Yeah - Usher
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #14 (May 2004) buy it!
Yeah, from Usher's Confessions CD, is pretty good dance music. The problem with Yeah is that I feel like I've heard it before. Yeah very closely resembles Get Low. That similarity is not surprising, since Yeah was cowritten and co produced by Get Low vocalist/writer/producer Jonathan "Lil' Jon" Smith. Yeah has a good, catchy synth riff but that riff is nearly identical to Get Low's. Yeah doesn't have Get Low's raucous energy. It has a more polished sound than Get Low. Usher's vocal is fine if fairly innocuous. Yeah is apparently an attempt to give Usher, whose previous hits have been fairly mild, a harder image. Still, Yeah needs some flavor and benefits from Lil Jon's interjections and Ludacris' edgier, less controlled vocal. In a lyric that apparently alludes to his breakup with TLC's Chilli, Usher sings on Yeah about being seduced, somewhat reluctantly, in a club by a "shorty" who turns out to be "best of homies" with Usher's girl. Ludacris takes over at the end and abandons the plot line. In his verse, he brags about his Jag, his Rolls, his three hundred thousand dollar pinky ring and about how he "won't stop 'til I get 'em in they birthday suits." Ludacris' rap is stupid and typical but he gives Yeah some excitement to go with its killer riff. Yeah is well made and sounds fine but it doesn't do much to improve Get Low. In a reminder of the benefits of a familiar sound and a known star with a pretty face, Yeah is an even bigger hit than Get Low was.
Yellow - Coldplay
Weeks on Chart: 22 Peak: #4 (April 2001) buy it!
Coldplay follow Travis as a successful British band that's aware of their harder alternative predecessors but choose a mild, polite image and make smooth, pleasant music. Yellow is a sweet love song, a tribute to a woman who makes the stars shine and a list of things he'd do for her. The sound, with strings and a steadily strummed electric guitar, is rich and inviting and becomes more dense and intense. Chris Martin's voice is vulnerable and yearning, like Radiohead's Thom Yorke's, but Martin's lacks eccentricity and anguish. Its unpretentious thinness has an appealing honesty.
You and I Both - Jason Mraz
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #40 (Dec. 2003) buy it!
I found The Remedy, the hit first single from Jason Mraz' Waiting For My Rocket To Come CD, very annoying. Mraz wrote The Remedy with The Matrix team, who have also had hits with Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair and Hilary Duff. I disliked Remedy's hipster cockiness and glib white boy rapping but I can't deny that it was slick and catchy and sounded like a hit. Mraz is less irritating on You and I Both, which Mraz wrote by himself. But what Mraz gains in genial sincerity, he loses in substance and catchiness. You and I Both is pleasant, with Mraz' affable vocal, an innocuous drum machine beat and tastefully muted guitars and keyboards, but bland. You and I Both confirms my initial impression that, despite the edginess The Remedy vaguely promised, the natural home for Mraz' ingratiating pop is easy listening radio. You and I Both's lyric is pretty appealing. "Looking on the bright side", Mraz celebrates the fact that, while "words" have screwed up his relationship, he's shared a love "others only dream of."
You Can't Change Me - Chris Cornell
Weeks on Chart: 18 Peak: #2 (Nov. 1999) buy it!
The first single from Cornell's solo debut, Euphoria Morning, shows signs that leaving Soundgarden was a good idea. Cornell's vocals are still intense but the music is also a little more fun than his work with Soundgarden, who often seemed too concerned about reaching an overblown Zeppelin-esqe grandeur. The music still has a good rock edge but the elegant waltz-like rhythm gives it an interesting depth.
You Can't Resist It - Lyle Lovett
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: #47 (Aug. 1999) buy it!
You Can't Resist is included on Lovett's new Live in Texas. Lovett's deadpan, understated delivery is always welcome. He continues to produce interesting, likeable, mature records. Lovett seems to spend much of his life in a sincere sense of awe. The object of admiration on Can't Resist It is a compelling woman who means trouble. You can decide for yourself if it's another one about Ms. Roberts.
You Dance - Eastmountainsouth
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #39 (Oct. 2003) buy it!
