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All-Reviews.com Top 50 Songs*:
for the 2nd week of October, 2002

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

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(songs 1-25)

  1. Seether-Fine Again    (unchanged)      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."

  2. 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."

  3. Avril Lavigne-Complicated    (down 6 positions)      buy it!
    Complicated is from the 17 year old Canadian's Let Go CD. Even more than Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, Lavigne has a sound that seems perfect for girls looking for a more substantial alternative to Britney and Christina. Unlike Branch, whose image is sincere and vulnerable, Lavigne comes across as very self confident. Her voice has a casual, spoken quality that sounds like that of a cool teen. Complicated is fairly insubstantial but it's also appealingly perky and direct. Complicated's confessional, relaxed tone marks Lavigne as an Alanis fan. There's also some resemblance to the more rocking but still poppy recent work of labelmate Pink. Some of Complicated's synth flourishes are unnecessary but the sound is generally appealing simple. A hip hop style drum machine beat adds a bit of edge. On Complicated, Lavigne vents her frustration at a guy who's good and relaxed when they're alone but becomes foolish and showy around others.

  4. Nickelback-Never Again    (down 10 positions)      buy it!
    Chad Kroeger's dreary chart dominance continues. Never Again, the third single from Nickelback's Silver Side Up CD, debuted on the top 50 while Kroeger's awful Hero was still #1. Never Again is one of Silver Side Up's harder rocking songs but, even with the big guitars, it suffers from the same deadly seriousness and lack of originality as Kroeger's previous hits. Never Again is another song that seems related to Kroeger's troubled youth. Like Too Bad, Never Again is about a dysfunctional home. This time instead of being absent, the dad is a physically abusive drunk. Kroeger is a kid afraid his mom is going to get killed. The happy ending has the mom grabbing a gun and pulling "the trigger just as fast as she can." As always, I don't question Kroeger's sincerity or right to express his pain but wish he could express himself in a more interesting, fresh way.

  5. Justin Timberlake-Like I Love You    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The first single from teen pop's top hunkshows that Justin Timberlake can be successful outside N Sync but fails to show that he's developing a distinctive musical personality. On record and especially in the video, Like I Love You seems to be a Michael Jackson tribute. Timberlake mimics Jackson's look and moves but he doesn't have the gloved one's visual or vocal presence. Like I Love You, from the Justified CD, is apparently intended to introduce an adult, urban image for Timberlake. Timberlake does OK with the Jacko-like falsetto parts. Hovever, Like I Love You's spoken, tough guy parts are, if not quite ridiculous, a little silly, though his young fans undoubtedly find them cool and sexy. Otherwise, Timberlake's vocal is uninteresting but amiable, floating nearly unnoticably along with the beat. The Neptunes do their usual competent production. Like I Love You basically works as disposable dance pop. It's got a good crisp beat and a decent repeated guitar based riff. Like I Love You isn't helped by the Neptunes trademark beeping effects, which have almost always been annoying and now are annoying and cliched. The Neptunes try to give the very white Justin some edge by including a rap from Clipse(who happen to have the first record released by the Neptunes' new label). Clipse's rap doesn't work as well as Nelly's on N Sync's fun Girlfriend remix. It's pretty drab with cocky come ons("grab a friend, see I can have fun with two") that don't mesh with Timberlake's more polite approach. Like I Love You's lyric is mostly an inoffensive attempt to charm a woman and get her to drop "your front face" though the effort to be simultaneously tough and respectful results in some stinker lines like "you're a good girl and that's what make me trust ya."

  6. Trust Company-Downfall    (down 16 positions)      buy it!
    Downfall, from the Montgomery, Alabama band's The Lonely Position Of Neutral CD, is quite ingenious. Like music by Korn, Tool, Deftones and so many others, it has intense atmosphere and a troubled, wailing singer. But Downfall also has a sleek, catchy chorus. Downfall hits both of its musical styles pretty well. The verse, with Kevin Palmer doing an agitated vocal over rumbling bass, is pretty routine but it gains impressive power as, just before it segues into the chorus, the guitars begin to hammer and Palmer howls 'fall". The chorus is striking with appealing harmonies layered over basic but effective hard rock guitars. The lyrics are fairly standard contemporary rock fare but Palmer's agitation seems real. He sings about being tormented by fear and of hiding a volatile "other side of me." Downfall is familiar, competent hard rock with a refreshing touch of distinctiveness.

