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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Battle For Everything
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Before buying this CD, my exposure to Five For Fighting consisted solely of the single "Superman (It's Not Easy)," an earnest and irresistible song that became a hit long after it was released in 2000. Based on that song, and having heard the first single of this release, I decided to give it a shot. It is also priced to sell and I hope that this pricing strategy is a sign of things to come as this release is from Columbia Records, which seems to be following the on the footsteps of Universal. Everyone wins.
This release is quite powerful and if there is one uniting element to be found is that John Ondrasik (the main force behind FFF) carries his heart on his sleeve. Many critics despise this type of sentiment and they have clobbered them in their reviews. Some have taken easy potshots and called Ondrasik's voice a more annoying version of Chris Martin from Coldplay, but it seems that Amazon.com reviewers as well as the CD buying public has embraced what I think is a very good release that gets better with each listen.
Although its hard and sometimes unfair to compare artists, most songs here are sung in a fragile growl that to me sound a little like Dave Matthews meets Eddie Vedder meets Adam Duritz from Counting Crows. The arrangements are mostly backed with some very straightforward acoustic guitar and some great piano work that some called Elton-esque.
The release starts out with the gorgeous "NYC Weather Report" which sounds like a second single waiting to happen with its infectious arrangement and melodic yearnings. Other highlights include "The Devil In The Wishing Well." "If God Made You" is gorgeous and one of FFF's most optimistic songs. The first single "100 Years" starts out with a gorgeous piano arrangement (a little Bruce Hornsby) and takes off. It's almost as good as "Superman." "Angels And Girlfriends" goes through several changes and has a Beach Boys like sound with some echoes that sound great. Not a huge message song, but just fun. I love "Dying" and it's probably my favorite song on this release. "Infidel" picks up with a hard riff and presents a definite change of pace from the previous songs and adds a Black Crowes feel to the repertoire. The melody on "Disneyland" is awesome. The 2 songs that follow don't do much for me, although it should be highlighted that FFF has greatly expanded its musical menu. "One More For Love" is another of my favorites; notwithstanding that Rolling Stone magazine compares it to Air Supply-like cheesiness. My only response is that this is coming from a magazine that now used to have Bruce Sprinsteen and other originals on its cover, while these days it's either Hillary Duff or the Olsen twins. Nothing against these girls, but Rolling Stone should not throw stones when it lives in a THIN glass house. I love the strings on "Nobody."
One could argue that FFF sounds a little too much like Counting Crows or other recently successful groups and I can't argue with those who say that, but ultimately I just like it and at worst it's the work of musicians and not a media-created product. Some have criticized the lyrics and although they are not the deepest lyrics on earth, their simplicity or lack of depth (in some instances) does not make it a deal breaker.
I know that my review has focused on some of the similarities that FFF has with so many other contemporaries, but ultimately my thinking is that this release just sounds great and yes, it might remind me of others in parts, but it is certainly not a deal-breaker but rather a solid 4 star effort that keeps growing on me more and more.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
John Ondrasik makes the kind of music Elton John used to. Before 80's pop. Before he sold his soul to Disney and started doing songs for movies like "Fern Gully" and "The Lion King." Before he became a Vegas act.
Ondrasik really runs the vocal gamut on this album. His low notes resemble a subdued Adam Duritz, while his free-flying falsetto is sometimes reminiscent of the late Jeff Buckley. The best part is he never stops sounding like John Ondrasik. While some musicians seek to imitate, Ondrasik sticks to what he does best: being himself.
The use of strings is prevalent on this album, and only serves to enhance the emotion of each song. Ondrasik is at his Elton John best on "Disneyland," with a dramatic chorus that echoes "Tiny Dancer."
"100 Years" is the album's first single. While I personally enjoy the song, I'm disappointed that it's nearly identical in sound and structure to "Superman," the first single from "America Town."
A true highlight on "The Battle," "Dying" is a slow, moving piano ballad that mourns a relationship gone wrong. A perfect centerpiece for the album, and one of my favorite tracks.
The award for best track is shared by "The Devil in the Wishing Well" and "Nobody". "The Devil..." is a catchy Elton-eqsue guitar/piano tune that begs to be put on repeat. "Nobody" starts out slow and soothing a la "Sullivan Street," picks up steam on the first chorus and doesn't look back after the bridge. Ondrasik adds to the effect with a monologue that would make Diana Ross jealous.
