Shannon Curfman-True Friends(down 1 position)
True Friends is from the CD Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions. Curfman is still in her early teens. It's seems good that the latest guitar prodigy is a girl.
Third Eye Blind-Never Let You Gobuy it!
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.
Savage Garden-I Knew I Loved You(down 2 positions)
Like on their smash Truly, Deeply, Madly, Savage Garden seem like nice, sincere guys. They also seem a little boring. The vocals are sickly sweet. I Knew I Loved You, from the Affirmation CD, is inoffensively sweet but the lyrics of knowing I loved you before I met you are delivered very blandly.
Christina Aguilera-What a Girl Wants(unchanged)
Her songs are about as dopey as those of her chart mates Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears but Aguilera seems to have the best voice. What a Girl Wants isn't as musically striking as Genie in a Bottle, with its stark, crisp beat. It's more like crowd pleasing generic dance pop. Like Genie in a Bottle, What a Girl Wants makes some pretense of trying to show a strong, self respecting woman, but Aguilera seems a little too appreciative of the guy who gave her time to make up her mind.
Brian McKnight-Back at One(down 2 positions)
Back at One is pretty sappy: "one, you're like a dream come true; two, just want to be with you, three, it's plain to see you're the one for me." But McKnight's singing is heartfelt and stronger than most that of most of his contemporaries on the pop charts. The music is also nicely subtle, starting simply with a lone piano.
Eiffel 65-Blue(Da Ba Dee)(down 1 position)
As Mambo No. 5 has finally fallen down the charts, Blue is the latest big novelty hit. In its low budget sound and quirkiness, Blue brings to mind some of the fun, silly disco of the late 70's. Blue begins with the surreal tale of living in a world where everything, and he means everything, is blue. Then it just drifts along with lots of da da dee's, not totally unlike Crystal Waters' homeless song. You might enjoy it for a while until hearing it repeatedly drives you crazy.
Powerman 5000-Nobody's Real(up 6 positions)
The followup to When Worlds Collide, from Tonight the Stars Revolt!, is another totally over the top song with a futuristic sci-fi feel. I guess their cheesy, dramatic electronic sound is entertaining but it's also kind of goofy. It's hard to take the hysterical lyrics, with their allusions to sinister forces, seriously.
Marc Anthony-I Need to Know(down 1 position)
Anthony is the latest Latin pop star to make the move to being an American pop star. It makes sense than Anthony makes a smooth transition since he grew up in New York and has English singing experience from starring on Broadway in Paul Simon's Capeman. The lyrics are fairly dopey. The song starts with Anthony singing that he heard a woman he likes asked about him. The rest of the song is just him repeating that he needs to know if it's true that she's interested. However, the key to the song is the music and I Need to Know has a nice, easy groove.
Jennifer Lopez-Waiting For Tonight(unchanged)
Waiting for Tonight is a well made, very danceable single. However, you'd figure that Lopez would want her music to have a little more personality. Waiting For Tonight sounds like tons of other dance songs. The lyrics, with Lopez singing "I've dreamed of this night for so long", as if she was a plain schoolgirl, are ridiculous when sung by a beautiful movie star.
Blaque-Bring It All To Me(unchanged)
Bring It All To Me has a nice easy groove and good crisp beats. Blaque's reedy vocals could be annoying under different circumstances but here everything is comfortable. Though their lyrics have a little too much emphasis on keeping it real for my liking, N Sync fit in well in their supporting performance.
Nine Inch Nails-Into The Void(unchanged)
Despite the hype accompanying the release of Trent Reznor's new CD the Fragile, its first single We're In This Together left the charts fairly quickly. Perhaps its message that Reznor might be able to make it through problems with the help of his love was too optimistic for Nine Inch Nails fans. Into The Void has a more traditional Nine Inch Nails theme. The lyrics consistent almost entirely of the repeated line "I'm trying to save myself but myself keeps slipping away." The hopeless, gloomy feeling is becoming cliched for Reznor. Like the rest of Fragile, Into The Void sounds great, showing the years Reznor took polishing the record. The forboding electronics are big and crisp. Perhaps a little sloppiness would have better served the material.
Beck-Sexx Laws(down 4 positions)
Beck's new CD, Midnight Vultures, is a bit of a disappointment. Beck's ability to make an authentic sounding 70's disco record is impressive but it's unclear what the point of it is. Sexx Laws is one of the few songs where Beck isn't just showing off but actually makes a fun song. Beck creates a knowingly cheesy sound with big, perky horns that sound like they should be accompanying a football highlight film. Much of the lyrics are gibberish but the chorus about slipping the handcuffs off our wrists and defying sexual conventions are appealing clear. The banjo and steel guitar bring to mind the sometimes countryish feeling of his last CD, Mutations. The country instruments and goofy electronic effects add to the fun anything goes feeling.
Whitney Houston-My Love Is Your Love(up 1 position)
At times on her My Love Is Your Love CD, Whitney Houston sadly tries to sound like today's hot hip hop artists. She shouldn't worry about sounding like anyone but herself. Houston doesn't seem totally comfortable on the CD's title track, but it does have a good, smooth groove and Houston has a great voice. The lyrics are sweet if unexciting, proclaiming that her love would survive World War III, judgement day or, God forbid, the loss of her fame and fortune.