Eastmountainsouth is Kat Maslich and Peter Adams, southerners who met in LA and formed a duo making country tinged folk. You Dance is on their self titled debut. You Dance is a thoughtful, very sweet love song. Its sound is a bit on the adult, tasteful side for me but You Dance is very charming. Adams has a basic, sincere voice. You Dance's music is appealingly minimal. It matches the lyric's account of pure, ungimmicky love. Adams' nice, simple, unshowy piano is accompanied by very restrained drums. Maslich's harmonies are very appealing. She reminds me of Syd Straw, a favorite background singer of 80's and 90's alt country bands. You Dance is a touch boring but it's very pleasant. Its avoidance of flash is a refreshing contrast to most contemporary music. You Dance's lyric has lots of likable images. Adams sings about wanting to "carry you away" and "wake you every morning" and asks if he can "wander every day beside you."
You Drive Me Crazy - Britney Spears
Weeks on Chart: 14 Peak: #32 (Nov. 1999) buy it!
The 3rd hit from Baby One More Time is also from the soundtrack of the movie from Sabrina the Teenage Witch's Melissa Joan Hart. It's a dance song like Baby One More Time but is harder with less charm. The lyrics perpetuate Spears' boy crazy image and are pretty stupid, "you drive me crazy, I just can't sleep/I'm so excited, I'm in too deep." Spears apparently doesn't have the vocal skills of her fellow Mouseketeer alum and teen star Christina Aguilera. Her singing is often buried under that of backup singers or sounds studio enhanced.
You Know You're Right - Nirvana
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #4 (Oct. 2002) buy it!
Courtney Love's resolution of her legal issues with Nirvana and Geffen records has allowed the long delayed release of You Know You're Right, which is included on a greatest hits record called Nirvana. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic recorded You Know You're Right, apparently the last song they did together, in late January, 1994, less than two months before Cobain killed himself. Like Nirvana's MTV Unplugged concert, You Know You're Right gets added resonance from being made so close to Cobain's death. Cobain's mix of resignation, flippancy and rage on You Know You're Right seems to foreshadow his end the way his sad weariness did on Unplugged. You Know You're Right feeds the fascination with Kurt's death. It reads like a suicide note. After singing "I have never failed to fail", Cobain repeatedly cries out the word pain. Cobain promises "I will never bother you" and "I will crawl away for good." You Know You're Right also seems like a kiss off to Courtney. The second verse, which Kurt sings with a choked up catch in his voice, includes the line "nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself." You Know You're Right makes me sad that Kurt was so troubled and sad that we don't get more of his music. You Know You're Right is a great reminder of the power of Cobain's music. His howl's edgy but focused force makes today's troubled rockers seem like whiners. Cobain's guitar is subtly brilliant, changing styles as the song's emotion ebbs and flows. On the chorus, Dave Grohl shows the fast, hard hitting drumming that helped Nirvana reach its artistic peak when he joined the band before they made Nevermind. You Know You're Right doesn't show that Kurt Cobain was moving in a radically different musical direction before he died but it shows he was still making vital music.
You Make Me Sick - Pink
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #38 (March 2001) buy it!
I'm tired of Pink's narcissistic, tough girl video persona but her Can't Take Me Home CD keeps delivering good dance pop songs. You Make Me Sick is similar to There You Go and Most Girls but has its own sound with a good, dancable groove from strong rhythm tracks and an efficient beat. The lyrics don't go far beyond "I want you but I'm hatin' it" and the idea that a guy who makes her sick also makes "my knees get weak" but Pink's fast, confident vocals help keep the song's momentum going.
You Rock My World - Michael Jackson
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #34 (Oct. 2001) buy it!
MTV and VH1 are regularly playing the kind of silly(Michael Jackson, with his pale, doelike mask of a face, is no oneís idea of a tough guy) and undoubtedly ridiculously expensive(with brief, gratuitous appearances by movie stars like Marlon Brando and Chris Tucker) video for You Rock My World. Video play is a factor in calculating the top 50, so You Rock My World made the chart. However, top 40 radio play is a bigger factor and with pop radio quickly abandoning You Rock My World, it wonít last long on the chart. Apparently, programmers donít find it as exciting or catchy as Alien Ant Farmís flashy rock cover of Jacksonís Smooth Criminal. I likeYou Rock My World, the first single from Jacksonís Invincible CD. While itís a little innocuous and not as striking as Jacksonís biggest hits, it has the easy confidence of his smooth 80ís songs like Off The Wall.You Rock My World is an unrushed jam with a steady but unobtrusive beat. Jacksonís voice doesnít quite have the personality it used to but it still has a cool fluidity. One minor problem: Jackson has always had little vocal affectations but on You Rock My World his grunts sound a little like heís gasping for breath. On You Rock My World, Jackson asks a woman, who might be the "perfect love" heís searched for, to stay and "fulfill my dreams."
You Sang To Me - Marc Anthony
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #44 (April 2000) buy it!
You Sang To Me is the second hit from Anthony's self titled CD, the first primarily English language solo record for the Latin music star. Like on I Need To Know, the more danceable first single, Anthony comes across as a sweet, decent guy. You Sang To Me is a pleasant, if unremarkable, love song. Synths create an easy mood and there are touches of acoustic guitar and an accordion towards the end. You Sang To Me is about falling in love with a long time friend. Anthony is very sincere as he sings about how she "showed me what life needs to be."
You Wanted More - Tonic
Weeks on Chart: 13 Peak: #6 (Oct. 1999) buy it!
From the soundtrack of the movie American Pie, it's more generic, commercial rock from the LA band. If You Could Only See was irritatingly ubiquitous a couple of years ago. This one has a little more edge but their desire to be all things to all people is illustrated by the song's opening. The music has tough rock guitar chords but the lyrics are a sappy account of what love is.
You Wouldn't Believe - 311
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #34 (July 2001) buy it!
311 have maintained the same basic formula, mixing rock, ska and hip hop. You Wouldn't Believe, the first single off their From Chaos CD, sounds like Down, 311's commercial and artistic high point, and their other music, with Douglas Martinez' raps interspersed between Nick Hexum's crooned vocal lines. Still, You Wouldn't Believe, about a guy having a tough time after getting dumped, is a good example of the band's formula. It's enjoyable, with skittery, ska drums, and tough, with good guitars and a focused sound.
You're A God - Vertical Horizon
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #5 (Sept. 2000) buy it!
Like Tonic and other similar bands shooting for the airwaves, Vertical Horizon basically make generic pop rock with vaguely troubled lyrics. They don't even have the personality of the kings of the genre, Matchbox 20. While not as distinctive as Everything You Want, the hit title track from their CD, You're a God is perkier and catchy in a repetitive way. However, the lyrics, about being covered with lies leave a nasty aftertaste as Matt Scannell tells the woman he's dumping that he's not worthy of her.
You're An Ocean - Fastball
Weeks on Chart: 7 Peak: #18 (Oct. 2000) buy it!
You're An Ocean is from the Harsh Light Of Day CD. On the hits from the All The Pain Money Can Buy CD, Fastball were good natured purveyors of upbeat, not terribly deep pop rock. You're An Ocean has a familiar light and happy feel, thanks to Billy Preston's rollicking piano and Miles Zuniga upbeat guitar solo, which is like the ones David Lindley did for Jackson Browne. Tony Scalzo sings about being vulnerable in "a stormy sea of love and emotion." He's in suspended motion with his heart in his hands but he'd still "buy whatever you would sell."
You're The One - Tracy Chapman
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #41 (Jan. 2003) buy it!
On her self titled 1988 debut CD, Tracy Chapman was a striking new talent making music that was political and personal. She seemed to have the potential to move folk music in exciting new directions. Chapman has since made pleasant, thoughtful music but the deeper she gets into career, the more her work leaves the impression of unfulfilled potential. You're The One, from the Let It Rain CD, has a sweet Chapman vocal and a nice, positive feel but it's so lightweight and unambitious it's barely noticable. I assume Chapman is trying to pare her music to its essentials but she's also pared away what can be interesting about her writing and music. You're The One's lyric is charming. Chapman promises to stand by a lover who others say is crazy, uncouth and no good.
You're The Only One - Maria Mena
Weeks on Chart: 1 Peak: #50 (June 2004) buy it!
