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

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

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  1. Evanesence-Bring Me To Life    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Evanescence is a Little Rock, Arkansas band started by former camp buddies Amy Lee and Ben Moody. Bring Me To Life is on the Daredevil soundtrack and Evanescence's Fallen CD. It was inevitable that someone would take the pop metal sound that's dominated rock music the last couple years and make it more glossy and even poppier. Bring Me To Life strikes me as one of the silliest hits of recent times. It brings to mind a bizarre mix of Linkin Park and the bloated Meat Loaf influenced hits Bonnie Tyler had in the early 80s. Bring Me To Life is also a touch gothic. Singer Amy Lee comes on like a spacier Sarah McLachlan though, to McLachlan's credit, she's never been as overdramatic as Lee is. With sweeping strings, crunching guitars, vaguely ominous synths and guest vocalist Paul McCoy playing Mike Shinoda(Linkin Park's rapper), Bring Me To Life throws in everything but the kitchen sink to make a hit. I can imagine how Bring Me To Life's over the top style could work on the soundtrack of a movie about a superhero but out of that context, it's ridiculously overblown. Bring Me To Life is fairly bad poetry. Lee appreciates how a guy can "see into my eyes like open doors leading you into my core" and asks him to wake her numb, soulless, sleeping spirit and "save me from the nothing I've become."

  2. Audioslave-Like A Stone    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Audioslave follow Cochise, the very enjoyably over the top, heavily Led Zeppellin influenced headbanger with a good, very subdued song. Who would have thought that the union of members of two hard rocking 90s bands would create a mellow, restrained hit? Rage Against The Machine weren't known for rock ballads but their musicans sound surprisingly comfortable playing a radio friendly midtempo rocker. Chris Cornell previously eschewed his usual Robert Plant inspired shriek on Soundgarden songs like Fell On Black Days and his solo record so his participation is some what less surprising, but his smooth vocal on Like A Stone is still notable. Like A Stone sounds like various mainstream rockers but it still has power. Like A Stone's sprawling pace and Cornell's controlled, strong singing give Like A Stone an epic, spell binding appeal. Guitarist Tom Morello does a good job providing a low key, textured background with a slight sense of menace. He also gets to shine with a solo that's not as hard as his Rage playing but shows a good sense of flair and drama, as his processed guitar twists around the notes. Like A Stone's lyric is a tale of devotion. Cornell sings about being obsessed by a long ago relationship. He apparently takes solace in the hope that if we're good, we'll lay to rest anywhere we want to go, so he'll eventually be reunited "in your house." Like A Stone is a bit formulaic and sappy but it's also quite gripping.

  3. 3 Doors Down-When I'm Gone    (down 2 positions)      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. Linkin Park-Somewhere I Belong    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Linkin Park's new Meteora CD comes two and a half years after the release of Linkin Park's 8 million selling Hybrid Theory CD. Somewhere I Belong indicates that the band didn't use the time to develop new dimensions to their music and instead have done safe retreads of their hugely successful work. Somewhere I Belong showcases the vocal styles that established Linkin Park's identity but doesn't do much with them. Mike Shinoda's rap is particularly drab, stiff and uninteresting. Chester Bennington has more presence, working his trademark shriek but while he's intense, he's stuck in the same tone, never really going nuts like he has before. His lack of modulation makes his rage seem like meaningless griping. Somewhere I Belong doesn't grab your attention like Linkin Park's previous hits did. Shinoda is almost amateurishly wan while Bennington's parts are repetitive and don't go anywhere. The band again worked with producer Don Gilmore. The chorus is catchy with Brad Delson's guitar crunching into a hard but sleek wall of sound. But Somewhere I Belong lacks personality. The insistent blend of hard rock interjections and glossy pop brings to mind Nickelback's terrible hit How You Remind Me. The good news about Somewhere I Belong is that instead of just griping about emotional pain, the lyrics take responsibity and refer to wanting to heal. But maybe that calmer attitude explains Somewhere I Belong's lack of intensity.

