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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #75

Day 75 brings us to Now! #75, which came out on 29th March 2010.

March 2010
This is the way the world looked in March 2010…if you were attending a ceilidh in a slightly darkened room. I’m so glad I’ve lost the weight and don’t have to wear those shapeless black dresses anymore.

Can you believe we’re three quarters of the way through this Now! marathon?  That’s like being 19.65 miles of the way into an actual marathon.  Only 6.55 miles to go – that’s easy!  I will remember this moment when I’m 19.65 miles of the way through the London Marathon next April (spoiler: I almost certainly will not).

Also, we’re finally into the 2010s, the fourth and final decade of the Now! compilations so far (and also my life so far).  Having followed the charts very closely this decade, I can say with certainty that the remaining Now! compilations will definitely be better than the ’00s ones.  The ’00s was a real low for music.  (Except 2009, when it picked up.)  Thankfully I don’t have to listen to those again!

Now! That's What I Call Music #75
Track 1: Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Stunning, classic electropop track – brilliant right from the a cappella intro.  Great stuff.

Track 2: 3OH!3 and Katy Perry – Starstrukk

I love this track, even with the silly whistling bit during the verse.  Awesome party song.

Track 3: The Black Eyed Peas – Meet Me Halfway

Beautiful tune!  The video‘s gorgeous too.

Track 4: JLS – Everybody In Love

Far too cheesy for me, I’m afraid!

Track 5: Iyaz – Replay

Another great tune – really like this one.

Track 6: Tinie Tempah and Labrinth – Pass Out

Love the daft lyrics, and it’s got a great atmosphere.

Track 7: Kesha – Tik Tok

Another good party song – and the vocal style was refreshingly different at this point.

Track 8: Timbaland and Katy Perry – If We Ever Meet Again

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

Love the chorus though – good track.

Track 9: Jason Derulo – In My Head

The tune’s a bit generic, but it’s still a good danceable song.

Track 10: Rihanna – Rude Boy

Nice atmosphere, interesting vocals.  Another great track.

Track 11: Chipmunk and Talay Riley – Look For Me

This one’s a bit bland and forgettable, and the chorus is annoying.

Track 12: Glee Cast – Don’t Stop Believin’

Cover of the ’80s Journey classic by the cast of hit TV show Glee.  This cover resulted in the original version – which had never actually been a hit in the UK when it was released in the ’80s – becoming a huge song during 2010 and staying prominent for the rest of the decade so far (I hear it played at every half marathon I run).  I’m not complaining – both versions are awesome and epic.

Track 13: Gabriella Cilmi – On A Mission

Great ’70s disco throwback track!  Love it.

Track 14: Alexandra Burke – Broken Heels

Another great party tune – very danceable.

Track 15: Sugababes – About A Girl

Great dance beat, but the tune’s pretty generic.

Track 16: The Saturdays – Ego

There’s something about the tune that’s a little irritating, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 17: Jedward and Vanilla Ice – Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)

So we had Vanilla Ice sampling Queen and David Bowie’s 1981 song Under Pressure in 1989 for Ice Ice Baby, which was already considered fairly sacreligious, and then in 2010 we had Jedward doing a medley of both tracks and getting Vanilla Ice to help out with vocals.  It’s as awful as you might expect, but it somehow got to number two in the charts.

Track 18: Justin Bieber – One Time

Bieber in his early ‘fifteen and squeaky’ era.  It’s sort of half laughable and half headache-inducing.

Track 19: Jay Sean, Sean Paul and Lil’ Jon – Do You Remember

Good tune, but I can’t listen to it without hearing Sean Paul’s opening vocals as ‘got dirty egg‘, thanks to presenter Reggie Yates pointing it out on the Radio 1 chart show at the time.

Track 20: Pixie Lott – Cry Me Out

Too ballad-y and slow for me.

Track 21: Joe McElderry – The Climb

The annual inclusion of the previous year’s X Factor winner.  This is the one from 2009 that didn’t get the Christmas number one thanks to the much-publicised campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name to number one instead.  That campaign reinvigorated my interest in the music charts after a few years of being Too Busy Being Goth, and led to my decision to follow the charts for the entirety of the 2010s to see how the decade would pan out musically.  Halfway through 2018, that particular habit is still going, and I expect it will last into the 2020s and beyond.

Anyway, the track.  It’s a pointless cover of the Miley Cyrus song, and there’s nothing else to say about it.

Track 22: Helping Haiti – Everybody Hurts

Charity cover of the REM classic by too many artists to mention.  There’s some interesting voice-spotting to be done, but the point of this cover, as ever with these things, was fundraising to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Track 23: Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind [Part II]

It’s Part II because this is the slow piano version.  Part I was a more upbeat song with Jay-Z rapping the main verses.  I prefer Part I, but that’s mainly ’cause I’m not into slow songs – this is still a great tune.

Track 24: Owl City – Fireflies

It’s a bit twee, but it’s a gorgeous tune – love that chorus.

