Music Review Cha-Cha: Billboard Singles Chart

Today, I think I’ll subject myself to one of my favorite forms of self-abuse: A random trip through the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. OK, be brave, let’s motor…

Fall Out Boy: “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race” (Island) My friend Melanie says she drives her teenage girls nuts by referring to Emo as “Emu.” Emo is still a term that instantly gets my back up, bringing to mind floppy-haired miserable waif boys with some epic guitar riffs and a broken heart. It’s had a slow build in popularity, crossing from college-kid hip in the mid-90’s to alterna-mall-rock status today. I’ve never been a fan of the Emo trend, those boys just whine too much and they don’t really seem to bring anything fresh to the table.

Fall Out Boy almost seem too clever to fall into that exact trap, and manage to inject just enough originality to rise only slightly above the rest of the mall-punk pack. In a way I’d rather see something like this hit #1 on the charts than, say, Hinder or something really, REALLY bad. Still, I have very little love for this kind of thing. The voice is the most annoying yowl on the radio since Rob Thomas and Matchbox 20 reigned, the lyrics are striving for some kind of deep irony, but remain pointlessly obtuse, and the music is overproduced lip gloss smeared on the pouty lips of teen angst. Rating: 4/10 Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: # 1

Nelly Furtado: Say It Right (Geffen) Nelly the barefoot gypsy hippie from a few years back didn’t really twirl my pinwheels, except for the Timbaland remix of “Turn Off The Light” that rattled pop radio at the time. I wanted to resist the new all-Tim version of Nelly, but like a not-unpleasant Portuguese-Canadian fungus, she has quite grown on me. “Maneater” especially was my jam, and here they keep it flowing. They slow things down a few notches here, getting all cozy next to the campfire where Tim throws beats instead of logs and they make the fire burn even hotter causing Nelly’s icy, robotic vocals to melt. I thought it was wild when I head that Timbaland would be working with Duran Duran, but I can actually hear some of their influence here. There’s a glacial, Nick Rhodes quality to the keyboard lines and the cheesy guitar riff comes in toward the end like a preening Andy Taylor stuck in time. Rating 7.5/10. Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #3

Daughtry: “It’s Not Over” (RCA) God, no. A hundred kinds of no. I was so happy to hear that Creed, the worst band to have ever terrorized pop culture, had broken up a few years ago. Little did I know there were dozens of Creed clones waiting in the wings like hungry rodents, ready to scamper out and bite the ass of music. Hinder. Nickleback. Stone Sour. Three Doors Down. Cobain died for somebody’s sins, but not these assholes. The evil Seattle-throat behind this generic post-post-Grunge-by-numbers yowler was a 4th place American Idol loser. Honestly, I couldn’t listen past the first chorus, so gut wrenchingly bad was my reaction to this utter tripe. Anyone who would purchase this crap needs to be deprogrammed, and then given a copy of the new Bloc Party album, pronto. Rating 1/10 Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #6

Paula DeAnda: “Walk Away” (Arista) Paula DeWho? I can’t think of anything much to say about this bit of pointless R&B fluff. Her voice is only average, the beats are mid-tempo and nothing to write home about. I’m assuming the co-credit of “The DEY” is referring to the not-so-fab male rapper that makes this track turn from smooth to nerve-jangling. Just boring. Rating 2/10 Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #12

Avril Lavigne: “Keep Holding On” (Fox/RCA) I’m reluctant to admit I’ve often had a soft spot for Miss Avril. She came out of Canada just 16 and all punky-like and sang “Adult Alternative” hits that parents could enjoy as much as the kiddies while driving the minivan to the Soccer park. Not since Madonna and her wannabes in the ‘80’s have we seen one girl start such a fashion craze – “Complicated” and “Sk8ter Boi” destroyed the airwaves and left in their wake a gaggle of girls wearing raccoon eyeliner and a loose necktie over a t-shirt with a sassy message. Now our girl is all growed-up at 23 and gave up the skater look for haute-couture long ago. I do have to admire her for having a fair amount of self-respect and never being photographed with her hoo-hah hanging out, unlike some of the other pop queens.

However “Keep Holding On” is nothing to jump up and down about, a massively mega-produced epic power ballad that’s nothing special at all and is instantly forgettable. Avril’s voice is fine (cute Canadian accent still intact) but she’ll never really be considered an artist until she ditches the syrupy pop gloss and does something edgy and unique. Maybe she’s not smart or talented enough to pull anything better off than this middle-of-the-road tanker. I don’t think the parents or the kiddies can manage to stay awake through it. Rating 3/10 Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #21

KT Tunstall: “Suddenly I See” (Virgin) Actually, I like her. I saw her perform on a talk show awhile back and she had just her guitar and a series of pedals – she was able to somehow create loops of her tapping a rhythm on her guitar and of her voice with these pedals. The result was a massive sounding one-woman band and she came across as energetic and fresh. This single isn’t quite as sonically engaging as that, but it’s nice and breezy like a shampoo commercial. It’s mercifully free from the hi-gloss and airless overproduction that so much pop music suffers from these days. She’s not a true original, but she has her own style, like Melissa Etheridge minus the Bruce Springsteen quotient. Rating 6.5/10Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #23

Unk: “Walk It Out” (Koch) Ugh. Unk’s name is short for Unknown and I wish he would have stayed that way. As open as I like to be toward Hip Hop, lately I’m just amazed how bad it’s gotten. This is to Hip-Hop as The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is to Punk. There’s a grain of the real deal buried somewhere deep within, but it’s certainly not worth suffering through the muck to find it. There’s no originality whatsoever on display. The music is Old-School 101 for Ghetto Casio – totally canned. The sound is about as fresh as Nelly’s (not Furtado, but the rapper) rejected demo tapes from 2002. Unk’s shouty, moronic rhymes make me crave an instrumental version. Totally abysmal. Rating 1/10 Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #28

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Face Down (Virgin) Terrible name. Here’s another overproduced slice of rotten emo-mall rock for moody suburban boys (and girls) trying eyeliner for the first time. This has no personality whatsoever. Who’s to blame for this insipid, generic brand of commercial pop music that sounds like it was manufactured specifically to be the background music of the Warped Tour TV marketing campaign? Who did this crap first? Do we blame AFI, maybe My Chemical Romance? At least those bands have some schtick. “Face Down” is faceless, clichéd and miserably overwrought. Rating 1.5/10. Current Billboard Hot 100 Chart Position: #43

Sigh. I want the last hour of my life back. I could've listened to the the new Of Montreal album again.


I liked that "Suddenly I See" song when they were playing it on "So You Think You Can Dance" everytime one of the girls got kicked off, then it showed up on "Ugly Betty" and about ten other shows, and it started to bother me that she had sold to all these people but I just read a great article on her where she talks about hating the American Idol type of thing but they offered all the money and she was able to get her songs out there, so good for her. and I believe she's up for a Grammy - I'm sorry you had to waste a whole hour, I can't even turn on the radio let alone listen to the charts
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