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MTV's Laguna Beach was initially touted as "the real O.C. " In truth, the program seems every bit as make-believe as its fictional inspiration -- and the music on these tie-in comps feels similarly artificial, conjuring up a world of tawny women, buff dudes and relationship drama as gritty as sandpaper minus the sand.

For the most part, Summer juxtaposes sugar shockers by the likes of Hilary Duff and Ginger Sling with Beach dialogue snippets, including one in which a bathing suit is judged to be "really, really, really, really cute." Tracks, meanwhile, consists of indie bands doing versions of ditties by other indie bands. This snake-eating-its-own-tail gambit generally results in lukewarm renditions of good songs (e.g., Goldspot's take on Modest Mouse's "Float On"). Kudos, though, to Lady Sovereign's sprightly remodeling of the Sex Pistols' "Pretty Vacant," whose lyrics serve as a succinct critique of the series itself.

That's keeping it real.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts