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All-Reviews.com Top 50 Songs*:
for the 1st week of January, 2003

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

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  1. Puddle Of Mudd-She Hates Me    (unchanged)      buy it!
    She Hates Me, Puddle Of Mudd's fourth chart hit, is the least annoying song so far from the Come Clean CD. At least, Wes Scantlin isn't ranting or tunelessly whining. She Hates Me brings to mind numerous jaunty songs by otherwise rocking alternative bands. The melody and guitars particularly remind me of L7's Pretend We're Dead. She Hates Me is also obviously reminiscent of Nirvana songs like Lithium which start whimsically but then reach an angrier screamed chorus. She Hates Me is fairly listenable if totally disposable. Scantlin doen't give us much insight into why things went wrong. His writing is typically uninspired, starting by rhyming grand with hand, two with unglued and grip with slip.

  2. Stone Sour-Bother    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Stone Sour is a side project for Corey Taylor and James Root, Slipknot's singer and guitar player. Slipknot's intense thrash rock and theatrical presentation have gained them large record sales and live audiences but radio has largely ignored them. Bother, from the Stone Sour CD, is considerably more radio friendly than Slipknot's music. I'm usually amused and disgusted when hard rockers suddenly become mellow and sensitive. Bother has many of the trappings of the music that annoys me: strings and a very serious vocal and subject matter. While Bother kind of bores me, it doesn't have the excess of much rock balladeering. I'm not really interested in introspective, subdued rock songs about self hatred but I understand the appeal of Bother's restrained guitar and Taylor's genuine sounding sadness. Taylor sings about a pain that makes him wish he was too dead to cry. He chastises another for not bothering with him and himself for "my deceit." Bother has suicidal imagery but Taylor sings that, while he keeps "slipping farther", he "won't let go 'til it bleeds."

  3. 3 Doors Down-When I'm Gone    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Kryptonite, Three Doors Down's breakthrough single off their The Better Life CD, wasn't brilliant but it was at least spirited and gave some sense that the Mississippi band weren't run of the mill rockers. When I'm Gone Away From The Sun is very run of the mill. It's another offering from the intense, humorless school of Creed and their brethren. Brad Arnold's clenched teeth, tough guy delivery is a bore. When I'm Gone definitely isn't fun. Everything about it is meant to show how serious the band is. The power chords pound and When I'm Gone slowly slogs forward. The lyric isn't awful but it's a lot like those by other sensitive hard rockers and its vulnerability is undercut by his vocal's self righteous tones, making his needy requests sound like orders. Arnold tells his love he lives in darkness burdened with secrets. He's partly redeemed by the depth of his love but he's very dependent, needing her to "hold me when I'm scared" and love him even when he's gone.

  4. Eminem-Lose Yourself    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    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.

  5. Foo Fighters-All My Life    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    All My Life is from the One By One CD. It's long been clear that Dave Grohl won't approach the brilliance and significance with Foo Fighters former bandmate Kurt Cobain did with Nirvana. But Grohl has already achieved a longevity that Cobain sadly could never have and amassed a solid body of work. Foo Fighters have continued to make decent music and retain a fan base, even as the rock audience's taste has changed. Grohl's music has remained fairly uncomplicated and ungimmicky and he still has a good knack for a hook. While not obviously following trends, Grohl has also kept an eye on the competititon, most recently playing drums for good hard rockers Queens Of The Stone Age. Like a lot of Foo Fighters music, All My Life is not great but good. While it doesn't have their personality, All My Life is very reminiscent of the Foos' best intense rockers like This Is A Call, Monkey Wrench and Everlong. It's fast, fun and lean. Grohl keeps the crunching guitar coming. Grohl isn't the best singer but he's aware of his limitations and, as usual, it's a hoot when he whips himself into such a frenzy that he can't help but scream. On All My Life sings and rants about how he's always been "searching for something", presumably love, but the "something never comes." Haunted by a ghost of someone from the past, Grohl simultaneously rues and exalts in the fact that with women it's "done, done then one to the next one."