  7. John Mayer-Your Body Is A Wonderland    (up 3 positions)      buy it!
    Your Body Is a Wonderland is the second chart hit from the Atlanta based singer/songwriter's Room For Squares CD. Like No Such Thing, Your Body Is a Wonderland is pleasant and almost proudly inconsequential. Unlike No Such Thing, where Mayer tried so hard for whimsical cheekiness, Your Body Is a Wonderland mostly keeps things nicely understated. His voice, in a tone not much more forceful than a whisper, effectively communicates the song's sly confidence. His guitar playing is also unassuming but pretty cool. Its only flourish is a short Steely Dan style riff towards the end. A skinny young white guy can't help but seem a little leering singing a song about pleasuring a lady but his admiration of a woman's looks is generally appealing. A bit too much bravado accompanies Mayer's promise to take a while making love and discovering a woman's body but he generally avoids the objectification that often accompanies songs complimenting the female shape.

  8. Vanessa Carlton-Ordinary Day    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Ordinary Day is the second single from Vanessa Carlton's Be Not Nobody CD. It's nice that young girls have at least three people making music for them that's not totally awful. They can choose between hip, popular Avril Lavigne, sincere, slightly arty Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, the smart, confident nerd who never misses a piano lesson. I guess I credit the many kids who have picked Carlton's mildly ambitious music but her popularity is also a little strange to me. At the risk of using a critical cliche, Ordinary Day is quite ordinary. There's not much to it except a sense of artistic pretention. Carlton's interesting piano playing plays a less prominent role than on A Thousand Miles. Producer Ron Fair overdoes the strings as if he's orchestrating a third rate production of Oklahoma. I guess the kids feel like that liking a song like Ordinary Day means they're listening to something more serious and important. The most appealing thing about Ordinary Day is Carlton's vocal and persona. She has Tori Amos' honesty without Amos' affectations and with an appealing youthful openness. The lyrics are a sweet story of a boy "looking to the sky" who "asked if I would come along".

  9. Kelly Clarkson-A Moment Like This    (up 7 positions)      buy it!
    After Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, A Moment Like This was rushed out as a single, long before an album was ready, and it's one of the biggest selling singles in recent years. I didn't see much of American Idol. It seemed irrelevant to me and millions others. From what I can tell, there were few signs that rock or hip hop exist. Balladeers competed to show over the top intensity. It's not surprising that Clarkson won. I'd figure the person who would appeal to most average Americans would sing competently, sound very familiar and not be too challenging or unusual. Clarkson has been compared to Mariah Carey. The comparison seems accurate. She doesn't seem as skilled or distinctive as Carey but Clarkson has Carey's confidence as well as her tendency to slightly overdo things. Comfortable familiarity seems like the main goal of American Idol, Clarkson and especially the writers of A Moment Like This, which blatantly borrows pieces of Whitney Houston's ballads. A Moment Like This' resemblance to I Will Always You, The Greatest Love Of All(which it namedrops) and others practically makes it a medley of Whitney's hits. Especially in the big finish final verse, every move seems copped from I Will Always Love You though you can also credit Elton's Circle Of Life and Bette Midler's big hits. A Moment Like This, written and produced by studio pros who have worked with a bunch of lightweight British pop stars as well as Britney and O Town, has a by the book arrangement. The music starts quietly and gains in intensity, with a cushion of backup singers and strings. There will probably always be a market for uplifting, manipulative songs likely to end with the singer's arms raised triumphantly over her head. A Moment Like This is properly constructed to tug at the heartstrings but it doesn't have a transcendent vocal performance or anything unusual to distinguish it from other similar songs. A Moment Like This, with its "some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this" hook, was chosen because it seems to be commemorating Clarkson's victory. But the lyric is actually a clichi ridden love song about a perfect love.

