Current pop single I'm surprised to find myself liking: Avril Lavigne's "Complicated." It's catchy '70s MOR -- total mall music (perfect -- the video takes place at the mall!), the kind of thing you could easily ignore or fall in love with for life, marred only really by the sort of edgeless, boring, Mutt Lange-ish production that has ruined nearly every pop and rock song released in the latter half of the '90s ("Complicated" is the "Torn" of the year). Avril's cute, though... she looks like a French-Canadian Christina Aguilera with an eyeliner fetish, AND she says "check it ooooot" in the video's spoken introduction. I also love that "Lavigne" sounds like "Levine" -- hope the girl doesn't get mistaken for (GASP) a Jew!
The jury's still out on Kelly Osbourne's "Papa Don't Preach" and Pink's "Just Like a Pill."
The only discernable problems with "Papa" are Kelly's voice (which isn't punk enough for the band behind her) and the fact that her band can't seem to keep the tempo nailed down. Also, why the hell is she covering this? Is it because she has a famous "papa" who's always "preaching" to her? That's not, uh, funny... and what of the song's abortion theme? Is that whizzing by little Kelly's head entirely? It's nice that she's keeping her baby and all, but does she really want to project the image that she might be PREGNANT?
The Pink song: Well, the critics are gonna go chimpshit for "Just Like a Pill," but I'm gonna do the stupid thing here and say "Just Like Jagged Little Pill." A couple of smart one-liners and a new-wave hairdo does not equal "genius," okay? And all the funny parts repeat too many times. Note to aspiring songwriters: Verbal economy is GOOD.