  5. Trapt-Headstrong    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Headstrong is from the California band's self titled major label debut. Headstrong holds some hints that Trapt could be more interesting than other nu-metal bands. The sound isn't as cluttered or murky as that of some of their contemporaries. The verses are pretty good. Chris Brown's vocal is smooth and quick with a rapper's sensibility. The vocal is nicely underlined by Simon Ormandy's light, loose guitar. The chorus is effective but less interesting as Brown and Ormandy's trade short, jagged thrusts of guitar. Brown's angry croon is awfully familiar. In the end, not much distinguishes Headstrong from intense rap metal by Linkin Park, Papa Roach and many others. Headstrong is competently made but not particularly likable or interesting. Headstrong apparently announces a break with an ambitious musical associate who won't change his wrong ideas.

  6. Foo Fighters-Times Like These    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Dave Grohl has become an elder statesman of modern rock. 2003 started with songs he played on by Foo Fighters, Nirvana and Queens Of The Stone Age in the top 10 and the hits keep coming. Times Like These is the second top 50 hit from Foo Fighters' One By One CD. Times Like These isn't quite as good as All My Life but it has a superficial charm and is one of the better songs on a fairly bad CD. It's got the unremarkable competence that marks so much Foo Fighters music. The most striking thing about Times Like These is its guitar riff, copped from The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary, which gives the song some excitement(and, along with the lyrical allusion to Husker Du's New Day Rising, a 1985 vibe). Otherwise, Times Like These is innocuous but fine. Grohl's voice seems even less skilled than usual. It's hard to argue with the lyrics' message that, even in a screwed up world, you have to live and love. But it ain't exactly deep and reminds me of the lame post September 11 claims that the terrorists win if we don't do things(go shopping, take that flight, go ahead with the Emmys).

  7. Good Charlotte-The Anthem    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The second hit from the Young and the Hopeless CD solidifies Good Charlotte's position as the most successful of the current large group of bands with punk attitude and a pop sound. Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous was really stupid but Good Charlotte are generally among the most appealing members of their peer group. Good Charlotte's leaders, twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden, have a self deprecating charm and don't seem as dopey as some of the competition. The Anthem is smart enough to have it both ways, employing perky, simple music and mocking its simplicity. Similarly, The Anthem admits the banality of its message. Still, the lyrics about bring bored and misunderstood in high school and wanting to be different undoubtedly connect with the kids. Most importantly, with its fast pace and upbeat feel, has a fun sound. Benji's guitar lines are very familiar but good. The power chords flow around the song, supplying a bit of variation as their speed and intensity rise and fall. Joel's yelling is unpretentious and not too obnoxious. The Anthem is fairly dopey but its self effacing style and high energy lift it above similar songs.

  8. Staind-Price To Play    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    I'm curious about Staind's new 14 Shades Of Grey CD. After having enormous success, is Aaron Lewis still in the whiny, self pitying mode that sold millions? Price To Play brings some reason for optimism. It's fairly dark but not as draggy as Break The Cycle's hits. On the other hand, for better or worse, Price To Play is less distinctive than Staind's earlier hits. Lewis' accounts of pain, caused by his father's neglect and inner demons, were irritating but at least you knew what he was talking about. Price To Play has a vague lyric blaming an unnamed you for causing destruction by taking without giving and blaming without empathizing. The music also doesn't have much personality. Price To Play has the typical nu-metal mix of verses with crunching guitars and glossy, hook filled choruses. Price To Play is better than most recent grunge pop hits. 14 Shades Of Grey was produced by Josh Abraham, who also did Break The Cycle and Chocolate Starfish and The Hot Dog Flavored Water(with Staind's mentor Fred Durst). Price To Play is pretty tight, without the hard rock showing off, narcissism or obvious commercial calculation that ruins most successful work by Staind's fellow grunge fans. Guitar player Mike Mushok and drummer Jon Wysocki create a big sound but Price To Play doesn't get too murky or showy. The catchy chorus has a bed of guitars with nice sounding chord changes. Durst's natural reticence works well on the chorus. He creates decent edge by singing fairly slowly and avoids the ranting others might resort to(though the end of the song has someone doing the obligatory tortured wail). Price To Play isn't ground breaking but at least it sounds good and isn't too pretentious.

