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The Pros and Cons of Hithiking: the not-so-greatest hit collections

November 23, 2009

So I know we decided to call this a celebration and despite The Annie Lennox Collection, riding high in the charts, we should also be feeling sorry for hits albums because apparently it’s a dying formula. The advent of mp3 downloads making back catalogues available song-by-song has led to a veritable pick n’ mix attitude to slowly take over and before long, hits records will be banished to musical no-man’s land along with the Zavvi in Piccadilly Circus, CD singles and audiophiles.

But my up-until-recent vendetta against these best-ofs hasn’t been without reason. For one, I consider myself a mild completist; the long-standing arch nemeses of the hits album that’s already wallowing in no-man’s land. So when you already own everything the artists of your affection have released, a cheeky compilation album with one new track is just a nuisance. The whiz kid marketing strategist who started that behaviour is on my hit-list.

Then there are those too quick to release their greatest hits, like throw-away reality stars who ‘write’ autobiographies when they’re not even past their quarter-life crisis.

There are so many factors to a bad greatest hits albums that I thought I would compile a list [did I mention my penchant for lists?] of the worst offenders: the infuriating, the unnecessary and the unworthy can all be found below.

D’Angelo: The Best So Far

“Hey guys, D here. James River will be out soon, I promise. But in the meantime buy this compilation of the measly two albums I’ve managed to release within the last 16 years…oh and I threw in a few random songs so you wouldn’t get too mad at me for this bullshit.”

Call it what you like D, this ‘best so far’ is dick-teasing crap. If I have to record your third album myself…

ABBA: Gold

Yes, ABBA are entitled to a hits compilation considering the ridiculous amount of popular tunes they have. But when there are so many ABBA collections, albeit under different guises, that you could build a small city out of them then I object. Imagining that city gives me the shivers. It would be like a never-ending hen party in polyester flares.

The Boomtown Rats: The Best Of

Who are these dudes kidding? I’m pretty sure they only released one song; six albums must be a figment of Geldof’s imagination. So apparently ‘Rat Trap’ also went to number one but even if it did, there is no excuse for the amount of Boomtown Rats’ hit compilations that this Best Of is just one example of.

Spin Doctors: The Best Of

If you’re consistently showing up on one hit wonder collections, you’re probably not entitled to a Best Of.  And it’s not even like the Spin Doctors were this really great band that we should’ve discovered more of. ‘She Used to Be Mine’ or ‘Cleopatra’s Cat’ aren’t bad but they’re not ‘Two Princes’, so we’re inclined not to care.

Fugees: Greatest Hits

If this album is in your collection, you are not only lazy but also the biggest false economist on the block. The Fugees only released two albums, and a quick gander on Amazon has informed me that you can buy both of them for less than this farcical compilation. This is one of the sickest hip hop outfits from the 90s, go the extra mile.

Shakespear’s Sister: The Best Of

Three albums, only one that produced anything hit-worthy and yet they still feel the need to compile. Maybe life is too precious to waste it figuring out what could be considered Shakespear’s best, or not?. We could’ve donated the time to worthy causes like ending world poverty or curing cancer. Because if anyone is still hampering to hear ‘Stay’ they can buy Hormonally Yours and then regret it afterwards.

New Kids on the Block: Greatest Hits

For the cover alone, this album gets full marks: the music notation cardigan, the pseudo-quiffs and stonewashed jeans; just brilliant. But re-re-re-releases are like that boy who cried wolf; one day we just won’t listen anymore.

Creed: Greatest Hits

Let’s just be bold: Creed are pretty awful. The affectations of Scott Stapp’s singing voice and the sameness of all their music make for pretty dire listening. And there’s only a handful of bands that can get away with the amount of sickly, power guitar solos that Creed sneak in at every opportunity. Didn’t Poison even copyright that shit?

Vanilla Ice: The Best Of

The theme seems to be that if you know you’re not worthy of having a greatest hits album you call it a Best Of. Don’t be fooled by this, I know it makes you feel like you’re missing out on some of Vanilla’s bests, like really he was a genius with hidden hip hop classics. But, trust me, you’re not.

Blue: Best Of

Their biggest hit is a bad cover of another song and their three albums were all released over three consecutive years, so we’re pretty sure they were not in it for the art. But so as to not scapegoat Blue when so many countless pop acts are guilty of this quick release crime, here are a few other offenders: Jason Donovan, Hilary Duff, Five and Atomic Kitten.

[Originally published in PUB.lication: The Greatest Hits Issue]

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