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All-Reviews.com Top 50 Songs*:
for the 4th week of January, 2002

*based on airplay at alternative, pop and rock radio stations a cross the nation (reviews by LarryG)

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  1. Nickelback-How You Remind Me    (unchanged)      buy it!
    How You Remind Me, from Nickelback's Silver Side Up CD, is practically a Nirvana sampler. You can play name that tune as it resembles Come As You Are, Lithium and countless other songs. Chad Kroeger is ever so serious and humorless as he sings about being "sick inside without a sense of feeling" after a breakup. Still, How You Remind Me works because it makes good use of familiar tools. Like Nirvana, Nickelback use the thrill of rock dynamics, shifting from quiet verses to choruses with sweeping power chords. How You Remind Me has a big, tight sound. The lyrics have the self pity of a lot of recent rock but avoid the nastiness and excess of many of Nickelback's contemporaries.

  2. Creed-My Sacrifice    (unchanged)      buy it!
    My Sacrifice, the first single from Creed's new Weathered CD, sounds a lot like the singles from their last CD Human Clay. Creed and their frontman Scott Stapp apparently can't help but make big, lofty sincere rock music. I find My Sacrifice empty and pretentious but don't hate it as much as most of Creed's music. My Sacrifice closely resembles Higher and With Arms Wide Open but it's not quite as self indulgent as those songs. It also rocks a little harder than those songs. Like What If, My Sacrifice has big power chords and sounds like standard hard rock but Stapp's vocal isn't unpleasantly angry like it was on What If. Stapp's lyrics typically embrace lofty images("above all the others we'll fly, this brings tears to my eyes") but don't make his usual attempt at spiritual meaning. They're actually kind of nice. Stapp sings about gladly forgetting old grudges to restart a friendship that's seen its ups and downs.

  3. Calling-Wherever You Will Go    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Wherever You Will Go, from the Camino Palmero CD, spent six weeks on the chart this summer thanks to rock radio play. It's returned to the chart and rocketed near the top as the kind of catchy, sappy song pop stations love. Wherever You Will Go's extreme earnestness and Alex Band's deep, prematurely old sounding vocal place Calling along with Lifehouse as followers of Creed's model. Wherever You Will Go is apparently about someone contemplating his death and how his wife will go on without him. Band wonders "who will be there to take my place when I'm gone" and hopes to come back as some sort of spirit "to watch you, to guide you." The maudlin lyrics aren't helped by the dopey "if I could, then I would", "way up high or down low" chorus. With sensitive verses and rock guitar on the chorus, Wherever You Will Go has the slick lite rock sound nailed.

  4. Linkin Park-In The End    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Linkin Park's first two singles from the Hybrid Theory CD   communicated youthful turmoil with raging hard rock and Chester Bennington's loud, nasty yell. In The End is less harsh and confrontational as the band move into Limp Bizkit territory. In The End is effective but very familiar, closely tracking Limp Bizkit's angry but catchy mix of rap, hard rock and vaguely sinister keyboards. Linkin Park have a slight advantage over Limp Bizkit since Mike Shinoda's rap, while fairly simplistic, isn't as stupid as Fred Durst's typical rant. Shinoda and Bennington alternate vocals, looking back bitterly at a failed relationship.

  5. Puddle Of Mudd-Blurry    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    On Blurry, the second single from Puddle Of Mudd's Come Clean CD, Wes Scantlin follows Staind's Aaron Lewis, a fellow Fred Durst protégé, in showing his mellow side. Blurry really strikes me as lame; another rocker showing his troubled, sensitive side. Blurry's verses have a fairly interesting atmosperic guitar effect but its melody is surprisingly similar to Duncan Sheik's adult pop hit Barely Breathing. On the chorus the band, of course, has to show they can rock so the guitar sound gets bigger and Scantlin's vocal approaches the fury he showed on Control. The young males can't get enough of songs about how awful a guy feels about being mistreated by his ex. On Blurry, Scantlin seems to want her back, singing about how meaningless things are after she left him. But he also rages at her, complaining about how she could "take it all away" and shove his pain in his face.

  6. Default-Wasting My Time    (unchanged)      buy it!
    It's depressing that, besides offering a watered down version of bands like Pearl Jam, Creed now seem to be inspiring a bunch of new, success hungry bands with their serious, literal minded rock. Wasting My Time, from the Fallout CD, is another overdone rock song. Dallas Smith has the requisite unnaturally deep, intense vocal. The Canadian band try to show that they're sensitive but can rock too. Wasting My Time is remarkably uninteresting, following the very familiar pattern of starting quietly with a meaningful guitar riff before letting the power chords crunch in on the chorus. The verses sound like With Arms Wide Open. The chorus is generic guitar rock. Wasting My Time's lyrics justify a breakup with a girlfriend.

