Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #41

Day 41 brings us to Now! #41, which was released on 23rd November 1998.

November 1998
This is the way the world looked in November 1998…no it didn’t. Again, we don’t have any pictures from autumn 1998, so instead, you get this slightly cringeworthy one from January 1999 of me dressed up for a gangster-themed party. My hair was super curly then – it’s still curly but it calmed down a bit in the next couple of years.

Let’s see what might have been on the CD player at that party.

Now! That's What I Call Music #41
Track 1: Boyzone – No Matter What

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

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Millennium

The tune is a bit dull, but there’s something quite pleasant about his one.

Track 3: The Beautiful South – Perfect 10

I’ve always been a bit mixed on this one – great tune, but for some reason I find the theme a bit depressing.

Track 4: U2 – Sweetest Thing

I’ve always quite liked this one, and the video‘s still great.

Track 5: Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved

This reminded me that I read in Classic Pop (my new favourite magazine – it’s basically like Smash Hits grew up and is now a middle-aged man) the other day that Culture Club have finally made up and got back together in order to go on tour and release that album that they made a few years back before the last bust-up.  As such, I’ve just ordered tickets, and I’m going to see them in November!  So excited.

This song is from the late ’90s reformation, and it’s quite a pleasant reggae track, but it’s not quite up there with the ’80s stuff for me.

Track 6: Ace Of Base – Life Is A Flower

Loved it at the time, still quite like it now.  Nice tune.

Track 7: Jennifer Paige – Crush

Lovely tune, classic chorus.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 8: Steps – Heartbeat

The annual music channel Christmas playlists have ensured that this is now a bona fide Christmas song, so it feels wrong in May.  Trying to put that aside, it’s a pretty daft, cheesy song, fairly standard for Steps.

Track 9: Honeyz – Finally Found

We return to the theme from yesterday, of tracks that were also featured on the Top of the Pops 1998 compilation, which I owned for some reason despite liking almost none of the songs on it.  This one has an annoying chorus and a boring theme.

Track 10: East 17 – Each Time

I like the instrumentals at the start, but the vocal is pretty uninspired.

Track 11: Kele Le Roc – Little Bit Of Lovin’

Overblown vocals, slow ballad, generic tune.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 12: Sweetbox – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

The Bach sample is nice, but the vocals over the top (both sung and rap) are pretty awful.

Track 13: UB40 – Come Back Darling

Fairly standard reggae track from UB40, except it’s got a sort of messy beat that I find a bit irritating.  Shame, ’cause the tune’s nice.

Track 14: Melanie B and Missy Elliott – I Want You Back

So-so effort from the Spice Girls’ Mel B for her first solo single.  The dull tune on the chorus does nothing for me, really…

Track 15: All Saints – Bootie Call

…and bizarrely, the dull tune on the chorus of this one is strongly reminiscent of it.  I’m also irritated by the theme.

Track 16: Aqua – Turn Back Time

Gorgeous tune, love this one.  Great song.

Track 17: Spice Girls – Too Much

The Now! compilers are a little late with this one, as it was the Christmas number one for 1997.  Still a nice tune, though, and possibly my favourite of the three consecutive Spice Girls Christmas number ones.

Track 18: Lutricia McNeal – Someone Loves You Honey

Super cheesy and irritating, but at least it attempts to bring back the sax solo, which was much neglected by this point of the ’90s.

Track 19: Lighthouse Family – Question Of Faith

Really nice tune, great atmosphere.  Good head-nodder.

Track 20: Phil Collins – True Colours

Laid-back cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic.  Interesting, slightly folky instrumentals, but it doesn’t quite have the rawness of the original.

Track 21: Janet Jackson – Every Time

Pretty song – quite like this one, even if the tune on the chorus does massively rip off Go West’s King Of Wishful Thinking.

Track 22: Billie Piper – Girlfriend

Annoyed by it at the time, annoyed by it now.  I remember taking the piss out of this one with mates at school using alternative lyrics, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

Track 23: 911 – More Than A Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the Bee Gees song, with the only real changes being some added tinkly instrumentals and the fact that it’s not sung in falsetto.  Meh.

Track 24: T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach

Well, it’s at least upfront.  Found it a bit awkward at the time – nowadays I just find it interesting as a ’90s musical artefact.

Track 25: The Tamperer and Maya – If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better

It’s pretty similar to their previous hit Feel It, except this time it samples Material Girl instead of Can You Feel It?  It’s okay, but there’s a reason it wasn’t as big a hit as the first one.

Track 26: Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You

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

I should be irritated by this one, but I do like that singalong hook.

