Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #102

Now! #102 has been released today, 12th April 2019! EDIT: I only just realised that it’s been a whole year today since I started my marathon of the first 100 Now! compilations with Now! #1. Great timing!

April 2019
This is the way the world looks in April 2019, with me and my ‘absolute beginner ukuleles’ classmates doing our thing up on stage. Fun fact: one of the songs we performed appeared on Now! #54, while the other has never been on a Now! compilation.

Let’s have a look at the Now! compilers’ roundup of what’s been going on in the chart recently.

Now! That's What I Call Music #102

Track 1: Ariana Grande – 7 Rings

New Hits Friday review.

Still think this is a bit of a daft interpolation, but I don’t hate it as much as I used to.

Track 2: Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

New Hits Friday review.

Pretty much loved this bit of synthy pop from the start, and I’m still a big fan. Should have been Christmas number one!

Track 3: Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

New Hits Friday review.

Another great pop track. At first I wasn’t keen on the country edge, but I’ve really grown to love this one.

Track 4: Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still not a huge fan of this one – it just doesn’t hook me.

Track 5: Pink – Walk Me Home

New Hits Friday review.

Still too acoustic-y for me, but I have grown to like the epic feel on the chorus.

Track 6: Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With A Stranger

New Hits Friday review.

I originally felt this one was a bit generic, but it’s become a fairly regular earworm for me, and I find I quite like it now.

Track 7: Tom Walker – Just You And I

New Hits Friday review.

It’s a little cheesy, but it’s a pleasant upbeat tune.

Track 8: Jonas Brothers – Sucker

New Hits Friday review.

A decade ago, I would not have believed you if you’d told me I would ever grow to like a Jonas Brothers song. They’ve grown up now, though, and they make much better music. This is a fairly decent pop song, and I always nod along when it’s on the radio.

Track 9: George Ezra – Pretty Shining People

New Hits Friday review.

I still can’t get over the blatant REM title ripoff. Urgh.

This one’s a little bland (can’t win ’em all, George), but it’s an okay tune.

Track 10: James Arthur – Empty Space

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s not been in the charts since last year, so I’m a bit surprised they’ve held it back for this Now! instalment. As is usually the case with James Arthur’s stuff, it’s too saccharine for me, but I’ll grant you it’s got a good atmosphere on the chorus.

Track 11: Lewis Capaldi – Grace

New Hits Friday review.

I first heard this one on the BBC over Christmas, and at first I thought it was a bit too wistful/singer-songwriter/acoustic-y etc. for me. But I’ve really come to like it – it’s a gorgeous tune.

Track 12: Jason Derulo, David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye

New Hits Friday review.

I could have told you that my feelings would not have changed about this ridiculous bastardisation of Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye. Awful interpolation that has me running screaming for the comfort of the original every single time.

Track 13: Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us

New Hits Friday review.

Another frequent earworm. I quite like the staccato on the verse.

Track 14: Marshmello and Chvrches – Here With Me

New Hits Friday review.

I find this one a bit forgettable, though the tune is very pleasant when I do remember how it goes.

Track 15: Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

New Hits Friday review.

Still love the retro feel on this track. Straight out of 1988! Well, apart from the NSFW lyrical content.

Track 16: Khalid – Talk

New Hits Friday review.

I really like the soft bubbly synth effects on this one.

Track 17: Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up

New Hits Friday review.

I wasn’t keen at first, but it’s been a grower and I quite like this solid pop track now.

Track 18: Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

New Hits Friday review.

Liked it when it came out, love it now! Shamelessly retro, actually sounds like the year it’s celebrating. Great stuff.

Track 19: Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

New Hits Friday review.

Another good danceable pop track, probably my favourite of Sigrid’s output so far.

Track 20: CamelPhat, Cristoph and Jem Cooke – Breathe

New Hits Friday review.

It’s kind of nice to have a dance track on here now that dance tracks are becoming a bit rarer in the charts. Nice tune, too.

Track 21: Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play

New Hits Friday review.

Good tune – I always nod along to this one.

Track 22: Zedd and Katy Perry – 365

New Hits Friday review.

I do like the Spanish-tinged opening, and the atmosphere is great when it gets to the chorus.

Track 23: Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

New Hits Friday review.

This one makes me really uncomfortable! I can’t get past the awful message in the lyrics, which is basically ‘go back to someone who’s really bad for you’.

Track 24: Dua Lipa – Swan Song

New Hits Friday review.

There’s some great stuff going on with the instrumentals, but I find the vocal line pretty bland.

Track 25: Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

New Hits Friday review.

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 1.

The tinkly instrumentals are quite nice, but I’m not sure how I feel about the ex-dissing lyrical content.

Track 26: Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

New Hits Friday review. (LOL I said it was too slow for me and now it’s my favourite song in the chart!)

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Lewis Capaldi on track 11.

Not complaining though, because this is an absolutely beautiful tune that has deservedly just scored a seventh week at number one. Song of the year, whatever happens in the next eight months.

Track 27: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

New Hits Friday review.

One of those tracks that I found a bit slow to begin with and have grown to appreciate. Lovely acoustic track from the A Star Is Born soundtrack (no interest in seeing the film, but the song is gorgeous).

Track 28: Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Cast – This Is Me

Another one where the Now! compilers have been a bit tardy – this track first entered the charts well over a year ago – but it’s a great feelgood musical number, and probably the best song on the soundtrack.

Track 29: Jess Glynne – Thursday

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still not particularly keen on this one – I just find the theme a bit awkward.

Track 30: Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

New Hits Friday review.

I do appreciate the simplicity of the song, but it’s just a bit too slow for me.

Track 31: James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars

New Hits Friday review.

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had James Arthur on track 10.

One of the tracks from the Greatest Showman Reimagined album, where pop stars do karaoke versions of the songs from the musical. It’s okay, but not a patch on the original.

Track 32: Jack Savoretti – Candlelight

This wasn’t a hit – it only got to number 70. As I’ve been discussing since Now! #99, the Now! compilers have recently started to include songs that haven’t actually made the Top 40, but have been featured on hit albums – there’s less crossover than there used to be between the album and singles chart (mainly because the former is for older people like me who prefer classic pop and rock, and the latter is for the kids who like these strange new songs I’m always ranting about on here after listening to the chart on Fridays!). I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I think I’m okay about it now. After all, it’s probably an older demographic who actually still buys Now! albums. The Radio 2 demographic, if you like. This album got to number one, so I think it’s allowed.

Anyway, this track’s got a great atmosphere – lovely eerie instrumentals, lots of piano. Love this kind of epic tune!

Track 33: The 1975 – It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)

Again not a hit on the singles chart – it only got to number 46 – but this was also a number one album.

Wonderfully retro-sounding as ever from the 1975. Great tune, great beat.

Track 34: Westlife – Hello My Love

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s still a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 35: Take That – Everlasting

This track wasn’t even released as a single, but again the album got to number one.

As I understand it, this is one of the few new tracks on Take That’s recent remastered retrospective. It’s a bit dull until the second chorus kicks in. Also, the self-referential spoken word bit at the end is a bit odd.

Track 36: Hozier – Almost (Sweet Music)

The single only got to number 82, but the album went top ten, getting to number six.

Great bit of soft rock – really like this one.

Track 37: Bryan Adams – Shine A Light

No single release for this song, but the album got to number two.

Great beat, but it’s a little too acoustic-y for me. Nice to see Bryan Adams still rockin’ up Now! compilations though.

Track 38: Michael Bublé – Love You Anymore

Again no single release, but it was a number one album.

As usual for Bublé, it’s far too saccharine for me, but it is nice and feelgood.

Track 39: Rod Stewart – Look In Her Eyes

Yet another one that wasn’t released as a single, but the album went to number one.

Love this danceable, atmospheric song! So yeah, this is the point where I’m officially on board with the Now! compilers including songs-from-hit-albums that didn’t make the singles chart, because the notion of Rod Stewart still managing to get his new songs onto Now! compilations is the BESTEST THING.

Track 40: Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya and The Greatest Showman Cast – The Greatest Show

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had the Greatest Showman cast on track 28.

Great stompalong number though. Fab track.

Track 41: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

We’ve already had this track on Now! #2! How dare they be so lazy…wait. I can’t really start ranting in this case, because what’s going on here is that the Now! compilers have chosen to include six tracks from Now! #2 in order to advertise the fact that it’s had a re-release on CD today, the same release day as Now! #102. I’m hopeful that this pattern will continue, and will be scouting out the re-release for my collection this weekend!

Anyway, see the link for my review – it was track 16 on Now! #2.

Track 42: Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good

Still a classic from Nik Kershaw.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 2.

Track 43: Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

I have this one on my running playlist these days!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 11.

Track 44: Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun

One of my earliest ’80s favourites.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 9.

Track 45: Culture Club – It’s A Miracle

Still love that daft boardgaming video!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 25.

Track 46: Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

If you spend any time watching the Now! ’80s channel, which often replays the classic TV adverts for the classic ’80s Now! compilations, you will be familiar with this song as the centrepiece for the Now! #2 advert due to it’s ‘hold me now‘ (geddit?) refrain on the chorus. Still a great track, and it was a highlight when I saw Tom Bailey supporting Culture Club in November.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 3.

Great choices for those bonus tracks. Could have done with a bit of love for Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday (track 29) but I’m hopeful for The Reflex if they do this again when they re-release Now! #3!

New Hits Friday…uh, Thursday: the giant catchup, 10th August – 7th December 2018

It’s been a while since I actually did a New Hits Friday post.  August, I think?  Anyway, here’s a giant catchup of all the hits that have entered the UK Top 40 for the first time in the intervening period.  I’ll try not to leave it so long in the future!

10th August

Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life

I reviewed this one for Now! #101.  Still a highly annoying earworm, made worse by the fact that I’ve really grown to hate the idiom ‘living one’s best life’ this year.

