The scene is outside of MTV”s Times Square studios during the shooting of “Total Request Live.” Standing in front of a TRL camera operator, a 48-year old woman screams, “Hi, my name”s Cathy from Brooklyn and I wanna request Rod Stewart because he”s sooo fine and I loved his early-“70s work with The Faces! Whooo!”
An unlikely scenario, right? Apparently no one told Rod, because his new album, the a-little-too-earnestly titled Human, strikes the bizarre balance of adult contemporary schmaltz and high-gloss production methods and programmed beats that are endemic to today”s teenybopper scene.
Which, ironically enough, isn”t a bad thing when you actually put the speakers in the windows. A catchy pop ballad sung by an established vocalist like Stewart is far more appealing than hearing the same song performed by yet another dimpled, semi-androgynous piece o” teen meat.
As a result, Human endears itself with a slew of warm, mid-tempo numbers that nicely show off Stewart”s distinctive, blue-eyed soul vocals, not to mention the respective songwriting talents of the various hitmaking forces behind this album. The R&B-lite groove “Smitten” is dripping with the honey-sweet influence of co-writer Macy Gray, while the soothing “Don”t Come Around Here” finds Stewart one-upped by the sexy, kitten-purr vocals of Scottish singer Helicopter Girl.
The majority of the album”s 11 tracks are pure adult contempo fare, which is to be expected from the man who recorded with a straight face, no less songs like “Rhythm of the Heart” and “Forever Young.” But on hot-pop wannabes like the spastic title track and the radio single “I Can”t Deny It,” Stewart is grasping for a younger audience that will undoubtedly prove more estranged than Rachel Hunter.
If Stewart still wants to strike a particular demographic as “sexy,” he should forget about Carson and MTV.