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

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

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

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

Now! That's What I Call Music #102

Track 1: Ariana Grande – 7 Rings

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 2: Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 5: Pink – Walk Me Home

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 7: Tom Walker – Just You And I

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 8: Jonas Brothers – Sucker

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 9: George Ezra – Pretty Shining People

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

Track 10: James Arthur – Empty Space

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 11: Lewis Capaldi – Grace

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 14: Marshmello and Chvrches – Here With Me

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 15: Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 16: Khalid – Talk

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 17: Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 18: Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 19: Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 20: CamelPhat, Cristoph and Jem Cooke – Breathe

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 21: Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play

New Hits Friday review.

Good tune – I always nod along to this one.

Track 22: Zedd and Katy Perry – 365

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 23: Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 24: Dua Lipa – Swan Song

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 25: Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

Track 26: Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

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

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

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

Track 27: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

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

Track 29: Jess Glynne – Thursday

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 30: Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

Track 32: Jack Savoretti – Candlelight

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

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

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

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

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

Track 34: Westlife – Hello My Love

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 35: Take That – Everlasting

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

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

Track 36: Hozier – Almost (Sweet Music)

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

Great bit of soft rock – really like this one.

Track 37: Bryan Adams – Shine A Light

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

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

Track 38: Michael Bublé – Love You Anymore

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

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

Track 39: Rod Stewart – Look In Her Eyes

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

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

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

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

Great stompalong number though. Fab track.

Track 41: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

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

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

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

Still a classic from Nik Kershaw.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 2.

Track 43: Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

I have this one on my running playlist these days!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 11.

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

One of my earliest ’80s favourites.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 9.

Track 45: Culture Club – It’s A Miracle

Still love that daft boardgaming video!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 25.

Track 46: Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

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

See my review on Now! #2 – track 3.

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

Music Video Monday: recent chart catchup

More videos for recent chart hits that have only recently been released!

J Cole – Middle Child

Some interesting dark imagery in this one. There is a bit of ‘standing around next to a car’, but I’ll forgive it because the car is covered in mud so it’s more of an artistic thing.

Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us

The nice thing about Little Mix videos is that they’re always really pretty – pretty outfits, pretty imagery. This one has lots of butterflies and snow. Good stuff.

Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

I like the retro diner setting and the costumes (Cardi B’s hair is awesome!) but I’m not really into the NSFW dancing. I think I’m getting old. I do like the subtle homage to the video for Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel though.

More music videos next week!

New Hits Friday…uh, Saturday: 22nd February 2019

Three new hits in the chart this week.

Zedd and Katy Perry – 365

I like the tune and the backing track. It could do with a bit more of a hook though.

The video is a sad robot unrequited love story, but it’s very pretty.

D Block Europe – Kitchen Kings

It’s got an endearingly daft theme, but there’s not enough melody for me.

The video is all standing beside cars, smoking weed, and Gucci trainers, just like every other hip-hop video in 2019. I can’t tell these videos apart anymore!

Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

It sounds exactly like their previous collaboration, Finesse. While I do like the identical retro stylings on both tunes, I’m not impressed by the unoriginality!

There’s no video for this one yet.

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

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

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

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

Now! That's What I Call Music #100

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

Track 1: Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss

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

Track 2: George Ezra – Shotgun

I like the rhythm on this one.

Track 3: Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo

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

Track 4: Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

Absolutely gorgeous pop tune – I really like this one.

Track 5: Anne-Marie – 2002

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

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

Track 6: Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There

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

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

Great bouncy rhythm – this one’s quite fun.

Track 8: David Guetta and Sia – Flames

Annoying tune on the vocals – not keen.

Track 9: Post Malone – Better Now

Another irritating tune.

Track 10: Jonas Blue and Jack & Jack – Rise

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

Track 11: Liam Payne and J Balvin – Familiar

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

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

Good solid pop tune – I love that singalong chorus.

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

Nice summery song – quite like this one.

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

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

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

Track 15: M-22 and Medina – First Time

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

Track 16: 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood

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

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

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

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

Yet another very irritating tune.

