I can speak on a subject like this thanks to the misspent years (and dollars) of my youth. A youth where CDs with titles like Club Hitz 1997 and Euro Dance Volume 5 lined my CD rack. Thankfully, I am capable of learning from my mistakes.

There is, of course, an unspoken rule, which I will repeat now to get it out of the way. For those of you not aware, the unspoken rule is simply to avoid anything calling itself ‘dance’ music. However, the big labels have catched on, and now there’s no guarantee that all crap electronic music ends up with a dance music tag to warn us. Those ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on CDs? The record companies should be required by law to state that a CD contains ‘Dance Music’ in the same fashion.

So, what’s this secret you have for us, Viper Pilot? This particular tip involves the artist names in the tracklisting. There’s a very simple formula you can apply to work out what kind of goods you’re about to receive.

<track name> – X (featuring Y)

Where:

X = an artist you’ve never heard of before

and

Y = a female name

Some (fictional) examples:

Summer’s End – Beat Kings feat. Danice

Paralized – Nice feat. Shawna Unwood

Etc, etc.

Now, why does this work, and how? You can guaran-damn-tee that a song by an outfit you don’t know, featuring a female guest artist is going to be some awful generic audio pablum fitting into one of two camps: Shitty commercial house with a fat black woman wailing in a Pop Idol fourteen-notes-per-vowel manner, or vomitous vocal trance with a rail-thin white woman singing about love being like the wings of an angel.

(Please don’t take the above to mean that I’m saying there’s good commercial house or vocal trance to be found, just that this is one way in which you can detect it without any aural pain.)

Armed with this knowledge, you can find out quickly if that CD in your hands is full of big label garbage or not. If a compilation has one of the above on it, odds are there’ll be a few more.

Now, go forth and shop.