Single Review: Paula Abdul “Promise of a New Day”

Promise of a New Day
Album: Spellbound
Year: 1991

A fresh start rejunvates Paula Abdul in the carefree “Promise of a New Day.”

Tropical flutes and stern bass open the single. Abdul is refreshed after absorbing the beauty of the ocean and hearing birds call to one another. She believes it will be nature will be as wonderful tomorrow. (“Eagle’s calling and he’s calling your name/Tides are turning bringing winds of change/Why do I feel this way/The promise of a new day.”)

In the chorus, the background singers repeat sing the short chorus. (“the promise, promise/the promise of a new day.”)

Time passes subtly and without notice. With another hour or so, she will approach love. But it’s the possibilities of tomorrow which will determine if the love is authentic. (“As through time the earth moves under my feet/One step closer to make love complete/What has the final say/The promise of a new day.”)

The drum machines rattle unremarkably. Next, is the the tropical flutes have a brief solo which lead to the bridge. Unfortunately, the tropical aspects are downplayed and cut down to be a gimmick.

In the bridge, Abduls sings that there is much to be discovered about the world. Shocking events will happen. Technology will advance. However, the only constant is people will wake up to another day to help their friends, family, etc. (“And so time over time/What will change the world/No one knows(no one knows)/So the only promise is a day to live, to give/And to share with one another.”)

Abdul says that people learn from their errors. Its sets the tone for the next generation, allowing them to look at history and know the slip-up cannot happen again. The children can feel the possibilities of something big. (“See the wisdom from mistakes in our past/Hear the younger generation ask/Why do I feel this way/The promise of a new day.”)

The bridge is sung again to end the single.

The flighty “Promise of a New Day” delivers it’s message in an unintentional campy New Age package. However, despite the criticism, the single is charming. Its dance beat is warm and mellow. Abdul also sells the wholesome message with heart, even if the lyrics are a bit over-the-top.

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Single Review: Divine “Lately”

Lately
Album: Fairy Tales
Year: 1998

Nikki Bratcher, lead singer of Divine, mopes around her home and thinks about her ex-boyfriend in the slushy R&B of “Lately.”

Bratcher “oohs” over a heartsick acoustic guitar to start the single. The “oohs” then segue into the chorus. Bratcher has been remembering the good times she shared with her ex-boyfriend and his cute habits. She’s been watching him from afar to see what’s he’s been up to. (“Lately (I’ve been watching you) been thinkin ’bout you baby/(and everything you do)/just sittin’ away watching the days go by/just sittin’ away watching the days go by.”)

The breakup was unexpected and it threw her. It feels like she had the wind knocked out of her. She’s can’t cry but her mind is buzzing. She’s analyzing what she could’ve said for him to leave her. Normally, she’s a tough, strong girl who can handle any trouble which comes her away. But her ex wasn’t any guy she dated. He meant something to her. They broke up a few months ago in November, a day she can recall vividly. (“Have you ever felt a breeze hit your heart/like the wind was blowing it apart/as you’re spinning like a merry-go-round/indications of a storm touching down/wish that I could weather any storm/but I guess it was heartbreak from the norm/was a day I will always remember/the saddest day in sweet november.”)

After the chorus, the second verse starts. She’s pleading with God for some way to get him back. She’s sobbing in her room listening to the most depressing songs she can find in her collection. (“Baby i’m on my knees praying God help me please/bring my baby back, right back to me/if lovin’ you was right then I don’t wanna go wrong/so I drown myself with tears, sittin’ here, singin’ another sad love song.”)

In the bridge, Bratcher has been upset and glum. She wants to be together with her ex-boyfriend again and not alone. (“Lately I’ve been torn apart/I wish you hadn’t broke my heart/
I’m missin’ you babe/missin’ you everyday/Lately I’ve been torn apart/I wish you hadn’t broke my heart/I’m missin’ you babe/missin’ you everyday

The chorus is sung with only bass and drums to end the single.

Some one-hit wonder groups do not deserve their fate (Willa Ford, Stacey Q) However, Divine do not have a quality which differentiates themselves from the others.

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Single Review: Mazzy Star “Fade Into You”

Fade Into You
Album: So Tonight That I Might See
Year: 1993

Hope Sandoval, lead singer of Mazzy Star, seeks to reach her withdrawn lover in the piercing “Fade Into You.”

A helpless guitar strums then moans, setting a restless tone. Sandoval yearns to touch the part of him he won’t let her know. She turns to him for understanding. But his face is blank and unreadable. He lives his life as though she wasn’t in it. He disappears without her knowing. He’ll cry and self-destruct. When he returns, he’s cold and stony. His depression has obscured the spark which once flared in his eyes. (“I want to hold the hand inside you/I want to take a breath that’s true/I look to you and I see nothing/I look to you to see the truth/You live your life/You go in shadows/You’ll come apart and you’ll go black/Some kind of night into your darkness/
Colors your eyes with what’s not there.”)

