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.

New Hits Friday: 4th January 2019

New year, and the chart’s magically back to normal – all the Christmas songs have disappeared. Today’s new hits:

Russ – Gun Lean

It’ss a rap track with zero melody and thus not remotely my thing. There are also some grim lyrics (though it’s not nearly as bad as some others I’ve heard in the last year), meaning they didn’t play this one on the radio.

The video is a bit wealth-braggy with one of those Lamborghinis you never see in real life, but it gets bonus points for the sequence that was shot in a Sainsbury’s.

Cardi B – Money

Boring, no melody, extremely repetitive.

The video is pretty NSFW with lots of topless women wandering around some sort of weird bank.

Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play

It’s not super exciting, but there are some nice lines and I expect it will grow on me.

There’s no video for this yet.

Post Malone – Wow

Kind of dull. Could do with some more melody.

The video (for now – I’m not sure if they’ll make a live action one too) is a headache-inducing Christmas-themed animation.

Something else worth mentioning from this week’s chart: Baby Shark has made it to #6 – Top Ten for the first time! Some people must just have been watching the video all through the Christmas holidays.

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

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

10th August

Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life

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

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

Travis Scott and Frank Ocean – Carousel

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

There’s no video for this one yet.

Travis Scott – Stargazing

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

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

Travis Scott and Drake – Sicko Mode

Another one I reviewed on Now! #101.

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

17th August

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

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

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

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

Again, see Now! #101 for my review!

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

Nicki Minaj – Barbie Dreams

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

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

24th August

Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino – In My Mind

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

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

Marshmello and Bastille – Happier

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

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

The 1975 – Too Time Too Time Too Time

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

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

Ariana Grande – Sweetener

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

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

Jess Glynne – All I Am

Again, I reviewed this on Now! #101.

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

Ariana Grande – Breathin’

Pretty tune, but a little slow for me.

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

Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

See Now! #101 again!

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

31st August

Pinkfong – Baby Shark

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

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

Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

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

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

BTS and Nicki Minaj – Idol

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

The video is super colourful and manic!  Good stuff.

7th September

AJ Tracey – Lo(v/s)er

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

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

Bazzi and Camila Cabello – Beautiful

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

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

Dean Lewis – Be Alright

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

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

LSD – Thunderclouds

Another one on Now! #101!

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

Eminem – Fall

Good beat, and I quite like the atmosphere.

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

Eminem and Joyner Lucas – Lucky You

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

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

Eminem – The Ringer

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

There’s no video yet.

14th September

Machine Gun Kelly – Rap Devil

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

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

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

Another one on Now! #101!

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

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

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

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

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

21st September

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

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

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

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

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

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

28th September

Mumford & Sons – Guiding Light

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

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

Khalid – Better

Another one from Now! #101!

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

French Montana and Drake – No Stylist

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

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

Rita Ora – Let You Love Me

Yet another Now! #101 track!

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

Eminem – Killshot

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

There’s no video for this yet, thankfully.

Lil’ Peep and XXXTentacion – Falling Down

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

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

5th October

MK, Jonas Blue and Becky Hill – Back And Forth

Another song from Now! #101.

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

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

Again, it’s on Now! #101.

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

Lil’ Wayne and XXXTentacion – Don’t Cry

Not enough melody for me.

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

Lil’ Wayne and Kendrick Lamar – Mona Lisa

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

Again, there’s no video yet.

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

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

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

12th October

Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way

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

Again, the video is just clips from the film.

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

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

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

6ix9ine and Bobby Shmurda – Stoopid

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

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

Lil’ Baby and Gunna – Drip Too Hard

Boring song, no melody, not my thing.

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

Halsey – Without Me

This one was also on Now! #101!

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

Eminem – Venom

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

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

Dave and Fredo – Funky Friday

Again, this one was on Now! #101!

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

19th October

Cadet and Deno – Advice

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

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

Jess Glynne – Thursday

Cheesy and boring song.

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

Bad Bunny and Drake – Mia

Nice upbeat Latin track – quite like this one.

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

Kodak Black, Travis Scott and Offset – Zeze

Boring, unmelodious, sounds like everything else.

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

Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me

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

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

26th October

Rak-Su – I Want You To Freak

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

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

Dua Lipa and Blackpink – Kiss And Make Up

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

There’s no video yet.

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

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

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

Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

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

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

Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower

Dull and repetitive song.

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

2nd November

Ellie Goulding, Diplo and Swae Lee – Close To Me

Another one from Now! #101.

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

Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over

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

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

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

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

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

9th November

Pink – A Million Dreams

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

There’s no video for this yet.

Benny Blanco and Calvin Harris – I Found You

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

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

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

Reviewed on Now! #101.

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

James Arthur – Empty Space

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

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

Jonas Blue, Liam Payne and Lennon Stella – Polaroid

Another one from Now! #101!

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

Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

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

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

16th November

Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

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

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

Fredo – BMT

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

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

XXXTentacion – Bad

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

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

Cheryl – Love Made Me Do It

I reviewed this as part of Now! #101.

