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Come back, Rob Thomas; all is forgiven.
Just before the turn of the century, Carlos Santana released Supernatural, a multi-vocalist organism that went 15 times platinum and featured the likes of Everlast, Dave Matthews, and Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas on pipes. Thomas’ contribution in particular had a chokehold over this nation’s airwaves as our calendars flipped to Y2K, holding the top spot through the first two charts of ’00.
What with the music industry never being content to let a runaway success go un-Xeroxed — especially as its own fortunes worsened — Santana’s studio albums over the course of this decade also followed this Match Game structure, with panelists including P.O.D., Michelle Branch, and the terminally available will.i.am. This all resulted in his 2007 greatest-hits cash-in Ultimate Santana burying former radio staples like “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” in favor of Thomas’ “Smooth” and this track, which could be seen either as a passing of the rock-radio torch or the most crass attempt to snare the non-classic-rock listener since, well, Santana’s 2005 album All That I Am.
When the news that Carlos Santana and Chad Kroeger were collaborating on a track called “Into The Night” broke, my first reaction was one of perverse hope — namely that they’d be covering Benny Mardones’ ode to young ladies. But alas: “The song is frequently mis-attributed as a Nickelback song because of the prominent vocals by Kroeger, who wrote the song,” notes the Wikipedia entry for “Into The Night.”
You might think that, by knowing that piece of trivia, you’ve now heard the track before even pressing play on that embedded video up there. But the crazy thing is that this song even fails as a Nickelback song, trading that band’s warmed-over bombast for a smooth-rock mush designed for maximum airplay on those radio stations that are popular with the windowless-office set. It could have been called something like “Even Smoother” and no one would have blinked: Santana throws down some by-the-numbers axework; Kroeger’s wheezing carries the proceedings. His singing even includes a chorus of “ay-oh-ay”-ing that actually makes the listener appreciate banal lyrics like “She had fire in her soul it was easy to see / How the devil himself could be pulled out of me.” (What, he couldn’t squeeze a “desire” in somewhere?)