  7. Lenny Kravitz-Dig In    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    I've long disliked Kravitz' self satisfied, unimaginative classic rock ripoffs but I have to admit that Dig In, while still clearly showing the influence of Sly & The Family Stone and others, has an easy energy and is a lot of fun. Dig In's big beat and loose, echoey sound reminds me of ELO's homage to psychedelic era Beatles, Don't Bring Me Down. Dig In, from the Lenny CD, has a familiar message, urging us to experience life and enjoy ourselves, but its relaxed high spirits and tight, propulsive guitar line are even better at telling us to have a good time.

  8. Jewel-Standing Still    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    I'm not a big fan of Jewel's ballads and their big image school girl poetry but at least her ballads seem heartfelt. Standing Still, the first single from the This Way CD, sounds like some record company guy's idea of a single. It's slick, empty lite rock. Since it's apparently modelled on early 70s Eagles style easy rock, Standing Still is, at least, fairly soothing and pleasant. But Jewel's thin, soulless quavering voice is ill suited to rock singing. The drummer and bass player try to create a little drama but the music stays pretty insipid. Jewel's lyric, agonizing whether a relationship is going anywhere, is, typically, slightly showy and overdone. It starts: "cuttin' through the darkest night in my two headlights." Couldn't you just say driving at night?

  9. P.O.D.-Alive    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Alive, from P.O.D.'s Satellite CD, has been embraced by the MTV kids, apparently as a life affirming anthem for a time of uncertainty but Alive isn't an uplifting message to others. It's a declaration by singer Sonny Sandoval of how well he's doing. Alive's proclamation of love for God often seems silly. Sandoval claims he's taking a big chance, stating his devotion "even though it might cost me everything", as if Creed and others haven't made big bucks with catchy Christian rock. Alive's music is undeniably powerful and effective. It's big guitar hard rock with a loose hip hop sensibility. Sandoval's rock vocals has a rough rap edge. But the singing is also cold and harsh and, combined with Alive's self righteous tone, creates a hard, unappealing sound.

  10. The Offspring-Defy You    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    Defy You, from the soundtrack of the movie Orange County, is in the slower, more standard rock vein of Offspring hits like Self Esteem and Gone Away. One of the problems when The Offspring slow down from their standard post punk pace is that it's easier to understand their lyrics. Defy You's message is typically simplistic, trying to rally the kids by vowing to overcome a society that tries to "push me around." Dexter Holland vows "you cannot stop us, you cannot bring us down." While Defy You is obvious and very basic it does pack the simple thrills of a classic hard rocker. The Offspring slowly grind through with a good, big beat and solid bass line. Holland's yell and Noodles' crunching chords on the chorus have a primal rock and roll power.

  11. Incubus-Wish You Were Here    (down 3 positions)      buy it!
    Incubus follow their mellow megasuccess Drive with a song reminiscent of Make Yourself's other singles. Wish You Were Here, the first single from the Morning View CD, has Pardon Me's record scratching and Stellar's spacy atmosphere. As on Drive, the lyrics show a sincere, slightly sappy, decency. Brandon Boyd sings about being in an idyllic setting. The you he wishes were here are apparently extraterrestrials. Wish You Were Here is good sounding, if unremarkable. Big guitars beef up a basically poppy song.

  12. Dave Matthews Band-Everyday    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    The Dave Matthews Band's Everyday CD isn't great but it does have quite a few decent ballads. The best ones keep things simple and relaxed. Everyday's title track is probably the best song on the record. Vocals by South African singer Vusi Mahlasela help create a joyful feel. Everyday shows off the band's strong musicianship. Backing vocals, guitar, horns and Carter Beauford's drums all contribute to Everday's light and playful but rich sound. Everyday's "all you need is love" refrain is nothing new but it fits a song about reducing things to the basics that advises us to "get your hands dirty" and seek love.

