Eminem-Lose Yourself(down 13 positions)
It makes sense that Eminem is making his film acting debut in the semi-autobiographical 8 Mile. He's always had a lot of presence and self confidence and has specialized in self aggrandizing semi-autobiographical work. Lose Yourself, from the 8 Mile soundtrack, continues Eminem's huge breakthrough year on the pop charts. He's had his first three top ten hits in 2002. Lose Yourself isn't as distinctive as most of Eminem's previous singles but it is another good, interesting song. Lose Yourself has a tense, urgent sound. Eminem's rap is, as usual, technically strong. He evokes the tension of the performer trying to take advantage of his "one shot" with a breathless, agitated delivery. Jeff Bass' threatening, repeated guitar line and a stiff, basic beat emphasizes Lose Yourself's edgy feel. Eminem opens with vivid description of a sweaty performer. Since it's Eminem, it's not surprising that the details include that he's vomited his mom's spaghetti on his sweater. Eminem's depicts the combination of insecurity and confidence in his ability that drives him. His character is nervous but "looks calm and ready." Choking on stage just gets him mad and more determined. Audience rejection whips up a rage that sharpens his work. Shifting into the first person on the final verse, Eminem's intensity builds. He lists the forces threatening to overwhelm him: determination not to return to his mom's trailer life, the "dishonor" of struggling "to feed and water my seed", his "prima donna baby mama" and the boredom of a "normal life." He resolves to "formulate a plot 'fore I end up in jail or shot." As usual, Eminem is overly melodramatic but he ends up producing something exciting.
Disturbed-Remember(up 4 positions)
Remember is the second chart hit from Disturbed's Believe CD. Remember is another piece of trash from the Chicago based band led by troubled singer David Draiman. Disturbed apparently weren't satisfied selling millions of their angry, edgy, threatening Sickness CD. Believe preserves Distubed's attacking, nasty sound but it also seems made with one eye to the market. Remember has a slightly calmer, commercial sound than the band's previous hits. Disturbed's attempt at mainstream rock success makes them seem lamer than ever. On Remember, Draiman again tells about his excruciating inner sickness. Draiman apparently had suppressed "pain I felt so long ago." He is no longer able to ignore the pain but he tries to hide it behind a mask. For a guy who comes on like such a tough guy, Draiman is quite a whiner.
Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow-Picture(up 2 positions)
Until Picture was released as a single, Kid Rocks Cocky CD wasnt selling and his career was in decline. Now, a year and a half after it was released, Cocky is another multiplatinum hit for Kid Rock. Ive never been a Kid Rock fan but Picture impresses me. Picture shows more smarts than I thought Kid Rock had. Picture, with its story of a guy cheating on the road while his woman cheats at home, has the feel of a country classic. Kid Rock uses the comfort of a traditional form but doesnt condescend. Pictures music gets an authentic feel from steel guitar but doesnt overdo the twang. The music stays nicely minimal with restrained drumming and organ and a good, simple guitar solo. Kid Rock isnt a great singer but hes decently controlled. As usual, vocal pro Sheryl Crow is solid. Shes a natural with a country ballad but she doesnt upstage Kid Rock. Picture is a big improvement over Kid Rocks previous hit ballad, the self pitying God Only Knows. Picture has a surprising sad sweetness. The adulterers regret their actions and both just want him to come back home.
Sum 41-Still Waiting(unchanged)
Sum 41's new CD is called Does This Look Infected? Sum 41 broke through with the youthful, poppy, punky hits from All Killer, No Filler CD. Still Waiting shows signs that the band is making the huge mistake of wanting to grow up and be taken seriously. Still Waiting's video reveals jealousy at the critical respect The Strokes receive. On Fat Lip, the band just demanded the chance to have a good, stupid time. Now they want us to believe that they're looking for "hope to believe" in a world full of hating. It seems clear that Sum 41 is best suited to make dopey, fun music and that's what people want from them. Still Waiting, with its attempt at lyrical significance and Derick Whibley's meaningful ranting, has an uncomfortable resemblance to the lesser work of The Offspring, whose music seems to get stupider the more they try to seem smart. Still Waiting does show benefits of Sum 41's new intensity. I don't love the darkness of the singing and Whibley and Dave Baksh's guitar but I do like that Still Waiting is fast, energetic and focused, without the foolishness that has made some of their music more cutesy than fun.
