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Music

Best Albums

The Top 5 CDsfor the week ending April 27, according to Billboard magazine

1
ASHANTI

Ashanti

2 weeks on chart

STYLE

Catchy urban pop.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

"Leaving," "Scared," "Over" (obscenities), "Rescue," "Movies" (frank sexuality)

WORLDVIEW

"Dreams are real all you have to do is just believe ... Don't follow no one else just do what's good 4 you" ("Dreams").

OVERALL QUALITY

Ashanti has a nice voice, sings well, and attracts talented collaborators who regrettably see nothing wrong with helping her hawk herself as a heavy-breathing courtesan.
2
A NEW DAY HAS COME

Celine Dion

3 weeks on chart

STYLE

Lavishly produced, Las Vegas?friendly pop.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

None.

WORLDVIEW

That life is a wonder best expressed by religious metaphors (prayer, miracles, heaven, angels).

OVERALL QUALITY

Technically impeccable, morally unassailable, musically predictable, commercially indomitable.
3
Now that's what I call music! 9

Various performers

4 weeks on chart

STYLE

Urban, disco, boy-band, hard rock, alternative metal.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

"Get the Party Started" Pink, "Rollout" Ludacris, "Just Push Play" Aerosmith (muted obscenities), "Lights, Camera, Action!" Mr. Cheeks (explicit sexuality), "Family Affair" Mary J. Blige (audible obscenity), "I'm a Slave 4 U," Britney Spears, "Caramel" City High (implicit sexuality)

WORLDVIEW

You can fool some of the teenagers all of the time.

OVERALL QUALITY

K-Tel, or Ronco, for the digital age.
4
GUTTERFLOWER

Goo Goo Dolls

1 week on chart

STYLE

Melodic hard rock with alternative flourishes.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

"Sympathy" (casual profanity)

WORLDVIEW

"Now you think you found something real / When it's all about money and the things that you need / Live a big lie and they all believe / Now, I just find that somehow obscene" ("What a Scene").

OVERALL QUALITY

Immaculate engineering and rousing hooks serve as camouflage for lyrics that say little or nothing.
5
SOUTHERN HUMMINGBIRD

Tweet

2 weeks on chart

STYLE

Overtly sensuous, aphrodisiacal soul and R&B.

OBJECTIONABLE MATERIAL

"My Place," "Best Friend," "Oops (Oh My)," "Call Me" (frank sexuality), "Make UR Move," "Motel" (casual profanity)

WORLDVIEW

Happiness comes from having lots of sex (adultery, too, if you're the instigator) and partying.

OVERALL QUALITY

Tweet has a nice voice, sings well, and attracts talented collaborators who regrettably see nothing wrong with helping her hawk herself as a heavy-breathing courtesan.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Cultural conservatives can be forgiven their overenthusiasm for Celine Dion. Dignified, classy, and talented, she embodies public virtues long absent from mainstream pop. Married, maternal, and monogamous, she embodies private virtues too. And her lyrics are as free of expletives as her flesh is of tattoos and piercings. What more could Republicans want in a diva? In a word, art-performances that meaningfully integrate form and content instead of perfecting the former at the expense of the latter. Except for the standards "Nature Boy" and "At Last," the material on A New Day Has Come (Epic), Ms. Dion's first new album since the birth of her child, consists of clichés inflated to proportions that even by the standards of Epic Records are pretty epic. References abound to prayer, faith, miracles, heaven, and being "touched by an angel," but the generically "inspirational" contexts in which they occur rob them of their specificity and, hence, their power.