Debbie Gibson

Greatest Hits [Atlantic]

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Say what you will about the slickly produced teen pop of the late '80s and its revival in the late '90s: Debbie Gibson made some of the best of either era. Her best material (nearly all of which she wrote herself) displayed superior pop craftsmanship at a surprisingly young age, and she was no slouch as a producer or arranger, either. Perhaps that's why Greatest Hits still sounds so much less calculated and contrived than a lot of the artists working similar territory. Rant and rave all you want about corporate pandering; Gibson's love of pure pop is obvious (so it shouldn't be a surprise that she later moved into musicals). Yes, this music is almost painfully clean-cut and sugary-sweet, but Gibson imbues it with a refreshing sincerity which comes directly from the fact that this is her music (unlike teen queens who rely on middle-aged men for material). Greatest Hits features all of her hit singles, and while both the upbeat dance-pop and the adult contemporary ballads sound very much of their time, that's not a bad thing at all -- they're very good, very well-crafted pop songs, and they hold up surprisingly well because of that.

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