Razor Love - Neil Young
Weeks on Chart: 2 Peak: #50 (June 2000) buy it!
Razor Love is from Neil Young's new acoustic Silver and Gold CD. Razor Love is a nice, restrained song about Young's empathy for a woman who's down on her luck. Harmonica, piano and Young's thin, vulnerable voice create a moving setting as Young sings of his faith in and "love that cuts straight through" for someone he hasn't always supported. Razor Love is sad and slightly rambling with Young throwing out a few broader observations about how you "gotta look out for the greedy hand" and that "imagination is my best friend."
The Real Slim Shady - Eminem
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #13 (July 2000) buy it!
On the first single from the Marshall Mathers Lp, Eminem is, as usual, obnoxious, self pitying but also pretty funny. Real Slim Shady is getting played on alternative radio while Forgot About Dre, also produced by Dr. Dre with a similar light but sinister nursery rhyme type backing track, isn't. Is it because of Eminem's color? Regardless, Real Slim Shady is fun. Despite his dopey demeanor and accent, Eminem is a pretty fluid rapper and Real Slim Shady is fast with good momentum. Eminem is conflicted, excited about the prospect of lots of Eminem wannabes "who could be workin' at Burger King, spittin' on your onion rings" yet so insecure about the possibility of a white rap usurper that he needs to repeatedly tell us that he's the real thing. He rightly says he doesn't care about those who say that Will Smith has hits without swearing but whines about an unfair world where Tom Green can be dirty and he can't. He disses and distances himself from Britney and Christina, refusing to admit that he, like them, owes much of their career to image and MTV. Eminem's a fascinating character, bursting with ideas, some foolish, some insightful.
Realign - Godsmack
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #25 (March 2004) buy it!
Godsmack are still one of my least favorite bands. But I don't dislike Realign, the fourth chart hit on the Faceless CD, as much as most of Godsmack's music. That's largely because Realign is less about Sully Erna's cold, self righteous singing than usual. Realign has a big, pretty good hard rock sound. Realign's verses are fairly typical, unpleasant Godsmack. With Erna snarling, they sound like Awake, Straight Out Of Line and other songs. The chorus is more enjoyable. Tony Rambola plays a good rising set of chords and Erna's vocal is relatively restrained. Realign, especially in Erna's vocal, is not very likable but, at least, it's not as nasty and combative as some of the band's songs. Realign is about trying to get out of a life of apathy, confusion and "decisions made from desperation" where Erna's fears came alive.
Rearranged - Limp Bizkit
Weeks on Chart: 24 Peak: #12 (Feb. 2000) buy it!
The followup to Nookie from the Significant Other is musically more subtle than Nookie. The vocals and guitars don't scream and the song has a good groove with a nice bass line. Lyrically, Fred Durst is still a bitter guy. He's clearly upset about his latest breakup but he tries to convince himself that he thanks God it's over and that she's going to need him when he's gone.
The Reason - Hoobastank
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #1 (April 2004) buy it!
Out Of Control, the first chart hit from The Reason, didn't last long on the chart. It looked like Hoobastank might disappear for lack of anything to distinguish them from other sensitive hard rockers. But Hoobastank guaranteed themselves a longer shelf life, taking the logical step for a rock band seeking a larger pop audience: putting out a big rock ballad. The Reason CD's title track is the California band's biggest hit. In a compliment and an insult, The Reason has been called the prom theme of 2004. The Reason connects with high school kids' heightened but basic emotions. It's expertly constructed. Doug Robb's vocal is very sensitive. With gentle picking on the verses and power chord strumming on the chorus, Dan Estrin's guitar provides decent variety and dynamics. The Reason effectively reaches a climax with ladled on strings and Robb's heartfelt cry: "the reason is you." The Reason's strengths are its weaknesses. I understand how its emotional approach sweeps people up but The Reason is quite bland. It's very predictable, familiar and a bit heavy handed in its button pushing. The Reason reminds me a lot of Cheap Trick's The Flame, among others. The Reason is basically criticism proof. No matter how banal The Reason is, if people feel that it expresses their emotions who am I or anyone else to say they're wrong. I do feel that the same emotions could be expressed in a more musically interesting way. Robb's lyric is sappy but sweet. He admits that he's made mistakes that put her through pain but he wants a woman to know that she gives him a reason to "continue learning" and "change who I used to be."
Red Light - Jonny Lang
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #36 (Dec. 2003) buy it!
Red Light is more sincere rock balladeering by the guitar player from North Dakota whose given name is Jon Langseth. Lang is no longer a teenager but he still has a voice that oddly sounds like that of someone twice his age. Lang is obviously a student of blues rock legends. He seems to be a skilled guitar player but he hasn't developed a distinctive or interesting style. Red Light, from Lang's Long Time Coming CD, is pleasant, tasteful and vaguely catchy with smooth playing by good musicians but nothing about it really stands out. Lang showily strains his voice to demonstrate how soulful he's trying to be. Red Light uses a somewhat odd metaphor, recommending that one should take time to pause and consider how you're living your life the way you should stop at a red light rather than running it.
The Red - Chevelle
Weeks on Chart: 30 Peak: #6 (Feb. 2003) buy it!
The Red is from the Wonder What's Next CD by the Chicago based band formed by the Loeffler brothers. The Red is the latest rock radio hit with threatening atmosphere and a singer seriously intoning about a young man with a troubled mind. It's hardly surprising that two hit songs this year have been based on the idea of "seeing red." At least half of rock music these days is about being pissed off. The Red's repeated riff effectively creates a tense mood, slowly grinding forward with Joe Loeffler's good bass line and Pete Loeffler's crunching guitar. But after The Red creates a stark impression, nothing much happens. As the riff repeats again and again, it loses some of its power. Unlike other current rock singers, Pete generally avoids pretension and overemoting but he's not particularly memorable, until the predictable cathartic climax when he rants "seeing red again." The Red is about a guy unable to control himself after repeatedly being singled out and called a freak.
The Remedy - Jason Mraz
Weeks on Chart: 32 Peak: #12 (July 2003) buy it!
The Remedy made the top 50 last spring thanks mostly to play on adult alternative radio. The Remedy returned to the chart as, not surprisingly, its annoyingly catchy perkiness has been embraced by pop radio. Jason Mraz is a young singer/songwriter who grew in Virginia and established himself playing in San Diego's coffee houses. Mraz' Waiting For My Rocket To Come CD was produced by John Alagia, who 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 Matrix's gifts for writing catchy, upbeat tunes is evident but The Remedy doesn't measure up to Lavigne's best feisty, idiosyncratic work. Since Mraz is another cocky, glib white guy, the Matthews/Mayer comparison may be more apt but, 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. The catchiness of the "I won't worry my life away" chorus is undermined by a shallow slickness 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. Mraz' cutesy gots (as in "you gots the poison, I've gots the remedy) make me think that Mraz needs a good ass kicking to wipe that smirk of the song's face. The Remedy's music matches the sunny vocal and lyric with a bouncy bass and guitar and cheap sounding synths.
Remember - Disturbed
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #20 (March 2003) buy it!
Remember is the second chart hit from Disturbed's Believe CD. Remember is another piece of trash from the Chicago based band led by troubled singer David Draiman. Disturbed apparently weren't satisfied selling millions of their angry, edgy, threatening Sickness CD. Believe preserves Distubed's attacking, nasty sound but it also seems made with one eye to the market. Remember has a slightly calmer, commercial sound than the band's previous hits. Disturbed's attempt at mainstream rock success makes them seem lamer than ever. On Remember, Draiman again tells about his excruciating inner sickness. Draiman apparently had suppressed "pain I felt so long ago." He is no longer able to ignore the pain but he tries to hide it behind a mask. For a guy who comes on like such a tough guy, Draiman is quite a whiner.
Renegades Of Funk - Rage Against The Machine
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #29 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
Renegades Of Funk is from Renegades, a record of political songs originally done by people like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Cypress Hill. It's Rage Against The Machine's last CD with Singer Zack De La Rocha, who is leaving for a solo career. Renegades Of Funk is a cover of an Afrika Bambaataa song. Zack gets into it, having fun with the commands to move and groove. Rage always claim a single minded determination to fight for justice so they must like Renegades Of Funk's sweeping statements. Renegades' hook, "no matter how you try you can't stop us now", has the optimism of a Rage song like Guerilla Radio. There's also a little self aggrandizement. They boast, "we change the course of history" and compare themselves to Martin Luther King and Tom Paine. Renegades Of Funk is more about beats and less about guitars than the usual Rage song. The cheap Sci Fi synth recalls the sound of Afrika Bambaataa's time. The beats and the simple idealism create an appealing energy.
Rest In Pieces - Saliva
Weeks on Chart: 5 Peak: #23 (May 2003) buy it!
