Destiny's Child-Jumpin' Jumpin'(up 2 positions)
Destiny's Child's Writing's On The Wall CD has produced a ton of R & B hits. Jumpin' Jumpin' is their second big pop hit after Say My Name. I found Say My Name repetitive and draggy. Jumpin' Jumpin' is considerably more lively. It has a nonstop, frantic energy with a good, crisp beat and staccato keyboard notes underlining the vocals. Jumpin' Jumpin' is hardly weighty but it has a positive feel to go with its lyrics inviting men and women to leave their partners for a night and go to a happening club.
Vast is fronted by intense rocker Jon Crosby. Crosby is like a lot of the self doubting and often self hating hard rockers out there. But he is also a little different since his writing seems a little more sensitive and thought out. Free is from the new Music For People CD.
Jessica Simpson-I Think I'm In Love With You(up 1 position)
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.
Sister Hazel-Change Your Mind(down 4 positions)
The Florida band had big pop and easy listening success with All For You, from their Somewhere More Familiar CD, which was pleasant enough the first hundred times but became irritatingly banal as it refused to leave the radio. Change Your Mind, from the new Fortress CD, is more genial music from guys who are even mellower than Hootie & the Blowfish. The lyrics are pretty empty, trying to convince someone of the power of positive thinking and that problems can be resolved if you "give up the state of mind you're in." The music isn't exciting but Sister Hazel display their ability to create a warm sound with good harmonies.
Janet Jackson-Doesn't Really Matter(up 5 positions)
Janet Jackson became a multiplatinum act in the late 80's thanks to the Control record and the tough, no nonsense image she presented with songs like What Have You Done For Me Lately and Nasty. Since then I've found Jackson(now simply calling herself Janet) a little fakey when she's tried to present herself as the innocent girl next door. Still, she is appealing on Doesn't Really Matter as her nearly whispered vocals glide easily over the pleasant, light dance music of the song from the Nutty Professor II soundtrack. The saccharine lyrics match her sweet, too good to be true character from the movie. Janet sings, it "doesn't really matter what the eye is seeing, 'cause I'm in love with the inner being." and "what matters is you're nutty, nutty, nutty for me."
Joe-I Wanna Know(unchanged)
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.
Wheatus-Teenage Dirtbag(up 4 positions)
The teens were bound to love this story of a school kid who gets pushed around. Teenage Dirtbag is on the soundtrack of the movie Loser as well as Wheatus' self titled CD. The song and the movie have similar plots. Brendan Brown sings that the girls don't know who he is and the guys in the school give him a hard time. Like the movie, the song has a happy ending. The song's ending is probably supposed to be a fantasy as the girl of his dreams likes him after all and shares his love for Iron Maiden. Wheatus resemble Weezer in combining power chords and a nerdy persona. But Brown, with his twerpy, high pitched voice which he doesn't have to change much to play the song's female, is a little more of a smart ass and doesn't seem to sincerely feel his character's pain like Weezer's Rivers Cuomo does.
As if we don't have enough bland boy groups, now we're importing them. The British trio sound particularly pleasant, clean cut and inoffensive, unless you're offended by their repeatedly calling a girl "baby." The harmonies aren't great and at worst, they threaten the innocuous blissful serenity of Savage Garden. Back Here, from the Sooner or Later CD is decent enough, starting with acoustic guitars and working up to an O.K. beat. The lyrics are an amiable plea for forgiveness, as a guy admits he was wrong and says nothing's been the same since she's been gone.
Aaliyah-Try Again(down 4 positions)
With its edgy but inobtrusive beat and keyboards and Aaliyah's confident presence, Try Again, from the soundtrack of the movie Romeo Must Die, is very cool hip hop with a good, smooth sound. Aaliyah presents herself as an appealingly strong woman. Wary of being thrown a line, keeps a guy on his toes, making it clear she's into him like he's into her but not wanting to be used and discarded. She asks to wait and see, looking for him to earn her trust and hinting that his persistence will pay off even if she "might be shy on the first date."
