Red Hot Chili Pepper-Otherside(unchanged)
After the mindless diversion of Around the World, the third hit from the Californication CD returns to the more reflective tone of Scar Tissue. However, Otherside, apparently about contemplating joining a dead friend, has a sadder, more agitated tone. The music is restrained with a quiet, insistent tone coming mostly from bass and drums until guitars explode at the end. The Chili Peppers' new signs of maturity are generally welcome though Otherside risks the danger that too much maturity can be a little boring.
Vertical Horizon-Everything You Want(unchanged)
The title track and second chart song from Vertical Horizon's CD has striking guitar effects but is otherwise pretty generic sensitive rock. Matt Scannell is ever so serious singing about a woman who's never satisfied with a man. His tone is so bitter that it's not much of a twist at the end when he reveals himself to be the he who is everything she wants.
Third Eye Blind-Never Let You Go(unchanged)
Sure, the guitar hook is kind of copped from the Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane and the keyboards and general mood owe a little to the Cars' Just What I Needed. Never Let You Go, from the CD Blue, sounds like a hit. Like Semi Charmed Life from their first record, Never Let You Go has energy and an easy momentum. Singer Stephan Jenkins has a comfortable presence whether singing in falsetto or rapping. It's not surprising that pop fans find Never Let You Go more appealing than Blue's first single, Anything, which was fast post punk but wasn't particularly distinctive.
Kid Rock-Only God Knows Why(unchanged)
While he usually comes across as a smart ass narcissist, on Only God Knows Why from his Devil Without a Cause CD, Kid Rock wants sympathy for his pain and the fact that people don't understand him. I would have thought Kid Rock would be embarrassed to sing a ballad about trying to find himself but I guess we already know he's shameless. The model for Only God Knows Why seems to be one of Pearl Jam's soaring, personal ballads but Kid Rock doesn't have Eddie Vedder's chops. He sounds best when his voice is distorted.
Three Doors Down-Kryptonite(unchanged)
This surprise hit from the young Mississippi band is nothing new. It kind of sounds like the classic rock staple Radar Love. Still, Kryptonite, from the band's Better Life CD, has an easy, unpretentious charm and a good blues rock feel. Brad Arnold's lyrics are slight but charming and heartfelt. He sings about having a troubled mind and needing reassurance that his lover will stand by his side, asking "if I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?"
Voodoo closes out Godsmack's self titled CD. It creates a decent mystical atmosphere with drumbeats and minimal instrumentation. However, Sully Erna's very serious vocals, as he sings "I'm not the one who's so far away, when I feel the snake bite enter my veins" over and over, are too pretentious.
Pearl Jam-Nothing As It Seemsbuy it!
Nothing As It Seems is from Pearl Jam's new Binaural CD. It's uncompromising music that rocks but is still melodic. Eddie Vedder gives the vocal his trademark urgency and passionate fervor and comes up with memorable lines like "don't give blood and and take it back again." The band's very good musicians anchor Vedder's sometimes enigmatic vocals and lyrics and create a great, intense sound, with distinctive guitar riffs from Stone Gossard and Mike McCready.
Smashing Pumpkins-Stand Inside Your Love(unchanged)
Light and buoyant aren't words that usually describe Smashing Pumpkins but they fit the second chart song from Machina/Machines of God, their most fun single since Mellon Collie's 1979. The time is right. The Pumpkins' music has been a little too heavy recently. The Everlasting Gaze was a good, driving rocker but was obviously too harsh for many, continuing the band's decline in radio airplay and popularity. Stand Inside Your Love is a frothy rocker somewhat like Malibu, which Billy Corgan helped write for Hole. Corgan's singing is still whiny but the song has good momentum with melodic guitars and light keyboards. The positive mood of the song apparently matches Corgan's state of mind as he sings of being head over heels in love with someone who's "everything that I want" and all he dreams of and of just wanting to stand inside her love.