Track 19: Khalid and Normani – Love Lies

Beautiful tune – lovely and melancholy.

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

Great atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 21: Cheat Codes and Little Mix – Only You

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

Track 22: Shawn Mendes – In My Blood

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

Track 23: MU4 – You Can’t Hurry Love

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

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

Track 24: UB40 – Red Red Wine

Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 26: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer

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

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

Track 27: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around

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

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

Track 28: Spice Girls – Wannabe

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

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

Track 29: Oasis – Wonderwall

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

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

Track 30: Robbie Williams – Angels

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

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

Track 31: Cher – Believe

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

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

Track 32: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

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

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

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

Track 33: S Club 7 – Reach

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

Track 34: Destiny’s Child – Survivor

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

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

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

Track 36: Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River

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

Track 37: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful

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

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

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

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

Track 39: Take That – Rule The World

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

Track 40: Coldplay – Viva La Vida

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

Track 41: Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl

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

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

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

Track 42: Ed Sheeran – Sing

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

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

Track 43: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

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

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

Track 44: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Another tune that really annoys me.

Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still

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

Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something

I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.

Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?

Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.

Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends

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

Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse

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

Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby

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

Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You

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

Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe

Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.

Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.

Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise

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

Track 13: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

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

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

Track 14: Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

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

Track 15: Mabel and Notes – Fine Line

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

Track 16: Sigrid – Strangers

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

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Guilty

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

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

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

Track 18: Pink – Beautiful Trauma

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

Track 19: James Arthur – Naked

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

Track 20: Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

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

Track 21: Calum Scott – You Are The Reason

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

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

Track 22: Sam Smith – One Last Song

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

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

Good tune – quite like this one.

Track 24: Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign – Psycho

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

Track 25: Blocboy JB and Drake – Look Alive

Not enough melody for me.

Track 26: Khalid – Location

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

Great atmosphere and classic feel – quite like this one.

Track 27: NF – Let You Down

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

Track 28: Ramz – Barking

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

Track 29: J Hus – Bouff Daddy

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s boring.

Track 30: Cliq and Alika – Wavey

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

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

Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words

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

Track 32: B Young – Jumanji

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

Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline

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

Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover

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

This tune really irritates me.

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 37: Sza and Calvin Harris – The Weekend

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

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

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

Another generic, irritating tune.

Track 39: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Want You Back

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

Track 40: Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

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

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

Track 41: Maroon 5 – Wait

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

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

Track 42: James Bay – Wild Love

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

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

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

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

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

This one, meanwhile, only got to number 92.

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

Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 4: Jonas Blue and William Singe – Mama

This tune really irritates me.

Track 5: Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson – Symphony

Gorgeous instrumentals – quite like this track.

Track 6: Little Mix and Stormzy – Power

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

Track 7: Liam Payne and Quavo – Strip That Down

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

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

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

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

Track 9: David Guetta and Justin Bieber – 2U

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

This one’s a dull, forgettable tune.

Track 10: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

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

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

Cheesy and annoying.

Track 12: Rita Ora – Your Song

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

Track 13: Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable

Excruciatingly boring tune.

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

Great rhythm, great lyrics.  Good stuff.

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

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

Track 16: Katy Perry and Migos – Bon Appétit

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

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

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

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

Track 18: Lady Gaga – The Cure

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

Track 19: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

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

Track 20: Niall Horan – Slow Hands

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

Track 21: Miley Cyrus – Malibu

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

Track 22: Ariana Grande – One Last Time

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

Track 23: French Montana and Swae Lee – Unforgettable

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

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

Another tune that I find really irritating.

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

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

Track 26: The Weeknd – Rockin’

Forgettable and dull.

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

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

Another annoying tune.

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

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

Track 29: Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato – No Promises

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

Again, I don’t like the tune.

Track 30: Disciples – On My Mind

Great track – good tune, very danceable.

Track 31: J Hus – Did You See

Interesting track – I like the lyrics.

Track 32: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

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

Track 33: Future – Mask Off

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

Track 34: Kygo and Ellie Goulding – First Time

Twee, saccharine and bland.