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

Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

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

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

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

23rd November

Panic! At The Disco – The Greatest Show

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

There’s no video for this yet.

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

Generic hip-hop.  Nothing memorable here.

Another one with no video so far.

Sheck Wes – Mo Bamba

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

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

George Ezra – Hold My Girl

Another one from Now! #101.

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

Little Mix and Sharaya J – Strip

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

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

James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars

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

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

30th November

6ix9ine – Kika

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

There’s no video yet.

Digdat, K Trap and Krept & Konan – Air Force

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

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

7th December

Meek Mill and Drake – Going Bad

Awful!  So dull and generic and unmelodious.

There’s no video for this yet.

Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

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

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

Dalton Harris and James Arthur – The Power Of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

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

Track 3: Ariana Grande – God Is A Woman

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

Track 4: George Ezra – Hold My Girl

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

Track 5: Rita Ora – Let You Love Me

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

Track 6: Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid – Eastside

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

Track 7: Jess Glynne – All I Am

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

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

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

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

Black Panther soundtrack song – really like this epic track.

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

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

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

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

Track 12: Loud Luxury and Brando – Body

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

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

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

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

Track 14: Marshmello and Bastille – Happier

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 17: Cheryl – Love Made Me Do It

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

Track 18: Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes

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

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

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

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

Track 20: Mabel – One Shot

Not a hit – only got to number 44.

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

Track 21: Take That – Out Of Our Heads

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

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

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

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

Track 23: Andrea Bocelli and Dua Lipa – If Only

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

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

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

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

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

Track 25: Dave and Fredo – Funky Friday

This track is:

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

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

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

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

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

Track 27: French Montana and Drake – No Stylist

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

Track 28: Dennis Lloyd – Nevermind

Great rhythm, very noddable.

Track 29: Khalid – Better

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

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

Track 30: Martin Garrix feat. Khalid – Ocean

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

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

Track 31: Halsey – Without Me

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

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

Track 32: B Young – 079ME

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

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

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

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

Track 34: Travis Scott – Sicko Mode

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 38: Au/Ra and CamelPhat – Panic Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 41: Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life

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

Track 42: ZieZie – Fine Girl

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

Track 43: Sigrid – Sucker Punch

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

Nice bit of classic pop with a good atmosphere.

Track 44: Selena Gomez – Back To You

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

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

Track 45: LSD – Thunderclouds

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

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

Track 46: Dean Lewis – Be Alright

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Another tune that really annoys me.

Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still

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

Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something

I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.

Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?

Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.

Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends

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

Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse

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

Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby

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

Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You

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

Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe

Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.

Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.

Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise

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

Track 13: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

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

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

Track 14: Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

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

Track 15: Mabel and Notes – Fine Line

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

Track 16: Sigrid – Strangers

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

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Guilty

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

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

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

Track 18: Pink – Beautiful Trauma

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

Track 19: James Arthur – Naked

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

Track 20: Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

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

Track 21: Calum Scott – You Are The Reason

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

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

Track 22: Sam Smith – One Last Song

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

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

Good tune – quite like this one.

Track 24: Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign – Psycho

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

Track 25: Blocboy JB and Drake – Look Alive

Not enough melody for me.

Track 26: Khalid – Location

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

Great atmosphere and classic feel – quite like this one.

Track 27: NF – Let You Down

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

Track 28: Ramz – Barking

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

Track 29: J Hus – Bouff Daddy

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s boring.

Track 30: Cliq and Alika – Wavey

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

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

Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words

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

Track 32: B Young – Jumanji

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

Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline

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

Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover

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

This tune really irritates me.

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 37: Sza and Calvin Harris – The Weekend

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

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

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

Another generic, irritating tune.

Track 39: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Want You Back

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

Track 40: Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

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

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

Track 41: Maroon 5 – Wait

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

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

Track 42: James Bay – Wild Love

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

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

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

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

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

This one, meanwhile, only got to number 92.

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

Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever

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

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

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

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #98

Day 98 takes us to Now! #98, which came out on 17th November 2017.

November 2017
This is the way the world looked in November 2017. It may have been 2017 but it’ll always be the ’80s in my world. Especially in London goth clubs, where the style’s not changed in over thirty years and I can dance away happily to my favourite Tears For Fears and Soft Cell tracks.

The following are not likely to be played at goth clubs, but let’s see what the party season songs were for this most recent Christmas period.

Now! That's What I Call Music #98
Track 1: Camila Cabello and Young Thug – Havana

Good solid pop tune – love the Latin feel.  Really nice song.

Track 2: Post Malone and 21 Savage – Rockstar

There are some interesting instrumentals going on, but it’s got quite a depressing feel.

Track 3: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes

Too slow and ballad-y for me.

Track 4: Pink – What About Us

It’s an okay song with an important theme, but I find it a bit depressing.

Track 5: Dua Lipa – New Rules

Absolutely wonderful track, gorgeous instrumentals, great tune, clever lyrics and vocals.  The video is immense too.

