Last night, I had too many margaritas for a Monday, and when I got home, I saw an announcement about Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming greatest hits album. And I got excited about it.
Even at the time, I thought it had to be the alcohol talking, because let’s be honest: J. Lo, for all her gifts, has always been a dubious pop star. She’s got loads of charisma, she’s beautiful, and she can dance, but she can’t really sing. That’s true of many A-list artists, I guess, but Lopez’s songs have never been brilliant enough to overcome her artistic limitations. She’s never had a boundary-pushing, soul-stirring hit like “Like a Prayer” or “Toxic” that eradicates all doubt. Instead, her songs have always just maintained the status quo. A little hip-hop flavor here, a little club bangin’ there, but never anything that seems timeless.
But you guys? Even today, as I sit here sober, I’m still excited about this greatest hits album. It defies all logic! Why should I care so much about the collected chart toppers of a mediocre pop star?
I’ve been praying on it, and here’s what I’ve realized:
(1) Despite not being brilliant, a lot of J. Lo’s hits are still very good. “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny” and “Waiting For Tonight” and “Get Right” and even last year’s underappreciated “I”m Into You” are sweet grooves that are good for a workout. And if you need to feel like a badass, then you could do worse than “Feelin’ So Good.”
(2) Because these songs are good-not-great, I’ve never actually bought any of them. I’ve listened to them on the radio and watched their videos, but I’ve never put them on my very own iPod. (Or Discman, back in the day.)
(3) Therefore, a greatest hits collection is the perfect vessel for J. Lo’s material. When you collect 13 above-average songs in one place, they suddenly seem worth the money. All killer, no filler, etc. When I really think about it, I realize that J. Lo is a perfect “greatest hits” artist, like Sheryl Crow or (eventually) Ke$ha. I don’t need to experience the album tracks, where things could go horribly wrong, but the highlights suit me fine.
So there it is. In the bright light of day, I know that I will buy this album. And I feel better knowing why.
But before I buy it, I’ve gotta pour some out for “Play,” which is not on this collection. And that is crazy! The song reached the top 20 in America and the top 3 in Britain, got tons of airplay, and has a really awesome F-bomb near the end. And it was co-written by Christina Milian, one of the finest one-hit wonders of the 2000s!
Here’s to you, “Play.” You might not make the hits collection, but I will never forget you.
Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He just wants the d.j. to play his motherf***in’ song.