If you dig deep enough into Billboard.com's genre charts, past the foreign hits, past the Latin and Christian stuff and the MySpace streaming charts, you'll find one last afterthought: Smooth Jazz. It's a wonder that anyone would bother collecting data on this stuff; not only does it enjoy a critical reputation roughly comparable to that of child pornography, but it's also a radio format dying even quicker than its audience (dentists have a notoriously high suicide rate, you know). But, ugh, this chart exists so I'm compelled to take a look:
1. Vincent Ingala, "Wish I Was There" >> Multi-instrument prodigy Vincent Ingala may not look a day past 20, but his handsome-nephew looks hide the blank soul of an old smooth jazzman: this kid sucks far beyond his years. With its disco-lite beat and snazzy sax riff, "Wish I Was There" manages to pack an hour and half of being on hold with your cable company into just four short minutes. From Vincent's own website: "I've always said, the most dangerous kind of people in the world are those who don't know what they want. . . . Vincent is the exact opposite, he knows precisely what he wants and there's no way he's going to stop now!" Indeed, this may just be the least dangerous track of the year!
2. Gerald Albright/Norman Brown, "Champagne Life" >> Yow, I didn't expect things to get so spicy tonight! "Champagne Life" is a truly sexy little number. Imagine drinking champagne by candlelight on the balcony of a cruise ship while watching your date — Cathy, from the comic strip — eat oyster after oyster after oyster until she can't take it anymore and has to lie down and groan for a few hours. The next day, there's a fire in the engine room and the hallways fill with raw sewage, but you don't know that yet, so don't let it spoil your night of watching TBS on mute and listening to Cathy burp up oyster juice in her sleep.
3. Paul Hardcastle, "No Stress" >> Ooh, this one is sexy too, but not in a classy Cathy poop-cruise oyster-burp way — this is down-and-dirty softcore sax sexy, filled with sensuous sighing and '90s trance flourishes. This is a night-alone-in-the-bathtub kind of sexy, curling your toes as you dial 1-900-SAX-HOLE for some steamy jazz action. The hoarse whisper of a sexy lady beckons you: "Press one for a night of erotic jazz sensations." You press one, and what's that sexy music? Ooh, yeah — you're on hold. You're on hold so tight. Mmm, yeah. You're on hold with Comcast and it's going to be at least another 45 minutes.
4. David Benoit, "You're Amazing" >> Okay, whatever, this one isn't so bad. It moves around a little; it sounds like it was made by an actual human being, albeit an artistically misguided one. It's not anything that a person would willingly listen to for recreation, but if you heard it out there in its natural habitat you might catch yourself standing up and tapping your toes a little bit before the orderlies come around and sedate you again.