Nice chilled out backing track, but the rap style is a bit harsh for my liking.
There’s no video for this one yet.
Young T, Bugsey and Aitch – Strike A Pose
I like the beat, and it is growing on me after a couple of listens.
The video is very much a ‘does what it says on the tin’ affair, with lots of underwear-clad models all posing away. It gets a point for the use of good old-fashioned film photography, plus another one for the bit at the end where the models turn the cameras on the rappers (hence providing at least a brief nod to equal-opportunity perving…I suppose?).
AJ Tracey – Ladbroke Grove
Nice upbeat backing track, and the rhythm is great.
The street sign for Ladbroke Grove does make an appearance at the start of the video, but this was definitely not filmed in London! Somewhere in north Africa, I’m guessing.
Liam Gallagher – Shockwave
This one is in the charts due to being the biggest seller on vinyl and download this week, two formats that are both in interesting states of increasing/decreasing popularity at the moment. The track is classic rock – it’s a bit generic, but I don’t care because the charts are absolutely starved for rock at the moment.
The video is very filmic and ’90s-does-’70s – in other words, it’s just like an Oasis video from the ’90s. There are flares and crappy ’70s cars everywhere, and I am all about it. Also, Liam burns down a building in a big, dramatic way, although it looks like the building is actually just a beach hut.
Avicii – Heaven
Another posthumous release from Avicii – a bit more chilled than usual. Is that Chris Martin on vocals? It’s got that Glastonbury singalong feel. (Answer: yes, as confirmed by Scott Mills after it was played. Chris Martin is uncredited for some reason.)
There’s no video for this one.
Mostack, Dave and J Hus – Stinking Rich
I like the piano on the backing track.
Again, this one doesn’t have a video at the moment.
Mabel – Mad Love
Great atmosphere on this one – I expect it’ll become a frequent earworm.
The video is a fairly standard pop video with lots of dance routines and pretty costumes. Good stuff.
Chris Brown and Drake – No Guidance
The tune’s a bit generic, but at least there is a tune.
Another one that doesn’t have a video yet.
More new hits next Friday! (Or possibly a day or so later, as Geth is back from his work trip next Friday and so we will be doing belated birthday celebrations.)
I’ve got three weeks’ worth of Friday chart hits to catch up with today, as I’ve been a bit late with the chart recently due to travelling.
There were six new hits on the 24th of May.
Dominic Fike – 3 Nights
Love that reggae beat – it’s something a bit different!
The video is about a guy driving around a lot and cheating on his girlfriend (I think?). There’s also a shoebox. And a tortoise.
DJ Khaled, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne and Big Sean – Jealous
It sounds pretty much like every other DJ Khaled song, though I can forgive it a lot for the ‘listening to Sade’ lyric.
The video begins with an overblown cinematic bit featuring Jennifer Lopez for some reason, then when the music starts, it’s all about standing around in front of those Lamborghinis. At least it’s colourful.
Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days
Really appreciate the funk guitar on this one.
The video is a wonderfully daft story about an attractive elderly lady who dresses like she’s still twenty and hence causes everyone she meets to sweat profusely and flood cars and stuff.
Tyler The Creator – I Think
I love the atmospheric synth on the backing track – very retro-sounding.
There’s no video for this one yet.
Halsey – Nightmare
Interesting and slightly creepy recital of ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’ at the start. Following this, there’s a promising rock-sounding chorus, which is great – I just wish the verse matched it. It’s been so long since we had anything vaguely rock-sounding in the charts.
Is that ‘save me a prayer’ lyric a Duran Duran reference? I’m going to jump the gun and say YES, because everything should be a Duran Duran reference.
There’s a lot going on in the video, which is very filmic and retro and veers between rock stylings that match the song, ’90s-influenced bondage costumes, and Lady Gaga-esque ‘shocker’ imagery. Watch out for cameos from the likes of Cara Delevigne and Debbie Harry.
Tyler The Creator – Earfquake
I find the lyrics to this one a bit irritating, but the backing track is nice and retro.
The video is utterly surreal, with Tyler setting himself on fire while performing, and then he turns out to be a fireman as well, and then… However, it’s set in the world of a 1970s chat show, so I’m all about it.
There were also six new hits on the 31st of May.
Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well
It’s very ’90s influenced, like most dance music is at the moment. Nice tune.
Again, there’s no video yet.
Jess Glynne and Jax Jones – One Touch
I like the bleepy backing track – again the ’90s dance influence is strong here – but the vocal melody is a bit dull.
No video for this one either.
5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier
5SOS seem to be completely divorced from their rock roots now. This is squeaky, annoying, and generic.
They’re still apparently playing their instruments in the video though. Why can I not hear those instruments in the song? Anyway, it’s set in a cave system, apart from when there’s a ‘walking through hallways while pictures on the wall catch fire’ sequence.
Young Thug, J Cole and Travis Scott – The London
I like some of the instrumentals on the backing track, but otherwise it’s a little repetitive for me.
There’s no video yet.
NSG – OT Bop
Great beat, but I’d prefer a bit more melody.
There is a lot of car-standing in this video, but I’m quite fond of the daft dance routines that are going on.
Ed Sheeran and Chance The Rapper – Cross Me
Love that synth line in the background.
Another one that doesn’t have a video as of yet.
Yet another six hits on the 7th of June. There’s a bit of a pattern to the chart at the moment!
Skepta – Bullet From A Gun
Not enough going on in this track melody-wise for me, but the lyrics are great.
I really like the video, which is just Skepta sitting on a bench in Camden Town tube station while the world goes by. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Camden Town so un-busy, mind!
Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter
Good atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit forgettable. I have the feeling it’ll grow on me though.
The video’s not out yet.
Lewis Capaldi – Bruises
Another pretty piano ballad from Lewis Capaldi. Lovely atmosphere.
No official video for this one right now.
Mostack and Stormzy – Shine Girl
Nice summery rhythm to this one.
The video is a nice straightforward ‘does what it says on the tin’ affair, with Mostack and Stormzy just chilling with their girlfriends round the house.
Skepta and J Hus – What Do You Mean
I like the eerie instrumentals in the background.
We’re still waiting for the video.
Katy Perry – Never Really Over
I find the tune to this fairly dull.
The video is colourful, cartoony, and a bit daft – a textbook Katy Perry video, in other words.
More new hits next week (I will definitely be on time with them because I’ve got a nice quiet week ahead of me!).
Day 99 brings us to Now! #99, which was released on 23rd March 2018.
I’m starting to get a little suspicious that some of the tracks on these latest Now! compilations weren’t actually hits at all. I know that a) the charts change so rapidly that there too many songs to remember and b) most chart music these days is so generic that it all blurs into one, but my memory is pretty good, and given that all of these songs are supposed to have been in the charts just a few months ago, I’m surprised that there are so many song titles I don’t recognise. I will have to do some research as we go through them.
We’ve finally reached the current year, 2018! Let’s see what pop music has come to these days.
Track 1: Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days
Now I know I’m nearly at the end of this long Now! marathon – this track is still currently (as of today, 19th July 2018) in the Top 40. We’re so close to the end!
I find the tune pretty irritating and the theme a bit awkward, but there’s some good stuff going on with the lyrics.
Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF
Another tune that really annoys me.
Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still
Great tune, great danceable beat, and a lyric like ‘let me kick it like it’s 1986 now‘ is always going to go down well with me. Love this one.
Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something
I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.
Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?
Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.
Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends
This one is insidiously catchy and was stuck in my head for weeks earlier this year. I’m not a fan of the tune or the theme, so it wasn’t pleasant.
Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse
I do like that early ’90s feel (which, judging by the style of the video, is deliberate). Like the callback to Walk This Way too.
Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby
Another annoying tune, but it’s got a good beat.
Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You
I really like the rhythm, but I find the song a bit cheesy.
Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe
Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.
Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.
Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise
I really like George Ezra’s stuff – it’s so different to the generic EDM-hip-hop-pop lyrically-vapid tuneless mush that makes up the bulk of the charts these days. This is an upbeat feelgood song with great lyrics and an awesome chant-along bit near the end.
It’s got a good rhythm, but I could do with some more melody.
Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words
Nice tune, but the rap’s too messy for me.
Track 32: B Young – Jumanji
It’s got an okay beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.
Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline
It’s based heavily around an interpolation of 2002 hit Always On Time by Ja Rule and Ashanti. I just find it very unoriginal.
Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover
Double repeated artist alert! We’ve already had both Notes and Mabel on track 15.
This tune really irritates me.
Track 35: Rak-Su, Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy – Dimelo
This is an interesting one. It was the X Factor winner’s single for 2017, and for the last couple of years the X Factor winner’s single has not been featured on the spring Now! compilation like it used to be – both Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young and Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around were left out, the latter presumably partly because nobody wants to hear an explicitly Christmas-themed song in the spring. Part of this, I believe, is because of the X Factor‘s decline in popularity recently, but it’s meant we’ve not been following an interesting change. Louisa Johnson’s winner’s single was a cover as usual – Forever Young was originally a Bob Dylan song – but Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around was an original song (written by Ed Sheeran), which was a first for the X Factor since Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal, and signalled an interesting move away from its irritating karaoke format. This move towards original songs continued in the 2017 competition, with many of the contestants (notably Rak-Su and Grace Davies) performing tracks they had written themselves.
As such, this winner’s single from Rak-Su is self-written – an upbeat Latin-tinged hip-hop track with great lyrics and a clever interpolation of Wyclef Jean’s lines from Hips Don’t Lie – and as a result it’s the only X Factor winner’s single I’ve ever liked. It’s a great track. It’s just a shame we had to put up with years of awful pointless cover versions to get to this stage.
(I should note that, despite the above essay, I’ve never actually watched the X Factor. My interest in this stuff is purely from a chart geek perspective.)
It’s nice to hear some rock music, but the tune’s a bit dull. It’s got a good retro-sounding instrumental in the middle though.
Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever
This wasn’t actually back in the charts this year (so it’s yet another non-hit, although of course it was a hit on its original release in 1994), but there was an increased awareness of it due to Liam Gallagher performing it at the Brits in tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing victims.
One more thing: I just want to add a quick note about all the non-hits that have littered this playlist. While I’ve only just noticed it with this one, I suspect non-hits have been a thing for quite a few Now! compilations leading up to this, as there have been quite a few instances where I’m surprised I recognise so few of the tracks (as I mentioned in the intro, while it is tough to remember hundreds of generic songs, I have followed the charts religiously this decade and have a good memory).
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I can sort of understand it in a way, as 95% of chart music in the late ’10s is woefully, utterly dire. It’s awful – the worst quality it has ever been in my lifetime. Most of it is completely generic, uninspired and half-arsed, and so I have a bit of sympathy for the Now! compilers deciding to include songs that they think are good but didn’t trouble the charts for whatever reason, rather than yet another terrible identical-sounding EDM track that somehow managed to get to number 24 for a few weeks.
At the same time, what I’ve always liked about the Now! compilations is that they do reflect the most popular music of the time – good and bad. I feel that including songs that weren’t hits, that weren’t soundtracking people’s lives by being played on the radio and on TV shows and at sports events – well, it kind of takes away from the status of these albums as cultural artefacts of the time. I’m a little sad about that. We’ll see what tomorrow brings with the release of the 100th entry in this long music marathon.