also includes using a rapper who kind of sounds like Nelly. All the borrowing works pretty well. Like Family Affair, Bounce has an easily flowing groove and a crisp beat. Aris gives Bounce a sense of excitement with dramatic keyboard interjections. Connor uses her knowledge of American singers well. She never betrays the fact that she's a white German lady, cutting off the ends of her words and sounding confident and relaxed as she comfortably changes her vocal's tone and pace. The fake Nelly, playing Connor's cheating boyfriend, is pretty good too. Bounce is imitative and a bit obvious. It's not amazing but it's competent and easy to listen to. Bounce's lyric is like that of lots of female hip hop songs but, with accurate sounding vernacular, it's not any worse than those for similar songs. Connor tells her guy that she knows he's been "cheating, out there creeping" and taunts him with the fact that "you'll never find no stuff as good as mine."
The Boys are Back in Town - Everclear
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #47 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
From the soundtrack of the movie Detroit Rock City, Everclear's cover of Thin Lizzy's classic rock standard is a good example of the band's charm. It's melodic but still rocks. It's nicer than the original but keeps moving.
The Boys Of Summer - The Ataris
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #3 (Sept. 2003) buy it!
The Ataris are back on the chart with another piece of nostalgia from their So Long, Astoria CD. They follow In This Diary, Kris Roe's misty eyed recollection of a fun summer of his youth with a cover of Don Henley's longing look back at an ideal romantic period. The Ataris do a predictable but solid version, playing it harder and faster and reminding us that the original was pretty good. I bet cover bands did a similar version when Boys Of Summer was first a hit. Roe's innocent, youthful(he was 6 years old when Boys Of Summer came out in 1984) voice matches the song's hopeful tone as he vows to "get you back." The Ataris keep the original's arrangement including Mike Campbell's great, memorable guitar part and the haunting/kind of goofy atmospheric sound effects. The Ataris don't show much originality but they have good energy and force.
Boyz N The Hood - Dynamite Hack
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #39 (June 2000) buy it!
The thing about a jokey song is that once you get the joke, unless the music is great, repeated listenings can mean diminishing returns really quickly. The joke of Boyz N The Hood, from the band's Superfast CD, is that the acoustic, mellow and very white sounding band is actually singing gangster rap. It's not the worst joke. The music is comically restrained and pristine, like an especially quiet Weezer song. But the joke is pretty obvious, not to mention fairly racist. After you figure out, yes he really is saying that, there's not much more point to Boyz N The Hood.
Brand New Day - Sting
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #41 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
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.
Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #42 (April 2000) buy it!
Break Stuff is my favorite of the three chart songs from the Significant Other CD. The song is about Fred Durst having "one of those days" and being in a bad mood and, of course, relations with women are at the heart of his hostility. Still, Break Stuff doesn't have the same detailed misogyny as Nookie and Rearranged. More importantly, with big guitars and a big hip hop beat, Break Stuff has great energy and momentum.
Breakdown - Foo Fighters
Weeks on Chart: 38 Peak: #6 (May 2001) buy it!
Before recording Days Of The New's second CD, frontman Travis Meeks fired the rest of the band: guitarist Todd Whitener, bassist Jesse Vest and drummer Matt Taul. Since then, Days Of The New 2 sold disappointingly and Meeks' ex-bandmates are doing 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. Unfortunately, the vocalist they chose, Hugo Ferreira, is just another mannered, overwrought rock singer. And Breakdown is very standard rock. Its chorus is a little like that of Bob Seger's hackneyed song with the same name. The lyrics are fairly pontless, taunting someone who seems "to have it all" and "to have control", who's losing it and trying to "find the reason that no one else is living this way."
Breakin' Me - Jonny Lang
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #41 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
Usually it's Jonny Lang's guitar playing that's a little overdone. On Breakin' Me, the latest radio track from the teenager's Wander This World CD, it's the lyrics and singing that are over the top. The guitar on Breakin' Me is decent and restrained but a cutesy piercing piano line is irritating. The singing isn't bad, it just lacks subtlety, especially in conjuction with overwrought lyrics that repeatedly beg a woman to take him back. He's on his knees, with "nothin' left to hold to", unable not to love the woman he left.