Limp Bizkit-Take a Look Around(down 9 positions)
The second hit from M:I-2 is a good time musically. Rock guitars and keyboards riff on the Mission Impossible in a fairly predictable but enjoyable way and the music has a good beat and good energy. Fred Durst's rap also keeps things moving. Durst hasn't always been the most positive character so it's questionable whether he has the right to bemoan the fact that "hate is all the world has even seen lately." Of course, Durst's real concern isn't hatred in the world but people hating him. He's got a point about critics giving him a hard time but for someone who presents himself as a tough nonconformist who doesn't care what people think, it's a little inconsistent that he lets the criticism get to him.
N Sync-It's Gonna Be Me(down 2 positions)
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.
Stir-Climbing The Walls(up 1 position)
It's understandable that the rock ballad Climbing The Walls is getting some airplay. Like the band's more rocking first chart hit New Beginning, Climbing The Walls sounds familiar and is pleasant and inoffensive. However, it also makes sense that the St. Louis band's Holy Dogs CD isn't selling too many copies. Andy Schmidt's vocals are sincere but like the music, with its generic rock riff, they don't have much personality. Schmidt sings that he doesn't know if he can make it through the night, apparently because of romantic problems.
Toni Braxton-He Wasn't Man Enough(down 1 position)
Toni Braxton has had most of her success with big ballads. The first hit single from The Heat, Braxton's first CD in four years, is an attempt to show that she's kept up with the times. He Wasn't Man Enough is a sleek dance song with a good, light groove. But it isn't the best showcase for Braxton's vocal talents. She's stuck in a low, mannered tone. The song does do a good job of weaving her voice with more energetic backing vocals. He Wasn't Man Enough is basically the musical version of a catfight. Songwriter/producer Rodney Jerkins makes Braxton seem pretty nasty. The lyric quickly makes the point that Braxton's old flame's new girl doesn't have to worry that Braxton is still interested since she let him go. Braxton's dis of the guy is so harsh that it makes her look bad as she repeatedly sings that he begged her to stay.
The title track from Madonna's new CD shows that an incredibly stupid song can be a hit if it's got a good beat and it's sung by a star. The broad, silly 70's tinged video for Music makes it clear that Madonna knows the song is dopey. That knowing irony, even combined with the occasional clever line like "music makes the bourgeoisie want to rebel", still doesn't stop Music from being a little annoying. You're supposed to be reminded of disco's mindless fun by the simple words: "hey mister d.j., put a record on, I want to dance with my baby." French studio wiz Mirwais Ahmadzai does a good job of laying down the beats and adding the house effects.
Babylon, from Gray's White Ladder CD, is a very nice introduction for the Welsh singer/songwriter to a larger audience. Gray presents an appealing humble and unassuming persona. He owns up to his mistakes in his relationship, admitting he's "been a fool to ever open up my heart to all that jealousy, that bitterness, that ridicule." He asks for another chance, singing "the love that I was giving you was never in doubt" and asking his partner to "let go your heart, let go your head and feel it now." The music is good and minimal with a little acoustic guitar, piano and a steady beat.
Jonny Lang-Breakin' Mebuy it!
Usually it's Jonny Lang's guitar playing that's a little overdone. On Breakin' Me, the latest radio track from the teenager's Wander This World CD, it's the lyrics and singing that are over the top. The guitar on Breakin' Me is decent and restrained but a cutesy piercing piano line is irritating. The singing isn't bad, it just lacks subtlety, especially in conjuction with overwrought lyrics that repeatedly beg a woman to take him back. He's on his knees, with "nothin' left to hold to", unable not to love the woman he left.
Queens of the Stone Age-The Lost Art of Keeping a Secretbuy it!
It turns out that the most influential alternative rock band of the 90's might not have been Nirvana or even Pearl Jam. Queens of the Stone Age are another young band that resemble Alice In Chains. Like that now defunct band, Queens of the Stone Age have assaultive guitars and a nasty edge but still know how to make a catchy hook. The Lost Art's chorus, with Josh Homme singing menacingly, "whatever you do, don't tell anybody" is a real grabber. The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret is from the band's CD called R.
