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

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

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

Time for some party season hits!

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

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

Track 2: Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex

Great solid piece of pop – really like this.

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

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

Track 4: The Chainsmokers and Halsey – Closer

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

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

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

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

Great piece of pop – love the rhythm on this.

Track 7: Sia – The Greatest

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

Track 8: Calvin Harris – My Way

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

Track 9: Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd – Starving

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

Track 10: MO – Who Do You Think Of?

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

Track 11: Neiked and Dyo – Sexual

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

Track 12: Anne-Marie – Alarm

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

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

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

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

Track 14: Mø – Final Song

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

Pretty tune though, quite like this one.

Track 15: Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know

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

Track 16: JP Cooper – September Song

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

Track 17: Shawn Mendes – Mercy

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

Track 18: Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You

Dull, saccharine and irritating.

Track 19: Emeli Sandé – Hurts

Great tune, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Michael Bublé – I Believe In You

Too cheesy for me.

Track 21: Craig David – All We Needed

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

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

Track 22: Drake, Wizkid and Kyla – One Dance

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

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

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

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

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

Track 24: Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl

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

Track 25: Sigma and Birdy – Find Me

Too slow, but the atmosphere’s okay.

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

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

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

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

Track 28: Tieks and Dan Harkna – Sunshine

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

Track 29: Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault

Okay tune, but the theme is really problematic.

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

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

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

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

Track 32: Snakehips and Zayn – Cruel

Forgettable tune, boring vocals.

Track 33: Matoma and Becky Hill – False Alarm

Another bland tune.

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

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

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

Irritating tune, but I quite like the theme.

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

Good beat, annoying chorus.

Track 37: Louisa Johnson – So Good

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

Track 38: James TW – When You Love Someone

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

Track 39: Wilkinson and Karen Harding – Sweet Lies

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

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

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

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

Track 41: Charlie Puth – Dangerously

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

Track 42: Offaiah – Trouble

Very repetitive tune, not keen.

Track 43: Christine & The Queens – Tilted

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

Track 44: Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion

I like the rock edge on this one.

Track 45: Niall Horan – This Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

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

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

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

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

The vocals on this one really irritate me.

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

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

Track 6: Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor – Marvin Gaye

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

Track 7: R City and Adam Levine – Locked Away

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

Track 8: Rachel Platten – Fight Song

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

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

Irritating tune, but the beat’s okay.

Track 10: Olly Murs – Kiss Me

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

Track 11: Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Some really nice instrumentals on this track.

Track 12: Little Mix – Love Me Like You

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 13: One Direction – Drag Me Down

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

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Cool For The Summer

I really like the synth on this one.

Track 15: Years & Years – Eyes Shut

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

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

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

Track 17: Birdy – Wings

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

Track 18: Aurora – Half The World Away

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

Track 19: Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

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

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Boring, depressing and again far too slow.

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

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

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

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

Track 23: The Vamps – Wake Up

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

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

Great danceable track – really like this tune.

Track 25: Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly

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

Track 26: Sigala – Easy Love

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

Track 27: Martin Solveig and GTA – Intoxicated

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

Track 28: MNEK and Zara Larsson – Never Forget You

The vocals annoy me on this one.

Track 29: Diplo and Sleepy Tom – Be Right There

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 33: Sigma and Ella Henderson – Glitterball

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

Track 34: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Omen

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

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

Track 35: Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

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

Track 36: Format:B – Chunky

Irritating, messy dance track with painfully blaring vocals.

Track 37: WSTRN – In2

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

Track 38: Ariana Grande – Focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messy and uninspired, and the rap is just irritating.

Track 42: KSI and JME – Keep Up

Inspired theme!  Good atmosphere, too.

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

Good rhythm – happily nodding along here.

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

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

Track 45: Kygo and Ella Henderson – Here For You

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

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

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

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #79

Day 79 equals Now! #79, which came out on 25th July 2011.

July 2011
This is how the world looked in July 2011. That summer, Geth and I were living with Mum and Dad, as we’d had to give up our flat in May when Geth’s last University of Edinburgh fellowship salary came to an end, and we wouldn’t be moving for him to start his new job in Southampton until September. When I wasn’t doing my volunteer shop job at Oxfam or attending the many weddings we were invited to that year, I spent most of the summer (which was characterised by a lot of thunderstorms) on my old childhood bed with my laptop. Geth did the same on the spare bed with his laptop, which meant we were often visited by José – like most cats, he loved laptops, as they were cosy and warm to lie on. We kept having to move him off. If I’d known he would only live for a couple more months, I’d have let him lie on my laptop for as long as he liked 🙁

The thunderstorms weren’t really conducive to summer songs, but from what I remember there were an awful lot of them that year.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #79
Track 1: Adele – Someone Like You

Beautiful tune, but I’m not really into slow ballads.

Track 2: Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar

Great track!  Love the atmosphere on this one.

Track 3: Bruno Mars – The Lazy Song

A welcome break from Bruno Mars’ saccharine ballads.  This one’s very funny, and the video is great.

