Like most first attempts at chronicling musical eras, Rhino's Billboard Top Hits of the '90s could hardly be called definitive and even as a sampler there are many songs missing. This, of course, is partially due to licensing reasons, but it's also true that it's hard to have a perspective on a decade that was a year and a half old at the time of this disc's release. Nevertheless, most first attempts are charming, even despite their setbacks, and that's the case here. Yes, there's a preponderance of novelties and one-hit wonders, but even so, it's a good way to catch such fine '90s radio staples as Barenaked Ladies' "One Week," Hootie & the Blowfish's "Only Wanna Be With You" (whose appropriations from Dylan's "Tangled Up in Blue" sound stranger than ever), EMF's "Unbelievable," Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There It Is)," Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now," the Rembrandts' "I'll Be There for You," Ace of Bace's "The Sign," Everything But the Girl's "Missing," Meredith Brooks' "Bitch," and Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy," one of the best commercialized approximations of Nirvana ever released. The album could have flowed a bit better, and it has a few speed bumps (two Phil Collins songs wind up sounding more like '80s holdovers than '90s tunes), but even so, it's a good first effort at summarizing the '90s and it has enough great one-shot singles to make this worthwhile for a lot of listeners.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine