I lost one of my favorite singers today, Donna Summer. This woman’s music has been part of my life for more than 35 years. I feel like I have lost a friend, a part of my family. Her voice was a gift from God. I am thankful that I experienced that gift for as long as I did. She was an excellent vocalist, and a beautiful individual.
I was lucky enough to have seen her in concert 8 times in my life (starting in 1983 and lastly in 2008). She was one of the best live performers around. She put her heart and soul into those shows, and I will never forget hearing her live. There was no studio trickery there, she was the real deal.
This death has bothered me more than some other celebrity deaths, like Whitney Houston. I guess the reason is that I have more history with Donna than Whitney or Michael. She has been with me since I was a shy, quiet questioning teenager to the strong, confident gay man I am today.
I can’t recall what the first Donna item I owned was. It was probably the 45 for “Heaven Knows.” Followed closely by the cassette tape for “Live and More.” I was hooked after that and followed her career to the end. She never let me down as an artist. She may not been selling like the old days, but I still enjoyed the music and artistry.
The holiday gift giving season is upon us. Do you have something for everyone on your list? As a big music fan, I have quite a CD/MP3 collection. Greatest hits collections are great for gift giving. You get all the hits people know, plus usually a few choice album cuts too. They are great for casual fans or die hards too.
- Madonna “Immaculate Collection”
Still a gold standard as far as “greatest hits” collections. She has had a few other collections, but this one is still the strongest. It is amazing how many of these songs you still hear played today: “Holiday,” “Vogue,” “Crazy for You”. If you want to go deeper, try “Celebration” her most recent and most definitive collection (available as a 1 or 2 disc collection).
- Journey “Greatest Hits”
They are still popular! I really believe we have “Glee” to thank for their continued popularity. After “Don’t Stop Believin’” was featured on there, you heard a lot more of this band. They have great sing-along songs and put on a fantastic live show. Not a bad one in the bunch. If you want to go deeper, try “The Essential Journey” (available as a 2 or 3 disc collection).
- Blondie “The Best of Blondie”
Another influential and overlooked group of the 70’s and 80’s. Big hits like “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “The Tide is High.” Debbie Harry was the cool chick lead singer that influenced everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears. If you want to go deeper, try the anthology “The Platinum Collection.”
- Donna Summer “The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer”
Her most recent best-of collection featuring all her essential 70’s and 80’s hits (“Love to Love You Baby” to “This Time I Know It’s For Real”) plus a few new songs too that will have you out there dancing on the floor.
- Duran Duran “Greatest”
Little did people think that the Fab Five as some people called them back in the day, would have the legacy that they do. Expanding upon the earlier “Decade” collection, this is the definitive collection for them. Everything from “Girls on Film” to “Ordinary World.”
- Keith Urban “18 Kids”
I’ve heard his music described as “country for people that don’t like country music.” He’s much more rock than traditional country…with pop sensibilities to his songs. You are sure to tapping your foot and singing along to such songs as “You’re My Better Half” and “Think of Me.”
- Michael Jackson “The Essential Michael Jackson”
A much more comprehensive collection than “HIStory,” this CD has everything from the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to all of his solo mega-hits. One of the biggest and most influential entertainers of our lifetime — that was taken from us too soon. His songs will live on forever.
- Britney Spears “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative”
Yeah, there is another collection called “The Singles Collection” that from the looks of it, is pretty good too (don’t have it), but her first best-of collection shows what made her the star that she is. Catchy tunes that you will be singing for days from “…Baby, One More Time” to “Toxic.”
- ABBA “Gold”
This group has shown some longevity as far as popularity. They never seemed that big in the US to me… always bigger in Europe or South America… but then a little show/movie called “Mamma Mia” brilliantly brought them back into the spotlight and they haven’t left. Hear the original versions of all the original ear candy songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Definitely a guilty pleasure.
- Earth, Wind & Fire “Greatest Hits”
Another great group that has had a great run. Sure to be a favorite at your backyard BBQ or dinner party, these guys combined rock, funk, and R&B into a delectable combination. Featuring such classics as “Shining Star” and “Fantasy.”
These are sure to be popular stocking stuffers for everyone on your gift list. Whether you order them from Amazon or download them from iTunes… you are getting collections with tons of hits on them.