Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #103

It’s the annual summer Now! release – Now! 103 has been released today, 19th July 2019.

July 2019
This is how the world looks in July 2019, with me and Geth out racing again.

Let’s see which recent tracks have been included.

Now! That's What I Call Music #103

Track 1: Lil’ Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus – Old Town Road [Remix]

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I’ve still got a real soft spot for this comedy cowboy rap track, especially since Billy Ray Cyrus showed up on the chorus for this new version.

Track 2: Ed Sheeran, Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock – Cross Me

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one’s a bit of a grower and a fairly frequent earworm.

Track 3: Billie Eilish – Bad Guy

New Hits Friday review.

This one, conversely, has got more annoying. I quite liked it when I first heard it, but I find it overplayed now.

Track 4: Avicii and Aloe Blacc – SOS

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve always quite liked these EDM-bluegrass tracks that Avicii did, and it’s nice if bittersweet that we’re getting the posthumous releases now.

Track 5: Katy Perry – Never Really Over

New Hits Friday review.

This is another one that I’m starting to find irritating after hearing it so often!

Track 6: Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored

New Hits Friday review.

This was released back in February and was a fairly frequent earworm for me in the early spring, but I’ve not heard it in months so I’m a bit surprised the Now! compilers have held it over for this compilation. It’s another one that annoys me now.

Track 7: Meduza and Goodboys – Piece Of Your Heart

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

It’s a very catchy chorus, so I can understand why it was such a big hit, but again I just find it really irritating now after months of radio play!

Track 8: Stormzy – Vossi Bop

New Hits Friday review.

I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve really grown to like this atmospheric track!

Track 9: Shawn Mendes – If I Can’t Have You

New Hits Friday review.

I still quite like this tune! (I’m also endlessly confused by the lyric ‘I’m in Toronto and I got this view/But I might as well be in a hotel room’ – if he’s visiting Toronto, and he’s not in a hotel room, then where is he? Staying with a friend who has a really good view? Why is this not explained in the song?)

Track 10: Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello – Find U Again

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Still very fond of this pop track!

Track 11: Mabel – Mad Love

New Hits Friday review.

This is another song that has really grown on me.

Track 12: Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Again, I’m starting to get a bit weary of this one due to radio overplay.

Track 13: Pink and Cash Cash – Can We Pretend

Not a hit – it only got to number 88. The album got to number one, though.

It’s a good pop tune, if a little cheesy for my liking.

Track 14: Jess Glynne and Jax Jones – One Touch

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one is really, really grating after a few listens! Not a fan at all.

Track 15: Zara Larsson – Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me

New Hits Friday review.

I quite like the upbeat backing track, but on the whole I find this one a bit forgettable.

Track 16: CamelPhat and Jake Bugg – Be Someone

Not a hit – it only got to number 59.

I’m a bit surprised to hear indie singer-songwriter Jake Bugg on one of CamelPhat’s dance tracks, but his voice actually works quite well here.

Track 17: Jax Jones, Martin Solveig and Madison Beer – All Day And Night

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Jax Jones on track 14.

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

The hook is a bit annoying, but I still find this one very danceable.

Track 18: Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days

New Hits Friday review.

Another track that has really grown on me – great beat and great funk bassline.

Track 19: Little Mix – Bounce Back

New Hits Friday review.

It’s okay pop, but I find it a bit uninspired, and the Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) interpolation is slightly insipid.

Track 20: Jonas Blue and Theresa Rex – What I Like About You

New Hits Friday review.

This one is too cheesy for me and very forgettable.

Track 21: The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds Of Summer – Who Do You Love?

New Hits Friday review.

I’m not keen on the tune, and that chorus is super annoying.

Track 22: Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I said when I first heard this that I thought it would become a frequent earworm, and it certainly has. It’s also become one of my favourite tracks in the chart at the moment.

Track 23: Jonas Brothers – Cool

New Hits Friday review.

It’s not really my thing, but at least it’s got a tune.

Track 24: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had 5 Seconds Of Summer on track 21.

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve not changed my opinion on this one – it’s still squeaky and annoying. It’s also a terrible earworm, which makes it even more irritating.

Track 25: Steel Banglez, AJ Tracey and Mostack – Fashion Week

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one a bit repetitive.

Track 26: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello – Señorita

Double repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Shawn Mendes on track 9 and Camila Cabello on track 10.

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve not been to dance class for a few weeks but I fully expect to hear this slow Latin-tinged track as cooldown music when I go back.

Track 27: Lewis Capaldi – Hold Me While You Wait

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Pretty tune as ever from Lewis Capaldi. Nice chillout music.

