Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Singles

Goo Goo Dolls

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Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Singles Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Hard to believe it, but at one point all the Goo Goo Dolls ever wanted to be was the Replacements -- nothing more than a ragged band playing kickass rock & roll along with the occasional heartbroken ballad. Of course, they were never as chaotic as the 'Mats; they were good guys where Paul Westerberg and company were ornery, unpredictable artists, prone to self-sabotage, legendarily throwing away their potential breakthrough gig on Saturday Night Live. That wasn't the Goo Goo Dolls. They never met an opportunity they didn't turn down, slowly morphing from baby Replacements to the cheerful corporate rockers showcased on this 2007 compilation, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Singles. This 14-track collection ignores the entire first act of the band's history, picking up the tale with 1995's A Boy Named Goo, which not so coincidentally is where the band abandoned its 'Mats aspiration and started being the alt-rock band that played by the rules (even then, Boy's breakthrough hit, "Name," is re-recorded here, the better to make it fit with the placid pop of their later years). Where all their peers shunned power ballads, the Goo Goo Dolls embraced them, slowly turning into a group that specialized in soaring ballads and anthems with no discernible roots: this was merely modern rock that existed in the moment, usually moments that occurred in offices, malls, waiting rooms, and Michael Bay's Transformers. Surely there was an audience for this, as the group ruled the adult Top 40 charts throughout the 2000s without ever having a single that truly made waves in the pop charts, the way "Name," "Iris," and "Slide" did in the late '90s. It wasn't for lack of trying, though: the Dolls kept refining and smoothing that blueprint out, so each progressive year turned more anonymous. But they were reliable, and they satisfied fans, many of whom would probably never have even known the name Westerberg, not even as the name of the high school in Heathers. For those fans, this Greatest Hits will satisfy, as it has all those hits that sound the same, and nothing else.

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