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 #99

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Another tune that really annoys me.

Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still

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

Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something

I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.

Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?

Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.

Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends

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

Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse

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

Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby

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

Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You

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

Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe

Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.

Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.

Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise

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

Track 13: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

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

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

Track 14: Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

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

Track 15: Mabel and Notes – Fine Line

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

Track 16: Sigrid – Strangers

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

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Guilty

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

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

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

Track 18: Pink – Beautiful Trauma

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

Track 19: James Arthur – Naked

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

Track 20: Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

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

Track 21: Calum Scott – You Are The Reason

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

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

Track 22: Sam Smith – One Last Song

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

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

Good tune – quite like this one.

Track 24: Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign – Psycho

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

Track 25: Blocboy JB and Drake – Look Alive

Not enough melody for me.

Track 26: Khalid – Location

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

Great atmosphere and classic feel – quite like this one.

Track 27: NF – Let You Down

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

Track 28: Ramz – Barking

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

Track 29: J Hus – Bouff Daddy

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s boring.

Track 30: Cliq and Alika – Wavey

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

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

Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words

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

Track 32: B Young – Jumanji

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

Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline

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

Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover

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

This tune really irritates me.

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 37: Sza and Calvin Harris – The Weekend

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

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

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

Another generic, irritating tune.

Track 39: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Want You Back

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

Track 40: Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

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

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

Track 41: Maroon 5 – Wait

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

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

Track 42: James Bay – Wild Love

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

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

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

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

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

This one, meanwhile, only got to number 92.

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

Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever

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

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

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

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #97

Day 97 equals Now! #97, which was released on 21st July 2017.

July 2017
This is how the world looked in July 2017, the morning of the day Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor and hence the last day I was able to wear that T-shirt without it being out of date. I was planning to get some iron-on stickers for it, but then it got far too big for me anyway!

Last year’s summer hits were pretty good from what I remember.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #97
Track 1: Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber – Despacito

Gorgeous Latin summer tune, deservedly one of the biggest hits of the year.

Track 2: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper and Lil’ Wayne – I’m The One

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Justin Bieber on track 1.

This is an extremely irritating track with too many rappers on it, none of whom contribute anything good.

Track 3: Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – Feels

Great funk rhythm, great tune.  Really like this one.

Track 4: Jonas Blue and William Singe – Mama

This tune really irritates me.

Track 5: Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson – Symphony

Gorgeous instrumentals – quite like this track.

Track 6: Little Mix and Stormzy – Power

This is one that was used in Zumba class last year – I love the vocals.

Track 7: Liam Payne and Quavo – Strip That Down

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Quavo on track 2.

I really like the rhythm on this one – it’s very danceable.

Track 8: The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – Something Just Like This

I find this tune insanely irritating, and the theme’s horribly twee.

Track 9: David Guetta and Justin Bieber – 2U

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on both track 1 and track 2.  Nobody needs that much Bieber on a Now! compilation!

This one’s a dull, forgettable tune.

Track 10: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

I really like the classic feel to this – there’s something about it that reminds me of the slower dramatic examples of glam rock.

Track 11: Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

Cheesy and annoying.

Track 12: Rita Ora – Your Song

I really like this one – great tune, great electro lines.

Track 13: Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable

Excruciatingly boring tune.

Track 14: Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

Great rhythm, great lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 15: Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign – Swalla

I love this one!  It’s really danceable, and the vocals are awesome.

Track 16: Katy Perry and Migos – Bon Appétit

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Katy Perry on track 3.

This tune is highly dull and generic.  I’m starting to wonder how all these half-arsed attempts at tunes are becoming hits.

Track 17: Nick Jonas, Anne-Marie and Mike Posner – Remember I Told You

Another track that’s so boring I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 18: Lady Gaga – The Cure

A slower track from Lady Gaga, but I like the dramatic feel.  Would have been even better if the lyrics had been about the Cure as in the band though!

