Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #43

Day 43 takes us to 19th July 1999 with the Now! compilations.

July 1999
This is the way the world looked in July 1999 (we’re still in the South of France, but this time it actually matches the release month). The weather was hot, the sea was beautiful, and I wish I had more opportunity to go back these days.

On with the summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #43
Track 1: Martine McCutcheon – Perfect Moment

Found it slow, dull and irritating at the time, and guess what?  I still do now.  I quite like Martine McCutcheon as an actor and presenter, but I’m not keen on her music.

Track 2: Boyzone – You Needed Me

So slow and saccharine it’s depressing.  Really dislike this one.

Track 3: Backstreet Boys – I Want It That Way

Loved it at the time and bought the single.  It’s a bit cheesy for me nowadays, but I still quite like the tune.

Track 4: Shanks & Bigfoot – Sweet Like Chocolate

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Annoyed by the tune then, annoyed by the tune now.  Quite like the video though.

Track 5: S Club 7 – Bring It All Back

Highly irritating tune.  I was never much of an S Club fan.

Track 6: Vengaboys – Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom

Another daft theme from the Vengaboys.  Great tune though.

Track 7: ATB – 9PM (Till I Come)

I remember having a discussion on the way home from school with my mate Laura about this track.  She found it irritating because the vocal sample was ‘till I come‘ but the word ‘9PM’ was never spoken.  I suggested that maybe the instrumental hook was meant to represent ‘9PM’, and so for a brief while we had an in-joke of singing the tune to this track in lieu of saying ‘9PM’.  I guess it must have amused us at the time.

Despite all that, the tune’s not much to write home about, and I find the whole thing pretty dull nowadays.

Track 8: Phats & Small – Turn Around

Oh, it’s this one!  I’ve always quite liked this feelgood track – it’s very danceable.

Track 9: Basement Jaxx – Red Alert

Really like that hook, but could do without the messy stop-start intro.

Track 10: Dina Carroll – Without Love

Generic dance beat, boring tune, headache-inducing overblown vocals on the chorus.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 11: Geri Halliwell – Look At Me

Geri Halliwell’s post-Spice Girls solo debut.  It’s alright (the video‘s better than the song) but she did much more interesting tracks later on.

Track 12: Adam Rickitt – I Breathe Again

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

It’s another one that reminds me of my mate Laura, as she had a lot of posters of Adam Rickitt.  I actually quite like the song – there’s a nice classic pop aspect to it.

Track 13: Lolly – Viva La Radio

Appalling, painfully high-pitched song with irritating lyrics, irritating verses, messy squeaky instrumentals, and infuriating spoken interjections.  Surprisingly, the tune on the chorus is actually okay.  If someone sampled that it might be quite good.

Track 14: Cartoons – Doodah

Daft dance version of the traditional children’s song.  There’s actually something I find quite endearing about it.

Track 15: Precious – Say It Again

This is one of those late ’90s tracks that sounds more like it came from the early ’90s.  It’s got a nice beat, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 16: Honeyz – Love Of A Lifetime

Pretty instrumentals, but the vocal line is very generic.

Track 17: 911 – Private Number

Cheesy, slow cover of the ’60s hit.  Not hugely keen on this.

Track 18: Culture Club – Your Kisses Are Charity

Another reggae-tinged song from Culture Club’s late ’90s era.  Nice tune, quite like it.

Track 19: Beverley Knight – Greatest Day

Not feeling this one – the tune is too messy for me.

Track 20: Melanie B – Word Up

Upbeat cover of the Cameo classic.  It doesn’t live up to the original, but I like the added harmonisation on the vocals.

Track 21: Fierce – Dayz Like That

The atmosphere’s okay, but on the whole it’s pretty bland and tuneless.

Track 22: Tina Cousins – Forever

Lovely tune on the vocals (when they’re not so high in the mix that they make my hearing aids squawk with feedback), but the backing track’s very generic.

Track 23: Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

And it’s yet another one that reminds me of my mate Laura, due to many hours in art class with her telling me how this song sounded like God speaking.  I’ve never thought it sounded like God, but I do like the spoken word monologue throughout the track.

Track 24: Texas – In Our Lifetime

Pleasant tune, but nothing special.

Track 25: New Radicals – You Get What You Give

Great singalong chorus, but I find the tune a bit repetitive.

Track 26: Supergrass – Pumping On Your Stereo

I’m normally not keen on Supergrass, but I do like this one – great vocal hook, and a bit of a ’60s throwback sound, which is no bad thing.

Track 27: Madness – Lovestruck

A welcome return to the charts for the recently-reformed Madness, with a song that’s just as jaunty as their stuff the early ’80s, with a bit of added edgy atmosphere.  Great track, really like this one.