Track 4: Jason Derulo – Don’t Wanna Go Home

It’s the one with the sample of Show Me Love that I mentioned in my Now! #24 review.  Good beat, happily nodding along here.

Track 5: Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Great beat, very danceable.

Track 6: Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull – On The Floor

Another great dance track – really like this one.  The Lambada sample is immense!

Track 7: Alexandra Stan – Mr Saxobeat

An all-time favourite!  I love this track, especially the jaunty saxophone hooks throughout.

Track 8: Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (TGIF)

The song’s a solid pop track, but it’s the hilarious video that really makes this one (Hanson!  Rebecca Black!  Just Dance!).  Also, I REALLY appreciate the sax solo, ’cause you hardly ever hear them in 2010s pop.

Track 9: The Wanted – Glad You Came

Great summer dance track – this was another favourite of mine that year.

Track 10: Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath

Gorgeous tune – yet another favourite!

Track 11: The Black Eyed Peas – Just Can’t Get Enough

Thankfully/sadly (?) not a cover of the Depeche Mode song.  I’m not really a fan of songs copying classic song titles unless they’ve got some link to the original – it causes confusion apart from anything else.

It’s a nice tune though – quite like this one.

Track 12: Take That – Love Love

Nice feelgood tune – quite like this track.  Love that bassline!

Track 13: Jessie J – Nobody’s Perfect

Irritating tune, and I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 14: The Saturdays – Notorious

Another track that borrows a classic title (see track 11 above).  Not a cover of the Duran Duran song.

I actually really like this track, though – I just wish they’d used a more original title!

Track 15: Rihanna – California King Bed

It’s the kind of ballad that would normally be too slow for me, but the tune’s so gorgeous that I really like it.  Also, that rock guitar solo is retro and epic!

Track 16: Scouting For Girls – Love How It Hurts

Too saccharine for me.

Track 17: Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 18: Cee Lo Green – I Want You (Hold Onto Love)

Nice retro disco feel, but the tune’s a bit forgettable.

Track 19: Yasmin – Finish Line

Dull and uninspired, and that As sample is just ill-fitting.

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Lovely tune, but I find the theme a bit on-the-nose.

Track 21: Birdy – Skinny Love

Highly irritating whiny ballad.  Not a fan.

Track 22: Templecloud – One Big Family

I like the vocals, and it’s a good atmosphere, but it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 23: Pitbull, Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer – Give Me Everything

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

This is a great track though – I love the tune on the chorus.

Track 24: LMFAO, Lauren Bennett and GoonRock – Party Rock Anthem

I’ve always really liked this daft dance track – it was played at every wedding I went to in 2011 (and there were a lot of them!)

Track 25: DJ Fresh and Sian Evans – Louder

’90s-tinged dubstep, which was a big thing at the time and which I had kind of forgotten about until now.  Good beat, but the tune’s a bit generic.

Track 26: Example – Changed The Way You Kiss Me

An absolute classic!  Wonderful track – love the tune, the way it builds, everything.

Track 27: David Guetta, Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj – Where Them Girls At

I like that chant-along chorus, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the video.

Track 28: Chris Brown and Benny Benassi – Beautiful People

Annoying chorus, and the rest of the tune’s just uninspired.

Track 29: Calvin Harris and Kelis – Bounce

Great feelgood dance tune!  Gorgeous stuff.

Track 30: Loick Essien and Tanya Lacey – How We Roll

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

Great atmosphere, good beat.  Quite like this one.

Track 31: Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

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

This tune’s okay, but it’s a bit generic.

Track 32: Tinchy Stryder and Dappy – Spaceship

Daft track that always makes me laugh with its ridiculous lyrics.  I’m not sure if that was intentional or not.

Track 33: Wretch 32 and Example – Unorthodox

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

This is another great track though – love that chorus.  The Fools’ Gold sample is awesome too.

Track 34: Vato Gonzalez and Foreign Beggars – Badman Riddim (Jump)

Some good lines on this dance track, but it’s a little messy.

Track 35: Snoop Dogg and David Guetta – Sweat

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

Good beat, good atmosphere – very danceable.

Track 36: Swedish House Mafia and John Martin – Save The World

Repetitive, irritating tune, and in general I just find this one a bit bland.

Track 37: Dev, The Cataracs and Tinie Tempah – Bass Down Low

Daft theme, but I really like this one!

Track 38: Mann and 50 Cent – Buzzin’

Another pleasingly daft song, but I find the tune a bit annoying.

Track 39: Chase & Status and Tinie Tempah – Hitz

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tinie Tempah on track 37.

This one’s too messy for my liking, although Tinie Tempah’s whimsical rapping is always appreciated.

Track 40: Katy B – Broken Record

I find the tune very irritating, but the beat’s okay.

Track 41: Nero – Guilt

This one’s pretty boring, but I quite like the dubstep bass once it gets going.

Track 42: Alex Gaudino and Kelly Rowland – What A Feeling

The tune’s too cheesy for me, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 43: Wynter Gordon – Dirty Talk

Another solid pop track – really like this one.

Track 44: Inna – Sun Is Up

The tune’s a bit dull, but it’s fairly danceable.