Track 25: Jay-Z and Mr Hudson – Young Forever

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

The track is mainly a cover of the chorus and first verse from Alphaville’s Forever Young, which is fairly pointless but still great, ’cause it’s a great song.  The rest is filled in by rapping from Jay-Z, which is okay, but I’m definitely lining up the original to play later on.

Track 26: Cheryl and will.i.am – 3 Words

Lovely melancholy tune, quite like this one.

Track 27: Robbie Williams – You Know Me

Nice tune, but for some reason the music channels always put this on their Christmas playlists, so it’s got festive associations for me now.

Track 28: Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

Well, we often have repeated artists on these Now! compilations, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a repeated song!  We already had the Glee Cast doing this song on track 12.

As I explained up-page, the Glee cover made this one a big hit too, and deservedly so, seeing as how it was overlooked by the UK music-buying public in the ’80s.  The piano intro is just beautiful, the lyrics are immense, and the tune is epic.

Track 29: Florence & The Machine – Dog Days Are Over

I find Florence & The Machine’s stuff a bit samey, and this is no exception.  There’s not really anything interesting about the tune, though the vocals are nice.

Track 30: Marina & The Diamonds – Hollywood

Gorgeous, unique track!  Great lyrics, awesomely different vocals.  Love this one.

Track 31: Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed

Beautiful tune.  It was Ellie Goulding’s debut and, as far as I’m concerned, one of her best ever songs.

Track 32: Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror

Wonderful rock track – I love the tune, and the way it builds is stunning!  I’m almost certain we’ll hear the X Factor cover version in three days’ time so I’ll skip ranting about that for now.

Track 33: Plan B – Stay Too Long

Nice retro-sounding rock track, quite like this one.  If I weren’t the queen of misheard lyrics, I’d make an effort to listen to the concept album of which it was part.  As it is, I’d probably be better off just reading the lyrics to all the songs in order to understand the story.

Track 34: Naughty Boy, Wiley and Emeli Sandé – Never Be Your Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the White Town classic with added rapping.  Always a great tune, but the original is obviously better.

Track 35: Example – Won’t Go Quietly

Great, atmospheric dance track.  Really like this one.

Track 36: Sidney Samson and Wizard Sleeve – Riverside (Let’s Go!)

Another highly danceable track – I really like the rap style.

Track 37: Gramophonedzie – Why Don’t You

Interesting track based around a sample of Peggy Lee’s Why Don’t You Do Right? from 1947.  Quite like this.

Track 38: Lemar – The Way Love Goes

I find this one a bit saccharine, but it’s got a good beat and the piano is nice.

Track 39: N-Dubz and Mr Hudson – Playing With Fire

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

Nice epic atmosphere on the chorus, but the rest of the tune’s fairly generic.

Track 40: Chiddy Bang – Opposite Of Adults

Love the electro hook, which is a sample from Kids by MDMT.  Nothing much else interesting here, though.

Track 41: Young Money and Lloyd – BedRock

Irritatingly daft track based around the infamously appalling Fred Flintstone pick-up line.  If you ignore the lyrics, it’s actually okay.

Track 42: McLean – My Name

I find the tune on this one pretty uninspired.

Track 43: Rihanna – Russian Roulette

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

I find both the lyrics and tune on this one a bit depressing.  Not the best way to end what has been an excellent Now! compilation!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #71

Day 71 equals Now! #71, which came out on 17th November 2008.

November 2008
This is how the world looked in November 2008. The glasses glare in this picture is terrible but it was the best of a bad bunch! I still own all those clothes, though I’m not sure if I’ll wear the dress again ’cause it’s a bit floaty and ’00s and my taste is a bit more classic nowadays.

Let’s see what the Christmas party songs were that year.

Now! That's What I Call Music #71
Track 1: Girls Aloud – The Promise

Nice feelgood retro-tinged tune, quite like this one.

Track 2: Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl

Appalling theme, but it’s a great pop tune.

Track 3: Pink – So What

Another classic from Lego Rock Band that I used to drum along to.  Love this chant-along track.

Track 4: Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire

Daft lyrics that everyone took the piss out of at the time, but it’s a great rock tune and has turned into a bit of a classic.

Track 5: Kid Rock – All Summer Long

Feelgood nostalgic song based around the riff from Sweet Home Alabama.  I’ve actually always quite liked this one.

Track 6: Rihanna – Disturbia

Great atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 7: Ne-Yo – Miss Independent

Great electro hook, but the vocals are a bit too saccharine for me.

Track 8: The Pussycat Dolls – When I Grow Up

Another great chant-along chorus.  Really like this track.

Track 9: Madcon – Beggin’

Good beat, nice retro tune – happily nodding along.

Track 10: Chris Brown – Forever

Nice feelgood atmosphere, but I find the tune pretty dull.

Track 11: Jennifer Hudson – Spotlight

I find the vocals on this ballad pretty generic, but the backing track is lovely.

Track 12: James Morrison – You Make It Real

Boring and slow, with an irritating tune.  Not keen.

