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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 39 - 12/22/99

Various Artists
International Music: Sony Music Around The World
Sony Music Entertainment

Since this is the last review of the century, I thought I'll review a collection that covers our whole planet - just in case the Y2K bug gets us all.

But unfortunately, this really sucks. There are two-and-a-half hours of music here, 36 cuts from 36 different countries, and Sony managed to pick songs that all sound alike.

International Music is a part of an ambitious 26 discs project called Soundtrack for a Century, which is made up of hundred years worth of music collected from the CBS/Sony Music archives. The other volumes include Pop (in three sections), Broadway, Jazz, Classical, Rock etc. So far so good, but the closer we start looking at what got picked, the sooner the whole enterprise becomes rather dubious. For instance in Pop: Modern Era we get such fluff as Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias To All the Girls I Loved Before or Neil Diamond's Heartlight. And does Michael Bolton really represent the best of this century? (Uh-oh, no! Neither his hairdo nor his music! - editor's note)

But getting back to "International Music," the whole planet gets reduced to just two styles: Generic Pop and Disco. Sure, sure, there are a few exceptions, but that certainly doesn't warrant a $25 price tag! So here is the scorecard:
Ricky Martin: María Puerto Rico Un: La Copa de la Vida Dos: Livin' La Vida Loca Tres: Ricky, ¡basta, por favor!
Shakira:Estoy Aguí Colombia Disco
Ricardo Arjona: Ella y El Guatemala Generic Latin Pop
J. L. Rodríquez: Poquita Fe Venezuela Generic Latin Pop
A. Fernández: Si Tu Supieras Mexico Generic Latin Pop
Skank: Garota nacional Brazil By default, the winner of this Latin competition
Soledad: A Don Ata Argentina Hey, Sony: a translation would be helpful...
Rubén Blades: Eres Mi Cancion Panama Hey, Sony: a translation would be helpful...
Elvis Crespo: Suavemente "U.S. Latin" Salsa
CoCo Lee: Colours of the World Taiwan (Spice Girls Wannabe) Disco
Leon Lai: Love You/Don't Hong Kong Disco
T. Kubota: La La Love Song Japan Disco
Gigi: Janji Indonesia Disco
Liu Huan: Helpless Love China Generic "Star Search" Pop
Colonial Cousins: Jaa Re Jaa India Disco
Kulay: Burn Philippines Disco Funk
Jebedia: Jerks of Attention Australia Disco Punk
Bic Runga: Sway New Zealand Not only does she understand what she's saying in English, but we finally get someone who can sing, too!

So far, out of 18 different countries each with a unique cultural heritage with its own musical tradition and unique sounds, Sony selected maybe three cuts that are somewhat interesting. Do I smell a rip-off here? But let's finish the deed:

S.O.A.P: Not Like Other Girls Denmark (Spice Girls Wannabe) Pop
Anna Vissi: Antidoto Greece "Star Search" Pop
Sertab Erener: Lal Turkey "Star Search" Pop
Bluvertigo: Altre forma di vita Italy "Star Search" Pop
Witt/Heppner: Die Flut Germany Generic Pop
Subzonic: Was, Wäri, Wänn Switzerland Generic Pop
Sexy Dancers: Some People Czech Republic Generic Pop
Mónica Naranjo: Desatame Spain Disco
Unique II: Break My Stride Austria Disco (Unique? This is a cover, for Chrissake!)
E'velyne: I Would Netherlands Generic Pop
Peter Jöback: En Sång Om Oss Sweden Different language, same song as above...
Paulo Gonzo: Jardins Proibídos Portugal ...and the same song again, for the third time!
O.N.A: Kiedy powiem sobie dost Poland A different pop ballad
Pascal Obisco: Superflu France Generic Pop
Paddy Casey: Whatever Gets You True Ireland Pop
54#40: Since When Canada Groovy 60's, man!
Sibongile Khumalo: Untold Story South Africa Finally, something else!

So if you naively expected to hear international music on International Music, forget about it. You'll get endless American Pop. Considering all of this music already made money for CBS/Sony once, this compilation must be viewed as a money-making venture. It's only disguised as an art preservation project.

Copyright © 1999 Ivan Sever e-mail address

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