Barenaked Ladies-Pinch Me(down 15 positions)
One Week, from BNL's Stunt CD, gave the band their first taste in the U.S. of the huge success they've long enjoyed in their native Canada. Pinch Me, from the Maroon CD, doesn't have One Week's irresistable supercharged momentum. Pinch Me is more reflective of the band's typical modest, likable style. Ed Robertson is usually more unassuming than the band's other singer, Steven Page. However, Robertson did the lightning fast rap on One Week and he similarly races smoothly through parts of Pinch Me, providing a good dynamic shift from the song's generally mellow mood. Robertson is appealing even when playing a guy who lives in a dream world because in the real world, "everything's a mess." Pinch Me has quirky charm, like the non sequitor line, "I just made you say underwear" plus a happy ending of sorts with Robertson's character tentatively deciding to "try to figure out what all this is for" and "try to see the world beyond your front door."
Papa Roach-Broken Home(down 1 position)
Together with the Last Resort video, which depicts their fans as sad and alienated, Broken Home establishes Papa Roach as the band most likely to relate to today's troubled teen. Broken Home is even edgier than Last Resort. Broken Home doesn't have that song's inviting beat and hip hop momentum. It's more about harsh guitar. Coby Dick screams most of the words, only segueing into a Last Resort style rap at the end. Broken Home is musically and lyrically simplistic but at least it's not the macho posturing of so much radio friendly rock about tormented young males. Dick's pain sounds real as he sings about being caught between two battling parents, blaming himself and crying because he has no one to confide in.
Destiny's Child-Independent Women Pt. 1(unchanged)
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.
Limp Bizkit-Rollin'(down 8 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'.
Shaggy-It Wasn't Me(unchanged)
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.
Five For Fighting-Easy Tonight(up 8 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.
Mya-Case Of The Ex(down 1 position)
Case Of The Ex is from the Fear Of Flying CD. Case Of The Ex sounds a little like Aaliyah's Try Again. It's got a sleek, stark sound with a good shifting beat. Mya's voice seems O.K. and it's adroitly covered for most of the song by good background vocals. Case Of The Ex is a fairly nasty tale. A guy's current girlfriend demands to know how he's gonna act when his ex wants him back. She figures the ex has heard he bought her a "brand new Benz" and wants a piece of the action. The girlfriend's not subtle. She reminds him the ex "turned trick" when they broke up and says she's seen the ex's picture and "she ain't even all that."
Rage Against The Machine-Renegades Of Funk(unchanged)
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.
Dream-He Loves U Not(up 1 position)
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.
Dave Matthews Band-I Did Itbuy it!
Matthews' pleasant, well played folk pop has a huge following. They've been anxiously awaiting Everyday, the band's first CD in three years. I Did It is the first single from Everyday.
Jennifer Lopez-Love Don't Cost A Thing(up 9 positions)
Love Don't Cost A Thing is the first single from Lopez' J. Lo CD. People are bound to see the song as commentary on Lopez' relationship with Puffy Combs. Lopez sings about a paranoid guy who thinks she's with him to spend his cash and drive his Benz. She reassures her man that, "ever if you were broke", "all that matters is that you treat me right." In the end, she decides to leave until he shows his love is true and gives her "all the things I need that money can't buy." Opening with symphonic drums, Love Don't Cost A Thing has good beats and the kind of cool, clean kind of production Rodney Jerkins gave Toni Braxton's He Wasn't Man Enough and Brandy & Monica's The Boy Is Mine. Lopez' voice, pretty thin in the past, is generally hidden by backing vocals. But when she's on her own, her modest singing has an interesting flow, dramatically changing pace.
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."
Samantha Mumba-Gotta Tell You(down 6 positions)
Mumba is the latest young female getting the big record company push. Gotta Tell You is the title track from Mumba's CD. Gotta Tell You is fairly routine dance pop. The lyrics are O.K. Mumba sings about wanting her guy to get more involved in their relationship. She doesn't want to love him if he doesn't love her. On the verses, Mumba's voice is hard and unappealing but at least somewhat distinctive. On the choruses, thanks to backing vocals and heavy, generic production, the song turns into catchy, perky Britney-style pop. Mumba's personal story of a black Irish teen who became a pop star is undoubtedly more interesting than the song.
The Wallflowers-Sleepwalker(down 12 positions)
Jakob Dylan inherited his dad's cynicism but presents it in a less distinctive way. It was no surprise that the band's Bringing Down The Horse CD went multiplatinum. The Wallflowers' music is smart, melodic, well played and familiar, without anything too unusual that would disturb the yuppies. Sleepwalker, from the Breach CD, is more safe, likable easy rock. Dylan has a reticent, unshowy persona but his band is polished and keeps things moving with solid drumming and Michael Ward's guitar. Dylan sings about being in a dreamlike state where he can't even consider the possibility of love. He shifts Sam Cooke's sentiment, asking Cupid not to draw back his bow.