Jay-Z featuring Beyonce-03 Bonnie & Clyde(down 3 positions)
03 Bonnie & Clyde, from The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse, is Jay-Zs biggest pop hit so far(yeah Im pretty sure its even bigger than that Hard Knock Life song). Not being the most knowledgable hip hop fan, I thought of Coolios Gangstas Paradise when I first heard 03 Bonnie & Clyde. Of course, the most direct influence on 03 B & C is Tupac Shakurs Me and My Girlfriend. Jay-Z reminds me of his fellow ultra successful entrepreneur P. Diddy. They both arent so skilled as rappers but get by with their spoken voice style on confidence and a forceful personality. Especially on 03 B & C, my votes with Jay-Z. His rap is fairly uninflected but it has an appealing directness and doesnt have the silliness and ego that can plague Diddy. With a good, steady beat and acoustic guitar riffs, Jay-Zs unstoppable vocal and the soft, sexy contributions of Jay-Zs real life girlfriend Beyonce Knowles, 03 B & C has an appealingly smooth, relaxed flow. The lyric paints a sweet picture of domestic bliss. Depicting he and B as the new Bobby and Whitney(an unusual choice of romantic role models), Jay-Z describes a relationship of free communication(except when Bs watching Sex and The City) where each would do anything necessary for the other and disses dudes that treat the one that you lovin with the same respect as the one that you humpin.
Ja Rule featuring Ashanti-Mesmerize(up 9 positions)
I am really sick of hearing Ja Rule's self satisfied rasp of a voice on his and other people's hits. And I don't like the way Ashanti fits into Jeff Atkins' and Irv Gotti's "man's world" as the ideal, submissive woman. But, damn it, Ja and Irv know how to make catchy, if very lightweight, hits. On Mesmerize, from his The Last Temptation CD, Ja's croak is as annoying as ever. But Ashanti's sweet voice is as appealing as ever and the perky little synth riff is ridiculously catchy. I'd imagine that disses from 50 Cent and others would encourage Ja to toughen up his sound, but I guess, with the success he's had, he's crying all the way to the bank. Mesmerize is another opportunity for Ja to objectify women as he dissects the parts of a women that he loves and uninterestingly says how he wants to "do it" with her. Annoyingly, Ashanti's character mostly plays along, swooning and asking him to "take me tonight and do what you do to me baby."
Good Charlotte-Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous(down 4 positions)
I like twin brothers Joel and Benji, Good Charlotte's singer and guitar player, as hosts of MTV's All Things Rock. They're pleasant, self deprecating and not too stupid. I certainly prefer them to the blond bimbo who seems to have replaced them. But Good Charlotte's good nature isn't enough to make me like the single from their The Young and The Hopeless CD. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous feels a little stale. Wasn't the tv show the song's named after on more than 20 years ago? And the choices of famous people to exemplify famous person misbehavior, O.J. Simpson and Marion Barry, aren't exactly fresh. Lifestyles also suffers musically from similarity to other poppy punksters. If anything distinguishes Lifestyles from recent hits by New Found Glory, Sum 41, I'm missing it. With big, upbeat drums, high energy vocals and a catchy chorus, Lifestyles is pleasant and easy to listen to, like a perky cover band's version of Iggy's Lust For Life but it's so unimaginative and unoriginal that it barely gets my attention. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous has the punky/Robin Hood premise that since the rich and famous are self pitying, they deserve to be taught a lesson by having their mansions burglarized or being forced to live on the street. It doesn't address how a modicum of fame and riches will effect Good Charlotte though, in their defense, I don't think they'll be "always complaining." Good Charlotte seem like nice guys. Too bad their single's music and lyrics aren't more interesting.
