I Am Mine - Pearl Jam
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #1 (Oct. 2002) buy it!
The lack of a real standout song on the not great 2000 Binaural CD continued Pearl Jam's decline in record sales and fan base. I Am Mine, from Pearl Jam's The Riot Act CD, is a very good single that justifiably is getting Pearl Jam more radio play than their album tracks have had in years. I Am Mine returns Pearl Jam to a classic sound and should spur a modest comeback for the band. It reminds how Pearl Jam's music has more substance and less emoting than that of younger current bands, led by deep voiced singers, that are clearly influenced by Pearl Jam. I Am Mine is somewhat reminiscent of Eddie Vedder's I Am Sam version of You've Got To Hide Your Love Away in the way it keeps things simple, relying on Vedder's strong voice. I Am Mine is also a little like powerful, subtle Pearl Jam songs like Vs.' Elderly Woman and Yield's Given To Fly. Vedder's serious, dramatic delivery is a bit of a caricature. He's often heavy and sanctimonious but he's not afraid to try to say something important.. On I Am Mine, Vedder's vocal is pretty well controlled. Vedder and the band have the confidence to keep things subdued and fairly quiet. I Am Mine's guitar and percussion slowly builds but the sturdy accompaniment never becomes showy before ending with an elegant, controlled guitar solo. I Am Mine has a philosophical tone. Vedder looks to avoid the mistakes of those "hopin' to buy themselves time". Even after having his "innocence broken with lies" and seeing great sorrow, Vedder vows to take control of and live his life, figuring "I only own my mind" and that his time on earth "is mine."
I Am The Highway - Audioslave
Weeks on Chart: 24 Peak: #3 (Feb. 2004) buy it!
Audioslave, the eponymous debut CD by the band comprised of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and Rage Against The Machine's musicians, is a solid record that's been smartly marketed to rock radio. Hard rocking tracks reminiscent of the band's earlier music(Cochise and Show Me How To Live) have been alternated with sweeping rock ballads to show the record's appeal to fans of the band's previous work and a broader audience. And they've all been pretty good. It make sense that I Am The Highway, Audioslave's fourth chart hit, is being played after Like A Stone, the record's other big, sprawling slow song, has been given time to fade into memory. From its deliberate pace to the way Cornell sings "I am the night" with almost exactly the same phrasing he used to sing "I wait for you alone", I Am The Highway is a lot like Like A Stone. And while, like Like A Stone, it's quite evocative and powerful, it falls a bit short of its predecessor. I Am The Highway's chief asset is Chris Cornell heartfelt's vocal. Cornell's singing is invariably over the top but, in a flip, ironic world, his seriousness can draw you in. So the sincerity of Cornell's recitation of I Am The Highway's overheated title metaphor for his life on the road is a little goofy but the intensity of Cornell's effortlessly strong voice is fascinating. The ex Rage musicians can mostly be appreciated for their restraint in playing an arrangement that would largely be appropriate for a lounge act but they do quietly add to I Am The Highway's cool atmosphere. Tom Morello keeps his guitar playing simple and plays an appropriately reflective solo. I Am The Highway is undoubtedly too subtle for many Rage fans. It's a little slow for my tastes but I do appreciate its controlled yet dramatic mood.
I Am - Train
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #22 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
As I Am entered the chart, Meet Virginia was finally falling down the chart. I Am is a little more rocking but it still shows Train's ability to make music that appeals to a broad audience.
I Believe In A Thing Called Love - The Darkness
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #7 (March 2004) buy it!
At this year's Brit awards, England's Grammys, The Darkness won best British album and best British group.The Darkness were purportedly conceived on New Year's Eve 1999 when singer Justin Hawkins did a fun, skilled karaoke version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. On I Believe In A Thing Called Love, from their Permission To Land CD, The Darkness impressively mock and pay tribute to Queen. They realize that some of the silly, theatrical, excessive things Queen did were the things that made them charming. The Darkness' ability to pull off their loving/tongue in cheek tribute is greatly enhanced by Justin Hawkins' vocal skills. Hawkins makes his Freddy Mercury impersonation work with a stunning range. He moves back and forth between a strong, high voice and an apparently effortless falsetto without ever losing his sense of playful confidence. Guitar player Dan Hawkins, Justin's brother, does his part in creating a 70's arena rock feel with incredibly chunky power chords and three showy but concise guitar solos Queen's Brian May would be proud of. I Believe In A Thing Called Love is very tight. The big, sunny sounds keep coming. I Believe In A Thing Called Love also has the appropriate big backing vocals. Thing Called Love's lyrics are suitably cliched but, like the song, they also communicate love's exhilaration. Hawkins can't explain "the feelings that you're making me feel", his "heart's in overdrive and you're behind the steering wheel" and "we'll be rocking 'til the sun goes down." There's also a lot of touching and kissing. By being both goofy and serious about Queen's lovable, colorful music, The Darkness have made one of the most fun songs of the year.
I Can't Help You Now - Bonnie Raitt
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #37 (May 2002) buy it!
In 1989, Bonnie Raitt had a huge comeback when the Nick Of Time CD became the biggest seller of her career. Nick Of Time's title track, which touchingly explored midlife female romantic anxiety and provided a happy ending, and Raitt's nicely raunchy cover of John Hiatt's Thing Called Love provided models for much of her 90's work, which has been smooth and mature with a little bluesy edge and slide guitar. On 1998's Fundamental, Raitt wisely chose to work with Mitchell Froom to muss up a sound that had become a little predictable. Part of Fundamental's charm was the tension between Froom's clangy production and Raitt's predilection for smooth combinations of traditional blues and easy 70s style singer/songwriter music. Raitt's new Silver Lining CD is also produced by Froom but Raitt's sound seems to have moved back into its smooth, mature mode. I Can't Help You Now is very comfortable and easy listening. It has a cool mood, a little bit of rock edge and, as usual, Raitt's voice is smart, strong and sexy. I Can't Help You Now seems very familiar, like other Raitt songs or a restrained version of Something To Talk About. On I Can't Help You Now, Raitt tells a guy she once loved and pined for that he's too late in declaring his interest.
I Can't Move - Everlast
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #27 (Feb. 2001) buy it!
On I Can't Move, the second chart hit from the Eat At Whitey's CD, Everlast's subject matter is typically serious. He wants to face the outside world, claims he isn't scared then he's paralyzed by fear. The music and Everlast's delivery are also serious but not quite as heavy and solemn as on Everlast's last few singles. The music is pretty cool with Everlast's acoustic and a good beat.
I Did It - Dave Matthews Band
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #1 (Feb. 2001) buy it!
With Matthews singing about mixing up "a magic mushroom cloud of care", I Did It, from the Everyday CD, has a bit of the trippy feel of Don't Drink The Water from Before These Crowded Streets. Even more, it has the mischievous feel of What Would You Say with the normally mellow Matthews having a good time, urging those in love, "don't turn it down, turn it loud, let it build" and "spread the love you got." Matthews' debauched delivery is a little too cute but the mood is generally fun. The solid band keep things moving forward with steady, unshowy backing.
I Disappear - Metallica
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #8 (June 2000) buy it!
I Disappear is from the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack. Their S&M live CD loosened up their sound a little and added some melody with the help of a symphony orchestra. I Disappear is a return to their typical humorless, harsh guitar driven sound. The lyrics are as depressing as ever with James Hetfield's angry vocals about how he suffers and that there's "no mercy left for me." It's a tough life apparently. "Just as soon as I belong then it's time I disappear."
I Do(Cherish You) - 98 Degrees
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #31 (Sept. 1999) buy it!
98 Degrees sometimes show signs of being a little more soulful than their teen idol competition but I Do is the kind of predictable big ballad crooning the girls want. From their 98 Degrees and Rising cd, I Do is a cover of Mark Willis' country hit.
