Music Article

Singles Minded

How some of ''Billboards'' Hot 100 rate -- Some of the best and worst of last week are ''Waterfalls,'' ''Boombastic,'' and ''Hey Man, Nice Shot''

How some of ''Billboards'' Hot 100 rate

Maybe it was the mid-season heat wave that turned most of the country into the world's largest oven. But this summer's singles were, by and large, sluggish affairs, as illustrated by a quick stroll through Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart for the week of August 5.

No. 1 ''Waterfalls'' TLC
While Prince tries to recapture his old magic, this trio has crafted a gem that glitters like a great lost track from Formerly Known As' soul-grinding Sign 'O' the Times days. The song's bubbly slink is surely what kept it in the No. 1 slot (airplay and sales combined) for over a month. Yet beneath the music lurks a plea — ''Stop moving too fast'' — that's a warning to those in danger of contracting AIDS. A summer tune with a message — what is this, the '60s? A-

In contrast, the No. 1 summer single in airplay alone is the Rembrandts' Friends jingle, ''I'll Be There For You.'' As a 42-second TV theme song, this confection does the job. As a full, extended song, though, its plastic perkiness grows as irksome as mosquito buzz. C

No. 2 ''Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days)'' Monica
Atlanta producer Dallas Austin extends his hit streak with this leanly produced R&B strut featuring new-jill teenager Monica. She's in love, everything's fine, but she needs time to be alone to sort out her head — ''don't wanna take it out on you,'' she consoles. A trifle, but the casual, easy-rolling groove rolls on like sunblock. B

No. 3 ''One More Chance'' The Notorious B.I.G.
With his marble-mouthed huffs and puffs, this very B.I.G. New York City rapper has even more vocal charisma than he does body fat. On his second pop hit, he turns a standard dis — stealing a rival's girl — into an excuse for clever, tongue-rolling rhymes. Too bad the penthouse-pad soul, with its cooing female backup singers pleading for one more shot with the big hunk o' stuff, is far less distinctive than Biggie's throat. B-

No. 4 ''Kiss From a Rose'' Seal
Did anyone actually hear this in Batman Forever? Me neither. Still, it's a good soundtrack choice. With its overlapping swirl of counterpoint harmonies and strings, it's an ethereal mood piece that swoops in and out of your head — just like...Batman? B+

No. 5 ''Boombastic'' Shaggy
Dancehall continues to infiltrate the pop charts with this monotonous come-on. Best moment: Shaggy warns his mate, ''Don't you play with my nose, I might sneeze'' — and then he does. C+

No. 6 ''I Can Love You Like That'' All-4-One
I swear, without those falsetto harmonies, these guys could be any upcoming R&B crooners. This is earthier and more rhythmic than their breakthrough smash, but Boyz II Men needn't worry. C

No. 8 ''Run-Around'' Blues Traveler
The new generation of noodle rock hits Top 40, and the results aren't as dippily spaced-out as feared. In fact, this frisky late bloomer is one of the few summer tunes that actually capture that season's carefree, breezy feel. Bonus point, in this age of electronics, for landing a harmonica solo in the top 10. A-

No. 13 ''Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?'' Bryan Adams
Not to this piece of glop, I wouldn't. D

No. 21 ''Come and Get Your Love'' Real McCoy:
The German trio's unstoppable first single, "Another Night," pulsed and throbbed its way to club-standard status. But this beats-by-numbers remake of the 1974 Redbone hit is dance music at its most robotic — and that's pretty damn robotic. C

No. 23 ''Misery'' Soul Asylum:
Removed from the context of a cluttered album, some singles can sound much better on the airwaves. One example is Michael Jackson's ''You Are Not Alone,'' a glistening R. Kelly production that's easy to overlook amid the noisy rants of HIStory's new songs. Another is Soul Asylum's homage to teen angst. The music is assembly-line heartland rock, but those power-chording guitars will make you want to gun your car engine every time. B

No. 26 ''December'' Collective Soul
Backward baseball caps off to this band for releasing a summer hit named after a winter month, and landing it in the Top 40. Too bad the tune itself — slacker-rock love-song ambivalence, set to sluggish mainstream rock hooks — isn't as perverse. C

No. 29 ''Player's Anthem'' Junior M.A.F.I.A.
The Notorious B.I.G. returns as part of a hip-hop collective and turns in this summer's biggest street-buzz hip-hop record. The lyrics — casual boasts about robberies, guns, and women — are silly, but the song's swaying, airy groove could be the start of something new. Call it easy-listening gangsta rap. B

No. 39 ''Can't Cry Anymore'' Sheryl Crow
Do we really need another single from Tuesday Night Music Club, even if our heroine rocks harder than usual and fights back despair by rhyming ''fact is'' with ''taxes''? Not really. B

No. 79 ''Hey Man, Nice Shot'' Filter
Hey, man, nice watering down of that whisper-to-a-shriek style of Nine Inch Nails. Then again, this two-man band should know: They played in a touring version of NIN, and what better influence than Trent Reznor for a song that both laments and derides a suicide? B-

No. 81 ''Pull Up to the Bumper'' Patra
At a time when needless remakes dot the charts like so much acne, this dancehall diva's taut, relentless remake of the 1981 Grace Jones anthem stands out. It's certainly better than Real McCoy's aforementioned ''Come and Get Your Love,'' Amy Grant's mall-rock mauling of Joni Mitchell's ''Big Yellow Taxi'' (No. 67), Brownstone's unnecessary cover of the Eagles' ''I Can't Tell You Why'' (No. 63), and Bon Jovi's ''This Ain't a Love Song'' (No. 15), an unnecessary cover of Bon Jovi's ''Always.'' B+

Originally posted Aug 18, 1995 Published in issue #288 Aug 18, 1995 Order article reprints
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