Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #93

Day 93 equals Now! #93, which came out on 18th March 2016.

March 2016
This is how the world looked in March 2016. Yes, it’s me at another goth gig (this time Resistanz), wearing the same T-shirt as in yesterday’s photo. I still miss Resistanz and its £1 cans of Somersby cider, though there’s no way I could drink as many of them as I used to these days (it used to be a forty-can weekend).

On with the hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #93
Track 1: Lukas Graham – 7 Years

It’s a nice tune, but I find the theme a bit irritating.

Track 2: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

Another nice tune with an awkward theme.  It’s also too slow for me.

Track 3: Zayn – Pillowtalk

Zayn Malik’s first solo release since becoming the Robbie Williams/Geri Halliwell of One Direction and leaving the group about a year before they split ‘went on hiatus’.  It’s too slow for me, and the tune is pretty forgettable.

Track 4: Coldplay and Beyoncé – Hymn For The Weekend

Gorgeous tune – really like this one.

Track 5: Mike Posner – I Took A Pill In Ibiza [SeeB Remix]

Mike Posner returning to the charts with this surprise number one hit.  It’s a lovely chillout tune with a wistful theme.

Track 6: Zara Larsson – Lush Life

Solid danceable pop tune – big fan of this.

Track 7: Jonas Blue and Dakota – Fast Car

Dodgy house cover of the Tracy Chapman classic.  Should have left well alone.

Track 8: Shawn Mendes – Stitches

Pretty tune – quite like this one.

Track 9: Major Lazer, Nyla and Fuse ODG – Light It Up [Remix]

Boring tune, and it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 10: Snakehips, Tinashe and Chance The Rapper – All My Friends

Good singalong chorus, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 11: Little Mix and Jason Derulo – Secret Love Song

Horrendously saccharine and slow!  Not my kind of thing at all.

Track 12: Jess Glynne – Take Me Home

Irritating tune, and again it’s too slow.

Track 13: Ellie Goulding – Army

The tune’s quite interesting, but it’s a little too cheesy for me.

Track 14: One Direction – History

Too acoustic-y for me, but the tune’s okay.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself

This tune doesn’t really do it for me, although there’s some interesting stuff going on with the backing track, and it’s got a good atmosphere.  The theme’s awful, though.

Track 16: Jason Derulo – Get Ugly

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Jason Derulo on track 11.

This one’s got a good rhythm and a slight retro tinge – I quite like it.

Track 17: Sigma and Rita Ora – Coming Home

I find this tune pretty uninspired.

Track 18: Elle King – Exes and Ohs

Great classic-sounding blues-tinged rock.  Really like this.

Track 19: Olly Murs – Stevie Knows

Love that retro-sounding funk.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Jack Garratt – Worry

Slow and boring, with some odd instrumentals that are very distracting.

Track 21: James Bay – If You Ever Want To Be In Love

Pretty tune, and it’s got quite a good rhythm.  I like the rock-edged guitar too.

Track 22: Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir – A Bridge Over You

This was the 2015 Christmas number one – a charity choral offering.  It was the first time, due to streaming becoming more popular than downloading, that the X Factor winner’s single didn’t really get a look in for the Christmas number one – in fact, Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young is not even included on this Now! compilation, which marks the first time since Steve Brookstein’s Against All Odds from 2005 that the X Factor song has been left out by the Now! compilers.

Anyway, this song is a dodgy mash-up of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay’s Fix You, but I’m sure it raised a lot of money for charity.

Track 23: Justin Bieber – Sorry

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 2.

I love this song, though.  It’s the only Justin Bieber song I actually like, and it’s a cracker.

Track 24: The Weeknd – The Hills

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

Track 25: Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Coldplay on track 4.

I find the warbly instrumentals on this one a bit irritating, but I do like the retro-tinged beat.

Track 26: 99 Souls, Destiny’s Child and Brandy – The Girl Is Mine

Mash-up of Destiny’s Child’s Girl and Brandy and Monica’s The Boy Is Mine (which was itself based on Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s The Girl Is Mine).  Brandy re-recorded her vocals, Monica didn’t, which I guess explains the credit.  I do quite like the electro lines on this track, and it’s not as messy as you would expect from a mash-up.

Track 27: Tinie Tempah and Zara Larsson – Girls Like

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Zara Larsson on track 6.

I quite like this one – it’s very danceable.

Track 28: Fleur East – Sax

I’m a big fan of this one, but you expected that, didn’t you?  Saxophone a-go-go.  I highly approve.

Track 29: Craig David and Big Narstie – When The Bassline Drops

The start of Craig David’s inexplicable but strangely welcome comeback!  This one’s got a good beat, and, as should probably be expected, a bit of an early ’00s tinge.

Track 30: David Guetta, Sia and Fetty Wap – Bang My Head

I find the beat on this one a bit jarring, and the tune’s pretty bland.

Track 31: Sigala and Bryn Christopher – Sweet Lovin’

Another forgettable tune, and I’m actually starting to get a bit fed up of the ’90s-inspired dance tracks now.

