The short version:
Air—The Virgin Suicides: 6/10
Rihanna—Good Girl Gone Bad: 5/10
Global Underground Afterhours 3: overall recommended
This time I've been listening to yet another Air album, the soundtrack to the movie The Virgin Suicides. As a movie soundtrack, it's a little more bland "background music" in its style, and while it has the laid-back attitude that I'm expecting from Air, there's not as much weirdness or variety as their other CDs. Still, if you like Air, you'll probably like this too. It sort of makes me want to watch the movie (1999, Sofia Coppola). Unlike most CDs, all of my favorite tracks are in the second half of the album: Ghost Song, Highschool Lover, and Dead Bodies.
Since I don't listen to the radio (or internet radio) or watch MTV, I'm usually pretty far behind when it comes to hit songs. I'd heard Umbrella by Rihanna from her latest album Good Girl Gone Bad a couple times, but I think most people my age have probably heard it about a hundred times, so it's still new to me. That said, there's a reason that it's such a popular song; it's entrancing. If only the rest of the disc were as good. It's not bad, just not too interesting to me—it's similar to Beyoncé's Dangerously in Love, but more electronic and less R&B. The best songs on here besides Umbrella are Breakin' Dishes and Lemme Get That. Breakin' Dishes in particular reminds me of Nelly Furtado's last CD, but Rihanna doesn't pull it off as well.
Finally, I've been listening to a three-CD compilation by Global Underground with the creative name Afterhours 3. Not bad; you get a lot of variety for your money. I think it would be good at exactly what it says it would be good for: late night background music at or after a party. One of the CDs is mostly just club music, which I'm not really a big fan of, but the other two are chillout and ambient (roughly speaking), which I'm more friendly toward. Like this set, my favorites from the collection cover a variety of different electronica styles: The Cinematic Orchestra—Channel Suite 1, Andrew K—No Hay Banda, Ticon—In Stereo, and Charlie—Spacer Woman. Recommended, though I can't really rate it since every track is different.