Track 6: Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl

Inspired by the Irish folk classic of the same name, but nowhere near as good.  Still a nice upbeat song though.

Track 7: Charlie Puth – How Long

I really like this one – great atmosphere, awesome tune, retro feel.

Track 8: CNCO and Little Mix – Reggaetón Lento

Very danceable Latin-tinged pop – good stuff.

Track 9: J Balvin and Willy William – Mi Gente

More great Latin pop (Despacito really kicked off a trend in 2017).  I remember dancing to all of these in Zumba class.  This one’s got an awesome atmosphere and a really interesting rhythm.

Track 10: Justin Bieber and BloodPop – Friends

I really like the bassline, but the tune’s pretty uninspired.

Track 11: Zayn and Sia – Dusk Till Dawn

Nice epic chorus, but on the whole the tune’s a bit generic.

Track 12: Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish

Great beat, but agin the tune’s not very exciting.

Track 13: Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry

This tune really irritates me.

Track 14: Stefflon Don and French Montana – Hurtin’ Me

Another one where I just don’t like the tune.  I also find the theme irritating.

Track 15: Louis Tomlinson, Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals – Back To You

Yet another annoying tune!

Track 16: Khalid – Young Dumb And Broke

I quite like this one – it’s got an interesting rhythm and an endearing theme.

Track 17: Maroon 5 and Sza – What Lovers Do

Nice feelgood song – the vocals are a little irritating, but I quite like the tune.

Track 18: Jason Derulo – If I’m Lucky

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s very generic.

Track 19: Clean Bandit and Julia Michaels – I Miss You

Again, I just don’t find this tune very interesting.

Track 20: Alma – Chasing Highs

Uninspired and depressing.

Track 21: Zedd and Liam Payne – Get Low

Another very bland tune.

Track 22: Charli XCX – Boys

Great track!  Fun theme, interesting instrumentals.  The celebrity-filled video is great too.

Track 23: Rita Ora – Anywhere

It’s got a good beat, but it’s another bland tune.

Track 24: Marshmello and Khalid – Silence

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

This is a lovely tune though.

Track 25: Avicii and Rita Ora – Lonely Together

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rita Ora on track 23.

I find the tune on this really irritating, but the backing track is great.

Track 26: James Hype and Kelli-Leigh – More Than Friends

Generic-sounding dance cover of En Vogue’s ’90s classic Don’t Let Go.  The original song is beautiful.  This track is anything but.

Track 27: Yungen and Yxng Bane – Bestie

That chorus is incredibly annoying.

Track 28: Mabel and Kojo Funds – Finders Keepers

So is the chorus on this one.

Track 29: Chris Brown – Questions

This is the second hit in the space of eighteen months that interpolates Kevin Lyttle’s 2003 classic Turn Me On, after Cheat Codes and Dante Klein’s Let Me Hold You (Turn Me On) in 2016.  I think it’s fairly poorly done, and I love the original so I find all these poor imitations pretty irritating.

Track 30: Craig David – Heartline

Dull and generic.

Track 31: Selena Gomez and Marshmello – Wolves

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

I quite like the tune on this one, though.

Track 32: MK – 17

Another really irritating tune.

Track 33: Axwell & Ingrosso – More Than You Know

I like the guitar at the start, and the tune’s okay if a bit generic.

Track 34: Liam Payne – Bedroom Floor

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Liam Payne on track 21.

It’s another fairly generic tune, but I remember I had the chart on in the background last year, and this was playing and got to the lyric ‘but your clothes say different on my bedroom floor‘.  Geth interjected crossly, ‘Stop stealing her clothes then!’  It really cracked me up and is all I can think about when I hear this song now.

Track 35: Duke Dumont, Gorgon City and Naations – Real Life

Another boring tune that sounds like every other dance track this decade.

Track 36: CamelPhat and Elderbrook – Cola

Really squicky theme – to put it bluntly, it’s blatantly a song about spiking someone’s drink.  It’s a shame, ’cause it would be a good track if it weren’t for that.

Track 37: Lil’ Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3

Some interesting instrumentals going on, but the tune’s very bland.

Track 38: Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot

Very funny hip-hop parody, and it’s got a good rhythm to boot.  Really like this.

Track 39: Chris & Kem – Little Bit Leave It

Apparently these dudes were on Love Island or something.  I’m not sure why someone allowed them to release a song – it’s extremely grating.

Track 40: Cardi B – Bodak Yellow

I find this one extremely depressing.

Track 41: Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid – 1-800-273-8255

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Khalid on both track 16 and track 24.  Give someone else a chance!

This one’s got a nice tune, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 42: Paloma Faith – Crybaby

I like the rhythm, but the tune’s very dull.

Track 43: The Script – Rain

The tune’s okay except for that annoying chorus.

Track 44: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Grace (We All Try)

The tune’s quite interesting, but again it’s too slow for me.

Track 45: Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass

Very refreshing to hear some actual rock music – it’s something different, finally.

Track 46: The Killers – The Man

Love the retro disco sound on this one.  Great stuff.