The video is the typical tasteless ‘look at how rich I am’ video beloved of R&B stars, all poolsides and girls in bikinis and helicopters and wasting champagne by pouring it everywhere.  It matches the smug lyrics in that respect.

Travis Scott and Frank Ocean – Carousel

No melody whatsoever; incredibly, frustratingly dull.  Can’t even be called music in my opinion.

There’s no video for this one yet.

Travis Scott – Stargazing

A bit slow, and the tune’s very dull.  Lots of jarring noise in the background too.  I guess the plus point is that the lyrics are quite nice.

Again, there’s no video yet.  I don’t think Travis Scott is keen on making them!

Travis Scott and Drake – Sicko Mode

Another one I reviewed on Now! #101.

The video is a fairly trippy affair that’s hard to keep track of, though I do like the yellow painted town at the start.

17th August

Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies and Celia Imrie – When I Kissed The Teacher

Again, I reviewed this one on Now! #101!

The video is the clip from the Mamma Mia! sequel, and I love a good ’70s platform boot, so I enjoyed this.

David Guetta and Anne-Marie – Don’t Leave Me Alone

Again, see Now! #101 for my review!

The video is a nice techy story about Anne-Marie dealing with a breakup by using a virtual reality helmet, but there’s an appalling bit of car product placement near the end!

Nicki Minaj – Barbie Dreams

Argh, that funk line would be good if it weren’t so repetitive – and the rap is not my thing at all! Also, the uncensored version is just gross.

The video, meanwhile, would be great if you took Nicki Minaj out of it and put a mannequin in her costumes – it’s all bright colours and Muppets.

24th August

Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino – In My Mind

I reviewed this one on Now! #101 as well!

The video starts off a bit gritty and ‘in da club’, but halfway through it switches to images of its protagonist doing fire poi on the beach, which is a bit more calming.

Marshmello and Bastille – Happier

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

The video is a sad dog video: do not watch if you’re in an emotional place.

The 1975 – Too Time Too Time Too Time

Another one I reviewed on Now! #101, although I’m going to reiterate here that I really like this one!

The video’s a classic ‘lots of random people miming in turn’, with a twist when they all turn out to be the singer’s various paramours.

Ariana Grande – Sweetener

Nice retro-sounding intro/verse, but then on the chorus it launches into the same dreary repetitive vocal tic that spoilt the otherwise-beautiful No Tears Left To Cry.  Frustrating.

This is one that doesn’t have a video yet.

Jess Glynne – All I Am

Again, I reviewed this on Now! #101.

The video’s pretty cheesy and smug, but there’s some nice colourful outfits going on.

Ariana Grande – Breathin’

Pretty tune, but a little slow for me.

It’s a very pretty video as well, with lots of time-lapse and smoke and costume changes.

Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

See Now! #101 again!

The video is full of glitter and fabulousness – I highly approve.

31st August

Pinkfong – Baby Shark

Daft viral video that’s in the charts because of the new video rules. It’s ridiculous, and also the best thing in the Top 40 at the moment.

The video has small kids in, obviously, and so I find it to be of little interest – it’s the song that makes it.

Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

Pretty voice, but the tune’s very generic and it’s far too slow for me.  Advert music, basically.

The video is very floaty and ethereal, with lots of shots of the singer’s hair blowing about all over the place.  Quite relaxing to watch.

BTS and Nicki Minaj – Idol

Good upbeat bit of K-Pop – nice to hear something different in the charts!  Almost beats Baby Shark.  Almost, but NOT QUITE.  And for once, the rap (courtesy of Nicki Minaj) actually works quite well with this song.

The video is super colourful and manic!  Good stuff.

7th September

AJ Tracey – Lo(v/s)er

Lots of out-of-key clanging noises, and an uninspired rap over the top.  Bad Spanish too – if you’re talking about a girl, it’s ‘I love a pretty Latina’, not ‘I love a pretty Latino’.  (The lyrics online say ‘Latina’ but it definitely sounds like ‘Latino’!)  Very repetitive, not keen.

The video is another smug, tasteless montage of bikini-clad girls, poolsides, and ostentatious jewellery, with some guns ‘n’ drugs for good measure.

Bazzi and Camila Cabello – Beautiful

I like the swirly instrumentals, but it’s very cheesy and too slow for my liking.

The video starts off very literally with Camila showing up to a party in an angel costume, and then turns into a full-blown Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet homage.

Dean Lewis – Be Alright

Again, see Now! #101, though I’ll point out additionally that this is a very annoying and incessant earworm!

The video is lots of badly lit shots of a very artfully decorated house that makes me feel bad about my own house.

LSD – Thunderclouds

Another one on Now! #101!

The video is daft and colourful with a flying campervan.  Big fan of this one!

Eminem – Fall

Good beat, and I quite like the atmosphere.

The video is all about Eminem getting mardy about bad online reviews, so there’s a lot of arty shots of phones and tablets emitting black smoke monsters, which proceed to chase him around a deserted building like in a horror film.  I like the beard, though, it suits him.

Eminem and Joyner Lucas – Lucky You

Another great, epic atmosphere – nice and eerie and looming.

The video is grim-looking and apocalyptic, but considerably enlivened by a comedic interlude halfway through.

Eminem – The Ringer

This one, on the other hand, is really dull.  No tune in the background, super repetitive.  It also charted the highest.  I will never understand people in this century.

There’s no video yet.

14th September

Machine Gun Kelly – Rap Devil

Apparently a diss track about Eminem – Scott Mills could only play eight seconds of it on the Official Chart Show.  Dull, repetitive, and I’m not into the drama.  It goes on for so long that it just gets a bit awkward.

The video is just Machine Gun Kelly rapping the track and looking all tough with a shovel.  Nothing interesting here.

Silk City, Diplo, Mark Ronson and Dua Lipa – Electricity

Another one on Now! #101!

The video is all about Dua Lipa dancing around a New York apartment block with her neighbours during a heatwave, which doesn’t seem like the most efficient way to keep cool.  I like the cameos from the other artists though.

Kanye West, Lil’ Pump and Adele Givens – I Love It

Scott could only play seven seconds of this one.  People today listen to the most disgusting music.  #getoffmylawn

Update after listening to the clean version: boring, repetitive, nothing interesting going on.

The video features a lot of bizarre costumes, but the song is so gross that it’s best listened to on mute.

21st September

Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid

Another one on Now! #101.  Just want to add a seasonal note that I love those cash register noises – they’re very I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day!

The video is a nice colourful pop affair with lots of dancing in launderettes. Good stuff.

David Guetta, Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye

Utterly appalling interpolation of Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye.  The rest of the track is just a jarring, crackly and awful mishmash of styles, like three different songs layered on top of each other.

The video tells a slightly confusing story in which Jason Derulo appears to be sneaking off after a one-night stand in a London hotel room, though not before pausing to sing a song to the camera.  Charming!

28th September

Mumford & Sons – Guiding Light

I’m not the biggest fan of Mumford & Sons’ brand of soft-folk-rock, and I find this one pretty dull.

The video is equally boring – just black and white performance footage.  Not a fan!

Khalid – Better

Another one from Now! #101!

The video appears to be lots of colourful cars in a night-time city square trying to run Khalid over but somehow narrowly missing.

French Montana and Drake – No Stylist

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

One of those tacky ‘showing off my wealth’ videos.

Rita Ora – Let You Love Me

Yet another Now! #101 track!

The video’s a fairly dull low-lit house party affair, with nobody having bothered to get dressed up, ’cause it’s the slob century.

Eminem – Killshot

Rather depressing diss track about Machine Gun Kelly, which was the reason for Rap Devil (see above).

There’s no video for this yet, thankfully.

Lil’ Peep and XXXTentacion – Falling Down

I like the rhythm and the atmosphere on this one, but again it’s very repetitive.

There’s no video for this one, and presumably there won’t ever be given that both artists are now dead.

5th October

MK, Jonas Blue and Becky Hill – Back And Forth

Another song from Now! #101.

The video starts off like a slightly more nausea-inducing version of Food Network before launching into the kind of daft, trippy, slightly dark story beloved of dance music videos.

DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B – Taki Taki

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

I like the colours and costumes in the video – it’s very pretty.

Lil’ Wayne and XXXTentacion – Don’t Cry

Not enough melody for me.

There’s no video yet, and again there probably won’t be due to XXXTentacion’s death earlier this year.

Lil’ Wayne and Kendrick Lamar – Mona Lisa

I quite like the atmosphere on the piano intro, but I’m not keen on the rap at all (Scott couldn’t play it on the chart show, which tells you everything you need to know).  Except for the Milli Vanilli reference, which is just beautifully random!

Again, there’s no video yet.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

Acoustic song from the A Star Is Born remake.  It’s not my kind of thing, but I’m so relieved to hear something different on the chart – it has melody!  Actual melody!

The video is just lots of clips from the film, which is perfectly adequate.

12th October

Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way

Another slow piano ballad from the A Star Is Born soundtrack. It’s pretty dull.

Again, the video is just clips from the film.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – I’ll Never Love Again

Yet another ballad that’s too slow and dull for my liking…

…and yet more clips from the film in the video.

6ix9ine and Bobby Shmurda – Stoopid

Generic unmelodious rap with gross lyrics that Scott couldn’t play on the radio.

The video is a pretty low-tech affair (and given that 6ix9ine is wearing a ridiculously blinged-out expensive watch on each wrist, you’d think they could have afforded a better camera), but I do like the colourful car.

Lil’ Baby and Gunna – Drip Too Hard

Boring song, no melody, not my thing.

‘This video may be inappropriate for some users,’ says YouTube, so I’m not looking forward to this.  Turns out it’s because it’s a ‘girls in bikinis plus wasted champagne’ theme on acid.  Not recommended.

Halsey – Without Me

This one was also on Now! #101!

The video is a rather depressing story about an abusive relationship.

