By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"You from New York: you are soooo relevant." So's yr mother. Anyway I'm from California so when Alanis adds "You reduce me to cosmic tears" I'm all like What the fuck at which point the poetry slam part yields to the band and suddenly the song is energetic and melodically flirtatious. And just ignore the words for a second; she's a fabulous singer and moreover the lyrics are quickly revealed as not pretentious but goofy-you can tell 'cause the music's fun. In fact "So Pure" is the only track on Alanis's latest which isn't busy punishing us for thinking she might be a pop star just because her last record that meant to convince us she wasn't a pop star sold 30 mil. This song comes too late: no one will buy deliriously pleasurable "So Pure," because by this point if you feel Alanis at all you know in your soul you're betraying her by having a good time.
While we're letting the music be the message, this might be a good time to mention the Whoridas' "Dock of the Bay," blest with what a forgiving person might call extremely sex- positive lyrics (at worst, "I hate when the tush looks like it's been mushed"; at best, "she had the spot smelling like the dock of the bay" which is slightly hilarious and plus I like that marina smell. Whatever). The point is the sprung bass bounce: it's all about the funk.
"So Pure" and "Dock of the Bay" are the same song, dumb with desire and mighty with music, with massive imbalances between what you feel and what you can say about it. Young love's like that, dude. The songs that wax eloquent and make a joyful noise and generally get it all right are all wrong-inaccurate or depressingly mature. I hate it when the crush looks like it's been airbrushed.
The first 90 seconds of "Ready To Run," Dixie Chicks' contribution to Runaway Bride, promise a legit candidate for song of the year: irrefutable melody, playful harmony, surprising verse shape. But even by the second chorus it's over, except instead of ending it falls into an aimless fade, two minutes of beating the once-joyous hook "All I'm ready to do is have some fun" down to domestication and finally to empty speech. Get it? The song is shaped like a love affair, and marriage is that endless slough of ashes after the fire-all so we'll understand what makes Julia run. The only song with the exact same dynamic is NIN's "Closer," and the codas ask the same question: what do you do after you're done fucking like animals?
Breed, duh. Parental googliness will soon be receiving its very own Billboardchart: if "Just the Two of Us," Courtney's "Heaven Tonight," Madonna's "Little Star," and Lauryn's (and Everclear's?) maternal rave-ups haven't ruined you, this month offers two that don't suck. "My Love Is Your Love" is Whitney's step outside her new Wronged Woman persona (coauthor Wyclef Jean retains his Oops I Rewrote "No Woman No Cry" Again persona) to drop the mom on us elegantly, understatedly, like her life really is richer now than when she used to get so emotional. Nuclear family vs. the apocalypse vibe bonus for "If I wake up in World War III," etc. Even better is doom'n'gloom-free "Sunshine" by new baby mommy Coko (late of SWV), which deserves to be an idyllic throwaway summer song except it's too late.
Ditto for Bree Sharp. "David Duchovny," the new standard in psych-fanzine as perfect pop single, is still a song out of time: The X-Files is so passé she might as well be stalking Tab Hunter. Timing is everything for a novelty song, one of two reasons that Kid Rock's good- anytime "Cowboy" doesn't qualify. The other is its roots go too deep: it's a post?hip-hop six-pack western with the spirit of "Paul Revere" and the structure of "Loser." For sure it's a step past the rest of Mr. Rock's oeuvre, which is mostly busy not sleeping in Brooklyn.
These days Beck and the Beasties occupy the same place, and it's a coffeeshop, not a bar (I'm talking Indiana here; you from New York, you are so irrelevant). The oh-so-enlightened BeastieBoys ask Prodigy to please not play "Smack My Bitch Up"-and Liam Howlett answers immediately by sampling AdRock's "I did it with a Wiffle Ball bat" into his set (I know, no such thing as PostModernism). By scratching the art-house surface to reveal the jerkoff underneath, Kid Rock does the same kulturwerk as Prodigy: reminding us that this year's Buddhist dweeb bought his freedom to wax righteous by selling millions of rhymes as leeringly lowdown as the Kid's. Sure, the Beasties are the ones you marry-but all I'm ready to do is have some fun.