I Don't Wanna Know - Mario Winans featuring Enya and P.Diddy
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #14 (June 2004) buy it!
Mario Winans' family have been among the biggest stars in gospel music for more than two decades. Mario left that world to pursue a career in r&b. Winans has appeared on hits by other people, including P. Diddy's I Need A Girl Pt. 2, but I Don't Wanna Know is his first hit as a lead singer. Among the showy, heavily produced songs on the radio, I Don't Wanna Know's stark, subdued sound stands out. A big part of I Don't Wanna Know's appeal comes from its haunting, elegant backing track. I Don't Wanna Know uses a sample from Enya's Boadicea(which Fugees also used on Ready Or Not). I Don't Wanna Know works because Winans' sad, restrained singing matches the backing track. I Don't Wanna Know is best when the muted Enya sample matches Winans' simple, unshowy vocal. It's worst when P. Diddy shows up. Winans records for Diddy's Bad Boy label. That's the only explanation for using P. Diddy's rap. Diddy destroys I Don't Wanna Know's delicate sound. He sounds even more awkward, complacent and unmelodic than usual. Hopefully, Diddy's Broadway acting is smoother and subtler. I Don't Wanna Know's stark arrangement, with a big, simple beat and sadly atmospheric backing, brings Bruce Springsteen's poignant Philadelphia to mind. Winans' sincere reading of the title reminds me of James Ingram's sappy but sweet I Don't Have The Heart. I Don't Wanna Know presents Winans as sad and pathetic. Because a yes would be too painful, Winans can't bring himself to ask his girlfriend if she's cheating. If she's "playin' me", he'd prefer that she'd "keep it to yourself." P. Diddy doesn't have time for such delicacy. He says he knows "my love you abusin'." His strategy for keeping a woman is reminding her that he "put you in the SUV", and gave her so much ice, "I made you freeze." Except for P. Diddy's intrusion, I Don't Wanna Know works. I Don't Wanna Know makes Winans sound like a loser but it has a striking, appealing sound.
I Do - Toya
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #32 (Dec. 2001) buy it!
I Do, from the St. Louis singer's debut Toya CD, is fairly standard dance pop with a familiar story of a woman trying to entice "a six foot stallion with the story of a thug" that she sees on the dance floor. I Do isn't ground breaking but it does have a pretty interesting, steady sound with chiming effects and a minimal, percussive beat.
I Feel So - Box Car Racer
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #29 (July 2002) buy it!
The Box Car Racer CD is a side project for Tom DeLonge and Travis Barker, the guitar player and drummer from Blink 182. Box Car Racer's members also include guitarist Dave Kennedy and bass player Anthony Celestino but Box Car Racer is clearly DeLonge's show. I Feel So is like Stay Together For The Kids and other Blink work that contrasts the band's usual fast, stupid, youthful rock songs with mid tempo songs that have a kid's earnestness. Like on Stay Together, DeLonge yells the chorus. But he also sings a quieter verse like Mark Hoppus did on Stay Together. Because the Blink boys seem to have the potential to move beyond their fun but limited main style, I'm encouraged by a song like Adam's Song or I Feel So which shows signs of growth. I Feel So still rocks. It has a good, big guitar sound on the chorus and DeLonge does his trademark bratty vocal. But I Feel So also has a sweet, simple sincerity. DeLonge's ability to convey adolescent confusion is impressive. He sings about wishing he was a better person, apparently so he would be better equipped to deal with a troubled relationship.
I Hate Everything About You - Three Days Grace
Weeks on Chart: 32 Peak: #3 (May 2004) buy it!
I Hate Everything About You is on the self titled debut CD by the band originally from Norwood, Ontario, Canada. Three Days Grace are the umpteenth band to use the dynamic perfected by Nirvana. Three Days Grace seem like lots of angry, hard rocking bands. Everything About You is better than many similar songs because it's clean and focused. The fairly stripped sound has a purity of emotion and expression. The verses stick to a good, tense guitar riff. On the chorus, singer/guitar player Adam Gontier's howl is raw and heartfelt. Still, Everything About You is familiar and unsurprising. I preferred the crunching power chords alternating with raging voice thing when Kurt Cobain did it on Smells Like Teen Spirit and other better, more exciting songs. On I Hate Everything About You, Gontier recognizes the thrill and pull of a turbulent relationship but feels he's better without it.
I Knew I Loved You - Savage Garden
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #23 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
Like on their smash Truly, Deeply, Madly, Savage Garden seem like nice, sincere guys. They also seem a little boring. The vocals are sickly sweet. I Knew I Loved You, from the Affirmation CD, is inoffensively sweet but the lyrics of knowing I loved you before I met you are delivered very blandly.
I Know What You Want - Busta Rhymes featuring Mariah Carey
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #20 (July 2003) buy it!
I Know What You Want is on Busta Rhymes' It Ain't Safe No More CD. I Know What You Want is not particularly distinctive. It's another smooth R&B song with a star cameo and a bunch of singers doing a verse a piece. But I Know What You Want is well made and appealingly smooth. Members of Flipmode Squad, who have appeared on Rhymes' records for years, don't do much with their verses and get too hung up in the end on dropping names of expensive products. Mariah Carey's whispery contributions to the chorus and a cliched bit of showing off on her "I will climb a mountain high" verse are kind of silly. I Know What You Want's surprise is Rhymes' sweet, controlled vocal. I've always thought of Rhymes(born Trevor Smith) as an over the top, in your face, kind of obnoxious performer. His singing on the catchy chorus and his verse(the one that starts ssh, mommy listen) isn't remarkable but it is likably unassuming and matches the lyric about understanding the woman who's stood by him and wanting to do what he can for her. I Know What You Want's music is innocuous but pleasant with a repeated strum effect and synth beeping that are restrained enough that they aren't too annoying. I Know What You Want passes by easily and with some charm.
I Miss You - Blink 182
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #3 (May 2004) buy it!
Blink 182's self titled new album is a nice step forward towards a more complex, adult sound. Sometimes when they mix their trademark youthful, rocking style with a darker, more cerebral feel, Blink 182's songs aren't as smart as they want to be and the new seriousness results in less catchy melodies. A few of the songs, like Go, Asthenia and Always, are just fun, fast rockers that could have been on earlier Blink records. But much of Blink 182 shows growth and is enjoyable. Feeling This effectively incorporates hip hop into Blink 182's sound. All Of This has great percussive atmosphere and a sly, deadpan guest appearance by The Cure's Robert Smith. I Miss You has impressive depth and power. It's nicely restrained and muted, showing subtlety not normally associated with Blink 182. Blink 182 play acoustic instruments on I Miss You. Mark Hoppus plays stand up bass. Travis Barker's drumming is typically quick and precise. His subdued pounding gives a brooding song direction and, using brushes, adds texture. I Miss You's verse loops a quiet scraping guitar sample. The chorus has a haunted feeling. A striking organ adds a spooky, old fashioned sound. Chimes and simple piano complement the stark soundscape. Hoppus' flatter, less showy voice introduces I Miss You's mournful tone. Tom DeLonge then takes over. He doesn't have his usual exuberance but his bratty voice singing "don't waste your time on me, you're already the voice inside my head" suggests a more complicated situation than do Hoppus' solemn miss yous. I Miss You is a good, complex song that ranks with Blink 182's best singles.
I Need A Girl Pt. 2 - P. Diddy featuring Ginuwine
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #30 (Sept. 2002) buy it!
