Totally Hits

Various Artists

Arista Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Ever since the success of the present-day pop-hits collection Now, labels are starting to jump on the bandwagon and release their own compilations of songs you can, in some cases, still hear on the radio. This is by no means a new idea; they've been doing this in England for some time now. But labels seem to have always been worried about how these discs would affect sales of the albums the tracks are culled from.

In the case of the latest entry to the race, Totally Hits, the end result might be surprising. Of the 18 groups that are featured on this disc, my wife and I own all of two of the groups' albums. But I was so impressed with many of them that there's an excellent chance I'll be buying the full-length discs soon. This is, simply put, one helluva party disc.

First, one nit-picking point. Despite what the liner notes say, the version of Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" is not taken from the live my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Mirrorball disc. This one, in fact, is from Surfacing - which I like even better. 'Nuff said.

Some of the inclusions on this disc are a bit surprising - after all, Santana's "Smooth" is still riding pretty high on the charts, as is his album Supernatural. But seeing that this disc was released by Santana's present label, you can't not put this song on - and it does fit in well with the other selections.

Some of the tracks on Totally Hits surprised me. After hearing Monica's "Angel Of Mine," LFO's "Summer Girls" and Usher's "You Make Me Wanna...", I wondered why I hadn't been listening to these artists more often. (Never mind the fact that AlwaysJB beat me to Monica's The Boy Is Mine review by several months.) And while I might have heard these tracks once or twice as my wife channel-surfed the car radio on trips to the store, this was the first chance I really got to hear these songs one-on-one - and I loved what I heard.

Same goes for two artists whom I don't consider to be anywhere near my favorites. Whitney Houston turns in a respectable performance on "Heartbreak Hotel" (a track featuring Faith Evans and Kelly Price), while TLC impressed me with "No Scrubs," a track I admittedly had been avoiding thanks to the oversaturation of "Waterfalls" a few years ago. See? Even an old curmudgeon like me can say he's wrong about popular music. (Mark your calendars; this could be a first.)

There were only two artists who failed to impress me on first exposure. One was rapper Kid Rock, who sounded like desparately wanted to be Limp Bizkit or Korn - and just fell short with "Bawitdaba". The other was Deborah Cox, who just could not win me over with "Nobody's Supposed To Be Here". Still, that's not a bad average.

The upside of Totally Hits is that this disc has a lot of the music that will keep your parties going this holiday season. Whether you're grooving to Brandy ("Almost Doesn't Count") or Cher ("Believe") or you're slow dancing with 'N Sync ("(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You") or Faith Hill ("This Kiss"), this disc is, for the most part, a whole lot of fun, and correctly highlights some of the best popular music out there today. Pick it up - grab a few copies as holiday gifts for the family. After all, good times should be shared.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.