  10. Jimmy Eat World-Sweetness    (down 14 positions)      buy it!
    Sweetness is the second chart hit from the CD originally called Bleed American that, since September 11, the record company wants known as just Jimmy Eat World. Sweetness is a good example of why Jimmy Eat World has been labeled an emo rock band and of why the Arizona based band can be so appealing. Everything about Sweetness is done with great intensity and sincerity and its eager attempt to ingratiate is successful. Jim Adkins is very likable. His full voiced vocal never flags. Stopping and starting on a dime, Tom Linton and Adkins's impressive barrage of guitars gives Sweetness a rock and roll edge but doesn't overwhelm the band's open, positive sound. Sweetness reminds me of a big, glossy Cheap Trick song like Surrender or Dream Police, with good natured seriousness taking the place of that band's tongue in cheek goofiness. Sweetness rocks harder than Jimmy Eat World's surprise monster hit The Middle but like that song, it has high energy that seems to keep building. Instead of The Middle's Major Tom synth riff, Sweetness builds to a climax by adding a perky, one finger piano line. Considering the music's upbeat mood, Sweetness has a surprisingly dark subject matter. Adkins sings that a relationship used to be like a sweet game but, feeling tethered, he doesn't want to play the game anymore. I still find Jimmy Eat World's over the top, innocent enthusiasm tough to take in large doses but short shots like Sweetness are hard to resist.

  11. Pink-Just Like A Pill    (down 5 positions)      buy it!
    When M!ssundaztood came out Pink, aided by the music press, put out the idea that the CD was a bold, rocking work that declared her freedom from record company people forcing her to make calculated, radio friendly music. Get The Party Started, M!ssundaztood's first single, still sounds great and exciting but Pink's subsequent singles have seemed more calculated for radio play than bold and rocking. Just Like A Pill, like Don't Let Me Get Me, was cowritten, arranged and produced by Dallas Austin, a veteran hitmaker for TLC, Boys II Men and Madonna. It has a slick, well made sound with layers of synths and percussion, a sturdy beat and power pop guitars. Just Like A Pill reminds me of another mature, well constructed hit: Sophie B. Hawkins' Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover. Just Like A Pill isn't exciting but it has a good, dense sound. Just Like A Pill's lyrics don't get much more specific than repeatedly stating that instead of making her feel better, her boyfriend keeps "makin' me ill."

  12. Sheryl Crow-Steve McQueen    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    Steve McQueen, the second single from the C'mon C'mon CD shows that the empty headed feel of Soak Up The Sun was a strategy rather than an aberration. Soak Up The Sun at least had a likable, relaxed flow to it. On Steve McQueen, Crow awkwardly tries to show she can make stupid rock music as well as a guy. Steve McQueen grinding rock guitar sound is OK but everything else about is ridiculously dumb. Crow cops the ooh-oohs from Steve Miller's Take The Money And Run. Crow is usually a reliable singer but, especially on the chorus, she sounds shrill and as self satisfied as Lenny Kravitz watering down Americna Woman. Crow sings about wanting to "rock and roll this party" and ride a fast machine like Steve McQueen. Crow's social commentary about "rock stars in the White House" and pop stars who "look like porn" seems particularly lame.

  13. Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers-The Last DJ    (unchanged)      buy it!
    The Last DJ, the title track from Tom Petty's new CD, overstates things a little. There are still plenty of djs at college and independent stations who play "what they want to play" and say "what they want to say." And the fact that most stations are guided by the bottom line, rather than a quest for quality, is hardly news. The Ramones, Kinks and Elvis Costello long ago did songs about it. For at least the 25 years of Petty's career, commercial radio has rarely welcomed dj free expression. Market research and pandering play the role in music they do in the selling of movies, tv shows or political candidates though audience tastes sometimes force commercial radio to abandon its conservative instincts and play new, good or different kinds of music. The undeniable subtext of The Last DJ is the unlamentable fact that pop radio no longer plays the music of Petty and some of his contemporaries. The similarity of Last DJ to Petty's other music hardly argues against classic rock radio as the natural 2002 home for his music. Still, I agree it's sad that radio is controlled by large corporations and consultants who "celebrate mediocrity", pushing songs meant to sound like other hits and appeal to the lowest common denominator rather than good, smart or interesting music. And while The Last DJ is familiar, it's one of my favorite current songs. Petty's nasal whine is comforting and he sounds like he still has something to prove. The Heartbreakers' personnel has changed over the years but guitar player Mike Campbell is still giving Petty's songs some kick. Campbell keeps playing Rickenbacker riffs he stole from Roger McGuinn and The Byrds. He gives The Last DJ's verses texture and a good countermelody and adds urgency to the chorus with compact, crunching London Calling style chords. Longtime Heartbreaker Benmont Tench's piano helps fill out the sound and adds to Last DJ's vibrancy.

