Something that occurred to me while doing my usual browse recently is how compilations, usually the spawn of Polygram TV, have started really digging deep to fill out two CD's worth of barely on-message themed hits. With that in mind, here's your buyer's guide to the current top ten compilation chart, and moreover what people buying them for the obvious are being introduced to:
1 Hairbrush Divas Presents Sing-a-long Summer
TARGET AUDIENCE : Either apprentice pop kids or girls on a night out they hope will turn up on a Sky One docusoap. Three CDs!
COME FOR : Take A Chance On Me, I'm Every Woman, Crazy In Love, Fame... christ, their idea of filler is La Bamba
BE PRESENTED WITH : The Liberty/Richard battle of the Xs, Le Freak (original title: Fuck Studio 54) and that Box favourite, Long Train Running
2 The Bands 05 II
TARGET AUDIENCE : People too young for Shine
COME FOR : Speed Of Sound, Wires, Feel Good Inc, Shot You Down, Golden Touch, Dakota
BE PRESENTED WITH : Morning Runner and Clor test the average listener to see how far they can get into the slower CD2, having already hit them with Karma Police followed by KT Tunstall
3 Driving Rock Ballads
TARGET AUDIENCE : Your lorry driving soundtrack. What is a driving ballad anyway?
COME FOR : I Drove All Night - ooh, cheers - Don't Fear The Reaper, the usual Richard Allinson selection CD2 starts with Whitesnake, Boston and Yes, but who's going to be willingly found listening to T'Pau or John Waite while driving? As for Mike And The Mechanics...
BE PRESENTED WITH : REM's Don't Go Back To Rockville, the Raspberries and Half The World Away, surely more of a song for sitting under a verandah looking wistful
4 Clubbers Guide Summer 2005
TARGET AUDIENCE : Those who believe in Ayia Napa. Pete Tong should be warming up his vocal chords for hundreds of similarly themed album advert VOs as you read this. A lady nearly shows her breasts on the cover, as expected
COME FOR : The CDs start with the Owner Of A Lonely Heart and Why? reworkings, the former following that with the I See Girls cover while Star To Fall is track 5, which kind of sums up where dance music stands now. There's a sodding Pump Up The Jam remix!
BE PRESENTED WITH : We Interrupt This Program by Coburn, which sounds intriguing. Fatboy Slim remixed by Jupiter Ace, too. We hope Made Of Stone by Dario G isn't a Stone Roses cover
5 Dad Rocks
TARGET AUDIENCE : Wasn't Father's Day last week?
COME FOR : Well, my dad likes Jim Reeves, but cliche has it that he should actually like We Will Rock You, All Right Now, Since You've Been Gone, ZZ Top and them bloody Mechanics
BE PRESENTED WITH : Even this first disc of all the loose talents digs out Silver Machine and Paranoid, counter-cultural not that many years ago, while disc 2 goes mad with Road To Nowhere, The Passenger, Brass In Pocket, Oliver's Army, Eton Rifles, Song 2 (track 6), the Buzzcocks' Promises and, who knows under what logic, EMF
6 Happy Songs
TARGET AUDIENCE : Twenty reworkings of Quickspace's best known song. Not really, an attempt at aural Prozac with a cover that's styled, for some reason, on the Bridget Jones film posters. Described by an Amazon reviewer as "absolutely fabby"
COME FOR : Happy seems to be a subjective feeling - does Ronan Keating make you happy? Brown Eyed Girl's presence suggests it doesn't necessarily apply to the artist. Shaggy's version of In The Summertime is here instead of Mungo Jerry's - jug player allergy?
BE PRESENTED WITH : In a field of relentless touring speaker-style positivism it's just best to surrender to the acknowleged gems of studio work - Good Vibrations, Happy Together, Higher And Higher etc. Plus Make Me Smile, half of which isn't positive at all, Osibisa, a rare occcurence, and House Of Fun, which is about buying condoms
7 Ultimate 70's Pop
TARGET AUDIENCE : Dave Haslam-baiting three CDs of mass-produced pop schlop with A Question Of Sport-styled line divided cover lettering
COME FOR : The ABBA track is SOS, thank god, not Dancing Queen or Take A Chance On Me. Bye Bye Baby opens, Annie's Song closes
BE PRESENTED WITH : The world's tallest dwarfs, given this appears to just be the playlist of a Gold FM station that probably simulcasts whenever DLT is presenting now. When did you last hear ELO's Roll Over Beethoven?
8 Massive R&B
TARGET AUDIENCE : Ho's in low riders. Cover shot is just a picture of a woman looking a bit fierce
COME FOR : Massive R&B. Akon kicks us off, Ashanti, Ja Rule, Kanye, Black Eyed Peazzzzz... oh look, Crazy In Love
BE PRESENTED WITH : The actually remarkable rhythm track of Drop It Like It's Hot is as close to a surprise you're going to get, bar a random appearance by De La Soul and someone called Malik Yusef (feat. Kanye West & Common, obviously)
9 Pop Jr
TARGET AUDIENCE : Not the Minipops covering Freak Scene, but the spinoff of the pop for pre-secondary school channel somewhere around the 620s on Sky
COME FOR : Aqua, Bob The Builder, Hi 5, Busted's Thunderbirds Are Go (also The Reason Why Nobody's Still Playing Fightstar), Vengaboys, Fast Food Rockers, even the Nick Jr Lunch Time Song. Plus McFly and Sugababes for the older kids
BE PRESENTED WITH : Amarillo? For kids? Schnappi Da Kleine Krokodil is brave given it's the spin-off from a German ringtones commercial we haven't had here, while I wonder who's really going to connect with the Archies' Sugar Sugar. Most of all, though, hats off for Engie Benjy Engine Man, the theme to the ITV series by, and still sounding like, the Clint Boon Experience
10 Tidy Euphoria
TARGET AUDIENCE : Not a home cleaning trance diva service but the Tidy Trax vresion of the longrunning dance mix series
COME FOR : Hard trance, as a rule
BE PRESENTED WITH : I've never heard of anything on this, so if you like Lee Haslam's deck skills you're in luck. Tell you what, let's sneak number 11 in here...
11 The New Indie
TARGET AUDIENCE : Ah, I feel right at home with this whitebread sub-The Bands deal subtitled Alive And Amplified despite the fact that record did nothing in the charts
COME FOR : Oh My God, Somewhere Else, Killamanjiro, Hounds Of Love completing the double, Mr Brightside, Honest Mistake plus loose Snow Patrol and Keane
BE PRESENTED WITH : For some reason there's a second CD of eight tracks not listed on the reverse tracklisting, which include Joy Zipper, Duke Spirit and six bands you needn't care about. The main tracklisting sneaks the Engineers and Black Velvets in, but also exciting new music in the shape of the Kills, which actually makes it more entertaining than Carl Barat's new Under The Influence mixtape.