I Need A Girl Pt. 2 is from the We Invented The Remix CD. P. Diddy coproduced I Need A Girl Pt. 2 with Mario Winans. I liked I Need A Girl Pt. 1 for its breezy, smooth sound and Diddy's bizarre confession of loneliness but Part 2 is of much less interest to me. The music, with its synthetic steady beat and shiny synth riff, is OK but it's also an even more insubstantial, if perkier, variation on an already lightweight theme. The lyric is significantly less compelling than Part 1's apparent paean and mea culpa to J. Lo. P. Diddy's rap is standard issue. He tells us he wants a girl with potential wife credentials who's 5'5" with dimples and makes showy promises of being able to share 100 foot yachts and trips to San Tropez with his girl. Diddy's vocal is typically flat, uninflected and unmelodic. Loon's rap isn't great either with cliched images of lying in a bubble bath with a really big champagne glass and the questionable boast: "I'm smooth as Erik Estrada." Ginuwine and Winans do better with the singer role Usher had on Part 1 but they don't do much to change the song's generic feel.
I Need A Girl - P. Diddy
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #23 (July 2002) buy it!
I Need A Girl is from the P. Diddy & The Bad Boy Family CD. Rapping has never been P. Diddy's main talent. On I Need A Girl, the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy does a flat, speaking voice rap that's not particularly interesting or melodic. But I Need A Girl's draw is its content and P. Diddy's conversational style matches the lyric's confessional tone. It's fairly remarkable that P. Diddy, an extremely successful artist and entrepreneur who usually seems confident and in control, would present a slightly pathetic persona, worrying about women "usin' me" and pining for "a wife at home" "that could stand me" and "raise me a family." Even more striking is the verse regretting screwing up a relationship that closely resembles the one he had with Jennifer Lopez(he says it's not about J. Lo). He appreciates that she "took the whole ride for me" when "I caught a case" and regrets that because "I made her cry for me", she didn't stick around to have his child. I Need A Girl sounds like a lot of recent hits but it's a particularly enjoyable sounding version of a familiar formula. I Need A Girl has the lightweight but likably breezy sound of Usher's hits. Like songs including What's Luv and Ja Rule's hits, I Need A Girl matches a rough rapper with a much smoother singer. Usher provides a good vocal on the chorus. I Need A Girl splits vocals between P. Diddy, Usher and Loon but maintains a steady, relaxed groove, repeating a good, unobtrusive synth riff and beat.
I Need to Know - Marc Anthony
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #32 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
Anthony is the latest Latin pop star to make the move to being an American pop star. It makes sense than Anthony makes a smooth transition since he grew up in New York and has English singing experience from starring on Broadway in Paul Simon's Capeman. The lyrics are fairly dopey. The song starts with Anthony singing that he heard a woman he likes asked about him. The rest of the song is just him repeating that he needs to know if it's true that she's interested. However, the key to the song is the music and I Need to Know has a nice, easy groove.
I Stand Alone - Godsmack
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #13 (May 2002) buy it!
I Stand Alone is from the soundtrack of the The Rock's film vehicle The Scorpion King. I don't hate I Stand Alone quite as much as some of the Godsmack music I've had to review over the last couple years. That's doesn't say much since their songs have been among my least favorite in the top 50. I Stand Alone is slower and less dense than some of Godsmack's music but, with a grinding guitar and a melody somewhat like Alive's, it's still pretty heavy and dark. I Stand Alone gives us another view of Sully Erna's nasty, paranoid worldview which places him alone among people trying to "take me down." On I Stand Alone, Erna howls a warning that he'll "break" someone who wants to "control me".
I Think I'm In Love With You - Jessica Simpson
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #28 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
I Think I'm In Love With You, from the Sweet Dreams CD, tries to separate Simpson from the other teen blondes with a slightly strange mix of teen pop, dance music and a classic rock guitar riff. With a good beat and the irresistable hook from John Mellancamp's Jack and Diane, I Think I'm In Love With You is a can't miss hit. Simpson comes off as a bit of a Mariah wannabe but her singing is pleasant and her voice seems fairly strong. With Simpson melting every time some boy comes around, the lyrics are as awful as those for any of her contemporaries. She sings about being "crazy in my head for you." However, the song is listenable and relaxed, if lightweight.
I Try - Macy Gray
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #21 (March 2000) buy it!
Gray's On How Life Is was justifiably one of the most highly acclaimed records of 1999. There's a good smooth groove nearly throughout and the songs are very well made. Gray's raspy childlike voice takes some getting used to but she does communicate a joyful sense of wonder. I Try is actually a sad story. Gray sings that "we should be together but we're not." She's a prisoner of his love and her world crumbles when he's not near. However, the music and her voice soften the troubled lyrics. Keyboards with chiming and string effects create an understated elegance.
I Turn To You - Christina Aguilera
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #33 (June 2000) buy it!
Turn To You is the third hit from Aguilera's self titled CD. It makes it clear that, while she has often been compared to Britney Spears, she sees her role models and future competition in more respected pop singers like Mariah and Whitney. Aguilera gives showy Carey-like demonstrations of high her vocal range can go and pulls them off pretty well. While Turn To You isn't as gimmicky as her dance pop hits, her voice is still better than the material. The song has an appealingly minimal feel but also a few lyrical clunkers like, "for the strength to be strong." I'm not an expert in such things but doesn't Turn To You sound awfully familiar, just like Celine Dion's Because You Loved Me and a bunch of other pop ballads.
I Walk Alone - Oleander
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: #37 (Nov. 1999) buy it!
I Walk Alone is the second single from the band's February Son CD. They clearly listened to a lot of grunge in the early 90's and have nothing much to add to their predecessors.
I Wanna Be Bad - Willa Ford
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: #49 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
I Wanna Be Bad, from Ford's Willa Was Here CD, surpasses Christina and Britney at their worst in its desperate use of sexuality and mechanical music. The lyrics are silly comeons("boy, say the time and place, 'cause you make me wanna misbehave.") The music is empty, dopey disco. I prefer the dance remix, where you can concentrate on the synths and big, fast bass drum beats, rather than the lameness of the song.
I Wanna Be With You - Mandy Moore
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #35 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
The title track from Moore's I Wanna Be With You CD shows her to be even blander than her young female competition. I Wanna Be With You is a pretty wimpy, treacly ballad that uses strings and other lulling effects to create a smooth sound. Moore's vocals are pleasant but light and breathy as she sings about being head over heels over a boy. Girls with crushes will undoubtedly relate to Moore singing about not being able to think of "anything but you" and being happy for whatever attention he'll give her.
I Wanna Know - Joe
Weeks on Chart: 13 Peak: #29 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
I Wanna Know is from the My Name Is Joe CD. Joe's singing is pleasant and appealingly smooth, if unremarkable, as he croons over easy beats. However, the main reason for I Wanna Know's success has got to be the lyrics, which set him up as the ideal sensitive man. Joe plays a man trying to convince a woman that unlike her current, undeserving guy, he understands what she's worth. He lays it on pretty thick, telling her that she takes his breath away and knocks him off his feet and that he'd do whatever he could to please her.
I Wanna Love You Forever - Jessica Simpson
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #40 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
I Wanna Love You Forever, from Simpson's Sweet Kisses CD, is way over the top in its lyrics and Simpson's singing. Simpson's models on I Wanna Love You Forever seem to be the ballads of Mariah Carey and especially Whitney Houston. The Greatest Love of All is subtle compared to the overdramatic delivery here. Simpson hits emotional intensity too early so a sense of overkill sets in. The singing does match the tone of the lyrics with Simpson desperately trying to show how great her love is.
I Want It That Way - Backstreet Boys
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #28 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
It's from their new album, Millennium. It could be fun to count how many records in the next year are called millennium. In my mind Robbie Williams' stylish Millennium single beats Backstreet Boys. I've heard Backstreet Boys aren't so bad for teen idols but I don't see it. Despite their ridiculous efforts to project a hip image, this song is just bland.
