Reviews > Culture

The Music

Culture | The Top 5 pop catalog CDs for the week ending March 25, according to Billboard magazine

Issue: "Court in the balance," April 1, 2000
My Own Prison
Creed 128 weeks on chart
4 million copies to date
STYLE
Introspective heavy metal, with the singer growling minor-key melodies atop loud guitars and mosh-friendly rhythms.

BEST CUTS
"Unforgiven," "In America," and the overtly Pauline title cut

WORLDVIEW
Conservative and biblical, with abortion rights, affirmative action, and cultural relativism among the sacred cows slain.

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WHY IT ENDURES
Three years and one other Creed album later (1999's stylistically similar and nearly equally successful Human Clay), these songs remain unique in alternative-rock circles for their conviction-rooted combination of musical muscle and moral articulacy.

Backstreet Boys
Backstreet Boys 135 weeks on chart
12 million copies
STYLE
The high-tech, teeny-bop formula that established them as the '90s New Kids on the Block.

BEST CUTS
"Quit Playing Games (with My Heart)," "As Long As You Love Me," "All I Have to Give"

WORLDVIEW
Liner-note hosannas to the contrary (Brian "B-Rok" Littrell quotes Philippians 4:13, and the others thank God), it's the Mutt Lange composition "If You Want It to Be Good Girl (Get Yourself a Bad Boy)" that resonates most loudly.

WHY IT ENDURES
There's a future teenage girl born every minute.

Metallica
Metallica 448 weeks on chart
12 million copies
STYLE
Surprisingly low on histrionics for heavy metal, especially a metal that sheds little if any of its obligatory anti-social grimness in pursuit of what turned out to be the cleanest hard-rock sound of the '90s.

BEST CUTS
"Enter Sandman," "Nothing Else Matters"

WORLDVIEW
Religions lie, then you die ("The God That Failed"); never underestimate, however, the importance of a strong national defense ("Don't Tread on Me").

WHY IT ENDURES
Its refusal to indulge in grandstanding or slumming.

Romanza
Andrea Bocelli 119 weeks on chart
3 million copies
STYLE
Material and voice run the gamut from adult-contemporary pop to Lloyd Weber-esque show tune to opera or something like it.

BEST CUTS
"Con Te Partiro," "Macchine Da Guerra"

WORLDVIEW
I question, therefore I am-"Why, why, why / Do you not live tonight" ("Vivere")? "We are lost ... , / orphans of life, ... / but why" ("Macchine Da Guerra")? "Where am I and what am I doing, / how do I live" ("Miserere")?

WHY IT ENDURES
Good looks, good voice, good material-in that order.

Legend
Bob Marley and the Wailers 560 weeks on chart
10 million copies
STYLE
Reggae, buoyantly soulful and confrontationally rocking by turns.

BEST CUTS
"Is This Love," "No Woman No Cry," "Could You Be Loved"

WORLDVIEW
Although rooted in Rastafarianism, to which Marley converted (from Christianity, see "Get Up Stand Up"), the music's themes are seldom more religious than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

WHY IT ENDURES
For the same reason that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness endure.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Between Jan. 1965 and Sept. 1968, Petula Clark placed 15 songs on the Billboard top 40. Six of those made the top 10, and two-"Downtown" and "My Love" (the latter a '70s youth group favorite when re-christened "God's Love")-made No. 1. The secrets of her success were a songwriter, arranger, and producer named Tony Hatch and her own bright pop voice, which she had already spent 21 years developing in Europe as a pop child prodigy before she succeeded in the States. The newly released Petula Clark Anthology: Downtown to Sunset Boulevard (Hip-O), although hamstrung by an uneven second disc of performances spanning the years 1972 to 1996, does contain all of her U.S. hits. Most of them, like the singer herself, have aged very well. In retrospect she was both the last exemplar of pre-rock (and pre-feminist) female poise and a harbinger of things to come: 1973's "Serenade of Love" is a dead ringer for the music of Abba, the Swedish quartet that would score its first hit one year later and go on to become the most popular group of the '70s.

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