Billboarding: Nov. 12, 2007, Can't Fight the Seether

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Since we last journeyed onto the Hot 100 two weeks ago, not much has changed; aside from a new song in the top slot, the Top 10 is a virtual repeat of our 10/29/07 column. So what better time to take a look at a different spot on the FM dial -- like oh, we don't know, the Modern Rock chart? If facial hair and angst is your thing, this set of songs should give you plenty of earphone food. Loosen your guitar straps and raise a fist to the sky -- here's our look at Billboard's Modern Rock Top 10 for the week of 11/12/07!

1. Foo Fighters, "The Pretender" (RCA/Roswell)
Head Foo Dave Grohl knows a thing or two about alternating dynamics, and he reminds us of that here, seesawing between tense buildups and a vintage aggro explosions. Good thing, too, because the song doesn’t really have the kind of hook that justifies three and a half minutes of repetition, or making the listener wait nearly a minute and a half to hit the chorus. Then again, just have a listen to the other stuff being served to the format right now, and this song’s 11 weeks at Number One make all kinds of sense.

2. Seether, "Fake It" (Wind-Up)
See? This rock & roll thing isn’t so tricky. Just curl your lip, come up with a suitably crunchy groove and a few lines about why you’re pissed off, and wham! Instant hit. Of course, it tends to help if your song is kind of clever, and can boast a chuckle-inducing video that also happens to feature a generous helping of bouncy, barely clad T&A. Watch out, “The Pretender” – “Fake It” is coming for you.

3. Jimmy Eat World, "Big Casino" (Interscope)
As a general rule, Jimmy Eat World’s songs will either leave you feeling pumped up or wanting to slap the next sullen college freshman you see; happily, “Big Casino” falls into the former category. It sounds a little like Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard fronting Joshua Tree-era U2, which probably means that Angels & Airwaves’ Tom DeLonge is weeping softly into his Zima right about now.

4. Linkin Park, "Bleed It Out" (Warner Bros.)
Combining Billy Corgan’s persecution complex (and nails-on-a-chalkboard screech) with the physical charisma of the kid who got teabagged during your seventh-grade PE class’s wrestling unit, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington serves up another 2:48 of whatever the hell it is he does that makes people want to buy his band’s shitty records. At least Mike Shinoda raps on this one. And it’s short.

5. Three Days Grace, "Never Too Late" (Jive)
Sounds like more of the same whiny crap that’s dogged rock radio for the last ten years, but there’s actually an uplifting message in here, if you take the time to dig past the melodramatic wailing and find it. “Never Too Late” also has one of the more interesting videos on this week’s countdown – but still, it’s hard not to wish that the David Lee Roth of 1985 could somehow take a time machine into 2007, deliver a few sorely needed zibbity-zobbity-bops, and kick Three Days Grace singer Adam Gontier right squah in the nuts.

6. Serj Tankian, "Empty Walls" (Reprise/Serjical Strike)
Five years ago, left-wing pundits bemoaned the shortage of political songs from contemporary rock artists; now, they’re popping up all over the place, to the point that it’s possible to dismiss even the smartest anti-Bush administration tune as “trendy.” But System of a Down’s Serj Tankian was one of the only artists who had the stones to air out his political convictions before the polls shifted – think of him as sort of like a Dixie Chick with slightly more facial hair – so it shouldn’t surprise you that “Empty Walls” finds him back in full-on polemic mode. The video makes us miss Frank Zappa in the best possible way.

7. Paramore, "Misery Business" (Atlantic/Lava/Fueled by Ramen)
Jumping between performance footage that seems to have been filmed in front of a blown-up reproduction of No Doubt’s Rock Steady album artwork and what look like outtakes from the worst-ever episode of “Boy Meets World,” Paramore’s “Misery Business” video tells the story of a heartless high school bitch who gets her comeuppance by having her stuffies yanked out in an empty hallway. The horror! (Bonus fun fact: Paramore singer Hayley Williams apologized to fans for using the phrase “God it feels so good” in the lyrics. Awwww!)

8. Finger Eleven, "Paralyzer" (Wind-Up)
The Canadian band once known as the Rainbow Butt Monkeys elects to go the Led Zeppelin/Franz Ferdinand mash-up route for the leadoff single to its fifth album, and the results are every bit as mindlessly derivative as you might think – but they’re also eminently danceable and, curiously, somewhat awesome. Dig the fancy hoofin’ in the video!

9. The White Stripes, "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)” (Warner Bros.)
It’s pretty bare-bones and retro, even for the White Stripes, but this song’s overdriven guitars and dense, blocky rhythm would have sounded just as comfortable on Modern Rock playlists 20 years ago, and there’s something to be said for that. Maybe not a whole lot to be said, but still – who needs to talk? Just turn it up and drive around for awhile.

10. Chevelle, "I Get It" (Epic)
Chevelle has never been as cool as its name, and everything wrong with the band’s music is neatly, punishingly encapsulated in this unbearably competent track. Seriously, is there anything in here that would have escaped the grasp of any bottom-feeding group from the format’s so-called “corporate rock” heyday? Anything on Triumph’s last album beats “I Get It.” Ed Roland of Collective Soul probably farts songs like this in his sleep, but he’s stuck playing minor-league ballparks with Third Eye Blind, while these clowns are opening for Nickelback and inevitably grabbing the kind of first-class groupie tail that only a Dove Award-winning “Christian Alternative Metal” band can snag. (Which is not to say that Collective Soul and/or Third Eye Blind don’t belong in minor-league ballparks – just that Chevelle and Nickelback do.)

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