Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Now That's What I Call Club Hits 2 [EMI, 2010]
If the Now cartel's records weren't so uniformly patchy I'd think they'd done it on purpose: 10 straight "dynamite" tracks, to borrow Taio Cruz's cutting-edge metaphor before he tries to copyright it, followed by six straight--well, not quite duds, but songs to sit down to. What differentiates good from ordinary isn't purity of talent or purpose, though Christina Aguilera and Adam Lambert certainly fulfill their dull destinies. Lady Gaga excepted, it isn't genius either, though Ian Nieman, whoever he is, comes close, expanding and overdriving Jason Derulo's high-generic "Ridin' Solo" into ramalama history. It's just inspired mechanics, as the same sounds and techniques that make it such a chore to dance to most dance music once your adrenalin recedes are propelled from the booming din by one or more extra-clever tricks. A trifecta of synth hooks on David Guetta and Chris Willis's "Gettin' Over You." La Roux's "Bulletproof" goosed with both treated echoes and "natural" crooning--and then seguing directly to drum 'n' electrosqueezebox custom-designed to juice the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be." Etc. A-