Various Artists

Happy Songs [Virgin 2010]

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Five years after its first compilation, the Happy Songs series returns with another 42 tracks of uplifting feel-good pop, covering various genres and spanning several decades. The first disc kicks off with two songs that haven't left the airwaves all summer, Eliza Doolittle's retro jazz-pop Top Ten hit "Pack Up" and Train's unexpected comeback track, the reggae-infused "Hey Soul Sister," followed by two tracks that haven't left the airwaves for several years, Lily Allen's ska-inspired "Smile" and Jason Mraz's infectious "I'm Yours." The Radio 2-style track list veers off into more Radio 1 territory with club anthems from Yolanda Be Cool and David Guetta, but it's two unashamedly pure pop songs, Alphabeat's High School Musical-esque "Fascination" and Katrina & the Waves' joyous '80s anthem "Walking on Sunshine" that encapsulate the album's premise. Tracks from Spandau Ballet, Toploader, and the Source are uninspired and overplayed choices, but there are a few welcome surprise additions, particularly Roll Deep's dance/R&B hybrid "Good Times" and Röyksopp's appropriately titled "Happy Up Here." The more retro second disc concentrates on classic '60s, '70s, and '80s tracks, along with a few lesser-known hits from Lulu and Labi Siffre, and a trio of Brit-pop classics from the Kooks, Blur, and Supergrass. Highlights include the Monkees' effortlessly chirpy "Daydream Believer," Al Green's soul standard "Let's Stay Together," and Diana Ross' Bee Gees-penned number one, "Chain Reaction." Happy Songs 2010 may contain few surprises, but with its all-inclusive track list, should guarantee that even the sternest souls will find something to make them smile.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 3:37
3 3:33
4 3:15
5 2:11
6 3:40
7 3:13
8 3:39
9 3:02
10 3:35
11 3:20
12 3:51
13 4:04
14 3:28
15 3:50
16 3:09
17 3:21
18 3:43
19 3:12
20 2:45
blue highlight denotes track pick