Now That’s What I Call 90s Pop

Various Artists

Sony, 2017

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/16/2017

If you grew up in the ’90s, you need this collection. Although, if you grew up in the ’90s, you pretty much know all these songs by heart anyway, but it still makes for a fun soundtrack for a game night or road trip or whatever people in our mid-30s with kids do for fun now.

The Now collections target either specific genres or time periods, so they’re fairly immune from the nitpicking that invariably follows any compilation. This ’90s pop collection is exactly what it says; there is no rock, no alternative, no hardcore rap, no electronica, no pop-country and, surprisingly, no diva balladry (probably for licensing reasons). This is simply what you would hear on your Top 40 radio station at any given snapshot during the decade.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Much of the collection is focused on pop-rap and R&B, with nods to the brief New Jack Swing era, boy bands, one-hit wonders, and the teenage-girl-popstar phenomenon from the tail end of the decade. These are the songs you heard on the radio, on TV shows and commercials and movies, the ones that everyone claims to hate and call cheesy yet were #1 hits for weeks on end. It may be a time capsule, but it’s an entertaining one, 18 songs that will take you back to a different time in your life.

I mean, how do you review a compilation that features “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It,” “…Baby One More Time,” “Genie In A Bottle,” and the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” not to mention “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Mmmbop,” “Step By Step,” and “All I Wanna Do?” These songs will survive the nuclear holocaust. They also represent the front end and back end of this disc. About the only thing missing is Smashmouth’s “All Star.”

In the middle are the R&B/rap/pop acts that defined the decade just as much as grunge and what was then called techno: TLC, Brandy and Monica (“The Boy Is Mine,” of course), En Vogue, Salt-N-Pepa, Boyz II Men (“Motownphilly,” a good choice), Bell Biv Devoe (“Poison”), Bobby Brown, Montell Jordan (“This Is How We Do It”) and, um, Wreckx-N-Effect (“Rump Shaker”). Again, hard to argue with these choices, although Brown’s “Humpin’ Around” is probably the weakest link here, even if it’s still a fun party tune. Plus, it’s followed by the original Jock Jam, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” so it’s hard to stay mad.

About the only thing missing that maybe should be here is Shania Twain, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, who were all over pop radio in the late ’90s, though given the fun party vibe of the disc the latter two may not have been the best fit. No matter. In capturing the sound and spirit of a particular era, this disc does it job admirably, and anyone who liked pop radio in the ’90s will get a lot out of this disc, ironically or not.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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