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All-Reviews.com Top 50 Songs*:
for the 2nd week of November, 2001

*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. Lenny Kravitz-Dig In    (up 1 position)      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.

  3. Staind-It's Been Awhile    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    It's Been Awhile, the first single from the Break The Cycle CD, entered the top 50 as singer Aaron Lewis had just made the top 10 for the first time with Outside from the Family Values Tour CD. It's Been Awhile is similar to Outside: thoughtful and fairly subtle for radio rock but very serious and not much fun. It's Been Awhile is another song about Lewis' troubled mind. He sings about how he always screws things and longs for the feeling of relief that came with his love. It's Been Awhile's verses are fairly quiet and similar to Outside. Power chords and drums create rock drama on the chorus but things don't get too overdone.

  4. Alien Art Farm-Smooth Criminal    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The second chart hit from the Anthology CD, is fairly ingenious. They take advantage of the familiarity of the song from Michael Jackson's Bad. Dryden Mitchell even mimics Jackson's whoops and other vocal tics. To appeal to rock fans, Alien Ant Farm took a song that was catchy and edgy to start with and beefed it up. Terry Corso is particularly impressive, using the original's riff for a hard, compact guitar line. Jackson's paranoia is a natural fit with the misogyny of much contemporary rock. Smooth Criminal is a quite nasty story of a guy who comes in the window of a woman's apartment and strikes her down, leaving "blood stains on the carpet" and the woman near death. Alien Art Farm's Smooth Criminal grabs you with its striking, dark momentum and tight music but the harsh rock setting makes the unpleasantness of the song even clearer.

  5. Three Doors Down-Be Like That    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The fourth chart hit from This Better Life is 3 Doors Down's inevitable rock ballad. Three Doors Down move into Matchbox 20 territory for a song a little like Push. Brad Arnold's voice doesn't have the strength and personality of Rob Thomas' but he's less showy as well. Be Like That starts with a quiet, reflective guitar. The band kicks in on the chorus but to their credit, they don't use the power chords and bombast of many rock ballads. Be Like That is quite ordinary and unremarkable but it's a decent song with strings, a mellow mood and stories of a guy dreaming he was a TV star and a homeless woman just dreaming she had "a safe home and a warm bed."

  6. Incubus-Wish You Were Here    (unchanged)      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.

  7. 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.

  8. P.O.D.-Alive    (unchanged)      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.

  9. Staind-Fade    (unchanged)      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.

  10. U2-Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Nearly a year after reviewing All That You Can't Leave Behind, I'm sticking to my original opinion. The CD is quite mellow and can be a little slow but it's remarkably consistent with thoughtful, enjoyable songs. Especially after the band's showy 90s work, All That You Can't Leave Behind's modesty is very appealing. Bono restrains the excesses that sometimes obscure his gift. His vocals have a charming grace. As they do throughout the CD, producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois give Stuck In A Moment a warm, rich sound. The keyboards create the easy feel of an r&b classic like People Get Ready. The fact that Bono wrote this as a message he wished he had sent to his friend Michael Hutchence, before he killed himself, gives Stuck In A Moment added poignance.

  11. Linkin Park-In The End    (up 1 position)      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.

  12. Puddle Of Mudd-Control    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Like Staind, Puddle Of Mudd are a Fred Durst discovery. With their familiar rock sound, Puddle Of Mudd should also have quite a bit of success, but unlike Staind, who have Aaron Lewis' distinctive folky sincerity, nothing distinguishes Puddle Of Mudd from the long list of intense rockers some white male teens can't get enough of. Puddle Of Mudd aren't as abhorrent as the worst angry rockers like Linkin Park, Godsmack and Disturbed but Contol is very routine with big guitars and vocals that yell to a girl about "the pain you place inside" and ask for release "from my dirty cage." Puddle Of Mudd sound like Saliva, Tantric and so many other bands.

  13. Five For Fighting-Superman    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Superman is the second chart hit from Five For Fighting's America Town CD. It's the latest in a long series of Superman rock songs by groups from The Kinks to, more recently, Three Doors Down, Crash Test Dummies and Our Lady Peace. Like many Supermans, Five For Fighting's is an aging young man's attempt to feel better about the fact that "it's not easy to be me" with the idea that even the man of steel has problems. It's lite-fm pap. Superman should kick Five For Fighting frontman John Ondrasik's ass for putting new agey jargon like "I'm just out to find the better part of me" and "wish that I could cry" in his mouth. Superman's music is tasteful and wimpy with a quiet piano eventually joined by polite drums.

  14. Bush-The People That We Love    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Out of concern for our delicate post-September 11 sensibility, the first single from Bush's Golden State CD has been renamed. Speed Kills is now called The People That We Love, even though the song has always clearly been about the emotional damage caused in relationships, rather than any literal violence or death. People That We Love, like all of Gavin Rossdale's work, is ever so serious. But it also shows Rossdale's talent for making tight, intense rock with a good, edgy energy as he sings, over driving guitars, about how we "destroy the world we took so long to make."

  15. Disturbed-Down With The Sickness    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Even in the over the top world of troubled contemporary rockers, Disturbed seem pretty silly. Down With The Sickness is the third chart hit from their The Sickness CD. Down With The Sickness has rumbling, hammering guitars and a menacing atmosphere but it's not quite as hard as Disturbed's previous rock radio hits. The music is kept quiet and slow so you can pick up the ridiculous, dark lyrics about "drowning in my deep sea of loathing" and waking "the demon in me." On the chorus, David Draiman does the same angry, stuttering yell he did on Stupify and Voices.