Eminem – Venom

Fairly bog-standard for Eminem, and the backing track is SO repetitive. It gets a little more interesting on the chorus.

The video is a slightly bizarre affair with various people getting possessed by Eminem.  Fun watch though!

Dave and Fredo – Funky Friday

Again, this one was on Now! #101!

The video starts off with a nice botanical gardens sequence with lots of flowers, but quickly degenerates into ‘showing off my wealth’ cars ‘n’ mansions.  Boring.

19th October

Cadet and Deno – Advice

Nice funky reggae backing track, but that rap is awful and dull.  I do like the comedic theme though!

The video is about a boring night-time petrol station with lots of tacky watch and car product placement.

Jess Glynne – Thursday

Cheesy and boring song.

The video is black and white and equally dull.  Also, despite the lyrics, she does wear makeup in every scene.

Bad Bunny and Drake – Mia

Nice upbeat Latin track – quite like this one.

The video is set at a beers ‘n’ bongs garden party and gets pretty dull in places, although I do like the random old people on the porch at the party.

Kodak Black, Travis Scott and Offset – Zeze

Boring, unmelodious, sounds like everything else.

The video is meant to be a comedy story about making a music video, but it’s pretty gross and tasteless due to all the bling and twerking girls.  Not my cup of tea.

Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me

One from Now! #101, and another that’s become an incessant earworm for me recently!

The video is a lot of fun with all the pretty costumes.

26th October

Rak-Su – I Want You To Freak

That interpolation of Adina Howard’s Freak Like Me!  Which has spawned so many cover versions, including most notably the Sugababes version with THAT interpolation of Are Friends Electric!  There’s some good guitar going on here, even though it’s fairly generic and the cover/interpolation chain means there’s nothing original about it at all. Great to have an opportunity to ramble on about pop history though, and I never take songs with melody for granted nowadays!

The video is Caribbean-set and a bit generic, but I do like the dancing.

Dua Lipa and Blackpink – Kiss And Make Up

One of the welcome trends of 2018 has been K-Pop acts getting popular enough to enter the UK charts. This isn’t quite as good as BTS’ Idol – it’s a bit generic, and I’m not a huge fan of Dua Lipa’s vocals, but it’s decent enough pop, and any kind of melodious pop is a good thing at the moment, even when it’s as uninspired as this.

There’s no video yet.

D Block Europe, Young Adz, Lil’ Pino and Dirtbike LB – Nassty

Aaaaand we’re back to the offensive lyrics, depressing generic rapping, and dreary unmelodious drone. Awful.

The video is all the usual gross cliches like drugs and expensive cars.  Not recommended.

Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

Too slow and dull for me, and the tune is really generic.  Awful message too.

The video has lots of pretty costumes, though, so I quite like it.

Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower

Dull and repetitive song.

The animated video, which ties in with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, is fab though.

2nd November

Ellie Goulding, Diplo and Swae Lee – Close To Me

Another one from Now! #101.

The Budapest-set video is gorgeous – so much stunning architecture, so many pretty costumes!

Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over

Too slow for me, but I like the harmonisation – it’s a bit different.

Lots of weird stuff going on with a glass of ink in the video.

XXXTentacion, Lil’ Pump, Maluma and Swae Lee – Arms Around You

There’s some actual melody in this one!  I was not expecting that at all!  I really quite like it.

The video is kind of arty and dreamlike, very suited to the song.

9th November

Pink – A Million Dreams

Cover of the Greatest Showman number.  Apparently doing Greatest Showman covers is a hot new trend (there’s a whole compilation album full of them), which is highly alarming!  There’s nothing different about this at all, which I guess makes it a pointless ’10s cover.  And the ’10s were doing so well at avoiding that if you don’t count the X Factor!

There’s no video for this yet.

Benny Blanco and Calvin Harris – I Found You

Boring and repetitive tune!  People have been really bigging up this track, but it’s very disappointing.  Nothing interesting here at all.

The video is a good laugh though, with various people trying to show Benny how to dance.

Clean Bandit, Marina & The Diamonds and Luis Fonsi – Baby

Reviewed on Now! #101.

The video is fairly literal, with a cute story about a love triangle and all the characters portrayed by the artists (plus so-far one-hit wonder Starley, whom I wasn’t expecting to see here!)

James Arthur – Empty Space

Extremely dull. Also, I’ve just remembered how much I am NOT a fan of James Arthur’s vocals.

The video is really interesting though (in a slightly depressing way) – it appears to be about a troubled alcoholic (played by Tom Felton) stalking his ex-girlfriend, but all is not as it seems.  Also, judging by the gadgets, set dressing, and costumes, it’s set in the early ’00s, which is also interesting!

Jonas Blue, Liam Payne and Lennon Stella – Polaroid

Another one from Now! #101!

The video’s a bit dull and involves a lot of wandering round New York.  I do like that Polaroid technology is having one of those retro moments though.

Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

Straight in at number one, which is unusual these days.  I like the ’70s-esque synth sound on the instrumentals – it’s very pretty.  The tune could be a bit more exciting, but on the whole it’s a nice bit of proper pop, and is much appreciated.

The video is a daft comedy sequence with lots of celebrity cameos and homages to ’90s and ’00s teen movies.  Lots to like here.

16th November

Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

Really like this piece of classic-sounding pop. Good stuff!

The video features Ava as the eponymous psycho, and there’s a cute shout-out to the Hitchcock film at the start.  Lovely colours, great costumes (and the dude in this video is actually attractive, which is extremely rare for ’10s media).

Fredo – BMT

Great atmospheric instrumentals but awful rap, which seems to be a theme.

The video is a depressing medley of mansions, cigars, champagne, and the obligatory bikini-clad girl in a swimming pool, with the slightly alarming implication at one point that Fredo and his mates have burnt a girl to death for keying his car.  At least, that’s what it looks like.  I really hope I’m wrong.

XXXTentacion – Bad

Well, at least there is melody…sort of?  It’s a real dirge though.

There’s no video yet, and again there probably won’t be now.

Cheryl – Love Made Me Do It

I reviewed this as part of Now! #101.

I really like the dancing in the video, but she’s wearing the ugliest pair of boots!

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

Song paying tribute to 1999, which was the worst year of the twentieth century in my opinion, because it meant that the century was nearly over.  Still, I really do appreciate the sentiment of the song, which is generally that last century was great and this century sucks.  I can heartily get behind that message.  The song is…of the same quality that pop songs were in 1999, which is a lot better than average pop songs from today, but nowhere near as good as in the ’80s.

I do also want to point out quickly that the Saturdays did this theme better with Disco Love.

The video, as you might expect, is a glorious mishmash of homages to pop culture from around the turn of the millennium!

23rd November

Panic! At The Disco – The Greatest Show

Another one from the Greatest Showman tribute album, and it’s the first one I actually like.  Great epic rock cover!

There’s no video for this yet.

The Plug, Nafe Smallz, M Huncho and Gunna – Broken Homes

Generic hip-hop.  Nothing memorable here.

Another one with no video so far.

Sheck Wes – Mo Bamba

Awful and off-key.  How can a song that’s unmelodious in the first place be off-key?  It’s so dire I don’t know what to say.  The vocals are worse than some appalling unsigned local bands I’ve seen, and that’s saying something.

I quite like the comedic video though.  Just make sure to watch it on mute.

George Ezra – Hold My Girl

Another one from Now! #101.

The video is a slightly depressing story about George being trapped in a rapidly flooding house and drowning at the end!

Little Mix and Sharaya J – Strip

Interesting spoken word intro, leads into a fairly R&B influenced pop song.  On the whole, could do with a bit more melody in this one, but it’s got a good beat, and I do like the harmonies on the vocals!

The video is a nice black and white piece with a body positivity theme, featuring an homage to the Dixie Chicks’ ‘critical words written on nude bodies’ photoshoot (and hence starting a Twitter feud with Piers Morgan, which I’m not linking to because it’s depressing).

James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars

URGH this is saccharine.  It’s another Greatest Showman cover, and I’m not keen.

This one actually has a video, though!  It predictably goes with the film’s circus theme, but it’s very pretty and I quite like it.

30th November

6ix9ine – Kika

Scott could only play three seconds, so I couldn’t hear anything yet.  Listening to it online, the lyrics are as gross as expected, but I quite like the steel drums in the background.

There’s no video yet.

Digdat, K Trap and Krept & Konan – Air Force

No melody, very repetitive.  Atmosphere’s okay but it’s generally very dull.

The London-set video is all gritty and urban with lots of balaclavas and gang signs.  Not really my cup of tea.

7th December

Meek Mill and Drake – Going Bad

Awful!  So dull and generic and unmelodious.

There’s no video for this yet.

Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

Great atmosphere on the intro, though I’m not hugely keen on the main bit where it goes a bit country.

The video is a slightly daft story about Miley driving a car on the run from the police while wearing a pretty silver outfit, but it’s aesthetically pleasing so I’m all about it.

Dalton Harris and James Arthur – The Power Of Love

A real step back for the X Factor winner’s single, as they’ve gone back to covers.  It’s horribly soulless and the singer just admitted on the chart show that he only first heard the original Frankie Goes To Hollywood song about a week ago (WTF?  HOW do you go through twentyish Christmases without ever hearing The Power Of Love?).  Far worse than the Gabrielle Aplin cover (HOW has he managed to make the ‘hooded claw’ line sound so EMPTY?).  I am actually offended by this, even more so than I was by Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah (covered in similar circumstances in that Alexandra Burke had no personal love for the song).  Just terrible.

There’s no video yet – time will tell if they do what they did with Rak-Su last year and just release the X Factor performance clip as the video.