Breaking The Habit - Linkin Park
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #31 (July 2004) buy it!
Breaking The Habit is the fifth chart hit and, following Numb, the second pop radio hit from Linkin Park's Meteora CD. I like the fast, juiced up Faint and don't care for the stereotypical Linkin Park troubled rants Somewhere I Belong, Numb(the best of the ranters) and Lying From You. Breaking The Habit falls in between. It's not great but it's more interesting than typical Linkin Park. Breaking The Habit gets points just because Mike Shinoda doesn't rap and Chester Bennington doesn't scream much. Breaking The Habit's tense anime video is appropriate for a dramatic song. With a rushed metallic beat, a sinister synth sample and atmospheric keyboard waves, Breaking The Habit maintains an exciting, futuristic sound. Breaking The Habit is quite a thrill ride. It hurtles forward breathlessly, never taking a break. Bennington seems to acknowledge that he normally goes way over the top in venting his rage, singing I don't know "why I have to scream." On Breaking The Habit, he stays pretty controlled. His voice is agitated but it matches the edgy music. On Breaking The Habit, as usual, Bennington humorlessly sings about his inner torment. As on Somewhere I Belong, Bennington expresses a desire to get better. He'll "never be alright" but he wants to start avoiding battles. I feel like there's a limit to the appeal of Breaking The Habit's cold, paranoid sound, especially after repeated listens. Breaking The Habit would be more striking if Linkin Park's other music wasn't all so serious. Still, Breaking The Habit has a more complicated, nuanced sound than the band's usual work.
Breathe - Faith Hill
Weeks on Chart: 24 Peak: #23 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
I vaguely recally a time when Melissa Etheridge's music showed a bit of imagination and rock and roll energy. But for a while she's been churning out overwrought, sub-Springsteen crap with an adult contemporary radio friendly gloss. On Breathe, from her Lucky CD, Etheridge again tries too hard for emotion power. Etheridge goes into a fists clenched intensity after only a few bars and Breathe has nowhere to go. Breathe stays in a heavy, anthemic mode and lacks any nuance, subtlety or shifts in dynamics. Breathe is carefully produced but, with strings and big drums, it tries for pathos with a blugeoning, sledgehammer sound that keeps coming back to a formulaic chorus. Breathe is obvious easy listening disguised as personal rock music. The shame about Breathe and similar songs is that Etheridge clearly has real, sincerely felt emotions but she expresses them in a hackneyed, impersonal way. Breathe is about missing a former partner. Etheridge sings about longing for home, "a feeling buried in you."
Bright Lights - Matchbox 20
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #20 (Jan. 2004) buy it!
I'm a bit of a sucker for a schmaltzy, heartfelt ballad so I mostly like Bright Lights, the third hit from Matchbox 20's More Than You Think You Are CD. I certainly prefer Rob Thomas' sappy mode to the slick, harder edged commercial pop rock mode he was in for Disease, the awful thudding, slick single he wrote with Mick Jagger, and the whiny, drab, mediocre single Unwell. Bright Lights is a bit like If You're Gone, probably my favorite Matchbox 20 song. Bright Lights starts nicely with Thomas and a piano. A steel guitar underlines the vulnerability in Thomas' voice. Bright Lights' lead guitar and drums are initially fairly subdued. As on If You're Gone, Thomas trades his typical clenched fist rock star voice for a more modest, realer sound. Unfortunately, unlike If You're Gone, which built to a quite lovely horn assisted climax, Bright Lights is unable to sustain its appeal. About halfway through, there's a terrible guitar solo and, suddenly, we're in a bad Journey song. The guitars wail and Thomas is an over emoting rock star again. The big finish undercuts Bright Lights' charms. On Bright Lights, Thomas' character is once again romantically disappointed. He's pathetic but fairly sweet, hoping that the "baby" who left him with no one to "save me from all I'm up against out in this world" will feel unwelcome in Manhattan and "come on home."
Bring It All To Me - Blaque
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #33 (Feb. 2000) buy it!
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.
Bring Me To Life - Evanesence
Weeks on Chart: 33 Peak: #1 (May 2003) buy it!
