VARIOUS ARTISTS Rak BeYisrael, Volume 3 Hed Arzi As 2006 winds down, record companies have begun their annual competition to release the best collection of the year's biggest hits. Hed Arzi recently put out the third volume of its popular Rak BeYisrael (Only in Israel) series, a 20-song compilation of contemporary pop and rock hits. The album opens with Idan Yaniv's "Hoshev Aleha" (Thinking of Her), a Mizrahi pop song that created a storm on the airwaves and became one of the most overplayed songs of the year. The three women who dominated local pop radio charts in 2006 - Keren Peles, Aya Corem and Miri Mesika - each also offer a song, as do A Star is Born alums Harel Ska'at and Harel Moyal. The album's wittiest track, "Perach Hashchunot" (Flower from the Hood), belongs to Tea Packs and guest performer Alma Zak. With lyrics about talent agents preying on young Israelis reaching for stardom, the song is followed - and this surely isn't a coincidence - by "Rak Al Tagid" singer Maya Buskila, who publicly split with her handlers this year because they were "overworking and underpaying" her. The veteran rockers of Fortis-Sakharof prove they're still a potent pop force with popular anthem "Besof Shel Yom" (At the End of the Day), while veteran rock artist Ronit Shahar pitches in with "Le'hatchil Le'hamshich" (Beginning to Continue), a huge radio hit when it was released during the first half of the year. Other artists included here are chart-toppers Hadag Nachash, Din Din Aviv, Keleh 6 and Gilad Segev. The album wraps up on a poignant note with the heartrending "Million Kochavim" (Million Stars). The song is performed by Amit Farkas, the younger sister of Captain Tom Farkas, who died when his helicopter crashed during the Lebanon war this past summer. The song was written by Tom Farkas' childhood friend, Iftach Krezner, and was recorded on the day of his funeral. It's worth investing in the album for this last track alone. VARIOUS ARTISTS Gdolim Be'Ahava: Osef Shirim Me'Halev Helicon Helicon's most recent compilation, an 18-track collection of love songs, proves less successful than Hed Arzi's. It's not that the songs here are any less worthwhile - the problem is that 15 of the 18 tracks simply became too popular, and by now are so familiar that listeners may find it painful to give this CD a spin. The songs were released over the last few years, not solely in 2006. Arkadi Duchin's 2004 hit "Me Ohev Otach Yoter Mimeni" (Who Loves You More tha Me) kicks off the anthology, and is followed later on the disc by artists including Ivri Lider, Shiri Maimon, Daniel Salomon, Ninet Tayeb and Efrat Gosh. The compilation marks the first time three of its songs - Rita's "Teshaker Li" (Lie to Me), Rami Kleinstein's "Ben Hatipot" (Between Tears) and Maya Avraham's "Lifnai Shenishtagea" (Before We Go Crazy) - have been included on such a collection. A couple of the songs here can also be found on the third Rak BeYisrael disc: Harel Moyal's "Ve'az Tav'oee" (And Then Come) and Fortis-Sakharof's "Besof Shel Yom" (At the End of the Day). Nevertheless, diehard fans of Israeli love songs shouldn't have truoble finding a place in their hearts for this disc.