Whew!  All caught up.  I’ll do this week’s New Hits on Saturday, as I won’t have time to listen to the chart tomorrow evening!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #101

Today, 23rd November 2018, is the release of Now! #101!  It’s also mine and Geth’s sixth wedding anniversary 🙂

November 2018
This is the way the world looks in November 2018, with pretty anniversary cards on our dresser.

We’re now entering a new exciting era of Now! compilations where I only have to review them every four months!  The first hundred compilations were characterised by a gradually worsening quality of music.  I pray this trend will not continue.  Pop music can’t get any worse than it currently is.  Right?

Track 1: Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me

Great reggae-style rhythm, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 2: Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

Sam Smith’s voice is great as ever, but the tune is pretty forgettable.  Somehow got to number one for weeks on end.

Track 3: Ariana Grande – God Is A Woman

I really like the tune on this one – nice and epic.

Track 4: George Ezra – Hold My Girl

A little slow for me, but it’s a nice tune.  Only entered the charts today, so it was definitely not a hit when chosen for this Now! compilation!

Track 5: Rita Ora – Let You Love Me

Great atmosphere on the chorus – tune’s a bit generic, but it’s an okay pop track.

Track 6: Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid – Eastside

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  It’s grown on me a bit since then!

Track 7: Jess Glynne – All I Am

I’ve never been much of a Jess Glynne fan – I find her stuff very boring and the lyrical content very saccharine, and this track is no exception.

Track 8: Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It

Not super keen on the rap (except the enjoyable nonsense in the first verse about Balenciaga et al.!), but I do love the Latin tinge, and it’s very danceable.

Track 9: The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar – Pray For Me

Black Panther soundtrack song – really like this epic track.

Track 10: Silk City, Dua Lipa, Diplo and Mark Ronson – Electricity

Bored of these ’90s dance-inspired beats now.  The tune is very generic too.

Track 11: Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino – In My Mind

I really like the eerie atmosphere – there’s some great instrumentals here.  Not keen on the dance beat though.

Track 12: Loud Luxury and Brando – Body

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I’m still not hugely keen, but it’s a really irritatingly catchy track that’s constantly ending up on my daily earworm playlists.

Track 13: Maroon 5 and Cardi B – Girls Like You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Cardi B on track 8.

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

Track 14: Marshmello and Bastille – Happier

Too slow for me, and the tune’s very dull and generic.

Track 15: Clean Bandit, Marina & The Diamonds and Luis Fonsi – Baby

The vocalist on this is calling herself Marina now, but she was formerly known as Marina & The Diamonds (not a band, just a solo artist with a band name, kind of like Florence & The Machine – this was a bizarre 2009/2010 micro trend).  I’ve missed her vocal style and way with a tune.  This is very Latin-inspired, especially due to the involvement of Luis Fonsi.  Great party pop tune.

Track 16: Ellie Goulding, Diplo and Swae Lee – Close To Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Diplo on track 10.

Not exciting or original enough for me, but at least it’s got some semblance of a melody, and it’s starting to grow on me with time.

Track 17: Cheryl – Love Made Me Do It

The lyrics are okay if kind of cheesy, but the tune is terrible.

Track 18: Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  It’s become one of my songs of the year – really like this track.

Track 19: The 1975 – Too Time Too Time Too Time

Yes, I know the title’s supposed to be written in all caps with no spaces, but I won’t be having any of that nonsense here.  This is a dignified blog.

Lovely upbeat tune, though – really like this one.  One of my favourites of 2018.

Track 20: Mabel – One Shot

Not a hit – only got to number 44.

It’s a pretty tune, but it’s very generic.

Track 21: Take That – Out Of Our Heads

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018)!  They did perform it on Strictly last weekend, so maybe it’s not even out yet.

There’s a nice old-fashioned big-band feel about this one – it’s very jaunty.

Track 22: Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies and Celia Imrie – When I Kissed The Teacher

Taken from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.  Songs from musicals have been a bit of a chart trend this year.  It’s a fairly bog-standard cover of the Abba song, as is normally the case with jukebox musicals.

Track 23: Andrea Bocelli and Dua Lipa – If Only

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on track 10.

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018).

Standard pretty, slow romantic song from Andrea Bocelli – I never get sick of his voice.  Dua Lipa does fine, but she can’t hold a candle to Bocelli.

Track 24: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper and Quavo – No Brainer

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I still find it really dull.

Track 25: Dave and Fredo – Funky Friday

This track is:

  1. The second number one this year to get to number one after exhortation from the previous number one artist (in this case Sam Smith with Promises – the previous example was George Ezra (Shotgun) telling people to stream Baddiel & Skinner and the Lightning Seeds’ Three Lions).
  2. The second number one this year to feature the word ‘Friday’ in the title (after Lil’ Dicky and Chris Brown with Freaky Friday).

Nothing much else interesting about this song.  It’s very dull and unmelodious and repetitive – no idea why enough people were listening to it to get it to number one.  Oh, wait, there’s a good instrumental electro bit for three seconds – then it goes back to the boring rap.

Track 26: DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B – Taki Taki

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Cardi B on both track 8 and track 13.  That is far too much of one artist for one Now! compilation!

I do like the background instrumentals, especially the atmospheric whistling, and the Latin vocals are nice, but the rap is very dull.

Track 27: French Montana and Drake – No Stylist

I quite like the atmosphere, but it’s very repetitive.  Are they trying to win a competition to see who can say ‘Gucci’ the most times in a song?

Track 28: Dennis Lloyd – Nevermind

Great rhythm, very noddable.

Track 29: Khalid – Better

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

The track is so boring that I couldn’t even concentrate on writing this sentence.

Track 30: Martin Garrix feat. Khalid – Ocean

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Khalid on track 6 and track 29.  That’s two mega alerts on one compilation, which is not an auspicious start for the second century of Now! entries!

It’s a pretty tune with a gorgeous atmosphere – I really quite like this one.

Track 31: Halsey – Without Me

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

Urgh, this track is so slow!  I do like the synthy background instrumentals though.

Track 32: B Young – 079ME

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I still think it’s too similar to Jumanji.

Track 33: Stay Flee Get Lizzy, Fredo, Young T and Bugsey – Ay Caramba

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Fredo on track 25.

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I’m still not keen on it at all.

Track 34: Travis Scott – Sicko Mode

There’s no tune, and the rap is extremely generic, but I quite like the eerie quality of the backing track.

Track 35: Shawn Mendes and Zedd – Lost In Japan [Remix]

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 36: MK, Jonas Blue and Becky Hill – Back And Forth

More ’90s-inspired instrumentals.  Very generic tune.

Track 37: Jonas Blue, Liam Payne and Lennon Stella – Polaroid

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Jonas Blue on track 36.

Okay tune with a good pop beat, but it’s not super exciting.

Track 38: Au/Ra and CamelPhat – Panic Room

I quite like the atmosphere, but it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 39: Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid

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

Daft song about payday.  The tune’s pretty uninspired, but it’s got a good beat and it’s quite fun – it’s a good danceable party track.

Track 40: David Guetta and Anne-Marie – Don’t Leave Me Alone

The tune is very generic and forgettable. I quite like the electro instrumentals, but on the whole there’s nothing interesting going on here.

Track 41: Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life

Very repetitive, not very inspired, highly boring tune, dull rap.

Track 42: ZieZie – Fine Girl

I quite like the tune, but there’s some very irritating stuff with the vocals going on here.

Track 43: Sigrid – Sucker Punch

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018).

Nice bit of classic pop with a good atmosphere.

Track 44: Selena Gomez – Back To You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Selena Gomez on track 26.

The verse is nice, but the tune on the chorus irritates me.

Track 45: LSD – Thunderclouds

LSD are a collaborative project between Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo, hence the name.

It’s the mobile phone advert music.  I actually had it stuck in my head before it got into the charts – it’s a really incessant earworm.  It’s a bit of a messy track, but quite a good tune.

Track 46: Dean Lewis – Be Alright

Dull, acoustic-y ballad.  I never thought I’d type this sentence, but the Streets did this theme much better in Dry Your Eyes back in the ’00s.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #100

So.  Three and a half months, ten and a half solid days of music listening, and 4,020 tracks later, here we are at Day 100, the final day of this Now! compilation marathon.  Day 100 means that we have finally reached Now! #100, which has just been released today, 20th July 2018.

July 2018
Finally, this is the way the world – and my family – looks now, in July 2018. We’re all a bit older, and music is definitely not what it was when the Now! compilations began, but we’re all still here, all together again this week, and all talking about building our collections of houseplants once again.

Here they are, then – the very last summer hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #100

(Let’s take a minute to appreciate this awesome celebratory cover. On the top left, we have the pig that featured on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #5 – well, it’s actually a much cuter version! On the top right, we have an airship with the logo that was used on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #16. Love the fireworks too! Perfect cover for this special occasion.)

Track 1: Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss

This was number one for quite a few weeks, but it’s not my thing.  I find the tune really irritating and a bit repetitive.

Track 2: George Ezra – Shotgun

I like the rhythm on this one.

Track 3: Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo

Good bit of pop – I quite like the tune.  There’s some annoying vocal stuff going on in the chorus though.

Track 4: Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

Absolutely gorgeous pop tune – I really like this one.

Track 5: Anne-Marie – 2002

Hmm.  I do like the clever interpolation on the chorus of a single line – ‘oops, I got 99 problems singing “bye, bye, bye”/hold up, if you wanna go and take a ride wit me/better hit me, baby, one more time‘ – that mixes up the hooks from Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time, Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye, Dr Dre’s The Next Episode, Nelly’s Ride Wit Me and Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again.  If you remember the turn of the millennium, it’s very evocative.

I can’t stand the theme, though – and the tune on the verses really annoys me!

Track 6: Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There

Extremely irritating, cloying tune.  I don’t know why I always find Jess Glynne’s stuff so grating, but I do.

Track 7: Years & Years – If You’re Over Me

Great bouncy rhythm – this one’s quite fun.

