No one could accuse Blind Melon of exploiting their 1993 faux-hippie hit ''No Rain.'' On their sophomore jinx, Soup, these corporate-grungesters go out of their way to prove they are both heavier and deeper than that song, and fail miserably at both. Dabbling in an array of forced styles, from barnyard novelties to art-rock psychedelia, the band contort themselves into any number of ugly musical positions. Here and there, they stumble upon a lazy-hazy melody reminiscent of ''No Rain,'' but still manage to ruin even those songs with flimsy headbanger licks that are more aluminum than heavy metal. Extreme tried the same Seriousness 'R' Us tactic after their sap-rock ballad ''More Than Words,'' and look where it got them.
Then there's Shannon Hoon, easily rock's most annoying singer. Harsh and nasal, his voice dares you to listen to it for more than a song. Hoon's self-conscious lyrics (''Time has passed for Mrs. Onassis, decay on display'') don't help. Attempts at warm and fuzzy fall flat too, as he serenades his pregnant girlfriend in ''New Life'': '''Cause now she's telling me she'll have my baby.'' Just what alterna-rock needs its own Paul Anka. D