A quick stroll through the latest additions to my playlist …
5 Black Mercedes • One Block Radius One Block Radius unabashedly taps the Outkast "Hey Ya" vibe, but it's too catchy to call it a rip-off. We'll call it an homage instead.
4 Cool • Gwen Stefani Had this come on the radio in 1986, no one would have batted an eye, so well does the new queen of pop channel that perfect '80s pop sound. Play it between "Voices Carry" and "Always Something There to Remind Me" and tell me it isn't true. A brilliant single in the spirit of No Doubt's wonderful cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life."
3 Crazy (James Michael Mix) • Alanis Morissette A natural choice for Alanis, given its wordiness. The electronic mix is nice, if perhaps a little too faithful to the original. This single, an offering from her new hits disc, might have benefited from a little more space between it and Seal's 1991 original. It's mildly interesting and not surprising that radio has completely ignored it thus far.
2 King of Pain • Alanis Morissette From her MTV Unplugged album, this Police cover is again a natural, wordy choice for the Queen of Pain. Her delicate delivery of that deeply hooky line, "I have stood here before inside the pouring rain …" is so good it hurts.
1 Keeping the Faith (Dance Remix) • Billy Joel In this age of remixes that bear little if any resemblance to the original song, it's easy to forget how much fun they used to be. From his new "My Lives" collection, this treatment of one of the many singles from his 1983 "An Innocent Man" album is a pleasant reminder. This twist on a great pop song makes you a believer by goosing the groove just a bit and adding some new percussive flourishes and choir-like background vocals.