Various Artists

Now That's What I Call Music! 21

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When the 21st volume of the Now series was released in early April of 2006, nearly half of its songs were in the Top 50 of the Hot 100. That certainly indicates how up-to-date the series can be, so it remains especially useful for those who listen to pop radio but either can't or don't purchase much of what they hear. This particular volume also exemplifies the danger in including songs so popular that they reached millions of unappreciative ears: the very presence of the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps" is enough to lose some potential sales, since some of the more self-conscious music fans detest it so much that they couldn't possibly justify owning a disc containing it. The structure of the disc is much like that of the past several volumes, with a balance struck between rap, R&B, pop, and rock, along with a token country inclusion (Trace Adkins breaks Keith Urban's four-volume streak). Save for some cultural references, these hits of 2005 and early 2006 could be interchanged with any combination of hits from the previous several years. Some of the faces have changed, but the sounds really haven't. Credit the compilers for including Three 6 Mafia's "Stay Fly" instead of the vastly inferior "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"; members of the group had recently won a Grammy for penning the latter for the Hustle & Flow soundtrack, but the former will go down as one of the hottest rap singles of the early 2000s.

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