Track 27: Vengaboys – Up And Down

I’ve always quite liked this one, although it’s not the most memorable of the Vengaboys’ tracks.

Track 28: Sash! and Shannon – Move Mania

The backing track is great, but I’m not keen on the vocals.

Track 29: Touch & Go – Would You…?

I like the instrumentals, and the vocal sample’s used quite well.  While it’s still not exactly innuendo, it’s not as in-your-face as Sex On The Beach (see above), and I actually quite like the track.

Track 30: The Corrs – Dreams [Tee’s Radio Mix]

Pretty, folky cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic.  Really like this one.

Track 31: The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

Great track!  Loved it at the time, love it now.  That guitar riff is gold.

Track 32: James – Sit Down ’98

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

We already had the original on Now! #20, but this version is different enough that I’m not going to moan about that.  It’s not different in a good way, though – it’s just really messy.

Track 33: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

I like the instrumental hook, but the rest of the track is pretty haphazard and irritating.

Track 34: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Falling In Love Again

It’s okay, but it sounds too similar to Save Tonight.  I prefer artists to diverge a bit more.

Track 35: Sheryl Crow – My Favourite Mistake

A bit repetitive, and it’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 36: Robbie Williams – No Regrets

Repeated artist alert!  I know Robbie Williams was having a lot of hits at the time, but that’s really no excuse.

The tune is lovely, and had I been the Now! compilers, I would have chosen this one over Millennium and given the extra slot to someone else.  I’ll remember that when I get round to building that time machine.

Track 37: Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Interesting, atmospheric cover of the Animals classic.  Quite like this one.

Track 38: Embrace – My Weakness Is None Of Your Business

It’s another depressing one from Embrace.  Droning vocals, slow tune, brings my mood right down.  Next one, please.

Track 39: Alisha’s Attic – The Incidentals

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice tune, but it’s a bit acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 40: Deetah – Relax

Pretty intro, but the instrumentals don’t really go with the rap.

Track 41: R Kelly and Keith Murray – Home Alone

Not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.  Not a fan.

Track 42: Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma

Dance-infused version of the traditional Irish song that I absolutely adored at the time – I bought the single and everything.  It’s still a guilty pleasure, but I do find it a bit daft nowadays!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #40

Day 40, and Now! #40, which takes us to 3rd August 1998.

August 1998
This is how the world looked in August 1998. There were maybe other things going on in the world that weren’t me posing on a rock, but this is what you get today. I loved that blue chenille cardigan and wore it constantly for my entire teenage years – I still have it in my keepsakes collection.

Let’s see what the hits were that summer!

Now! That's What I Call Music #40
Track 1: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – Grease Megamix

Megamix of You’re The One That I Want, Greased Lightnin’ and Summer Nights from the 1978 film.  It was apparently created in 1990 but wasn’t really a hit until the late ’90s.  This was another favourite at my school youth club.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Viva Forever

Lovely tune, nice melancholy atmosphere, gorgeous Spanish guitar.  The last song of the classic Spice Girls run to feature Geri Halliwell, and in many ways it’s a nicer farewell song for her than Goodbye was.

Track 3: Karen Ramirez – Looking For Love

I had this one on a Top of the Pops 1998 compilation.  I’ve never been that keen, as I find the tune a bit dull.

Track 4: Billie Piper – Because We Want To

Thought of it as a clearly-awful-but-sort-of-guilty-pleasure at the time, now think it’s just awful, but as a Doctor Who fan it’s always amusing to be reminded of Billie Piper’s ’90s pop career.

Track 5: All Saints – Lady Marmalade

So-so cover of the Labelle track.  It would be eclipsed a few years later by the much-more-memorable Moulin Rouge! soundtrack cover, so I’ve not listened to this one in years.

Track 6: Mousse T and Hot ‘N’ Juicy – Horny

You couldn’t escape this one in 1998, and at the time I quite liked it.  It’s not aged well though.

Track 7: The Tamperer and Maya – Feel It

What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?‘  That is the lyric, right?  It’s what I’ve always heard, anyway.  Everyone called this ‘The Chimney Song’ at the time.  Nowadays I’m more interested in the Can You Feel It? sample, which works quite well in this track.

Track 8: Aqua – Doctor Jones

Follow-up to Barbie Girl.  I remember a few of my friends complaining because they thought Aqua would have been the perfect one-hit wonder.  This one is a bit uninspired, but there are actually quite a few crackers off that first album, so I’m glad they stuck around for a while.

Track 9: Steps – Last Thing On My Mind

Steps lose the comedy line-dance schtick and settle into their standard full-on Abba tribute sound.  I’ve always found this one a bit annoying, to be honest.