"The Taste" is my least favorite track. It sounds like John Ondrasik tried to write his own "Mojo Pin". Like the Buckley song, it starts out slow and soft, then kicks into a harder rocking chorus with a different time signature. "The Taste" is really good once it gets going - it's just the verse/chorus struggle in the first half that makes it difficult to listen to. It will probably grow on me, but it's no "Mojo Pin."
Overall, I was impressed with this follow-up to "America Town," especially after a couple of listens. It's an album that is almost instantly likeable, and only grows on you with time. I will be among the first in line to buy the next Five For Fighting album. If "The Battle for Everything" is any indication, John Ondrasik is winning the war.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
"The Battle For Everything," the latest release from John Ondrasik, who dubs himself Five For Fighting, is more than excellent. Melodically, it's as smooth as silk while lyrically, it's touching and deep.
"100 Years," while definitely an excellent track, is awfully gloomy, especially for lead-single material. But the lyrics, sung in Ondrasik's deep, expressive voice, will compel listeners to sit back and contemplate: "15 there's still time for you/Time to buy and time to lose/15 there's never a wish better than this/When you've only got 100 years to live."
One thing instantly noticeable about the disc is that it's mood often changes greatly from song to song, making Ondrasik sound scattered. At the same time, this makes for a more interesting listening experience. Take for instance the fun-loving, upbeat "Angels and Girlfriends": "Angels never come for free/If you know what I know you know what I mean/You can love 'em now -- you can love 'em later/Girlfriends never fall for fun/They can tie you up make you come undone."
The disc becomes more bouncy as it continues, swapping the serious tracks near its start like the hooky "The Devil In the Wishing Well" for more lighthearted subject matter. A perfect example is "Infidel," which may make you wonder what medication Ondrasik was on while writing it.
"Disneyland," where in his dreams he flies through the stars like Peter Pan, cannot help but bring a smile to your face: "In my dream everybody's got a little house/A dog, a bank account managed by Mickey Mouse/And the only thing we fight about is the Lakers."
Everything balances out toward the end of the album, where introspective lyrics again take center stage on songs such as "One More For Love," which features excellent piano playing on behalf of the artist.
The epic "Nobody," which is a perfect song to close the album with, finds him stating that, though endings are never happy, it's the happy things along the way that make everything OK in the end.
That's certainly something worth pondering while you turn your CD player off.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I give this Five For Fighting CD 5 * stars * due to its excellent production. Lush strings hiding behind the acoustic guitars to create the mood of the beautifully haunting vocals.
The CD shines with the visions of the hard work that came in the creation of the CD. Flawless from start to finish. As the earlier reviews stated. John Ondrasik is the one similar to Jim Morrison making the bands music put a piece into the billboard landmark for music to influence the bands and poets to come.
There are two songs on here are destined to be hits on the charts:
1.) 11. One More For Love
Cascaded with the most beautiful piano work guaranteed to make the listener feeling the need for love and go hug someone. That is like a movie, when this is done you know your job is well done! Very romantic. ( One you will want on repeat ;)
2.) 4. 100 Years
Hauntingly beautiful melodies about the ages of the test of time that will bring visuals to the listener as they listen. Resulting in the feeling of happiness, thoughts of all special times we have shared throughout life.
The rest of the CD is pure art and should be on the top of your wanted list for great music for your collection.
Buy this CD! Let's all hope there will be a whole lot more to come this great thing <Five For Fighting>
Michael E. Luby, Jr.
MyPoetrySite.com
@~>->------
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2004
Format: Audio CD
On a recent road trip that took me across Iowa, we stopped at an outlet store mall for lunch somewhere near Des Moines. In a CD store there, I bought the Five for Fighting CD, I am a hockey fan, and remembered the name of the band after hearing one of the songs on one of the audio channels of the satellite (TeeVee) dish. I knew nothing about the band, or John Ondrasik. Driving across Iowa and Nebraska really gives you the time to sit and actually listen to a CD. I played the FFF CD a few times, and while I enjoyed it the first time I heard it all the way through, subsequent listenings just reinforced how much I liked it. Later, after googling FFF and Ondrasik, I realized just how much talent he has. This CD will definitely grow on you, I think there are a few weak tracks, but for the most part, the CD is entirely enjoyable and listenable. Definitely a good value. My faves: 100 Years (the first single), NYC Weather Report (unassuming harmonica), Dying (great piano and introspective lyrics), and of course Angels & Girlfriends. Go ahead - take a chance on this CD - you won't be disappointed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I'm a guy who was raised on James and Carly and Carol, and John Ondrasik makes them proud, both on his previous CD (you know the song "Superman" as a de facto unofficial 9-11 theme) and this one.