Track 32: Kygo and Maty Noyes – Stay

Again, this tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 33: Mount and Nicholas Haelg – Something Good

Not a cover of the Utah Saints track, which is probably for the best, given how many versions of that one have shown up on Now! compilations.  This one’s a dance track with some interesting instrumentals, but yet another generic, unmemorable tune.

Track 34: The Chainsmokers and Rozes – Roses

There’s a good atmosphere buried in there somewhere, but the track’s too messy to feel it, really.

Track 35: Alessia Cara – Here

Really don’t like this tune at all – I find it very grating.

Track 36: Alan Walker – Faded

Another slow, boring track.  The beat does pick up, but it doesn’t get any more interesting.

Track 37: G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha – Me, Myself And I

I quite like the rhythm on the vocals, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 38: Robin Schulz and Francesco Yates – Sugar

I like the guitar at the start, and it’s got a good beat.

Track 39: Dawin and Silentó – Dessert [Remix]

The lines on this are pretty jarring, and the tune’s nothing special.

Track 40: AlunaGeorge and Popcaan – I’m In Control

Irritating vocals, dull song.

Track 41: Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out

I like the reggae-tinged beat, and the chorus is great – it gives the song an awesome eerie atmosphere.  Brilliant lyrics too.

Track 42: The 1975 – The Sound

Love that classic pop feel – big fan of this track.

Track 43: Charlie Puth – One Call Away

Pretty tune, but it’s too slow and saccharine for me.

Track 44: David Bowie – Heroes

1977 classic back in the charts after David Bowie’s passing.  I’m still sad about Bowie being gone even two and a half years later, and I wish I didn’t now associate this one with it being everywhere in early 2016.  The song is as beautiful as everything else he did.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #84

Day 84 equals Now! #84, which came out on 25th March 2013.

March 2013
This is how the world looked in March 2013 – to be precise, how it looked on Six Nations finale night. My unlucky Scotland jersey, as usual, did nothing to prevent Scotland getting the wooden spoon, but what made up for it was being with about six Welsh people on the night that Wales stole the championship from right under England’s nose, hence the giant Welsh flag that we pinned to the wall. You can imagine how well this went down in a Southampton pub.

Let’s see what the hits were that spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #84
Track 1: One Direction – One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)

Pointless cover mash-up of Blondie’s One Way Or Another and the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks.  This was the Comic Relief single for 2013, so I guess charity fundraising is the excuse for ruining both of these classic songs.

Track 2: will.i.am and Britney Spears – Scream And Shout

I really like this danceable track, especially the well-done callback to Gimme More.

Track 3: Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble

I quite like this tune, and it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 4: Pink and Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason

Great song – love the way the duet works here.

Track 5: Rihanna – Diamonds

Another pretty tune.  Very nice.

Track 6: Bastille – Pompeii

Epic and anthemic – love this one.

Track 7: James Arthur – Impossible

The annual inclusion of the most recent X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, which was not a great song to begin with.

Track 8: Olly Murs and Flo Rida – Troublemaker

I quite like this jaunty track – it’s got a great singalong chorus.

Track 9: Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

This is from my favourite Bruno Mars era, when he started doing all these pastiches of artists that were big circa 1980.  This song sounds like it should have been released by the Police.

Track 10: Kesha – Die Young

Nice beat, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 11: Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not

Irritating vocals, boring tune, and the chorus has a poorly-done interpolation of the Delfonics ’60s song (which was already done much better by the Fugees).  Nothing impressive here.

Track 12: Little Mix – DNA

Great epic atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit weak.

Track 13: The Saturdays and Sean Paul – What About Us

Another bland, forgettable song.

Track 14: Girls Aloud – Something New

Love this one!  Girls Aloud sort of came to a natural finish at the end of the ’00s, and so this special tenth anniversary track is really the only thing they’ve done as a group this decade.  Better one cracker than lots of poor tracks, though, and this song is great.

Track 15: Nicole Scherzinger – Boomerang

Good rhythm, but this is another uninspired tune.

Track 16: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Latch

I appreciate that it’s a bit different from most stuff that was in the charts at the time, but it’s not my kind of thing – the tune is generic and I’m not into this kind of chillout/trance stuff.

Track 17: Rita Ora – Radioactive

I usually get this one confused with the identically-titled Imagine Dragons song that came out around the same time.  This one’s probably my less-preferred (though there’s not much in it – the Imagine Dragons song is pretty dull too), because the tune’s very bland, but it does have a good electro backing track.

Track 18: Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

I quite like the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals annoys me.

Track 19: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

Boring ballad off the Twilight soundtrack, but at least she doesn’t sound quite as horribly off-key as she does in Jar Of Hearts.

Track 20: Emeli Sandé – Clown

I find the theme a bit awkward, and it’s too slow for me.

