The A-List

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A1 learned a few tricks from American boy bands for their sophomore outing, The Hit List, which is quite a bit more aggressive than their debut, similar in style to the songs which propelled 'N Sync to the top of the U.S. charts. "Same Old Brand New You" is a good example of that formula, utilizing beats that recalls the Backstreet Boys' hit "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." That song, incidentally, was a European chart topper, and another, "No More" (a very 'N Sync-ish song, especially in regards to attitude), hit the top ten. This disc is full of ballads, some alright, some big and powerful, some formulaic, although "She Doesn't See Me," complete with Scottish bagpipes, is quite a compelling production. These guys try different styles of music (all of them highly produced), including Latin (on the somewhat cliched "Celebrate Our Love" and urban ("I Wonder Why"), but overall, this is a straight-ahead pop disc, and a little less Euro-dance than their previous. As a side note, A1 scored a huge European number one smash with their bubbly remake of a-Ha's early MTV-era staple "Take on Me." Not a bad disc, especially considering these guys play their own instruments and write most their own material, but not much sets it apart from other boy band material.

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