The Offspring-Want You Bad(up 2 positions)
The second single from the Conspiracy Of One CD follows the colorful silliness of the rock/hip hop hybrid Original Prankster, with a returns to The Offspring's punk pop signature sound. Want You Bad is also stupid, a dopey male fantasy, but it's very energetic with fast, fun guitars and drums. With his typical yell, Dexter tells his girl "you're too nice" and advises her to get tattoos and mistreat him.
Dream-He Loves U Not(up 3 positions)
Everyone wants a piece of the lucrative teen pop market. Puffy Combs is among those behind the latest package of young females. He Loves U Not, from the CD It Was All A Dream, has a familiar sound that basically guaranteed its success. On He Loves U Not, Dream sound like Christina Aguilera without Aguilera's vocal personality or a white Destiny's Child without their sleek sound. He Loves U Not also resembles N Sync's It's Gonna Be Me. It has efficient, basic music with a big, stuttering beat. The singing and lyrics have a youthful simplicity young girls can handle. The girls claim not to care about another girl who is trying to take a boyfriend since they know he only loves her.
Strait Up featuring Lajon-Angel's Son(down 3 positions)
Lynn Strait, Snot's lead singer, died in a car accident two years ago. Angel's Song is from Strait Up, a CD with the surviving members of the band and various modern rock singers. Lajon Witherspoon is Sevendust's singer. He reminds me of Jeffrey Gaines and Living Colour's Corey Glover, two other African-American rock singers, but Lajon might be better than either of them. Unfortunately, his singing with Sevendust is often overdramatic and buried under harsh guitars. On Angel's Son, even with less cluttered acoustic backing, Lajon is too emotive but his tribute to Strait is heartfelt and moving. He sings that he "can't go on without you rearranging" and regrets that he never said goodbye when he "had so much left to say."
Voices, the second hit from the Sickness CD, isn't quite as unpleasant as Stupify but I still find it unappealingly nasty. David Draiman angrily roars that he's "gonna talk about some freaky shit now" then asks "are you breathing now?" and says "someone's gonna die." Voices is probably about Draiman's troubled mind. It ends with some garbage about feeling "the subliminal need to be one with the voice and make everything all right" but Voices' imagery is still distasteful. The heavy, atttacking guitars creating a menacing, though powerful, atmosphere.
K-Ci & Jojo-Crazy(up 6 positions)
Recently, smooth African American love men have been seriously outnumbered at top of the pop charts by R&B divas and white teen pop singers. K-Ci & Jojo Hailey, brothers who were formerly members of Jodeci, return to the charts with a soul ballad from their X CD. They're one of three groups that entered the top 50 within a week in January with a very mellow song about a guy who's nothing without his woman and is willing to do anything for her. K-Ci & Jojo seem like better singers than 98 Degrees and BBMak but their delivery is ridiculously overemotive. The pathetic lyrics apologize for being a fool, beg for her to come back and repeat how obsessed he is with her. Crazy has easy listening backing with a restrained beat and tasteful piano though the chorus tries to spice things up by distorting the voices with a silly vocoder effect. Crazy is also on the Save The Last Dance soundtrack. It's had incessant play on MTV which, not coincidentally, produced Save The Last Dance.
Barenaked Ladies-Too Little Too Late(up 4 positions)
BNL's main singer Stephen Page is outdone on the Maroon CD by Ed Robertson, who has two of the new CD's best songs, Pinch Me and Falling For The First Time. However, Page has a few good songs and Too Little Too Late may be the best of them. Maroon's second single is a little like Stunt's It's All Been Done. Too Little Too Late is fun, high energy straight ahead rock with Robertson's good, tight guitar riff. Page's self centered character blames his partner for his bad behavior, saying he would be good, "if I knew I was understood" and dooms the relationship by always being a little late in correcting his faults.
Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera-Nobody Wants To Be Lonely(up 10 positions)
Nobody Wants To Be Lonely, from Ricky Martin's Sound Loaded CD, is another celebrity duet that seem more like a contest than a collaboration. Martin's pleasant, unremarkable voice is better suited to light, dance pop so it's not surprising that Christina Aguilera's showy vocal acrobatics grab the spotlight on this sleek, empty piece of pop. The song starts with a slight Latin feel but soon has a glossy, generic feel and an uninteresting, repetitive beat. The lyrics are fairly lame. Martin asks someone whose "heart is cold and lost the will to love, like a broken arrow" "why don't you let me love you." The song drifts innocuously as Martin sings about his longing. It gets interesting for a moment on the chorus as Aguilera soars over Martin singing, "Time is precious and it's slipping away and I've been waitin' for you all of my life" but then slips back into repetition.