  9. Godsmack-Straight Out Of Line    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Straight Out Of Line is from the angry Boston based hard rockers' Faceless CD. The CD's title is a great straight line but, unlike a lot of their interchangable nu-metal contemporaries, I don't think Godsmack's music lacks personality. I just find it really unpleasant. Straight Out Of Line is a fairly typical Godsmack song. I suppose Godsmack are effective at creating an edgy sound the kids can relate to. Sully Erna bellows his rage at his enemies while the band creates a dark, ominous mood. Tony Rombola's guitar threateningly rumbles, slashes and booms. On Straight Out Of Line, Erna complains about unnamed people(maybe critics) who "lie to me" and force him to "justify my ways." I understand that Godsmack's music speaks to troubled young male rock fans but it just strikes me as nasty.

  10. Coldplay-Clocks    (unchanged)      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.

  11. Chevelle-Send The Pain Below    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Send The Pain Below is the second chart hit from the Wonder What's Next CD by the band comprised of three born again Christian brothers from Chicago. The Red was a bit monotonous but it had a good, insinuating guitar riff and had a long run on rock radio. Send The Pain Below is less distinctive. It has the Creed feeling of being a pastiche of Pearl Jam and other grunge bands. At least singer Pete Loeffler doesn't come across pretentiously like Creed's Scott Stapp. He's thoughtful in an unshowy way as he sings about his ability to suppress his emotional pain. His low key guitar playing is appropriate to the lyrics' stark emotion. At times, the match of restrained but intense singing and basic, booming sustained chords remind me of Radiohead's Creep. But generally, Send The Pain Below doesn't have Creep's depth. It's so downbeat that it's hard to distinguish from the other songs where young men share their hurt. The similarity to other songs is accentuated towards the end when Loeffler goes into a Korn/Trust Company style rant("I can't feel my chest,drop down"). Send The Pain Below's message is oddly common in similar songs: you hurt me when you manipulated when we were together and I miss you. Send The Pain Below has an intensity that can be compelling but it's ultimately too indistinctive and humorless to keep my interest.

  12. Queens Of The Stone Age-No One Knows    (down 1 position)      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.

  13. Counting Crows-Big Yellow Taxi    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Counting Crows' version of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi was originally on the Two Weeks Notice soundtrack and wasn't on early pressings of the Hard Candy CD but it's now Counting Crows' biggest pop hit since Long December. There's something ridiculous about Counting Crows doing Mitchell's delightfully buoyant hit. Mitchell's vocal was light and playful and helped Mitchell's complaint about crass money grubbing ruining natural beauty go down easily. Adam Duritz can't help but sing in a mannered, self satisfied way. He's more relaxed than usual on Big Yellow Taxi but he's hardly as charming as Mitchell. The original's slightly subversive vivacity is replaced by smooth professionalism. Duritz shifts the focus from paving paradise to the lover's departure that led Mitchell to whimsically muse about how "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." The new version has a spare, pleasant sound and a crisp beat. Vanessa Carlton's brief ooh bop bop bops go a long way in softening the stiff feel Duritz creates. And you can't go too wrong with a song with that still has that great line about putting trees in a tree museum. But I really don't see the need for a smooth, string filled muzaky version of a classic.

  14. Red Hot Chili Peppers-Cant Stop    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Cant Stop, the third single from the By The Way CD, continues the Chili Peppers recent habit of following fairly serious, mature singles with looser, goofy songs that echo the bands anarchic earlier music. Like Around The World and other Chili Peppers songs, Cant Stop is a multipart song that quickly segues from wacky to sincere. Cant Stop is a good showcase for John Frusciantes versatility. He alternates between jagged and smooth guitar parts and even gets to play a hard rock solo and a bit of a skanky ska line. As usual, Anthony Kiedis is both annoying and charming. The verses showcase the typical free asssociation glibness hes used on songs like Give It Away but hes still appealing on the chorus singing about the world I love, the tears I dropped and the trains Ive hopped. Cant Stops familiarity is its strength and weakness. Cant Stop is genial and generally goes by easily but its so unmemorable and such a slight variation on other lightweight Chili Peppers songs that its basically pointless.