Even Spears' preteen worshippers might start losing interest if Spears and her svengali Max Martin keeps making lightweight music like this one from her Oops! I Did It Again CD. I don't know if it's supposed to be a joke or show her self awareness but it's a bizarre idea to have Spears sing about the empty life of a media created young star with a perfect smile. The beat is solid and the sound is sleek but the end result is pretty boring. Spears' vocals sound electronically enhanced as she sings about how Lucky "cries in her lonely heart."
Christina Aguilera-Come On Over (All I Want Is You)(down 2 positions)
After showing off her pipes on I Turn To You, the ballad by songwriter to the stars Diane Warren, Aguilera is back to light dance music on the fourth single from her debut CD. Come On Over is a little less gimmicky than her previous hits. The strength and maturity of Aguilera's big soulful voice show that comparisons to Mariah and Whitney are more appropriate than those to Britney. Come On Over is smooth and pleasantly perky. She again is the very available fantasy girl she first played on Genie In a Bottle, telling a guy that she "never felt this way before" and "you've got all I'm looking for."
Creed-Higher(down 6 positions)
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.
Rage Against The Machine-Testify(unchanged)
Testify, the third chart hit from the Battle of Los Angeles, debuted on the top 50 as the band was playing a protest concert outside the Democratic Convention. One of the pleasures of the convention coverage was watching anchors trying to explain the band. Despite the impression some of the reporters gave, the band are idealistic and somewhat simplistic but they know what they're talking about. Testify is about coverage of the Gulf War. They argue that the killing of Iraqis was all about oil profits and that the media put a soothing face on atrocities but had a responsibility to expose the dark side of U.S. actions. As always, the passion of the lyrics and Zach DeLaRocha 's singing grabs you but Tom Morello's big but melodic guitar sound keeps things appealing.
Tracy Chapman-Wedding Songbuy it!
Tracy Chapman usually seems so serious that sweet isn't an adjective normally connected with her. However Wedding Song, the second chart song from her Telling Stories CD, is simple and sweet. The music is fairly undramatic but her voice is strong and real as she sings that no matter what situation she imagines, she always sees her partner "right beside me." She expresses a refreshing sense of trust, placing her faith in her love and expressing a willingness "to think not only of myself but of the greater union."
AC/DC-Satelite Blues(down 1 position)
With its familiar crunchy guitar chords and piercingly shrieked vocals Satelite Blues, from the Stiff Upper Lip CD, finds AC/DC in their simple, classic mode. It's very similar to the band's popular songs like Hell's Bells and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and their core fans probably don't mind. Angus and Malcolm Young's lyrics are as unsophisticated as ever as Brian Johnson sings about a woman who "make the place a jumping", "brings me to the boil" and "like to give it up some." They then apparently move on to complaints about a satelite dish that won't work.
98 Degrees-Give Me Just One Night(Una Noche)buy it!
Give Me Just One Night was probably an attempt to jump on the Latin pop bandwagon. The craze was probably peaking just as the group was recording their Revelation CD. Still, the song has a good, jumpy beat, an uncluttered arrangement and an easy energy. There's a chance that Give Me Just One Night's sound could be too sophisticated for the group's pre-teen following but the girls will probably love the cocky persona the dopey lyrics project. Nick Lachey confidently sings, "your lips keep telling me you want me", "I know that deep inside you need me" and "no one else can make it right."
Phish-Heavy Things(down 5 positions)
On the likably relaxed Heavy Things, from the Farmhouse CD, the band invites the Grateful Dead that have followed Phish for years. Trey Anastasio's vocals, singing about the things coming down on him and referring to women he's known, have a Garcia-like modesty and he finishes the song with a nice loose guitar solo. With good harmonies and keyboards, the skilled band creates a positive vibe.