In other words, "Show up and play, or you're off the playlist." One of those annual you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-give-you-a-reach-around affairs, KISS-FM's holiday shindig serves up a heapin' helpin' of ho-ho-hum; nothing says, "Happy Holidays, suckers!" like a serenade from LFO (pronounced 'round my house as, "Hell if I know") and Natural (a boy band with but a single single to its name; maybe you have to be 3 years old and deaf to still like this shit). Nice to see Lenny Kravitz is lending his name to this abomination; guess you gotta have something for that chaperoning grandpa who never moved to LP after his Led Zep and Lennon reel-to-reels turned to dust. Speaking of Lenny--and who is these days, save for tin-eared programming directors, Carson Daly and the guy behind the used-CD counter who refuses to take in one more copy of Lenny--exactly when does his expiration date come due? Like, 1974?
Alicia Keys brings the cred and then some, which makes it difficult to bash this bash completely; if Songs in A Minor isn't among the year's best releases, it's only because Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin got there first. It would be nice if she could skip "Fallin'," which is as played out as Emmitt Smith, but the kids (or, more likely, their folks) won't let her past the Shock Wave without hearing it. But I do wish someone would explain the appeal of Nelly Furtado, whose Whoa, Nelly! (and my sentiments exactly) conjures the worst of Macy Gray and Fiona Apple (sounds like jingle hell, frankly), meaning she's great at making noise but lousy at making it signify anything other than self-infatuation. Read somewhere that it also reminds one critic of Portishead--yeah, and look what happened to that band.
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Besides, the real star of this shindig's Jamie-Lynn Sigler, TV's Meadow Soprano--and, in case you had no idea, the voice of The Gap's singing belly button. She's there for daughter and dad alike, the proverbial make-good role model dolled up as sex symbol in the stuck-together pages of Pop's Maxim. After her much-derided stint wearing glass slippers at Madison Square Garden, Sigler's on the road pushing her new disc, Here to Heaven, which finds her produced by Desmond Child (Roxette, Cher, Ricky Martin) and the Berman Brothers (responsible, more or less, for the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out") and backed by Robbie Nevil (whose "C'est la Vie" ranks among the 1980s very worst pop songs)--well, guess you can't spell "shit" without "hit." Sigler, not surprisingly, is little more than Jessica wanting to be Mandy wanting to be Christina wanting to be Britney--or, to use her phrase, she's just "younger-skewed J. Lo," and how lo can you go? The disc's so disposable it dropped five bucks in price while I was buying it at Borders. That's right--I bought Here to Heaven, then paid for it dearly by actually listening to it. Twice.