  14. Michelle Branch-Goodbye To You    (up 1 position)      buy it!
    The musical appeal of the previous hits from Michelle Branch's The Spirit Room CD was fairly modest but at least something was going on. Everywhere was a likable pop rocker. All You Wanted was a sweet rescue fantasy. Goodbye To You doesn't offer much. It's quite a routine ballad. It's different from Vanessa Carlton's string heavy Ordinary Day but, like that song, Goodbye To You's main asset is the singer's unaffected, natural style. Branch's singing with Santana on Game Of Love hints that she might loosen up in the future but, so far, sincerity and lack of pretension have been the keys to Branch's success. She outdoes even Carlton in those categories. Goodbye To You is like singles by people like Britney and Christina but at least it doesn't have the fakey, manufactured feel of some similar songs. Branch doesn't have the strongest voice but it sounds like a teenager's. As she quavers and reaches for high notes, her quirks and effort make the song feel real and adds to a sense of yearning. Goodbye To You doesn't add much to the breakup song genre but it keeps things simple and undoubtedly connects with girls in their early teens who feel like Branch is the only one who understands their heartache. Branch sings about the pain of trying to put a long relationship behind her.

  15. New Found Glory-My Friends Over You    (down 11 positions)      buy it!
    The demand for fun, dopey, poppy guitar rock continues. Coral Springs, Florida's New Found Glory broke through with the fun, simple Hit Or Miss and have a similarly basic sound on My Friends Over You, the first single from the Sticks and Stones CD. My Friends Over You is like a less obnoxious version of SR-71's Right Now and it's not that far from Sum 41 or Blink 182. My Friends Over You is catchy and likable. It has a fairly clear sound, a positive feel and a restrained pace for a rocker. Chad Gilbert and Steve Klein create a good, varied guitar sound with crunching chords on the verses and a good hook on the chorus. Jordan Pundik's vocal isn't particularly impressive but at least it's unpretentious. Klein's lyrics apologize for leading a girl on but tell her their history makes it clear she's not worth as much as his friendships.

  16. Angie Martinez-If I Can Go    (up 6 positions)      buy it!
    I, like many in the New York area, haven't heard much of If I Can Go, the hit from Angie Martinez' Animal House CD. Martinez is a Hot 97 radio personality. Other stations have decided not to help a competitor, even if that means missing out on a hot song. It's Z-100's(among others') loss. If I Can Go is good, breezy dance pop with an easy, positive energy and a touch of a Latin feel. If I Can Go has a very catchy hook that repeats throughout over a crisp, simple beat. Producer Rick Rock smartly deploys the hook in different ways. A guitar riff is joined or replaced by a dramatic synth when emphasis is needed. Martinez doesn't seem to have great vocal skills but her hard, confident New Yorker voice helps give If I Can Go a tough edge. Lil' Mo effectively takes over when a real singer is needed. Sacario's quick, no nonsense rap is well integrated into If I Can Go. If I Can Go is about wanting to leave New York "with no cells and no trace" for a far away beach, if the guy who can "make you feel like you're right back in the ninth grade" can come.