Track 21: Gabrielle Aplin – The Power Of Love

This was one of the first of the big ‘Christmas advert’ hits that have been a feature of Christmas music this decade.  Take a classic song, record a slow, melancholy, piano-based cover with female vocals, slap it over the top of an expensive John Lewis Christmas advert, debut the advert during an X Factor ad break in early November, job done.  Christmas classic guaranteed.

Of course, this was already a Christmas classic, and has been ever since Frankie Goes To Hollywood released the original in 1984.  Gabrielle Aplin’s version is very pretty, but it doesn’t have the pure emotional power of the Frankie version – Holly Johnson’s performance of the second verse is capable of moving me to tears when I’m in the right place, and Aplin just can’t compare.  Still, it is enjoyable, even if July is really not when I want to be hearing Christmas songs.

Track 22: Avicii and Nicky Romero – I Could Be The One

I love this dance track – obviously it’s got a great beat, but there’s also something very wistful about the vocals.  I actually can’t think of anyone who was better than Avicii (RIP) at emotion-inducing EDM.

Track 23: Bingo Players and Far East Movement – Get Up (Rattle)

Daft tune, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 24: Pitbull and TJR – Don’t Stop The Party

Messy and irritating.

Track 25: Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah – Drinking From The Bottle

Good beat, and I really like Tinie Tempah’s rap on this one.

Track 26: Dizzee Rascal – Bassline Junkie

Daft theme, but I find it very funny.  Good stuff.

Track 27: Wiley, Chipmunk and Dayo Olatunji – Reload

Boring tune, and there’s too much going on with the track.

Track 28: Rudimental, John Newman and Alex Clare – Not Giving In

Slow and dull intro, and the tune’s very irritating.

Track 29: Conor Maynard and Wiley – Animal

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Wiley on track 27.

The rap’s very bland, as is the tune, and the whole thing’s just a bit repetitive.

Track 30: Disclosure and AlunaGeorge – White Noise

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Disclosure on track 16.

This one takes ages to get going.  The electro hook’s okay, but the vocals are super bland.

Track 31: Devlin and Diane Birch – Rewind

Another very forgettable song.  Also, part of the melody on the chorus rips off Heart’s Alone, which has been an irritating theme in recent Now! compilations.

Track 32: Lawson – Standing In The Dark

A little more upbeat than previous Lawson tracks, but it’s still a very bland, saccharine song.

Track 33: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

I saw Biffy Clyro once.  It was the worst gig I’ve ever been to.  Not because of Biffy Clyro, I hasten to add – they were fine to listen to, although the heavier stuff they were playing as the second support band in 2003 wasn’t really my thing.  The main act was Linkin Park, who were okay (and I am glad I got to see them given sad future events), but the SECC in Glasgow had done this thing (I don’t know if it was by band request or what) where they barriered off a huge semicircle around the stage and only let about fifteen people into it, leaving the remaining hundreds of gig-goers to squash uncomfortably round the outside of the barrier and completely ruining the atmosphere.  The only person onstage who seemed to be on the audience’s side was Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, the main support band, and I don’t really want to give him credit seeing as how he turned out to be a sex offender.

Anyway, I never went back to the SECC again.  Barrowlands all the way if it was a Glasgow gig, even if I did lose a lot of brain cells and earrings over the years through being booted in the head by crowdsurfers.

I think what I’m trying to say is that this song’s a lot more interesting than the stuff Biffy were doing back in 2003.  I quite like the vocal hook at the start, and the chorus is great.

Track 34: Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)

There’s a nice atmospheric chant-along bit on this one – quite like the track.

Track 35: McFly – Love Is Easy

Twee and irritating.  I should note that Geth appreciated the It’s A Wonderful Life sample though.

Track 36: Ben Howard – Only Love

I find this tune pretty annoying.

Track 37: The Lumineers – Ho Hey

It’s a bit twee, but it’s quite a nice, jaunty song.

Track 38: One Direction – Little Things

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had One Direction on track 1.

This one is an irritating saccharine ballad with an irritating black and white video where One Direction sit around and play acoustic guitars in an attempt to look like serious musicians.  The song was apparently written by Ed Sheeran, which will surprise no one.

It was also number one on Geth’s and my wedding day, which is far from ideal.

Track 39: Pink – Try

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pink on track 4.

This one is a gorgeous tune though – really like it.

Track 40: Gabrielle Aplin – Please Don’t Say You Love Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Gabrielle Aplin on track 21.

The only thing this song achieves is proving that she should have been a one-hit wonder.  Dull and uninspired.

Track 41: Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

1987 classic, back in the charts due to a mobile phone advert.  Not complaining here at all – I’m very partial to Fleetwood Mac, and this is one of my favourites.

Track 42: Ellie Goulding – Explosions

Not keen on that choral bit at the start, and on the whole it’s too slow for me and I don’t find the tune interesting enough.

Track 43: The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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

Charity cover of the ’60s classic to raise funds for Hillsborough victims’ charities, and the Christmas number one for 2012.  Some good voice-spotting to be done here.