Track 8: David Guetta and Sia – Flames

Annoying tune on the vocals – not keen.

Track 9: Post Malone – Better Now

Another irritating tune.

Track 10: Jonas Blue and Jack & Jack – Rise

I get this one stuck in my head a lot at the moment.  I’m not sure why, ’cause the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 11: Liam Payne and J Balvin – Familiar

I really like this one – it’s got a great Latin feel to it.

Track 12: Banx & Ranx, Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane – Answerphone

Good solid pop tune – I love that singalong chorus.

Track 13: MO, Lotto Boyzz and Mr Eazi – Bad Vibe

Nice summery song – quite like this one.

Track 14: Tiësto, Dzeko, Preme and Post Malone – Jackie Chan

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Post Malone on track 9.

Ridiculous lyrics, annoying tune on the chorus.  It’s got a good beat, though.

Track 15: M-22 and Medina – First Time

Another annoying tune, and the EDM backing track is painfully generic.

Track 16: 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood

Great epic rock track – the chorus is awesome.  Really like this one.

Track 17: Bebe Rexha and Florida-Georgia Line – Meant To Be

Too country-tinged for me, and I really hate that chorus.

Track 18: Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey – The Middle

Yet another very irritating tune.

Track 19: Khalid and Normani – Love Lies

Beautiful tune – lovely and melancholy.

Track 20: Jax Jones, Mabel and Rich The Kid – Ring Ring

Great atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 21: Cheat Codes and Little Mix – Only You

Bit of a dull tune – not a fan of this one.

Track 22: Shawn Mendes – In My Blood

Again, I find the tune really annoying, and I don’t like the theme either.

Track 23: MU4 – You Can’t Hurry Love

Now, this is an interesting way to end the first disc!  MU4 won a competition on Good Morning Britain to appear on this Now! compilation.  The competition winners were asked to cover the Phil Collins classic, which was the very first song on a Now! compilation – track 1 on Now! #1 back in 1983.

I do like the harmonies on this cover, and the retro feel remains intact, which is great.  Obviously I’ll always prefer the original, but this version is not bad.

Track 24: UB40 – Red Red Wine

Okay.

Disc two of this special Now! compilation is not full of new hits, like it usually would be.  Instead, it features favourite pop songs that have appeared on Now! compilations throughout the years.  As you know if you’re one of the intrepid souls who have been following my Now! marathon right from the start, I don’t usually like it when songs are included that have already been featured on previous entries in the series.  However, seeing as this is a special celebration album, I’ll let it slide today!

Red Red Wine first appeared as track 3 on Now! #1 in November 1983.  See the link for my review.

Incidentally, seeing as both track 1 and track 3 of Now! #1 have been honoured on this compilation, I wouldn’t have minded a wee shout-out to track 2!  The second half of my Now! marathon has not had any Duran Duran for me to love.

Track 25: Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)

Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) first appeared as track 8 on Now! #3 in July 1984.  See the link for my review.

Phil Collins is getting a good look-in on this celebratory Now! entry!

Track 26: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer

Livin’ On A Prayer first appeared as track 25 on Now! #9 in March 1987.  See the link for my review.

I’m not sure how I feel about the ’80s being represented on this disc by a reggae track, a ballad and a hairmetal song.  Just one synthpop or New Romantic track would have made me a very happy girl.

Track 27: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around

Love Is All Around first appeared as track 1 on Now! #28 in August 1994.  See the link for my review.

Interesting to see this one again after recent discussion of Drake equalling the second-place number one longevity record!

Track 28: Spice Girls – Wannabe

Wannabe first appeared as track 1 on Now! #34 in August 1996.  See the link for my review.

I think eleven-year-old me would have been thrilled to find out the Spice Girls would be featuring on Now! #100, so thirty-three-year-old me will try not to roll her eyes too much!

Track 29: Oasis – Wonderwall

Wonderwall first appeared as track 24 on Now! #34 in August 1996.  See the link for my review.

That’s two tracks for Now! #34, which is interesting!  Really, though, Wonderwall should have appeared on a Now! compilation earlier, as it had been released about a year before it made its appearance.

Track 30: Robbie Williams – Angels

Angels first appeared as track 7 on Now! #39 in April 1998.  See the link for my review.

Another favourite childhood artist that I would thoroughly have wanted to receive this honour back in the day!

Track 31: Cher – Believe

Believe first appeared as track 3 on Now! #42 in March 1999.  See the link for my review.

Good to see Cher on here, though I’ll always prefer her ’80s stuff.  (Yes, I know that’s the case with most decade-spanning artists.)

Track 32: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

…Baby One More Time first appeared as track 1 on Now! #44 in November 1999.  See the link for my review.

Well, it would have been wrong if we hadn’t had at least one of the songs featured in Anne-Marie’s 2002 interpolation on track 5!

In my opinion, the ’90s selection on this disc has been a little more representative than the ’80s selection (it helps that twice as many were included), but it’s a shame that there was absolutely nothing from the early ’90s – a bit of classic dance like 2 Unlimited or Snap! wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Track 33: S Club 7 – Reach

Reach first appeared as track 2 on Now! #46 in July 2000.  See the link for my review.

Track 34: Destiny’s Child – Survivor

Survivor first appeared as track 13 on Now! #49 in July 2001.  See the link for my review.

Track 35: Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

Can’t Get You Out Of My Head first appeared as track 1 on Now! #50 in November 2001.  See the link for my review.

Track 36: Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River

Cry Me A River first appeared as track 3 on Now! #55 in July 2003.  See the link for my review.

Track 37: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful

You’re Beautiful first appeared as track 1 on Now! #61 in July 2005.  See the link for my review.

Track 38: Shakira and Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie

Hips Don’t Lie first appeared as track 2 on Now! #65 in November 2006.  See the link for my review.

Another one we’ve been recently discussing due to its interpolation in Dimelo!

Track 39: Take That – Rule The World

Rule The World first appeared as track 2 on Now! #68 in November 2007.  See the link for my review.

Track 40: Coldplay – Viva La Vida

Viva La Vida first appeared as track 24 on Now! #71 in November 2008.  See the link for my review.

Track 41: Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl

I Kissed A Girl first appeared as track 2 on Now! #71 in November 2008.  See the link for my review.

Now! #71 getting a double look-in as well!

Very representative selection from the ’00s overall – songs from every part of the decade and lots of different genres.

Track 42: Ed Sheeran – Sing

Sing first appeared as track 2 on Now! #88 in July 2014.  See the link for my review.

Mind the six-year jump there, Now! compilers!  Could have done with fewer ’00s tracks to make room for some more from the ’10s!

Track 43: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Uptown Funk first appeared as track 1 on Now! #90 in March 2015.  See the link for my review.

My favourite track on this celebratory disc – absolutely deserves to be on here.

Track 44: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

Love Yourself first appeared as track 2 on Now! #93 in March 2016.  See the link for my review.

I’m not sure how I feel about a celebration of thirty-five years and a hundred compilation albums worth of pop music being ended on a Justin Bieber track.  They could at least have gone with Sorry, his one good track, which was released around the same time.

Short and sweet from the ’10s, but at least it was more representative than the ’80s selection.

Final note: So, that’s it from me and my Now! marathon, then – well, until Now! #101 comes out in the autumn.  I’ll post some stats from the whole thing at some point over the weekend as well, ’cause I love my stats – but other than that, I’m looking forward to having my music listening time back to myself again!

It’s been an interesting few months, and as a pop music geek, it’s really consolidated for me what I already felt about the way chart music has evolved during the course of my lifetime.  I’ll always prefer the ’80s stuff, I’ll always cringe when the ’90s stuff reminds me of my childhood, I’ll always think most of the ’00s stuff is really tacky, and I’ll always wish most of the ’10s stuff weren’t such poor quality and so generic.

On many days – especially days when the music was especially terrible and boring – it’s the daily picture feature that has been the most fun.  It’s been fascinating and terrifying at the same time to watch my life flash by, season by season.

Finally, surprisingly, after all that, I appreciate the institution of Now! That’s What I Call Music more than ever.  I’m actually already looking forward to the next one.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #99

Day 99 brings us to Now! #99, which was released on 23rd March 2018.

March 2018
This is how the world looked in March 2018. I have hundreds of photos from that month depicting things that I was getting rid of in my clothes cull – the joys of digital hoarding – but this is the only one I have of me, although I suspect Mum and Dad probably have some from their visit to Newcastle that month that I’ve not seen yet. Winning my Slimming World group’s Greatest Loser award was one of my highlights of my journey to target. The house, meanwhile, was even messier and full of boxes than it is now.

I’m starting to get a little suspicious that some of the tracks on these latest Now! compilations weren’t actually hits at all.  I know that a) the charts change so rapidly that there too many songs to remember and b) most chart music these days is so generic that it all blurs into one, but my memory is pretty good, and given that all of these songs are supposed to have been in the charts just a few months ago, I’m surprised that there are so many song titles I don’t recognise.  I will have to do some research as we go through them.

We’ve finally reached the current year, 2018!  Let’s see what pop music has come to these days.

Now! That's What I Call Music #99
Track 1: Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

Now I know I’m nearly at the end of this long Now! marathon – this track is still currently (as of today, 19th July 2018) in the Top 40.  We’re so close to the end!

I find the tune pretty irritating and the theme a bit awkward, but there’s some good stuff going on with the lyrics.

Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Another tune that really annoys me.

Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still

Great tune, great danceable beat, and a lyric like ‘let me kick it like it’s 1986 now‘ is always going to go down well with me.  Love this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something

I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.

Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?

Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.

Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends

This one is insidiously catchy and was stuck in my head for weeks earlier this year.  I’m not a fan of the tune or the theme, so it wasn’t pleasant.

Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse

I do like that early ’90s feel (which, judging by the style of the video, is deliberate).  Like the callback to Walk This Way too.

Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby

Another annoying tune, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You

I really like the rhythm, but I find the song a bit cheesy.

Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe

Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.

Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.

Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise

I really like George Ezra’s stuff – it’s so different to the generic EDM-hip-hop-pop lyrically-vapid tuneless mush that makes up the bulk of the charts these days.  This is an upbeat feelgood song with great lyrics and an awesome chant-along bit near the end.

Track 13: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

There is something indescribably comforting about the fact that, thirty years after I Should Be So Lucky became the favourite song of every girl in my nursery school class, Kylie Minogue is still featuring on Now! compilations.  I feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I really like the guitar on this one – it’s a nice, pretty tune with a retro feel.

Track 14: Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

Pretty tune, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 15: Mabel and Notes – Fine Line

I quite like the tinkly instrumentals on this one, and it’s a good tune.

Track 16: Sigrid – Strangers

It’s got a good rhythm, but the tune annoys me.

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Guilty

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Paloma Faith on track 8.

As I explained in the intro, there have been a few tracks on Now! compilations recently I’ve not recognised, including this one.  Looking it up, I now know why.  This wasn’t actually a hit – not in the UK or anywhere else.  As such, I’m not sure why it’s been included!

It’s got a great atmosphere and a nice classic feel, though.

Track 18: Pink – Beautiful Trauma

I find this one a bit depressing, though the tune is very pretty.

Track 19: James Arthur – Naked

Too slow for me, and I don’t like the tune.

Track 20: Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

Again it’s a little too slow for me, but it’s got a good epic atmosphere.

Track 21: Calum Scott – You Are The Reason

Another one that wasn’t a hit – it only got to number 43!

This one’s too slow for me, and the tune’s very depressing.

Track 22: Sam Smith – One Last Song

I quite like the retro-sounding instrumentals on this track.

Track 23: Stormzy and MNEK – Blinded By Your Grace [Part II]

Good tune – quite like this one.

Track 24: Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign – Psycho

Interesting instrumentals, but I don’t like the tune – it’s very repetitive.

Track 25: Blocboy JB and Drake – Look Alive

Not enough melody for me.

Track 26: Khalid – Location

Another non-hit – this only got to number 67!

Great atmosphere and classic feel – quite like this one.

Track 27: NF – Let You Down

I can’t stand this track – the tune and the high-pitched vocals are so irritating.

Track 28: Ramz – Barking

Great track!  Endearing theme, interesting tune.  Big fan of this one.

Track 29: J Hus – Bouff Daddy

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s boring.

Track 30: Cliq and Alika – Wavey

Also not a hit – this one only got to number 44!

It’s got a good rhythm, but I could do with some more melody.

Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words

Nice tune, but the rap’s too messy for me.

Track 32: B Young – Jumanji

It’s got an okay beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline

It’s based heavily around an interpolation of 2002 hit Always On Time by Ja Rule and Ashanti.  I just find it very unoriginal.

Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Notes and Mabel on track 15.

This tune really irritates me.

Track 35: Rak-Su, Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy – Dimelo

This is an interesting one.  It was the X Factor winner’s single for 2017, and for the last couple of years the X Factor winner’s single has not been featured on the spring Now! compilation like it used to be – both Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young and Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around were left out, the latter presumably partly because nobody wants to hear an explicitly Christmas-themed song in the spring.  Part of this, I believe, is because of the X Factor‘s decline in popularity recently, but it’s meant we’ve not been following an interesting change.  Louisa Johnson’s winner’s single was a cover as usual – Forever Young was originally a Bob Dylan song – but Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around was an original song (written by Ed Sheeran), which was a first for the X Factor since Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal, and signalled an interesting move away from its irritating karaoke format.  This move towards original songs continued in the 2017 competition, with many of the contestants (notably Rak-Su and Grace Davies) performing tracks they had written themselves.

As such, this winner’s single from Rak-Su is self-written – an upbeat Latin-tinged hip-hop track with great lyrics and a clever interpolation of Wyclef Jean’s lines from Hips Don’t Lie – and as a result it’s the only X Factor winner’s single I’ve ever liked.  It’s a great track.  It’s just a shame we had to put up with years of awful pointless cover versions to get to this stage.

(I should note that, despite the above essay, I’ve never actually watched the X Factor.  My interest in this stuff is purely from a chart geek perspective.)

Track 36: G-Eazy and Halsey – Him And I

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 37: Sza and Calvin Harris – The Weekend

Another non-hit!  This only got to number 55.

I’m not hugely keen on the tune on this one, but it’s got a good retro-sounding beat.

Track 38: Hailee Steinfeld, Alesso, Florida-Georgia Line and Watt – Let Me Go

Another generic, irritating tune.

Track 39: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Want You Back

Nice tune, but the verse is too slow and cheesy for me.  The chorus is good though – and I love that rock guitar.

Track 40: Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

Yet another one that wasn’t a hit – this one only got to number 85!

It’s got a good atmosphere though – really like those instrumentals.  The tune’s nice, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 41: Maroon 5 – Wait

And another non-hit – number 79 for this song.

Not keen on this tune – it’s pretty generic.

Track 42: James Bay – Wild Love

This one’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 43: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – As You Are

The complete opposite of a hit.  This didn’t chart at all!

I like the instrumentals at the start, but again it’s not upbeat enough for my liking.

Track 44: U2 – You’re The Best Thing About Me

This one, meanwhile, only got to number 92.

It’s nice to hear some rock music, but the tune’s a bit dull.  It’s got a good retro-sounding instrumental in the middle though.

Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever

This wasn’t actually back in the charts this year (so it’s yet another non-hit, although of course it was a hit on its original release in 1994), but there was an increased awareness of it due to Liam Gallagher performing it at the Brits in tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing victims.

One more thing: I just want to add a quick note about all the non-hits that have littered this playlist.  While I’ve only just noticed it with this one, I suspect non-hits have been a thing for quite a few Now! compilations leading up to this, as there have been quite a few instances where I’m surprised I recognise so few of the tracks (as I mentioned in the intro, while it is tough to remember hundreds of generic songs, I have followed the charts religiously this decade and have a good memory).

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I can sort of understand it in a way, as 95% of chart music in the late ’10s is woefully, utterly dire.  It’s awful – the worst quality it has ever been in my lifetime.  Most of it is completely generic, uninspired and half-arsed, and so I have a bit of sympathy for the Now! compilers deciding to include songs that they think are good but didn’t trouble the charts for whatever reason, rather than yet another terrible identical-sounding EDM track that somehow managed to get to number 24 for a few weeks.

At the same time, what I’ve always liked about the Now! compilations is that they do reflect the most popular music of the time – good and bad.  I feel that including songs that weren’t hits, that weren’t soundtracking people’s lives by being played on the radio and on TV shows and at sports events – well, it kind of takes away from the status of these albums as cultural artefacts of the time.  I’m a little sad about that.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings with the release of the 100th entry in this long music marathon.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #97

Day 97 equals Now! #97, which was released on 21st July 2017.

July 2017
This is how the world looked in July 2017, the morning of the day Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor and hence the last day I was able to wear that T-shirt without it being out of date. I was planning to get some iron-on stickers for it, but then it got far too big for me anyway!

Last year’s summer hits were pretty good from what I remember.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #97
Track 1: Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber – Despacito

Gorgeous Latin summer tune, deservedly one of the biggest hits of the year.

Track 2: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper and Lil’ Wayne – I’m The One

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Justin Bieber on track 1.

This is an extremely irritating track with too many rappers on it, none of whom contribute anything good.

Track 3: Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – Feels

Great funk rhythm, great tune.  Really like this one.

Track 4: Jonas Blue and William Singe – Mama

This tune really irritates me.

Track 5: Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson – Symphony

Gorgeous instrumentals – quite like this track.

Track 6: Little Mix and Stormzy – Power

This is one that was used in Zumba class last year – I love the vocals.

Track 7: Liam Payne and Quavo – Strip That Down

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

I really like the rhythm on this one – it’s very danceable.

Track 8: The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – Something Just Like This

I find this tune insanely irritating, and the theme’s horribly twee.

Track 9: David Guetta and Justin Bieber – 2U

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on both track 1 and track 2.  Nobody needs that much Bieber on a Now! compilation!

This one’s a dull, forgettable tune.

Track 10: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

I really like the classic feel to this – there’s something about it that reminds me of the slower dramatic examples of glam rock.

Track 11: Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

Cheesy and annoying.

Track 12: Rita Ora – Your Song

I really like this one – great tune, great electro lines.

Track 13: Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable

Excruciatingly boring tune.

Track 14: Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

Great rhythm, great lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 15: Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign – Swalla

I love this one!  It’s really danceable, and the vocals are awesome.

Track 16: Katy Perry and Migos – Bon Appétit

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Katy Perry on track 3.

This tune is highly dull and generic.  I’m starting to wonder how all these half-arsed attempts at tunes are becoming hits.

Track 17: Nick Jonas, Anne-Marie and Mike Posner – Remember I Told You

Another track that’s so boring I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 18: Lady Gaga – The Cure

A slower track from Lady Gaga, but I like the dramatic feel.  Would have been even better if the lyrics had been about the Cure as in the band though!

Track 19: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

Love the atmosphere of this one, and the interpolation of the melody from Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle is done really well.

Track 20: Niall Horan – Slow Hands

The theme irritates me, and I can’t get on with the rhythm.

Track 21: Miley Cyrus – Malibu

Pretty tune – I find some of the lyrics a bit grating, but it’s got a nice summery feel.

Track 22: Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Originally released in 2014, back in the charts to raise money after the Manchester Arena attack.  It’s a gorgeous tune, but I find the theme uncomfortable.

Track 23: French Montana and Swae Lee – Unforgettable

Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 24: Sigala and Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love

Another tune that I find really irritating.

Track 25: Maggie Lindemann – Pretty Girl [Cheat Codes X Cade Remix]

Annoying tune, but the theme is the real issue here – cloying and vomit-inducingly smug.

