High notes and low in the pop world

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Where did the time go? Seems as if it was just yesterday that we were awaiting the end of the world. Now we've all but survived 2000, in spite of these distinguished and dubious events in the world of pop music:

Reasons to be cheerful: Napster; the stunning debut of neo-soul queen Jill Scott; positive hip-hop vibes from Jurassic Five; the return, after an eight-year hiatus, of smooth soulstress Sade. If you put out a CD and nobody buys it, does it still make a sound? If it does, then the sound you hear may be Marilyn Manson's "Holy Wood" and the Spice Girls' "Forever" tumbling off the charts.

Best guilty pleasure song: 'N Sync's "It's Gonna Be Me." Oh, yeah, like that wasn't you singing it in the car.

Best guilty pleasures on TV: Where else but on MTV? On "MTV Cribs" we learned that the most prominent things in Tommy Lee's mansion are huge pictures of his sons, and that Master P, who has more money than Croesus, has the decorating style of a blind pimp.

Why rock is again dead: Based on record sales -- their 1999 CD, "Human Clay," has sold 8 million records, 6 million this year -- Creed is the biggest rock band in the world. A moment of silence, please.

Why rock is again dead, Part 2: Zack de la Rocha left Rage Against the Machine, and Smashing Pumpkins called it quits. Sob.

Omigod, what isn't she wearing? Ah, the wonders of rigorous workouts and a few strategically placed scraps of material -- Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammy Awards, Britney Spears at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. (Hey, if you had bodies like theirs, you'd be barely wearing the same things.)

Most dysfunctional family since the Jacksons: The Matherses. Where to begin? Rapper extraordinaire Eminem sells millions of his CD "The Marshall Mathers LP," talking about such things as raping his mother and murdering his wife. Mom sues him for defamation and releases her own rap-song response; wife Kim seeks comfort clubbing with friends, including a man then allegedly pistol-whipped by Em; Em gets arrested, is charged with assault; Kim attempts suicide, then files for divorce; feeling left out, Em's grandmother tries to hit him up for money to exhume the body of her late son (Em's uncle).

Finally, in the strangest move yet, Eminem and Kim decide to reconcile so their daughter can have a "normal" home life.

Hey, there's always next year.

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