Contemporary Pop

As both promotion for and celebration of the upcoming 50th year of the Grammy Awards, Shout! Factory and The Recording Academy are releasing a seven-disc collection of Grammy-winning music. One of the first two released, Contemporary Pop is already on the market. Spanning the last 14 years, and covering such categories as Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal, Best Dance Recording, and Best New Artist, these 16 songs, beginning with k.d. lang’s 1992 hit “Constant Craving” and wrapping up with John Mayer’s 2006 “Gravity,” successfully hits the high points of Contemporary Pop.

Though “pop” has always been a vague and far-reaching genre of music, there’s a surprising range of performers in this compilation. What’s less surprising, though, is that every song is immediately recognizable, even if the artists themselves aren’t. Even the less ubiquitous artists (The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Shawn Colvin, Macy Gray, Los Lonely Boys) are still very successful and familiar musicians. Popular household names such as Eric Clapton, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Norah Jones are also included.

What is there to say about a collection of such monstrous hits? It’s obvious that there’s a reason each of these songs is included on this album: in the liner note words of music impresario Quincy Jones, “These are B-A-A-A-D-D songs.” With breakout hits such as Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” and Los Lonely Boys’ “Heaven” playing along with singles from long lines of hits, like Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” and Madonna’s “Ray of Light,” the compilers have managed a clever mix of first-timers and old familiars. 

To once again quote Quincy Jones from the liner notes: “Grammy songs are our shared history. They are the songs that remind us of the places and people that matter.” This is where he’s right on the money. Though not necessarily the best music from the last 15 years, there’s no doubt that these 16 songs will suceed in reminding listeners of the popular music scene over the last decade and a half.

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: A recap of recent pop music
Stay Away if: You’re intentionally staying away from recent pop music

To purchase Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary Pop, visit Amazon
For more information and a track lising, visit The Ultimate Grammy Collection’s homepage
To read Zach’s review of Ultimate Grammy Collection: Contemporary R&B, visit BloggerNews

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