T.A.T.U.-All The Things She Said(up 2 positions)
A lot of contemporary European music is garbage. People on the continent seem to love music that takes 70s disco and makes it even more glossy and superficial. However, All The Things She Said reminds me of how, after listening to American pop carefully produced to sound familiar, European music, with its love of big sounds, over the top dramatics and odd subjects, can be refreshing. All The Things She Said, from T.A.T.Us 200 Km/h In The Wrong Lane CD, with its big beat and power chords, cheesy synths and anguished vocals, is currently one of my favorite pop songs. The frantic emoting of Julia Volkova and Lena Katina, T.A.T.U.s young Russian singers(who are probably not real life lovers), effectively matches All The Things She Saids story of tortured lesbian attraction. All The Things She Said is packed with intense, passionate soap imagery of passion thats opened my eyes but made her feel totally lost and like shes lost my mind and crossed the line. It would be inaccurate to imply that All The Things She Said travelled, without alteration, from Russian dance clubs to American airwaves. All The Things She Said was polished by producer Trevor Horn who in his work with, among others, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Buggles and Yes, practically defined a flashy, dramatic early 80s dance rock sound. Either Horn is trapped in his production style of 20 years ago or he realized it would work well on All The Things She Said. Regardless, his retro sound helped create a very fun final product.
Tori Amos-A Sorta Fairytale(unchanged)
Tori Amos had some mainstream radio success with songs like God, Silent All These Years and Crucify from her early solo CDs Under The Pink and Little Earthquakes. Recently, Amos' career has taken a slightly more obscure path, concluding with 2001's Strange Little Girls, her collection of songs originally done by guys. A Sorta Fairytale, supported by a bizarre video with an oddly poignant conclusion, is Amos' first hit in the four years we've been doing the All-Reviews top 50. A Sorta Fairytale, from Amos' Scarlet's Walk CD, is a nice reminder of Amos' gift for mixing melody, classicism and eccentricity. A Sorta Fairytale shows Amos' ability to subtly grab our attention. A Sorta Fairytale starts quietly with Amos' delicate piano playing and an effective, fairly inobtrusive drum machine beat. It builds a little on the chorus which has David Torn's good, simple guitar riff. A Sorta Fairytale also varies its subdued sound with a slightly brighter bridge. Amos sings slowly. Her vocal is restrained but her thoughtful, interesting personality still shines through. A Sorta Fairytale's sound matches its lyrics. Amos sadly relates how an apparent "life long thing" relationship was lost.
Pink-Family Portrait(down 3 positions)
When her M!ssundaztood CD came out, Pink proclaimed that she was taking a huge chance by abandoning a safe musical formula. As its turned out, Pink just traded one radio friendly style for another slightly different one. In retrospect, the real chance Pink took was in filling M!ssundaztood with all kinds of biographical information. The risk has paid off. Pink was a fairly generic dance pop artist. Now she has a very identifiable image as feistily overcome obstacles life has thrown at her. Family Portraits success is the clearest sign yet that a large audience is willing to follow Pinks search for self discovery wherever it goes. Pinks previous hits were catchy enough that listeners could just have been tolerating the self expression because the music helped it go down easily. The only purpose of Family Portraits music is to accentuate the poignant mood and stay out of the way of Family Portraits story. Family Portrait is unadorned enough and apparently so much about Pink that much of its appeal must come from its vicarious look at Pinks youth. Family Portraits soap opera style piano brings Mary J. Bliges No More Drama to mind. But unlike that songs self dramatizing portrayal of not being dramatic, Family Portrait keeps things fairly subdued until pushing the emotional buttons by closing with a kiddie chorus. Family Portrait, with Pinks character feeling responsible for and trying to fix up her parents screwed up relationship, doesnt say anything about domestic strife that hasnt been said in dozens of TV movies but Pinks pained delivery sounds real enough that her simple portrayal of a dysfunctional family packs some emotional power, even with its cliches. Nothing about Family Portraits music gets my attention. And in conjunction with its video, with a tv commercial cute kid playing young Pink, Family Portrait is too much of an ego massage for my liking. But Pinks fans surely appreciate the chance to fill in her back story.