  6. Coldplay-Clocks    (up 6 positions)      buy it!
    Coldplay's singles from the A Rush Of Blood To The Head CD sound great in any context but they're especially striking on modern rock radio. Amid angry, testosterone fueled songs, the beauty of Coldplay's music is particularly welcome. Clocks has a wonderful dreamy feel. Strings and a synth provide an airy cushion while Chris Martin plays a simple but insinuating piano line. On some parts of Rush Of Blood, Martin is pretentious or annoyingly meandering but on Clocks, even as the song moves at a leisurely pace that accentuates its hypnotic appeal, Martin's vocal stays focused. Martin's typical sense of yearning works well on Clocks. Martin is apparently singing, as he does on many Coldplay songs, about a woman to whom "nothing else compares" who doesn't want to be with him and about being willing to wait for her to change her mind. He sings "you've put me down upon my knees", leaving him to "beg and plead" and "curse missed opportunities" but seems to retain a bit of hope.

  7. Saliva-Always    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Singing on the terrible but very popular Hero raised Saliva lead singer Josey Scott's profile. Hopefully, the mediocrity of the title track off Saliva's Back Into Your Sytem CD will return Scott to semi-obscurity. Always is a compendium of modern rock cliches. It's another song based on the Nirvana model from songs like Heart Shaped Box. A subdued verse with quiet guitar picking alternates with a chorus where power chords slam while the singer rants. Always also has a touch of the dark atmosphere and over the top paranoia of the Korn/Tool school though a better comparison may be Def Leppard's empty art metal. Always' "I love you, I hate you" lyric has the misogyny and self pity common in today's rock. I'm sorry Scott went through a tough time but I wish he wouldn't sing about it. Scott doesn't have a great voice and Always' "I'm out the door" but I "can't live without you" tale emphasizes his whininess. On Your Disease from Saliva's Every Six Seconds CD, Scott had cartoonish fun, mixing rapping with broad crooning. Always, like Hero, plays things painfully straight. Towards the end, Always shifts from stupid and annoying to objectionable as Scott introduces the image of a pistol "shakin' in my hand" threatening that he sees "blood all over your hands."

  8. Nirvana-You Know You're Right    (down 3 positions)      buy it!
    Courtney Love's resolution of her legal issues with Nirvana and Geffen records has allowed the long delayed release of You Know You're Right, which is included on a greatest hits record called Nirvana. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic recorded You Know You're Right, apparently the last song they did together, in late January, 1994, less than two months before Cobain killed himself. Like Nirvana's MTV Unplugged concert, You Know You're Right gets added resonance from being made so close to Cobain's death. Cobain's mix of resignation, flippancy and rage on You Know You're Right seems to foreshadow his end the way his sad weariness did on Unplugged. You Know You're Right feeds the fascination with Kurt's death. It reads like a suicide note. After singing "I have never failed to fail", Cobain repeatedly cries out the word pain. Cobain promises "I will never bother you" and "I will crawl away for good." You Know You're Right also seems like a kiss off to Courtney. The second verse, which Kurt sings with a choked up catch in his voice, includes the line "nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself." You Know You're Right makes me sad that Kurt was so troubled and sad that we don't get more of his music. You Know You're Right is a great reminder of the power of Cobain's music. His howl's edgy but focused force makes today's troubled rockers seem like whiners. Cobain's guitar is subtly brilliant, changing styles as the song's emotion ebbs and flows. On the chorus, Dave Grohl shows the fast, hard hitting drumming that helped Nirvana reach its artistic peak when he joined the band before they made Nevermind. You Know You're Right doesn't show that Kurt Cobain was moving in a radically different musical direction before he died but it shows he was still making vital music.

  9. Chevelle-The Red    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    The Red is from the Wonder What's Next CD by the Chicago based band formed by the Loeffler brothers. The Red is the latest rock radio hit with threatening atmosphere and a singer seriously intoning about a young man with a troubled mind. It's hardly surprising that two hit songs this year have been based on the idea of "seeing red." At least half of rock music these days is about being pissed off. The Red's repeated riff effectively creates a tense mood, slowly grinding forward with Joe Loeffler's good bass line and Pete Loeffler's crunching guitar. But after The Red creates a stark impression, nothing much happens. As the riff repeats again and again, it loses some of its power. Unlike other current rock singers, Pete generally avoids pretension and overemoting but he's not particularly memorable, until the predictable cathartic climax when he rants "seeing red again." The Red is about a guy unable to control himself after repeatedly being singled out and called a freak.

