Ridiculously successful, EMI's "Now That's What I Call Music!" compilation series is up to volume 36, with some themed offshoots here and there. The latest of those is "Now That's What I Call the 1990s" or, as I dub it, "Now That's What I Call Officially Feeling Old."
Subtitled as "the alternative collection," hardly any of its 18 tracks truly qualify as true alternative. Everclear? Sublime? Maybe, at least at some early point in their careers. But Edwin McCain and Shawn Mullins? That's as whiny, middle-of-the-road Wonder Bread as they come. Meredith Brooks and Des'ree? Estrogen easy listening. Vertical Horizon? Pardon while I puke.
If you were to hear this collection from the start, your ears might be encouraged by the kickoff track, New Radicals' "You Get What You Give." The one-hit wonder still stands as one of that decade's great pop singles, but the album then shatters that confidence immediately following with the aural dentistry drill known as Spin Doctors.
It's kind of tricky that way. Barenaked Ladies' zeitgeist quasi-rap "One Week" is still fun all these years later, but Tonic's "If You Could Only See" never was. Collective Soul's "Shine" lost its luster midway through its very first listen.
Also on this "alternative" disc? Joan Osborne, Duran Duran and Lisa Loeb. Now that's what I call stretching the definition. "Rod Lott