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

Another tune I just can’t get into.

Track 36: Rudimental and James Arthur – Sun Comes Up

Generic, annoying tune.

Track 37: Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls

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

Track 38: Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

Good retro sound, even better retro video.

Track 39: Neiked and Mimi – Call Me

Nice feelgood tune, but the vocals are really irritating.

Track 40: Raye – The Line

Nothing exciting about this one.

Track 41: Fifth Harmony and Gucci Mane – Down

Repetitive and dull.

Track 42: Haim – Want You Back

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

Track 43: JP Cooper – Passport Home

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

Track 44: Take That – Giants

Another boring tune.

Track 45: Artists For Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water

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

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

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

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

Another new year, some more new hits.

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

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

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

Track 2: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Human

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

Track 3: Little Mix – Touch

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

Track 4: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Starboy

Another great atmosphere.

Track 5: The Chainsmokers – Paris

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

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

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

Track 7: Anne-Marie – Ciao Adios

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

Track 8: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

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

Track 9: Zara Larsson – I Would Like

I find this tune really irritating.

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

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

Track 11: Sean Paul and Dua Lipa – No Lie

Another irritating tune.

Track 12: Martin Jensen – Solo Dance

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

Track 13: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

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

Track 14: Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe

Boring and slow.

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

Very generic dance track, nothing special here.

Track 16: Dua Lipa – Be The One

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

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

Track 17: Jonas Blue and Raye – By Your Side

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

Track 18: Coldplay – Hypnotised

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

Track 19: John Legend – Love Me Now

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

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Love My Life

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

Track 21: George Michael – Fastlove

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

See the link for my review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet another irritating tune.

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

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

Track 26: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane – Black Beatles

Great rhythm, but the tune’s very repetitive.

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

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

Track 28: Sage The Gemini – Now And Later

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

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

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

Track 30: Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

Great rap track – the rhythm on this is awesome.

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

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

Track 32: Martin Solveig and Ina Wroldsen – Places

Another annoying tune.

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

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

Track 34: MO and Kent Jones – Not In Love

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

Track 35: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Skin

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

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

Track 36: Train – Play That Song

Extremely irritating and twee!

Track 37: The Vamps and Matoma – All Night

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

Track 38: Ariana Grande and Future – Everyday

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

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

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

Track 40: Post Malone and Quavo – Congratulations

Not keen on the tune on this one.

Track 41: Julia Michaels – Issues

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

Track 42: Lorde – Green Light

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

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

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #90

Day 90!  This means Now! #90, which came out on 30th March 2015.

March 2015
This is how the world looked in March 2015 – or more specifically, how Southampton looked on our very last night there. We moved to Newcastle the next day. I’ve blogged about these phone boxes before. Fun fact: I got my hair cut into that blunt bob in the hope of looking like the girl in the video for Last Christmas by Wham! but it didn’t really work out for me, unsurprisingly.

Nine-tenths of the way through this Now! marathon!  Let’s see (or hear, rather) what music sounded like as we entered the second half of the decade.

Now! That's What I Call Music #90
Track 1: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

This is hands down my favourite song of the ’10s.  The ’80s-tinged funk sound, the beat, the lyrics – just wonderful.  I love it.

Track 2: Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

It’s a slow ballad, so it’s not the kind of thing I’d usually be a fan of, but I do actually really like this.

Track 3: Years & Years – King

Good tune – big fan of this one.

Track 4: Maroon 5 – Sugar

Another good, danceable tune.

Track 5: James Bay – Hold Back The River

It’s the kind of thing that would normally be too acoustic-y for me, but the rhythm is great, so I quite like it.

Track 6: Sam Smith – Like I Can

Sam Smith finally releases something a bit upbeat!  Another good track.

Track 7: Olly Murs and Demi Lovato – Up

I really like this duet – it’s got a great rhythm and a lovely tune.  Good stuff.

Track 8: Meghan Trainor – Lips Are Movin’

I find this one to be a bit of a disappointing follow-up to All About That Bass, but I suppose it’s got a good beat.

Track 9: Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

This tune really irritates me.

Track 10: Sia – Elastic Heart

Good rhythm, and the tune’s quite interesting.

Track 11: Ben Haenow – Something I Need

The X Factor winner for 2014, this year doing a cover of a OneRepublic song.  As usual, it’s pretty uninspiring.  At the time of writing, this was the last X Factor winner’s single to get the Christmas number one, and hopefully – due to the combination of the X Factor finishing earlier in December nowadays and the continued increase in streaming and related decline in downloads in chart figures – it will remain that way forever.

Track 12: Take That – These Days

It’s Fake That version II, now only featuring Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald!  Mind you, after the happy reunion of all five members for the Progress album, I’m actually okay with the lineup swapping about a bit.  I’ve made my peace with that.  Only took me twenty years.

This song is quite good, actually.  Great beat, nice tune.

Track 13: One Direction – Night Changes

It’s a saccharine ballad, but I don’t hate the tune.

Track 14: Alesso and Tove Lo – Heroes (We Could Be)

This tune, on the other hand, is incredibly irritating.  It’s nothing to do with the David Bowie classic, but Bowie and Brian Eno were apparently credited anyway due to the identical title.  Nice to see some actual acknowledgment there – most artists releasing songs with identical titles to classics don’t bother.

Track 15: Kelly Clarkson – Heartbeat Song

Another highly annoying tune.

Track 16: Calvin Harris and Haim – Pray To God

I really like this one – the tune’s lovely and it builds really nicely.

Track 17: David Guetta and Emeli Sandé – What I Did For Love

I quite like the tune on the chorus, and it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 18: Usher and Juicy J – I Don’t Mind

It’s got a nice smooth soulful feel to it, but the tune’s fairly uninspired and the theme is kind of creepy.

Track 19: Marlon Roudette – When The Beat Drops Out

Love those steel drums, and the tune is quite nice.

Track 20: Chris Brown and Tyga – Ayo

The tune’s okay, but on the whole the song’s pretty uninspired.

Track 21: Fergie – LA Love (La La)

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

Good atmosphere, but the vocals are extremely annoying.

Track 22: Tough Love – So Freakin’ Tight

Repetitive and irritating, and the theme’s very awkward.

Track 23: Philip George – Wish You Were Mine

I like the My Cherie Amour sample, but the rest of the track’s pretty forgettable.

Track 24: Avicii – The Nights

Good chant-along song – quite like this one.

Track 25: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – Outside

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

Dull, forgettable tune, though the atmosphere on the chorus is quite good.

Track 26: David Guetta and Sam Martin – Dangerous

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

Great tune, wonderful atmosphere – some really interesting lines going on here.

Track 27: Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini and Lookas – GDFR

Good rhythm, but there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 28: DJ Fresh and Ella Eyre – Gravity

Boring tune, uninspired beat.

Track 29: Sigma and Labrinth – Higher

The atmosphere’s okay, but again the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 30: Tchami and Kaleem Taylor – Promesses

Nothing exciting going on with this track except for the bizarre spelling of ‘promises’ in the title, which is just irritating.

Track 31: Blonde and Melissa Steel – I Loved You

Good beat, but it’s another bland tune.

Track 32: Oliver Heldens and KStewart – Last All Night (Koala)

Really interesting electro lines going on in this track, and it’s very danceable.

Track 33: Wretch 32 – 6 Words

Slow and boring, with a slightly jarring beat.

Track 34: Charli XCX and Rita Ora – Doing It

Extremely bland and uninspired tune.  It actually depresses me how terrible it is.

Track 35: Ne-Yo – Coming With You

Another boring tune, and repetitive to boot.

Track 36: Cheryl – I Don’t Care

Great beat, good solid pop song.

Track 37: Karen Harding – Say Something

Irritating tune, not my cup of tea.

Track 38: Gorgon City and Jennifer Hudson – Go All Night

Yet another dull, forgettable tune.

