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Thanks for sticking with me through whats turning into a neverending series of blog entries. As always, please comment, especially if you have any suggestions or complaints. Im no expert and I dont pretend to be Im just an avid fan.

With that I give you:

The Greatest Hits, Part 3

Yeah, I know. Three days of really obvious picks and over-exposed mall scents. Any of you who have read my mini-reviews for the last couple of years know that Im a complete perfume snob and are probably a bit surprised that there are so many popular fragrances on this list, but I do think these are important milestones that are fully worth sniffing. Besides, you cant really appreciate the alternative without knowing the mainstream, and I promise things will be getting more niche soon.

But first


43. Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani



I personally think that Acqua di Gio gets unfairly bashed by fragrance connoisseurs, mostly because of its popularity. Despite its ubiquitous status as a nightclub cologne for horny, lowbrow straight men (a demographic not often known for their fine taste in fragrance), Acqua di Gio is actually very worthy of a sniff.

To me, ADG is probably the most perfect example of a garrigue scent out there. Garrigue, in addition to being a town name in France, also means the rather romantic notion of the smell of herbs wafting on a breeze.

After its popular but common hyper-clean lemony topnotes fade (the ongoing influence of CK One is definitely a factor here), Acqua di Gio ends up as the smell of hot sand dunes at a beach, including the salty air and the smell of the herbal shrubs that grow in the sand dunes carried in the hot air. Its a wonderful effect that wears subtly on the skin, but paints a beautiful picture.

For me, the other reason I praise Acqua di Gio is that (aside from the pleasant but commonplace topnotes) it doesnt resort to marine clichés in its desire to smell like a beach. Theres none of that Chrome-esque woody amber that masquerades as freshness in too many mass-market scents. And, despite a top that some describe as salty watermelon, it doesnt dry down to a fusty, rotting melon smell that can also be an unavoidably popular aquatic element in popular scents.


44. Fierce by Abercrombie & Fitch



Speaking of fusty, rotting melon

At least in America, its been almost impossible NOT to smell Fierce for the last few years. Its the heavy scent thats sprayed constantly in and around Abercrombie & Fitch stores, so it has become the unofficial smell of the mall. This has led to a big public opinion split on Fierce large numbers of people hate it and some have even launched a scare campaign accusing it of causing cancer, while even larger numbers of people adore it. Seriously, before the economic downturn, when Abercrombie fashions (and Fierce) were at their most popular, my friends and I had a contest when we were in large groups of people, counting the number of times we smelled someone wearing it.

So what does Fierce smell like? At least for Americans, its an incredibly familiar smell now, but the cloud you smell hovering around the mall (that weird mix of the aforementioned fusty rotten melon mixing with coffee and a faint buzz of woody amber chemicals) is mostly the deep drydown phase of Fierce, meaning that it actually smells much more nuanced when worn properly.

If you can, imagine fresh honeydew melon mixed with coffee and sprayed with nostril-tickling lavender-scented Windex, so it always maintains a very chemical sheen despite the fruit and coffee. With time, it gets more herbal, incorporating both green herbs and a subtle cinnamon quality (possibly done with mace) that goes well with the coffee and belies a clear inspiration from Polo. Eventually, the brightness fades and the melon note gets really murky and almost meaty while the coffee gets old and stale, leading to the infamous mall smell.

So why would I include Fierce on this list? There are other extremely popular scents that are ostensibly better. In answer to that, I refer you back to that fusty moldy rotten melon smell. Its incredibly popular and extremely over-used, coming in second only to that woody amber smell as the accord most likely to be referred to when saying how awful mass market mens perfumery has gotten. And while Fierce certainly didnt invent this smell, its definitely the most popular example. Oh, and the basic idea of a musty aquatic coffee scent is intriguing simply as a concept. Even though I dont think Fierce really pulls it off successfully, its still more interesting than yet another stereotypical blue scent.