PETE: This has a very freaky, intense, beautiful production. "Scrub" is a New York expression--a benchwarmer, someone they put in the scrubs. A guy who can't get no love. A loser. This is all right. I don't understand how it can be Number One, because there's no hook. Once we're on to the next song, I won't be able to sing it to you. "No Scrubs" is a pretty song with real hostile lyrics. So many black acts rant on about killing niggers, you begin to wonder if it's self-hatred. They never rant about killing honkies. Likewise, the girls. Me and my wife would play Salt 'N Pepa's Greatest Hits in the car, just grooving on the beats, but now that we have kids we're painfully aware of the lyrics--even though they're supposed to be about female empowerment, they're so mean and hostile.
EVERETT: I don't understand why such cool, tough chicks would produce such bland music. "Waterfalls" was a truly great song--that had the hook you're yearning for. You say beautiful production: what the fuck does that mean? That every corner is rounded off, not a note is misplaced, not a melody set free? I like the fact that the song is hostile.
2. BUSTA RHYMES featuring JANET "What's It Gonna Be?!" (Elektra)
PETE: He's talking a mile a minute, I can't understand a single fucking thing he or Janet Jackson are saying, and when I do it's all clichés: "Busta Rhymes in the house!" and "I'm going to make you scream!" It's impressive that he can rap so fast, but musically it's like listening to hardcore [punk]. I feel like I'm at an auction. This song is irritating bullshit. I'd be perfectly happy never to hear this song again.
EVERETT: I don't like this either, but maybe our reactions are simply down the generational divide. That's fine. The pop music of the young should always alienate the old. I didn't realize that Busta was so unapproachable. A couple of his previous hits have interesting, fucked-up rhythms--but this is like watching Henry Rollins working out. It's shit.
3. SUGAR RAY "Every Morning" (Lava/Atlantic)
PETE: Here's one I know and like. Sugar Ray are a bunch of obnoxious Southern California assholes, and this is a catchy tune. That's what hits are supposed to be: catchy tunes.
EVERETT: Jesus, Pete. You're sounding so old. Tunes? Hooks? That's so '60s.
PETE: Sugar Ray remind you of real late '60s/early '70s bands, Eric Burdon after he left the Animals. They have that "tough guy on the streets" attitude--multi-racial, all that shit. The singer is a tiny boy with a shit beard you want to beat the shit out of... but you don't have to look at them, just hear their tunes! What is this sample lifted from? This part sounds alternative.
PETE: Yeah, I like Weezer. Not too much attitude, just the right amount. And Sugar Ray's single didn't go on too long--they made their point, then left. I want to hear the Sugar Ray song again... see, it's a hit! Or could it be I'm a white male who just wants to hear more white males?
4. CHER "Believe" (Warner Bros)
PETE: This is the most tolerable song I've ever heard Cher sing. It's a complete '70s throwback to the days of Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor. I can't stand Cher's glassy, clear voice, but it's been completely toned down. Cher has turned in a very fine, professional performance here which every other singer on the charts could take a lesson from. That's what's missing these days, people who can just sing the song and tell a story.
EVERETT: Jesus! I like a Cher song! That (trendy) vocoder! That Eurodisco feel! Talk about your hooks!
PETE: You diva lover, you! A few weeks ago, my daughter went to a dance party with fifth-grade girls all into Britney Spears. The birthday girl was given a copy of "Believe," and all the girls started singing the song at the top of their lungs. Me and my wife and her mom are all looking on in disbelief because they're going crazy over Cher. The kid asks us whether we've ever heard of Cher. Her mom replies: "When we were your age, Cher was washed up."
5. MONICA "Angel Of Mine" (Arista)
EVERETT [perusing cover]: She's very cute.
PETE: She's the new teen sensation. Talk about giving someone a push. You know how MTV's ratings are down the toilet, but the kids' channels, Nickelodeon and Disney, are doing great--that's where my kid finds out who to look for. So Rugrats is Nickelodeon's most popular program, and Monica sang the big song from the movie. She must have a real kneecap-breaker of a manager to get her that gig. She has a cute voice, she does all those vocal pyrotechnics, but she's totally anonymous--any woman could sing this. But because of the Rugrats movie, though, her name was being mentioned every half-hour on Nickelodeon.