I Want To Be In Love - Melissa Etheridge
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #43 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
The descriptions of Melissa Etheridge as a female Springsteen used to seem somewhat appropriate but, especially as her career has entered its VH1 phase, it's clear that while she shares Bruce's sincere intensity she sorely lacks his rock and roll energy and detailed, evocative writing. I Want To Be In Love, from Etheridge's Skin CD, is typically earnest but unremarkable. She doesn't do justice to the transcendent love she wants to feel by expressing it with cliched images about climbing highest mountains, wrestling with demons and looking for a heart of gold . The music is sleek but vague with a pleasant beat and tasteful keyboards. The main thing I Want To Be In Love has going for it is Etheridge's passionate vocal.
I Want To Live - Spacehog
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #35 (April 2001) buy it!
Since having an alternative hit with the fun, spacy In The Meantime from 1995's Resident Alien CD, Spacehog's main claim to fame has been that Royston Langdon is Liv Tyler's boyfriend. I Want To Live is a good return to form. I Want To Live is from the Hogyssey CD, which was produced by Paul Ebersold, who did Three Doors Down's The Better Life. Spacehog still are doing the 70s glam thing. On I Want To Live, Langdon channels David Bowie and Bryan Ferry, sounding both ultraserious and self mocking. The music is solid and fairly ungimmicky with a steady beat, big, solid guitars and a positive feel. I Want To Live is apparently about a young woman feeling "faceless and lonely" but trying to escape her problems.
I Want You - Thalia
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #27 (Aug. 2003) buy it!
Thalia(born Ariadna Thalia Sodi Miranda) is a Mexican music and tv star and the wife of Sony music chairman(and Mariah Carey's ex-husband) Tommy Mottola. I've read that Thalia has a good voice but it's hard to tell from I Want You, the first single from Thalia, her first mostly English language record. Thalia gets the Jennifer Lopez treatment on I Want You, which was produced and cowritten by regular Lopez collaborator Cory Rooney. The blueprint generally guarantees a professional, pleasant, innocuous sound and that's the case on I Want You. I Want You has a breezy feel. It's well made and likable with a perky synth riff and crisp beat. I Want You has the obligatory star cameo presumably meant to add cred or familiarity. At least it's not Ja Rule. Fat Joe croaks a good natured, unmemorable rap. Thalia doesn't project the strong, distinctive personality of fellow Latina star Shakira. Thalia's vocal is charming but it sounds like it was flattened then enhanced in the studio. Especially in the context of the fairly dopey lyric, she comes across a bit empty headed. On I Want You, Thalia plays the Ashanti style adoring girlfriend asking herself what she did to deserve such a special man, complimenting his "sexy smile" and body that drives her wild and trying to convince him that "this love affair would be good for you and me." Trying to make Thalia seem less pathetic, Rooney has Fat Joe saying "I feel the same way."
I Was In the House When it Burned Down - Warren Zevon
Weeks on Chart: 1 Peak: #49 (Feb. 2000) buy it!
Life'll Kill Ya is Warren Zevon's first studio album since 1995's downbeat Mutineer CD. I Was In The House is a good sign that Zevon is returning to the great rock music and Zevonesqe bad attitude of his very good 1991 Mr. Bad Example CD.
I Will Remember You - Sarah MacLachlan
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: #42 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
It's nice that MacLachlan projects a strong, feminist image and she's got some personality but a lot of her music these days is a little too easy listening. She also projects a sense of self satisfied smugness which is inconsistent with making challenging music. I Will Remember You, originally on the Brothers McMullen soundtrack, is now on MacLachlan's live record Mirror Ball. It's nice but a little boring.
I'd Do Anything - Simple Plan
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #41 (March 2003) buy it!
Blink 182's progeny keep coming with good spirited, stupid punky pop. I'd Do Anything, from the Montreal based band's No Helmets, No Pads ... Just Balls CD, is notable since, unlike the genre's recent batch of hits which crossed over from the modern rock charts to the pop charts, it first found success at pop radio. Kid friendly, fast, dumbed down punk has become a significant part of today's standard top 40 playlist. Simple Plan share with Blink, Sum 41 and so many others a youthful image, unimaginative lyrics and a good sense of a hook. I'd Do Anything supplies a simple version of an already very basic style. Singer Pierre Bouvier are particularly bratty and unskilled. The guitar lines predictably crunch, wail and gallop where you'll expect them to. I'd Do Anything copies the form of a Blink 182 rocker right down to the break that precedes the chorus' last round. The upside of I'd Do Anything is its sunny, high energy feel. I'd Do Anything also avoids the showy goofiness that can infect the music of bands like fellow Canadians Sum 41. In its lyrics and delivery, I'd Do Anything is unpretentious and good natured. Bouvier offers to do anything to get back a former love.
I'll Be Here Awhile - 311
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: #49 (Dec. 2001) buy it!
The second chart hit from the From Chaos CD has the strengths and limitations of the typical 311 single. On I'll Be Here Awhile, 311 are likable but even more laid back than usual. You'd figure that even 311's biggest fans would be growing a little tired of the sameness of much of the band's music by now but I guess the familiar, comfortable nature of 311's work is part of their charm. With a crisp beat, Nick Hexum's good natured croon, pleasant guitar doodles and a hint of a skanky keyboard, I'll Be Here Awhile has the band's trademark easy ska sound. The lyrics are also somewhat unambitious but genial, promising to be as loyal and steady as ever even when the pace of life is maddening and life seems like an "uncertain game of chance."
I'm A Believer - Smash Mouth
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: #43 (Sept. 2001) buy it!
For a guy with very modest vocal skills, Steve Harwell has done incredibly well, wisely carving out a niche of vaguely retro, genial music. The producers of Shrek, the most successful movie of 2001, made a good call in asking Smash Mouth to contribute to the soundtrack. With their optimistic, catchy, lightweight music, Smash Mouth are right for a feel good cartoon and unlikely to offend anyone in the audience, no matter how young or old. Smash Mouth wisely didn't try a hard, beat filled 21st version or a note for note reenactment, instead opting for a perky, vaguely mod, horn filled 60s sound. Still, they don't come close to the tight perfection of the Neil Diamond penned original, one of the Monkees' many pop rock gems.
I'm A Slave For U - Britney Spears
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: #44 (Nov. 2001) buy it!
On I'm A Slave For U, from the Britney CD, hot hip hop producers The Neptunes do what they can with Spears' limitations, smartly matching her thin, fake sounding but somewhat sexy voice with cold, synthetic but sultry backing. I'm A Slave's rubbery, clanging sounds and tight beat create an interesting, exotic feel. But after a few listens I'm A Slave seems like a gimmicky novelty and there's only so much The Neptunes can do with Britney's pinched, pouty voice. As for Britney, it's hard to blame her for working the sex angle hard these days; being sexy is clearly her best talent. But considering that she's a 20 year old millionaire, her new CD's "I'm not a girl but I'm not a woman" theme is somewhat ridiculous. It's a slightly desperate attempt to keep her preteen fans on board. I'm A Slave For U's imagines a world of people who "look at me like I'm a little girl" and claims dancing as an act of defiance. The lyrics are more about wanting to dance with a guy than being a slave to him.
I'm Glad - Jennifer Lopez
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #37 (June 2003) buy it!
I'm Glad is the third hit from the This Is Me ...Then CD. Despite Lopez' apparently modest vocal skills, she and her writers and producers have had an impressive streak of incredibly successful, well made singles that have actually been pretty good. That streak ends with the extremely slight I'm Glad. I'm Glad feels like a throwaway. The music, with its lite jazz guitar and chimes, is pleasant but so innocuous that it's almost unnoticable. The lack of a distinctive musical personality is particularly problematic for Lopez, whose vocal is typically vague and uninteresting. As on much of This Is Me ...Then, Lopez and producers Troy Oliver and Corey Rooney are credited with writing I'm Glad, with the extent of Lopez' contribution unclear. If Lopez was a more serious artist, you could figure that I'm Glad's lack of edge shows a woman softened by love. In this case, maybe Lopez contributed more than usual, resulting in lyrics most songwriters(and some high school diary writers) would be embarrassed about. Assumedly referring to Ben Affleck, Lopez shares insipid insights like "I'm glad when you walk you hold my hand" and "I'm happy that you know how to be a man."
