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September 02, 2006|CASEY DOLAN

Surfing the Web for new music, video and MP3 downloads can be a serious time investment. Picks from Times staff and contributors will help take the drag out of click-and-drag music choices. Some downloads may contain explicit lyrics. All are free, except as noted.

-- CASEY DOLAN

"When the Deal Goes Down"

Bob Dylan

music.aol.com/franchise/firstview/b

Scarlett Johansson, the overwhelming focus of this video, appears as a Midwestern girl (with Minnesota plates on the car) or perhaps a young newlywed in a late '50s home movie. Dylan's song is a nostalgic throwback to the sentiments of a Lefty Frizzell or Willie Nelson (whom he sounds very close to). It is an expression of love and devotion. Signposts to his musical past are referenced -- Woody Guthrie, Buddy Holly, Hank Williams. At one point, Johansson is fascinated by a manatee in an aquarium that seems as fascinated by her. Is the manatee just Dylan agog at Johansson?

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"Chemicals React (Simlish Version)"

Aly & AJ

music.yahoo.com/musicvideos/lists/new.asp

You think you know the musical avant-garde? Micronality? Musique concrete? Forget it. This is the true avant-garde: an innocuous power pop song by a female duo aimed for the tween market in an animated video and sung in a language that does not exist, has no intrinsic meaning and is used as pure sound. Unlike Tolkien's Elvish, which had a lexicon and grammar befitting its inventor's genius in Anglo-Saxon linguistics, Simlish is a language built on sound expressing emotion. It is used in Maxis' Sim series of video games. The video looks at scenes in a teen couple's courtship, given sung commentary by the animated versions of Aly & AJ.

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casey.dolan@latimes.com

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