Dave Matthews Band-Grey Street(unchanged)
Grey Street is the third chart hit from the Busted Stuff CD. With Matthews pleasant, empathetic vocal, Grey Street has the comfortable, familiar, well played feel of a lot of Dave Matthews Band music. Leroi Moores sax and Boyd Tinsleys violin give Grey Street the lurching, stop and start flow of a song like Ants Marching. Grey Street is about a woman trapped in her home by depression. Matthews shows his knowledge of dynamics, letting the music rise as the character is offered an opportunity to experience the world. But just as the woman chooses to stay inside, Matthews mostly chooses to stay within his familiar, comfortable musical form.
Beck showed that hes not just a studio genius obsessed with beat and samples on Mutations, a record of serious country rock, but he still surprised people with the mellowness of his Sea Change CD. Theres a difference of opinion out there about whether the subdued Sea Change is a subtly beautiful tour de force or kind of a bore. Still, its hard for me to imagine much criticism of Lost Cause, Sea Changes strikingly delicate single. With acoustic guitar and quiet, dreamy synths and chimes, Beck simply creates a moving mood. Becks downbeat vocal communicates Lost Causes mix of sadness and frustration with a screwed up friend hes tired of fighting for but also finds hard to leave alone. Lost Cause also suggests a touch of hope in slightly optimistic chord changes. Lost Cause is a fragile, thoughtful masterpiece.
Superman is the third hit from The Eminem Show CD. In 2002 Eminem had his two biggest pop hits so far, Without Me and Lose Yourself, songs where the raps were so fluid and the music had so much momentum that it almost seemed irrelevant whether Mr. Mathers is a screwed up, misogynist jerk. Superman isn't as appealing. It gives a listener a chance to remember what's annoying about Eminem. On Superman, Eminem offers glimpses of his fast, smooth rapping skills but it's largely bad jokes and a fairly uninteresting, unvaried backing track. Superman is mostly stupid and pointless. It's basically about how "I'll never let another girl bring me down" and how he's basically resigned to a life of one night stands with "tricks" he'll more likely than not dis once they're done. In a mock sensitive voice, Eminem goofs on the idea of a caring guy "here to save you girl" and grow together with her. In case you don't get the joke, he follows that with "bitch, you make me hurl." He also says "don't put out, I'll put you." Dina Rae plays the role of the object of Eminem's affection and hostility. As often is the case with Eminem, you have to choose between whether to like him as a gifted artist or despise him as a hateful person. Superman, unlike most of Eminem's music, isn't musically likable enough to let you overlook his deficiencies. I don't really understand why Superman was released as a single(and why the mediocre rock rap of Sing for The Moment is the next single) when The Eminem Show has so many good songs(I would vote for one of the Hailie songs). And why isn't the fun, loose title track from 8 Mile a single? The main appeal of Superman is the insight it gives into a messed up brain. If you believe the lyrics, Eminem's experiences have made him so fearful and paranoid that he's doomed to shallow, unsatisfying relationships.
All-American Rejects-Swing Swing(unchanged)
The All-American Rejects are a young band from Stillwater, Oklahoma who fit somewhere within the emo genre. They share a love of a big, basic, upbeat, enthusiastic sound with Jimmy Eat World and other emo practitioners. Swing Swings mix of crunching guitars and shaggy goofiness brings to mind emo predecessors and godfathers Weezer. The way it adds cheesy keyboards to glossy guitar rock recalls an earlier generation of bands like Cheap Trick and Split Enz. Swing Swing is a good time, easily shifting musical focus from a jagged guitar riff to the keyboards to a good bass line. Tyson Ritter is appealingly earnest as he intensely yells. On Swing Swing, Ritter admits being devastated by a breakup but puts on a brave face, promising to find someone new.