I'm Gonna Be Alright - Jennifer Lopez featuring Nas
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #27 (July 2002) buy it!
I'm Gonna Be Alright is another song that originally appeared on the J. Lo CD and reemerged in a significantly different form on the J To Tha L-O remix CD. The I'm Gonna Be Alright remix doesn't have the same pared down sound as the I'm Real and Ain't It Funny remixes but it does share the enjoyably laid back feel of those songs. The new mix of I'm Gonna Be Alright, like other J. Lo hits, is careful not to put too much focus on Lopez' thin, modest vocal. I'm Gonna Be Alright gets off to a good start with a strong, tough rap from remix veteran Nas(another remix with a more brittle beat and a more basic rap by 50 Cent isn't bad either). As on Ain't It Funny and Love Don't Cost A Thing, backup vocalists do much of the singing. Lopez' conversational voice humanizes the song and matches the song's deliberate, easy pace. I'm Gonna Be Alright is inconsequential dance pop but it's well made and nicely relaxed with a smooth bass dominated groove. After seeming to teasingly agree on the Ain't It Funny remix to the "you blew your chance when you had it" sentiment of P. Diddy's I Need A Girl, Lopez isn't as hard on I'm Gonna Be Alright's ex-boyfriend. Nas plays a jerk who reminds her of all the things he did for her but Lopez shows regret about leaving someone she still loves.
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me - The Jayhawks
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #41 (June 2000) buy it!
The Jayhawks' last CD, 1997's Sound of Lies, was brilliantly textured and thoughtful but it was also slow and sad. The very good new Smile CD is a happier affair. Singer/songwriter Gary Louris' mood seems to have been lifted by romantic bliss. Louris is charmingly persistent on the buoyant new song. Acknowledging that "I'll never be all you want me to be", Louris is charmingly persistent in his pursuit of his "perfect lover". I'm Gonna Make You Love Me has a nice light country rock tone and a taste of the breathtaking harmonies that lift Smile, especially in its first half. Louris has done a good job of including new keyboard player/backup singer Jen Gunderman in his intricate arrangements.
I'm Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #26 (June 2001) buy it!
I'm Like A Bird, from the Canadian singer's Whoa Nelly! CD, sounds like a pop/easy listening hit but it also has a nice, trippy edge. Especially on the verses, the sound is cool and a little jazzy. Furtado's voice is loose and playful. The beat is chunky but the feel is appropriately light. The chorus, cushioned by backing vocals and synths, is more standard pop but Furtado keeps things buoyant and appealing. She sings that, even though she's in love, she's eventually going to have to move on.
I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman - Britney Spears
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #39 (Feb. 2002) buy it!
Like I'm A Slave For U, I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman, the second single from the Britney CD, is going to have a deservedly short stay on the top 50. I'm Not A Girl, also featured on the soundtrack of the apparently awful Britney film vehicle Crossroads, is mostly of interest as another part of the strategy of marketing Britney. Britney's innocent/jailbait act has grown wearisome. But remarkably, after years of success and of continually and increasingly presenting a mature, sexual image, her young girl fans still see her as a role model and one of them. By almost any definition(except most states' drinking age and, if you believe Britney, virginity) Britney's clearly a woman. The only line in I'm Not A Girl that seems to ring true is: "this girl will always find her way." Still, a lot of girls swept up in the confusion of puberty must relate to I'm Not A Girl or project their experience onto its very simple lyrics. Musically, I'm Not A Girl's easy listening sound, with tasteful piano and a light beat, is kind of a bore. As usual, I enjoy a Britney ballad even less than a Britney dance song because her thin, undynamic vocal is less disguised.
I'm Real - Jennifer Lopez
Weeks on Chart: 22 Peak: #16 (Oct. 2001) buy it!
Even with a synth riff that reminds me of The Hustle, the third hit from the J.Lo CD is effective dance pop. I'm Real has good rhythm and is less mechanical sounding than Lopez' last single Play. Lopez' voice is pleasant but bland and basically overwhelmed by the beats. The lyrics to I'm Real are fairly vapid. Lopez declares her realness uninterestingly, telling her man not to feel insecure or worry about what she's doing when she's not with him. MTV and some radio stations are now playing a "remix" of I'm Real, basically a new song with almost totally different lyrics and music. The new version, a duet with Ja Rule, was written by Ja Rule and appears on his Pain Is Love CD. It actually has a real feel that's been missing from Lopez' heavily produced music with a clear, relaxed sound of minimal synths and a good, basic beat, The lyrics are also more relaxed. They're riffs off the original that include the publicity grabbing request for "niggas" to "mind they biz."
I'm Still In Love With You - Sean Paul
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: #42 (May 2004) buy it!
Since it was released in 2002, Sean Paul Henriques' Dutty Rock CD has yielded a string of hits. Get Busy was a #1 pop hit. Gimme The Light and Like Glue were also sizable successes. Dutty Rock was rereleased last year to include Baby Boy, Paul's smash collaboration with Beyonce. Get Busy, with its diwali rhythm, had a striking sound. I'm Still In Love With You is more standard reggae of a sort the Jamaican born Paul presumably has heard all his life. I'm Still In Love With You was produced and written by drummer Clevie Browne and bass/keyboard player Steely Johnson, who have worked with lots of reggae's biggest names. With a steady skank, subtly deployed sound effects and an uncomplicated lyric, I'm Still In Love With You has the simple, uncluttered sound of a reggae classic. I'm Still In Love With You has the formula that worked on Shaggy's hits. A Jamaican performer with a big personality is matched with a smooth American R&B singer. Sasha's vocal carries the song forward, freeing Paul to drop in his casual raps. I'm Still In Love With You's downside is that it's pleasant but not much happens. There aren't any surprises. Sasha's singing is easy but innoucous. Even the toasting by Paul, who often plays the aggressive bad boy, is a little boring and predictable. Still, I'm Still In Love With You is a decent, smooth ride. I'm Still In Love With You's lyric is a bit annoying. Sasha's character continues to profess her love even as Paul says "I'm a hustler and a player" and "not a stayer" and decides "we have to part." Paul claims that "it hurts my heart" to "see the gal cry" and tells her to "remember the good times we had."
I'm The Man Who Murdered Love - XTC
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #44 (Aug. 2000) buy it!
XTC's last CD, Apple Venus Vol.1, was a well made but very subdued record. Wasp Star(aka Apple Venus Vol.2) is considerably more fun and lively. I'm The Man Who Murdered Love is reminiscent of their cheeky, energetic rock songs Peter Pumpkinhead and Mayor of Simpleton. Despite its topic, Man Who Murdered Love is high spirited with a good, clear guitar line. Andy Partridge shows his ability to be simultaneously cynical and light hearted. He sings that he's doing a job for all humanity, assuring there'll be no more pain from broken hearts. He claims that, after a bad century, love begged to be put out of his misery.
If I Can Go - Angie Martinez
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #34 (Nov. 2002) buy it!
I, like many in the New York area, haven't heard much of If I Can Go, the hit from Angie Martinez' Animal House CD. Martinez is a Hot 97 radio personality. Other stations have decided not to help a competitor, even if that means missing out on a hot song. It's Z-100's(among others') loss. If I Can Go is good, breezy dance pop with an easy, positive energy and a touch of a Latin feel. If I Can Go has a very catchy hook that repeats throughout over a crisp, simple beat. Producer Rick Rock smartly deploys the hook in different ways. A guitar riff is joined or replaced by a dramatic synth when emphasis is needed. Martinez doesn't seem to have great vocal skills but her hard, confident New Yorker voice helps give If I Can Go a tough edge. Lil' Mo effectively takes over when a real singer is needed. Sacario's quick, no nonsense rap is well integrated into If I Can Go. If I Can Go is about wanting to leave New York "with no cells and no trace" for a far away beach, if the guy who can "make you feel like you're right back in the ninth grade" can come.
