Reviews > Notable CDs

Top Albums

Notable CDs | The Top 5 CDs for the week ending Aug. 24 according to Billboard magazine

1. The Rising

2 weeks on chart

STYLE Definitive heartland rock.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL None.

WORLDVIEW That this world is passing away, that what existed when we went to bed may not exist when we wake up, that loved ones can die (and not just in terrorist attacks), that death is more than a physical phenomenon, that unless the Lord build the house they labor in vain who build it.

OVERALL QUALITY Very high; reflective and rocking simultaneously.

2. Nellyville

7 weeks on chart

STYLE Slick "playa" rap.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL All 19 tracks (profanity, vulgarity, obscenity).

WORLDVIEW That English has a dozen words, that three or four of those words should be used disproportionately more than the others, and that thuggin' and druggin' really turn the ladies on.

OVERALL QUALITY Sonically high-rap will soon be the best-produced music in the world if it isn't already; morally abominable-for the usual reasons.

3. The Eminem Show

12 weeks on chart

STYLE Hard-core rap

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL All 20 songs and skits, especially "My Dad's Gone Crazy," a graphically pornographic performance featuring the recording debut of Eminem's daughter Hailie.

WORLDVIEW "More pain inside of my brain than the eyes of a little girl / inside of a plane aimed at the World Trade."

OVERALL QUALITY Catchier and more revealing than the average gutter-level rap, but entirely inappropriate to anyone besides licensed psychopathologists.

4. The Fix

1 week on chart

STYLE Hard-core gangsta rap.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL All 13 tracks (profanity, obscenity, vulgarity).

WORLDVIEW In "Someday" and "Heaven" Scarface testifies with apparent sincerity of his rebirth in Christ, but even these performances include one or more expletives, thereby scoring one for those who say that it's cluelessness and not wicked intent that causes rappers to wear their status as the bottom-feeders of the recording industry with pride

OVERALL QUALITY Disappointing.

5. Now That's what I Call Music 10

1 week on chart

STYLE Urban, Latin-heartthrob, boy-band, techno, alternative rock, and whatever Britney Spears is.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL Casual swearing; booklet photos of J.Lo and Paulina Rubio.

WORLDVIEW No sentiment is so vapid that a catchy beat and an underdressed singer can't sell it by the millions.

OVERALL QUALITY Mind-numbingly catchy (Baha Men), mind-numbingly cute (Vanessa Carlton), mind-numbingly catchy, cute, and spacey (Moby), mind numbing (most everything else).

In the spotlight

Bruce Springsteen may have broken through as a "new Dylan," but it's as a rock-and-roll Woody Guthrie that he's made his mark. Although the self-consciousness and occasionally forced intensity of his identification with the Common Man has made him hard to take at times, even at his most strident and wrongheaded he seems to mean well, which is more than one could've always said for Woody Guthrie.

Not much in the way of stridency or wrongheadedness afflicts The Rising (Columbia), Mr. Springsteen's musical response to 9/11 and his best album in 15 years. With the possible exception of "Into the Fire," in which faith, hope, and love function more as buzzwords than as virtues, and "Let's Be Friends," in which a yearning for unity devolves into a yearning for "skin to skin" contact, Mr. Springsteen seems willing to let the immensity of the album's concerns emerge gradually. And in "My City of Ruins" he breaks through as a rock 'n' roll Nehemiah.

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