The tremendous impact of Creed's My Own Prison CD at rock radio was one of music's most bizarre success stories. Nearly all of their songs were overtly about God or christianity. You have to assume that Higher, about a place where blind men can see, is about heaven. Most of their young male audience could care less about the religious message. As with their earlier work, the appeal of Higher comes from its meaty guitars and Scott Stapp's charismatic, anguished vocals. Higher, from their Human Clay CD, is their most polished single yet with a chorus that begs the kids to sing along. With so many rock bands playing angry heavy metal or rap edged rock, Creed's fans must be reassured by their familiar arena rock and meaty power chords. But Higher is tediously predictable and repetitious.
While it's not particularly substantial, the first single from the St. Louis band's Holy Dogs CD is an undeniably catchy rocker. The restrained verses, with fairly spooky keyboards, are meant to match the tension of Andy Schmidt's lyrics about "having a breakdown" because the women he worships is apparently on the way out of their relationship but the song quickly moves into a high spirited chorus, with power chords and Schmidt sounding like Semisonic's Dan Wilson. Things get a little too poppy with Schmidt's na-na-na vocals.
Bloodhound Gang-The Bad Touch(down 4 positions)
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."
Matchbox 20-Bentbuy it!
It's hard to imagine, but since Matchbox 20's debut CD Yourself or Someone Like You sold more than eight million copies and Smooth was the biggest single of the last year, Rob Thomas is probably the most successful rock singer these days. You'd figure that all that success would allow Matchbox 20 to try something more challenging. But Bent, the first single from the Mad Season CD, has the same safe mildly rocking sound, cliched lyrics and emotive vocals as their hits Push and 3AM. It's a love song where Thomas asks for his woman's help, to pick him up and dust him off, be his breath so he can walk. The new CD will undoubtedly also sell a ton.
Don Henley-Workin' It(unchanged)
Workin 'It is from Inside Job, Henley's first studio album in more than a decade. Judging by Workin' It, the new music wasn't worth the wait. Workin' It is a tired diatribe. Henley, who made millions making easy rock with the Eagles, delivers the shocking news that we live in a society where "packaging is all there is" and corporate America tries to sell us things we don't really need. Workin It' is similar to Dirty Laundry, an earlier Henley protest song. The music here is big and overproduced but is pretty draggy and unmelodic and definitely doesn't rock.
Lit-Miserable(down 2 positions)
The most notable about Miserable, the third chart hit from the band's Place in the Sun CD, is its video with Pamela Anderson playing a giant Amazon babe who's literally a maneater. Miserable doesn't have the fast stupid charm of My Own Worst Enemy and Ziplock. Miserable, with A. Jay Popoff singing about being unavoidably attracted to a woman who ruins his life and makes him miserable, is slower. It's fairly entertaining but unremarkable, with big power chords.
Stone Temple Pilots-Sour Girl(up 4 positions)
STP showed their rock cred with the first couple chart songs from STP's No. 4 CD, Down and Heaven and Hot Rods. Both were pretty hard and both fell off the chart pretty quickly. The band should have more success with Sour Girl which shows the band's pop skills with restrained guitars and keyboards. It starts like a Van Halen midtempo song with a steady, thumping bass and drifts easily to a chorus with sweet harmonies. Sour Girl is frothy and slight but hard to resist. Scott Weiland sings about a relationship that was doomed from the start with a woman who seems happier without him and his problems putting it behind him. Hopefully the line "what would you do if I followed you" doesn't mean that Weiland has a problem with stalking to go with his drug problem.
Creed-What If(down 5 positions)
What If, featured on the band's Human Clay CD and the Scream 3 soundrack, finds the band in an even angrier mood than usual. Mark Tremonti plays a hard heavy metal guitar. Scott Stapp screams with uncontrollable rage about society's unfairness and hypocrisy. But Stapp's not going to play the victim. Typically, he invokes the Bible and threatens to avenge, taking an eye for an eye. Perhaps the band's success has gone to Stapp's head. He apparently now believes that the band's fans are a legion of minions willing to fight for the causes he chooses.