If You Had; My Love - Jennifer Lopez
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #26 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
All the articles write about Lopez and Ricky Martin together but If You Had My Love doesn't have the same Latin flavor and distinctiveness. If You Have My Love, from her debut On The 6 cd, is another in the line of well made, polished dance pop songs that litter the top of the pop charts. As with most such sleek creations, it's hard to know how good her voice is or whether it's studio enhanced. It seems she does have a decent voice and Lopez certainly has the appeal and personality to be a pop star.
If You're Gone - Matchbox 20
Weeks on Chart: 24 Peak: #10 (Jan. 2001) buy it!
The second single from Matchbox 20's Mad Season is wimpy but nice. I'm not a big ballad fan but If You're Gone is one of my favorite mellow songs of the year. Rob Thomas' singing is often overdramatic but here it's nicely understated. The music, with inobtrusive guitar and keyboards, fits the sad, resigned song as Thomas sings, "I think I've already lost you." But the song also has some hope. Thomas has finally been roused to action and is willing to try harder: "I think I can need this in my life." Horns rising at the end of the song match the cautiously optimistic feeling.
If You're Not The One - Daniel Bedingfield
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #24 (May 2003) buy it!
After coming out of nowhere with the dance hit Gotta Get Thru This, the title track from his CD, Daniel Bedingfield is back with another big hit. Most of the CD has a low budget feel that's not surprising since Bedingfield made most of the sounds himself, often at home on his computer. If You're Not The One has clanky, minimal synth and drum machine backing. I liked Gotta Get Thru This and its basic, giddy evocation of Michael Jackson's classic sound. But If You're Not The One, while heartfelt, is way too lame and Muzaky for me. If You're Not The One is inconsequential and, with its synth string effects, more than a little sappy. I guess the key to its success is Bedingfield's sincere vocal. He sounds like he means it when he celebrates how his hand fits with his love's and how she makes "my soul feel glad." Romantic female fans must love how Bedingfield admits that the idea of being without her brings him to tears.
Ignition - R. Kelly
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #15 (May 2003) buy it!
Apparently, accusations of having sex with a minor and possessing child porn won't kill your career if you know how to put together good pop hooks. The Ignition remix, from Kelly's Chocolate Factory CD, is a great testament to Kelly's skills. Kelly's vocal quickly darts around the lyric and mixes up speeds to create different moods while staying very cool. The music has the smooth confidence of a soul classic with easy, fluid keyboards and a relaxed handclap beat. Kelly smartly uses backing singers, creating a moment of excitement with their toot toots and beep beeps. Kelly's lyric is pretty awful. The title comes from a charming sexual metaphor promising "to take my key and stick it in the ignition." Kelly's comeons have the usual brags about an opulent lifestyle and compare a girl to his Lexus and a football coach("the way you got me playin' the field"). Luckily, Ignition sounds so good that you don't focus on its silly words.
Im With You - Avril Lavigne
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #14 (Feb. 2003) buy it!
Avril Lavignes major label recording career is off to an incredible start with three #1 pop singles. Like its predecessors from the Let Go CD, Im With You always seemed destined for the top. Depending on who you believe Lavigne, a former Shania Twain wannabe, has succeeded by presenting a calculated image or presenting herself as is. Regardless, her music is good, especially for teen pop. Lavigne has established her cred with a rebellious but not weird image and songs that rock and are also catchy. The kids obviously dont think her wimpy for doing a fairly standard ballad. Im With You has many of the trappings of an easy listening hit. With fairly heavy strings and power chords and drums crashing in on the chorus, Im with You follows power ballad conventions. The verses are fairly drab and Lavignes voice is thin in patches. But Lavignes sincerity gives Im With You power. When she wails the title, Lavigne seems more real than the typical balladeer. Theres an appealing youthful openness to Im With Yous lyrics about being ready to unconditionally throw herself into a relationship with a special someone wholl find her, take her hand and end her loneliness.
Imitation Of Life - REM
Weeks on Chart: 15 Peak: #5 (May 2001) buy it!
REM's days of huge success are behind them but they continue to make good music. Imitation Of Life, from the Reveal CD is the kind of reflective, modest and appealing midtempo rocker REM's done in recent years. It resembles Bittersweet Me, The Great Beyond, Man On The Moon and Texarkana. Peter Buck plays a guitar line so amiable that it's hard to believe the recent accusations of air rage. The synth solo is charmingly cheap sounding. Michael Stipe's vocals do as much as the lyrics at establishing empathy as he encourages someone to stop crying and be "what you could."
In 2 Deep - Kenny Wayne Shephard
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #42 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
Though still young, Shephard long ago showed he's a fast, gifted guitar player. In 2 Deep, from Shephard's Live On CD, shows that he hasn't learned what to do with his talent. He plays fast and flashy but to no interesting end. The music is energetic but it's basically a hackneyed mix of Allman Brothers and Bad Company. The lyrics are simply awful, filled with cliches about having nowhere to hide and being caught in a hurricane.
In A Little While - U2
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #42 (May 2002) buy it!
The songs on U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind took on greater meaning after September 11th. Their empathetic, hopeful feeling seemed perfect for the times. U2 picked a great to move away from the ironic, superficial songs that characterized much of their 90s work and combine the hopefulness of their earlier work with a modesty appropriate for guys who've been around long enough to know that goals aren't always easily met. The singles from All You Can't Leave Behind have been big anthems but the CD also has good quiet songs like the simply idealistic Peace On Earth and the playful Wild Honey. In A Little While, the CD's fifth song to make the top 50, is a rich love song with a timeless quality. Brian End added subtle strings to The Edge's good, basic guitar riff. Bono remarkably kept his enormous ego in check nearly throughout All That You Can't Leave Behind. He's very sweet on In A Little While, promising a longtime friend "surely you'll be mine."
In Da Club - 50 Cent
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #15 (April 2003) buy it!
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's Get Rich Or Die Tryin' CD was preceded by all kinds of buzz. Eminem "discovered" 50 Cent, who had previously been signed and dumped by Columbia, got him signed to his label, trumpeted 50 Cent's talents and put his Wanksta on the 8 Mile soundtrack. Before the CD came out, 50 Cent's music was all over the place on mix tapes. 50 Cent had an image and street cred from a history of selling drugs, being shot numerous times and getting arrested. The good news is that 50 Cent's music lives up to the hype. In Da Club is an early candidate for single of the year. Where Eminem is wired and always trying to prove himself, 50 Cent's delivery is confidently low key. Still, there's a similarity in their ability to easily slide around the beat and establish a magnetic presence. 50 Cent comes on as laid back but he's sneaky quick with a rap that has staccato emphasis and a smooth, easy flow. Dr. Dre's deserves some credit for In Da Club's success. His production is great, putting together a great groove. Repeating a catchy synth riff, mixing up the way he presents it and putting a tight, ticking bass sound under it, Dre shows his ability to create a dramatic, exciting sound without letting things get cluttered or showy. With its steady, hand clap beat, In Da Club is also a great dance track. The lyrics are fairly standard gangsta rap, celebrating fancy cars and bottles of "bub" and Benz. In Da Club doesn't go beyond the standard objectification of women. 50 is "into havin' sex" and "ain't into makin' love." But In Da Club is mostly about enjoying his new success. 50 sounds like he's having a good time but he's not arrogant, saying he's "still on the grind", trying to get them "to love me like they love 'Pac." In Da Club is the sound of someone who's confident, at ease but still trying to prove himself.
