Now That's What I Call Music Volume 25

Various Artists

Universal, 2007

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/05/2007

Collecting 20 of today's hottest artists, this compilation serves as an introduction to genres you may not normally investigate. Rap, punk, country and rock are all represented and you can pick and choose which genres appeal to you. Some hits and misses definitely, but there are only a couple of tracks that made me shrug my shoulders and think "How did this guy get a recording contract?"

The unbearable Elliott Yamin track "Wait For You" is one. Starting out with Bruce Hornsby-ish piano, the song collapses onto itself in a sappy "life sucks without you" affair we've all heard before. This time, the lyrics and music are gratingly annoying and the uncompelling lyrics "I know it's a lot what you keep inside / This is not how you want it to be" don't help the situation. Equally unbearable is the Mims contribution "Like This." Epitimizing everything wrong with rap music, the song seems to be about being at a strip club and taking a stripper home. The chorus is stupid as he asks repetitively "Do you want it like this? Like this? Like this?" I expect more intelligent lyrics, even from Top 40.

Fortunately, the bands that break the mold of this drivel overpower this collection. Fall Out Boy kicks off with their aggressive emo punk track "Thanks fr the Mmrs" and Avril Lavigne follows with her rocker "Girlfriend." This track's intro, perhaps intentionally, borrows the drumbeat from Toni Basil's "Mickey" but then shifts through some different musical themes for a truly satisfying effort. Gwen Stefani's "The Sweet Escape" took a couple of listens to get used to but, ultimately, her voice still is compelling. nbtc__dv_250

I had never heard a Pink song, so "U + Ur Hand" was my initiation to her material. Her lyrics are delivered with conviction when she sings "I'm not here for your entertainment / You don't really want to mess with me tonight / Just stop and take a second / I was fine until you walked into my life." The song is about going out to a club and getting over a previous beau, set to a good beat.

Artists like Fergie ("Glamourous"), T-Pain ("Because of You"), Huey ("Pop, Lock & Drop It") and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony ("I Tried") were all new to me, since I don't listen to Top 40. Of this quartet, I was impressed with the lyrics of "I Tried," which takes on the speaker's life when he sings "Lord, would you help me? And stop this pain / I keep inflictin' on my family (family) / Hustlin' and gamblin', drinkin' and scramblin' / And losin sight of what I supposed to be handlin' / It's hard to manage cause every days a challenge and man / And I'm slippin' can't lose my balance and tryin not to panic." These lyrics are delivered in a compelling tone and with honesty, making this the highlight, which surprised me as a metal fan. I'm white, married, have two kids and my lifestyle has nothing to do with what the speaker is describing. Yet, the struggle to keep on track is universal.

The compilation concludes with a strong tracks from Kelly Clarkson ("Never Again"), Boys Like Girls ("The Great Escape"), Keith Urban ("I Told You So"), Carrie Underwood ("Before He Cheats") and Daughtry ("Home"). The compilation is too safe by including "Home." This is one of the weaker tracks from Daughtry's debut but serves as a useful introduction to his material.

In all, this is a decent compilation. If you tend to listen to only one genre, as I do, you can get a sampling of current hits from the other genres out there. I'm not rushing out to buy a release from any of the bands on this release, but if you are impressed with what you hear from their contribution, you might want to investigate them more fully.

Rating: B-

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