Released on May 12, 1998.

Lenny Kravitz 5 just turned 25. So what better time to give it another spin and decide if it’s as good (or bad) as we remember.


I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I’m the guy who keeps tabs on all the big rock & roll birthdays and album anniversaries here on ROCK. I gather them loosely under the Today in Boston ROCK umbrella. Second, I’m a huge fan of Philly rocker and YouTube star Pat Finnerty and his What Makes This Song Stink series of videos. The videos are pretty straightforward and absolutely hilarious. Pat takes a song you we all know and tells us why it stinks. And dammit, he’s pretty much always right.


The fifth episode in the series, released in late 2021, is called The Kravitz Bowl. In the video, Pat pulls out all the stops, creating a 50-minute saga that plays out like a Super Bowl game. “Fly Away” vs. Lenny’s cover of “American Woman.” The winner (loser?) is given the What Makes This Song Stink version of the Lombardi trophy. I’ll post the video below so you can check it out, but watching it got me thinking: those are the two biggest singles from Lenny’s 5 album. And they both stink? Does the whole album stink, too?


Revisiting Lenny Kravitz 5 to Decide if It Stinks or Not

To mark 25 years of Lenny’s big-time crossover album, I went back and gave it a spin. I have to agree with Pat that both the “American Woman” cover and “Fly Away” stink. I’d become numb to both songs after two-and-a-half decades of playing them on the radio, but Pat’s breakdowns of each are accurate, I think. That’s the weird thing about being on the radio for a living. It changes the way you hear certain songs.


As for the rest of the album? It’s not a complete loss. 5 yielded SIX singles, released over the span of ’98 and ’99. The album’s first single, “If You Can’t Say No,” might be a Top 10 all-time Kravitz bop. And the leadoff cut “Live”–co-written by Lenny’s axeman Craig Ross–is strong as an opening salvo. All in all, the album floats along pretty well, buoyed by the strength of the singles. And yes, one of those singles is “American Woman.” But it’s technically not on the original album; it was added to the 1999 re-release.


I shared the singles below so you can revisit, too. And threw in Pat’s Kravitz Bowl video. Make sure you check that out, too. He’s no Beato, but Pat’s pretty damn good at the whole YouTube thing.

  • "If You Can't Say No"

    A big think that record labels used to do back in the day (that some still do today) is to release a single before the album came out. You know, to let fans know a new album was coming from an artist they like. That’s this single.

  • "Thinking Of You"

    “Damn, Lenny cut his hair!” It was a big deal back in the late ’90s.

  • "I Belong To You"

    How they released three singles BEFORE “Fly Away” is beyond me.

  • "Fly Away"

    Actually, maybe keeping this one in the back pocket was the smart move. Released roughly six month after the album dropped, right before the holiday season. Get those sales back up.

  • "American Woman"

    This song stinks.

  • "Black Velveteen"

    Record Executive: “Damn, those last to Lenny singles were SMASHES. Let’s try to squeeze a few more drops out of this album.”

  • What Makes This Song Stink Ep. 5 - The Kravitz Bowl

    Pat does not stink.

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