Everlast-I Can't Move(down 6 positions)
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.
Destiny's Child-Independent Women Pt. 1(down 1 position)
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.
Diffuser-Karma(down 9 positions)
Karma is from Diffuser's Injury Loves Melody CD. The music is hard rock without a nasty attitude. Karma is pretty standard power chord driven rock and roll but it has good energy. The philosophy-lite lyrics aren't as spiritually meaningful as the band thinks but they fit the band's pleasantly searching persona: "sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you get what you need, but you're always going to get what you deserve."
Shaggy-Angel(up 1 position)
A song with Shaggy thanking a girl, to the tune of Angel Of The Morning, for giving her love, over a riff copped for Steve Miller's The Joker, is not promising. However, as on the silly, very un-politically correct It Wasn't Me, Shaggy's charm overcomes a lot. Shaggy's cocky even when he's supposed to be humble("I called and you heeded, mission completed") and it's hard to believe him suddenly realizing his girl should be treated like a queen but his confident, deep Jamaican rap and easy charm("she was there through my incarceration, I wanna show the nation my appreciation") explains why women would want to believe him. As on It Wasn't Me, Angel wisely pairs Shaggy with a smoother singer though Rayvon's Angel Of The Morning chorus is sickly sweet. Angel, from the Hotshot CD, has a clear sound with a strong, steady beat and the Joker riff works pretty well.
Train-Drops Of Jupiterbuy it!
Drops Of Jupiter is the title track from Train's new CD. Train broke through with their likable, unassuming hit Meet Virginia. Drops Of Jupiter is also appealing though, with its soaring strings, this rock ballad seems a little more calculated. Drops Of Jupiter is a nice tribute to love and an impressive woman whose growth convinces singer Pat Monahan "that there's time to change."
Shaggy-It Wasn't Me(down 4 positions)
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.
Pink-You Make Me Sick(up 4 positions)
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.
Evan and Jaron-Crazy For This Girl(down 1 position)
The most interesting thing about Evan and Jaron Lowenstein is that they're probably already the most successful Orthodox Jew twin brother singers in pop history. Crazy For This Girl owes some of its success to being on the second Dawson Creek's soundtrack CD. On Crazy For The Girl, which is also on their self titled CD, the boys have a smooth, sincere, clean cut sound as they sing about the girl they think about constantly who "don't know how I feel." The sound doesn't have much more edge than the teen pop boy bands. But like Hey Leonardo, another song by adults that was aimed at a young audience, Crazy For This Girl is a guilty pleasure. It's superficial but with catchy hooks and good, tight guitar riffs on the chorus.
Oleander-Are You There?buy it!
Why I'm Here and I Walk Alone from Oleander's February Son CD were favorites at rock radio. They were influenced by grunge and classic rock sound and had intense, emotional vocals. Are You There, from the California band's new Unwind CD, keeps the band in the same unoriginal vein.
Five For Fighting-Easy Tonight(down 4 positions)
Five For Fighting is singer/songwriter John Ondrasik's project. It's easy to imagine Easy Tonight with just Ondrasik's voice and piano but he gives it a big production with a big beat on his America Town CD. With his easy, adult sound and sensitive but intense vocals on Easy Tonight, Ondrasik sounds a little like Shawn Mullins. They're both also a little affected. Ondrasik sings about a woman who's now gone. His recitation of all the things she was(you were wrong, you were right, you took a ride on the suicide romance) and his attempts at self expression("I don't know where I'm going but I sure am getting there") are a little corny.
Outkast-Ms. Jackson(up 5 positions)
Outkast's Stankonia was justifiably one of the most critically acclaimed CDs of 2000 and Ms. Jackson is one of the best songs getting heavy play on MTV. Ms. Jackson has a cool, easy groove with a simple, piano effect. Two good, contrasting rappers work on a baby's mama's mama. Big Boi barely contains his anger through a fast, dextrous rap, complaining about paying the bills for his baby but never getting to be with her. Andre 3000's rap is looser. He hopes his relationship will last forever then realizes how long forever is. Ms. Jackson finds some basis to the stereotype of the irresponsible estranged African American dad, but humanizes the character.