In My Place - Coldplay
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #5 (Aug. 2002) buy it!
Coldplay's second CD is called A Rush Of Blood To The Head. In My Place lacks Yellow's rock guitar drive but it otherwise resembles Coldplay's biggest hit. It has the likable, dreamy feel that marked Yellow, Trouble and much of the Parachutes CD. Chris Martin's vocal is, as usual, appealingly modest and sensitive. Jon Buckland's trademark ethereal guitar tone accentuates the music's delicate weightlessness. In My Place again takes Coldplay close to background music but In My Place has enough texture and beauty to give it real charm. On In My Place, Martin sings that he was lost and "underprepared" and he's now willing to wait for the object of his affection who's still waiting for another.
In The End - Linkin Park
Weeks on Chart: 36 Peak: #3 (April 2002) buy it!
Linkin Park's first two singles from the Hybrid Theory CD communicated youthful turmoil with raging hard rock and Chester Bennington's loud, nasty yell. In The End is less harsh and confrontational as the band move into Limp Bizkit territory. In The End is effective but very familiar, closely tracking Limp Bizkit's angry but catchy mix of rap, hard rock and vaguely sinister keyboards. Linkin Park have a slight advantage over Limp Bizkit since Mike Shinoda's rap, while fairly simplistic, isn't as stupid as Fred Durst's typical rant. Shinoda and Bennington alternate vocals, looking back bitterly at a failed relationship.
In This Diary - Ataris
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #32 (May 2003) buy it!
In This Diary is on So Long, Astoria, The Atari's major label debut after a bunch of independent releases. The Ataris fit somewhere between rocking, idealistic emo bands and perky pop punk bands like Blink 182 and Sum 41. With its clean, high energy, optimistic sound, In This Diary resembles the music of emo kings Jimmy Eat World's. The Ataris play hard and fast and even use JEW's scratchy guitar sound. Jimmy Eat World's music has an mature, intelligent feeling that In This Diary lacks. In This Diary's "the only thing that matters is just following your heart" lesson is the kind of trite writing you don't usually get outside bad teen comedies and TV movies. But the charm of Kris Roe's writing and singing is that he proclaims that line and the one about being grown up not being half as much fun as growing up with incredible sincerity as if, after a long period of contemplation, the thought just hit him. Roe expresses such unjaded nostalgia for a summer of his youth that he seems even younger than his 25 years. While Roe's sweet perkiness is charming, In This Diary is so lacking in edge or depth, musically and lyrically, that it's basically uninteresting.
In Too Deep - Sum 41
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #40 (Nov. 2001) buy it!
Sum 41 continue to follow Blink 182's bratty but lovable punk popster formula. On In Too Deep, the second hit from the young Canadians' All Killer, No Filler CD, Sum 41 use the same basic guitar riff as they did on Fat Lip. At least this time they don't rap. In Too Deep is very simple but likable. The guitar sound is big and tight. There's nothing original or particularly smart about In Too Deep. But even more than Fat Lip, which vaguely wanted to be a youth rebellion anthem, In Too Deep has a lack of pretension and youthful good spirits that are hard to resist. In Too Deep's lyric seems young as well. It's about a guy overwhelmed by a woman who's never satisfied with their relationship.
Independent Women Pt. 1 - Destiny's Child
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #24 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
The latest of the string of hits from the hot female r&b trio of the moment is from the Charlie's Angels soundtrack. Independent Women was probably thrown together quickly for the movie and it sounds like a throwaway. Still, it has the sleek sound of much of Destiny's Child's music and the women smoothly race through their vocals. The lyrics, with their repeated refrain "I depend on me", are an inspirational message saying women don't have to depend on men. They take on a bit of a taunting tone, celebrating how they can buy diamonds, cars and houses, saying that their hard work made it all happen, without conceding that others might not be so lucky.
Innervision - System Of A Down
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #21 (Jan. 2003) buy it!
Innervision is on Steal This Album, a collection of songs that didn't make System Of A Down's first two records. Innervision is good and similar enough that it would have fit on the Toxicity CD. Innervision has the great, bizarre energy of songs like that CD's title track. Guitar player Daron Malakian, bass player Shavo Odadjian and drummer John Dolmayan all play fast and hard and contribute to Innervision's exciting intensity. Singer Serj Tankian is, typically, so passionate that he almost seems possessed or insane, veering between crooning and shrieking. A lot of the fun of a SOAD song is following its twists. In its 2« minutes, Innervision shifts from speed metal to a hardcore bridge with Tankian ranting "It's never too late to reinvent the bicycle." Malakian appropriately shifts his guitar to a quiet, dreamy sound for Serj's epiphany("there is only one true path to life, the road that leads to all, leads to one.") then the song crunches to a conclusion. Malakian sings on Innervision about seeking the guidance of an unnamed spiritual source.
Innocent - Fuel
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.
Into The Void - Nine Inch Nails
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #36 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
Despite the hype accompanying the release of Trent Reznor's new CD the Fragile, its first single We're In This Together left the charts fairly quickly. Perhaps its message that Reznor might be able to make it through problems with the help of his love was too optimistic for Nine Inch Nails fans. Into The Void has a more traditional Nine Inch Nails theme. The lyrics consistent almost entirely of the repeated line "I'm trying to save myself but myself keeps slipping away." The hopeless, gloomy feeling is becoming cliched for Reznor. Like the rest of Fragile, Into The Void sounds great, showing the years Reznor took polishing the record. The forboding electronics are big and crisp. Perhaps a little sloppiness would have better served the material.
Into You - Fabolous featuring Tamia
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.
Intuition - Jewel
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #22 (July 2003) buy it!
Jewel's image, as the sincere folkie who writes poetry and wants people to take her overripe writing seriously, was getting drab. She has come up with a smart surprise by simplifying and lightening up on her new CD. Jewel worked on the 0304 CD with Lester Mendez, who produced and played keyboards on records by Latin pop artists like Shakira and Enrique and Julio Iglesias. Intuition is like lots of other dance pop songs but it still works. Intuition is repetitive and insubstantial but it has a light, easy mood. Mendez maintains a solid beat that doesn't overwhelm Jewel's voice. Jewel, singing with a sensual roll in her voice, sounds like she's having fun mixing up vocal styles. Part of Intuition's success must be attributable to its video. Jewel has projected a seductive image before, on the record and video for You Were Meant For Me. On Intuition she has it both ways, satirizing the way advertisers use sex to attract people to their products while undoubtedly attracting people to Intuition with her alluring poses and clothes. I assume Jewel has a similar intent on the record, gently mocking the mechanical nature of many hits and overdoing the provocative swoon in her voice while knowing those qualities are likely to get her a hit. Intuition's lyric mocks a world obsessed with "Miss J's big butt" where people "learn cool from magazines" and "learn love from Charlie Sheen." Jewel's unstartling advice is to "follow your heart." Jewel's intuition led her to make radio friendly dance pop. Intuition has a lot of internal contradictions but it is pleasant, slight, disposable pop.
Invisible - Clay Aiken
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #40 (Jan. 2004) buy it!