Rest In Pieces is the second chart hit from Saliva's Back Into Your System CD. Rest In Pieces was written by Nikki Sixx who, working with buddy James Michael, has become a songwriter for hire, for Meat Loaf and others, while Motley Crue is on a break. Rest In Pieces might show Sixx' gift for a rock ballad that can stir an arena crowd but it mostly shows how annoying Josey Scott, Saliva's lead singer, is. On Rest In Pieces, Scott tries to recapture the success he had on the dopey but very popular Hero. Scott's problem is that his voice is whiny and unlikable. Rest In Pieces actually has some signs of wit and intelligence. The lyric attributes the fact that a breakup "hurts deeper than I thought it did" to a depth perception problem and asks for a reminder of how you "gently smiled and destroyed my life." But Scott's emoting sucks the life out of Rest In Pieces, emphasizing the self pity and trampling on any originality. There seem to have been pretentions of making a powerful ballad like Pearl Jam's Black but Rest In Pieces doesn't have that song's depth. The repetitious, unimaginative arrangement has the worst characteristics of an empty rock ballad. The band try too hard to create a sense of importance with overly meaningful sounding acoustic guitar and synths. Rest In Pieces' chorus is catchy but Scott's unappealing voice goes a long way in lessening its appeal.
Rexall - Dave Navarro
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #15 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
Trust No One is the former Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers guitar player's solo debut CD. Rexall starts like a Chili Peppers psychedelic rock ballad. The atmosphere gets thicker and by the end it has a dense, bleak Korn/Tool type sound. Navarro has the guitar chops to carry off the transition. His voice is competent and pleasant but he doesn't modulate his vocal to match the song's dynamic shift. In general, Rexall is interesting but not that striking. Rexall is about the gap between the positive appearance and sad reality of a relationship and Navarro's agitation as it dies. He sings "I'm running out of room" and repeats "I hate my life."
The Rhythm Divine - Enrique Iglesias
Weeks on Chart: 3 Peak: #46 (Jan. 2000) buy it!
The second hit from his Enrique CD is another calculated piece of dance pop with a little taste of genuine sounding Spanish guitar. Iglesias still doesn't sound totally comfortable singing in English though The Rhythm Divine is a little less cheesy than Bailamos. The lyrics about following a woman, knowing his charm and the music's seductiveness will make her his, are pretty slight.
Ride Wit Me - Nelly
Weeks on Chart: 19 Peak: #22 (June 2001) buy it!
Nelly's second top 50 hit has his trademark easy flowing sound and fast, relaxed rap. Ride Wit Me is even smoother than Country Grammar's title track and has a good, likable feel except for the repeated dopey yells of "must be the money." Nelly tells us that now he's got the money everyone wants a piece of him. He can mock those who called him a failure with his dough and Benz. Ride Wit Me is another Nelly rap that's cocky and a little silly, celebrating getting high and girls glad to satisfy.
Ride - The Vines
Weeks on Chart: 4 Peak: #42 (April 2004) buy it!
The Vines debut CD, Highly Evolved, arrived with a lot of advance buzz, much of it created by an adoring British music press. The CD was pretty good but except for Get Free, its exciting single, Highly Evolved was a bit disappointing. The band's rep was further dented by reports of intraband squabbling and silly, self important rock star behavior by Vines leader Craig Nicholls. Ride, the first single from The Australian band's Winning Days CD, is a good effort to get back on course. Ride has an excitement similar to Get Free's. It's also nicely focused. Nicholls came up with a killer guitar riff for Ride. Along with drummer Hamish Rosser, who joined the band on the Highly Evolved tour, Nicholls creates a driving sound that always keeps the song moving forward. Nicholls builds intensity in ways including shifting from his lone voice to harmonies doing the same vocal line in a bigger way. Ride is tight, with no waste, but it still has time to mix things up with a good stomping bridge and a decent guitar solo. Nicholls' raw vocal hints at his wild stage persona, giving the sense that he's uninhibited and always pushing himself. On Ride, as usual, Nicholls' love of Cobain shows(Ride's momentum and ever uncoiling energy reminds me of About A Girl). But Ride also has a personal feeling. The Winning Days CD has gotten mixed reviews but its single is pretty clearly terrific. Ride's minimal lyric has some psychedelic trippiness about "colors through your loaded mind." But the message is basically that Nicholls doesn't want to "hate alone" so he wants her to "ride with me."