  10. Audioslave-Cochise    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Singer Zack De La Rocha left Rage Against The Machine in 2000. The rest of the band has joined ex-Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell to make the Audioslave CD. On his solo record, Cornell tried to forge a more adult, restrained image. Most Soundgarden fans weren't interested. On Cochise, Cornell is back to screaming his lungs out and trying to outwail Robert Plant. The notable thing about Cochise is that his over the top singing fits comfortably with the Ex-Ragers' playing. Tom Morello, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford have always played big, thumping rock and roll but only now that they're backing up Cornell do I see them as Zepellin fans. With Morello slowly plowing through Jimmy Page style riffs, you half expect Cornello to start singing Whole Lotta Love. Cochise provides the thrill you get from a big powerful rock sound and Cornell's huge shriek is an impressive force of nature. But Cochise's sledgehammer approach wears thin on repeat listens. It's not such a good thing that Cornell is a close musical match for the Ex-Ragers. Cochise is definitely not subtle. Its lack of nuance or variety illustrates the risk of a Cornell/Rage teaming. De La Rocha's rap inflected vocal was sometimes obnoxiously arrogant but its combination with good hard rock produced a good range of flavors. De La Rocha's cerebral, confrontational, part spoken work was a good match for Rage Against The Machine's overtly political songs. It's hard to imagine Cornell's theatrical wails giving resonance to charged songs calling for revolution. Cochise is about wanting to help a screwed up friend, offering to take the blame for his problems and be the target of his anger. I don't know why it's named after the Apache leader.

  11. Seether-Fine Again    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    Seether are the latest of many glum, post-grunge bands to hit the top 50 though the first to come from South Africa. On Fine Again, from Seether's Disclaimer CD, singer/songwriter Shaun Morgan sounds a lot like Puddle Of Mudd's Wes Scantlin, the most successful of the recent mopey Cobain clones. Morgan doesn't have Scantlin's arrogance and Morgan's lyric and delivery make it clear that his pain is real, not the showy posturing Scantlin sometimes engages in. Seether effectively use the grunge conventions. Morgan's intense emotion can pull you in, in a Lithium kind of way, as can the way the power chords underline his vocal. But Fine Again sounds so familiar and inferior to the music Morgan clearly loves that it's hard to stay interested. Also, Morgan's depression is apparently so deep that he can't vary his flat affect or Fine Again's fairly monotonous melody. Morgan can't even muster the cathartic wail that is often grunge's saving grace. Fine Again is about being told he should get over his breakup but feeling stuck in a world where every day is gray and the same and feeling "like I'm dying."

  12. Good Charlotte-Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    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.

  13. Santana Featuring Michelle Branch-The Game Of Love    (down 4 positions)      buy it!
    After achieving incredible success, with a big assist from Matchbox 20's Rob Thomas, on the Supernatural CD by targeting baby boomers, Carlos Santana aimed for an even younger audience by teaming up with teen favorite Michelle Branch. Neither the song nor Branch's vocal is particularly exciting but, coming on the heels of her weepy hit Goodbye To You, it's nice to hear Branch loosen up a little. Branch again is likably sweet and unassuming, especially when she doesn't quite reach the high notes. Game Of Love, from Santana's Shaman CD, has a pretty dopey lyric. Branch cries for a guy who don't "come around no more", asks him to "use me" and "control me" and consoles herself with the thought that "it's all in the game of love." Fortunately, Game Of Love's music is so relaxed that Branch's angst barely registers. The innocuous "little bit of this", "little bit of that" hook is the most memorable line. Santana's comeback music isn't great but his ability to blend contemporary sounds with the dense but easy music he's been playing with his band for more than 35 years is impressive. Game Of Love's steady percussion flow isn't that different from Oye Como Va's. Game Of Love is very lightweight but its hand claps and horns give it a rich, buoyant feel. The guitar playing is quite remarkable. It's distinctively Santana's and impressively proficient but it never sounds like showing off. Santana seems like he's just trying to fit in with and accentuate Game Of Love's sunny mood even towards the end when he throws out a very good and seemingly effortless solo.

  14. Queens Of The Stone Age-No One Knows    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    No One Knows is from Queens Of The Stone Age's ambitious, sprawling Songs For The Deaf CD. On No One Knows, like on much of Songs For The Deaf, QOTSA writer/musicians Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri show that music can rock and not be really stupid or predictable. Homme's stomping guitar line is one of the best riffs of the year. It gives No One Knows heft and edge and keeps the song moving. Homme supplements the riff with big, crunching playing on the chorus and a dramatic but tight solo. Homme's singing is typically unshowy but he also appreciates rock dynamics, following the song's flow as he shifts from a serious, troubled vocal to a more excited falsetto. No One Knows is a well deserved commercial breakthrough for QOTSA and one of the better rock songs of 2002. I guess that No One Knows is an appreciation of the gift of having someone special who's "mine, indeed a fool of mine" in a world that's otherwise filled with stupid rules and hopelessness.