Track 28: Ariana Grande and Victoria Monét – Monopoly

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

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one pretty dull.

Track 29: Avicii – Heaven

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

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one’s a nice feelgood summery tune.

Track 30: David Guetta and Raye – Stay (Don’t Go Away)

Not a hit – it only got to number 41.

Nice atmospheric dance track with a slightly retro feel.

Track 31: Bastille – Joy

Not a hit – it only got to number 46. The album got to number four, though.

I find this tune a bit depressing, which I don’t think is the intention!

Track 32: Elton John and Taron Egerton – (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again

Not actually released as a single – this is from the Rocketman soundtrack album, which got to number five.

I’ve not seen the film, but this is a fairly straightforward semi-cover (I would call it pointless if it weren’t meant to be a close replica!).

Track 33: Kylie Minogue – New York City

Not actually released as a single – this is a bonus track from her recent compilation album Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection, which got to number one.

The track has a great disco feel, and I love the spoken word intro.

Track 34: Ellie Goulding – Sixteen

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one saccharine and irritating.

Track 35: OneRepublic – Rescue Me

Not a hit – it only got to number 52.

I really like the guitar on this one.

Track 36: Dominic Fike – 3 Nights

New Hits Friday review.

I do still like this, but I’m finding it to be a bit overplayed at the moment.

Track 37: Lighthouse Family – My Salvation

Not actually released as a single – this is from their recent album Blue Sky In My Head, which got to number three.

Great atmosphere on this track – I’m tempted to check out the album now!

Track 38: Emeli Sandé – Sparrow

Not a hit, and not released properly as a single, though it did get to number 53 on the official download charts.

It’s a pretty tune with nice tinkly instrumentals, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 39: Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

Not a hit – it only got to number 65.

I find the song a bit dull, but it’s good to see indie-ish stuff on here alongside the pop and rap tracks.

Track 40: Liam Gallagher – Shockwave

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still gutted that, other than this track and a brief appearance by Catfish & The Bottlemen, there has been absolutely no rock music in the charts in 2019. I’m really hoping this trend reverses itself at some point during the 2020s!

Track 41: James Arthur – Falling Like The Stars

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I can’t stand this one. It’s way too saccharine for me, and the lyrics contain James Arthur’s favourite ‘romantic trope’ about holding girls’ hair back while they vomit due to overconsumption of alcohol. I have very little patience for that kind of message.

Track 42: Westlife – Better Man

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s still too cheesy for me.

Track 43: Taron Egerton – Rocketman

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Taron Egerton on track 32.

Again, this one is from the Rocketman soundtrack and hasn’t been released as an actual single.

It’s another straightforward cover – Taron Egerton’s voice is sort of similar but not identical to Elton’s, which gives it a slight uncanny valley feel.

Track 44: Himesh Patel – Yesterday

Here’s another soundtrack song – this one is from the soundtrack to Yesterday, which got to number 40 in the album chart.

Like the Elton covers, this is arranged pretty identically to the Beatles original, which, as I understand it from reading about the film’s plot, is to be expected.

Track 45: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)

We’ve already had this track on Now! #3…because the Now! compilers are doing exactly the same thing as they did on the last compilation, and so the last few tracks are all bonus tracks that originally appeared on the third release back in 1984! Now! #3 is also being re-released today, on CD for the first time. I really need to start picking up these re-releases again – I got Now! #1 on CD last summer but haven’t bought Now! #2 yet.

Because the Now! company was posting Duran Duran pictures in order to tease the re-release on social media, I was hopeful that they’d include The Reflex as a bonus track, but sadly there was no love for it this time round – I’ll just have to enjoy the original White Lines (famously a DD cover a decade later) instead!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 10.

Track 46: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion

Love OMD and I’m gutted I missed out on tickets for their upcoming tour!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 4.

Track 47: The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men

Still a party classic!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 26.

Track 48: Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Not my favourite Nik Kershaw track, but still a good tune.

See my review on Now! #3 – track 2.

We’ll return to the world of Now! in the autumn for Now! #104 (and presumably a re-release of Now! #4!).

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 #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 #94

Day 94, and Now! #94, which came out on 22nd July 2016.

July 2016
This is the way the world looked in July 2016. Geth and I were in Bents Park, South Shields, to see Lindisfarne and the Proclaimers doing an open-air gig, and it was a very typical British summer’s day of the type that required both suncream and an umbrella.

Sadly, I don’t think we’ll hear either Lindisfarne or the Proclaimers on this particular Now! compilation, though the latter have appeared twice in the past.