Ridin' - Buckcherry
Weeks on Chart: 6 Peak: #45 (March 2001) buy it!
Ridin' resembles like Lit Up, the hit from Buckcherry's debut. Joshua Todd sounds like a number of cocky rock and roll screamers but his screech is more annoying than that of Jagger, Plant or Steven Tyler. Black Crowes' Chris Robinson is subtle in comparison. The best analogy to this very simple hard rocker, about having a good time with a girl who "loves to go ridin' cause she's sick in the head", might be with an AC/DC song like Highway To Hell. I see the appeal of the basic, rumbing guitars but still find the song stupid and irritating.
Riding With The King - Eric Clapton & B.B. King
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #12 (July 2000) buy it!
John Hiatt's Thing Called Love helped Bonnie Raitt's comeback and his Riding With The King seems to be doing the same for B.B. King. Riding With The King sounded like a blues classic when Hiatt first released it on the 1983 record of the same name. King's status as a king of the blues gives it added resonance. Clapton has admired King for years and worked with him before but Riding With The King is the first full length record they've done together. They keep Hiatt's good guitar riff but generally slow things down, leaving space for the two guitar masters to get their licks in. As they trade charmingly boastful lead vocals and share relaxed harmonies over a good bluesy piano, the old buddies sound like they're having a good time.
Right Now - Korn
Weeks on Chart: 28 Peak: #14 (Oct. 2000) buy it!
Some Korn fans thought that the band's last CD, Untouchables, was too commercial. Few will say that about Right Now, the first chart hit from Korn's new Take A Look In The Mirror CD. With its jackhammer guitars and Jonathan Davis' demented bark, Right Now presumably rocks hard enough to satisfy Korn purists. The music is tough and focused. But Davis' rant is ridiculous and off putting. Davis' harsh raging undoubtedly expresses the turmoil of a few male youths. But the rest of us don't need to hear someone repeatedly howling "shut up or I'll fuck you up." Davis isn't a kid. He's a bit foolish spitting out "I'm feeling mean today." Right Now is filled with nasty images about getting "across the hate when I see you", "debating who I'm gonna kick around" and wanting "to slash and feed you."
Right Thurr - Chingy
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #24 (Sept. 2003) buy it!
Apparently Nelly is so huge that even people who kind of sound like him are destined to have hits. Chingy(born Howard Bailey Jr.) is, like Nelly, from St. Louis. The local dialect seems to include a relaxed slur. So where Nelly had Hot In Herre, Chingy has Right Thurr. Right Thurr, like Nelly's music, has a confident, sprawling, repetitive quality. That's basically where the similarity ends. Chingy doesn't have Nelly's unbelievable fast, easy rapping skills or high energy backing. Chingy's mentor is Ludacris, who is the executive producer of Chingy's debut Jackpot CD. Right Thurr has the broad, jokey quality of some of Ludacris' music. Right Thurr is solidly constructed. It's comfortable with a good, steady beat, repeated synth riff and Chingy's easy rap. Chingy has a good time and his joy is infectious. On the verses, he sounds a little like Eminem in a mischievous mode. The downside is that Right Thurr is really repetitious. Nothing happens to keep your attention as the same riff repeats over and over again. Chingy's repeated, mannered enunciation of the title also gets a little tired. Generally, Right Thurr is genial but slight.
Rise - The Cult
Weeks on Chart: 10 Peak: #18 (July 2001) buy it!
It's been seven years since The Cult's last new record and fifteen years since their commercial peak but the band recapture the weird charge of their best work on Rise, a fun, over the top song from the Beyond Good And Evil CD. Rise closely resembles The Cult's mid 80s alternative rock hits She Sells Sanctuary and Love Removal Machine. Rise is a little harder and less atmospheric than The Cult's earlier work but it's a typical mix of theatricality and Billy Duffy's driving rock guitars. Ian Astbury's vocals are distinctively driven and a little crazy. The lyrics have the band's usual mysticism but Rise is a surprisingly uplifting love song: "you're up against the world and still you rise."
The Rising - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Weeks on Chart: 12 Peak: #12 (Aug. 2002) buy it!