Track 39: Alex Adair – Make Me Feel Better

Dance track that sounds like every other dance track of the era.

Track 40: Labrinth – Jealous

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

This one is notoriously depressing.  I’m going to have to line up about twenty ’80s party tracks to cheer myself up after this compilation is done.

Track 41: Ella Henderson – Yours

Yet another depressing ballad.

Track 42: Rixton – Wait On Me

Finally, something upbeat!  I like the rhythm on this one.

Track 43: McBusted – Air Guitar

Unholy cross between the two biggest British pop-pop-punk bands of the ’00s, Busted and McFly.  It’s as cringeworthy as you’d expect, but at least it’s not another slow ballad.

Track 44: Florence & The Machine – What Kind Of Man

Good atmosphere, and I like the rock guitar once the track gets going.

Track 45: Sam Smith – Lay Me Down

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

Back to the depressing slow ballads.  What was making people so miserable in early 2015?  Time to line up I’m Still Standing and get out of here.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #86

Day 86 means Now! #86, which brings us to 18th November 2013.

November 2013
This is the way the world looked in November 2013 (actually December). I call this look ‘goth squeezes into too-small clothes and goes to a wedding’. Not a style highlight. Mum looks nice though!

On with the party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #86
Track 1: Katy Perry – Roar

It’s nice and feelgood, but I find the tune a bit irritating and the theme too cheesy.

Track 2: OneRepublic – Counting Stars

Gorgeous tune, wonderful rhythm.  Love this one.

Track 3: Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – Talk Dirty

It’s very danceable, with a great beat.  The trumpets are awesome too.

Track 4: Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop

This one is really irritating and a bit depressing.

Track 5: Avicii – Wake Me Up

The first of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Great stuff.

Track 6: Storm Queen – Look Right Through [MK Vocal Edit]

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 7: Martin Garrix – Animals

This dance tune, on the other hand, is great!  Love the hook.

Track 8: Ellie Goulding – Burn

One of my favourites from this decade – it’s a stunning tune, and the atmosphere is beautiful.

Track 9: Drake and Majid Jordan – Hold On, We’re Going Home

Quite like the tune on this – there’s something a bit ’80s retro about it.  The video is apparently also set in 1985, although I have to say I never noticed that when watching it at the time!

Track 10: James Arthur – You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You

Moving decades, there’s a slight mid-century tinge to the intro of this rock-edged track.  The theme’s awful, but I quite like the song.

Track 11: Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

A very welcome bit of rock in this pop/EDM/hip-hop dominated decade.  Good stuff.

Track 12: Lorde – Royals

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune, and it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 13: Foxes – Youth

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s really boring.

Track 14: Lady Gaga – Applause

Great track – I love the edge on this.  Another epic atmosphere.

Track 15: Bruno Mars – Gorilla

Again, there’s a great atmosphere on this, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 16: One Direction – Best Song Ever

Horribly cheesy theme, generic tune.

Track 17: Jessie J – It’s My Party

Not a cover of the Lesley Gore song, despite the name.  It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 18: The Vamps – Can We Dance

It’s a bit of a generic pop-rock track, but I quite like it.

Track 19: Lawson – Juliet

Good atmosphere and slight reggae tinge!  Great to hear an actual interesting track from Lawson.

Track 20: The Wanted – Show Me Love (America)

Saccharine ballad, dull tune, though the chorus is okay.

Track 21: James Blunt – Bonfire Heart

Too acoustic-y for me, and the tune’s not very exciting.

Track 22: Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know

Melancholy piano cover of the Keane song, released to soundtrack the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2013.  As I mentioned when reviewing the Keane version on Now! #57, I actually prefer it to the original.

Track 23: Fatboy Slim, Riva Starr and Beardyman – Eat Sleep Rave Repeat [Calvin Harris Remix]

It’s perfectly danceable, but there’s not much of a tune.

Track 24: Calvin Harris and Ayah Marar – Thinking About You

Boring beat, boring tune.  Very generic track.

Track 25: Avicii – You Make Me

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

This one’s got some interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit irritating.

Track 26: DJ Fresh, Diplo and Dominique Young Unique – Earthquake

Great beat – I really like this one.

Track 27: Klangkarussell and Will Heard – Sonnentanz (Sun Don’t Shine)

I find this kind of summer chillout electro really depressing.

Track 28: Lana Del Rey and Cedric Gervais – Summertime Sadness

Stunning tune, lovely melancholy theme.  Big fan of this.

Track 29: will.i.am and Leah McFall – Bang Bang

Awesome jazz-inspired track, released for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby.  Really like this one.

Track 30: Ben Pearce – What I Might Do

There’s nothing exciting going on here – it’s very forgettable.

Track 31: Chase & Status and Moko – Count On Me

Very ’90s-tinged, which I appreciate, but the tune’s pretty bland.

Track 32: Tinie Tempah and John Martin – Children Of The Sun

I find the tune on the chorus a bit irritating, but the rap is good.

Track 33: Sean Paul – Other Side Of Love

Nice tune – quite like this one.

Track 34: Conor Maynard – R U Crazy

Great rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 35: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Lifted

Good beat, but the tune is boring.

Track 36: Rizzle Kicks – Lost Generation

Nice eerie atmosphere – good track.

Track 37: Ray Foxx and Rachel K Collier – Boom Boom (Heartbeat)

Nice tune, and the beat’s great once it gets going.

Track 38: John Newman – Cheating

Some interesting instrumentals going on here.

Track 39: Eliza Doolittle – Big When I Was Little

This one is insanely annoying – I actively dislike both the theme and the vocals.

Track 40: The Saturdays – Disco Love

Awesome classic pop feel, and great 20th century retro references throughout, with a highly recommended video to match!  I remember actually being quite spooked by the accuracy of the 1999 scene in the video, as the hair and makeup is so well done it gave me flashbacks.

Track 41: Wilkinson – Afterglow

I find this tune pretty bland and repetitive.

Track 42: Showtek, We Are Loud and Sonny Wilson – Booyah

Another one that’s pretty unmemorable.

Track 43: Dizzee Rascal and will.i.am – Something Really Bad

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had will.i.am on track 29.

Some interesting lines going on here – quite like this track.

Track 44: Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

Daft novelty song.  Great tune, though.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #85

Day 85 takes us to Now! #85, which was released on 22nd July 2013.

July 2013
This is how the world looked in July 2013. Geth and I were on a trip up to Edinburgh when one of those rare-for-Scotland 30°C days arrived, and the one thing I’d not packed was a swimsuit, so all I could do on this beach trip was paddle. Since then, I’ve packed one every time I’ve gone away during the summer, just in case.

I believe this was a good year for summer hits.  Let’s see if I’m remembering correctly.

Now! That's What I Call Music #85
Track 1: Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky

Great feelgood funk track – love this tune.

Track 2: Robin Thicke, TI and Pharrell Williams – Blurred Lines

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Pharrell Williams on track 1.

This track…urgh.  Infamously and rightly banned by the University of Edinburgh student union, among various other music-playing organisations, because the lyrics are really rapey and gross.  The sad thing is that it would be a really great track if it weren’t for the lyrics, ’cause the tune is great and it’s really danceable.

Track 3: Passenger – Let Her Go

Gorgeous, introspective tune – really like this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

Nice epic atmosphere, great track.

Track 5: Naughty Boy and Sam Smith – La La La

The theme is slightly irritating, but overall it’s an interesting song, which is unusual for an era where most things are really samey.

Track 6: Icona Pop and Charli XCX – I Love It

Great chant-along track – I’ve always really liked this one!

Track 7: John Newman – Love Me Again

Another song that I really like.  The instrumentals are great.

Track 8: Jason Derulo – The Other Side

Forgettable tune, but the chorus is nice and epic.

Track 9: Pink and Lily Allen – True Love

I find this one a bit cheesy and annoying.