Now! That's What I Call Music #94
Track 1: Calvin Harris and Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

Lovely tune, good solid dance track.

Track 2: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling

Geth adores this upbeat party song.  I find it a little irritating.

Track 3: Kungs and Cookin’ On 3 Burners – This Girl

I find this perky summer tune really grating.

Track 4: Sia and Sean Paul – Cheap Thrills

Much as I like Sean Paul’s vocal style, I prefer the Sia solo version of this song, which is one of my favourite pop tracks of the decade.  This version’s still fantastic though.

Track 5: Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla Sign – Work From Home

The tune’s a bit generic, but it’s nice and danceable.

Track 6: DNCE – Cake By The Ocean

I love this one!  They were playing it in the pub after my first Great North Run in 2016, and I’ll always associate it with that day.  Wonderful tune.

Track 7: Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – Tears

Another lovely tune, and it builds beautifully.  Great stuff.

Track 8: Little Mix and Sean Paul – Hair

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

Great beat – it’s a bit of a messy track otherwise, though.

Track 9: The Chainsmokers and Daya – Don’t Let Me Down

The tune’s a bit irritating, but it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 10: Justin Bieber – Company

It’s got a nice beat, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 11: Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own

Utterly depressing.

Track 12: Pink – Just Like Fire

I like the tune, but it’s a little too acoustic-y for me.

Track 13: Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman

Great atmosphere – I just wish it were a bit more upbeat.  Love the rock guitar though.

Track 14: Nick Jonas and Tove Lo – Close

I really like those steel drums on the intro, but the vocals are a bit bland.

Track 15: Meghan Trainor – No

I like the theme on this one, even if it’s a bit more serious than I personally like my pop to be.  Good rhythm too.

Track 16: Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

Urgh, I can’t stand this ‘nice guy’ anthem!  Irritating tune, appalling theme.

Track 17: Years & Years and Tove Lo – Desire

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tove Lo on track 14.

Good beat, forgettable tune.

Track 18: Sigma and Take That – Cry

I find the tune a bit generic, which I wouldn’t normally expect from Take That in any incarnation.

Track 19: Bastille – Good Grief

Really like the bassline at the start, and the tune on the vocals is great too.

Track 20: Viola Beach – Boys That Sing

Nice jaunty instrumentals on the intro, then it launches into some cheesy rhyming I can’t get behind.  The tune’s okay on the whole.

Track 21: Coldplay – Up And Up

Slow and boring.

Track 22: Gnash and Olivia O’Brien – I Hate U, I Love U

Annoying chorus, annoying rap verses, annoying theme.

Track 23: Drake – Hotline Bling

At my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, my sister-in-law’s bridesmaids all sang a version of this with altered lyrics about the wedding couple, so it tends to be that version I think of when I hear this song.

Track 24: Galantis – No Money

I find this one insanely irritating – awful tune, appalling kiddie-sounding vocals.

Track 25: DJ Snake and Bipolar Sunshine – Middle

Slow and depressing.

Track 26: Desiigner – Panda

Great brooding atmosphere, but I could do with a bit more melody.

Track 27: Kent Jones – Don’t Mind

Irritating theme, irritating tune, irritating lyrics.  Not keen on this one at all.

Track 28: Cheat Codes and Kris Kross Amsterdam – Sex

Dodgy dance cover of Salt-N-Pepa’s ’90s hit Let’s Talk About Sex, with new verses in order to bastardise the original safe sex theme into one about general horniness.  Have I mentioned before that I hate this century?

Track 29: Sigala, Imani Williams and DJ Fresh – Say You Do

Boring tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals (steel drums again!).

Track 30: Blonde and Craig David – Nothing Like This

Nice beat, and the vocals are quite interesting, but the tune’s a bit repetitive.

Track 31: Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

Beautiful tune – really like this one.

Track 32: Ariana Grande – Into You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 13.

I’m a big fan of this song though – it’s probably my favourite Ariana Grande track.  Great solid piece of pop.

Track 33: David Guetta and Zara Larsson – This One’s For You

Not keen on this tune, but the track builds quite well.

Track 34: Jonas Blue and JP Cooper – Perfect Strangers

I’ve always found this tune really grating.

Track 35: Dua Lipa – Hotter Than Hell

Good beat, very danceable.

Track 36: Kygo and Kodaline – Raging

I quite like the guitar on this one, but it’s not upbeat enough for me.

Track 37: Selena Gomez – Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Selena Gomez on track 31.

I quite like this tune though, even if the chorus is a bit repetitive.

Track 38: will.i.am and Pia Mia – Boys And Girls

Great beat on this one – happily nodding along right now.

