The other day I went to the record store (the place that sells music on cds, not vinyl, so I guess it’s technically the music store, though it doesn’t sell instruments…) to do my weekly Tuesday peruse. It’s been a habit of mine since high school, to always check and see what new music sits on the shelf every week. This particular Tuesday, I noticed that there’s a new album by, none other than soul sensation, D’Angelo. Imagine my surprise! I didn’t even know he was finally releasing another LP after almost a decade of obscurity. I began to salivate, like any music lover (or lunatic) would. I mean, just the thought of an hour of new croons by D’Angelo excited me in an almost embarrasing way. I pick it up. Flip it over to check out the song titles. Hmmm. Brown Sugar. Lady. Cruisin’. Hmmm.
Is.This.A.Greatest.Hits.Album? It is? For D’Angelo? But he’s only produced two albums, right? Right. (This is the conversation in my head. I do that sometimes to keep from embarrassing myself, and others.)
This made me think about who I consider worthy of greatest hits albums, and what I think the criteria should be to have one. When I think of greatest hits, I think of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Prince, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton. I just don’t think about D’Angelo, or even the great Lauryn Hill (though I would argue that “The Miseducation,” is an album of hits.) I think of the people who have produced a substantial body of work, with infectious, and massive singles. As a music snob, I recognize how stupid singles and radio play is when determining an artist’s success, but when it comes to the giving out of greatest hits albums, there has to be some sort of empirical way to do this. Especially since the people who actually purchase greatest hits albums, are usually fair-weather fans, who want to hear only the songs they can sing along to, i.e. the popular ones, i.e. the singles. And it’s not that hip-hop artists, or 90’s r&b singers aren’t worthy. I mean, KRS-One has a well deserved greatest hits record, as does hip-hop icon, Rakim. And when it comes to singers, Mariah Carey, and Mary J. Blige definitely sit near the top of the mountain. But to give a greatest hits album to Keshia Cole, right now, is …eh.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is you can’t have a greatest hits album, without hits. Period. And I don’t mean one or two, but enough to fill an album. But I shouldn’t have even gotten all worked about the D’Angelo greatest hits album anyways. I mean it wasn’t a “Millenium Collection,” and we all know, only “Millenium Collections” count.