  15. R. Kelly-Ignition    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    Apparently, accusations of having sex with a minor and possessing child porn won't kill your career if you know how to put together good pop hooks. The Ignition remix, from Kelly's Chocolate Factory CD, is a great testament to Kelly's skills. Kelly's vocal quickly darts around the lyric and mixes up speeds to create different moods while staying very cool. The music has the smooth confidence of a soul classic with easy, fluid keyboards and a relaxed handclap beat. Kelly smartly uses backing singers, creating a moment of excitement with their toot toots and beep beeps. Kelly's lyric is pretty awful. The title comes from a charming sexual metaphor promising "to take my key and stick it in the ignition." Kelly's comeons have the usual brags about an opulent lifestyle and compare a girl to his Lexus and a football coach("the way you got me playin' the field"). Luckily, Ignition sounds so good that you don't focus on its silly words.

  16. Matchbox 20-Unwell    (up 4 positions)      buy it!
    Unwell is the second single from the More Than You Think You Are CD. It's an improvement over Disease, a lame attempt at a rocker and pale imitation of Smooth, Rob Thomas' Santana collaboration. Unwell has the soothing, easy, well crafted sound that helped make the band big. The chorus is catchy and hard to resist. But generally, Unwell is bland. It's so tastefully innocuous that it barely registers. A banjo in the beginning and end adds a little flavor but Unwell could use a lot more. It doesn't help that Unwell, like Disease, is another tale of how screwed up Thomas is. Especially now that Matchbox 20 is an established, very successful band, Thomas' repeated tales of woe are increasingly tiresome. Unwell is more optimistic than some of them. Thomas thinks "I'm headed for a breakdown and I don't know why" but he also feels like he'll soon get things together.

  17. Justin Timberlake-Rock Your Body    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Rock Your Body, the third hit from the Justified CD, is a mindless but fun dance song. It's Justin Timberlake's best single so far. Timberlake and writer/producers The Neptunes(Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) have worked out a partnership sure to produce hits. The teen idol provides the hunkiness and Williams and Hugo bring the great grooves. Following Like I Love You, where Timberlake was encouraged to do a slavish Michael Jackson imitation, Rock Your Body seems to comfirm that Williams and Hugo had Jackson in mind when they wrote and arranged songs that made Justified. Rock Your Body particularly brings to mind the great dance beats and chunky groove of Jackson's Off The Wall. Rock Your Body's big bass and scratchy guitar also resembles the sound, made by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers on songs like Good Times, that was borrowed in tons of dance songs(even Queen's Another One Bites The Dust). Timberlake's voice is just one of the parts that Williams and Hugo used to construct Rock Your Body. Timberlake's vocal is largely unremarkable and nearly unnoticable. It's often hard to know where his singing ends and the very effective backing vocals begin but, at least, Timberlake, doesn't get in the way of the groove. Credit for Rock Your Body and its easy, likable flow should go to its producers. Rock Your Body's lyric is basically Timberlake's request to a girl to not walk away and instead give him a chance to seduce her on the dance floor.

  18. Jason Mraz-The Remedy    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Jason Mraz is a young singer/songwiter from Virginia who made his way to San Diego. The Remedy is from Mraz' Waiting For My Rocket To Come CD, which was produced by John Alagia, who's worked with Dave Matthews and John Mayer. Mraz wrote The Remedy with The Matrix(Lauren Christy, Graham Edwards and Scott Spock), who wrote Avril Lavigne's hits. The Remedy is cute and catchy but it doesn't measure up to Lavigne's best work. The Matthews/Mayer connection is apt since Mraz is another cocky, glib young white guy though, to be fair to Matthews and Mayer, Mraz is glibber and his music seems less substantial. The Remedy is pleasant and boomer friendly but its relentless cheerfulness is too much. On its "I won't worry my life again" chorus, The Remedy's catchiness is undermined by a slick shallowness worthy of a TV commercial. Mraz does a white hipster rap on the verses of a sort that gave Barenaked Ladies and others hits but has fallen out of favor on the pop charts the last couple years. The Remedy's music is appropriately perky with a bouncy bass and guitar and cheap sounding synths.

