Now 50
By Various Artists, pop (2001)
EMI, ASIN B00005QZWI


Ah, this is indeed a celebration of Britain's more memorable UK hits of the later half of 2001. There are 44 tracks in two CDs, all filled with crowd pleasers. I confess though, I bought this compilation for one reason only: Brit screen thespian Kate Winslet's beautiful Christmas single What If.

Hey, Winslet is no Jennifer Lopez (also on this compilation) - she is a trained classical singer, so she can actually carry off the song beautifully! What If, taken from the cartoon adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, is a simple ballad that showcases Winslet's actually emotionally charged delivery. I love it, really, maybe because of the cheesy but effective lyrics (a woman who goes all wistful over a lost chance with an ex), the simple yet dramatic melodic arrangements (those strings!), or the plaintively delivered high notes that make me ache. Whatever it is, there is this strange tendency of mine to put this track on auto replay until everyone in the house just has to scream at me to stop tormenting him or her with Winslet-itis.

Well, what else is there? Dancefloor ravers who want to recreate the latest bareback party orgy in their bedroom can always dance to fabbo tracks by DJ Otzi, iio, Superman Lovers, and Daft Punk. Somewhere in between is Kylie Minogue and her overplayed but very good Can't Get You Out Of My Head. Don't quote me, but Bob The Builder's G-rated readaptation and improvisation of Lou Bega's Mambo Number 5 ("A little bit of fixing, a little bit of hammering...") is pretty cute too.

I worry myself sometimes because I actually like all these heavy bassline-and-synth dance tunes. Seriously, it is just not right, and there must be a cosmic rule about the inappropriateness of me liking these meaningless, tuneless rara tunes... oh what the heck, DJ Otzi rules!

Rock and heavy acid fans can hammer their heads against the wall until they bleed - The Dandy Warhols and Sum 41 are like nails on blackboard. Beautiful. Nothing beats Alien Ant Farm's delicious heavy acid version of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, but Wheatus wimps out a lot with their cover of Erasure's A Little Respect. For the latter, it's a good joke, but seriously, no one touches Erasure and gets away with it.

And yes, I worry, but I love all those heavy acid tunes too.

For the snobby, serious alternative fans, hey, Travis is here, although I think Sing is the least of their best efforts. Still, it hit the charts in 2001 so here it is.

As for rap and R&B afficiandos, there are various spectrums of selections here. There's nasty (D12) to groovy (Bootylicious by Destiny Child - shake your jellies, people!) to soulful (Gabrielle and Mary J Blige - both just amazing) to swinging (Eve and Gwen Stefani's fabulous Let Me Blow Ya Mind) to pure pop (Mis-Teeq, Samantha Mumba). Best tracks are Afroman's oh-so-cute Because I Got High and Wyclef Jean's corny but effective Perfect Gentleman, which is the sweetest respect-your-woman track I have heard since Outkast's Miss Jackson. Just vile is City High's obnoxiously preachy What Would You Do?.

Oh, and there're Britney, Westlife, Steps, Liberty, Allstars, Five, and Blue for the teenyboppers. Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, and Victoria Beckham complete the bog of mediocre commercialization, although I must say I am fond of Blue's If You Come Back and Britney's I'm A Slave 4 U.

Those into lounge/bistro cool java types (yes, you Lenny Kravitz fans you) can sip their stuff to Lighthouse Family's comeback hit Free, which samples U2's AIDS-awareness single One, and Jamiroquai's Little L. Yes, Jamiroquai still sounds as if they are playing the same song again and again for the blasted countless times.

Anyway, this album is pretty nifty. There's something for every pop fan in me, and all I can say is, well, people, let's strike a pose and do a Destiny's Child (okay, let's pretend we never have celluloid) - "I don't think you're ready for this jelly, my body's too bottylicious for ya babe!"

Amen.

Rating: 88


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