Evanescence is a Little Rock, Arkansas band started by former camp buddies Amy Lee and Ben Moody. Bring Me To Life is on the Daredevil soundtrack and Evanescence's Fallen CD. It was inevitable that someone would take the pop metal sound that's dominated rock music the last couple years and make it more glossy and even poppier. Bring Me To Life strikes me as one of the silliest hits of recent times. It brings to mind a bizarre mix of Linkin Park and the bloated Meat Loaf influenced hits Bonnie Tyler had in the early 80s. Bring Me To Life is also a touch gothic. Singer Amy Lee comes on like a spacier Sarah McLachlan though, to McLachlan's credit, she's never been as overdramatic as Lee is. With sweeping strings, crunching guitars, vaguely ominous synths and guest vocalist Paul McCoy playing Mike Shinoda(Linkin Park's rapper), Bring Me To Life throws in everything but the kitchen sink to make a hit. I can imagine how Bring Me To Life's over the top style could work on the soundtrack of a movie about a superhero but out of that context, it's ridiculously overblown. Bring Me To Life is fairly bad poetry. Lee appreciates how a guy can "see into my eyes like open doors leading you into my core" and asks him to wake her numb, soulless, sleeping spirit and "save me from the nothing I've become."
Broadway - Goo Goo Dolls
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #3 (May 2000) buy it!
Goo Goo Dolls continue to walk the tightrope, trying to show they still rock while not offending their big, new mainstream audience. Broadway, the fifth chart hit from their 1998 CD Dizzy Up The Girl, is tuneful and again shows the band to be genial, efficient rockers. The music and the Johnny Rzeznik's lyrics, about a guy wasting his time at the bar and prematurely giving up on life, are O.K. but don't have much depth.
Broken Home - Papa Roach
Weeks on Chart: 13 Peak: #19 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
Together with the Last Resort video, which depicts their fans as sad and alienated, Broken Home establishes Papa Roach as the band most likely to relate to today's troubled teen. Broken Home is even edgier than Last Resort. Broken Home doesn't have that song's inviting beat and hip hop momentum. It's more about harsh guitar. Coby Dick screams most of the words, only segueing into a Last Resort style rap at the end. Broken Home is musically and lyrically simplistic but at least it's not the macho posturing of so much radio friendly rock about tormented young males. Dick's pain sounds real as he sings about being caught between two battling parents, blaming himself and crying because he has no one to confide in.
Broken - Seether featuring Amy Lee
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #5 (July 2004) buy it!
Last year two songs from Seether's 2002 Disclaimer CD, Fine Again and Driven Under, were rock radio hits. Thanks to an appearance by Amy Lee, Evanescence's hot goth pop rocker, the South African band have their first mainstream hit. A new version of Broken, a Disclaimer song, is on the soundtrack of The Punisher. It's also on Disclaimer 2, which adds previously unreleased tracks to the original CD. Broken is more proof that there's a mediocre folk rocker lurking inside many of today's mediocre hard rockers. Broken is another shameless grab by a rock band for an emotive hit. Broken reminds me of Evanescence's monster hit Bring Me To Life. It doesn't have that song's rap metal elements but it similarly piles on sounds meant to guarantee a hit. Broken has a cliched rock ballad opening: a sensitively picked acoustic guitar. Shaun Morgan soon comes in with a subdued and earnest but intense vocal. The genre's conventions dictate that the sound must keep growing. By Broken's conclusion, Morgan and Lee pour their hearts out and violins play with a ferocity that's overdone even by rock ballad standards. Broken also makes me think of Bother, Stone Sour's hypersensitive 2003 hit. Broken isn't quite as drab and dour as that song. Morgan's pinched, showy singing isn't good or interesting but Lee makes him seem a little better. As on Evanescence's music, Lee is overdramatic but she is a good singer who gives Broken more warmth that the usual introspective rock ballad. Like so much contemporary rock, Broken has a troubled protagonist. Broken does convey a desire to move past the trouble. Broken's character wants to steal his partner's pain away, tell her "I love the way you laugh" and be open but he doesn't have the strength yet. He's even worse "when you're away." Lee sings in the more optimistic second verse, "the worse is over" now that he's with someone who can take his pain away and "there's so much left to learn and no one left to fight. Broken isn't much different from so many rock ballads. It's alternatively boring and bombastic but it's got a bit of heart and it's not the worst the form can offer.