Track 39: Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – New Girl

Daft theme and lyrics that I’m not wholly keen on.  The tune’s nice and feelgood, though, and I like the beat.

Track 40: Tinie Tempah and Wizkid – Mamacita

Love the Latin tinge on this one!  Great stuff.

Track 41: Craig David – One More Time

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David on track 30.

I really like the rhythm and the vocal style, but the tune’s fairly bland.

Track 42: Sigala, John Newman, Nile Rodgers, Cedric Gervais and Laurent Simeca – Give Me Your Love

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sigala on track 29.

That is a long list of artists for a not-especially-inspiring song.  The tune’s okay, but it’s nothing special.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #87

Day 87 equals Now! #87, which came out on 7th April 2014.

April 2014
This is how the world looked in April 2014…on a slightly overcast day in Salisbury. That hoodie, along with most of my hoodie collection, is far too big for me now and has been relegated to the pyjama drawer.

Into the mid-’10s already!  2014 was my last full year living in Southampton.  Let’s see what the chart sounded like.

Now! That's What I Call Music #87
Track 1: Pharrell Williams – Happy

It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s very joyful and danceable, so I quite like it.

Track 2: Route 94 and Jess Glynne – My Love

Annoying tune, generic track.  Not keen on this one.

Track 3: Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull – I’m A Freak

Good beat, but the tune’s pretty uninspired, and the chorus is really irritating.

Track 4: Avicii – Hey Brother

Another of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Quite like this track.

Track 5: Katy Perry and Juicy J – Dark Horse

Great atmosphere, and it’s got an okay tune.

Track 6: Sam Smith – Money On My Mind

I find this tune pretty irritating, and I’ve never been a fan of Sam Smith’s falsetto vocals.

Track 7: Little Mix – Word Up!

Pointless cover of the Cameo classic, released as the official Sport Relief single for 2014.  While the cover is pointless, the video is great – highlights include Chris Barrie reprising his role from The Brittas Empire and Melanie C showing she can still do those Spice Girl cartwheels.

Track 8: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect

Great bit of pop-rock – really like this tune!

Track 9: Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

Irritating overblown ballad, not a fan.

Track 10: Pixie Lott – Nasty

Great beat, good big band feel –  very danceable.

Track 11: One Direction – Story Of My Life

Boring, slow, cheesy, and too acoustic-y for me.  Everything I dislike.

Track 12: Gary Barlow – Let Me Go

Okay beat, but the tune is dull.

Track 13: Alesso and OneRepublic – If I Lose Myself

Generic tune – nothing exciting going on here.

Track 14: Gorgon City and MNEK – Ready For Your Love

Another very uninspired track, with a dance beat that’s the same as every other dance beat from this decade.

Track 15: The Vamps – Wild Heart

Too cheesy for me, but it’s got quite a good rhythm.

Track 16: Lady Gaga and R Kelly – Do What U Want

The atmosphere’s okay, but again the tune’s not very interesting.

Track 17: Elyar Fox – Do It All Over Again

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

It’s an okay pop song with a good beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 18: Katy B – Crying For No Reason

This one’s a bit depressing, but the tune is quite pretty.

Track 19: John Legend – All Of Me

It’s very saccharine, but parts of the tune are absolutely beautiful, so I quite like it.

Track 20: A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera – Say Something

Another boring, mood-killing ballad.

Track 21: Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You

And yet another one.

Track 22: Sam Bailey – Skyscraper

The 2013 X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of a Demi Lovato song.  Nothing interesting here.

Track 23: The Chainsmokers – #Selfie

That title is going to look so dated in decades to come.  Mind you, I don’t think anyone makes pop music with the thought that it’s going to be listened to in the future anymore – it’s all a bit disposable these days.  Anyway, this is interspersed throughout with the most annoying spoken word sample ever, which I think is meant to be the point, but it doesn’t make it in any way pleasant to listen to.

Track 24: Pitbull and Kesha – Timber

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

At my Zumba class in Southampton, we used to do a really fun, high energy, line dance-inspired routine to this, which I absolutely loved.  As such, I’ve got a soft spot for this song.

Track 25: DVBBS, Borgeous and Tinie Tempah – Tsunami (Jump)

Great rhythm – happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Calvin Harris, Alesso and Hurts – Under Control

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Alesso on track 13.

This is another one with a very unmemorable tune.

Track 27: Martin Garrix and Jay Hardway – Wizard

The hook’s okay, but everything that surrounds it is off – it could have created quite a good atmosphere if the track weren’t so messy.

Track 28: Tiësto – Red Lights

Depressingly generic tune.

