Mandy Moore

The Best of Mandy Moore

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Of all the major teen pop stars who ran wild at the turn of the millennium, Mandy Moore was perhaps the least successful, if she's judged merely on terms of chart success. Britney and Christina certainly racked up more hits and headlines than Mandy, and she never had a single as undeniably catchy and irresistible as Jessica Simpson's "I Think I'm in Love" (which Jessica herself never managed to top after she became a household name, either). So it would seem that The Best of Mandy Moore -- released in November 2004, at the end of her contract with Epic -- would be little bit more than footnote to the teen pop phenomenon of the early 2000s, and that may be true if success is only calculated on those aforementioned charts or cultural impact. So why is The Best Of so much more satisfying a listening experience than Britney Spears' Greatest Hits: My Prerogative, released just a few weeks before this collection? Well, part of it is due to the fact that Mandy is simply a better singer than Britney. Maybe she doesn't have quite as much charisma as Spears, but she can carry a tune and her voice doesn't grate over the course of a 14-track album like the way Britney's can. Then, there's the fact that these songs, since they weren't as widely heard as "Oops...I Did It Again" or "Genie in a Bottle," just sound fresher. And while there are no knock-out singles here -- although her biggest hit, "Crush," comes close -- there's a greater musical variety, and the chronological running order emphasizes that Mandy Moore is growing as a singer and recording artist, getting better with each subsequent album instead of stagnating like many of her peers. As a result, this turns out to be one of the better artifacts of the teen pop boom -- as an album, it's stronger and more enjoyable than almost any other teen pop record from its time, and by the time it's over, you're curious about where Moore will go next. [The Best Of also includes a bonus DVD, containing all of her music videos, plus selections from her Sessions@AOL live performance.]

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