Goo Goo Dolls-Broadway(up 10 positions)
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.
Korn-Make Me Bad(down 2 positions)
Confused kids can relate as Jonathan Davis sings on Make Me Bad, like on Falling Away From Me, about his troubled mind. He sings of the lack of compassion he faces and feeling his reason leaving as he obsesses about the object of his desire. Make Me Bad, from the Issues CD, has the rush of a good hard rock song with big, tough guitars. It's harder and less distinctive than the atmospheric Falling Away From Me.
Staind-Home(down 4 positions)
Despite their tough music and attitude, a lot of today's young hard rockers, like Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit, want us to know they have a soul and women can hurt them. On Home, the rock ballad from Staind's Dysfunction CD, Aaron Lewis sings about sacrificing everything for a woman and being totally vulnerable to her: afraid to be alone, afraid she'll leave him when he's gone. It seems a little wimpy but the band makes sure they'll still appeal to the rock kids with crisp drums and power chords on the chorus breaking through the otherwise stark musical setting and heartfelt vocals.
Incubus-Pardon Me(down 6 positions)
Pardon Me, from the Make Yourself CD, resembles a lot of music on rock radio with its anthemic chorus, power guitar chords and anguished lyrics about having had enough of the world. However, as an acoustic version indicates, there is a real, thought out song within the more rocking record. Brandon Boyd's intensity and images of spontaneous combustion are striking. The band also create a distinctive sound on the electric version. A good, jagged beat and records scratched by their DJ add to a feel of turmoil.
Rage Against The Machine-Sleep Now in the Fire(down 3 positions)
On Sleep Now in the Fire, as usual, Zack de la Rocha delivers a heartfelt rant against the world's evils. With hyberbolic flair, the lyrics refer to a society willing to ruin the world to satisfy its desires and punish those who don't follow the greedy plan. Rage's passionate political beliefs make them distinctive but their music helps attracts the millions even when their message is a little over the top. Tom Morello's fast, driving guitar makes Sleep Now in the Fire great rock.
Nine Days-Absolutely(Story of a Girl)buy it!
Absolutely, the first single from the Madding Crowd CD, has actually been around for a while. Apparently, its breakthrough was assisted by an appearance on Dawson's Creek. Like recent pop hits like the Friends theme and Better Than Ezra's Good and In The Blood, Absolutely bursts with irresistable energy and deserves to be a hit. Absolutely isn't really the story of a girl. The details are fairly limited in the lyrics about a sad woman who "cried a river and drowned the whole world." But the chorus about absolutely loving her when she smiles is simple and nice. The fast guitar riffs are steady and uplifting, with split second breaks creating great tension.
Metallica-No Leaf Clover(down 6 positions)
Metallica's music is pretty overblown under any circumstances. Playing with an orchestra in the concerts recorded on the S & M CD would seem to play to their worst, most bombastic instincts. Somehow, while it's way too much and a little silly, the band does find some beauty and meaning in the new setting. No Leaf Clover is pretty pretentious musically but it also has some melodic appeal. The lyrics have the band's typical pessimism. The message is that when things seem to be going well, your luck is bound to change: "that light at the end of the tunnel is just a freight train coming your way."
Creed-With Arms Wide Open(up 15 positions)
Higher, the power ballad from Creed's Human Clay CD, is easily the longest running song on the chart, having been on the top 50 for more than seven months. Now that it's inevitably been embraced by pop radio, Higher is going to hang on for a while longer. When it's finally played out, With Arms Wide Open seems destined to follow Higher up the pop charts. It's another sweeping ballad but the music is a little less intense than usual and Scott Stapp's vocals are a little less pretentious. The subject matter is also more appealing than Creed's usual religious tirades. Stapp actually sounds a little humble as he welcomes his baby to the world.
N Sync-Bye Bye Bye(down 4 positions)
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.