Justin Timberlake-Like I Love You(up 4 positions)
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."
John Mayer-Your Body Is A Wonderland(unchanged)
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.
Hoobastank-Running Away(down 13 positions)
Crawling In The Dark, Hoobastank's first chart hit, had a likable energetic chorus and modest lyrics about looking for the answer. Crawling In The Dark was also wildly derivative of other rock songs and after repeat listens, I soon found it uninteresting. Running Away, the second single from Hoobastank's self titled CD, regrets that a woman "never gave us chance to be" and ran away just when they were getting close. The lyrics have a charming humility("I don't want you to feel sorry for me") but the music is painfully over the top. At times, Running Away sounds like Incubus as it combines a touch of mystical synth sound with Doug Robb's sincere vocal. But, especially on the chorus, Running Away is a bombastic classic rock wannabe with big but meaningless guitar and drums. Running Away slowly drags along with a cliched arena sound.
Daniel Bedingfield-Gotta Get Thru This(unchanged)
Gotta Get Thru This is the title track from Daniel Bedingfield's first solo CD. It follows Dirty Vegas' Days Go By, The Wiseguys' Start The Commotion and Kylie Minogue's singles as the latest dance hit out of England with at least a touch of techno flavor. 22 year old Bedingfield says he made Gotta Get Thru This in his bedroom with a computer and a mike. Gotta Get Thru This's sound is basic, with a steady beat and a decent repeated electronic riff, but it's pretty effective. Bedingfield's voice is obviously treated and enhanced. The result is thin and nasal but interesting, like a cartoonish version of 80s Michael Jackson. Like the music, Gotta Get Thru This' lyric is simple but does the job. Bedingfield repeats the title like a mantra that helps him to stop obsessing about a woman who broke his heart.
Eve featuring Alicia Keys-Gangsta Lovin'(down 4 positions)
Eve's new CD is called Eve-Olution. Gangsta Lovin' has the same kind of easy, likably playful sound as Eve's first big pop hit Let Me Blow Ya Mind. Ja Rule/Ashanti producer Irv Gotti gave Gangsta Lovin' a good sound with a steady, relaxed beat and a catchy synth riff. Eve's rap is appealingly confident and straight forward. She's strong and subtly teasing as she tells a guy she's interested. Alicia Keys' vocal on the chorus is assisted by backing singers and hardly challenging but her smooth, laid back singing fits Gangsta Lovin's charming, breezy mood.
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.
Our Lady Peace-Somewhere Out There(unchanged)
Our Lady Peace have been huge in Canada for years but, until now, theyve only had modest success in the U.S. Modern rock radio play kept Somewhere Out There, from the Gravity CD, on the top 50 through the summer. It returned to the chart after settling in at pop radio. Top 40 radio always seemed like Somewhere Out Theres ultimate destination. For their U.S. commercial breakthrough, Our Lady Peace moved into Creed/Goo Goo Dolls/Aerosmith territory for a string laden rock ballad. Somewhere Out There isnt my favorite Our Lady Peace song(the less sweeping ballad Clumsy probably is) but it is less annoying than most rock ballads. Our Lady Peace singer Raine Maidas hoarse, yearning singing doesnt have Scott Stapps self important vanity and Somewhere Out There doesnt have the bloated sound of Creeds hits. Maida is always rather serious and intense so its less jarring to hear him shift into mellow mode than someone like Steven Tyler. Somewhere Out Theres carefully crafted and somewhat bombastic atmosphere of synths and strings is designed to make a hit. Somewhere Out There is heartfelt but the songs personal touch is steamrollered when the big guitars and drums and heavy orchestration come in. Still, Maida maintains his sincerity as he sings about waiting on a bed of nails for the return of an old flame who transcended a feeling of being lonely and out of place by moving on to a new life.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers-The Last DJ(up 2 positions)
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.
Vanessa Carlton-Ordinary Day(down 1 position)
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".
Madonna-Die Another Day(up 9 positions)
James Bond films long ago lost their originality and flair and became a series of flashy, unmemorable moneymakers.Appropriately, the theme song from the new one, Die Another Day, is functional, competent, a bit stylish and insignificant. Die Another Day soundtrack sounds like it was slapped together in a hurry between Madonnas other projects. It was also Madonna an opportunity to make people forget the terrible reviews she got for Swept Away and work in the medium(music video) where she doesnt have to talk and does her best acting. Madonna wrote and produced Die Another Day with Mirwais Ahmadzai, who also worked on the Music CD. Die Another Day, like Musics title track, is a repetitive sketch thats mostly about beat and synth effects. Die Another Day doesnt go have as many shiny beeps as Music and its not as intent on evoking the golden age of disco. Die Another Day sounds like a remix distilled from a more substantial source but, to my knowledge, this is all there is. With its string effects, edgy electronics and breaks in the beat for Madonna to intone something defiant, Die Another Day tries for theatrical intensity. The attempt is silly and annoying. Its both overdone and completely lacking in substance. Still, as insignificant dance music, Die Another Day basically does the job with a sleek, catchy sound. Mirwais gave it a good, crisp beat. Presented straight, Madonnas singing is affected and unmelodic but Mirwais smartly plays with it, giving it a metallic edge that matches the musics icy, dramatic feel. Die Another Day has a dopey, empty lyric that the latest James Bond film with an innocuous, vaguely threatening title and extensive commercial tie ins probably deserves. Ridiculously, Madonna claims Im gonna avoid the cliches as she spews inanities like Im gonna shake up the system, a time to work, a time to play and, inevitably, its not my time to go.
Avril Lavigne-Complicated(down 2 positions)
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.