Track 13: Will Young – Changes

Another one that’s too slow for me, but the retro-tinged tune’s quite interesting.

Track 14: Jordin Sparks – Tattoo

Cheesy vocals, too slow, but there’s some interesting stuff going on in the background.

Track 15: Geraldine McQueen – The Winner’s Song

How many tracks have there been during this Now! project where I’ve mentioned that I’ve got a soft spot for the song because it was used to great effect in Peter Kay’s Britain’s Got The Pop Factor, his brilliant X Factor parody?  Well, I’ve lost count, but it’s been a lot, and now we’ve finally got to autumn 2008, when it was first shown on TV (I can’t believe it’s nearly a decade old – Geth and I still watch the DVD every Christmas).  This ballad was written specially for the show’s fictional winner, Geraldine McQueen (by Gary Barlow no less), neatly parodying the overblown ballads that were always released as X Factor winners’ singles at the time.

Incidentally, while Geraldine is supposed to be Northern Irish, you can hear Peter Kay’s Lancashire accent a mile off in his singing voice.

Track 16: Sugababes – Girls

Great pop track based around Here Come The Girls, a ’70s song that never really took off at the time but was eventually used in a series of Boots adverts in 2007.  Love this tune.

Track 17: The Saturdays – Up

Nice danceable track, good solid pop.

Track 18: Boyzone – Love You Anyway

Great instrumentals – quite like this one.

Track 19: Katy Perry – Hot N Cold

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Katy Perry on track 2.  It’s a particularly egregious repetition as both tracks are solo singles, though I suppose they have both become pop classics.

This one I always enjoyed dancing to on Just Dance for the Wii.  Between that and Lego Rock Band, this era of the Now! project is really making me want to plug the Wii back in!

Track 20: Sash! and Stunt – Raindrops (Encore Une Fois)

Mash-up of Sash!’s Encore Une Fois and Stunt’s Raindrops.  It’s not horrible – even if I still don’t think these tracks work together at all – but I’ll definitely be lining up the original Encore Une Fois to listen to after this playlist is done.

Track 21: Basshunter – Angel In The Night

Takes a while to get going.  Once it does, there’s some random rock guitar that doesn’t go with the dance track, but I like rock guitar so I’m going to let it slide just this once.

Track 22: Eric Prydz – Pjanoo

Great piano hook, as you might expect from the title.  Good stuff.

Track 23: Steve Mac – Paddy’s Revenge

Dance track with Irish music over the top.  It sounds bizarre but it actually works okay.

Track 24: Coldplay – Viva La Vida

One of the few Coldplay tracks that I actually unashamedly like.  This is a great tune with a wonderful atmosphere.

Track 25: The Script – The Man Who Can’t Be Moved

A bit cheesy and soft-rock for my liking.

Track 26: Razorlight – Wire To Wire

Nice tune, nice atmosphere.  Good track.

Track 27: Noah & The Whale – 5 Years’ Time

This is from the early years when Laura Marling was still with the band, and her backing vocals are really great on this.  Lovely tune.

Track 28: Iglu & Hartly – In This City

There are some interesting instrumentals going on, but the tune’s very generic and forgettable.

Track 29: The Ting Tings – Shut Up And Let Me Go

My favourite of the Ting Tings’ hits.  Great beat, awesome chant-along track.

Track 30: Kaiser Chiefs – Never Miss A Beat

Nice tune – bit of a ’60s rock tinge, too.

Track 31: Snow Patrol – Take Back The City

Boring tune, not particularly keen on this one.

Track 32: The Verve – Love Is Noise

Lots of messy, irritating lines.  Pretty awful.

Track 33: Guru Josh Project – Infinity 2008 [Klaas Vocal Edit]

Remix of the 1989 track.  The instrumental hook’s okay, but I could do without the other stuff going on with this one.

Track 34: Christian Falk and Robyn – Dream On

Irritating vocals, but I quite like the backing track.

Track 35: Duffy – Stepping Stone

Nice atmosphere, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 36: Flobots – Handlebars

Daft theme, daft instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 37: Keane – Spiralling

Messy, but I appreciate the retro tinge.

Track 38: McFly – Lies

Another good retro feel to this track.

Track 39: Alphabeat – Boyfriend

Good solid piece of electropop – really like this one.

Track 40: Biffy Clyro – Mountains

Once it gets going, this is a cracking rock song.

Track 41: Ida Maria – I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked

Boring tune, nowhere near as good as the title suggests.  The chorus is okay, though.

Track 42: Little Jackie – The World Should Revolve Around Me

Nice feelgood atmosphere, but again the tune’s just not interesting enough for me.

Track 43: Gym Class Heroes and The-Dream – Cookie Jar

Another nice atmosphere, but the song’s pretty forgettable.

Track 44: Taio Cruz – She’s Like A Star

Quite a nice tune, but it’s a little repetitive.

Track 45: Platnum – Love Shy (Thinking About You)

Fairly generic dance track.  This Now! compilation has generally tailed off in quite a rubbish way.