  16. Train-Something More    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    It's easy to write off Train as a boring, if tuneful, yuppie band but they sometimes do fairly interesting things withing a pop context. Something More resembles late period psychedelic Beatles or, more accurately, the hundreds of songs other bands have modeled on later Beatles music. As the strings get bigger and the song just repeats itself, Train's easy listening tendencies become more obvious. Still, Something More, from the Drops Of Jupiter CD, is tuneful and it gets a decent edge from an unrushed pace and a good, dense texture with a thick bass line. On Something More, Pat Monahan is depressed and ready to move on from a relationship with a woman who's never satisfied.

  17. System Of A Down-Chop Suey    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Finally, after so many serious, self pitying, soundalike bands have dominated rock radio, a hard rock band has a hit that sounds different and shows a sense of humor. With tough guitars and hardcore fast drums, Chop Suey, from the Toxicity CD, has the chops necessary to keep the headbangers happy but it's also refreshingly weird. Serj Tankian's over the top vocal takes Chop Suey all over the map, starting as a punk rant, slowing down for a meaningful croon that may be mocking his self important contemporaries("I don't think you trust in my self righteous suicide") and eventually shifting to a spacy, gothic conclusion.

  18. Tool-Schism    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    I've had enough of harsh rock about troubled young white guys but I have to admit that Schism, the first single from Tool's Lateralus CD, is powerful and about as good as the genre gets. Schism slowly gains in intensity through its seven dark minutes. Schism isn't fun but, despite its meaningful tone, it generally avoids pretension. Schism, coming on the heels of the three top 50 hits from A Perfect Circle's Mer De Noms, continues Maynard James Keenan's success. Keenan is also continuing to make music that's quieter and more stark than Tool's earlier work. Adam Jones' dissonant guitar line is more about atmosphere than noise. Keenan's agitated vocal sounds like he's barely controlling his rage as he sings of the disintergrating and "fundamental differing" of two lovers. As he mourns the "atrophy" of a sense of compassion", Keenan obsesses about a time when "the pieces fit."

  19. 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.

  20. Alicia Keys-Fallin'    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Alicia Keys' Songs In A Minor is probably the most remarkable success story of 2001. Keys' only previous credits were a couple soundtrack songs and a little backup work but her CD debuted at number one and has been near the top of the charts ever since. Fallin' is striking on first listen and goes a long way in explaining the CD's success. Unlike the overproduced work of other female pop singers, Fallin' shows the confidence to let Keys' singing stand on its own and her strong, sexy voice is up to the task. Fallin' has a good, minimal production. Strong backing vocals and Keys' piano playing create a classic, soulful sound. There isn't much to the lyric, about the confusion of a relationship that brings lots of pleasure and pain, but its simplicity fits the song's stylish, retro feel.

  21. Enya-Only Time    (up 2 positions)      buy it!
    Besides providing vaguely mystical sounding background music for commercials, soothing is what Enya's ultra-lite music does best. So it's not surprising that some have found that in a troubled time Only Time, from Enya's A Day Without Rain CD, has therapeutic qualities. Rather than being about time healing, Only Time's message is that the future is unpredictable so there's no point worrying about it. Only Time is potentially sleep inducing elevator music but it's also a striking, delicately gauzy example of Enya's usual ethereal formula of filtered voices, layered keyboards and polite, programmed beat.

  22. Enrique Iglesias-Hero    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Hero, from Iglesias' Escape CD, is another song that's found a September 11 connection. Some TV stations used it with footage of World Trade Center rescuers and Iglesias sang it at one of the benefit shows. Hero is actually a sappy love song with Iglesias selflessly offering to be a romantic savior. Iglesias slowly and seriously intones the lyrics, sounding a little like he's pronouncing them phonetically. The music starts fairly minimally but builds to an unsubtle conclusion with big, sweeping strings. That said, Hero isn't as cheesy and synthetic sounding as much of Iglesias' English language work. It does what it's supposed to with emotional romance novel imagery of an exotic Latin lover that's bound to appeal to millions of women.

  23. Nelly Furtado-Turn Off The Light    (down 2 positions)      buy it!
    On her second single from the Whoa, Nelly CD, the Portugese-Canadian singer is again a cool, refreshing presence on pop radio. Turn Off The Light has an even looser feel than I'm Like A Bird. Furtado's vocal is easy and appealing. Turn Off The Light has a trippy feel with ringing synths and record scratching but it also has good, tight beats. On Turn Off The Light, Furtado says she acting tough after a breakup but when she's on her own at night she's troubled and lonely.

  24. Rob Zombie-Feel So Numb    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    Feel So Numb, from Rob Zombie's The Sinister Urge CD, has Zombie's typically over the top sound. His music is so theatrical and goofy that I assume you're not supposed to take it completely seriously. Feel So Numb, with its big guitars, is a little more of a mainstream rock song than some of Zombie's work. Still, with its frantic industrial synths and beat and Zombie's maniacal wail, Feel So Numb's sound is still way larger than life. I assume Zombie's music is some sort of parody but I mostly don't get the joke and just find it abrasive. Feel So Numb is apparently a diatribe about the alienating nature of modern society.

  25. Mary J. Blige-Family Affair    (up 8 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.

Songs 26-50


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