Good Charlotte-Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous(up 5 positions)
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.
Angie Martinez-If I Can Go(up 3 positions)
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.
Sheryl Crow-Steve McQueen(unchanged)
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.
Trust Company-Downfall(down 4 positions)
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.
Queens Of The Stone Age-No One Knowsbuy 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.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band-Lonesome Daybuy it!
Bruce Springsteen's The Rising is a CD of varying quality. The music isn't always that interesting and sometimes Bruce's writing is too empty or cliched to provide the meaning he clearly seeks. But The Rising is mostly good and it often achieves a comforting, healing feel. 9/11 related imagery lurks throughout The Rising. The title track doesn't specifically cite 9/11 but its story of overcoming devastating circumstances, like much of The Rising, has that day and its aftermath in mind. Sometimes the quest for significance seems overreaching. Lonesome Day is first about trying to move on after being surprised when a woman he thought he "knew everything I needed to know about" leaves. Next thing you know, Bruce sings that the "house is on fire" and a "dark sun's on the rise" and suggests a need for revenge. Lonesome Day's lyrics may be murky but, as is often the case, Bruce's music and The E Street Band's playing suggest meaning deeper than provided by the words. The music brilliantly evoke sadness and rebirth. As the Lonesome Day moves at a cautious pace, Bruce's strong, ungimmicky vocal and Max Weinberg's solid whacks create a majestic, optimistic feel. That hopeful feeling is further bolstered by Roy Bittan and Danny Federici's nice, subtle keyboards, Clarence Clemons' brief, familiar solo and the good "it's alright" fadeout backing vocals. Lonesome Day's spare, uplifting sound brings to mind a good middle period song from John Mellancamp, one of Bruce's many disciples. It also has a sound that's right for an artist seeking a mature voice and meaning in a troubled time.
Camron-Hey Ma(up 6 positions)
Oh Boy fell just short of the top 50. Hey Ma, the followup single from the Come Home With Me CD, is like lots of other songs but it clearly sounds like a hit. Hey Ma grabs you right from the start with the relaxed, inviting Hey ma, whats up interplay between Camron and Toya. The rest of the song isnt as appealing as that exchange but Hey Ma maintains an easy flow throughout. It initially seemed odd that Hey Ma uses a sample from Lionel Richies Easy but Camron is just the latest, following P Diddy, Irv Gotti and Ja Rule and all their associates, to hit the charts with hip hop mellow enough to deserve lite fm play. Juelz Santana and Camrons decent raps give Hey Ma a little intensity but dont do anything do disturb the smooth, safe vibe. Hey Ma is a series of stupid but mostly innocuous stories about hooking up with girls. The chorus tell us that mutual interest in fancy vehicles, drinking and getting high establishes a basis for getting it on tonight. Santana relates how a combination of youthful confidence and respect set up his chance to lay the pipe. Cam tells us his boo shares his love for Gucci and buys his rap that hes a changed man who no longer be sinnin. Hey Ma is fairly dopey but easy to listen to.
The Wallflowers-When Youre On Top(up 1 position)
Jakob Dylans bands Bringing Down The Horse CD, which had the hit One Headlight, went multiplatinum. The Wallflowers success proved short lived. The Breach CD died after getting early radio interest, falling far short of its predecessors sales. When Youre On Top, off the Red Letter Days CD, is largely about wanting to get back with an ex but its also informed by Dylans new commercial reality. Dylans more modest expectations suit him on When Youre On Top. Jakob cant avoid that genetics and upbringing gave him a similar voice to dads. On When Youre On Top the resemblance in Dylans deliberate phrasing and nasal, slightly angry delivery suits him. Jakobs writing will never have the power of Bob Dylans best work but When Youre On Top is dense, rich and good. When Youre On Top is about being jaded and depressed. Bored by a life where hes making new friends but none of them matter, Dylan is looking for new experiences and a thought that I can believe in. Musically, When Youre On Top is a step in the right direction. In the past, The Wallflowers music has often been overly slick and shallow. When Youre On Top strips down the sound and finds a more interesting edge. The verses evoke disconnection, starting with no beat and a cold, throbbing synth then adding a stiff drum machine beat. The chorus is brighter and catchier but its restraint underlines Dylans theme that he feels fine and is doing better but not doing as well as when he was with the one he needs now more than ever.
Michelle Branch-Goodbye To You(down 7 positions)
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.
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."
Oakenfold-Starry Eyed Surprise(unchanged)
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."
Norah Jones-Don't Know Why(unchanged)
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.
Pink-Just Like A Pill(down 9 positions)
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."
The Strokes-Somedaybuy it!
More than a year after it came out. Is This It still sounds great. Someday, the Strokes' second chart hit(Hard To Explain fell just short of the top 50) is kind of a throwaway but it's a great example why Is This It is such a good, fun record. Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr.'s intertwined, nonstop guitar lines are a big reason for The Strokes' appeal. On Someday, the very good, fast rhythm guitar part and the simple lead fit together beautifully. Someday is also a fine showcase for Nikolai Fraiture's meaty bass and Fab Moretti's jaunty, rockabilly beat. Julian Casablancas' vocal is typically detached and very cool. The always flippant Casablancas does gives a little more of himself than usual in Someday's lyrics. He's self deprecating("my ex says I'm lacking in depth" and "I'm working so I won't have to try to so hard"), he's sensitive ("it hurts to say but I want you to stay") and he's a bit of both ("you say you want to stay by my side, darling your head's not right.") Casablancas' more positive attitude is a great match for the giddy Someday, one of the most upbeat songs on a very enjoyable, high energy record.