  13. Pink-Get The Party Started    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Get The Party Started, from Pink's second CD M!ssundaztood, is a pleasant surprise. On the hits from her first CD, Pink showed a distinctive personality in her singing and videos but the music was fairly standard, if effective, contemporary dance pop. Linda Perry, whose band 4 Non Blondes had a big hit with What's Up, produced and cowrote Get The Party Started. I wasn't a big fan of What's Up, but she's done a great job on Get The Party Started helping Pink break genre walls with a big, loose 70s funk groove. Get The Party Started is reminiscent of the B-52's joyful invitations to the dance floor. Overdubbing on the chorus even makes Pink sound a little like she's both Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. Get The Party Started has Pink's standard narcissism. She brags about her Mercedes and gold diamond rings and loves the idea of a party where "everybody's waitin' for me to arrive" and "everybody's dancin' for me." Luckily the music, with its fun feel and big, thumping beat, has a more generous tone than the lyrics.

  14. Hoobastank-Crawling In The Dark    (up 5 positions)      buy it!
    Crawling In The Dark, from the L.A. band's self titled major label debut, is another song that sounds pieced together from other successful rock songs. It's got Korn style atmospheric guitar, a serious, troubled singer, big power chords and a vague Faith No More/Limp Bizkit style hip hop sensibility. But Crawling In The Dark also has good tempo shifts and it's more interesting than much of the similarly imitative music on rock radio. I like the way the song speeds up and gains energy on the chorus. Doug Robb keeps things from getting too draggy as he sings about "looking for the answer" and trying to find direction in life.

  15. No Doubt-Hey Baby    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    I find Hey Baby, from the Rock Steady CD, really annoying but it does show that No Doubt still have the ability to make music destined for the top of the charts they had on the Tragic Kingdom CD but seemed to lose on Return Of Saturn. Hey Baby sounds like a pop hit. It's simple, catchy and easy to sing along with. On Hey Baby, No Doubt return to the combination of ska and commercial pop they used at the start of their career. With a bouncy keyboard skank and Bounty Killer's good natured toasting, Hey Baby uses some of ska's more appealing aspects. Still, Hey Baby's gimmicky sound bugged me on first listen and I can only imagine how irritating it will seem by the end of its chart run. From Gwen Stefani's cutesy vocal to the video game style beeping sound effects, I dislike all of Hey Baby's shiny perkiness. Hey Baby casts Stefani as an observer of boys and girls and their "flirty ways."

  16. Usher-U Got It Bad    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Like U Remind Me, the first hit from Usher's 8701 CD, U Got It Bad is competent, familiar easy R&B. Producer Jermaine Dupri gives U Got It Bad a smooth, unexciting sound with a steady, restrained beat and tasteful touches of guitar. Usher Raymond has a presence that's helped him find success in music and movies but his voice, while pleasant, is unremarkable and certainly not among the best of the sensitive male ladykillers who have topped the charts over the years. On U Got It Bad Usher assures people who love obsessively that he's one of them and their behavior is fine.

  17. Shakira-Whenever Wherever    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Colombian soap opera and pop music star Shakira learned English before she wrote and sung the Laundry Service CD. She's charming, pinching or stretching out words and giving them novel pronounciations. The lyrics, about being willing to travel the globe to keep a relationship going with a distant lover, including "lucky my breasts are small and humble so you don't confuse them with mountains", often have a goofy charm. Otherwise, Whenever Wherever has the charms and annoyances of much mainstream Latin pop. Whenever Wherever has a broad, fakey sound and a repetitive beat. It also has the genre's big, loose charm. Shakira's voice is theatrical and slightly hysterical. A pan flute sound supplies an exotic touch.

  18. Foo Fighters-The One    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    The buzz that accompanied Dave Grohl's first post-Nirvana release is long gone. Grohl's band have become modern rock journeymen of sorts, making three strong, if unremarkable, records and numerous good singles that show Grohl's ability to make music that's appealingly poppy but still rocks. The One, the second hit from the Orange County soundtrack, is short and a little dopey. It's even more disposable than most Foo singles but it's tight, catchy and hard to resist. The One is simple but effectively concise with thumping verses and a chorus with guitars and Grohl's voice howling. On The One, Grohl realizes the mistake of going back to an old flame but still appreciates the pleasures she offers.

  19. Nickelback-Too Bad    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    When How You Remind Me moved to the top of the pop charts, rock and alternative radio began to move on to a second song from the Silver Side Up CD. Too Bad alternates between mellow but dramatic verses and choruses with catchy rock guitar strumming. As on How You Remind Me, Chad Kroeger's vocals are heartfelt and the pain he describes is surely real. While he's not quite as self pitying as his trouble young white male rock contemporaries, Kroeger is very humorless and a little self important. Too Bad is serious, intense and well made but it doesn't have the mastery of Nirvana style rock dynamics that How You Remind Me, with its irresistable "Yeah"s and pounding power chords on the chorus, did. Too Bad is about dealing with feelings about the father who abandoned his family, leaving them "just trying to keep clothing on our backs."

