Tuesday, July 1, 2008

MUSIC FOR THE MASSES


I just returned from my daily hour-long run around the city that I so thoroughly enjoyed last night. As usual, the music on my iPod moved me and kept me moving. Some thoughts on today's jogging soundtrack:

Deborah Cox: "Things Just Ain't the Same (Hex Hector's Club Mix)" A below-average ballad remixed into unrecognizable disco ecstasy. Cox's bland image was not the stuff that hitmaking longevity is made of, but she can outsing any diva still standing.

Faith No More: "Smaller & Smaller" Remember them? "Epic" was their commercial zenith and sole hit, but the album this came from, Angel Dust, is one of the overlooked gems on the '90s.

Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown: "No Air" My favorite single so far by an American Idol champ. Sorry, Kelly.

Lauryn Hill: "Lost Ones"
For my money, the standout track from her landmark The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. ("I Used To Love Him," her duet with Mary J. Blige, comes a not-so-close second.) Until very recently, I thought that at 1:36, she raps, "Hypocrites always want to play in quicksand." The actual line: "Hypocrites always want to play innocent." I like my version better.

Eric Clapton: "Forever Man" A forgotten single from Behind the Sun. What a killer guitar intro--and I love the reprise at the outro. Makes me long for the days when Slowhand really rocked, the days before he unplugged and started pondering whether there are tears in heaven.

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The Verve: "Love Is Noise" The background wailing that should have been limited to the intro but continues throughout the entire song is intriguing and infuriating. It's nice to see the Verve (above) expanding their sonic palette after 11 years away and rocking harder than they have since A Northern Soul, but their comeback sort of sounds like, well, noise. It entertains, but "Bittersweet Symphony" (or " Lucky Man" or "The Drugs Don't Work" or "Sonnet," for that matter) it ain't.

M.I.A.: "
Boyz" One of my friends has a friend who works at M.I.A.'s record label and says she's a total nightmare. Whatever. As long as the music delivers. If I ruled the world, M.I.A. the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O, Roísín Murphy, Cat Power and Robyn would be the biggest female stars in it.

Britney Spears: "Piece Of Me" Sorry, haters, but the production, the lyrics and even Britney's vocals here are spot on. I particularly love the way the latter are compressed to make her sound like she's gasping for air, mirroring the song's subject matter, a pop star under siege by the media. It's a shame that she fell apart just as she was about to release her best album to date and couldn't really promote it.

Hillary Duff: "With Love" Can Linsday Lohan do it like this? In her dreams. Should have been huge.

George Jones: "I Always Get Lucky With You" Unbelievably beautiful, the final No. 1 hit (in 1983) from country music's greatest living singer. Perfect for the cool down.
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