And yes, I sought out this CD after hearing the song "100 Years" on that Chase Manhattan Bank commercial, but all it took was a couple of listenings to erase the memory of that.

Great lyrics, beautiful orchestrations and vocal arrangements. Buy it for yourself and share it with your teenage kids. Maybe they'll learn that music isn't what they hear on their local Clear Channel station but instead a confluence of thoughts literal and tonal that speak to the heart.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2004
Format: Audio CD
this CD is pretty good, and it grows on you the more you listen to it. There are 6 good songs and 6 ok songs but none that are really bad. Here`s my review on ths songs.
1. NYC Weather Report: a nice slow, kinda relaxing song. not bad at all. 8/10
2. The Devil In The Wishing Well: this is one of the 6 ok songs, but not one of the good songs. 6.5/10
3. If God Made You: this one is a little boring, and not one of the better songs. my least favorite on the CD. 5/10
4. 100 Years: i`m sure everyone heard this song by now, and i`d say alot of people like it too. i do, it`s one of the best on the CD. 10/10
5. Angels & Girlfriends: this song is pretty good,i didn`t like it much at first but i do now. it`s a little different but in a good way. 7.5/10
6. Dying: this is one of the really good slow songs. very good music, singing, lyrics, everything is good about this song. 10/10
7. Infidel: very cool sound to this song, it`s a litte rocky and up beat. good song. 8.5/10
8. Disneyland: this song is ok, but not the best on the cd. A little boring. 6.5/10
9. Maybe I: this gotta be the best song on the CD, it`s just an awesome song all around, my favorite. 10/10
10. The Taste: the most up beat song on the CD, very different then all the other songs. pretty good, but not really his style. 7/10
11. One More For Love: another great song, one of my favorites for sure. 10/10
12. Nobody: a good song to end the CD, another one of his best and another one of my favorites. 9/10
good songs..
100 years
dying
infidel
maybe i
one more for love
nobody
and the other songs are ok, just not as good as the ones i just mentioned.
This CD was worth the money, Enjoy if you buy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2005
Format: Audio CD
While the album sounds a bit unpolished or unsure of itself in places, I really enjoy it. I'm listening to it at the moment, actually. ;)

Like many people I bought the album for the "100 years" track. I'd heard "Superman" but I never picked up the album (something I think I'll now do) so FFF was essentially new to me. I agree with whoever said it's an album that grows on you. At first I sort of half enjoyed it but thought it was more fluff than substance.

The more I listen to it the more I find this to be completely untrue. There's quite a bit of substance on some of the tracks. NYC Weather is a great piece to start the album. The following song, The Devil in the Wishing Well, is even better. I think that one's my favorite though it's hard to choose. I'm very fond of "100 years" as well. "The Taste" is probably the only song I'm not particularly fond of as it's a bit jarring, but that's ok.

Ondrasik's voice is great. The reviewer who doesn't like what he calls "whining" voices just needs to listen to... well, something else. ;) Voices that are high and break into falsetto are not new, either. That seems to be implied. Sting used to do that all the time with The Police, and that's just the first example that comes to mind.

Overall I really like the album and some of the tracks are amazing. It's worth buying for "100 Years" alone, but when you hear songs like "The Devil in the Wishing Well" you'll know you got your money's worth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
The vast majority of the performers today can hardly be called ARTISTS, so their work isn't art. That isn't true of Five For Fighting. I anticipate the Five for Fighting releases as much or more than those of anyone else, and THE BATTLE FOR EVERYTHING just could be the best yet. 12 tracks and they are all strong in their own way. The music is beautifully written, and the words are amazing. Imagine that, music where the WORDS are the focal point!...something that is lost in the heavy beat bed bass laden world of today's music.

The top song is without question the first release, 100 Years, but the other 11 are just as good. Songs like "Maybe I", "NYC Weather Report", "Dying", "One More For Love", and others worthy of playing time and time again.

Their best song will always be "Superman", but this album is certainly right on par with "America Town", if not better.

Five stars, and if I could give it more, I would. It's near perfect.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
John Ondrasik leads this CD with his piercing falsetto vocals. He constantly produces great lyrics and mixes in great piano. This CD is near flawless, and I play it quite often. Songs:

1. NYC Weather Report - (5/5) Great intro with the harmonica. Very peaceful start to the album which gets you into the mood of the rest of the album. It's an incredible song with a great chorus. Amazing start.

2. The Devil In The Wishing Well - (5/5) Again, nice chorus and great lyrics (as always). Hopeful ending.

3. If God Made You - (5/5) I would have to say that this is my favorite song on the CD. Incredible lyrics and easily the best chorus on the CD. Flawless song.

4. 100 Years - (5/5) The single on this CD, although they should've had more than just one. Encouraging message and profound lyrics. Great song.

5. Angels And Girlfriends - (5/5) More of a fun song than the last four, but still a great song. Again, a cool mixture of harmonica.

6. Dying - (5/5) Does the greatness of this CD ever end? Great lyrics along with the most passionate vocals on the album.

7. Infidel - (3/5) This is where the CD drops off a little. It's harder than all the other ones on the CD, but I just don't think his voice works very well on this one. This is the only one where his lyrics lack some as well. Not a bad song though.

8. Disneyland - (4/5) Just a fun and creative song. Fun to listen to.

9. Maybe I - (5/5) More good lyrics and great music.

10. The Taste - (4/5) When it gets to the chorus, it borderlines punk music. It was very different than the rest of the CD, but still pretty cool.

11. One More For Love - (5/5) Great song with more great lyrics.

12. Nobody - (5/5) A great song to end the CD on. Ondrasik again delivers some very passionate vocals. Easily one of the best on the CD. It recaps the CD by bringing in different parts of different songs. The last sentence leaves a very encouraging outlook.

Overall, definitely a CD you should own. This is amazing. A great performance all around.
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