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State of the Airwaves

Allstars, Teen Stars, And Annoying TV Star

Daniel J. Katz

Well, the words that will define the summer of ’99 have reared their ugly heads, and they are: “Hey now, you’re an all star, get your game on, go play.” Yes, Smash Mouth, who should have been arrested for capturing us all in the insidious web of “Walking On The Sun” a few years ago, has come up with yet another simple but brilliantly catchy ditty called “Allstar” which is destined to invade all of our heads for the next three months. And since the song’s on the soundtrack to the blockbuster movie Mystery Men, it’s likely to show up in commercials as well. Factor in the sports-related theme and you have a single ripe to be played at baseball games, and shazam! Smash Mouth is now the unofficial dictator of the United States. Genuflect.

* In case you’ve started getting them confused, here’s a guide to all the boy band alumni who are currently trying out solo careers: Ricky Martin is the Best Latin Album Grammy winner who used to be part of Menudo. His single, “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” is on the radio and MTV every eight seconds, and it features scorching horns and an infectious chorus.

Robbie Williams is the smooth-talking Brit from Take That who has made his first attempt to cross the Atlantic with “Millennium,” a soaring patchwork of sampled violins and harmonic vocals.

Joey McIntyre is the old Kid on the Block who’s climbing the charts with a legitimately touching and sincere-sounding ballad titled “Stay The Same.”

And the black sheep of the group is Jordan Knight, also of New Kids fame. Knight’s move from dancing with a cheesy vocal group to releasing a cheesy dance single (“Give It To Me”) is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

* The chorus to “I’ll See You Around,” the first single from Jesse Camp (yes, that’s MTV’s Jesse Camp), is actually quite pleasant to listen to. This is a result of the absence of his lead vocal. When this refreshing moment subsides and another crackily whined verse forces its way in, everyone who voted to put this guy on TV for a year simultaneously punches himself in the jaw.

* The pop-rock parallel I mentioned a while back has appeared once again... Sugar Ray has released “Falls Apart” to rock radio and put out a mediocre video for a laid-back tune called “Someday to MTV.” It’s a shame that there’s no video for the former, because it’s one of the first public Sugar Ray offerings that captures some of the guitar sound that influences a majority of their albums. It would be nice to see some honesty from the band that encouraged thousands of casual listeners to buy Floored based on the strength of “Fly,” who upon listening to the hard rock tracks, grimaced in disgust.

* A number of welcome returns have cropped up in the last few weeks: Luscious Jackson, who tend to hit or miss pretty much randomly, have a very nicely arranged tune out called “Ladyfingers.”

* Noel Gallagher’s second hookup with the Chemical Brothers (the first being “Setting Sun”) is again a catchy song with a delicious hint of subtle dissonance.

* A return I’m not enthusiastic about is that of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. While I personally don’t like the band at all, I can see a certain attractiveness in their funk-influenced singles, like “Aeroplane” and “Give It Away“ and I’m fond of the organized chaos that is “Warped.” However, I can’t stand their mundane yet inexplicably popular slow songs, like “Under The Bridge” and the new and just as boring “Scar Tissue.”

* Finally, a quick note about a band that appeared out of nowhere (at least on my radar) with one of the first singles to take the 311-Urge rap-ska-rock bent in an exciting direction: Shootyz Groove and their impending hit, “L-Train.” It’s getting minimal airplay at the moment, but consider it my dark horse of the month.

* Hope you had a nice few weeks. Until next time, as always, keep expanding your horizons.