Various Artists - MTV2 Handpicked, Vol. 2 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 22 October 2002

MTV 2 Hand Picked Vol. 2,
Capitol Records, 2002
| Performance 8 | Sound 8 |

Listening to this collection of MTV rock singles ought to give you hope for the future of rock. This is music to listen to, not watch, which seems more than a little ironic, since it’s coming from a video music channel. But if they put together a retrospective of ‘80s MTV music, for example, it might be much harder to distinguish visual impressions of artists like Culture Club and Michael Jackson from the actual music itself. Of course, five years from now “Handpicked” artists may all be household names, which would completely nullify this point. But at least for now, “Handpicked” is one aural delight.

The set gets off to a rollicking one-two punch, beginning with Australia’s The Vines, followed by the Swedish The Hives. Both of these high-energy acts have been credited – and rightly so – with revitalizing an overly stale rock scene. But except for The Music’s finale, this sort of aggressive rock noise is only exemplified by a few cuts here.

Much more prevalent on this album are artists who might well be termed nu-singer/songwriters. They include the hip-hop-influenced romanticism of Citizen Cope on “If There’s Love” and the heartfelt works of John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Howie Day. There are also a few fine examples of latter-day power pop in the form of Phantom Planet on “Lonely Day” and “Get Over It” from OKGO. This is balanced out by a little gloomy music from Coldplay (“In My Place”) and Doves (“Caught By The River”). All of this makes Nora Jones’ jazzy soul seem just little out of place. But she has certainly earned her place among music’s hot new properties, which is why she couldn't have been excluded from this set.

Just when you thought TRL thought was going to bring about an end to quality TV music as we know it, MTV has given these worthy artists a high-profile forum. And this is a good thing, because “MTV – Handpicked Vol. II” doesn’t have one single teen diva or boy band in the whole bunch. If you buy this album, and then buy the albums by these artists, you’ll be helping to save the music world. Sure, that’s not on the same moral scale as achieving world peace. But wouldn’t the world be far better without the annoying existence of Music-Teenybopper-Video?

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