Matchbox 20-Disease(down 14 positions)
Matchbox 20 has made a career of catchy pop songs with a touch of rock edge. None of their singles are great art but they're usually easy to listen and there's occasionally something interesting going on. The band's knack seems absent on Disease off the More Than You Think You Are CD. Disease's familiarity will get it a lot of airplay but it's pretty bad. Disease sounds a lot like Smooth, Rob Thomas' contribution to Santana's Supernatural CD. Its "'til I'm free of my disease" fade out sounds just like Smooth's "Or else forget about it." Disease doesn't have the light feel and easy flow Santana's rhythm based music gave Smooth. Disease is pretty heavy. Thomas does a dramatic vocal but the song doesn't have the substance to support the emoting. Thomas wrote Disease with Mick Jagger, who presumably chose not to include it on his Goddess In The Doorway CD. I don't really understand Disease's lyrics. On the first verse, Thomas chastises a partner for making "somebody's heart break" and taunts her: "I am stronger than you know/I have to let you go." After that, he tells us "my world is comin' down" and "I can't live without you" and he needs her to "keep your distance from me" until his obsession fades.
The Donnas-Take It Off(up 1 position)
Take It Off is from The Donnas' Spend The Night CD. The four women in the Donnas met in school in Palo Alto. They had a rock band called The Electrocutes. The Donnas started as a side project and a bit of a goof. Inspired by Joan Jett's early band The Runaways, they presented themselves as hard rocking jailbait. The Ramones are another obvious influence for women who all call themselves Donna and play fast, hard music with as few chords as possible. Because their songs are so basic, musically and lyrically, there's a limit to The Donnas' appeal. Still, they kick the asses of the boys on both of their flanks. They rock harder and are much more fun than the self pitying whiners predictably recycling 1992 grunge and they're more substantial and grown up than the silly kids scoring lightweight punky pop hits. Take It Off is refreshingly direct. Donna A(born Brett Anderson) tells a guy to "stop starin' at my D cup" and "just feel me up." The boys should take note of The Donnas' ability to be confident without putting down their object of desire. Donna R(Allison Robertson) gives Take It Off its catchiness and heft by laying down a steady flow of time tested AC/DC or ZZ Top style guitar riffs.
JC Chasez-Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love)(up 2 positions)
The fun, frenetic Blowin' Me Up With Her Love ensures that Justin Timberlake isn't the only N Sync-er finding solo success. While it doesn't indicate that Chasez will replace Timberlake as pop music's top hunk, I actually prefer Blowin' Me Up, with its sense of mischief, to Justin's carefully crafted hits. Blowin' Me Up is on the soundtrack to Drumline, a movie about competitions between school drumming groups that often infuse their synchronized performances with a hip hop sensibility. With its energy and big beat, Blowin' Me Up is a strong companion to the film. Deploying different riffs in different sections but maintaining a strong, stirring beat, Producer Dallas Austin(TLC, Boys II Men, Pink) creates an anything can happen feel and has more to do with Blowin' Me Up's success than its fairly innocuous singer. I don't love the way Blowin' Me Up starts with Chasez trying to sound cool but coming across a little lame. But the song improves as backup singers and beeping effects juice things up. Blowin' Me Up catches fire about two thirds of the way through with horns and drumline style percussion cueing Chasez to show a little more life as he proclaims "now it's on tonight." Blowin' Me Up is a fairly standard come on to a sexy girl in a club but the sleek sound emphasizes the lyric's sensuality.
The Wallflowers-How Good It Can Get(unchanged)
I enjoyed When You're On Top, the first chart hit from the Red Letter Days CD, and its icy, synth dominated atmosphere and self loathing lyrics. How Good It Can Get is more standard Wallflowers fare. It's got a smooth, pleasant sound but it's nothing new. The lyrics are a nice message to a friend that things will get better. But How Good It Can Get is pretty insubstantial.
Dixie Chicks-Landslidebuy it!