18 year old Maria Mena is a Norwegian singer/songwriter who's had hits at home since she was 15. You're The Only One, from Mena's White Turns Blue CD, made a very brief stop at the bottom of the top 50. It actually was in a virtual tie with Overnight Celebrity, another song with an impressively fast but somewhat exhausting Twista rap and Kanye West's skilled deployment of beats, riffs and sped up samples of female soul singers. You're The Only One originally struck me as an unremarkable mix of the work of Alanis Morissette and any of many confessional folkie women. But You're The Only One is quite charming. Mena is appealingly playful in her singing and lyric. Her voice is nicely varied. It's thin and hoarse in some places but it always displays an idiosyncratic, blithe spirit made even more likable by quirky English pronounciation. The lyric depicts Mena, like many teens, as simultaneously needy and confident. She mocks his boyfriend lovingly(saying he looks dumb when he dances) and cruelly(calling his penis small), explaining that she "likes to bring you down just to keep you around, 'cause the day you realize how amazing you are, you're gonna leave me." She wants him to know that she appreciates how he "holds my hair back when I'm drunk and get sick" and how he "knows exactly what I mean." You're The Only One was produced by Mena's main musician/songwriting partner Arvid Solvang. You're The Only One has a layered, pleasing, somewhat vague midtempo pop rock sound(like that for a Morissette or Barenaked Ladies song) with a variety of synth sounds, guitars and drumming that switches from minimal clicks on the verse to rock pounding on the chorus.
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - Eddie Vedder
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #18 (March 2002) buy it!
The I Am Sam soundtrack is all covers of Beatles songs. Most of the music, like Rufus Wainwright and Aimee Mann & Michael Penn's contributions, is nice and well made but extremely predictable. I wish more of the artists were a little less respectful and took some more chances. Eddie Vedder's You've Got To Hide Your Love is quite good but also basically what you would expect. As usual, Eddie is serious and deep voiced though not as serious and deep voiced as he can be. It's just him, his acoustic and a little of his harmonica on a pleasant throwaway version of John Lennon's brilliantly simple evocation of the pain of getting dumped(and feeling like the world is laughing you) after you've trusted love and made yourself vulnerable.
Your Body Is A Wonderland - John Mayer
Weeks on Chart: 26 Peak: #15 (Dec. 2002) buy it!
Your Body Is a Wonderland is the second chart hit from the Atlanta based singer/songwriter's Room For Squares CD. Like No Such Thing, Your Body Is a Wonderland is pleasant and almost proudly inconsequential. Unlike No Such Thing, where Mayer tried so hard for whimsical cheekiness, Your Body Is a Wonderland mostly keeps things nicely understated. His voice, in a tone not much more forceful than a whisper, effectively communicates the song's sly confidence. His guitar playing is also unassuming but pretty cool. Its only flourish is a short Steely Dan style riff towards the end. A skinny young white guy can't help but seem a little leering singing a song about pleasuring a lady but his admiration of a woman's looks is generally appealing. A bit too much bravado accompanies Mayer's promise to take a while making love and discovering a woman's body but he generally avoids the objectification that often accompanies songs complimenting the female shape.
Your Disease - Saliva
Weeks on Chart: 25 Peak: #12 (June 2001) buy it!
Your Disease, from the Memphis band's Every Six Seconds CD, covers a lot of the bases of hard modern rock to create a sound that its target audience must find irresistable. Like Limp Bizkit, Saliva mixes hard guitars with rap. Over Soundgarden style hard guitars, Josey Scott does a slow Kid Rock style white trashy rap with some truly awful lines("like the Bee Gees cry, I'm just stayin' alive). The chorus is catchy metal pop that would make Def Leppard proud. Your Disease's lyric is familiar junk: "it feels like paradise", "I want to take you down, but your soul cannot be found" and "there's nothing here for free."
Youth Of The Nation - P.O.D.
Weeks on Chart: 21 Peak: #5 (April 2002) buy it!
I got more angry feedback about P.O.D.'s hit Alive, which I called self righteous and silly, than about any other song I've ever written about. My beef with Alive is that, while many have adopted it as an uplifting anthem, it's really just about how good Sonny Sandoval feels and how bold he is for proclaiming his religious devotion. I'm not a big fan of the second hit from P.O.D.'s Satellite CD either. On Youth Of The Nation, Sandoval attempts to speak for others, briefly describing a school shooter and a couple of his victims. Sandoval is well intended but his ideas aren't particularly insightful: it can be tough to be a kid these days and the random loss of a child's life is especially tragic. Perhaps the only surprise is the thought that one of the victims would feel for his attacker ("maybe this kid was reaching out for love" "or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged"). The music, with a beat, guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, has an appropriately ominous mood, but it's pretty generic modern rock. Sandoval's tough guy hip hop vocal and lyrics about "the sound of a gat" and taking "two to the chest" seem inconsistent with the general themes of innocence and sympathy. And the Another Brick In The Wall style kids chorus finale, with the idea that the band is speaking for a generation, seems presumptuous and exploitative.