  19. Coldplay-The Scientist    (up 7 positions)      buy it!
    In My Place and Clocks, the first two chart hits from Coldplays A Rush Of Blood To The Head CD, were intricate and breathtakingly beautiful. The Scientist isnt as remarkable but its good. Once again, in a world of big guitars and drum machines, its refreshing to hear a song on the radio thats thoughtful and musically low key. On The Scientists first verse, only Chris Martins piano accompanies his voice. The uncluttered sound accentuates Martins sweetness as he tells a woman how lovely you are, reflects on the shame of breaking up and wishes they could go back to the start. Strings, Jon Bucklands strumming and Will Champions drums come in but the sound remains simple and unshowy. The result is likable and poignant. Martin has played the sensitive, heartbroken but ever hopeful spurned lover too many times but he is charming on The Scientist. Martins vocal is natural. The fact that he doesnt overplay the songs emotion helps make his sadness appealing.

  20. 50 Cent-In Da Club    (down 5 positions)      buy it!
    Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's Get Rich Or Die Tryin' CD was preceded by all kinds of buzz. Eminem "discovered" 50 Cent, who had previously been signed and dumped by Columbia, got him signed to his label, trumpeted 50 Cent's talents and put his Wanksta on the 8 Mile soundtrack. Before the CD came out, 50 Cent's music was all over the place on mix tapes. 50 Cent had an image and street cred from a history of selling drugs, being shot numerous times and getting arrested. The good news is that 50 Cent's music lives up to the hype. In Da Club is an early candidate for single of the year. Where Eminem is wired and always trying to prove himself, 50 Cent's delivery is confidently low key. Still, there's a similarity in their ability to easily slide around the beat and establish a magnetic presence. 50 Cent comes on as laid back but he's sneaky quick with a rap that has staccato emphasis and a smooth, easy flow. Dr. Dre's deserves some credit for In Da Club's success. His production is great, putting together a great groove. Repeating a catchy synth riff, mixing up the way he presents it and putting a tight, ticking bass sound under it, Dre shows his ability to create a dramatic, exciting sound without letting things get cluttered or showy. With its steady, hand clap beat, In Da Club is also a great dance track. The lyrics are fairly standard gangsta rap, celebrating fancy cars and bottles of "bub" and Benz. In Da Club doesn't go beyond the standard objectification of women. 50 is "into havin' sex" and "ain't into makin' love." But In Da Club is mostly about enjoying his new success. 50 sounds like he's having a good time but he's not arrogant, saying he's "still on the grind", trying to get them "to love me like they love 'Pac." In Da Club is the sound of someone who's confident, at ease but still trying to prove himself.

  21. Eminem-Sing For The Moment    (unchanged)      buy it!
    When The Eminem Show came out, its rock songs, Sing For The Moment and White America seemed like an attempt to hedge bets by an artist who had sold millions of records but had yet to have a big pop or rock radio hit. Eminem's hits have since crossed over to nearly every format so the rock inflected songs have proven commercially unnecessary. But Sing For The Moment has provided another good single from a good album. Dream On is a fairly obvious song to sample for a hip hop track. It's familiar and dramatic. Especially with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry doing a new, showy solo, Sing for The Moment is over the top and overloaded with meaningful sounds. But melodrama is a natural mode for Eminem. On the verses, over a big, basic beat and muted guitar, Eminem again gets to show off his rap's slithery facility as he powerfully drives the song forward. The intensity of Sing For The Moment's music matches Eminem's typical sense of self dramatization. He declares that his "ideas are nightmares for white parents" and that the parents' "worst fear" is kids emulating him since that would show that what the parents say "has no bearing." Eminem gets a chance to vent his paranoia, saying that while kids "worship us", "critics crucify you", attorneys all want "to get they hands on every dime you have" and "prosecuters wanna convict me." Eminem's defense is "if my music is literal and I'm a criminal", how can I raise a little girl? Eminem assumes that criminals will blame his music for the crimes they commit, concedes that violent imagery helps his sales and credits himself for giving hope to kids "who don't have a thing except for a dream." With its heavy feel, Sing For The Moment isn't as fun as some of Eminem's hits but it maintains a good sense of urgency and again shows that Eminem is a gifted rapper and fascinating personality.