The Rising is Bruce Springsteen's first album of new songs since 1995's very subdued The Ghost Of Tom Joad and his first with the E Street Band since Born In The U.S.A. The Rising's title track reminds me of Glory Days or music from Bruce's last rock records(1992's Human Touch and Lucky Town) like Better Days, Leap Of Faith, Local Hero and, particularly, Human Touch. The Rising's big but fairly uncluttered sound and lofty, basic images create a classic feel. At 52, Bruce's voice is still strong and confident. Max Weinberg is still great at whacking the drums and making a huge sound. The Rising is nicely filled out with female vocals and a slide guitar sound. With its la la las and lyrics about rollin' down here "on wheels of fire", feeling "your arms around me" and a sky of love, tears, glory, mercy and fear, The Rising almost seems like self parody or Bruce's desperate attempt to recapture his early simple, evocative writing. But, as usual, Bruce makes imagery that would seem too much if done by others feel real and very heartfelt. With lots of religious allusions, Bruce sings about trying to overcome the "chain that binds me" and the "sixty pound stone" on his back through some sort of rebirth or perhaps by rising to heaven. Though The Rising feels like a nostalgic rehash, it's great to have Bruce back making stirring, ambitious, distinctive music like no one else.
The Road I'm On - Three Doors Down
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #16 (June 2003) buy it!
It's depressing that Matchbox 20 is apparently influencing other bands and even more depressing that some of those influenced are making even worse music than Matchbox 20. On The Road I'm On, from 3 Doors Down's Away From The Sun CD, Brad Arnold does the Rob Thomas troubled, tough but sensitive thing but he's not as talented as Thomas. His vocal is heavy and totally lacking in nuance. On the verses, Arnold's vocal is underlined by Matchbox like portentous guitars but instead of achieving the meaningful sound the band seeks, The Road I'm On is both overdone and lacking in substance. Power chords come in on the chorus and there's a guitar solo but there's no imagination or rock energy. The Road I'm On rocks marginally harder than a typical Matchbox 20 song but doesn't create any more excitement. The Road I'm On is boring and lame. Nothing distinguishes it from many recent serious rock ballads. Road I'm On's lyrics are fine. Arnold sings about two kindred spirits who "feel helpless", find life "hard to move in" and are "trying to find out where you belong." 3 Doors Down have some of my least favorite recent videos. When I'm Gone's video was a pathetic attempt to exploit patriotism as the Iraqi war approached. When I'm Gone's lyric is a needy, self pitying plea for a girlfriend to adore and think of Arnold every second of the day. The video unmistakably attempts to give the false impression that the song is a request for a partner to be supportive while the guy's away at war. The Road I'm On video is pretty awful too. With no war to exploit, 3 Doors Down tie into a hot movie(2 Fast 2 Furious) and a hot sport(stock car racing) with a video featuring NASCAR stars Dale Earnhardt Jr.(of the cult of Earnhardt) and Tony Stewart(famous as a great driver and bad boy) dangerously drag racing through a town in SUVs. At the risk of sounding like my mom, aren't they worried about kids trying to imitate that behavior.
The Rock Show - Blink 182
Weeks on Chart: 17 Peak: #12 (Aug. 2001) buy it!
It's seems like time for Blink 182 to try something new and let their sound evolve a little. Still, Blink 182's fast, unpretentious punky pop is very enjoyable. They're less gimmicky and more likable than current competitors like New Found Glory and Sum 41. Blink 182 are particularly appealing on The Rock Show, a nice, simple reminiscence of a girl met at a Warped tour concert and how "everything's better when she's around." The Rock Show, from Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, is buoyant, with a fun, stuttering beat and guitar line that never stop.
Rock Wit U - Ashanti
Weeks on Chart: 9 Peak: #17 (Aug. 2003) buy it!
Rock Wit U is from Ashanti's Chapter II CD. Ashanti is still playing the sweet, agreeble, ideal woman she played when she sang harmonies on hits by Ja Rule and Fat Joe. At least she's in front now but while Ashanti always displays a sweet, likable voice, she's yet to display a distinctive personality. The same goes for her music. Like most of the hits produced by Irv Gotti and featuring Ashanti's vocal, Rock Wit U is pleasant and innocuous. Gotti and Ashanti wrote Rock Wit U. They long ago nailed a sound that's easy and inoffensive. Ashanti is accompanied by backing singers that are similarly breezy and appealing. Rock Wit U has a crisp, inobtrusive beat. Its synth effects add to a genial, dreamy feeling. But like many of Murder Inc.'s hits, Rock Wit U is benign sonic wallpaper. It's fine as Muzaky background music but has little substance. Ashanti sounds confident and like she's in control but it's depressing that she's still singing about being the supportive babe who just wants to love you babe.
