Various Artists

Festivalbar '99: Compilation Blue

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Much like the American Now series in the '90s, the Festivalbar albums are yearly collections putting together the biggest hits in Italy. Not surprisingly, they always have a few selections that have appeared on their American counterpart's discs. On the 1999 edition, these hits include Fatboy Slim's "Praise You," Sugar Ray's "Every Morning," and *N Sync's "U Drive Me Crazy." The Goo Goo Dolls also appear with their charming adult alternative smash "Slide," and Blondie adds their comeback song, "Maria," to the mix. From there there are several Italian pop stars making very similar music in another language; artists like Neja, Sasha, and Giorgia are practically interchangeable with American pop stars. Other worldly contributions include Ricky Martin's international Latin hit "Por Arriba, Por Abajo," Suede's Brit-pop rocker "Electricity," and the Corrs' picture-perfect remake of Stevie Nicks' "Dreams." So essentially, this is like the international version of Now, albeit with some European favoritism. International pop fans will have a lot to like, and even those only familiar with some of the material here might want to listen to the album. A lot of it may be unfamiliar, but this is an excellent way to see how European pop music compares to American pop music.

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