Debelah Morgan-Dance With Me(down 4 positions)
The title track from the Dance With Me CD is a bit bizarre but it probably works O.K. on the dance floor. With its insistent violin, Dance With Me is a little like Marc Anthony's I Need To Know but the recent hit it most resembles is Sonique's It Feels So Good. Both are throwbacks to the dopey hits of the late 70's. Dance With Me is eerily like a hit from the peak of the disco craze in its use of a gimmick, an arrangement based on the tango Hernando's Hideaway from the Broadway musical The Pajama Game, and its very simple lyrics extolling the benefits of dancing. Morgan's singing is pretty good but the words are moronic with every cliche you could imagine including, "the night is young and so are we", "when we hit the floor you'll be asking for more" and "I feel the music inside."
Everlast-I Can't Movebuy it!
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.
U2-Walk Onbuy it!
Walk On, the second chart hit from All That You Can't Leave Behind, shows how U2 have returned to the sincerity and idealism of their 80's work but express it in a more subtle, mature way. Walk On is a tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her brave struggle against the repressive Burmese government. Bono's admiration is clear as he sings, "you could have flown away, a singing bird in an open cage who will only fly for freedom." But Walk On avoids the stridency of the band's early political songs. Bono's vocal is appealingly restrained. The music, with The Edge's glistening guitar line, has a quiet beauty as well as a solid Larry Mullen beat.
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.
Madonna-Don't Tell Mebuy it!
Don't Tell Me, the second single from the Music CD, was written by producer Mirwais Ahmadzai and a pop music odd couple, Madonna and her brother in law, atmospheric folk rocker Joe Henry. The lyrics are pretty familar. Telling Madonna to stop loving her man is like telling "the rain not to drop", the wind not to blow" and "the sun not to shine." Henry's minimal, twisted writing style isn't too evident, except maybe towards the end: "tell the bed not to lay, like the open mouth of a grave/not to stare at me, like a calf down on its knees." Don't Tell Me is pretty insubstantial but it has a good, easy mood. The sound is clear and simple with acoustic guitar, solid beats, strings and some silly sonic effects to spice things up. Madonna's vocals are pleasant and not too bad.
Evan and Jaron-Crazy For This Girl(up 2 positions)
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.
Creed-Are You Ready?(down 17 positions)
Are You Ready is the fourth chart hit from Creed's Human Clay CD. As always, Scott Stapp sings as if he's got brilliant ideas no one's ever thought of. But all Are You Ready's says is: seek and you'll find, remember where you came from and life is hard and unpredictable. Usually, Creed's music is a little more subtle than Stapp's lyrics and singing but the music here is uninventive hard rock. Are You Ready sounds like dozens of metal pop songs from The Who's The Seeker to STP's Vaseline.
Shawn Mullins-Everywhere I Go(down 3 positions)
You could love or hate Lullaby, Mullins' big hit from his Soul's Core CD, but with its spoken verses and evocative, if obvious, lyrics about a woman screwed up by growing up in a weird Hollywood world, it got your attention. Everywhere I Go, from the Beneath The Velvet Sun CD, isn't going to approach Lullaby's success because it's barely noticable. Everywhere I Go is pleasant light rock influenced by the easy California sound of artists like The Eagles. The production is sleek but the result is innocuous. Mullins' voice doesn't have much personality. The mystically tinged lyrics are pretty nice. Mullins sings about the image of his lover guiding him and grounding him when he's on the road.
N Sync-This I Promise You(down 6 positions)
This I Promise You is the third hit from the No Strings Attached CD. It was written by Richard Marx, who had a brief period of pop rock stardom in the late 80's. This I Promse You is a fairly routine, sappy ballad. They sing about being her strength and giving her hope. They promise that "never will you hurt anymore" and to hold her "until the day my life is through" but even their preteen fans probably know that such promises, said by teens, aren't necessarily meant to be taken literally.
Blink 182-Man Overboard(down 6 positions)
Enema Of The State's fun, fast pop is still selling but Blink 182 is already back with a new CD, The Mark, Travis and Tom Show. Man Overboard sounds a lot like Enema Of The State's Dumpweed, as well as kind of like a fast version of Peter Schilling Major Tom(Coming Home). Once again, Blink 182's music is pretty light but energizing, unpretentious and solidly constructed. Man Overboard is about being sad that things can't be worked out, but deciding that a friend has screwed up too many times.
Pink-Most Girls(down 12 positions)
Most Girls isn't quite as interesting as There You Go, Pink's feisty take on the TLC sound. Most Girls, from her Can't Take Me Home CD, is more routine, but it has an effective groove. The lyrics don't totally ring true but Pink continues to show personality. She sings that, unlike other "flygirls", she's more interested in a real love than a "g" with the "mean green" who gives his girl diamond rings.