Track 26: The Weeknd – Rockin’

Forgettable and dull.

Track 27: Little Mix and Machine Gun Kelly – No More Sad Songs

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Little Mix on track 6.

Another annoying tune.

Track 28: Jax Jones, Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don – Instruction

I really like this one – great beat, great theme.

Track 29: Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato – No Promises

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Demi Lovato on track 28.

Again, I don’t like the tune.

Track 30: Disciples – On My Mind

Great track – good tune, very danceable.

Track 31: J Hus – Did You See

Interesting track – I like the lyrics.

Track 32: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Another interesting song – there’s some great lines here.  I quite like this one.

Track 33: Future – Mask Off

I really like the melancholy tune on the backing track – it’s gorgeous.

Track 34: Kygo and Ellie Goulding – First Time

Twee, saccharine and bland.

Track 35: Martin Garrix and Troye Sivan – There For You

Another tune I just can’t get into.

Track 36: Rudimental and James Arthur – Sun Comes Up

Generic, annoying tune.

Track 37: Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls

It’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like this one.

Track 38: Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

Good retro sound, even better retro video.

Track 39: Neiked and Mimi – Call Me

Nice feelgood tune, but the vocals are really irritating.

Track 40: Raye – The Line

Nothing exciting about this one.

Track 41: Fifth Harmony and Gucci Mane – Down

Repetitive and dull.

Track 42: Haim – Want You Back

Again, I just can’t get excited about this tune.  I do like the retro tinge on the instrumentals though.

Track 43: JP Cooper – Passport Home

Too slow for me, and the theme’s very cheesy.

Track 44: Take That – Giants

Another boring tune.

Track 45: Artists For Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Charity cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic to raise money for the victims of the Grenfell fire.  There’s some interesting stuff in this version, especially the added rap by Stormzy at the start.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #96

Day 96’s Now! compilation was released on 7th April 2017.

April 2017
This is the way the world looked in April 2017. The mouth of the Tyne was chilly but beautiful.  I’m glad we’re returning to the ferry photos in this final week, as they call to mind some early entries in the marathon such as Now! #3 and Now! #15.

Another new year, some more new hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #96
Track 1: Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill

I wasn’t sure about this track when I first heard it, but it’s really grown on me – it’s a real singalong classic.  Things that are great about it:

  1. The very relatable poetic evocation of what it feels like to be nostalgic for your teenage years.
  2. The reference to Tiny Dancer.
  3. The section describing what all the old friends are doing now – I think it’s lyrically very beautiful.
  4. The fact that Suffolk Police needed to emphasise road safety in response to the ‘driving at ninety down these country lanes‘ lyric.  If you’ve ever driven on British country lanes, you’ll know why ninety miles an hour is not a good idea.

Track 2: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Human

Great track – I love the atmosphere on this one!  It was also used really effectively in the trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was a game I actually really loved.

Track 3: Little Mix – Touch

Good solid piece of pop – I really like this tune.

Track 4: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Starboy

Another great atmosphere.

Track 5: The Chainsmokers – Paris

The tune’s pretty depressing, but the lyrics are quite good.

Track 6: Starley – Call On Me [Ryan Riback Remix]

There’s something I find really irritating about the tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals.

Track 7: Anne-Marie – Ciao Adios

Great pop track!  Really danceable – we did a cooldown to this one in Zumba class for a while – and the tune’s good too.

Track 8: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

The tune’s a bit generic, but I like the ’80s feel.

Track 9: Zara Larsson – I Would Like

I find this tune really irritating.

Track 10: Katy Perry and Skip Marley – Chained To The Rhythm

Interesting theme, and it’s got a good beat.

Track 11: Sean Paul and Dua Lipa – No Lie

Another irritating tune.

Track 12: Martin Jensen – Solo Dance

It’s an okay beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 13: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

I really don’t like this tune – it’s very depressing.  Also, I was really irritated at the time when the Viva music channel would always mute out the word ‘rum’ in the lyric ‘drinking rum and cola‘, because apparently it’s not acceptable even to say the names of alcoholic drinks before the watershed nowadays.

Track 14: Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe

Boring and slow.

Track 15: Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson – Just Hold On

Very generic dance track, nothing special here.

Track 16: Dua Lipa – Be The One

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on track 11.

It’s got quite a good chillout feel, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 17: Jonas Blue and Raye – By Your Side

Highly irritating tune, and it’s too high-pitched.

Track 18: Coldplay – Hypnotised

Too slow, forgettable tune, so dull I can’t concentrate.

Track 19: John Legend – Love Me Now

The tune’s okay, but it’s another one where I can’t get onboard with the theme.

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Love My Life

Great to see Robbie Williams still going strong, even if this song is almost tipping into self-parody.

Track 21: George Michael – Fastlove

We’ve already had this one on Now! #35, but as it was included here as a tribute to the late great George Michael shortly after his passing, I’ll let it slide.

See the link for my review.

Track 22: Jax Jones and Raye – You Don’t Know Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Raye on track 17.

I really like this track though – the bridge is awesome, and it’s got a great beat.

Track 23: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Feel It Coming

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both the Weeknd and Daft Punk on track 4.

This one’s too cheesy for me, and not upbeat enough.  I like the retro feel though.

Track 24: Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa – Scared To Be Lonely

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on both track 11 and track 16.  This is getting annoying!

Yet another irritating tune.

Track 25: Kygo and Selena Gomez – It Ain’t Me

Again, there’s something that really annoys me about the tune.

Track 26: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane – Black Beatles

Great rhythm, but the tune’s very repetitive.

Track 27: Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello – Bad Things

I quite like this one – the tune on the chorus is nice.

Track 28: Sage The Gemini – Now And Later

I find this track pretty dull – it could do with a bit more melody.

Track 29: Tinie Tempah and Tinashe – Text From Your Ex

I quite like the atmosphere, but the tune’s nothing special.

Track 30: Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

Great rap track – the rhythm on this is awesome.

Track 31: Tom Zanetti and Sadie Ama – You Want Me

Takes ages to get going.  When it does, the tune’s very irritating and sounds almost off-key.

Track 32: Martin Solveig and Ina Wroldsen – Places

Another annoying tune.

Track 33: Robin Schulz, David Guetta and Cheat Codes – Shed A Light

I’m just not keen on this at all – it’s cheesy and generic.

Track 34: MO and Kent Jones – Not In Love

It’s another very forgettable tune, but I quite like the reggae-tinged beat.

Track 35: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Skin

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rag ‘N’ Bone Man on track 2.

The tune’s very pretty, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 36: Train – Play That Song

Extremely irritating and twee!

Track 37: The Vamps and Matoma – All Night

That chorus is insanely annoying with its kiddie-sounding vocals, and the rest of the track’s not much better.

Track 38: Ariana Grande and Future – Everyday

Too slow for me, and the track’s very messy.

Track 39: Major Lazer, PartyNextDoor and Nicki Minaj – Run Up

Another irritating tune, but it’s got quite a good beat.

Track 40: Post Malone and Quavo – Congratulations

Not keen on the tune on this one.

Track 41: Julia Michaels – Issues

I really don’t like this one – the vocal style and rhythm are kind of stop-start, the tune’s nothing special, and the theme annoys me.

Track 42: Lorde – Green Light

This is a great song – I love the beat and the way it builds.  Wonderful track.

Track 43: Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos – Slide

The kiddie-sounding bit of the vocals are just incoherent shouting, and the tune’s pretty dull, but I like the retro-sounding instrumentals.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #95

Day 95, and we’re at Now! #95, which was released on 18th November 2016.

November 2016
This is how the world looked in November 2016. Running was much harder when I was bigger (you can see the tailrunner just behind me, which means I was the last finisher out of several hundred people…again), but I’m a stubborn cow and I still went out and did it every week. (Photo by Maggie Davison at Newcastle parkrun.)

Time for some party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #95
Track 1: James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

I can’t stand this one!  It’s so saccharine, and the theme just sits really awkwardly with me.

Track 2: Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex

Great solid piece of pop – really like this.

Track 3: Clean Bandit, Sean Paul and Anne-Marie – Rockabye

The Christmas number one for 2016 – and, notably, the first Christmas number one since 1999 that wasn’t either a charity single or a talent show winner.  It’s a good song – although I find the theme too cheesy – but really I like this one for the hilarious bit in the video where all the old dudes in the pub mime along to Sean Paul’s vocals.

Track 4: The Chainsmokers and Halsey – Closer

It’s a bit repetitive, but I quite like this tune.  The lyrics are pretty daft though!

Track 5: Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and Mø – Cold Water

It’s an okay tune, but it’s a bit generic.

Track 6: Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj – Side To Side

Great piece of pop – love the rhythm on this.

Track 7: Sia – The Greatest

I find the chorus really grating, but the tune on the verses is okay.

Track 8: Calvin Harris – My Way

Nothing to do with the Frank Sinatra song.  This one’s got an irritating tune, and is very repetitive.

Track 9: Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd – Starving

Cheesy, too slow, and the lyrics are a bit awkward.

Track 10: MO – Who Do You Think Of?

This is the girl group MO, not to be confused with the solo singer Mø who also appears on this Now! compilation (twice).  This is a good, danceable pop tune – quite like this one.

Track 11: Neiked and Dyo – Sexual

Highly irritating tune, too high-pitched, awkward theme.  Not a fan.

Track 12: Anne-Marie – Alarm

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Anne-Marie on track 3.

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

Track 13: Olly Murs – You Don’t Know Love

I quite like this one – there’s a nice ’80s tinge to the backing track.

Track 14: Mø – Final Song

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Mø on track 5.

Pretty tune though, quite like this one.

Track 15: Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know

The tune is super irritating, but the video, which parodies the Pokémon Go phenomenon, is great.

