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!

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 #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.

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

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

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

Time for some party season hits!

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

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

Track 2: Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex

Great solid piece of pop – really like this.

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

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

Track 4: The Chainsmokers and Halsey – Closer

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

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

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

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

Great piece of pop – love the rhythm on this.

Track 7: Sia – The Greatest

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

Track 8: Calvin Harris – My Way

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

Track 9: Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd – Starving

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

Track 10: MO – Who Do You Think Of?

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

Track 11: Neiked and Dyo – Sexual

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

Track 12: Anne-Marie – Alarm

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

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

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

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

Track 14: Mø – Final Song

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

Pretty tune though, quite like this one.

Track 15: Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know

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

Track 16: JP Cooper – September Song

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

Track 17: Shawn Mendes – Mercy

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

Track 18: Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You

Dull, saccharine and irritating.

Track 19: Emeli Sandé – Hurts

Great tune, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Michael Bublé – I Believe In You

Too cheesy for me.

Track 21: Craig David – All We Needed

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

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

Track 22: Drake, Wizkid and Kyla – One Dance

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

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

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

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

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

Track 24: Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl

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

Track 25: Sigma and Birdy – Find Me

Too slow, but the atmosphere’s okay.

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

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

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

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

Track 28: Tieks and Dan Harkna – Sunshine

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

Track 29: Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault

Okay tune, but the theme is really problematic.

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

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

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

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

Track 32: Snakehips and Zayn – Cruel

Forgettable tune, boring vocals.

Track 33: Matoma and Becky Hill – False Alarm

Another bland tune.

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

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

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

Irritating tune, but I quite like the theme.

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

Good beat, annoying chorus.

Track 37: Louisa Johnson – So Good

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

Track 38: James TW – When You Love Someone

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

Track 39: Wilkinson and Karen Harding – Sweet Lies

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

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

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

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

Track 41: Charlie Puth – Dangerously

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

Track 42: Offaiah – Trouble

Very repetitive tune, not keen.

Track 43: Christine & The Queens – Tilted

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

Track 44: Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion

I like the rock edge on this one.

Track 45: Niall Horan – This Town

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #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 #89

Day 89 means Now! #89, which was released on 24th November 2014.

November 2014
This is how the world looked in November 2014. Buffalo Bill’s was our favourite restaurant in Southampton, and so we went there for our wedding anniversary. I was wearing that silver top (which I originally bought for Millennium Eve in 1999 and is one of the many things I only just got rid of – I can’t remember whether I binned it or put it in storage) because I always wear my wedding shoes (which are silver) for our anniversary date, and my style is very matchy-matchy.

Let’s see what was in the charts during our final few months in Southampton.

Now! That's What I Call Music #89
Track 1: Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass

Love this one!  Great mid-century retro tinge, brilliant theme, and it’s another one to which my Southampton Zumba class did a really fun routine.

Track 2: Olly Murs and Travie McCoy – Wrapped Up

Love the retro feel, but I could do without the rap.

Track 3: Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang

Good solid pop track – really like this one.

Track 4: Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong

I really like the tune on this track.

Track 5: Magic – Rude

I can’t stand this one – the theme’s just awful!  Irritatingly, it was constantly stuck in my head at the time as well.

Track 6: Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One

Too slow for me.

Track 7: Tom Odell – Real Love

This one was the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert song (it was the year of Monty the penguin), so it still gets played on the music channels at Christmas time.  Again, it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 8: Gareth Malone and All Star Choir – Wake Me Up

Gareth Malone’s project for Children In Need 2014 – a choir of celebrities doing a cover of Avicii’s Wake Me Up.  It’s not that exciting, but the voice-spotting can be quite fun.

Track 9: Ed Sheeran – Don’t

Good rhythm, interesting vocals – quite like this one.

Track 10: George Ezra – Blame It On Me

I’m not too keen on the tune on this one.

Track 11: The Script – Superheroes

It’s got a good epic feel, but it’s a bit cheesy.

Track 12: OneRepublic – Love Runs Out

I really like this one – the atmosphere is great.

Track 13: Maroon 5 – Maps

Pretty tune, quite summery.

Track 14: Hozier – Take Me To Church

Beautiful track – the tune, atmosphere and theme are all absolutely stunning.

Track 15: Charli XCX – Boom Clap

I find this one pretty generic.

Track 16: One Direction – Steal My Girl

Irritating tune, irritating theme.

Track 17: The Vamps and Shawn Mendes – Oh Cecelia (Breaking My Heart)

Uninspired cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic with new verses.  Not a fan.