Bubble Toes - Jack Johnson
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #43 (Dec. 2002) buy it!
Bubble Toes is the second chart hit from the former surfing champ's Brushfire Fairytales CD. Johnson's Flake was pretty whimsical and Bubble Toes ups the whimsy level to the point where cutesy is a better description. I also have a problem since Bubble Toes' cocky white boy flow of words reminds me of the Brenda & Eddie parts of Billy Joel's Scenes From An Italian Restaurant. Still, Johnson is genuinely appealing. His singing is unpretentious with a light, easy flow that allows Johnson to pull off Bubble Toes' goofy la da da da da das. Bubble Toes is a tribute to the woman he loves whose "beauty will follow wherever she goes" and to himself for the charm she eventually won't be able to resist.
Bullets - Creed
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #23 (March 2002) buy it!
Creed start their latest CD with Bullets, an angry, paranoid diatribe. Their Human Clay CD had What If, a similar angry hard rocker with violent imagery. But Bullets combines Scott Stapp's self righteous discomfort with most of mankind and desire for some sort of spiritual departure with an even more heightened anger. The result is a song that's musically quite compelling and lyrically quite disturbing. Bullets, the second chart hit from the Weathered CD, starts with what sounds like a messianic voice claiming he hears "the earth seeking relief." Then Stapp, sounding sincerely pissed, apparently fueled by hostility towards music critics, sings of the "forces all around me" "who hide behind the shadows" and of being "disgraced by jealousy and lies." Bullets' central image is being shot in the head by someone who won't even look him in the face. Stapp tell his critics that he's just looking for "what's real", that he gets the last laugh because he's gotten inside their mind and that he and his enemies will all be happy when he finds a higher place and they can stay away from each other. Stapp's singing is still mannered but it's less complacent than on Creed's hits, reaching the kind of intensity that his role models from Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots had at their angriest. Bullets' music, with tight, powerful juiced up guitars, is certainly better than Creed's bloated, soaring trademark sound. But the nastiest of Bullets' message ruins the song for me.
Bump, Bump, Bump - B2K and P. Diddy
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #17 (Feb. 2003) buy it!
Bump, Bump, Bump is from the Pandemonium CD. B2K, P. Diddys young proteges, have shown little talent except for the ability to look good and confident in their videos but a year after hitting the charts with the dopey, catchy Uh Huh, they have an even bigger hit with the equally dopey and even catchier Bump, Bump, Bump. B2K owe R. Kelly, who wrote and produced Bump Bump, Bump, for the songs success. Bump, Bump, Bump has the single minded focus on sex and pleasure of much of Kellys previous work. With a sensual bass drum beat, a good acoustic guitar riff and an emphatic synth underlining the title, Bump, Bump, Bumps music is enticing. I see why Bump, Bump, Bump is a hit but I still find it very annoying. Starting with the cliched sending this out to all the ladies, the boys lines and delivery are so heavy handed and uninspired that I dont see what theyre so cocky about. The lyrics dont go much beyond admiring a girls sexy style and requesting that she start pleasin me. Im no fan of P. Diddys flat, low energy raps but his portion of Bump, Bump, Bump has a little more substance than B2Ks lightweight singing. I only find Bump, Bump, Bump tolerable when I ignore the vocals and focus on the groove.
Buried Myself Alive - The Used
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #34 (April 2003) buy it!