  20. Mary J. Blige-Family Affair    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    Family Affair, from Blige's No More Drama CD, is Blige's biggest pop hit so far and it deserves its success. It has one of the best grooves of the year. Dr Dre's production is quite brilliant. The music, with an easy, shuffling beat and good backing vocals and keyboards, is relaxed but substantial. Blige has established a "don't mess with me" image but on Family Affair she sounds like she's having a good time, advising us to "leave your situations at the door" and "get it crunk", which apparently has something to do with dancing and having fun. Blige's vocal skills are on display as she smoothly scats around the beat.

  21. Staind-Fade    (down 7 positions)      buy it!
    I look forward to seeing whether, after his huge success the past year, Aaron Lewis' future work is still about how messed up he is. Fade is another song about how Lewis' parents "were never there for me to express how I felt." Lewis enunciates every syllable to make sure you can feel his pain. Lewis isn't as nasty as other troubled rockers and he's more melodic. Lewis' vocal on Fade is fairly subtle and interesting as it rolls around the lyrics. Still, Staind's ultraserious music is standard rock, following the very common pattern of minimal verse then big guitar filled chorus. Fade has a heavy mood, with a forboding bass line.

  22. P.O.D.-Youth Of The Nation    (up 6 positions)      buy it!
    I got more angry feedback about P.O.D.'s hit Alive, which I called self righteous and silly, than about any other song I've ever written about. My beef with Alive is that, while many have adopted it as an uplifting anthem, it's really just about how good Sonny Sandoval feels and how bold he is for proclaiming his religious devotion. I'm not a big fan of the second hit from P.O.D.'s Satellite CD either. On Youth Of The Nation, Sandoval attempts to speak for others, briefly describing a school shooter and a couple of his victims. Sandoval is well intended but his ideas aren't particularly insightful: it can be tough to be a kid these days and the random loss of a child's life is especially tragic. Perhaps the only surprise is the thought that one of the victims would feel for his attacker ("maybe this kid was reaching out for love" "or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged"). The music, with a beat, guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, has an appropriately ominous mood, but it's pretty generic modern rock. Sandoval's tough guy hip hop vocal and lyrics about "the sound of a gat" and taking "two to the chest" seem inconsistent with the general themes of innocence and sympathy. And the Another Brick In The Wall style kids chorus finale, with the idea that the band is speaking for a generation, seems presumptuous and exploitative.

  23. Coldplay-Trouble    (down 3 positions)      buy it!
    Coldplay's Parachutes is a nice, good sounding record. Chris Martin's singing is appealing modest. Trouble, Parachutes' third chart hit, is a good example of Martin's unassuming charm. On Trouble, Martin apologizes for "all the stupid things I've done" swearing, "I never meant to do you wrong." Trouble's music is sweet and inobtrusive with a good piano, elegant line.

  24. Ryan Adams-New York, New York    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    New York, New York is from Gold, the former Whiskeytown frontman's second solo record. Adams' music continues to evolve from alt country to more mainstream rock. New York, New York shows the different sides of Adams' sound. His loose, rapid fire delivery evokes a Dylan song like Tangled Up In Blue but New York, New York also resembles songs by The Allman Brothers and Billy Joel. New York, New York has gotten attention because of its eerie video, filmed September 7th, showing Adams singing in front of a view of New York's downtown skyline with the Twin Towers in the center of the shot. But New York, New York also deserves attention because it's a darn good song. It has a great, fun feel with buoyant guitar and keyboards. Adams' flood of words is very charming. On New York, New York, Adams pays tribute to his adopted home but decides that, since his memories of the city are so intertwined with those of the love that broke his heart, it's time to go.

  25. Staind-For You    (up 5 positions)      buy it!
    You'd figure that even Staind's biggest fans would have had enough of Aaron Lewis self pitying bleating by now. The fourth chart hit from Break The Cycle has harder guitars and drums than It's Been Awhile and some of the CD's other songs but it's mainly another showcase for Aaron Lewis' anguished vocal about the pain he feels. Lewis tells his parents how "your insults and your curses make me feel like I'm not a person" and demands that they "do something" about the fact that he feels "fucked up." As always, I don't doubt that Lewis hurts or begrudge his right to express his emotions. But since I'm not a troubled 14 year old boy, I'm just not that interested. And I find For You's uneasy combination of bombastic, grinding rock and Lewis' crooning even less musically interesting than most of Staind's work.

Songs 26-50


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