Track 28: The Wiseguys – Ooh La La

Oh, it’s this one.  It’s okay, but there’s a good reason I hadn’t thought about it for many years – there’s just no melody, and the interesting spoken word hook isn’t enough to make up for that.

Track 29: The Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy Hey Girl

It’s too repetitive for me, but I do like the ‘superstar DJ‘ vocal sample.

Track 30: Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now

Loved it at the time, bought the single.  Still really like it now – great tune, anthemic hook.

Track 31: Chicane and Maire Brennan – Saltwater

Lovely vocals from Maire Brennan (including a bit of a reprise from Theme From Harry’s Game), contributing to a great dance track.

Track 32: Bryan Adams – Cloud Number Nine

I remember this being reviewed on the Live & Kicking episode where Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston were leaving the show, and them being disappointed that it hadn’t come out a few years earlier so they could have used it as the theme tune for their ‘Cloud Nine’ feature.  Strange what you remember.

Anyway, I quite like the track – more than I did at the time, anyway.

Track 33: Blur – Coffee And TV

Great tune, awesome singalong chorus.  Everybody raves about the video, but I refuse to watch it ’cause it makes me sad.

Track 34: Cast – Beat Mama

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Better than most Cast tracks – at least it’s got a good upbeat tempo and chant-along chorus, even if the tune’s a bit uninspired.

Track 35: Stereophonics – Pick A Part That’s New

It’s another Stereophonics track where I find the vocals too droning and depressing.  I’m sure they did do better ones.

Track 36: Gomez – Bring It On

Interesting harmonisation on the intro, but after that it gets a bit messy for my liking.

Track 37: Semisonic – Secret Smile

Nice tune, nice atmosphere, great lyrics.  Really quite like this one.

Track 38: James – I Know What I’m Here For

Pleasant tune, great instrumentals.  Nice track.

Track 39: Yomanda – Synth And Strings

I guess it does what it says on the tin, but it’s not the nice melodious track you might expect from a name like that – it sounds quite nasty, to be honest.

Track 40: DJ Jurgen and Alice Deejay – Better Off Alone

Utterly depressing repetitive vocal hook – never been keen on this.

Track 41: Masters At Work and India – To Be In Love

There’s quite a nice ’70s vibe to this one, but I’m not loving the tune.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #42

Day 42, and here we are on 29th March 1999, when Now! #42 was released.

March 1999
This is how the world looked in March 1999…well, sort of. Again, we sucked at taking pictures that spring, so here’s one from later in the summer. The South of France never really changes, but I don’t wear tacky fake Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts from tourist stalls anymore *cringe*

Let’s see what the hits were as we went into the final year of the ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #42
Track 1: Boyzone – When The Going Gets Tough

I mentioned this in my review of Now! #7, when discussing the Billy Ocean original.  As I said there, the cover doesn’t do anything different, but it was the Comic Relief single for 1999, so it probably raised a lot of money.  Including mine, ’cause I bought the single.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: And the reason I bought the single is because I thought ‘hey, that’s a great song!’ without realising there was a much better original version.  Sigh.

Track 2: Steps – Better Best Forgotten

Quite liked it at the time, find it super irritating now.

Track 3: Cher – Believe

I don’t hate this as much as some people do – in fact, I quite like the tune – but it was really overplayed at the time, so I don’t think there was anybody who wasn’t sick of it.

Track 4: Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched and Billie Piper – Thank Abba For The Music

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Medley of Abba songs performed at the Brit Awards 1999 by contemporary pop artists in tribute to Abba.  It was pretty cringeworthy at the time, and is even more so nineteen years later.

Track 5: Spice Girls – Goodbye

The Christmas number one from 1998, so it’s one of those ones that feels like it’s the wrong time of year for it.  Pretty track, though.

Track 6: Honeyz – End Of The Line

Like this tune, but the vocals aren’t really to my taste.

Track 7: Billie Piper – Honey To The Bee

Found it a bit dull at the time, but I quite like the tune nowadays.

Track 8: The Corrs – What Can I Do

Lovely tune, great instrumentals.  Big fan of this one.

Track 9: Emilia – Big Big World

Really liked it at the time, find it a bit saccharine now.  Still a nice tune.

Track 10: Tina Cousins – Killin’ Time

Epic-sounding dance track – really like this one.

Track 11: Vengaboys – We Like To Party! (The Vengabus)

Bit of a guilty pleasure, this one, ’cause I do love that singalong chorus (and I have a soft spot for anything with a daft bus theme).

Track 12: Cartoons – Witch Doctor

Dance cover of the ’50s classic.  Always quite liked this one.

Track 13: Ace Of Base – Always Have, Always Will

Jaunty track with a mid-century retro tinge.  Happily nodding along.

Track 14: Blockster – You Should Be

Dull dance track based around a sample of You Should Be Dancing.  It’s pretty uninspired.

