Various - Now Number 1s

This collection brings together three decades' (if 'the noughties' can be considered a full ten years) worth of massive number ones and, for that reason alone, is worth a look.

The first disc is a celebration of the 80s, and it's no surprise that some gloriously cheesy offerings are correct and present. KC & The Sunshine Band deliver the ultimate feel-good tune Give It Up but other hits from Wham!, Billy Joel and Black Box make this CD the perfect warm-up if you're getting ready to go out to a retro club night! Pop poppet Kylie contributes Hand on Your Heart, recently acoustified by dull-as-dishwater Jose Gonzales, so it's good to hear it in its original form. However, with the likes of Rick Astley and Lionel Richie's Hello sharing disc space, you might argue there's only so much cheesy pop one can take. Thankfully, 'mature pop' from The Police and Lisa Stansfield helps balance things out.

CD 2 is dedicated to the movers and shakers of the 90s, and the term 'mixed bag' seems to have been invented to describe it. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have Ronan Keating and Boyzone appearing on one disc deserves to die painfully - alternatively, they should be made to purchase medication for my damaged ears. Songs (I use the term loosely) from Aqua, Shaggy and Wet Wet Wet aren't much better, and the inclusion of Chesney Hawkes' The One and Only is only worthy due to its giggle factor. Mediocre pop generally abounds but Oasis add some rock'n'roll flavour and Shakespears Sister offer up the beautiful Stay. Meanwhile, the two biggest girl bands of the decade fight it out, All Saints' soulful Never Ever taking on the guilty pop pleasure of Spice Girls' Who Do You Think You Are?.

The final CD brings us up to date with hits from the here and now, 'the noughties', an odd decision seeing as it's a decade that's only in its sixth year. Thankfully, there's no Crazy Frog or Bob the Builder to offend the ears but this doesn't stop some equally awful stuff finding its way on here. Westlife offer up one of their whiney slowies, done-to-death Tony Christie is still riding on the back of Peter Kay, and the likes of Busted and Orson are at hand to provide some frankly irritating pop/rock. There are enough reasons to smile though, Lily Allen's breakthrough hit certainly not being the least. Futuristic sci-fi pop from the likes of Nelly Furtado and Girls Aloud will get you grooving while Gorillaz's DARE and cuts from Modjo and Sonique are sure to remain dancefloor classics for quite some time. And who can forget Beyonce's massive Crazy in Love? It's here, and it's essential as ever.

For such an ambitious boxset, it's a shame that a lot of lacklustre hits have been chosen. Where's Madonna, Blur, Gnarls Barkley et al? It's pretty good value for money though, and sometimes crap songs make family Christmas do's, the kind of which this compilation is obviously aiming to soundtrack.

Overall

6

out of 10
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