  15. Matchbox 20-Disease    (down 4 positions)      buy it!
    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.

  16. Disturbed-Prayer    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    I really hated Stupify and Down With The Sickness, the angry, unpleasant rock hits from Disturbed's Sickness CD. But, with David Draiman's manic, staccato delivery, they at least had the courage of their nasty convictions. Prayer, the first single from the new Believe CD, is a weird mix of tight hard rock for their fans and a slick sound presumably intended to appeal to a broader audience. Prayer has a stomping, slashing guitar sound. Draiman's vocal is still harsh in parts but, bizarrely, he sings a melody on the verse not unlike Ricky Martin's Livin' La Vida Loco and the chorus has a cliched pop rock gloss. Prayer seems to be about how Draiman has turned away from God and found his own form of prayer after seeing all the sorrow, pain and suffering in the world.

  17. Taproot-Poem    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    Poem is from the Michigan band's Welcome CD. Poem, made with Korn/Alice In Chains/Sevendust producer Toby Wright, has a state of the art sound. It's also like a lot of today's hard rock. Poem's driving, threatening guitar sound and touches of staccato and grunted vocal are reminiscent of Disturbed's angry, aggravating music. In general, Poem is familiar, edgy contemporary rock. Michael DeWolf's big, slashing guitar is, like the song, competent and hard rocking, but not particularly interesting. The only thing about Poem that gets my attention at all is Stephen Richards' vocal on the chorus which, especially when underlined by harmonies, has the rock theatricality of a singer like Alice In Chains' Layne Staley. Like so many rockers these days, Richards sings about his pain, telling us about an "overbearing panic attack" and a feeling that he's drowning. Poem apparently is about a bad breakup. Its good news is that the song "helps me to live."

  18. Zwan-Honestly    (up 14 positions)      buy it!
    Three years after the release of Smashing Pumpkins last studio record, Billy Corgan is back with his new band Zwan, which also includes former members of Chavez and A Perfect Circle, and a CD called Mary Star Of The Sea. Not surprisingly, Honestly sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins song. Corgans voice will probably be distinctively whiny until the day he dies. But Corgans 35 now and Honestly has a bit of a grown up sound. Its a rocker, especially towards the end when Corgan plays an OK, showy solo. But Honestly has a good, open, leisurely feel. Honestly avoids the dense sound of many Pumpkins songs but it does remind me of the likable rocker Stand Inside Your Love, one of the Pumpkins last singles. I dont love the way Corgans guitar is processed to sound like a plane taking off but its low in the mix and doesnt interfere too much with Honestlys melodic quality. With ex-Pumpkin Jimmy Chamberlins good drumming, Honestly easily moves forward. Corgans vocal range is limited but hes mostly appealing warm as he sings that theres no place I could be without you. Honestly expresses ambivalence about a long time relationship but Corgan easily decides that he feels loved, that she means the best that life can bring and he doesnt want to wipe the memories aside.

  19. System Of A Down-Aerials    (unchanged)      buy it!
    I loved the frantic energy and tempo changes of Toxicity's first two chart hits: Chop Suey and the title track. Those eccentricities are missing from Aerials. With Daron Malakian's guitar alternating between forbidding picking on the verses and crunching chords on the chorus, Aerials has the more standard form of a song by Korn and Tool and so many other atmospheric rock bands. Still, Serj Tankian's intense, troubled croon unmistakably shows Aerials is a SOAD song. The guitars, Tankian's voice and eastern percussion effectively create a sinister tone. Tankian's typical bleak, enigmatic imagery depicts a surreal world of confused, cowardly and powerless people. He sings that we're "swimming through the void" and that we "always want to play" but "never want to lose" and suggests "when you lose small mind, you free your life." Aerials isn't my favorite System Of A Down but it is, like most of their music, more interesting than almost anything else out there.