Rock Your Body - Justin Timberlake
Weeks on Chart: 20 Peak: #15 (May 2003) 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.
Rollin' - Limp Bizkit
Weeks on Chart: 16 Peak: #21 (Dec. 2000) buy it!
Of the two singles from Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, My Generation got most of the early play. Modern rock stations are now focusing more on Rollin'. Both songs are hard edged but Rollin' is even more urgent and edgy. The band's mix of hard rock guitar and hip hop beats has energy and undeniable power but Rollin' is so harsh that it's hard to like. As usual, Fred Durst's rap is the weak link. His squealed rhymes are typically paranoid, singing about people who "wanna mess with Limp Bizkit." We hope that he's gently mocking rap cliches when he urges us to "put them hands in the air." The dopey chorus tells us over and over again to keep rollin', rollin, rollin'.
Roses - Outkast
Weeks on Chart: 8 Peak: #15 (July 2004) buy it!
The Love Below, Andre 3000's half of Outkast's phenomenally successful two disc set, is filled with skits, experiments and playing around. But in the middle of The Love Below's oddities are two terrific, catchy singles: Hey Ya and Roses. Roses isn't quite the force of nature that Hey Ya is but it's got a good groove and a fun, playful sound. Roses has a good, steady beat and lots of nice touches. I like the way Killer Mike goofily echoes Andre 3000's vocal. Kevin Kendricks plays organ and synths that are part 70s retro hip and part roller rink and Casio keyboard cheese. Roses sounds like a jaunty love song but it's actually one long, mischievous dis. It's got to be the first big pop hit ever with the line "I know you'd like to think your shit don't stink." Andre tells us Caroline is "the reason for the word bitch." He hopes that as she speeds to see a "baller or singer" at a club, she'll try to put on her makeup and "crash into a ditch." The song fades out with Andre repeatedly calling Caroline a "crazy bitch." The Love Below and Speakerboxx are basically two solo discs but Roses is one song with major contributions from both Outkast members. Big Boi does a fast, cool, controlled rap. He joins in the piling on, calling Caroline a freak who gets "geeked at the sight of ATM receipts." The lyric is pretty unappealing and harsh but Roses' music is so high spirited and frolicsome that Roses leaves a mostly sweet smell.
Run To The Water - Live
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #10 (March 2000) buy it!
The second single from The Distance to Here, like the Dolphin's Cry, is a wildly overblown rock ballad but Ed Kowalcyk's desire to find big images to express his love is kind of touching. Kowalcyk sings about living down the street from Adam and Eve and "the nuclear fire of love in our hearts." Run To The Water has a good restrained guitar sound. Kowalcyk's rapturous, soaring vocals are a little too much though.
Running Away - Hoobastank
Weeks on Chart: 28 Peak: #3 (Sept. 2002) buy it!
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.
Running Blind - Godsmack
Weeks on Chart: 11 Peak: #10 (May 2004) buy it!
The Other Side is a seven song acoustic ep that includes new songs and new versions of older Godsmack songs. The Other Side seems like an attempt to show that Godsmack are serious artists like Alice In Chains and Nirvana, who released similar acoustic records. Knowing that Staind and others scored top 40 hits with restrained, introspective rock, Godsmack may also be trying to cross over from modern rock to pop radio. Current fans may appreciate the new spin on Godsmack's sound, but it's unlikely it will gain the band a lot of new fans. Running Blind's problem is Sully Erna. I prefer quiet Sully to howling Sully but Erna really isn't suited to doing mellow and thoughtful. Though it's hard to feel sympathy for someone who regularly makes offensive, obnoxious music and has millions of young male fans, Running Blind kind of makes me feel sorry for Erna. I assume he really is trying to make a sensitive statement, he just has no idea how to do it. He doesn't have an empathetic, vulnerable voice. Instead of sounding depressed or sad, Erna still sounds pissed off. He also sounds like he might have a bad stomachache. Erna's cliched songwriting doesn't help. Erna doesn't come up with any imagery that hasn't been used repeatedly in songs by troubled young guys. He has "broken wings" and is "crawling on my knees" and looking for something "to keep me from drowning." Apparently, Sully took a woman for granted thinking: "if I showed you I could fly, wouldn't need anyone by my side." Running Blind's music is fine. With earnestly strummed guitars and quiet percussion, it has all the trappings of a decent MTV Unplugged performance. Tony Rambola plays a pretty good acoustic guitar solo. But Erna's rigid, cold vocal keeps Running Blind from being interesting or appealing.