Backstreet Boys-The Call(up 6 positions)
The Call, from Backstreet Boys' Black and Blue CD, is another song written by teen pop svengali Max Martin and it's a pale imitation of teen pop hits like It's Gonna Be Me and Baby One More Time. The Call's music is cold and strained. The setting becomes silly and overdramatic with a choir effect. The insistent, metallic beat and the vocals, featuring A.J. McLean, are harshly staccato. I guess the lyrics are a cautionary tale for the male fans. The character lies to his girlfriend, goes home with another, gets found out and is still saying I'm sorry two years later.
Limp Bizkit-Rollin'(down 4 positions)
Of the two singles from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, My Generation got most of the early play. Modern rock stations are now focusing more on Rollin'. Both songs are hard edged but Rollin' is even more urgent and edgy. The band's mix of hard rock guitar and hip hop beats has energy and undeniable power but Rollin' is so harsh that it's hard to like. As usual, Fred Durst's rap is the weak link. His squealed rhymes are typically paranoid, singing about people who "wanna mess with Limp Bizkit." We hope that he's gently mocking rap cliches when he urges us to "put them hands in the air." The dopey chorus tells us over and over again to keep rollin', rollin, rollin'.
Matthew Good Band-Hello Time Bombbuy it!
Sadly, Hello Time Bomb's tale of someone "ready to go off" is as timely today as it was when the song first came out on the Canadian band's Beautiful Midnight CD in 1999. Hello Time Bomb seems exploitative and obvious, with its ticking sound and sinister effects on the verses, angry guitar power chords on the chorus and Good's cold, cocky vocals. Hello Time Bomb tells of a young man whose life finds a reason and an answer for a life that can "push and push 'til it hurts" as he presumably plans an act of mass destruction and dares the world to "see if I'm kidding."
Rage Against The Machine-Renegades Of Funk(down 2 positions)
Renegades Of Funk is from Renegades, a record of political songs originally done by people like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Cypress Hill. It's Rage Against The Machine's last CD with Singer Zack De La Rocha, who is leaving for a solo career. Renegades Of Funk is a cover of an Afrika Bambaataa song. Zack gets into it, having fun with the commands to move and groove. Rage always claim a single minded determination to fight for justice so they must like Renegades Of Funk's sweeping statements. Renegades' hook, "no matter how you try you can't stop us now", has the optimism of a Rage song like Guerilla Radio. There's also a little self aggrandizement. They boast, "we change the course of history" and compare themselves to Martin Luther King and Tom Paine. Renegades Of Funk is more about beats and less about guitars than the usual Rage song. The cheap Sci Fi synth recalls the sound of Afrika Bambaataa's time. The beats and the simple idealism create an appealing energy.
Semisonic-Chemistry(down 4 positions)
Semisonic's first release, 1996's Great Divide was smart and subtle and didn't sell many copies. They found success in '98 with the fun and often dopey Feeling Strangely Fine, which had the repetitive, ridiculously catchy Closing Time. Singer/songwriter Dan Wilson and Semisonic are back with the All About Chemistry CD and its first single, Chemistry.
The Deftones-Digital Bathbuy it!
Digital Bath, the second chart hit from The Deftones' White Pony CD, is about an intense relationship. Like Change, Digital Bath is effectively spooky and atmospheric. For most of the song, the guitars and Chino Moreno's vocals hold back their fury and drums and keyboards create an edgy but restrained sound. It's powerful when the guitars are unleashed and Moreno lets out an anguished cry, "tonight, I feel like more."
Collective Soul-Ventbuy it!
Vent is from Collective Soul's Blender CD. As usual, the Georgia band tries to cover all the bases. Part of Vent is dancable with silly disco keyboards. Part of it has hard rocking guitars. Similarly, Ed Roland's vocals swing from that of a tough rocker to a goofy falsetto. Vent's chorus is undeniably catchy but marred by its stupid, nasty lyrics: "no truth in you exists/you bite before you lick, I love ya cause you're such a prick."