Track 15: A+ – Enjoy Yourself

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I quite like the take on Beethoven’s Fifth, but the rap is a bit generic.

Track 16: Deetah – El Paradiso Rico

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I like the La Isla Bonita bit, but the rest of the track is pretty awful.

Track 17: Emmie – More Than This

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Fairly dull dance track.  The vocal is quite nice, but the rest of the track’s pretty uninspired.

Track 18: DJ Sakin – Protect Your Mind (For The Love Of A Princess)

Dance cover of James Horner’s For The Love Of A Princess from the Braveheart soundtrack.  It’s as awful as it sounds.

Track 19: Fool Boona – Popped

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

There’s a nice sample from Iggy Pop’s The Passenger in there somewhere, but it gets lost among a ridiculous amount of other stuff going on.  It’s just a big mess, unfortunately.

Track 20: Sash! – Colour The World

Nice tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 21: Justin – Over You

Slow and dull, and I find the vocal too high-pitched and annoying.

Track 22: Robbie Williams – Strong

Never been a fan of this one – I find the tune super irritating.

Track 23: Lenny Kravitz – Fly Away

Classic rock track, really like this.  Love that singalong chorus.

Track 24: Fatboy Slim – Praise You

A classic!  Great dance track, love this one.

Track 25: Armand Van Helden and Duane Harden – U Don’t Know Me

Highly irritating intro.  Once the hook gets going, it’s sort of okay.

Track 26: Mr Oizo – Flat Beat

I had (in fact, I think I still have) the single of this one.  I don’t like it as much as I used to – it’s fairly tuneless.

Track 27: The Cardigans – Erase/Rewind

Another great rock track from the Cardigans.  Awesome tune.

Track 28: Stereophonics – Just Looking

Urgh, incredibly annoying and depressing chorus.  Don’t like this one at all.

Track 29: The All Seeing I and Tony Christie – Walk Like A Panther

I’ve always liked this track – great tune.

Track 30: The Divine Comedy – National Express

I normally like the Divine Comedy, but this is another one with an annoying chorus.  The verse is great though!

Track 31: Terrorvision – Tequila [Mint Royale Shot]

A classic, and it was a bit of an anthem for me and my friends at the time.  True fact: I drank my first shot of tequila while this song was playing, on Hogmanay 1999, Millennium Eve.  Good times.

Track 32: The Beautiful South – How Long’s A Tear Take To Dry?

It’s a nice tune, but as often happens with the Beautiful South, I find the theme a little awkward.

Track 33: Roxette – Wish I Could Fly

Lovely tune, solid as ever from Roxette – great atmosphere too.

Track 34: 911 – A Little Bit More

It was too cheesy for me at fourteen, so you can imagine what I think of it at thirty-three.  Just no.

Track 35: Dru Hill – These Are The Times

Slow, boring ballad with a forgettable tune, and you know what I think about those.

Track 36: Kele Le Roc – My Love

Another dull ballad.  Not keen on this at all.

Track 37: All Saints – War Of Nerves

Great atmosphere, but there’s a slight disharmony between the vocal and instrumental that gets on my nerves.

Track 38: Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Inkanyezi Nezazi (The Star And The Wiseman)

Nice a cappella track – lovely tune.

Track 39: Blur – Tender

Gorgeous tune, great lyrics – really like this one.

Track 40: Dusty Springfield – You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

Classic ’60s track, re-released in tribute to Dusty Springfield, who had just passed away in March 1999.  Great song.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #41

Day 41 brings us to Now! #41, which was released on 23rd November 1998.

November 1998
This is the way the world looked in November 1998…no it didn’t. Again, we don’t have any pictures from autumn 1998, so instead, you get this slightly cringeworthy one from January 1999 of me dressed up for a gangster-themed party. My hair was super curly then – it’s still curly but it calmed down a bit in the next couple of years.

Let’s see what might have been on the CD player at that party.

Now! That's What I Call Music #41
Track 1: Boyzone – No Matter What

It’s a bit slow and saccharine, but it is a nice tune.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Millennium

The tune is a bit dull, but there’s something quite pleasant about his one.

Track 3: The Beautiful South – Perfect 10

I’ve always been a bit mixed on this one – great tune, but for some reason I find the theme a bit depressing.

Track 4: U2 – Sweetest Thing

I’ve always quite liked this one, and the video‘s still great.

Track 5: Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved

This reminded me that I read in Classic Pop (my new favourite magazine – it’s basically like Smash Hits grew up and is now a middle-aged man) the other day that Culture Club have finally made up and got back together in order to go on tour and release that album that they made a few years back before the last bust-up.  As such, I’ve just ordered tickets, and I’m going to see them in November!  So excited.

This song is from the late ’90s reformation, and it’s quite a pleasant reggae track, but it’s not quite up there with the ’80s stuff for me.

