Various Artists

Heartthrob Hits

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Once MTV revolutionized the music broadcast industry in the early '80s, it took the record companies a couple of years to figure out how to exploit the new technology. After all the new wave wonders petered out, MTV slowly became dominated by a series of teen pop artists, ranging from post-Madonna dance-pop to slick balladeering. Heartthrob Hits compiles a large portion of the highlights from those years, cramming 16 hits from 1986 through 1991. All of the songs, with the exception of Glenn Medeiros' "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" and 5 Star's "All Fall Down," were Top Ten hits and were constantly played on radio and MTV. And, yes, they were all performed by photogenic males and females, ones that occupied space in every teen magazine of the time. It's also true that a lot of this music is tied to its era. Some of the songs sound surprisingly well-crafted -- Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" proves that Stock, Aitken & Waterman knew how to use the studio and their boy's big, booming voice; soap star Jack Wagner's "All I Need" is a textbook example of a perfect power ballad, as is Corey Hart's "Never Surrender" -- but a lot of this suffers from dated production and weak songs. Still, anyone who grew up during this time will find the disc -- which boasts such hits as the New Kids on the Block's "You Got It (The Right Stuff)," Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," the Jets' "Crush on You," Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby," Debbie Gibson's "Foolish Beat," Kylie Minogue's "The Loco-Motion," Nelson's "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," and Glass Tiger's "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" -- damn near irresistible as a nostalgia piece, especially since this selection captures the feel of the era. (That said, listening to "Ice Ice Baby" with mature ears and the gift of hindsight, it's hard to believe that Vanilla ever got away with the lyric "steppin' so hard, like a German Nazi," which seems just a little inappropriate.)

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