Commercial rock is like a summer blockbuster movie. There are explosions, car chases, good looking actors, catchy jokes, and a plot that you've seen 100 times before and will gladly watch 100 times again. Often, its heart and soul -- if it ever had one -- has been stripped away in the name of making a truckload of money, but that's okay because we're just there for a good time!
Rock snobs love to pick on commercial rock. It's big and loud and shiny, and it appeals to the masses. But tucked away in the darkest corner of every rock snob's heart is a secret place where our guilty pleasures reside. Some of us keep a few Journey albums back there, while others have something by Creed or Nickelback hidden away. Me? Mixed in with my darkest musical secrets is a copy of the song "Iris."
It's unfair that "Iris" was included on Dizzy Up the Girl, because the album can't possibly compare. There's nothing wrong with the album, mind you; it is simple, commercial rock that doesn't aspire to be anything different. "Slide," "Broadway," and "Black Balloon" are all good songs that got a lot of radio play, but I don't ever need to hear them again. As for the album tracks, there's nothing I'd shut off, but nothing reaches out and grabs me, either.
But "Iris" ... well, it just might be a perfect song. I don't even know how to describe it. It sounds like a simple pop song, but if you dig beneath the surface, there's some serious magic. The only tangible thing I can pinpoint is the way the time signature shifts from 3/4 to 4/4 during the solo. I'd heard the song probably 10 times before I realized there was a time change. It's subtle, and it's very effective. It's the kind of thing that separates generic commercial bands from extraordinary commercial bands.
Dizzy Up the Girl is solid, commercial rock with a moment of greatness at the end of the album. It makes me wonder why we're not supposed to like big, shiny rock songs, because big, shiny rock songs can be a whole lot of fun.
It would be a 3.5, but "Iris" bumps it up into a higher class. And 3.5 is probably too harsh, because this is really good mainstream rock. The instruments sound good, the performances are energetic, and the production is nice and big. There are subtle touches buried in the recordings, which makes for many listens without getting bored.
The cover photo is incredible. The rest of the package is good but uninspired. You can read my thoughts about the cover at Whole Lotta Album Covers.
Listen if you like: big rock bands like Foreigner or 38 Special or Foo Fighters.
If it were food, it'd be: A double combo from Wendy's.