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Play my song

Ted Alvarez

Believe it: When it comes to music, the kids are not all right. To those of us who get more crotchety by the year, they will never be all right our bands set the standards they take for granted, dang it! But an informal poll among the teenyboppers in the Vail Valley shows signs that here, they might be better off than most. For every teen that chose a JoJo track, another yelled “Zeppelin!” or “Skynyrd!” in my apparently rapidly aging face. But a glance at the top five Billboard singles still leaves a dismal taste in my mouth – and we all know teens ‘n’ tweens are the only demographic with the time and lack of sense to buy singles. Whether you’re a parent who’d like to span the gap between generations, or maybe you’re a slightly older sibling who’d just like to hear a different song in the car, forthwith is a list of alternate suggestions. Because music is about building bridges, people. Do it for the children. 1) Ludacris, “Moneymaker”Ancestral track: Goodie Mob, “Cell Therapy”Alternative track: Aesop Rock, “Fast Cars”Luda isn’t a bad rapper, strictly speaking he helped put Hotlanta on the map for sure. But a haircut doesn’t equal innovation, and Chris Bridges has done pretty much the same album over and over; if anything, his most recent album is less clever than previous efforts. Goodie Mob (which featured now-omnipresent Gnarls Barkley frontman Cee-Lo) made the Dirty South smart and likely taught Luda a thing or two. For blistering rhymes in a similar timbre to Luda (minus the Southern bounce and booty calls), Aesop Rock is hard to to beat, as long as caffiene-addled kiddies have the patience to follow Aesop’s oblique, pop-culture infused lyrics. 2) Akon, “Smack That”Ancestral track: Nate Dogg on Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” and Warren G’s “Regulate”Alternative track: Baby Cham featuring Akon, “Ghetto Story Chapter 3” Akon straddles the fence between rapper and singer, but in “Smack That” his vocoder voice, weak boasting skills and plinky production do him no favors. Eminem brings signature flash, but Nate Dogg did the sing/rhyme thing better and smoother ten years ago. Oddly, Akon acquits himself much better when he matches his hard-up Senegal youth story with reggae-dancehall-man Baby Cham’s similar tale of Jamaican woe on “Ghetto Story Chapter 3.” Ghostly atmosphere and guttural dancehall chants provide a compelling backdrop for Akon’s West-African influenced singing. 3) Hinder, “Lips of an Angel”Ancestral Track: The Who, “Behind Blue Eyes;” Poison, “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”Alternative Track: The Life and Times, “My Last Hostage” Hinder is the type of band that could claim Nickelback as an influence, and as such, they might be the most egregious offenders here. “Lips of an Angel” is goopy, cliched, straight-up crap-rock they make long-dead bands like Seven Mary Three look good. Rescue young, impressionable ears from this dreck as quickly as possible, perhaps by showing them that power ballads can come from the 60s and still sound fresher (like the Who). If they must have some cheese, give ’em some Poison…it’s probably where Hinder lifted a solo, anyway. If your whiny kids are a modern sort who demand big guitars and powerhouse vocals with their beautiful balladry, then opt for the little-known Life and Times shimmering, entrancing version in “My Last Hostage.” 4) Justin Timberlake, “Sexyback”5) Justin Timberlake, “Let Me Talk To You/My Love”Ancestral track: Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” and “Thriller”Alternative track: Junior Boys, “Double Shadows” Timberlake is a tough case and not just because he roped spots four and five on the Billboard charts. What we have here is a genuine talent who crafts excellent pop songs with his partner in crime, Timbaland. Perhaps Timberlake’s only sin is overplay, and maybe a bit of overconfidence. To get a break from the modern loverman’s pulsing beats, you could listen to his most obvious forebear – Michael Jackson. Pretty much anything on “Off the Wall” will do for dance, and “Thriller” mirrors Timberlake’s obvious ambition. But MJ is vastly overplayed himself, so perhaps the best respite lies with Junior Boys’ “Double Shadows,” which sounds like a blippy dance party powered by an Atari 2600. Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado


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