Reviews > Notable CDs

Bestselling CDs

Notable CDs | Five bestselling albums of 2006 according to Nielsen SoundScan

High School Musical (Soundtrack)

Style: Up with People.

Worldview: "Together, together, / c'mon let's do this right. / Here and now / it's time for celebration. / I finally figured it out, / that all of our dreams have no limitations. / That's what it's all about."

Overall quality: Proof that "positivity" is preferable to "offensiveness" only if one isn't as offended by gratuitous white-pop enthusiasm as by gratuitous hip-hop obscenity; the relatively high catchy quotient helps a little.

Me and My Gang

Style: Contemporary country, from its homey subject matter to its slick, overproduced sound.

Worldview: "Ya get your house back, / ya get your dog back. . . . / It sounds a little crazy, / a little scattered and absurd, / but that's what you get when you / play a country song backwards ("Backwards").

Overall quality: It's telling that the joke upon which "Backwards" (copyright 2006) is based has been around so long it's a cliché.

Some Hearts

Style: Contemporary country, from its homey subject matter to its slick, overproduced sound.

Worldview: "Jesus, take the wheel, / take it from my hands / 'cause I can't do this all on my own. / I'm letting go, / so give me one more chance / to save me from this road I'm on."

Overall quality: Underwood is believable as the girl next door, but more as a talented actress than as the real thing.

All the Right Reasons

Style: Hard rock: industrially metallic at its hardest, sentimentally melodic at its softest.

Cautions: "Photograph" (casual cursing), "Animals" (lasciviousness); not, however, "Rockstar," which is sarcastic, not didactic.

Worldview: "No, we're never gonna quit [fooling around in the backseat]. / Ain't nothing wrong with it. / Just acting like we're animals."

Overall quality: A good deal less profane on disc than in concert, where Chad Kroeger freely peppers his between-song patter with obscenities.

Back to Bedlam

Style: Overblown sensitivity on parade.

Cautions: "You're Beautiful," "Wisemen" (profanity).

Worldview: "How I wish I could choose between Heaven and Hell. / How I wish I could save my soul. / I'm so cold from fear."

Overall quality: Despite the aptly surnamed Blunt's allusions to Dorian Gray in "Tears and Rain," his failure to grasp the importance of not being over-earnest is his only Oscar Wilde connection.

Spotlight

It's even harder to draw conclusions from 2006 bestselling albums than from the 2006 elections. Was the coming in at No. 7 of the Dixie Chicks a victory for conservatives (they could've ranked higher), liberals (No. 7 isn't bad given the animus toward the group), or neither (Taking the Long Way was largely apolitical)? Was the coming in at No. 1 of the High School Musical soundtrack a triumph of wholesomeness or of prolonged adolescence?

Perhaps the most common denominator among the aforementioned albums, Now 21, and the remaining top-10 titles (by Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Nickelback, James Blunt, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, and Beyoncé) is their superficiality, a trait that has characterized lucrative entertainment for years and that wouldn't necessarily have been ameliorated if the best-selling Christian album (Alan Jackson's Precious Memories) had sold 300,000 more copies than it did and made the list. In short, in music as in politics, there's nothing new under the sun.

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