Track 19: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

Love the atmosphere of this one, and the interpolation of the melody from Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle is done really well.

Track 20: Niall Horan – Slow Hands

The theme irritates me, and I can’t get on with the rhythm.

Track 21: Miley Cyrus – Malibu

Pretty tune – I find some of the lyrics a bit grating, but it’s got a nice summery feel.

Track 22: Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Originally released in 2014, back in the charts to raise money after the Manchester Arena attack.  It’s a gorgeous tune, but I find the theme uncomfortable.

Track 23: French Montana and Swae Lee – Unforgettable

Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 24: Sigala and Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love

Another tune that I find really irritating.

Track 25: Maggie Lindemann – Pretty Girl [Cheat Codes X Cade Remix]

Annoying tune, but the theme is the real issue here – cloying and vomit-inducingly smug.

Track 26: The Weeknd – Rockin’

Forgettable and dull.

Track 27: Little Mix and Machine Gun Kelly – No More Sad Songs

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

Another annoying tune.

Track 28: Jax Jones, Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don – Instruction

I really like this one – great beat, great theme.

Track 29: Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato – No Promises

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Demi Lovato on track 28.

Again, I don’t like the tune.

Track 30: Disciples – On My Mind

Great track – good tune, very danceable.

Track 31: J Hus – Did You See

Interesting track – I like the lyrics.

Track 32: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Another interesting song – there’s some great lines here.  I quite like this one.

Track 33: Future – Mask Off

I really like the melancholy tune on the backing track – it’s gorgeous.

Track 34: Kygo and Ellie Goulding – First Time

Twee, saccharine and bland.

Track 35: Martin Garrix and Troye Sivan – There For You

Another tune I just can’t get into.

Track 36: Rudimental and James Arthur – Sun Comes Up

Generic, annoying tune.

Track 37: Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls

It’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like this one.

Track 38: Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

Good retro sound, even better retro video.

Track 39: Neiked and Mimi – Call Me

Nice feelgood tune, but the vocals are really irritating.

Track 40: Raye – The Line

Nothing exciting about this one.

Track 41: Fifth Harmony and Gucci Mane – Down

Repetitive and dull.

Track 42: Haim – Want You Back

Again, I just can’t get excited about this tune.  I do like the retro tinge on the instrumentals though.

Track 43: JP Cooper – Passport Home

Too slow for me, and the theme’s very cheesy.

Track 44: Take That – Giants

Another boring tune.

Track 45: Artists For Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Charity cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic to raise money for the victims of the Grenfell fire.  There’s some interesting stuff in this version, especially the added rap by Stormzy at the start.

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 #86

Day 86 means Now! #86, which brings us to 18th November 2013.

November 2013
This is the way the world looked in November 2013 (actually December). I call this look ‘goth squeezes into too-small clothes and goes to a wedding’. Not a style highlight. Mum looks nice though!

On with the party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #86
Track 1: Katy Perry – Roar

It’s nice and feelgood, but I find the tune a bit irritating and the theme too cheesy.

Track 2: OneRepublic – Counting Stars

Gorgeous tune, wonderful rhythm.  Love this one.

Track 3: Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – Talk Dirty

It’s very danceable, with a great beat.  The trumpets are awesome too.

Track 4: Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop

This one is really irritating and a bit depressing.

Track 5: Avicii – Wake Me Up

The first of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Great stuff.

Track 6: Storm Queen – Look Right Through [MK Vocal Edit]

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 7: Martin Garrix – Animals

This dance tune, on the other hand, is great!  Love the hook.

Track 8: Ellie Goulding – Burn

One of my favourites from this decade – it’s a stunning tune, and the atmosphere is beautiful.

Track 9: Drake and Majid Jordan – Hold On, We’re Going Home

Quite like the tune on this – there’s something a bit ’80s retro about it.  The video is apparently also set in 1985, although I have to say I never noticed that when watching it at the time!