Although he can’t see it, her self-worth is vanishing as she wallows in her own depression. She’s puzzled as to why. (“Fade into you/Strange you never knew/Fade into you/I think it’s strange you never knew.”)

He takes time to brighten and shed his grim demeanor. He is void of love and numb from his pain. However, he feels most alive when he is melancholy. He has grown fond of the tears. (“A stranger’s light comes on slowly/A stranger’s heart without a home/You put your hands into your head/And then smiles cover your heart.”)

Sandoval realizes that he was self-absorbed in his troubles to pay little notice to hers. (“I think it’s strange you never knew.”)

Sandoval is affected by her lover’s pain in the amazing single. She thinks it’s ironic at first that he though she wouldn’t be able to understand. But by the end he has swallowed her whole, leaving only her bones to pick on later. His depression is now her own which she resents him for.

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Single Review: Garbage “The World Is Not Enough”

The World Is Not Enough
Album: The World Is Not Enough Soundtrack
Year: 1999

In the 19th Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough,” British oil tycoon Sir Robert King is killed by Renard. James Bond is hired to protect Elektra, King’s daughter. Along the way, things blow up, Bond has sex with Elektra and a nuclear physicist named Christmas Jones, M gets kidnapped, and twists are revealed.

Lead singer, Shirley Manson, sings from Elektra’s point of view in the bewitching “The World Is Not Enough.”

Elegant strings begin the single, setting an opulent and swanky tone. The strings fade into moody and sneaky guitars and bass. Manson says she is able to injure someone and then nurse their wounds. She is able to read people easily, knowing when to hide or confess her emotions. She is able to manipulate people by discussing a topic knowledgably or pretending to be shy. She knows the perfect moment to grab a man’s attention and how to keep it. She wants everything – buisnesses, land, and people – to all be hers.(“I know how to hurt/I know how to heal/I know what to show/And what to conceal/I know when to talk/And I know when to touch/No one ever died from wanting too much.”)

The strings surge as an impertubable Manson says that she wants to control every planet and being. To rule the world is not enough to satsify her need for power. (“The world is not enough/
But it is such a perfect place to start…my love/And if you’re strong enough/Together we can take the world apart…my love.”)

She comments that she and Bond are similar. They can escape death-defying situations and live for the thrill of almost dying. They take pleasure in the sex and violence of their lives. They aim to have everything and risk others not having it. (“People like us/Know how to survive/There’s no point in living/If you can’t feel the life/We know when to kiss/And we know when to kill/If we can’t have it all/Then nobody will.”)

In the bridge, she finally lets Bond in on her feelings regarding taking over the world. She’s mostly consumed with power and confident. But a part of her is fearful of what it means. She has plans but is uncertain on how to implement them. However, it still seems like she’s playing Bond in her twisted game. “(I…)I feel safe/(I…)I feel scared/(I…)I feel ready/(I…)And yet unprepared.”)

The single ends with a power-hungry Manson declaring that “the world is not enough…nowhere near enough.”

In the urbane “The World Is Not Enough,” Manson is human and not the least bit cartoonish. Although her character is inherently evil, Manson treats her as an ambitious woman whose far-reaching dreams seem frightening possible. Manson plays her as the woman someone would least expect as the villianess. She’s polite, sharp, and respected in the community. She hosts charity luncheons. As she gives the mayor of the city a glass of expensive wine, she’s thinking of how she can slit his throat when no one is looking.

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Single Review: Mary J. Blige “Deep Inside”

Deep Inside
Album: Mary
Year: 1999

Mary J.Blige’s fame has caused to become wary of people in the carping “Deep Inside.”

The single opens with the sample of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” which Mary then “oohs” over.

In the first verse, she sings that she’s been famous for many years now. It’s difficult for her to find a honest man to date. If she becomes friends with someone, she wonders if they like her for who she is or for her celebrity. (“The problem is/For many years/I’ve lived my life/Publicly/So it’s for me to find a man I trust/I really trust/And everytime I find someone I like/Gotta worry about/If it’s really me/That they see/And I thought you were the one, yeah.”)

In the chorus, she says she’s human like everyone else and hopes people would see her as Mary, the person. (“Deep inside I wish that they could see/That I’m just plain ol’ Mary, Mary…”)

She’s lonely and has a small circle of friends. Even with those few, she’s unsettled and questions their friendship. Are they are using her for her wealth? She’s made a pact with herself to respect those who respect her back. She doesn’t want people to get the wrong impression of her or even criticize her for her opinions. (“I don’t have a lot of friends/And sometimes I have to wonder/Is it cash they see when they look at me/’Cause they’re lookin’ for a ride that’s free/So I made the choice to be/Good to those who are good to me/Don’t judge me, don’t think I’m bitter/For the evil does allow me to see I’m just Mary.”)

In the pre-chorus, she says she’s can only be herself. (“I’m just Mary, just Mary, just Mary/I’m just Mary, just Mary, just Mary/I, I, ohhhh.”)

After the chorus is said numerous times, a part of the first verse is sung again to end the single (“The problem is…so it’s hard for me to find a man.”)

