Various Artists

Fantastic Songs

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With a track list that appears to have been cherry-picked from the previous 12 months' Radio 2 playlists, Rhino compilation Fantastic Songs features 40 contemporary easy listening chart hits designed to soundtrack the perfect summer's day. While Adele's airplay staple "Chasing Pavements" isn't the most imaginative of starts, the majority of the two-CD collection presents a welcome selection of lesser-known songs from newly established artists (Plan B's "Writing's on the Wall," Eliza Doolittle's "Mr. Medicine"), multi-million-selling pop stalwarts (Kylie Minogue's "Better Than Today," Seal's "If You Don't Know Me by Now"), and acts on the verge of a commercial breakthrough (Asa's "Be My Man," the Overtones' "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"). Elsewhere, there are tracks past and present from a plethora of acoustic singer/songwriters (Damien Rice, Paolo Nutini, David Gray), U.S. urban stars (Jason Derülo, Lupe Fiasco, Gnarls Barkley), jazz-soul revivalists (Norah Jones, Rumer, Corinne Bailey Rae), and housewife favorites (Michael Bublé, Simply Red, James Blunt). In addition to recent number ones from Bruno Mars ("Grenade") and B.o.B ("Nothin' on You") and Top 20 hits from Joshua Radin ("I'd Rather Be with You") and Cee Lo Green ("It's OK"), there is also an eclectic assortment of '80s/'90s/2000s classics, the highlights of which are Crowded House's tender acoustic ballad "Fall at Your Feet," Morcheeba's sun-soaked trip-hop of "The Sea," and Sunshine Anderson's feisty R&B anthem "Heard It All Before." Eschewing the more ubiquitous numbers found on similar releases, Fantastic Songs is a consistently pleasant listen that provides casual music fans with the chance to discover both new material and new artists, while also offering a more reassuring familiar treasure trove of MOR pop favorites.

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