Various Artists

Now That's What I Call Music! 20

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Volume 20 of the Now series is even less thrilling than the 19th, at times sounding more like a mediocre soundtrack with some big names than a collection of hits that represents a few months of popular music. There are a number of well-known names and repeat contributors, such as Missy Elliott ("Lose Control"), the Black Eyed Peas ("Don't Phunk With My Heart"), Destiny's Child ("Cater 2 U"), Ludacris ("Pimpin' All Over the World"), and Coldplay ("Fix U"), but they each deliver songs that are either tepid retreads or safe compounds of past hits. If you've been listening to pop radio for the past five years, none of those songs will strike you as all that fresh or exciting. It's the new blood that keeps the compilation from being disposable: the Pussycat Dolls' mesmerizing "Don't Cha" has a wicked lingering effect and contends as one of the sexiest and best singles of 2005, Fall Out Boy counters familiar pop-punk sounds and awkward sports metaphors with a contagious level of energy, and Rihanna provides a pleasant summer jam that takes advantage of reggaeton's emergence. In keeping with the sense that you've heard most of this before and in better form, the typically genial and bittersweet Keith Urban makes his fourth straight appearance in the series, tucked at the very end, once again left to represent all of country music by himself.

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