Sunday, November 08, 2009

Foo Fighters - Greatest Hits or Best Of?

I think I've finally found out what's the difference between a "greatest hits" and "best of" album. For the former, a song would have to be a "hit" in order to substantiate its inclusion, and that is usually determined by chart action - whether it was #1 or Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 or Modern Rock or whatever chart.

On the other hand, the songs on a "best of" album might not technically have been "hits" in the chart performance sense, or they might not even have been released as singles due to a myriad of reasons (e.g. no budget to shoot an accompanying video, record label decision etc), but they are generally considered the artist's best work - by the fans/critics/the artists themselves.

More often than not, the best songs do get released as singles, and if they're that good, they usually become hits. So there's usually not much difference between calling an album a "greatest hits" or "best of" album. But sometimes, there's a disconnect.

I thought I'd use Foo Fighters' latest Greatest Hits album as an example of this observation, but upon closer inspection, I realised that it's not a very good example.

The tracklist contains 16 songs, 13 old songs plus two new songs (Wheels and Word Forward) and one acoustic version of Everlong (finally!). Back in August, I came up with my wishlist of the tracklist, where I chose 14 old songs to accompany the two new tracks. The three songs that didn't make it are I'll Stick Around, Walking After You and Let It Die. I personally feel that those three songs are among their best work and it's a real pity they aren't included.

Looking at the chart performance of the selected 13 songs, they do qualify as "hits", since they all hit Top 10. The only exception is Skin And Bones, which was probably chosen because they wanted each album to be represented. I used the Billboard Modern Rock Chart as a barometer of chart performance.

1. All My Life (#1, 10 weeks)
2. Best Of You (#1, 7 weeks)
3. Everlong (#3)
4. The Pretender (#1, 18 weeks)
5. My Hero (#6)
6. Learn To Fly (#1, 1 week)
7. Times Like These (#5)
8. Monkey Wrench (#9)
9. Big Me (#3)
10. Breakout (#8)
11. Long Road To Ruin (#1, 7 weeks)
12. This Is A Call (#2)
13. Skin And Bones (did not chart)

The "hits" that did not make it are:
- I'll Stick Around (#8)
- DOA (#1, 6 weeks)
- No Way Back (#2)
- Let It Die (#1, 1 week)

So it seems not all the hits were given fair treatment and not all of them made it. Thus, my theory of the difference between a "greatest hits" and "best of" album doesn't stand. Well...

But the deluxe edition of the album comes with a bonus DVD that includes 17 music videos (including the new Wheels video), four live performances and a bonus music video for No Way Back. So in a way, they're trying to compensate for the exclusion of those tracks by putting the video in. But there's still no Let It Die though.

To celebrate the release of Greatest Hits, here's all the CD albums, singles DVDs and vinyls I own. Many of the singles were purchased overseas, especially the earlier singles. I haven't got the Greatest Hits album yet (gasp!), but I will get it soon.



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