The single seems like it was written by her public relations team. It has the important key message (she’s human and like everybody else) needed to sell her image. But it’s just that: an image. While confessional singles have been refreshing in the past, “Deep Inside” is self-serving and calculating. Celebrities complaining about their fame is unbecoming. Mary J. Blige, despite some excellent work, is no exception to the rule.

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Single Review: Sister Hazel “All For You”

All For You
Album: …somewhere more familiar
Year: 1997

Ken Block discovers that his girlfriend is the most important person to him in the watery “All For You.”

A cutesy acoustic guitar starts the single, leading to an obnoxiously chipper riff. With earthy vocals, Block smarms that he understands love now. It took him years to realize that he has to not only receive love but give it, too. He had a breakthrough because of his attempts to become a better person. (“Finally I figured out/But it took a long, long time/But now there’s a turnabout/Maybe ’cause I’m trying.”)

In the pre-chorus, he says he didn’t know quite how relationships worked. But each and every time, his girlfriend has helped him out and been there. He can’t discount her loyalty. (“There’s been times, I’m so confused/All my roads, they lead to you/I just can’t turn and walk away.”)

He can’t put his finger on why he likes her so much. He’s curious if the relationship will be long-term or lead to marriage. However, he cares about her enough that he has her best interest at heart all the time. (“It’s hard to say what it is I see in you/Wonder if I’ll always be with you/But words can’t say, and I can’t do/Enough to prove/It’s all for you.”)

Block had gone through every dating situation and possible imaginable. He became jaded and scared of beign in another relationship. They had some bumps along the way. But he’s likely to think if something happens to end the relationship, it will be his fault. (“I thought I’d seen it all/’Cause it’s been a long, long time/But then we’ll trip and fall/Wondering if I’m blind.”)

In the bridge, he notices that her day has been terrible. She is able to communicate her emotions to him without saying a word. Then, the single starts all over again with the part of the first verse. (“Rain comes pouring down/Falling from blue skies/Words without a sound/Coming from your eyes/Finally I figured out….maybe cause I’m trying.”)

A bubbly guitar riff follows the bridge. After the pre-chorus and chorus, Block is acapella and sings “it’s hard to say/it’s hard to say/it’s all for you.”

“All For You” is desperate to be heartfelt and brooding. But it can’t strike the right balance. Angst isn’t supposed to be cheerful and upbeat.

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Single Review: Radiohead “Creep”

Creep
Album: Pablo Honey
Year: 1993

Out of all the bands who emerged from the grunge era, it was Radiohead who would survive. In the early 90s, Radiohead was just another Britpop band trying to build a fanbase and sell enough records to make another album. By 2000, they had reinvented themselves as abstract rockers and were dubbed the “best band of its generation” by CDNow.

According to GreenPlastic.com, “Creep” is about a drunken guy who sees a girl at a party but can’t gather the courage to make a strong first impression.

Baffled guitars and drums begin the single. Thom Yorke practices his conversation before he speaks to her. He decides to he’s going to own up to his nervousness and intimidation. He will compliment her on her fair skin, sweet personality and graceful walk. He ends it by saying he wishes he could as unique as she is. (“When you were here before/couldn’t look you in the eye/You’re just like an angel/your skin makes me cry/You float like a feather/in a beautiful world/I wish I was special/you’re so f***** special.”)

Surrendering guitars reverberate in the chorus. Yorke has stopped walking towards the girl and shrugs his shoulders. He puts himself down, shaming himself for ever thinking he has a chance. He feels out of his element. (“But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo/What the hell am I doing here?/I don’t belong here.”)

He wishes to be one of those aggressive guys who hits on a girl like she’s a baseball. He could careless if it meant he would be a worse off person. He just wants the ability to speak to her without being afraid. He also wishes it she who was afraid of him. He feels the social pressures that women face: not fitting the ideal image and feeling guilty about it. He wants her to remember him. She’s a one-in-a-million girl and compared to her, he’s ordinary. (“I don’t care if it hurts/I want to have control/I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul/I want you to notice/when I’m not around/You’re so f****** special/I wish I was special.”)

The chorus’ melody continues but in a higher pitch. Yorke sings in falsetto that she’s leaving the party with some of her friends. (“She’s running out the door/she’s running/she run, run, run, run, run.”) The surrendering guitars return to join Yorke as he lets out a heartsick cry of “run.”

In the last verse, he comments she’s living her life as she pleases, unaware of him. (“Whatever makes you happy/whatever you want/You’re so f****** special/I wish I was special.”)

The single ends quietly with the guitars and the drums comforting him. He dejectedly says tha that he’s “a creep, I’m a weirdo…I don’t belong here.”)

Although it may be hard to believe but “Creep” was played ad nauseam on the radio. I took the brilliance of music back then for granted. I assumed it would always be there and so I didn’t pay much attention. If I heard it today, the radio would still be on. Even if it was the third time I heard it. Songs like “Creep” make me miss the early 90s.

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