Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Now That's What I Call 90s Pop [Sony Music Entertainment, 2017]
This unusually useful pre-Now lookback--Stateside, the series only began in 1998--means to reinstall 18 four-minute pop songs in your short-term memory. From Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It" to the New Kids' "Step by Step," with the likes of Boyz II Men, Wreckx-N-Effect, born-againer-in-waiting Montell Jordan, Mad TV fave Bobby Brown, and "Livin' La Vida Loca" on board, the default mode is male-dominated funk-lite broadly defined, with the ambiguous-lite Max Martin classics "...Baby One More Time" and "I Want It That Way" flanking the concept. Cheap nostalgia for thirty-somethings, a refresher course in pop history for the rest of us. Among the missing: "U Can't Touch This," "Jump," "C'Mon 'N Ride It," "The Macarena," and the cheekily non-male "I Kissed a Girl." But so much easier than burning your own. A-