There is something deceptive about the title of Platinum Hits 2000, a 17-track hits package compiled by Columbia Records. First of all, Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” is featured, although it most certainly did not come out in 2000; remember how old it already seemed by the time she scooped up Grammys for it? Secondly, if this is a compilation of “platinum hits”, why do we get Ricky Martin singing “Maria” instead of “Livin’ la Vida Loca”? Thirdly in the list of puzzles this collection presents, why are the Destiny’s Child and Jessica Simpson tracks re-mixed almost beyond recognition; shouldn’t the hits be presented in the form that made them hits?
As with the question of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know. All questions of content choice aside, however, Platinum Hits 2000 is a fairly enjoyable overview of popular music at the end of the twentieth century. In their most sanitized, inoffensive forms, we get independent-minded female R&B (Destiny’s Child and Blaque); rap (Hill, Smith, and Lil Bow Wow); alternative (Shawn Mullins); teen pop (Simpson); and Latin-type schmaltz (Marc Anthony and Son by 4). By far the most laughable track is the R&B-type schmaltz entry, Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married”. To this listener’s ears, it sounds like the modern version of one of Prince’s cheesy early ‘80s ballads, except Prince was so much cooler he would rather pretend to be married.
Thank God the compilers bypassed the ballads when it came to Ricky Martin. On dance-oriented tracks like the inclusion “Maria (Spanglish Radio Edit)”, Martin seems more lively than on his ballads, probably because up-tempo songs showcase his charisma as a performer rather than his so-so voice. When he sings in Spanish, as he occasionally does here, his voice takes on a smarmy quality that seems to say, “I may not be the best, but I sure am fun, aren’t I?” Indeed you are, Ricky.
Another standout is Madison Avenue’s “Don’t Call Me Baby”, unapologetic dance music of the sort Madonna made when she had no shame. The female singer issues as strong a warning against loving her as her thin voice permits: “Don’t underestimate me boy / I’ll make you sorry you were born”; “I belong to me / So don’t call me baby”.
Like those great K-tel releases of the ‘70s and ‘80s, this is music for pajama parties. None of the songs on Platinum Hits 2000 are likely to leave a lasting impression on the musical landscape, but the target audience of this disc, presumably casual fans of mainstream pop, won’t care.
// Notes from the Road
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