  22. White Stripes-Seven Nation Army    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    White Stripes have followed the surprise million selling White Blood Cells CD with the even more successful Elephant. Seven Nation Army is their biggest radio hit so far. Like White Blood Cells, Elephant is a very good record that throws all sorts of ideas together. Singer/songwriter Jack White alternates(sometimes in the same song) between sincere and cynical and between goofy pop and serious, intense power chord laden hard rock. White's songs are unified by a seemingly natural weirdness and a good sense of a hook. White Stripes are still just guitar player Jack and drummer Meg White but Jack varies the sound and keeps it interesting. Unlike most of White Stripes' music, Seven Nation Army has a bass line(apparently played on a processed guitar). The verses, with Meg banging and Jack playing the big, basic bass line, give Jack space for his odd, strangely compelling vocal. Instead of shifting to a chorus, Seven Nation Army adds an electric guitar that basically tracks the bass line but creates a squealing intensity as the song dissolves into a fun jam before returning to another verse. Seven Nation Army is great, partly because its recurring riff is so good and memorable. Seven Nation Army has the kind of weird lyric that adds to White Stripes' charm. Sounding crazy and paranoid but also like he might have a point, Jack alternately promises to fight and ignore an unnamed enemy. He finally decides to avoid the struggle, go to Wichita and "work the straw." On Seven Nation Army, White Stripes music is again unpolished, odd and powerful.

  23. Amanda Perez-Angel    (down 4 positions)      buy it!
    Amanda Perez is a young Mexican American woman from Fort Wayne, Indiana. On Angel, the title track from Perez' breakthrough CD, Perez brings to mind Alicia Keys. Both are confident, idiosyncratic(Perez is pierced in many places) and largely in control of their music. Perez wrote the songs on Angel, coproduced the record and played most of the instruments. It's Perez playing Angel's piano. I'm not a huge fan of Angel. It's a pretty basic ballad. But I do admire its arrangement. With unshowy piano chords, a simple, minimal beat and well placed backing vocals, Angel has a good, uncluttered sound. The only flourish is a bit of vocal distortion which adds some texture. In this age where American Idol rewards intense, overemotive balladeers, it's good to hear Perez' controlled vocal. Angel was apparently inspired by the death of Perez' cousin. Angel is about grieving a loss. Perez asks God to send her an angel "to heal my broken heart from being in love." Perez sings that, even if he sometimes "took my love for granted", losing someone special has made her feel like she can't love anymore since "my heart can't take no more lies and my eyes are all out of cries."

  24. Daniel Bedingfield-If You're Not The One    (unchanged)      buy it!
    After coming out of nowhere with the dance hit Gotta Get Thru This, the title track from his CD, Daniel Bedingfield is back with another big hit. Most of the CD has a low budget feel that's not surprising since Bedingfield made most of the sounds himself, often at home on his computer. If You're Not The One has clanky, minimal synth and drum machine backing. I liked Gotta Get Thru This and its basic, giddy evocation of Michael Jackson's classic sound. But If You're Not The One, while heartfelt, is way too lame and Muzaky for me. If You're Not The One is inconsequential and, with its synth string effects, more than a little sappy. I guess the key to its success is Bedingfield's sincere vocal. He sounds like he means it when he celebrates how his hand fits with his love's and how she makes "my soul feel glad." Romantic female fans must love how Bedingfield admits that the idea of being without her brings him to tears.

  25. Jack Johnson-The Horizon Has Been Defeated    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    The Horizon Has Been Defeated is on the former pro surfer/filmmaker's new On and On CD. Like his buddy Ben Harper, Johnson backs up his cool, confident style with a mix of various musical sources. On The Horizon Has Been Defeated, Johnson's laidback flow is supported by a soulful groove with a reggae taste. The lyrics feature Johnson's easygoing philosophizing. At 27, Johnson has decided that "as we grow older", "things can go bad" but we're less likely to run away because the horizon has begun to fade and look less tempting. He also muses on a world where "machines become our hands" and reminds us that we're just animals with "fancy shoes" and "too many tools."

Songs 26-50


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