Track 6: Ace Of Base – Life Is A Flower

Loved it at the time, still quite like it now.  Nice tune.

Track 7: Jennifer Paige – Crush

Lovely tune, classic chorus.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 8: Steps – Heartbeat

The annual music channel Christmas playlists have ensured that this is now a bona fide Christmas song, so it feels wrong in May.  Trying to put that aside, it’s a pretty daft, cheesy song, fairly standard for Steps.

Track 9: Honeyz – Finally Found

We return to the theme from yesterday, of tracks that were also featured on the Top of the Pops 1998 compilation, which I owned for some reason despite liking almost none of the songs on it.  This one has an annoying chorus and a boring theme.

Track 10: East 17 – Each Time

I like the instrumentals at the start, but the vocal is pretty uninspired.

Track 11: Kele Le Roc – Little Bit Of Lovin’

Overblown vocals, slow ballad, generic tune.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 12: Sweetbox – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

The Bach sample is nice, but the vocals over the top (both sung and rap) are pretty awful.

Track 13: UB40 – Come Back Darling

Fairly standard reggae track from UB40, except it’s got a sort of messy beat that I find a bit irritating.  Shame, ’cause the tune’s nice.

Track 14: Melanie B and Missy Elliott – I Want You Back

So-so effort from the Spice Girls’ Mel B for her first solo single.  The dull tune on the chorus does nothing for me, really…

Track 15: All Saints – Bootie Call

…and bizarrely, the dull tune on the chorus of this one is strongly reminiscent of it.  I’m also irritated by the theme.

Track 16: Aqua – Turn Back Time

Gorgeous tune, love this one.  Great song.

Track 17: Spice Girls – Too Much

The Now! compilers are a little late with this one, as it was the Christmas number one for 1997.  Still a nice tune, though, and possibly my favourite of the three consecutive Spice Girls Christmas number ones.

Track 18: Lutricia McNeal – Someone Loves You Honey

Super cheesy and irritating, but at least it attempts to bring back the sax solo, which was much neglected by this point of the ’90s.

Track 19: Lighthouse Family – Question Of Faith

Really nice tune, great atmosphere.  Good head-nodder.

Track 20: Phil Collins – True Colours

Laid-back cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic.  Interesting, slightly folky instrumentals, but it doesn’t quite have the rawness of the original.

Track 21: Janet Jackson – Every Time

Pretty song – quite like this one, even if the tune on the chorus does massively rip off Go West’s King Of Wishful Thinking.

Track 22: Billie Piper – Girlfriend

Annoyed by it at the time, annoyed by it now.  I remember taking the piss out of this one with mates at school using alternative lyrics, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

Track 23: 911 – More Than A Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the Bee Gees song, with the only real changes being some added tinkly instrumentals and the fact that it’s not sung in falsetto.  Meh.

Track 24: T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach

Well, it’s at least upfront.  Found it a bit awkward at the time – nowadays I just find it interesting as a ’90s musical artefact.

Track 25: The Tamperer and Maya – If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better

It’s pretty similar to their previous hit Feel It, except this time it samples Material Girl instead of Can You Feel It?  It’s okay, but there’s a reason it wasn’t as big a hit as the first one.

Track 26: Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

I should be irritated by this one, but I do like that singalong hook.

Track 27: Vengaboys – Up And Down

I’ve always quite liked this one, although it’s not the most memorable of the Vengaboys’ tracks.

Track 28: Sash! and Shannon – Move Mania

The backing track is great, but I’m not keen on the vocals.

Track 29: Touch & Go – Would You…?

I like the instrumentals, and the vocal sample’s used quite well.  While it’s still not exactly innuendo, it’s not as in-your-face as Sex On The Beach (see above), and I actually quite like the track.

Track 30: The Corrs – Dreams [Tee’s Radio Mix]

Pretty, folky cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic.  Really like this one.

Track 31: The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

Great track!  Loved it at the time, love it now.  That guitar riff is gold.

Track 32: James – Sit Down ’98

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

We already had the original on Now! #20, but this version is different enough that I’m not going to moan about that.  It’s not different in a good way, though – it’s just really messy.

Track 33: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

I like the instrumental hook, but the rest of the track is pretty haphazard and irritating.

Track 34: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Falling In Love Again

It’s okay, but it sounds too similar to Save Tonight.  I prefer artists to diverge a bit more.

Track 35: Sheryl Crow – My Favourite Mistake

A bit repetitive, and it’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 36: Robbie Williams – No Regrets

Repeated artist alert!  I know Robbie Williams was having a lot of hits at the time, but that’s really no excuse.

The tune is lovely, and had I been the Now! compilers, I would have chosen this one over Millennium and given the extra slot to someone else.  I’ll remember that when I get round to building that time machine.

Track 37: Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Interesting, atmospheric cover of the Animals classic.  Quite like this one.