EVERETT: This is truly horrible. Is this glossy, radio-friendly "R&B" the worst musical genre ever invented? Yes.
6. SIXPENCE NONE THE RICHER "Kiss Me" (Columbia)
PETE: She sounds like every other drunken woman waif hippie singer. From the sleeve photo, you can see she's very affected and the band are all ineffectual nerds. She's another Natalie Merchant in the making. This is cute, but drivel.
EVERETT: I thought bands like this died with Nirvana. Clearly, the only reason this is big is 'cause it's from a film [She's All That], just like most of the other damn singles in this chart. They got their name from a C.S. Lewis, pro-Christianity novel. Rock and fucking roll! You like this, right? For the hook?
PETE: It's okay. It's catchy, it's cute. It's a little like the Cranberries or the Cardigans. It's very clichéd.
7. FAITH EVANS featuring PUFF DADDY "All Night Long" (Bad Boy)
PETE: This has a nice groove. It's totally generic and forgettable, but I like it. I've talked a lot about songs that are generic and forgettable which I haven't liked, but this is fine. I'm not screaming to have it taken off. Puff Daddy is a big fraud, though--I could've done his rap: "Yo yo yo, Puff is in the house, yo yo yo." I don't understand how he got so popular. Isn't he the guy who covers all those old Police songs? You hear them and think, this song would be so much better if it didn't have some jivey guy talking over it.
EVERETT: I like this more than TLC or Monica. Okay, it's not as sumptuous, but it has a more discernible rhythm, and slips down real easy. It's the sort of music MTV would show in lieu of late-night porn a few years back: all these big-mouthed women who look like they've had collagen injected in their lips, not wearing much except a slip and a smile. I used to love that program.
8. JOEY McINTYRE "Stay The Same" (Columbia)
PETE: Is this Joey McIntyre from the New Kids On The Block? The cute, faggy-looking one? This song blows--boring, generic crap.
EVERETT: You're not exactly his target audience, Pete.
PETE: Whoever's collecting the royalties is a criminal. I was curious to hear this--because Joey was a teenybop idol, and I liked the idea he should have another chance. This proves he didn't even deserve to be in New Kids On The Block.
9. SAVAGE GARDEN "The Animal Song" (Columbia)
PETE: Savage Garden are totally a Tears For Fears-type, effeminate '80s band. There's nothing unique or original about them, but they're okay. This is from the movie where Juliette Lewis plays a retarded girl who gets her retarded man [The Other Sister]. I'm sure the fact this was in a movie has everything to do with the fact it's Top 10. This is cute, but there's no hook.
EVERETT: I hate this.
PETE: Did you hate Tears For Fears and Pet Shop Boys?
EVERETT: Pete! How can you be so indiscriminate? Pet Shop Boys were one of the greatest pop bands ever (hooks, intelligence, show tunes, AND humor), while Tears For Fears were post-New Romantic bland shit.
10. B*WITCHED "C'est La Vie" (Epic)
PETE: Here's where I rave. This is my Number One. It makes you feel like you're glad to be alive, like all pop should. [Pete starts dancing round the room... actually, everyone does!]
EVERETT: Oh my God! This was Number One in the U.K. for about six months! It's wonderful, pure Spice Girls... except of course, B*Witched have their own shtick. They're younger, they all dress in denim, and they're from Ireland, which means every video contains a little Riverdance.
PETE [checking sleeve]: This is like having four Sporty Spice Girls. They all sing, these two are twins--they have the inbred Celtic look, you can tell. Here's Lindsay, she's my favorite. I bought the new Britney Spears CD for my daughter, and at the end she does an infomercial for the new Backstreet Boys album. It's unbelievable! It would be like the Beatles ending "Hey Jude" with an advert for the Beach Boys simply because they were on the same label.
EVERETT: Jesus, Pete. We are old.