Track 18: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Amnesia

Too slow and saccharine for me.

Track 19: GRL – Ugly Heart

I really like this upbeat pop song.  Sadly, group member Simone Battle passed away during the promotion of this track, and they’ve not really had any hits since.

Track 20: Katy Perry – This Is How We Do

It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s pretty repetitive.

Track 21: Cheryl and Tinie Tempah – Crazy Stupid Love

It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s a bit annoying.

Track 22: Ella Henderson – Glow

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

Track 23: The Veronicas – You Ruin Me

Dull and depressing.

Track 24: Calvin Harris and John Newman – Blame

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

Track 25: Sigma and Paloma Faith – Changing

Nice upbeat, feelgood track.  Quite like this one.

Track 26: Lilly Wood and Robin Schulz – Prayer In C

It’s not the kind of thing I usually like, but I’ve got a soft spot for this tune.

Track 27: Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – Real Love

I like some of the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals irritates me.

Track 28: Jeremih and YG – Don’t Tell ‘Em

The beat on the various lines of this is very jarring.  Not keen.  Also, that Rhythm Is A Dancer interpolation is done really badly.

Track 29: David Guetta and Sam Martin – Lovers On The Sun

Great Western-tinged instrumentals, and the tune’s quite nice.  Good stuff.

Track 30: Waze & Odyssey and R Kelly – Bump And Grind 2014

Reworking of R Kelly’s 1994 song.  I’m not keen on the original anyway, and this dance version is just messy.

Track 31: Ariana Grande and Zedd – Break Free

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

Very uninspired and irritating tune.

Track 32: Nicole Scherzinger – Your Love

Another track where the tune is so bland I’m not sure it even counts as a tune.

Track 33: Pitbull and John Ryan – Fireball

Good beat on this one – very danceable.

Track 34: Wankelmut, Emma Louise and Mark Kinchen – My Head Is A Jungle [MK Remix]

That chorus is horribly irritating!

Track 35: ZHU – Faded

I like the retro-sounding bassline, but in general it’s too repetitive for me.

Track 36: Duke Dumont – Won’t Look Back

One of those ’90s-sounding dance track from the mid-’10s.  It’s a bit too generic for my liking.

Track 37: Parra For Cuva and Anna Naklab – Wicked Games

Guitar-driven dance cover of Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.  It’s not a patch on the original, which is beautiful – somehow this version manages to be dull.

Track 38: Fuse ODG and Angel – TINA

Nice feelgood tune, quite like this one.

Track 39: Ten Walls – Walking With Elephants

Takes ages to get going.  When it does, it’s okay, but nothing special.

Track 40: Kiesza – Giant In My Heart

Some interesting lines on the backing track, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 41: The Magician and Years & Years – Sunlight

Another generic, bland tune.

Track 42: Melissa Steel and Popcaan – Kisses For Breakfast

I had this one stuck in my head for years afterwards.  Thankfully it’s an okay tune.

Track 43: Professor Green and Tori Kelly – Lullaby

The tune on the sung vocals is pretty, but I find the theme too depressing.

Track 44: Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora – Black Widow

Good atmosphere, but the tune is fairly uninspired.

Track 45: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda

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

I find the theme on this one painfully stupid.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #88

Day 88 takes us to Now! #88, which came out on 21st July 2014.

July 2014
This is how the world looked in July 2014. The Wetherspoons cider festival was one of my summer highlights for a few years – I’ve not partaken in a while. Too much going on in July these days!  That beetroot cider remains the most interesting one I’ve ever tasted.

Let’s see what would have been blasting on the Wetherspoons sound system that summer.

Now! That's What I Call Music #88
Track 1: Ella Henderson – Ghost

The tune on the chorus is very atmospheric, but unfortunately the verses are very dull.

Track 2: Ed Sheeran – Sing

Nice epic track – really like this one.

Track 3: Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Saccharine ballad.  It’s very highly lauded but it’s not my kind of thing.

Track 4: George Ezra – Budapest

Interesting style, good tune – great track.

Track 5: Mr Probz – Waves [Robin Schulz Remix]

This is the kind of summer chillout I can get behind.  Great, melancholy tune.

Track 6: Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea – Problem

Very danceable pop track with some awesome trumpet instrumentals – really like this.

Track 7: Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

It’s got a good beat, but I find the tune irritating.

Track 8: Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars

Extremely grating – nothing redeeming here.

Track 9: Aloe Blacc – The Man

I do like the interpolation of Elton John’s Your Song on the chorus, but the verse is a bit bland.