  17. Matchbox 20-Disease    new to music chart      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.

  18. Christina Aguilera-Dirrty    (unchanged)      buy it!
    She's done singles, a Spanish language record and a holiday record but Stripped is Christina Aguilera's first mainstream CD in the more than three years since the release of her smash self titled CD. There's a lot of talk about whether and how the teen stars of the late 90s can remain successul as they and their audiences get older. Christina Aguilera seems to have a good shot at longevity. Her voice is bigger and better than Britney's and she's not saddled with a young image. Aguilera was only 18 when Christina Aguilera was released but her big, brassy, confident voice often seemed more like a 40 year old's. With Dirrty, Aguilera has the bad fortune of seeming to repeat steps her young competitors took to seek continued success. Like Pink, Aguilera confidently announces that "my arrival" will "start the party." Like Britney's I'm A Slave 4 U, Dirrty has an edgy dance sound and a sweaty, steamy video and lyrics meant to introduce an overtly adult, sexy image. As with Justin's Like I Love You, Dirrty has a hot producer the artist succeeded with before and a state of the art but familiar R&B/dance sound. Dirrty doesn't measure up to Pink's great pop hit but Aguilera's strong voice and comfort with the hard dance pop form give her the edge over Spears and Timberlake. Dirrty and Like I Love You are both more grooves than songs but Aguilera is a better fit with the material. On Dirrty, Lady Marmalade producer Rockwilder creates a tough, exciting sound with a metallic beat, a booming bass sound and flashing keyboards. He also includes Redman's decent, driving rap. Dirty's downside is it's not a lot of fun. An obstacle to Aguilera's long term success could be her failure to establish a likable, warm persona. Aguilera's vocal on Dirrty is strong but, especially in a harsh, mechanincal setting, it's a little cold. Dirrty's lyric is a fairly familiar boast about how Aguilera is gonna get the place sweating and "shake the room" but it fits well with Dirrty's tight, steady sound.

  19. Ashanti-Happy    (down 7 positions)      buy it!
    Down 4 U fell just short of the top 50 but, generally, the Murder Inc. steamroller shows no sign of slowing down. The endless parade of easy, listenable but unambitious hits produced by Irv Gotti with vocals by Ja Rule and/or Ashanti is becoming increasingly mind numbing. Happy, the second single from the Ashanti CD, is pleasant enough. It's perkier than Ashanti's smash, Foolish. The music and Ashanti Douglas' voice are both sunny, smooth and inoffensive. But they also largely lack personality. Happy is extremely modest in its aspirations and execution. With its laid back feel, Happy resembles the "remix" version of Jennifer Lopez' I'm Real. But Lopez, while no great singer, had more presence and sexy attitude than Ashanti has in her competent, innocuous vocal. Happy repeats a vaguely annoying, chirpy synth riff and a wind blowing sound not much different from the effect in Foolish. Happy's backup singers are pretty good but they're forced to sing a melody line strangely reminiscent of the one from 80s easy listening megahit On My Own. After the obligatory Ja Rule introduction, Ashanti, in a fairly inane lyric, tells her man how he she's "so glad you fell in love with me" and that she "couldn't see me without you."

  20. Korn-Thoughtless    (down 22 positions)      buy it!
    Thoughtless is the second chart hit from Korn's Untouchables CD. Untouchables has been called the record that introduces melody to Korn's sound. Thoughtless has a melody of sorts but it's hardly tuneful. The verses have hammering guitars. The chorus has a big rock anthem sound. Jonathan Davis' vocal takes on different tones that presumably match the different levels of anger he expresses on Thoughtless. Davis starts with a bit of falsetto playfulness mixed with his rage as he sings about pushing his mercy down, daring someone to take a swing at him so he can have a reason to put him on the ground. But he quickly shifts to a harsh bark: "why are you trying to make fun of me." Things get weird as Davis rants "got my monkey back against the wall." In between, Davis accuses others of "thoughtlessly scheming" to "tear me down" and sings about wanting to "kill and rape you the way you raped me." I'm somewhat fascinated by Thoughtless' surreal, over the top sound, especially Davis' venting of his enormous, barely controlled hostility. But Thoughtless' lack of nuance and endless barrage of noise and negativity make it unlistenably harsh for me.