Track 38: Embrace – My Weakness Is None Of Your Business

It’s another depressing one from Embrace.  Droning vocals, slow tune, brings my mood right down.  Next one, please.

Track 39: Alisha’s Attic – The Incidentals

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice tune, but it’s a bit acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 40: Deetah – Relax

Pretty intro, but the instrumentals don’t really go with the rap.

Track 41: R Kelly and Keith Murray – Home Alone

Not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.  Not a fan.

Track 42: Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma

Dance-infused version of the traditional Irish song that I absolutely adored at the time – I bought the single and everything.  It’s still a guilty pleasure, but I do find it a bit daft nowadays!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #38

Day 38 takes us to 17th November 1997 with our Now! compilation marathon.

November 1997
This was how the world looked in November 1997 (actually September – it was another autumn where we didn’t really take any photos). I still have that jumper – it’s had a few recent reprieves from wardrobe culls!

Let’s see what was tearing up the charts at the time.

Now! That's What I Call Music #38
Track 1: Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

The ultimate in singalong classics, and a feature of every school disco and a lot of post-school discos in subsequent years.  Brilliant track.  Also, this album version that I’ve found on Spotify has a Brassed Off sample at the start, which makes it even better.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life

One of my favourites from the Spice Girls – really like this upbeat, danceable song.

Track 3: Hanson – Where’s The Love

Considering that I played Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere album non-stop for about a year, the fact that I couldn’t remember this song shows you how forgettable it is.  I sort of remember it now I’m listening to it again, but I doubt it’ll stick in my brain long.

Track 4: Boyzone – Picture Of You

I’ve never really liked this one – the tune has always annoyed me.

Track 5: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me

It should be too saccharine for me, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it, largely because I always liked the video.

Track 6: Eternal – Angel Of Mine

Absolutely beautiful tune – love this one.

Fun fact: American singer Monica did a completely pointless cover of this that sounds pretty much identical, which was a huge hit in the US, so that’s the version that most people across the pond know.

Track 7: Lighthouse Family – Raincloud

Great, interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit dull.

Track 8: Janet Jackson – Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Love that Big Yellow Taxi sample…but in all honesty, nowadays it just makes me want to listen to Big Yellow Taxi instead.  I remember my dad getting similarly frustrated whenever it came on the radio at the time, ’cause you can’t improve on the original Joni Mitchell track.

Track 9: The Brand New Heavies – You’ve Got A Friend

Dull cover of the Carole King song (which was pretty dull to begin with) with an irritating funk bit over the top.

Track 10: All Saints – I Know Where It’s At

I quite like most of All Saints’ stuff, but this one’s got an annoying tune.  Not keen.

Track 11: Louise – Arms Around The World

Interesting Eastern-tinged instrumentals in the intro, and a nice synth riff running through the verses.  Shame the vocals are so generic.

Track 12: Gala – Freed From Desire

It’s not the kind of thing I normally like, but I’ve always quite enjoyed this one – I like the atmosphere.

Track 13: Sash! and La Trec – Stay

Great electro lines, but the vocals are a bit overblown.

Track 14: Dario G – Sunchyme

Love this electro track – lovely feelgood tune.  Only just realised right now that the sample is Life In A Northern Town – but it’s done really well, so I won’t moan.

Track 15: Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

Horrendous nails-down-a-blackboard vocal opening!  Then the rest of the track is repetitive and irritating.  Not keen at all.

Track 16: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #9.  I’m keeping an eye on you, Now! compilers!  I’m guessing this was back in the charts due to The Full Monty.

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 17: N-Trance and Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Slightly messy semi-cover of the 1978 classic.  There are far too many vocal lines going on, but somehow it works.

Track 18: LL Cool J – Phenomenon

Good head-nodder, quite like this one.

Track 19: 911 – Party People…Friday Night

I’ve always quite liked this one, if only for the jaunty days-of-the-week bit in the chorus (I have a similar soft spot for 7 Days by Craig David, but I’m sure we’ll get to that later).

Track 20: Ricky Martin – María

I started studying Spanish the year after this, so I was a huge fan of Ricky Martin and had all his albums.  This one is a great, danceable, Latin-flavoured track, an early indicator of the Latin pop craze that would characterise the turn of the millennium.

Speaking of which…

Track 21: Bellini – Samba De Janeiro

…here’s another.  Absolutely classic trumpet line, great dance track.

Track 22: DJ Quicksilver – Free

Oh, it’s this one!  Really like the electro lines on this – great tune.

Track 23: Wet Wet Wet – Yesterday

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Utterly pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There is nothing different about this version at all except for an irritating country-tinged twangy guitar instrumental in the middle.

Track 24: George Michael – You Have Been Loved

Lovely tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 25: The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

Depressing in a bad way.  I’ve never been keen on this one.

