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Show Us Your Hits

EW’s guide to the best of the “Best-ofs”

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Didn’t someone once say brevity is the soul of hits? Not all musicians are boxing their wares this year: Some superstars have double- or even single-disc best-ofs out or arriving in time for gift season. Here are the greatest-hits sets most likely to hit home.

MADONNA GHV2

HIT OR MISS? The sequel to 1990’s Immaculate Collection brings us up through the electronica years. But with no new stuff, you might be better off diving into her new Drowned World concert DVD instead. TOTAL SONGS 15. NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SET Four Madonna albums, two soundtracks. NEW SONGS None. Hasn’t she given you people enough? RAISON D’ETRE Time to coast on the music front and revive that movie career. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… Foul-mouthed soccer moms.

BACKSTREET BOYS The Hits: Chapter One

HIT OR MISS? A.J. probably isn’t betting his sobriety on a Chapter Two. But oh, the memories of when we wanted it that way. TOTAL SONGS 13. NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SET All three. NEW SONGS ”Drowning,” currently a modest hit. RAISON D’ETRE Quick, one last chance to cash in before the teen-pop craze goes the way of all flash. Whoops…too late. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… Gay men eager to anticipate future camp-nostalgia icons.

THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Rotten Apples

HIT OR MISS? Single-disc career summary is smashingly comprehensive. Into Corgan-style overkill? Spring for a deluxe version with a second CD of B sides. TOTAL SONGS 18 (34 in two-disc version). NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SET All five studio albums. NEW SONGS Two unreleased tunes (or 12 on deluxe version). RAISON D’ETRE Billy isn’t paying his barber bills as a New Order sideman. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… Caged cubicle rats. And cueballs.

MARIAH CAREY Greatest Hits

HIT OR MISS? Former label Columbia offers Carey’s first hits package since #1’s a whole three years ago. You can tell she’s not involved: The title is more than one word. TOTAL SONGS 28. NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SET All six Columbia studio albums. New Songs Yeah, right! RAISON D’ETRE Milking ex-cash cow one last time — and fast — in case she destroys all residual goodwill with a Glitter 2. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… The HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) in your family.

PINK FLOYD Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd

HIT OR MISS? A smartly nonchronological, cross-fading song sequence flits between the nutty-Syd, ranting-Rog, and spacey-Dave eras. TOTAL SONGS 26. NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SEt 10. NEW SONGS None. RAISON D’ETRE Hits-poor, catalog-rich EMI could use another mega-seller to shed some sunshine on the dark side of the balance sheet. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… The audiophile who has a 5.1 Surround home theater but still secretly longs for quad.

ICE CUBE Greatest Hits

HIT OR MISS? The national mood right now may be to hug tha police, but Cube’s ghetto dissent never goes out of style. TOTAL SONGS 17. NO. OF OLD CDS YOU CAN REPLACE WITH THIS SET Eight. NEW SONGS Two: ”$100 Dollar Bill Ya’ll” and the Neptunes-produced ”In the Late Night Hour.” RAISON D’ETRE Eight albums is enough to finally warrant a best-of from the nnnnnice guy ya love to hate. THE PERFECT GIFT FOR… Your friends in law enforcement.

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