  20. Christina Aguilera-Beautiful    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    After Dirrty, Christina Aguilera's update of Redman's Let's Get Dirty, had a fairly short stay in the pop top 20, there was a lot of talk that poor song selection and image presentation would lead Aguilera's career into a nose dive. Aguilera has proved the doubters wrong. Beautiful, the second single from Aguilera's Stripped CD, is one of Aguilera's biggest hits. Aguilera wisely worked on Beautiful with writer/producer Linda Perry, who did Get The Party Started for Pink and is sure to be an extremely sought after collaborator for the forseeable future. Beautiful is smartly constructed. It starts with very minimal music and slowly builds from Perry's piano. The strength of Aguilera's voice has never been in doubt. She again shows impressive range and, while her singing will never be subtle, Aguilera shows some restraint. Lyrically, Beautiful gets off to a bit of a shaky start. Aguilera shares her insecurity about her fame before declaring that her detractors can't "bring me down." But, in conjunction with a good video and an empathetic musical feel, Beautiful's uplifting message of self respect take on a more universal feel that young listeners have latched onto.

  21. Jennifer Lopez-Jenny From The Block    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Jenny From The Block is the first single from Lopez This Is MeThen CD. Jenny From The Block is Lopez latest proclamation of realness but she apparently had no significant role in writing it. Jenny From The Block seems inspired by a marketing persons belief that Lopez can only remain a huge star if, despite her ambition, success and high profile romances, people think shes a regular gal. In that regard, Jenny From The Block strikes me as unsuccessful. Placed along side repeated brags about the rocks that I got, Lopez claim that I know where I came from is meaningless. More importantly, Jenny From The Block, has the light, relaxed sound thats given her an impressive string of hits. Lopez thin voice is again wrapped by backing vocals and studio effects but her nearly spoken vocal also projects a straight forward confidence the audience can connect with. With an inobtrusive, steady beat and perky flute effect, the music isnt novel but it is smooth and likable. A brief, big beat break giving props to Lopez former South Bronx home adds a touch of flavor and seamlessly fits Jenny From The Blocks catchy dance pop. Jenny From The Block has an assembly line quality that undermines its statement of genuineness and keeps it from being particularly interesting but it also guarantees Lopez another hit.

  22. Creed-Weathered    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    The title track and fourth chart hit from the Weathered CD again shows Creeds gift for predictable, blandly catchy soaring arena rock. Creed frontman Scott Stapp is even more self pitying and self dramatizing than usual. Presumably referring to his critics, Stapp complains: slings and arrows are killing me inside. He feels alone and bemoans the fact that his love is met with indifference. Though sometimes I feel like giving up, Stapp finds solace in God and his instruction to take pride and leave it behind.

  23. Avril Lavigne-Im With You    (up 5 positions)      buy it!
    Avril Lavignes major label recording career is off to an incredible start with three #1 pop singles. Like its predecessors from the Let Go CD, Im With You always seemed destined for the top. Depending on who you believe Lavigne, a former Shania Twain wannabe, has succeeded by presenting a calculated image or presenting herself as is. Regardless, her music is good, especially for teen pop. Lavigne has established her cred with a rebellious but not weird image and songs that rock and are also catchy. The kids obviously dont think her wimpy for doing a fairly standard ballad. Im With You has many of the trappings of an easy listening hit. With fairly heavy strings and power chords and drums crashing in on the chorus, Im with You follows power ballad conventions. The verses are fairly drab and Lavignes voice is thin in patches. But Lavignes sincerity gives Im With You power. When she wails the title, Lavigne seems more real than the typical balladeer. Theres an appealing youthful openness to Im With Yous lyrics about being ready to unconditionally throw herself into a relationship with a special someone wholl find her, take her hand and end her loneliness.

  24. Pink-Family Portrait    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    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.

  25. Missy Elliott-Work It    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    After having her pop breakthrough with Get Ur Freak Out, one of the best singles of 2001, Missy Ellott has come back in 2002 with another great single thats an even bigger hit. Everything about Work It, from Elliotts Under Construction CD, is cool, smart and appealing smooth. Work It, produced by Timbaland, is ingenious. Tight editing, unrelenting music and Elliotts fast, fluid vocal create an irresistable urgency but Work It also feels relaxed and unrushed. Elliots rap is both confident and playful and unpretentious. Work It refreshingly presents a young woman whos overtly sexual but is neither a slut nor a maneater. Elliott knows that she doesnt look like a Halle Berry poster but shes lost a few pounds and knows her smarts accentuate her sexiness. Work Its sound, with emphatic sonic effects in place of naughty words and tape reverses, is appropriately loose and irreverent. Work It keeps moving with a sensual looped sample and a good, inobtrusive, percussion laced beat thats steady except for breaks allowing Elliott to emphasize key points. Like Eminems best 2002 work, Work It combines skilled technique, smart production and a confident persona, to make one of the best singles of the year.

Songs 26-50


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