Why is Lenny Kravitz’ 5 on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Kravitz doing funk rock and hippie rock-for-the-‘90s pushes 5 into my best 1,000.
What does Lenny Kravitz’ 5 mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I’m going to make a potentially controversial statement here, what the kids might call a hot take: Lenny Kravitz is like Tom Cruise.
What the heck does that mean, you ask? Great question, and thanks for asking. When I think about Tom Cruise, I usually don’t associate him with art that I particularly love. Maybe it’s something to do with his persona, or simply that he’s churned out a ton of movies over the years, and not all of them are particularly great (see, in recent years: Jack Reacher and whatever sequels there were, Mission: Impossible and the zillionth sequel to that – I bailed after maybe the first or second, which were decent, American Made, The Mummy, etc.).
But then when I really dig in, there’s actually a huge number of movies and performances of his that are pretty spectacular: Edge of Tomorrow is one of my favorite sci-fi movies of recent years, for example. I thought his comedic performances in films like Rock of Ages and Tropic Thunder were inspired and genuinely funny. Valkyrie is a surprisingly strong deep cut, especially for World War II buffs like myself. And I’ve been saying for more than twenty years that Vanilla Sky is one of the more criminally underrated movies of our time.
And that’s just this century. But let’s head over to Lenny Kravitz. While it’s not the cleanest analogy, I have similar feelings about Lenny Kravitz. I’m just not a huge fan of some of his most popular and radio friendly numbers. His cover of The Guess Who’s “American Woman,” off this very album, is one of them!
But when I dig into his catalog, he’s got an immense and varied number of songs and albums that hold up extremely well overall. Let’s dive in.
“Fly Away” is very radio friendly and was a smash hit in the late 1990s, but it hits the sweet spot of being highly accessible and catchy rock that’s genuinely catchy and genuinely rocks. Also: it doesn’t hurt to listen to it fresh after the overplay it received back in the day… days when I listened to terrestrial radio and watched MTV and was therefore inundated with Lenny.
It is interesting, given my thoughts on this song, that the video denotes Kravitz playing in front of super hipster crowds who are partying down in a marvelously covid-free and youth-type party-it-up-environ. But I suppose his playing to middle aged shoppers at a mall in Topeka might not, well, fly away quite as well. (Though perhaps it would have worked rather well in terms of irony!)
“Live” works really well for me if for no other reason it shows off Kravitz’ real facility to create a funk-rock riff as a guitarist and craft a song that further utilizes his talents as a vocalist as well.
While the ballad-y number, “I Belong To You,” is quite nice, I prefer the hippie rock-for-the-‘90s “Can We Find A Reason,” which harkens to some of my favorite Kravitz songs off his outstanding album, Are You Gonna Go My Way.
Some stats & info about Lenny Kravitz – 5
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Pop Music, Funk Rock
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 2.5 out of 5 stars
- When was 5 released? 1998
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #861 out of 1,000
Lenny Kravitz’ 5 on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.