1. Will Smith, Lost and Found (Interscope). Rapping about subjects other than murder and ass, Will Smith has a sort of candy-corn, Everly Brothers, ranch-dressing, Frosty the Snowman style of rhyming. Like a sock puppet with attitude, his lines flow like ketchup.
2. Lou Barlow,Emoh (Merge). Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh) is such a sensitive man-child that pussycats appear to him to be menacing beasts, and a polite question from a friend is not so different from a crack over the head with a baseball bat. An O.G. indie-rock wuss, Barlow was shedding tears over misplaced sweaters and writing precious songs about his feelings back when Death Cab for Cutie were still collecting Pokémon cards. On the unfortunately titled “Emoh,” Barlow displays a variety of emotions, from slightly perturbed to pensive to not very spunky.
3. Coheed & Cambria, Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. I (Equal Vision/Columbia). The guy with the pink Flying V making an incredible racket at Guitar Center has a band called Coheed & Cambria, and like mastodons rampaging across a desert plain, they will suffocate you with their elfin metal magic.
4. Music From and Inspired by Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (G Unit/Interscope). Oh Fiddy/the movie was shitty/yo’ life was so gritty/You’s buff like a Hummer/but this soundtrack’s a bummer/Not bumpin’ it in my drop top/’cause yo I don’t own one/Your choruses are wack/the melodies are all slack/Ain’t no 2Pac/that’s a fact/Too in love with your fool self/a bit out of touch/you got more rhyming skills than me/but that don’t say much.
5. Depeche Mode, Playing the Angel (Sire/Reprise/Mute). While Depeche Mode are the progenitors and acknowledged sovereigns of dancefloor gloom, on Playing the Angel the dreariness is like a dental appointment with Dr. Feelbad.
6. The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Armed Love (American/Epitaph). As revolutionary as a Nike commercial, the (International) Noise Conspiracy are another overrated Swedish rock band, in this case spitting out limp political anthems. Armed Love contains the vaguest political posturing, as if the band can’t be more specific because they have no clue as to what they stand for. With lethargic riffs and hokey chants, these disenfranchised Swedes yelp, “We want to have our freedom now/To feel the cold sweat/to feel the soul/On this hallowed ground baby we can feel it all/Liberation’s ready to bloom tonight.” However, black bloc punks chucking Molotov cocktails at the pigs deserve a more riotous, less cockamamie soundtrack.
7. Weezer, Make Believe (Geffen). Right up there with atrocities like Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long (All Night),” Bowling for Soup’s “1985” or anything by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” is one of the most irritating abominations of all time. While the Weezer dudes would probably claim that it’s some sort of commentary about materialism, “Beverly Hills” is the work of shameless whores concocting a cynical, crass modern-rock radio anthem.
8. Ja Rule, Exodus (The Inc/Def Jam). Undoubtedly manufactured in a gangsta factory, Ja Rule is a thug robot programmed to appeal both to the street and to the glossy world of Cristal-sipping J-Lo types. Through some sort of graft or payola, practically every flaccid single this android has spit out has become a megahit. When malfunctioning, Ja Rule continuously grunts “It’s Murda,” making 50 Cent (who is unaware that his rival is made of recycled aluminum cans) seem like Oscar Wilde.
9. Coldplay, X&Y (Capitol). Some stuff that comes to mind when listening to Coldplay: real estate values in Santa Monica, yarn, waiting in line at the post office, crispy Danish toast, A Passage to India, cutting out coupons, cream and sugar, a drawn-out conversation with a kind gentleman, a pristine, cloudless sky.
10. The Tossers, The Valley of the Shadow of Death (Victory). Like a leprechaun puking, the Tossers utilize every Irish cliché from languishing in gaol to dear old Dublintown to a tearful mum. But their ass-drunk sentiments are more dour than fun; better to enjoy a frolic with a redheaded lass by the bog or a delicious Shamrock Shake.