Track 26: Oasis – Stand By Me

This track has a really irritating chord change sequence in the chorus that messes up the time signature in an infuriating way.  It’s been driving me nuts for over twenty years, and as such, I’m not a fan of this song.

Example of a song that messes up the time signature in a nice, pleasant way: Golden Brown by the Stranglers.  I think I’ll go listen to that once this compilation is done.

Track 27: Embrace – All You Good Good People

Nice tune, but I’m not keen on the vocals, as they sound kind of droning.

Track 28: Faithless – Don’t Leave

I really liked this one at the time ’cause I had it on the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  It’s still a good tune.

Track 29: Radiohead – Karma Police

Great tune, but I’m not hugely keen on the theme.

Track 30: Moby – James Bond Theme

I have often said throughout this Now! marathon that I love a James Bond theme.  This is slightly different, as instead of being a new song released for a James Bond film, it’s an electro cover of the main theme.  It’s okay, but you shouldn’t really mess with a classic.

Track 31: PF Project and Ewan McGregor – Choose Life

Dance track with Ewan McGregor’s ‘choose life‘ monologue from Trainspotting over the top of it.  The track itself is pretty awful, so the monologue is the only bit that’s of interest.

Track 32: Robbie Williams – Lazy Days

Annoying dregs-of-Britpop tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 33: Ash – A Life Less Ordinary

Another one that’s (obviously) off the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  Great chorus, but the verses are pretty boring.

Track 34: Texas – Black Eyed Boy

Great beat, great tune.  One of my favourite Texas tracks.

Track 35: Meredith Brooks – Bitch

Loved it at the time, makes me cringe a bit now, mainly because my friends and I all loved to adapt the lyrics when literally bitching about other girls at school.  Growing up is a good thing.

Track 36: Jon Bon Jovi – Janie, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Irritating tune, not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Ocean Colour Scene – Better Day

Lovely tune, great atmosphere – a longtime favourite.

Track 38: Cast – I’m So Lonely

Dreary, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 39: Conner Reeves – Earthbound

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

The vocals are far too saccharine for me, but the tune’s quite nice.

Track 40: Peter Andre – Lonely

Another slow, cheesy tune.  Blurgh.

Also, while Cast (see above) are so lonely, Peter Andre is just lonely full stop.  I’m pretty sure this was deliberate on the part of the Now! compilers…

Track 41: Boyz II Men – Four Seasons Of Loneliness

…especially now that Boyz II Men have both of them beat by being lonely all year round.  It shouldn’t be a competition, guys!

The piano instrumental on this one’s quite nice, but in general it’s yet another ballad that’s too slow and too saccharine for my liking.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #37

Day 37, and Now! #37, released 14th July 1997.

July 1997
This is how the world looked in July 1997 – and given how long those Hebridean structures have been standing, it’s how the world has looked for quite some time. I loved those leggings at the time, though I’m not quite sure about them now.

Let’s have a listen to some artists who have almost certainly never played live in the Outer Hebrides.

Now! That's What I Call Music #37
Track 1: Hanson – MMMBop

Loved Hanson at the time, as did all my friends – my walls were covered in their posters!  Nowadays I find this one pretty cringeworthy though.

Track 2: Eternal and Bebe Winans – I Wanna Be The Only One

I’ve always quite liked this one – the chorus is great.

Track 3: The Cardigans – Lovefool

A huge favourite!  Loved it then, love it now.  Gorgeous tune.

Track 4: No Doubt – Just A Girl

Another great tune from No Doubt – great beat, great instrumentals.

Track 5: Sash! and Rodriguez – Ecuador

I adored this at the time and played it over and over.  It’s still my favourite Sash! track.

Track 6: No Mercy – Where Do You Go

I’d totally forgotten about this one.  It’s quite a good dance track, through I’m not hugely keen on the chorus reference to ’60s hit Where Do You Go To (My Lovely), which I find to be a super irritating song!

Track 7: Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are

This was a double A-side with Mama, and this is undoubtedly the better song in my opinion.  It was the Comic Relief single for 1997, and it had a dance to go with it, which was the absolute best thing a song could have at the time.  Great tune.

Track 8: Ultra Naté – Free

Annoyed by it at the time, still find the chorus a bit irritating now.

Track 9: Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close

Oh, it’s this one!  The backing track is dull, but there’s something I find quite endearing about the vocals.

Track 10: George Michael – Star People

Quite like the instrumentals, but it’s a boring tune.

Track 11: En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love)

Absolutely beautiful song – love this one.

Track 12: Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody

Originally an ’80s track, but this is the version everybody knows.  I’ve never been that keen on this tune – I don’t like the chorus.

Track 13: Coolio and 40 Thevz – C U When U Get There

I like the sample from Pachelbel’s Canon in D, even when it goes a bit electro and odd.  The rap’s a bit generic, though.