Clay Aiken's success is the oddest byproduct of the American Idol phenomenon. Surely if he hadn't made the show's finals, no record company would have touched the elfin, somewhat effeminate 25 year old from North Carolina who is like a Martin Short character. But the people have spoken, buying more than 600,000 copies of Aiken's Measure Of A Man the week it was released. Aiken's success is a warning about the dangers of democracy. Aiken has been embraced by the masses for his genuine, somewhat geeky persona but also because his bland, unchallenging style is familiar and safe for people who don't like how hip hop has changed popular music. Invisible, Measure Of A Man's first single, confirms my fears about Aiken. Invisible comes off as a tribute to the early 80s overproduced pop rock that sounds so dated today. It brings to mind Pat Benatar's Invincible, Eddie Money's Take Me Home Tonight, John Waite's Missing You and many other similar but better hits. Invisible was produced and written by longtime studio pro Desmond Child who has worked on slick, superficial pop by Michael Bolton, Bon Jovi and Cher. Invisible throws in all kinds of cheesy sounds like the way the title meaningfully echoes before the chorus comes in. Invisible has innocuous, thick backing vocals, a bland beat and showy, heavy handed rock guitar. Some of Aiken's American Idol singing was charmingly sweet but on Invisible, he sounds stiff and fake. Invisible's lyric is weird and creepy, positioning Aiken as a wannabe voyeur or stalker who wishes he "could be a fly on your wall" so "I could just watch you in your room." He considers the advantages he would have if he was invisible then pathetically realizes: "wait...I already am."
Irresistible - Jessica Simpson
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #24 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
Irresistible is terrible, even by teenpop standards. Irresistible, the title track from Simpson's new CD, is a rehash of songs that weren't so good the first time. The music is very synthetic synthy dance pop. On the verses, Simpson's voice has Britney's pinched, processed quality. On the chorus, Simpson tries, largely unsuccessfully, for a big Christina Aguilera sound while the music mimics Genie In A Bottle, even adding a touch of Latin guitar sound. On Irrestistible, Simpson is the swooning woman who's "weak with desire." I find the lyrics on the chorus unlistenably banal: "he's irresistible, up close and personal, now inescapable, I can hardly breathe."
Is Anybody Home? - Our Lady Peace
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #21 (March 2000) buy it!
Is Anybody Home? is the second hit from Happiness . . . Is Not a Fish You Can Catch. Like most of the Canadian band's work, Is Anybody Home? is serious and intense. It also shows Our Lady Peace's ability to create a good atmosphere with interesting shifts of dynamic. The music varies from Mike Turner's hard rocking guitar to Raine Maida's a capella vocals. The lyrics say that everybody's needy, we're all scared.
Island In The Sun - Weezer
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #14 (Oct. 2001) buy it!
Island In The Sun is the second hit from Weezer's very good green album. Island In The Sun is the mellowest and poppiest song on a record that's otherwise straight forward rockers. It's a nice love song about how good it'll be to go away. Rivers Cuomo's sweet, idealistic lyrics("we'll never feel bad anymore) are well matched by the mood created by easy, strummed guitar and the band's hip hips. The band wisely mixes things up by adding harder rocking guitar on the bridge.
It Don't Matter - Rehab
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #45 (June 2001) buy it!
Rehab is Danny Boone and Brooks. They met as recovering addicts in an rehab center. It Don't Matter is from the Southern Discomfort CD. As with fellow Atlanta area rappers Outkast, who clearly influenced Rehab, it's good to hear Rehab's smooth grooves on the radio. It Don't Matter has a dark subject matter but the sound is cool and inviting with an easy beat and appealingly relaxed samples and guitar. The singers provide a good contrast between angry rap and smooth, reflective singing. It Don't Matter is about feeling like "depression's my only friend." The lyrics refer to "another day of feeling nothing", thinking "everything's beautiful as long as I ain't there" and hoping to lift "my pain into the air."
It Feels So Good - Sonique
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #26 (April 2000) buy it!
It Feels So Good, from the CD Hear My Cry, is reminiscent of the golden age of disco. It has an efficient, synthetic beat and dramatic string effects made by keyboards, but not much personality. The lyrics are extremely simple, a fairly dopey tribute to her love which keeps her alive, makes her smile when she's down, takes her higher, etc.
It Wasn't Me - Shaggy
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #30 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
It Wasn't Me, from the Hotshot CD, perpetuates the idea that a charming rascal can wink and lie to a woman and get out of any problem. Still, It Wasn't Me is so silly and ingratiating that it's hard to dislike. The song is well structured with Rik Rok playing the man caught "red handed creeping with girl next door." Shaggy is his foolish buddy telling him to deny everything despite physical, eyewitness and photographic evidence. The contrast between Rik Rok's high, loose, youthful voice and Shaggy's deep Jamaican style rumble is appealing. The song has a good groove with minimal, well chosen synth effects and Shaggy's fast, nearly indecipherable toasting.
It's Been Awhile - Staind
Weeks on Chart: 38 Peak: #1 (Oct. 2001) buy it!
It's Been Awhile, the first single from the Break The Cycle CD, entered the top 50 as singer Aaron Lewis had just made the top 10 for the first time with Outside from the Family Values Tour CD. It's Been Awhile is similar to Outside: thoughtful and fairly subtle for radio rock but very serious and not much fun. It's Been Awhile is another song about Lewis' troubled mind. He sings about how he always screws things and longs for the feeling of relief that came with his love. It's Been Awhile's verses are fairly quiet and similar to Outside. Power chords and drums create rock drama on the chorus but things don't get too overdone.
It's Going Down - X Ecutioners
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #32 (April 2002) buy it!
It's Going Down is from the Built From Scratch CD by New York turntable experts X Ecutioners. X Ecutioners have worked with a number of guest vocalists and musicians. It's Going Down features rapper Mike Shinoda and DJ Joseph Hahn from Linkin Park. It's Going Down sounds like a good Linkin Park song. The absence of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington is a plus in my mind. Bennington's angry wail is undoubtedly a big part of Linkin Park's huge success but I mostly find it unpleasant. X Ecutioners have laid down a tight mix with a good, hard sound. Working with a tough guitar riff, solid beats, samples, record scratching and Shinoda's rap, they've created a no nonsense collage of sound that keeps coming. It's Going Down is about how the song's "audible odyssey" "reflects the complex hybrid dialect" and "melting pot of a super futuresque style." Raps bragging about the originality of a musical style are nothing new but It's Going Down's lyric, like the song itself, is solid and unpretentious.
It's Gonna Be Me - N Sync
Weeks on Chart: 15 Peak: #24 (July 2000) buy it!
It's Gonna Be Me sounds like No Strings Attached's first single Bye Bye Bye. It's got a little bit of a harder dance edge but it's still genial and unthreatening. The words are more standard than the breakup lyrics of Bye Bye Bye, trying to convince a women who's had a bad experience that all men aren't bad and he's not like that. It's Gonna Be Me is pretty slight but the young girls are bound to make it another big hit.
It's My Life - Bon Jovi
Weeks on Chart: 27 Peak: #7 (Jan. 2004) buy it!
No Doubt say they're not breaking up. But singer Gwen Stefani has established a personality apart from the band and is embarking on an acting and solo music career. We probably won't see much new No Doubt product in the foreseeable future. The band has maintained some presence by releasing The Singles 1992-2003, which includes a new recording, a cover of Talk Talk's It's My Life. It's My Life was a good choice for a cover. It's familiar but not so much so that a lot of people won't accept a new version. It's also a good song and one the band, clearly fans of 80's new wave, knew. No Doubt's arrangement stays very close to the one by Talk Talk leader/singer/writer Mark Hollis. Since the original song was striking and evocative, No Doubt's fidelity is a good thing. No Doubt keep the good, chunky bass line, the dramatic, melodic synth line and even most of the bird-like atmospheric flourishes that surrounded the choruses. Befitting a recording coming nearly two decades after the original, the 2003 version is slightly sleeker and smoother than the charmingly clunky 1984 one was. The main difference is the singing. Stefani and Hollis both are theatrical and a bit hysterical. But where Hollis' self pity was adorably heartfelt, Stefani, as she sometimes does, mostly seems whiny. Stefani does have a star quality that grabs your attention. As a Talk Talk fan(I highly recommend the Collection or Very Best compilation), I prefer the original but while it's not as personal, No Doubt have done a good, faithful cover. It's My Life is about wondering how far to go into a difficult relationship but deciding to stay in it for love's thrill.