Track 29: Duke Dumont and Jax Jones – I Got U

I like the steel drums, but otherwise it’s fairly boring.

Track 30: Bastille – Of The Night

Track completely made up of interpolations of Snap’s Rhythm Is A Dancer and Corona’s The Rhythm Of The Night, so I guess it’s sort of a cover.  I love both tracks so I don’t mind – this compilation has had so many boring forgettable tunes on that it’s a relief to hear a tune I like, even if it’s not original.

Track 31: Example – Kids Again

I like the backing track, but again I’m just not enthused by the tune.

Track 32: Little Mix – Move

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Little Mix on track 7.

This one’s a nice solid bit of pop – good stuff.

Track 33: Neon Jungle – Braveheart

Good solid pop tune – this one’s quite danceable.

Track 34: DJ Fresh, Jay Fay and Ms Dynamite – Dibby Dibby Sound

Bit of a Zumba theme to this playlist, because this is one that we danced to in a Zumba class I was attending in Newcastle last year.  I really need to go back to dance class – I fell out of the habit during the move and am a bit too busy at the moment.  Maybe in the autumn.

Anyway, this one’s a bit repetitive to listen to, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 35: Tujamo, Plastik Funk and Sneakbo – Dr Who!

I’m a bit surprised I ignored this one when it was in the charts, because I’m always looking for daft vaguely Doctor Who-related songs to add to that Doctor Who playlist I’m going to create at some point in the future.

It’s a bit tuneless, but it’s got a good beat.  It’d be nice if the lyrics were slightly more relevant to the title.

Track 36: Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne – Thank You

I find the rap a bit awkward.  Good rhythm, though, and the sample of Alicia Myers’ 1981 hit I Wanna Thank You is awesome.

Track 37: Fuse ODG – Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)

Great atmosphere, good tune.  Really like this one.

Track 38: John Newman – Out Of My Head

Too slow for me, and the tune’s pretty depressing.

Track 39: Sub Focus – Turn Back Time

Bit of ’90s-tinged dance – great atmosphere.

Track 40: Matrix & Futurebound and Max Marshall – Control

Good beat, but this is another forgettable tune.

Track 41: Foxes – Let Go For Tonight

I like that piano at the start, and the chorus is epic.

Track 42: Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

Interesting tune, good beat.  Not a bad track.

Track 43: Le Youth and Dominique Young Unique – Dance With Me

Great beat, and it’s got a welcome ’80s tinge.  Love the No Scrubs interpolation too.  Good stuff.

Track 44: London Grammar – Hey Now

I quite like the backing track, but the tune’s boring and it’s too slow.

Track 45: Vance Joy – Riptide

Endearingly daft lyrics, feelgood tune.  Big fan of this.

Track 46: American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

Good beat, but it’s a bit too twee for me.

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

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

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

Let’s see what the hits were that spring.

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

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

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

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

Track 3: Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble

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

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

Great song – love the way the duet works here.

Track 5: Rihanna – Diamonds

Another pretty tune.  Very nice.

Track 6: Bastille – Pompeii

Epic and anthemic – love this one.

Track 7: James Arthur – Impossible

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

Track 8: Olly Murs and Flo Rida – Troublemaker

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

Track 9: Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

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

Track 10: Kesha – Die Young

Nice beat, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 11: Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not

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

Track 12: Little Mix – DNA

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

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

Another bland, forgettable song.

Track 14: Girls Aloud – Something New

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

Track 15: Nicole Scherzinger – Boomerang

Good rhythm, but this is another uninspired tune.

Track 16: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Latch

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

Track 17: Rita Ora – Radioactive

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

Track 18: Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

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

Track 19: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

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

Track 20: Emeli Sandé – Clown

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

Track 21: Gabrielle Aplin – The Power Of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messy and irritating.

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

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

Track 26: Dizzee Rascal – Bassline Junkie

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

Track 27: Wiley, Chipmunk and Dayo Olatunji – Reload

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

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

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

Track 29: Conor Maynard and Wiley – Animal

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

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

Track 30: Disclosure and AlunaGeorge – White Noise

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

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

Track 31: Devlin and Diane Birch – Rewind

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

Track 32: Lawson – Standing In The Dark

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

Track 33: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

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

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

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

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

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

Track 35: McFly – Love Is Easy

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

Track 36: Ben Howard – Only Love

I find this tune pretty annoying.

Track 37: The Lumineers – Ho Hey

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

Track 38: One Direction – Little Things

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

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

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

Track 39: Pink – Try

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

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

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

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

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

Track 41: Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

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

Track 42: Ellie Goulding – Explosions

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

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

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

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