Track 14: Warren G and Ron Isley – Smokin’ Me Out

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Nice atmosphere on the intro, but I find the rest of the track a bit messy.

Track 15: R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly

Quite liked it at the time, find it massively overplayed and irritating now.

Track 16: Damage – Wonderful Tonight

Soul-tinged cover of the Eric Clapton classic, generally a bit uninspired.  Not different enough to be worthwhile in my opinion (even if they do change the blonde subject of the song into a brunette!).

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the first version of this song I ever heard.  I still can’t believe that.

Track 17: 911 – The Journey

Slow, dull ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 18: Boyzone – Isn’t It A Wonder

This one’s far too saccharine for me, I’m afraid.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)

I suggested this song the other day when Geth and I were in the pub trying to come up with songs that had ‘game‘ in the title for a boardgame-themed playlist.  I wouldn’t actually put it in a playlist, though, ’cause it’s cheesy and irritating.

Track 20: N-Tyce – Hey DJ! (Play That Song)

I quite like the backing track, but the vocals are super annoying.

Track 21: Foxy Brown and Jay-Z – I’ll Be

The rap is good, but there’s not enough of a tune for me.

Track 22: Wet Wet Wet – If I Never See You Again

Slow beat, slightly irritating tune, but at least it’s got a nice classic edge to it.

Track 23: U2 – Staring At The Sun

Nice atmosphere, but again, the tune is slow and dull.

Track 24: The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Overplayed at the time, irritating now, and of course it’s not helped by that infuriating video.

Track 25: The Seahorses – Love Is The Law

Really like the guitar intro and the melody – great tune.

Track 26: Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City

Another rock classic from OCS, with a slightly ’60s tinge about it.  Awesome track.

Track 27: Robbie Williams – Old Before I Die

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune.

Track 28: Cast – Guiding Star

Oh, it’s this one.  I’ve always found the vocal hook super annoying – not a fan.

Track 29: Paul McCartney – Young Boy

Nice upbeat track, like the tune.  Good stuff.

Track 30: Sheryl Crow – A Change Would Do You Good

The ‘change’ here for me is that I actually quite like this one, which is a first for the Sheryl Crow tracks that have been on Now! compilations so far.  Nice beat and atmosphere on the verses.

Track 31: Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Nice tune on the instrumentals, but the vocal line is depressing (and not in a good way).

Track 32: Texas – Halo

Lovely tune, apart from the chorus, which annoys me.

Track 33: Supergrass – Sun Hits The Sky

And this one’s vice versa – irritating, repetitive tune on the verses, but the chorus is all right.

Track 34: James – Waltzing Along

Great track – love the melody on this one, and the atmosphere’s really nice too.

Track 35: Blur – On Your Own

Great beat, interesting instrumentals, but once the vocal is added to the mix it becomes a bit messy.

Track 36: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks

I’ve always really liked this one!  Great singalong track.

Track 37: Orbital – The Saint

Electronica cover of the theme tune to The Saint.  It’s as random as it sounds.

Track 38: Brainbug – Nightmare

Great spiky electro dance, really like this one.

Track 39: The Course – Ain’t Nobody

Messy dance cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  It’s pretty atrocious.

Track 40: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Something Going On

Oh, it’s this one!  Generic beat to start off, but the vocals are quite nice.

Track 41: Diddy – Give Me Love

No, it’s not the hip-hop act – he was known as ‘Puff Daddy’ at the time.  ’90s Diddy was a dance producer, and I reckon he should probably have sued when Puff Daddy decided to change his name.

The track is a pretty generic dance offering, very forgettable.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #36

Day 36 brings us to Now! #36, which was released on 24th March 1997.

March 1997
This is how the world looked in March 1997. I’ve not been back to Malta since, so I don’t know how much it’s changed, but I know I don’t wear cycling shorts as daywear anymore.

Let’s see what would have been in my headphones on the plane to Malta.

Now! That's What I Call Music #36
Track 1: Spice Girls – Mama

So I guess every Now! compilation is going to feature a Spice Girls track for a few albums?  Okay then.

Mama wasn’t my favourite at the time – it was just a bit slow for me – and I’m not keen now either.  I’ve always preferred their more upbeat stuff.

Track 2: Texas – Say What You Want

Liked it at the time, find the tune a bit annoying now.

Track 3: Bee Gees – Alone

Nice classic-sounding track from the Bee Gees – lovely tune.

Track 4: The Beautiful South – Don’t Marry Her

Nice guitar intro, but I’m not hugely keen on the rest of the track.

Track 5: No Doubt – Don’t Speak

Gorgeous song – beautiful tune, lovely theme.  A classic.

Track 6: White Town – Your Woman

Great track – I absolutely love those spiky instrumental hooks.

Track 7: Blue Boy – Remember Me

Oh, it’s this one!  Interesting lines, quite like the vocal.