I'm opposed to our military being led into a war, with very little international support, against a country that hardly seems to pose an imminent threat, where the result was bound to be some American military deaths, a huge number of Iraqi civilian deaths and a heightened anti-U.S.A. sentiment and terrorism risk. So after years of indifference, I guess I've become some sort of Dixie Chicks fan after seeing the beating the group took after Natalie Maines said, on the eve of war, that the Chicks were ashamed that the President is from Texas. It's not exactly surprising that a large portion of The Dixie Chicks' audience didn't take kindly to a remark that was strongly anti-war and anti-American. Before Maines' comment, the group was at a high point in their career. Home was another multimillion selling CD and Landslide was Dixie Chicks' first big pop hit. While Landslide is Dixie Chicks' first real crossover, their pop success is hardly a shock. Like many successful country artists, their music is often like easy listening pop. It's no secret that a lot of the top country artists of the last two decades are big fans of 70s easy California rockers like The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. Stevie Nicks originally sang her composition on Fleetwood Mac's 1976 self titled CD. While Dixie Chicks' version has country instruments, the arrangement is nearly identical to the one from The Dance CD that Fleetwood Mac had a hit with five year ago. With a heavy helping of strings and innocuous acoustic guitar, Dixie Chicks' version is smooth but pretty bland. The main attraction is The Chicks' good harmonies. The steel guitar and Maines' slightly idiosyncratic lead(which is appropriate for Nicks' hippie poetry asking "can the child within my heart rise above") aren't bad either.
Counting Crows-Big Yellow Taxi(unchanged)
Counting Crows' version of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi was originally on the Two Weeks Notice soundtrack and wasn't on early pressings of the Hard Candy CD but it's now Counting Crows' biggest pop hit since Long December. There's something ridiculous about Counting Crows doing Mitchell's delightfully buoyant hit. Mitchell's vocal was light and playful and helped Mitchell's complaint about crass money grubbing ruining natural beauty go down easily. Adam Duritz can't help but sing in a mannered, self satisfied way. He's more relaxed than usual on Big Yellow Taxi but he's hardly as charming as Mitchell. The original's slightly subversive vivacity is replaced by smooth professionalism. Duritz shifts the focus from paving paradise to the lover's departure that led Mitchell to whimsically muse about how "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." The new version has a spare, pleasant sound and a crisp beat. Vanessa Carlton's brief ooh bop bop bops go a long way in softening the stiff feel Duritz creates. And you can't go too wrong with a song with that still has that great line about putting trees in a tree museum. But I really don't see the need for a smooth, string filled muzaky version of a classic.
Good Charlotte-The Anthembuy it!
The second hit from the Young and the Hopeless CD solidifies Good Charlotte's position as the most successful of the current large group of bands with punk attitude and a pop sound. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous was really stupid but Good Charlotte are generally among the most appealing members of their peer group. Good Charlotte's leaders, twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden, have a self deprecating charm and don't seem as dopey as some of the competition. The Anthem is smart enough to have it both ways, employing perky, simple music and mocking its simplicity. Similarly, The Anthem admits the banality of its message. Still, the lyrics about bring bored and misunderstood in high school and wanting to be different undoubtedly connect with the kids. Most importantly, with its fast pace and upbeat feel, has a fun sound. Benji's guitar lines are very familiar but good. The power chords flow around the song, supplying a bit of variation as their speed and intensity rise and fall. Joel's yelling is unpretentious and not too obnoxious. The Anthem is fairly dopey but its self effacing style and high energy lift it above similar songs.
Evanesence-Bring Me To Lifebuy it!