Track 10: Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake – Love Never Felt So Good

Posthumous Michael Jackson release, cobbled together from a 1983 demo track and with Justin Timberlake drafted in to add extra vocals.  Obviously, I love that ’80s sound.

Track 11: will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday

I really like this one – it’s actually replaced 50 Cent’s In Da Club as the song that gets stuck in my head on my actual birthday.

Track 12: Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX – Fancy

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

The song is pretty dull, but the Clueless-homage video is quite fun.

Track 13: Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne and Tyga – Loyal

I quite like the electro hook, but the rap is fairly boring.

Track 14: Clean Bandit and Sharna Bass – Extraordinary

Too slow for my liking, and the tune is pretty forgettable.

Track 15: Jess Glynne – Right Here

Very bland, irritating song.

Track 16: Ella Eyre – If I Go

There’s a bit too much going on with this track, and I don’t find the tune very interesting.

Track 17: MKTO – Classic

Good solid pop track – it’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like it.

Track 18: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Don’t Stop

Another good bit of pop-rock from 5 Seconds Of Summer.  Happily chair-dancing here.

Track 19: Little Mix – Salute

I can’t stand this song.  For some reason it still constantly ends up in my head four years later!  I would pay good money to be able to forget about this one.

Track 20: Rixton – Me And My Broken Heart

I love the tune on this one – nice and epic.

Track 21: The Vamps and Demi Lovato – Somebody To You

Some highly irritating chanting throughout, and the tune’s pretty uninspired.

Track 22: Idina Menzel – Let It Go

The big musical number from Frozen.  Awesomely epic, great to attempt at karaoke (not that I ever go anywhere near karaoke these days).

Track 23: Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – Rather Be

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Clean Bandit on track 14 and Jess Glynne on track 15.

The vocals are a little irritating, but the instrumentals are immense.

Track 24: Kiesza – Hideaway

Great beat, great tune.  Big fan of this one.

Track 25: Oliver Heldens and Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)

This one’s a generic dance track with some very irritating instrumental lines.

Track 26: Sigma – Nobody To Love

I quite like that piano at the start, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 27: Calvin Harris – Summer

Probably my favourite summer-themed dance track of the decade.  The tune is gorgeous and it builds beautifully.

Track 28: Secondcity – I Wanna Feel

I do like the ’90s-influenced trend that was big in dance music around this time, and it works nicely here, but I find the tune very repetitive.

Track 29: Klingande – Jubel

Interesting track, and I always appreciate a bit of saxophone.

Track 30: Faul & Wad Ad and Pnau – Changes

This track’s got some incredibly annoying kiddie vocals throughout, but it does also have saxophone, so I don’t know whether I like it or not.

Track 31: Fuse ODG and Sean Paul – Dangerous Love

This was another track to which we did a really good routine at my Zumba class in Southampton.  I have a real soft spot for this one.

Track 32: DJ Fresh, TC and Little Nikki – Make U Bounce

I like the videogame-esque instrumentals at the start, and the track’s got a good beat, but there’s a bit too much going on.

Track 33: Shift K3Y – Touch

Boring tune, and I find the theme pretty awkward.

Track 34: MK and Alana – Always [Route 94 Remix]

I don’t like this tune at all – there’s something that sounds slightly offkey about it, and the vocals jar unpleasantly with the backing track.

Track 35: Tiësto and Matthew Koma – Wasted

Irritating theme, irritating tune.

Track 36: John Martin – Anywhere For You

Another boring song.

Track 37: Cash Cash and Bebe Rexha – Take Me Home

I like the ’80s-tinged synth on the backing track, but the vocals are super annoying.

Track 38: Matrix & Futurebound and Tanya Lacey – Don’t Look Back

The tune is fairly dull, but again I quite like some of the lines on the backing track.

Track 39: Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg – Wiggle

I like the atmosphere on this one, but the theme is super creepy.

Track 40: DJ Cassidy, Robin Thicke and Jessie J – Calling All Hearts

Great ’70s-tinged disco sound on this one!

Track 41: Neon Jungle – Welcome To The Jungle

Another awesome atmosphere – great stuff.

Track 42: Sia – Chandelier

Gorgeous, epic track.  It’s a little overplayed these days, but the vocals are just wonderful.

Track 43: The Vamps – Last Night

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had the Vamps on track 21.

The tune’s a bit generic, but I quite like the pop-rock style.

Track 44: Tove Lo and Hippie Sabotage – Stay High

Too slow for me, and I find the tune boring.

Track 45: Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

I find this ballad a bit overblown and irritating.

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.