Various Artisits - MTV2 Handpicked 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 22 January 2002

MTV2 Handpicked,
Columbia Records, 2002
| Performance 7 | Sound 8 |

The title of this compilation is worth at least a few chuckles, since the act of "handpicking" conjures up an image of someone sorting through sky-high stacks of CDs in search of the exactly right selections for this disc. Instead, demographic data was run through a computer program, and 18 representative videos/tracks from MTV’s music-oriented "other" channel were put together to help market its programming to college radio-oriented music buyers.

These cynical goals aside, however, "Handpicked" is nevertheless an entertaining mishmash of what’s happening now among upwardly mobile youth with disposable income.

Sensitive types will immediately be drawn to Travis ("Sing"), Coldplay ("Yellow") Radiohead ("Idioteque (Live)"). Morrissey may be aimlessly trekking through clubs in West Hollywood without a record contract these days, but the influence of the Smiths lives long and prospers through these acts, which are obviously saturated in their influence. Fraternity brothers are given plenty of tunes to swill kegs to, and Cake’s "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and Tenacious D’s "Wonderboy" are certainly favorites at campus dorms this semester.

All the demographic data in the world won’t find homes for misfit toys like Ryan Adams, who is represented by the Stones-y horn-driven "New York, New York," or David Gray’s folk-meets-techno "Babylon." It’s always rewarding to find a few maverick treats surviving alive and well in the midst of today’s otherwise cookie-cutter music business.

This collection is weighted towards song-oriented artists, but rave-ready music from Crystal Method ("Name of the Game") is also represented here, and the angry young men are appeased with Stereomud’s "Pain."

About the only glaring sin of omission here is the complete lack of any new women in rock. Except for Mystic’s hip-hop contribution, this is a completely male-dominated sampling.

This handpicking is more accurately described as a luck of the draw, rather than a record company executive’s personal mix tape. But when MTV2 rolled the dice for this particular overview, they came up with a real winner.

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