Buried Myself Alive is from the self titled CD by the band from Orem, Utah fronted by Kelly Osborne's ex(he dumped her after the Osbornes connection brought unwanted attention). I liked The Used's first chart hit, The Taste Of Ink, which featured Quinn Allmann's tight, crunching guitar and Bert McCracken's impassioned vocal. Buried Myself Alive is much more routine neo-grunge. It starts with a processed guitar riff that's a lot like the one Puddle Of Mudd used on Blurry. The riff seems like an attempt to give Buried Myself Alive a meaningful feel but it's mostly just annoying. The song gets better when Allman's guitar gets harder and bigger and McCracken gives up serious, intense singing and starts shrieking and going nuts. But even then, Buried Myself Alive isn't so different from songs by so many other angry, confused young rockers. The Used's music doesn't seem as calculated for commercial success as that of many of their modern rock contemporaries. They have the potential to make interesting, distinctive music but Buried Myself Alive isn't it. McCracken sings that he was hurt so badly that he "buried myself alive on the inside." After puking the day away, he decides to turn the tables, putting "my foot on your neck" and telling her "if you want me back, you're gonna have to ask nicer than that."
Burn To Shine - Ben Harper
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #24 (Nov. 1999) buy it!
The title track from Harper's Burn to Shine finds the eclectic Harper in a rocking, boogie guitar mode that has at least a touch of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Because of his knowledge of rock history, Harper brings to mind Lenny Kravitz, another African-American who owns Jimi Hendrix records. But where Kravitz' work comes across as a straight rehash, Harper shows some daring and intelligence. It would be surprising to hear Kravitz singing, as Harper does, about being "addicted to your sorrow" or about, after making love, how a couple is struck with fear, in a moment's time seeing forever.
Burn - Usher
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #11 (July 2004) buy it!
I feel that Usher Raymond's music isn't quite good enough to justify its remarkable success. Nonetheless, Usher's impressive roll continues. Yeah!, a competently made and fairly exciting but unamazing and not very original dance song, spent a number of weeks at number one on the pop chart. Burn, the second single from the Confessions CD, returns Usher to the style that brought him many of his hits. Burn is a slow jam with a sensitive vocal. Before releasing Confessions, Usher ended his relationship with TLC's Chilli. Burn is one of Confessions' many breakup songs. Usher tells a woman that he doesn't want to leave her but "it's better for me to let it go now than hold on and hurt you." Though he claims it's best for both of them, he blames her because "I don't think you're gonna change" and admits he's doing it because "I'm hurting baby" and "there's so many other things I gotta deal with." Burn's twist is that by the second verse, they're apart and he's decided he's "made a mistake" and he'll "be burnin' 'til you return." Burn suffers by moving up the pop charts along with Mario Winans' I Don't Wanna Know, another slow, quiet jam with a wounded lover. Burn is well made but not as striking or original as I Don't Wanna Know. Burn, cowritten and produced by Jermaine Dupri and Brian Cox, sounds good. It has a crisp, unobtrusive beat. Burn's music and effects add flavor but stay inobtrusive and fit the song's sad, subdued mood. Usher's singing is pretty good. He shows emotion but doesn't go over the top. Still, Burn is a bit superficial and predictable and it's hard to be too concerned about Usher's dilemmas.
Butterfly - Crazy Town
Weeks on Chart: 22 Peak: #5 (March 2001) buy it!
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."
By The Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Weeks on Chart: 24 Peak: #1 (Sept. 2002) buy it!
Like Californication's Around The World, the title track from Red Hot Chili Peppers' new CD mixes the band's trademark styles. Unlike Around The World, By The Way is fun and likable and doesn't get too stupid. By The Way's verse has the mellow, serious sound of the band's recent hits. Its breaks have the Peppers' classic goofy, anarchic sound. The quieter parts remind me of Californication's Otherside. They avoid the heavy, humorless feel of some of the band's ballads. Anthony Kiedis' vocal, nicely underlined by John Frusciante's simple guitar strum, seems to have improved. He sounds more relaxed and comfortable than on some of the band's more serious songs and creates a little poignance as he sings about a "sad little girl singing songs to me beneath the marquee." The looser part, with Kiedis' wacky rap, Flea's heavy bass and Chad Smith's adroit drumming, resembles a Peppers song like Suck My Kiss. It would probably be annoying if it made up a whole song but here the playing around provides a nice contrast.
Bye Bye Bye - N Sync
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #21 (April 2000) buy it!
From the upcoming No Strings Attached CD, Bye Bye Bye has a decent energy but is still pretty slight. Its lyrics, telling an unworthy suitor to hit the road, are slightly bold for today's teen idols, whose songs are usually about pining for a girl or celebrating how great their girl is.