Now That's What I Call Music! 24

The 24th volume of the Now series predictably relegates the rock selections to the closing third of the program, and that sequence predictably includes the likes of Nickelback (who make their fourth straight appearance, with "If Eveyone Cared") and the All-American Rejects (who make their third appearance since Now, Vol. 21, with "It Ends Tonight"). Newcomers DAUGHTRY appear as the less grizzled, more hungry version of the former, while the Fray's "How to Save a Life" -- which, at the time of this disc's release, was on the brink of being on the Billboard Hot 100 for a full year -- is finally part of the series. The first two-thirds of the disc is another shuffled deck, and the fact that none of the headliners is an MC reflects rap's slide from the top of the singles chart. Ciara's steamy "Promise" and Omarion's frigid "Ice Box" (which out-emos any emo included on past volumes) represent the best pop-oriented R&B of the past several years. The real standout, above all, is Lily Allen's "Smile," an irresistible kiss-off that would make perfect sense at the top of the charts in the middle of summer. Unfortunately, it peaked before spring thaw. ~ Andy Kellman

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