Various Artists

They Sold a Million [EMI]

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Despite a rather misleading title (only seven of the 42 tracks actually sold a million in the U.K.), this latest EMI compilation makes a valid attempt to cover some of the biggest singles in chart history. Bookended by two solo Beatles, John Lennon's "Imagine" and Wings' "Mull of Kintyre," They Sold a Million takes in five decades of pop music, from Elvis Presley's 1956 rock & roll classic "Hound Dog" to Coldplay's 2008 stadium rock anthem "Viva la Vida." While the Everly Brothers' harmony-laden "All I Have to Do Is Dream" is the only other '50s contribution, the '60s are far better represented by the likes of Procol Harum's seminal "A Whiter Shade of Pale," the Monkees' infectious "I'm a Believer," and the Animals' haunting "House of the Rising Sun." However, it's the sounds of the '70s that dominate nearly half the album, with the funky disco of KC & the Sunshine Band, the glam rock of T. Rex, and the pure pop of ABBA the highlights, while Marvin Gaye's soulful "Sexual Healing" and the Human League's groundbreaking "Don't You Want Me" are the best of the selections from the '80s. With a bigger emphasis on nostalgia, the recent decades don't fare as well. Robbie Williams' "Angels" and Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" are the best of just four '90s songs, while the manufactured reality TV pop that produced several million-selling singles in the 2000s are ignored in favor of two MOR one-hit wonders, Sara Bareilles and Daniel Powter. Of course, the majority of the tracks here are so familiar that it's hard to see why fans wouldn't already have them in their collections, while the inclusion of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "I Will Survive," and "Build Me Up Buttercup" means that, at times, They Sold a Million appears to be little more than a glorified karaoke hits album. However, the likes of the Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow," recently a hit once again, and Shocking Blue's lesser-known original of Bananarama's "Venus" ensure that there could be a few unknown gems for listeners to discover.

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