Ben Harper-Burn To Shine(down 12 positions)
The title track from Harper's Burn to Shine finds the eclectic Harper in a rocking, boogie guitar mode that has at least a touch of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Because of his knowledge of rock history, Harper brings to mind Lenny Kravitz, another African-American who owns Jimi Hendrix records. But where Kravitz' work comes across as a straight rehash, Harper shows some daring and intelligence. It would be surprising to hear Kravitz singing, as Harper does, about being "addicted to your sorrow" or about, after making love, how a couple is struck with fear, in a moment's time seeing forever.
Backstreet Boys-Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely(up 8 positions)
The third hit from the Millennium CD is their best single from the CD so far. It's still overemotional garbage targeted at the pre teen girls but Show Me the Meaning is a little more restrained than some of their other hits and their singing isn't bad.
Sting-Brand New Day(unchanged)
The title track from Sting's new CD shows that Sting still has a way with an irresistable pop hook. But as was apparent from his boring last CD, Mercury Falling, Sting seems to have moved into the easy listening stage of his career. Brand New Day, about optimistically looking forward to a new millennium, is pleasant enough, but it's also fairly insipid and its lyrics about recapturing a lost love seem goofily naive.
Celine Dion-That's The Way It Is(up 5 positions)
That's The Way It Is is one of the new songs on Dion's All The Way greatest hits record. Dion's music often tends towards banality. That's The Way It Is is particularly insubstantial. Its "everything will work out fine" lyrics have the depth of a greeting card and the music has the complexity of the background to a tv commercial. It's fairly inoffensive except to those who know that romantic problems aren't always easily solved.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-No Tears Left(down 12 positions)
The rock veterans, all in their mid to late 50's, are famous for their feuding. They've put their problems aside for a new record, Looking Forward and their CSNY2K tour. No Tears Left has the familiar CSN harmonies in the background but rocks hard. The lyrics refer to the challenges young people face when they try to do good and take on an establishment who are "deaf and blind and can not think." The music is often fairly generic guitar rock but it's nice to hear the old guys still getting riled up.
Jessica Simpson-I Wanna Love You Forever(up 1 position)
I Wanna Love You Forever, from Simpson's Sweet Kisses CD, is way over the top in its lyrics and Simpson's singing. Simpson's models on I Wanna Love You Forever seem to be the ballads of Mariah Carey and especially Whitney Houston. The Greatest Love of All is subtle compared to the overdramatic delivery here. Simpson hits emotional intensity too early so a sense of overkill sets in. The singing does match the tone of the lyrics with Simpson desperately trying to show how great her love is.
Kenny Wayne Shephard-In 2 Deep(down 3 positions)
Though still young, Shephard long ago showed he's a fast, gifted guitar player. In 2 Deep, from Shephard's Live On CD, shows that he hasn't learned what to do with his talent. He plays fast and flashy but to no interesting end. The music is energetic but it's basically a hackneyed mix of Allman Brothers and Bad Company. The lyrics are simply awful, filled with cliches about having nowhere to hide and being caught in a hurricane.
Len-Steal My Sunshine(down 9 positions)
Steal My Sunshine is the perfect summer single. It's light, has a good beat and is upbeat. The vocals are pretty rough but fit with the unpretentious mood. It's yet another song which brings to mind Sublime's What I Got. Caution to potential cd buyers. The rest of Len's record You Can't Stop the Bum Rush is much harder and intense rap and dance music than Steal My Sunshine.
The band's Dysfunction CD was coproduced by Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. Mudshovel shares Limp Bizkit's talent for making hard rock that musically and lyrically appeals to adolescent boys. It's another intense song about a tormented young man: "you can feel my anger, you can feel my pain." Mudshovel does have an interesting guitar sound that is more original that its raging vocals.
Enrique Iglesias-The Rhythm Divinebuy it!
The second hit from his Enrique CD is another calculated piece of dance pop with a little taste of genuine sounding Spanish guitar. Iglesias still doesn't sound totally comfortable singing in English though The Rhythm Divine is a little less cheesy than Bailamos. The lyrics about following a woman, knowing his charm and the music's seductiveness will make her his, are pretty slight.
Ricky Martin-Shake Your Bon Bon(down 9 positions)
I guess it's a sign of being a te en idol that even your stupidest songs can be hits. This one has the advantage o f also referring to dancing and butts. I think Livin La Vida Loca and La Copa de Vida were very good songs; they were fun mixes of pop and Latin music. The subs equent singles, She's All I Ever Had and Shake Your Bon Bon have been pretty bad.
Pardon Me resembles a lot of music on rock radio with its anthemic choruses and power guitar chords. The anguished lyrics about having had enough of the world and being on the verge of spontaneous combustion aren't that unusual these days. But Pardon Me does have some distinction with its good, jagged beat and interesting touches like the sound of scratching records.