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What's Wrong With Rock 

Soundbites goes off on the Sweat Swipe and other musical irritants.

We were fine until we saw that new Ja Rule video. Then we snapped. It happened when Mr. Rule donned that gauche sweater and Dockers, while Ashanti was gettin' all ghetto, with leather and curls, in the duo's clip for "Mesmerize." It's one of the lamest role reversals this side of Bringing Down the House, and it's a trend that's driving us crazy. The bad acting and worse rhymes were the last straw, forcing us into the following rant on what most pisses us off in music today:

Mopey Millionaires

"It's been a while since I've gone and fucked things up just like I always do," Staind frontman Aaron Lewis snivels on his band's last effort, the multiplatinum Break the Cycle. Uh, not really dude. By turning modern rock into a cavalcade of whiny, forced angst, we'd say you've fucked things up just fine. Mining melancholy is nothing new, but Lewis takes things to obnoxious extremes: unnecessarily digging into his past to expound on each hurt (yes, being grounded sucked), loading virtually every song with wet-eyed wankery. "You were never there for me to express how I felt," he sobs at one point. "I just stuffed it down," he adds, referring to a neglectful parent, or maybe a bad burrito. Either way, who gives a crap?

The Al Bundy Complex

We have no patience for bands (and we're talking to you, emo/punkers) trying to connect with the kids by reminiscing about high school, when it's been 15 years since they spent a study hall dreaming about boobies. Dashboard Confessional has problems in this department, but the Blink-182 guys are the prime offenders, still singing about first dates and teen romance as their own children approach the same milestones.

The Sweat Swipe

Don't know what it is that makes guys take their shirts off at rock shows. We've yet to hear a lass exclaim, "Hot damn, look at the man teats on that playa!" It's not that we have a problem with the occasional airing-out (and if you're at an outdoor summer festival, you get a pass -- pending back-hair growth). But the real problem with going shirtless is the inevitable Sweat Swipe. You know the scenario: You're standing outside the pit at a show, and as the moshers flail to and fro, they invariably rub up against you, coating your skin in a generous layer of their own BO. Hands down, it's the grossest thing in music. Worse than Cher.

The Reunion Rook

Most of today's "reunion tours" are the non-alcoholic beer of music: They're missing the main ingredient. Thin Lizzy reunites without Phil Lynott, the Dead Kennedys tour without Jello Biafra, the Beach Boys hit the road sans Brian Wilson. Perhaps the most malodorous pseudo-comeback tour of late is the Doors' reformation, with the Cult's Ian Astbury at the mic for Jim Morrison and former Police drummer Stewart Copeland in place of John Densmore (even though Densmore is still alive, and busily filing suit). If old-timers feel the need to kick out the jams with their old bandmates, that's understandable. But if the original lineup isn't intact, do like Creedence Clearwater Revisited (former, lesser members of Creedence Clearwater Revival), and at least alter the name of the group to let folks know what's in store.

Sucking Wind

When the music itself won't get the job done, today's bands up their videos' drama quotient by performing in torrential downpours or in the face of gale-force winds. But most of these guys blow hard enough on their own. Guns N' Roses kicked some serious ass with its video for "November Rain," but bands like the Music, Trust Company, and Our Lady Peace are making a crime out of this device. Enough already. A dog is a dog, and a wet dog just stinks that much worse.

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