Bush-Letting the Cables Sleep(up 17 positions)
The followup to the exciting, tense guitar rocker The Chemicals Between Us is a good, moody ballad. Letting the Cables Sleep, is an anti-suicide song. Gavin Rossdale movingly consoles a trouble friend. The instrumentation is minimal with simple guitar and piano.
Powerman 5000-Nobody's Real(up 4 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.
Santana-Smooth(down 12 positions)
Carlos Santana hasn't had a hit in nearly 20 years but with Smooth, from his new record Supernatural, he's found a savvy, irresistable sound. The music is classic Santana. Carlos' guitar riffs are evocative and the percussion and horns create a great groove. The new element is the vocals of Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas. Matchbox 20 has been one of the most successful groups of the last 2 years with 5 hit singles from their Yourself or Someone Like You cd which still is getting radio play 3 years after its release. It's kind of funny that Thomas, whose success is largely based on a commercially calculated sound that works to appeal to rock fans without offending easy listening audiences, is singing about giving of your heart and not just being smooth. Nonetheless, it was smart for Santana to work with Thomas. Besides being a smart commercial move, using Thomas does work musically for Santana. His vocals are smooth and they invite you into Santana's cool world.
Brian McKnight-Back at One(up 1 position)
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.
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.
Backstreet Boys-Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely(up 6 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.
Fiona Apple-Fast as You Can(down 6 positions)
Fast as You Can, from Apple's When the Pawn . . . CD, is one of the best, most interesting singles of the year. Apple shows growth from her debut CD, Tidal. On that record's singles Criminal and Shadowboxer, Apple projected an image of a young woman who was idiosyncratic and a combination of innocent and seductive tease. Fast as You Can is still idiosyncratic but seems more concerned with substance than image. It starts with a rough, jagged jazzy beat and a fast rush of words from Apple. The song slows down in the middle to catch its breath before racing forward and bouncing around again, all to exciting effect.
Steely Dan-Cousin Dupreebuy it!
Cousin Dupree, from the new Two Against Nature CD, shows that Steely Dan can still create a great groove. Two Against Nature is the first Steely Dan studio record in the two decades since Gaucho but Walter Becker and Donald Fagen actually worked together for much of the 90's. Becker helped out on Fagen's last solo record, Kamakiriad, and then they toured together as Steely Dan and subsequently released Alive in America.
Blaque-Bring It All To Me(up 1 position)
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.
Marc Anthony-I Need to Know(down 3 positions)
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.
Celine Dion-That's The Way It Is(up 3 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.
Whitney Houston-My Love Is Your Love(up 3 positions)
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.
Nine Inch Nails-Into The Void(down 2 positions)
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.
Incubus-Pardon Me(up 11 positions)
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.
Jessica Simpson-I Wanna Love You Forever(up 4 positions)
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.
Sugar Ray-Falls Apart(up 6 positions)
The third hit from the band's 14:59 is another pleasant piece of pop. The band once tried to mix ska and fast punkish music but they've found success in genial, less ambitious, music. While the lyrics are about a young woman going through a tough time, the music doesn't get too heavy. It has a nice dynamic, shirting from mellower verses to rougher choruses when the guitars kick in.
Tracy Chapman-Telling Stories(up 3 positions)
Chapman is characteristically simple, direct and moving in her vocals and lyrics on Telling Stories, the title track from Chapman's fifth studio CD. She sings about how a lie is sometimes better than the truth. A driving electric guitar gives the song good energy.
Train-Meet Virginia(down 22 positions)
Train are enjoying a long chart life with this single from their self titled debut. Different radio formats and listeners keep discovering this likeable, unpretentious loving tribute to an idiosyncratic, somewhat screwed woman. Meet Virginia isn't ground breaking but it has a nice low key southern rock tinged feel which is only broken when things get a little too heavy towards the end as singer Patrick Monahan screams about how Virginia doesn't want to live this life and then the song goes into a heavy guitar solo.
Jennifer Lopez-Waiting For Tonight(down 3 positions)
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.
The Offspring-She's Got Issues(down 7 positions)
She's Got Issues is the fourth hit from the band's Americana CD. Part of the CD's appeal to the kids surely comes from the band's irreverent attitude. As on Why Don't You Get a Job, Dexter Holland is proudly insensitive, telling his girlfriend to "check your baggage at the door." It seems like she really has legitimate issues and Holland is too dopey to deal with them. The band's appeal also comes from their energetic, straight ahead music. While it's strangely reminiscent of .38 Special's Hold on Loosely, She's Got Issues is catchy, power chord filled guitar rock.
Enrique Iglesias-The Rhythm Divine(unchanged)
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.
The third chart song from Lit's Place in the Sun CD again shows the band to be fairly dopey guys who can make a simple, likeable rocking pop song.
Sting-Brand New Day(down 6 positions)
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.
N Sync-Bye Bye Byebuy it!
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.
Moby's great Play CD has yielded a half dozen singles. That is justified since so many songs on Play, including those based on samples of old blues songs, are remarkable, deserving and standing up to close attention. Currently, Natural Blues, Moby's reshaping of Vera Hall's stirring Trouble So Hard, and Porcelain are getting airplay on different formats. Unlike many of the singles from Play, Porcelain is not primarily based on a sample of another song. Most of the vocals are Moby's. His eerie, electronically altered singing matches the song's haunting tone as he sings about dreams of dying. The striking music is fleshed out by a simple, elegant piano.