Drive Time Anthems

Whereas previous drive-time compilations have tended to rely on '70s guitar classics or pulsating bass-heavy dance anthems, this latest Sony Music collection instead consists of tracks that appear to have been plucked from the playlist of a typical hen night disco. Indeed, with its mixture of recent chart singles and rather random older hits, the whole theme of the album seems very tenuous indeed. The punk-power pop of the Wannadies' "You and Me Song," hypnotic breakbeats of Groove Armada's "I See You Baby," and Alphabeat's uplifting High School Musical-esque "Fascination" may sound tailor-made for listening to while cruising down the open road on a scorching summer's day. But the inclusion of ballads like Will Young's "Leave Right Now" and Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" seems designed to send people to sleep, not exactly the ideal intention of a driving album. Of the more contemporary hits, Girls Aloud's '60s girl group pastiche "The Promise" and the Fray's ubiquitous epic "How to Save a Life" are the standouts, but several songs by Alesha Dixon, the Script, and Kelly Clarkson can be found on the latest Now compilation, meaning it's up to the older tracks to give the album its identity. Unfortunately, the songs collected from the '70s, '80s, and '90s are just as unimaginative. While it's always a joy to hear the breezy guitar pop of the Bangles' "Manic Monday," Natalie Imbruglia's near-perfect "Torn," and Jamiroquai's effortlessly funky "Virtual Insanity," does anyone need to hear Bonnie Tyler's overplayed "Total Eclipse of the Heart" ever again? Likewise with disco anthems "I Will Survive" and "It's Raining Men," ABBA's "Dancing Queen," and Dolly Parton's "9 to 5," all of which can be found on countless other compilations. Overall, it's hard to see why anyone would buy Drive Time Anthems when the majority of its tracks can be heard on pretty much any commercial radio station on any given day. ~ Jon O'Brien

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