Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #38

Day 38 takes us to 17th November 1997 with our Now! compilation marathon.

November 1997
This was how the world looked in November 1997 (actually September – it was another autumn where we didn’t really take any photos). I still have that jumper – it’s had a few recent reprieves from wardrobe culls!

Let’s see what was tearing up the charts at the time.

Now! That's What I Call Music #38
Track 1: Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

The ultimate in singalong classics, and a feature of every school disco and a lot of post-school discos in subsequent years.  Brilliant track.  Also, this album version that I’ve found on Spotify has a Brassed Off sample at the start, which makes it even better.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life

One of my favourites from the Spice Girls – really like this upbeat, danceable song.

Track 3: Hanson – Where’s The Love

Considering that I played Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere album non-stop for about a year, the fact that I couldn’t remember this song shows you how forgettable it is.  I sort of remember it now I’m listening to it again, but I doubt it’ll stick in my brain long.

Track 4: Boyzone – Picture Of You

I’ve never really liked this one – the tune has always annoyed me.

Track 5: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me

It should be too saccharine for me, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it, largely because I always liked the video.

Track 6: Eternal – Angel Of Mine

Absolutely beautiful tune – love this one.

Fun fact: American singer Monica did a completely pointless cover of this that sounds pretty much identical, which was a huge hit in the US, so that’s the version that most people across the pond know.

Track 7: Lighthouse Family – Raincloud

Great, interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit dull.

Track 8: Janet Jackson – Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Love that Big Yellow Taxi sample…but in all honesty, nowadays it just makes me want to listen to Big Yellow Taxi instead.  I remember my dad getting similarly frustrated whenever it came on the radio at the time, ’cause you can’t improve on the original Joni Mitchell track.

Track 9: The Brand New Heavies – You’ve Got A Friend

Dull cover of the Carole King song (which was pretty dull to begin with) with an irritating funk bit over the top.

Track 10: All Saints – I Know Where It’s At

I quite like most of All Saints’ stuff, but this one’s got an annoying tune.  Not keen.

Track 11: Louise – Arms Around The World

Interesting Eastern-tinged instrumentals in the intro, and a nice synth riff running through the verses.  Shame the vocals are so generic.

Track 12: Gala – Freed From Desire

It’s not the kind of thing I normally like, but I’ve always quite enjoyed this one – I like the atmosphere.

Track 13: Sash! and La Trec – Stay

Great electro lines, but the vocals are a bit overblown.

Track 14: Dario G – Sunchyme

Love this electro track – lovely feelgood tune.  Only just realised right now that the sample is Life In A Northern Town – but it’s done really well, so I won’t moan.

Track 15: Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

Horrendous nails-down-a-blackboard vocal opening!  Then the rest of the track is repetitive and irritating.  Not keen at all.

Track 16: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #9.  I’m keeping an eye on you, Now! compilers!  I’m guessing this was back in the charts due to The Full Monty.

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 17: N-Trance and Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Slightly messy semi-cover of the 1978 classic.  There are far too many vocal lines going on, but somehow it works.

Track 18: LL Cool J – Phenomenon

Good head-nodder, quite like this one.

Track 19: 911 – Party People…Friday Night

I’ve always quite liked this one, if only for the jaunty days-of-the-week bit in the chorus (I have a similar soft spot for 7 Days by Craig David, but I’m sure we’ll get to that later).

Track 20: Ricky Martin – María

I started studying Spanish the year after this, so I was a huge fan of Ricky Martin and had all his albums.  This one is a great, danceable, Latin-flavoured track, an early indicator of the Latin pop craze that would characterise the turn of the millennium.

Speaking of which…

Track 21: Bellini – Samba De Janeiro

…here’s another.  Absolutely classic trumpet line, great dance track.

Track 22: DJ Quicksilver – Free

Oh, it’s this one!  Really like the electro lines on this – great tune.

Track 23: Wet Wet Wet – Yesterday

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

Utterly pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There is nothing different about this version at all except for an irritating country-tinged twangy guitar instrumental in the middle.

Track 24: George Michael – You Have Been Loved

Lovely tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 25: The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

Depressing in a bad way.  I’ve never been keen on this one.

Track 26: Oasis – Stand By Me

This track has a really irritating chord change sequence in the chorus that messes up the time signature in an infuriating way.  It’s been driving me nuts for over twenty years, and as such, I’m not a fan of this song.

Example of a song that messes up the time signature in a nice, pleasant way: Golden Brown by the Stranglers.  I think I’ll go listen to that once this compilation is done.

Track 27: Embrace – All You Good Good People

Nice tune, but I’m not keen on the vocals, as they sound kind of droning.

Track 28: Faithless – Don’t Leave

I really liked this one at the time ’cause I had it on the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  It’s still a good tune.

Track 29: Radiohead – Karma Police

Great tune, but I’m not hugely keen on the theme.

Track 30: Moby – James Bond Theme

I have often said throughout this Now! marathon that I love a James Bond theme.  This is slightly different, as instead of being a new song released for a James Bond film, it’s an electro cover of the main theme.  It’s okay, but you shouldn’t really mess with a classic.

Track 31: PF Project and Ewan McGregor – Choose Life

Dance track with Ewan McGregor’s ‘choose life‘ monologue from Trainspotting over the top of it.  The track itself is pretty awful, so the monologue is the only bit that’s of interest.

Track 32: Robbie Williams – Lazy Days

Annoying dregs-of-Britpop tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 33: Ash – A Life Less Ordinary

Another one that’s (obviously) off the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  Great chorus, but the verses are pretty boring.

Track 34: Texas – Black Eyed Boy

Great beat, great tune.  One of my favourite Texas tracks.

Track 35: Meredith Brooks – Bitch

Loved it at the time, makes me cringe a bit now, mainly because my friends and I all loved to adapt the lyrics when literally bitching about other girls at school.  Growing up is a good thing.

Track 36: Jon Bon Jovi – Janie, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Irritating tune, not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Ocean Colour Scene – Better Day

Lovely tune, great atmosphere – a longtime favourite.

Track 38: Cast – I’m So Lonely

Dreary, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 39: Conner Reeves – Earthbound

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

The vocals are far too saccharine for me, but the tune’s quite nice.

Track 40: Peter Andre – Lonely

Another slow, cheesy tune.  Blurgh.

Also, while Cast (see above) are so lonely, Peter Andre is just lonely full stop.  I’m pretty sure this was deliberate on the part of the Now! compilers…

Track 41: Boyz II Men – Four Seasons Of Loneliness

…especially now that Boyz II Men have both of them beat by being lonely all year round.  It shouldn’t be a competition, guys!

The piano instrumental on this one’s quite nice, but in general it’s yet another ballad that’s too slow and too saccharine for my liking.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #35

Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.

November 1996
This is the way the world looked in November 1996 (well, obviously it wasn’t actually November, as I wouldn’t have been wearing short sleeves in November in Scotland – this was September, as we didn’t take any photos in the latter part of the year for some reason). I don’t know why I chose those trainers, ’cause I thought they were super ugly even at the time.

Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #35
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There

The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe.  With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.

Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Loved it then, love it now.  This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school.  Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)

I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now.  Love the theme and the instrumentals.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying.  It’s that irritating chorus.

Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me

This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one.  I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.

Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.  Lovely tune.

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

Oh, it’s this one!  Great guitar hook, nice tune.

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

An all-time favourite!  Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff.  I adore this one.

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage!  The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus.  Lovely track.

Track 18: Cast – Flying

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now.  Just not keen on the tune.

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics.  Another solid song from Suede.

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses.  Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film.  As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.

Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic.  The main addition is the rap over the top.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.

Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love

Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway).  Horrific!

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

Great, interesting piano intro.  It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

Oh, it’s this one.  I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive

Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now.  The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful.  I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was.  This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

Very messy track with irritating lines.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

Dull lines, very little melody, messy track.  The beat’s quite good though.

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them.  I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else.  That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.