Track 10: James Arthur – You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You

Moving decades, there’s a slight mid-century tinge to the intro of this rock-edged track.  The theme’s awful, but I quite like the song.

Track 11: Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

A very welcome bit of rock in this pop/EDM/hip-hop dominated decade.  Good stuff.

Track 12: Lorde – Royals

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune, and it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 13: Foxes – Youth

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s really boring.

Track 14: Lady Gaga – Applause

Great track – I love the edge on this.  Another epic atmosphere.

Track 15: Bruno Mars – Gorilla

Again, there’s a great atmosphere on this, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 16: One Direction – Best Song Ever

Horribly cheesy theme, generic tune.

Track 17: Jessie J – It’s My Party

Not a cover of the Lesley Gore song, despite the name.  It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 18: The Vamps – Can We Dance

It’s a bit of a generic pop-rock track, but I quite like it.

Track 19: Lawson – Juliet

Good atmosphere and slight reggae tinge!  Great to hear an actual interesting track from Lawson.

Track 20: The Wanted – Show Me Love (America)

Saccharine ballad, dull tune, though the chorus is okay.

Track 21: James Blunt – Bonfire Heart

Too acoustic-y for me, and the tune’s not very exciting.

Track 22: Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know

Melancholy piano cover of the Keane song, released to soundtrack the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2013.  As I mentioned when reviewing the Keane version on Now! #57, I actually prefer it to the original.

Track 23: Fatboy Slim, Riva Starr and Beardyman – Eat Sleep Rave Repeat [Calvin Harris Remix]

It’s perfectly danceable, but there’s not much of a tune.

Track 24: Calvin Harris and Ayah Marar – Thinking About You

Boring beat, boring tune.  Very generic track.

Track 25: Avicii – You Make Me

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

This one’s got some interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit irritating.

Track 26: DJ Fresh, Diplo and Dominique Young Unique – Earthquake

Great beat – I really like this one.

Track 27: Klangkarussell and Will Heard – Sonnentanz (Sun Don’t Shine)

I find this kind of summer chillout electro really depressing.

Track 28: Lana Del Rey and Cedric Gervais – Summertime Sadness

Stunning tune, lovely melancholy theme.  Big fan of this.

Track 29: will.i.am and Leah McFall – Bang Bang

Awesome jazz-inspired track, released for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby.  Really like this one.

Track 30: Ben Pearce – What I Might Do

There’s nothing exciting going on here – it’s very forgettable.

Track 31: Chase & Status and Moko – Count On Me

Very ’90s-tinged, which I appreciate, but the tune’s pretty bland.

Track 32: Tinie Tempah and John Martin – Children Of The Sun

I find the tune on the chorus a bit irritating, but the rap is good.

Track 33: Sean Paul – Other Side Of Love

Nice tune – quite like this one.

Track 34: Conor Maynard – R U Crazy

Great rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 35: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Lifted

Good beat, but the tune is boring.

Track 36: Rizzle Kicks – Lost Generation

Nice eerie atmosphere – good track.

Track 37: Ray Foxx and Rachel K Collier – Boom Boom (Heartbeat)

Nice tune, and the beat’s great once it gets going.

Track 38: John Newman – Cheating

Some interesting instrumentals going on here.

Track 39: Eliza Doolittle – Big When I Was Little

This one is insanely annoying – I actively dislike both the theme and the vocals.

Track 40: The Saturdays – Disco Love

Awesome classic pop feel, and great 20th century retro references throughout, with a highly recommended video to match!  I remember actually being quite spooked by the accuracy of the 1999 scene in the video, as the hair and makeup is so well done it gave me flashbacks.

Track 41: Wilkinson – Afterglow

I find this tune pretty bland and repetitive.

Track 42: Showtek, We Are Loud and Sonny Wilson – Booyah

Another one that’s pretty unmemorable.

Track 43: Dizzee Rascal and will.i.am – Something Really Bad

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had will.i.am on track 29.