Track 8: Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity

Loved it then, still quite like it now.  At the time I couldn’t stop watching the classic video, which isn’t quite as impressive nowadays as it was twenty-two years ago but is still pretty cool.

Track 9: Robert Miles and Maria Nayler – One And One

Nice tune, but the vocals are a bit annoying.

Track 10: George Michael – Spinning The Wheel

I’ve always liked this one – lovely tune, great beat.

Track 11: Mark Morrison – Horny

Messy, irritating song.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 12: Peter Andre – Natural

Generic tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen.

Track 13: Damage – Love Guaranteed

More cheesy pop-by-numbers – there’s nothing original or interesting about this.

Track 14: Eternal – Don’t You Love Me

Nice intro, great atmosphere, good instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Gabrielle – Walk On By

Awesome atmosphere, really interesting track.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good

Kavana was a bit of a Smash Hits darling at the time, but I was never much of a fan.  This is okay though – nice solid pop song.

Track 17: East 17 – Hey Child

Nice harmony on the vocals, and the tune is pleasant, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 18: Boyzone – A Different Beat

One of the better Boyzone tracks – really like the tune on the chorus.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Anywhere For You

Saccharine and dull.  Not a fan.

Track 20: 911 – The Day We Find Love

Slow dull ballad from 911.  They definitely did better songs, from what I remember.

Track 21: U2 – Discothèque

It’s a bit messy, but it’s also quite refreshingly different at this point, what with the slightly harder rock guitars.

Track 22: The Prodigy – Breathe

Great danceable track, great vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 23: The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats

Liked it at the time, find the tune annoying and repetitive now.

Track 24: Placebo – Nancy Boy

Love this one!  Great guitar intro, great tune, awesome lyrics.  Another classic.

Track 25: Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, good atmosphere, really like this track.

Track 26: Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding Road

Another Sheryl Crow song where I can’t get past the annoying tune.  Also, the word(s) in the title should be ‘every day‘, not ‘everyday‘.

Track 27: Blur – Beetlebum

It’s not the kind of song I’d typically like, but I’m quite fond of this one – happily nodding away here.

Track 28: James – She’s A Star

Nice tune, nice atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 29: Mansun – Wide Open Space

Interesting tune, good atmosphere, good stuff.

Track 30: Cast – Free Me

Dull, repetitive tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 31: Space – Dark Clouds

I quite like the instrumentals and atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty boring.

Track 32: Cathy Dennis – Waterloo Sunset

Guitar-driven cover of the Kinks classic.  It’s quite a nice version, but it doesn’t change much from the original.

Track 33: The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

Sweet upbeat tune, quite like this one.

Track 34: Alisha’s Attic – Indestructible

Interesting instrumentals (nice to hear a bit of synth!) but it’s a little slow for my liking.

Track 35: Ant & Dec – Shout

Bizarrely serious-sounding song for Ant & Dec, with dodgy ‘homage’ to Tears For Fears’ Shout during the chorus.  The only saving grace is Erasure’s Andy Bell on backing vocals (though I’ve no idea what he was doing there).

Track 36: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #19!  Do they think nobody was listening back then?

Grr.  See the link for my review.

Track 37: Sash! – Encore Une Fois

I adored this one at the time, but I don’t think it’s aged that well, and I find it a bit so-so nowadays.

Track 38: DJ Quicksilver – Bellissima

Loved it then, still quite like it now – great tune.

Track 39: BBE – Flash

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Like the hooks, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 40: Amen! – Passion

Really like the instrumental hook, but I don’t like the vocals at all!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #35

Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.

November 1996
This is the way the world looked in November 1996 (well, obviously it wasn’t actually November, as I wouldn’t have been wearing short sleeves in November in Scotland – this was September, as we didn’t take any photos in the latter part of the year for some reason). I don’t know why I chose those trainers, ’cause I thought they were super ugly even at the time.

Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #35
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There

The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe.  With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.

Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Loved it then, love it now.  This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school.  Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)

I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now.  Love the theme and the instrumentals.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying.  It’s that irritating chorus.

Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me

This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one.  I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.

Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.  Lovely tune.

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

Oh, it’s this one!  Great guitar hook, nice tune.

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

An all-time favourite!  Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff.  I adore this one.

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage!  The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus.  Lovely track.

Track 18: Cast – Flying

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now.  Just not keen on the tune.

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics.  Another solid song from Suede.

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses.  Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film.  As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.

Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic.  The main addition is the rap over the top.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.

Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love

Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway).  Horrific!

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

Great, interesting piano intro.  It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

Oh, it’s this one.  I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive

Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now.  The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful.  I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was.  This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

Very messy track with irritating lines.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

Dull lines, very little melody, messy track.  The beat’s quite good though.

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them.  I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else.  That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.