Various - R&B - the Collection 2007
If you've entered a record shop in the last month looking for that perfect CD to place beneath the tree for a loved one, no doubt you'll have encountered a number of pointless and uninspired compilations along your way. If, however, the person you're buying for is an unfussy fan of chart R 'n' B, you'll be able to tick another item off your list.
Featuring a number of glossy American stars and singles that have bothered the charts lately, as well as some 'classics' from the last ten years, these two discs aren't likely to excite those who despise over-produced urban fare. Rihanna, Nicole Sherzinger and Fergie's mawkish ballads make Mary J. Blige's No More Drama sound peerless in comparison. Unsurprisingly, Timbaland's fingerprints are all over this, his once-fresh sound beginning to wear thin, while Will.i.am's increasing production duties are showcased on tracks from Nas and his own Black-Eyed Peas. The spirit of early noughties garage is resurrected on the guilty pleasure hit Heartbroken from T2, while cuts from innovators like Pharoahe Monch and Kanye West make the trivial Pussycat Dolls and The Game bearable. Meanwhile, Lily Allen's cameo on Common's Drivin' Me Wild is refreshing amidst a lineup of US acts.
Throw this CD at the wall, and only a few of the contributions will stick as the rest rain down amongst shattered pieces of plastic CD case. It might make do as background music to your chav mate's Crimbo house party but it is sorely lacking the edge it needs to have crossover appeal. Where's Kelis when you need her?