Track 10: Groove Generation and Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

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

Semi-cover of Sayer’s 1976 track.  It’s basically a messy cut-up sample-y version of the original with a misplaced rap where the verses used to be.  Not impressed by this one.

Track 11: Bus Stop and Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

Another semi-cover of a ’70s hit, this time with Bus Stop rapping all over Carl Douglas’ classic track.  While it doesn’t quite live up to the original, I’ve always had a soft spot for this version.

Track 12: Ultra Naté – New Kind Of Medicine

Another one that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation, and it’s another boring tune, I’m afraid.

Track 13: Lutricia McNeal – Stranded

Nice piano opening, but the main tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 14: Lighthouse Family – Lost In Space

While it’s not my favourite Lighthouse Family track ’cause it’s a bit slow and dull, I always liked the video because of the helicopter shots of the then-new Angel of the North.  Now that I live near the Angel of the North, that makes it even better.

Track 15: Boyzone – All That I Need

It’s an okay tune, but it’s just a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 16: All Saints – Under The Bridge

Repeated artist alert!  Lady Marmalade and Under The Bridge were a double A-side, and I guess the Now! compilers couldn’t pick which one to include.

It’s a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song that is much less epic than the original.  I quite liked it at the time, though.

Track 17: K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life

I adored this one at the time and even bought the single.  I still think it’s a lovely tune, though it’s a little saccharine for me these days.

Track 18: Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely

Boring tune, irritating instrumentals!  Not keen on this at all.

Track 19: Sparkle and R Kelly – Be Careful

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

Another dull, irritating track that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation (the lyrics are good, but they can’t save the tune).  Looking back, I’m not sure why I bought that compilation – I didn’t actually like most of the tracks that were on it.

Track 20: Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl

Cover of the classic Disney track from Aladdin.  Hated it at the time, still think it’s pretty awful.  It comes nowhere near the original.

Track 21: Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

Classic 1984 hit, back in the charts for some reason.  Not complaining!

Track 22: The Mavericks – Dance The Night Away

Found it annoying then, find it annoying (and depressing) now.  Never been a fan of this one.

Track 23: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

This one, however, I’ve always loved!  Gorgeous tune.

Track 24: Catatonia – Road Rage

Great, classic singalong track from Catatonia.  Wonderful tune.

Track 25: Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake

I’d forgotten about this one!  Great tune with a nice epic chorus.

Track 26: Embrace – Come Back To What You Know

Hated it then, hate it now.  Awful, depressing dirge.

Speaking of which…

Track 27: The Verve – Sonnet

It’s another depressing tune from the Verve, although after that godawful Embrace song, it sounds almost lively.

Track 28: Massive Attack – Teardrop

Great, epic track!  A classic.

Track 29: Mansun – Legacy

This one’s a bit drone-y for my liking.  Not keen.

Track 30: Baddiel & Skinner and The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98

Reworking of Three Lions from 1996 to tie in with the World Cup in 1998.  It’s just as bad as the original.

However…

Track 31: Fat Les – Vindaloo

…if we have to be subjected to England football songs every time it’s the summer of a year that ends in an even number, this is the way to go.  Hilarious song, great video that parodies the awful video for Bitter Sweet Symphony that I mentioned the other day.

Track 32: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

Classic track, anthemic hooks.  Great stuff.

Track 33: David Morales and The Face – Needin’ U

Awful, repetitive dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.

Track 34: Lucid – I Can’t Help Myself

Irritating, depressing dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.  Why did I buy that compilation?

Track 35: Perpetual Motion – Keep On Dancin’ (Let’s Go)

Irritating squeaky hook throughout, repetitive beat, messy lines, uninspired spoken vocal.  It’s time to get out of the imaginary ’90s nightclub again.

Track 36: Barbara Tucker – Everybody Dance (The Horn Song)

Slight throwback sound to this one, which has a vocal that sounds like it should have been released earlier in the ’90s.  The titular horns, meanwhile, are super annoying.

Track 37: Imaani – Where Are You?

Nice atmosphere to this track, quite like it.

Track 38: Adam Garcia – Night Fever

Pointless cover of the Bee Gees track, released as part of the Saturday Night Fever: The Musical soundtrack.  Because of the nature of the release, it was never going to add anything interesting to the original, let’s face it.

Track 39: Kerri-Ann – Do You Love Me Boy?

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

The calypso instrumental is a bit different, and it’s fairly solid pop, but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 40: Los Umbrellos – No Tengo Dinero

Another one I’d forgotten about.  I quite liked it at the time ’cause of the Spanish chorus, but I find the vocal pretty irritating now.