Track 16: JP Cooper – September Song

The chorus for this rips off the chorus of Jealous by Nick Jonas, so whenever I get one or the other stuck in my head it usually turns into an unwelcome mash-up.  The rest of the tune is just annoying.

Track 17: Shawn Mendes – Mercy

Too slow for me, but it’s an okay tune.

Track 18: Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You

Dull, saccharine and irritating.

Track 19: Emeli Sandé – Hurts

Great tune, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Michael Bublé – I Believe In You

Too cheesy for me.

Track 21: Craig David – All We Needed

The official Children In Need single for 2016 – and it’s finally something that’s not a cover!  I’m so glad the trend has finally shifted!

What I’m not glad about is that this track is super slow.  The piano’s nice, though.

Track 22: Drake, Wizkid and Kyla – One Dance

This was number one for fifteen weeks in the summer of 2016, equalling the second place for longest-lasting number one held by Wet Wet Wet since 1994 for Love Is All Around.  I found this really interesting – because I have clear memories of the Wet Wet Wet chart run from when I was nine, I was able to compare the way fifteen weeks felt as a child versus as an adult.  It went a lot quicker as an adult, because time always does (I’m a firm believer in the theory that we are constantly subconsciously comparing intervals of time to our total life so far, which is why time just gets faster and faster as you age), but it also felt like I did and achieved more, probably because I was running and working so much during that summer.

Anyway, the track.  It’s got a good beat, and the tune’s okay, but it certainly didn’t deserve to be number one for fifteen weeks.  Thankfully it didn’t equal or beat Bryan Adams’ 1991 record of sixteen weeks for Everything I Do (I Do It For You), so that still stands.

Track 23: DJ Snake and Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 5.

This tune is almost unbearably irritating and cheesy.  Not my thing at all.

Track 24: Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl

The tune’s a bit annoying, but it’s got a good rhythm.

Track 25: Sigma and Birdy – Find Me

Too slow, but the atmosphere’s okay.

Track 26: Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha – In The Name Of Love

Pretty tune on the vocals, but the electro hook annoys me.

Track 27: Nevada, Mark Morrison and Fetty Wap – The Mack

This is the second ’10s cover version of Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit Return Of The Mack, after the one by Mann, Iyaz and Snoop Dogg in 2011 (which was also called The Mack).  It doesn’t really add anything to the original.

Track 28: Tieks and Dan Harkna – Sunshine

It’s got a good beat, but the tune annoys me.

Track 29: Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault

Okay tune, but the theme is really problematic.

Track 30: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Lvndscape and Bolier – Is This Love

Semi-cover of the 1978 classic, with some dance rhythms over the top.  It’s got a good atmosphere, but it can’t touch the original.

Track 31: Digital Farm Animals, Cash Cash and Nelly – Millionaire

Irritating kiddie-style vocals on the chorus, and the tune annoys me.

Track 32: Snakehips and Zayn – Cruel

Forgettable tune, boring vocals.

Track 33: Matoma and Becky Hill – False Alarm

Another bland tune.

Track 34: Galantis and Hook ‘N’ Sling – Love On Me

I’ve never been keen on the vocals on this one, which sound to me like someone is faking a Scottish accent.

Track 35: Charli XCX and Lil’ Yachty – After The Afterparty

Irritating tune, but I quite like the theme.

Track 36: Dua Lipa – Blow Your Mind (Mwah)

Good beat, annoying chorus.

Track 37: Louisa Johnson – So Good

Good solid piece of pop with a great atmosphere.  Not keen on the theme though.

Track 38: James TW – When You Love Someone

Pretty tune, but it’s a bit too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 39: Wilkinson and Karen Harding – Sweet Lies

I find this tune very generic, and the beat is like every other dance track this decade.

Track 40: Craig David and Sigala – Ain’t Giving Up

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David on track 21.

I quite like the tune and the tinkly instrumentals, but the chorus is kind of annoying.

Track 41: Charlie Puth – Dangerously

Good atmosphere, but it’s a little too high-pitched for me and the theme’s a bit saccharine.

Track 42: Offaiah – Trouble

Very repetitive tune, not keen.

Track 43: Christine & The Queens – Tilted

Good, interesting track.  I really like the instrumentals on this one, and there’s something lovely and classic about the vocals.

Track 44: Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion

I like the rock edge on this one.

Track 45: Niall Horan – This Town

Saccharine acoustic ballad, and I don’t like the theme.  In short, it’s pretty much everything I dislike.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #92

Day 92 means Now! #92, which brings us to 20th November 2015.

November 2015
This is how the world looked in November 2015 – or how I looked, rather – because this was the year we started going down to London for the Beat:Cancer event in November. I honestly think I looked about fifteen years older when I was bigger, although my improved hair/makeup game has helped too.

Let’s see what the party tunes were that year!  No, they most certainly wouldn’t have been played at Beat:Cancer.

Now! That's What I Call Music #92
Track 1: Sam Smith – Writing’s On The Wall

It’s a Bond theme, so it’s got a good epic atmosphere, even if it is a slow Sam Smith song.

Track 2: Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

Not keen on the tune – it’s a bit depressing.

Track 3: The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

Another tune that I don’t find particularly exciting.  The chorus has quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 4: Calvin Harris and Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

The vocals on this one really irritate me.

Track 5: Naughty Boy, Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’ (Lose It All)

Too slow for my liking, and again the tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 6: Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor – Marvin Gaye

Great upbeat big-band-sounding pop – really like this tune.

Track 7: R City and Adam Levine – Locked Away

One of those songs that’s so dull I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 8: Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Too high-pitched for me – it gives me a headache.

Track 9: Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Irritating tune, but the beat’s okay.

Track 10: Olly Murs – Kiss Me

I like the ’80s-tinged synthy lines on this one.

Track 11: Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Some really nice instrumentals on this track.

Track 12: Little Mix – Love Me Like You

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 13: One Direction – Drag Me Down

Good rhythm, and it builds quite well, but the tune is fairly uninspired.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Cool For The Summer

I really like the synth on this one.

Track 15: Years & Years – Eyes Shut

Nice piano at the start, but it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 16: Grace and G-Eazy – You Don’t Own Me

Cover of the Lesley Gore song.  It was used in the 2015 House of Fraser Christmas advert, so now it’s a feature of the annual Christmas playlists on the music channels.  It’s an okay tune, but in general I find there’s too much going on in this track.

Track 17: Birdy – Wings

Good tune, though it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 18: Aurora – Half The World Away

Cover of the Oasis song, the original being best known as the theme tune to The Royle Family.  This was the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert offering.  It’s a pretty cover, but I find it a little depressing when it shows up on the music channels at Christmas time.

Track 19: Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

Too slow, cheesy and acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Boring, depressing and again far too slow.

Track 21: Selena Gomez and ASAP Rocky – Good For You

Good atmosphere on this one, but as ever I could do with a more interesting tune.

Track 22: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She’s Kinda Hot

Good upbeat bit of pop-rock – the tune’s not that exciting but it’s refreshing to hear something in a different style.

Track 23: The Vamps – Wake Up

Great instrumentals, great atmosphere – shame the song is a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 24: KDA, Tinie Tempah and Katy B – Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)

Great danceable track – really like this tune.

Track 25: Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly

Good beat, but the track’s pretty messy.  I do like the ’70s-tinged lines though.

Track 26: Sigala – Easy Love

Another song that’s too high-pitched – it’s quite painful to listen to.

Track 27: Martin Solveig and GTA – Intoxicated

I really like the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 28: MNEK and Zara Larsson – Never Forget You

The vocals annoy me on this one.

Track 29: Diplo and Sleepy Tom – Be Right There

Not sure what I think about the interpolation of Jade’s 1992 hit Don’t Walk Away.  I hadn’t even thought about the original track in years.  It’s certainly the most interesting thing about this track, which is very generic otherwise.

Track 30: Felix Jaehn and Jasmine Thompson – Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)

Interestingly tinkly cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  Obviously nothing can touch the original, but this version’s not horrible.

Track 31: Pia Mia, Chris Brown and Tyga – Do It Again

The beat’s okay, but it’s a pretty generic track.

Track 32: Rudimental and Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ed Sheeran on track 20.

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

Track 33: Sigma and Ella Henderson – Glitterball

Repetitive tune, not enough beat.  Quite like the ’90s tinge though.

Track 34: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Omen

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sam Smith on track 1.

This one’s another dull tune – there’s just nothing interesting about it at all.

Track 35: Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

Interesting track with great rhythm, even if the tune is a bit repetitive.

Track 36: Format:B – Chunky

Irritating, messy dance track with painfully blaring vocals.

Track 37: WSTRN – In2

Starts off with some boring, random chords.  The vocals have got quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 38: Ariana Grande – Focus

Great beat, good solid pop tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 39: Silentó – Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)

I like the videogame-esque beeping on the backing track, but the vocals are daft in an annoying way.

Track 40: Joe Stone and Montell Jordan – The Party (This Is How We Do It)

Remix of Montell Jordan’s 1995 classic (see Now! #31 for review of the original version).  It’s got a good beat, but I was never a huge fan of the original anyway, and the remix has a lot of jarring lines going on.

Track 41: Nick Brewer and Bibi Bourelly – Talk To Me

Messy and uninspired, and the rap is just irritating.

Track 42: KSI and JME – Keep Up

Inspired theme!  Good atmosphere, too.

Track 43: Wretch 32, Anne-Marie and PRGRSHN – Alright With Me

Good rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 44: Philip George and Anton Powers – Alone No More

Cover of the 1998 song by Another Level.  Very repetitive, and it’s another bland tune.

Track 45: Kygo and Ella Henderson – Here For You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ella Henderson on track 33.

The tinkly instrumentals are nice, but the track is slow, and I don’t like slow.

Track 46: Ben Haenow and Kelly Clarkson – Second Hand Heart

Great atmosphere, but the song’s too saccharine for my liking.