Track 10: Taylor Swift – 22

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 11: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna

Every time I run the Great North Run, I find that because it’s the biggest race in the UK and the biggest half marathon in the world – nearly 60,000 runners these days – there’s no shortage of characters to keep me entertained (and believe me, you need that when running along miles and miles of identical-looking motorway).  One guy runs the race with a portable karaoke machine, and last year, when I encountered him, he was doing this song – except he’d changed the lyrics to ‘I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but who cares, I run like Mo Farah‘.  It’s possible you had to be there, but I found it hilarious, and it really got me through the rest of the race.  Thanks for that, portable karaoke guy!

Anyway, it’s another solid pop song.

Track 12: Bruno Mars – Treasure

Bruno Mars still doing his 1980 pastiches – today he’s aping Michael Jackson.  Good stuff.

Track 13: Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’

This one’s a bit of a dull ballad, so I’m not keen.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

Great song with an awesome epic chorus.  Love it.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Come And Get It

Great tune – love the rhythm on this one.

Track 16: PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble

’90s classic, back in the charts to raise money for Childline.  It actually got to number one this time round, probably because Ant & Dec had promised to perform it on Saturday Night Takeaway.  It’s still as enjoyably daft as it was in 1994.

Track 17: Iggy Azalea – Bounce

Good beat, but there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 18: Fuse ODG – Antenna

Love the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 19: Nelly – Hey Porsche

The theme really irritates me, and the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 20: Paramore – Still Into You

Great tune, though the theme is a bit cheesy.

Track 21: Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

I was talking about this one yesterday when reviewing the identically-titled Rita Ora song.  On the whole it’s a bit dull, but it’s got a great chorus.

Track 22: Gabz – Lighters (The One)

Cringeworthy kiddie vocals, appallingly cheesy theme.  Just awful.

Track 23: Rudimental and Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night

Great beat, okay tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 24: Jessie J, Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal – Wild

Bland tune on the verses, but the chorus is okay.

Track 25: Duke Dumont and A*M*E – Need U (100%)

I find the vocals really irritating on this one.

Track 26: will.i.am and Justin Bieber – #thatPOWER

Very generic electro lines, boring tune.

Track 27: David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon – Play Hard

Great rhythm, great bassline, great Better Off Alone sample.  Annoying video, but you can’t have everything.

Track 28: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love

I’ve always found the tune on this one very irritating.

Track 29: Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment

Annoying, repetitive track, but the Take On Me interpolation is quite fun.

Track 30: Sebastian Ingrosso, Tommy Trash and John Martin – Reload

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 31: Armin van Buuren and Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like

Fairly bland dance song with an annoying chorus.

Track 32: Chase & Status and Louis Mattrs – Lost And Not Found

Nice atmosphere, but the vocals are really dull.

Track 33: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

Another boring tune, one of those ‘summer chillout’ tracks that were all the rage at the time.

Track 34: Disclosure and Eliza Doolittle – You And Me

Dull and forgettable.

Track 35: Breach – Jack

Very little melody in this – just drum machine, spoken word and fairly tuneless bassline – but at least it’s something different.

Track 36: Wiley, Angel and Tinchy Stryder – Lights On

Bland tune, but at least this one’s actually got a tune.  Very forgettable though.

Track 37: Dizzee Rascal and Robbie Williams – Goin’ Crazy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dizzee Rascal on track 24.

Interesting rhythm, but again the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 38: Psy – Gentleman

Follow-up to Gangnam Style that obviously wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the original.

Track 39: The 1975 – Chocolate

Love this tune – great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 40: Union J – Carry You

Saccharine and bland.

Track 41: The Saturdays – Gentleman

A slightly more standard song about a ‘gentleman‘ than Psy’s attempt above.  It’s actually quite edgy for the Saturdays, and I like the retro references in the lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 42: Charlie Brown – On My Way

Slow ballad, not my thing.

Track 43: Tom Odell – Another Love

Lovely piano at the start, and it’s got a nice atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 44: Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day

Nice and upbeat, but the song’s a bit too cheesy for me.