Evanescence is a Little Rock, Arkansas band started by former camp buddies Amy Lee and Ben Moody. Bring Me To Life is on the Daredevil soundtrack and Evanescence's Fallen CD. It was inevitable that someone would take the pop metal sound that's dominated rock music the last couple years and make it more glossy and even poppier. Bring Me To Life strikes me as one of the silliest hits of recent times. It brings to mind a bizarre mix of Linkin Park and the bloated Meat Loaf influenced hits Bonnie Tyler had in the early 80s. Bring Me To Life is also a touch gothic. Singer Amy Lee comes on like a spacier Sarah McLachlan though, to McLachlan's credit, she's never been as overdramatic as Lee is. With sweeping strings, crunching guitars, vaguely ominous synths and guest vocalist Paul McCoy playing Mike Shinoda(Linkin Park's rapper), Bring Me To Life throws in everything but the kitchen sink to make a hit. I can imagine how Bring Me To Life's over the top style could work on the soundtrack of a movie about a superhero but out of that context, it's ridiculously overblown. Bring Me To Life is fairly bad poetry. Lee appreciates how a guy can "see into my eyes like open doors leading you into my core" and asks him to wake her numb, soulless, sleeping spirit and "save me from the nothing I've become."
Nelly-Air Force Ones(down 10 positions)
Air Force Ones is the the third hit from the Nellyville CD. Taking four minutes to pay tribute to Nellys sneakers and endlessly repeating a not great record scratching riff, Nelly is proudly unambitious on Air Force Ones. Like much of Nellys music, Air Force Ones succeeds by staying relaxed and creating an irresistable groove. Nelly lets his buddies do most of the rapping. Most of them arent particularly impressive but Air Force Ones effectively keeps the raps coming one after another. As is often the case with Nellys music, what hes saying is less enjoyable than how he says it. Nelly and his posse test the patience of any listener whos not a Nike aficionado by detailing shoe sizes and favorite colors and making silly brags about only wearing a pair once then discarding it. I do like the cool way they pronounce pair as "par".
Paul Simon-Father and Daughter(unchanged)
Paul Simon's projects of the last 10 years(The Capeman and You're The One) got relatively little mainstream attention but he's made our Top 50 for the first time and gotten an Oscar nomination for his song from the Wild Thornberrys Movie soundtrack. I'm a little creeped out by the fact that 60 year old Simon has a 7 year old daughter(with wife Edie Brickell) but I appreciate that she's inspired one of Simon's best songs in years. Simon has a history of overthinking things but on Father And Daughter he smartly keeps things simple. Though he Simon uses a full band, Father And Daughter feels like a low budget homemade labor of love. With a basic, chugging drum machine beat(credited to longtime Simon sideman Steve Gadd), Father And Daughter has an uncomplicated arrangement that lets Simon's sweet message connect. Father And Daughter's one adornment is a beautiful, shimmering guitar. Despite the presence of Vincent Ngiuni, Simon's guitar player since Rhythm Of The Saints, Simon apparently played the exotic sounding riff. As the father of the cutest girl in the world, I'm particularly susceptible to Father And Daughter's charms but Simon's heartfelt message of love should touch even the coldest heart. Simon's promises that he'll protect his daughter seem both personal and universal. And the chorus, featuring harmonies by Simon's 10 year old son Adrian, with its "there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you" hook perfectly distills the song's direct, unembarrassed sentiment.
Susan Tedeschi-Alone(down 3 positions)
Alone is on the Boston bred singer/guitarists second record: Wait For Me. On Alone, Susan Tedeschi sounds a lot like Bonnie Raitt. I dont know if Tedeschi has Raitts vocal talent but she has her relaxed confidence. Like Raitt, Tedeschi has a love of the blues that helps her seem comfortable rather than showy in trying to emulate the style of her heroes. Alone is quite a bit like Raitts 2002 single I Cant Help You Now. Unlike in that song, where Raitt told a guy who dumped her then asked for a second chance that he was too late, Tedeschi admits her loneliness, takes the blame for their problems and asks him to come back. The lyrics make Tedeschi seem like a doormat but her self assured vocal keeps her sounding strong. Alone was written by Tommy Sims, who cowrote Eric Claptons Change The World. Alone resembles Change The World. Alone isnt particularly original and theres a sense that, with its smooth sound, tasteful horns and minimal keyboards, its designed to be an easy listening hit like Change The World. But while Alone isnt exciting, Tedeschis singing and unshowy guitar playing keep things cool and likable.