  21. Norah Jones-Don't Know Why    (unchanged)      buy it!
    Come Away With Me is the debut CD by 23 year old Norah Jones, who is sitar legend Ravi Shankar's daughter but was raised in Texas by her mom. Come Away With Me has justifiably become a yuppie and boomer favorite. Like Cassandra Wilson, Jones starts from a jazz background but plays songs that can be categorized as folk, r&b and pop. Jones' voice even resembles that of country pop singer Shelby Lynne. Don't Know Why is a good showcase of Jones' unshowy but sultry charm. On Don't Know Why, Jones' voice is appealingly yearning and delicate. Jones' piano and rhythm section are easy and inobtrusive, adding to the song's understated poignance. Don't Know Why, written by Jones' guitar player Jesse Harris, has a classic simplicity. Jones sings that, while it makes her feel teary, empty and needing wine, she has to stay away from a guy who has never run to her.

  22. P. Diddy featuring Ginuwine-I Need A Girl Pt. 2    (down 5 positions)      buy it!
    I Need A Girl Pt. 2 is from the We Invented The Remix CD. P. Diddy coproduced I Need A Girl Pt. 2 with Mario Winans. I liked I Need A Girl Pt. 1 for its breezy, smooth sound and Diddy's bizarre confession of loneliness but Part 2 is of much less interest to me. The music, with its synthetic steady beat and shiny synth riff, is OK but it's also an even more insubstantial, if perkier, variation on an already lightweight theme. The lyric is significantly less compelling than Part 1's apparent paean and mea culpa to J. Lo. P. Diddy's rap is standard issue. He tells us he wants a girl with potential wife credentials who's 5'5" with dimples and makes showy promises of being able to share 100 foot yachts and trips to San Tropez with his girl. Diddy's vocal is typically flat, uninflected and unmelodic. Loon's rap isn't great either with cliched images of lying in a bubble bath with a really big champagne glass and the questionable boast: "I'm smooth as Erik Estrada." Ginuwine and Winans do better with the singer role Usher had on Part 1 but they don't do much to change the song's generic feel.

  23. Good Charlotte-Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous    (up 2 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.

  24. Jack Johnson-Flake    (down 1 position)      buy it!
    The Hawaiian native/champion surfer turned LA singer/songwriter's first chart hit is charmingly laid back. Johnson sings on Flake, from the Brushfire Fairytales CD, about likable slackers who lose out or let people down because of "ties" or because "often times we're lazy." Flake has relaxed guitars and drums and Johnson's smooth vocal comfortably matches the song's mood. He doesn't seem to exert himself too much even as he reaches for high notes in the song's "please don't drag me down" conclusion. Ben Harper, whose music has an easy, sensual appeal similar to Johnson's, plays good atmospheric slide guitar on Flake.

  25. Oakenfold-Starry Eyed Surprise    new to music chart      buy it!
    Paul Oakenfold is England's(and probably the world's) most sought after club DJ. He's also done well as a producer and remixer. The Bunkka CD is Oakenfold's most concerted effort at being a solo artist. On Bunkka, Oakenfold worked with a range of pop and hop hip singers. Starry Eyed Surprise's singer is Shifty Shellshock from Crazy Town, whose Butterfly was a hit a couple years back. Shellshock's hipster rap isn't that different from the one he did on Butterfly. In fact, you could easily fit big chunks of Butterfly into Starry Eyed Surprise. I found the psychedelic, spacy Butterfly, and Shellshock's slick, cocky vocal, annoying but I kind of like Starry Eyed Surprise. Starry Eyed Surprise is insubstantial and close to innocuous but it achieves the likable dance pop sound it shoots for. Starry Eyed Surprise has a genial tone and it's mostly about the music and the beat, so Shellshock isn't as irritating as he can be. Not surprisingly, Oakenfold delivers a strong, sturdy beat but he's also smart enough to keep the music relaxed, unhurried and fairly uncluttered. Oakenfold chose a few appealing riffs to keep things interesting, basing Starry Eyed Surprise on a piece of Nilsson's Everybody's Talkin'(from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack). Starry Eyed Surprise's lyric is a dopey celebration of clubbing and dancin' "all night to this DJ."

Songs 1-25


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