Music in 1942 was subject to two major news events: World War II, which the U.S. had entered the previous December, and the recording ban called by the musicians union, which shut down the recording studios on August 1. The first had a major effect on the subjects of popular songs on this collection. The second was more noticeable in 1943 and 1944, but was felt in the second half of 1942 largely in the absence of new names in the charts; the established stars had stockpiled recordings, and they dominated the airwaves and record stores. Thus, bandleader Glenn Miller, the year's most successful recording artist (as he had been in 1940 and 1941), has four selections on this compilation, and even at that his success is understated. Bandleaders Harry James and Kay Kyser are also underrepresented at three and two selections, respectively. Clearly, the compilers have sought a greater diversity of artists than actually was represented by the year's hit parade. They have also eschewed novelty material and seasonal songs (which means the year's biggest hit, "White Christmas," is not here). And they have exercised a fair degree of critical judgment, including non-hits by acclaimed performers and substituting less popular recordings of certain songs for the more successful versions. As a result, compared to the listings in Billboard's best-seller charts and the rankings on the Your Hit Parade radio show, the album can be said to include in its 24 selections only 15 of the year's most popular songs, and only 12 of those in their most popular versions. Fans of big band music will get to hear plenty of favorites, but there are many other hits of the year they'll miss.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann