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Courtney Love 

America's Sweetheart (Virgin)

Wouldn't it be easy to goof on this album? There's no reason I shouldn't: The songs are stacked full of Steve Miller rock clichés, the production sounds like someone hit the "Matchbox 20" button on the soundboard, and the artist is a publicity mutant. Yet I'm feeling ambitious. I'm in the mood to discuss why America's Sweetheart isn't so bad. It's People magazine set to music! Oops. That one slipped out. Enough. Let's accentuate the positive:

No. 1: In the song "Sunset Strip," Courtney sings, "Cruising down the Sunset Strip/I can fly/So high/Tonight." Yep, those lyrics are stinkers. And I'm pretty sure Courtney isn't being ironic. Actually, she paid thousands for Pink's songwriter, the non-blond Linda Perry, to scribble that horseshit down on some loose-leaf. But this is a list of happy thoughts, so I'd like to also add that those lyrics are both simple and concise. Nice work.

No. 2: Portions of the record sound like Heart. Heart kicks ass. Unfortunately, Love's vocals are raspy and whiny, so it kinda ruins it. On "Uncool," she sings, "Every time you move/Every time you breathe/Baby, you're a freak show just like me/I wanna be uncool." (Memo: The person who told you that you're cool was in error.) However, this list is a positive one, so I'd like to take this time to mention that America's Sweetheart has about 3 percent of the greatness of Heart's Dreamboat Annie.

No. 3: The record's cover. I enjoy pornography. I also enjoy cherry-flavored Halls cough drops in large quantities. The cover isn't pornography and there are no cough drops on it, but it makes me think about porno and cough drops. That's a good thing.

Whew. It was challenging to speak nicely about America's Sweetheart. I'm gonna go take a nap. Hold on. Lemme do a really nice, upbeat conclusion: This record is an exceptionally mediocre attempt to grunge up Sheryl Crow-type songwriting, and it has a unique cover that is airbrushed almost enough to be sexy. Hooray for everything!

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