Some interesting lines going on here – quite like this track.

Track 44: Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

Daft novelty song.  Great tune, though.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #84

Day 84 equals Now! #84, which came out on 25th March 2013.

March 2013
This is how the world looked in March 2013 – to be precise, how it looked on Six Nations finale night. My unlucky Scotland jersey, as usual, did nothing to prevent Scotland getting the wooden spoon, but what made up for it was being with about six Welsh people on the night that Wales stole the championship from right under England’s nose, hence the giant Welsh flag that we pinned to the wall. You can imagine how well this went down in a Southampton pub.

Let’s see what the hits were that spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #84
Track 1: One Direction – One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)

Pointless cover mash-up of Blondie’s One Way Or Another and the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks.  This was the Comic Relief single for 2013, so I guess charity fundraising is the excuse for ruining both of these classic songs.

Track 2: will.i.am and Britney Spears – Scream And Shout

I really like this danceable track, especially the well-done callback to Gimme More.

Track 3: Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble

I quite like this tune, and it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 4: Pink and Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason

Great song – love the way the duet works here.

Track 5: Rihanna – Diamonds

Another pretty tune.  Very nice.

Track 6: Bastille – Pompeii

Epic and anthemic – love this one.

Track 7: James Arthur – Impossible

The annual inclusion of the most recent X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, which was not a great song to begin with.

Track 8: Olly Murs and Flo Rida – Troublemaker

I quite like this jaunty track – it’s got a great singalong chorus.

Track 9: Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

This is from my favourite Bruno Mars era, when he started doing all these pastiches of artists that were big circa 1980.  This song sounds like it should have been released by the Police.

Track 10: Kesha – Die Young

Nice beat, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 11: Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not

Irritating vocals, boring tune, and the chorus has a poorly-done interpolation of the Delfonics ’60s song (which was already done much better by the Fugees).  Nothing impressive here.

Track 12: Little Mix – DNA

Great epic atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit weak.

Track 13: The Saturdays and Sean Paul – What About Us

Another bland, forgettable song.

Track 14: Girls Aloud – Something New

Love this one!  Girls Aloud sort of came to a natural finish at the end of the ’00s, and so this special tenth anniversary track is really the only thing they’ve done as a group this decade.  Better one cracker than lots of poor tracks, though, and this song is great.

Track 15: Nicole Scherzinger – Boomerang

Good rhythm, but this is another uninspired tune.

Track 16: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Latch

I appreciate that it’s a bit different from most stuff that was in the charts at the time, but it’s not my kind of thing – the tune is generic and I’m not into this kind of chillout/trance stuff.

Track 17: Rita Ora – Radioactive

I usually get this one confused with the identically-titled Imagine Dragons song that came out around the same time.  This one’s probably my less-preferred (though there’s not much in it – the Imagine Dragons song is pretty dull too), because the tune’s very bland, but it does have a good electro backing track.

Track 18: Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

I quite like the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals annoys me.

Track 19: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

Boring ballad off the Twilight soundtrack, but at least she doesn’t sound quite as horribly off-key as she does in Jar Of Hearts.

Track 20: Emeli Sandé – Clown

I find the theme a bit awkward, and it’s too slow for me.

Track 21: Gabrielle Aplin – The Power Of Love

This was one of the first of the big ‘Christmas advert’ hits that have been a feature of Christmas music this decade.  Take a classic song, record a slow, melancholy, piano-based cover with female vocals, slap it over the top of an expensive John Lewis Christmas advert, debut the advert during an X Factor ad break in early November, job done.  Christmas classic guaranteed.

Of course, this was already a Christmas classic, and has been ever since Frankie Goes To Hollywood released the original in 1984.  Gabrielle Aplin’s version is very pretty, but it doesn’t have the pure emotional power of the Frankie version – Holly Johnson’s performance of the second verse is capable of moving me to tears when I’m in the right place, and Aplin just can’t compare.  Still, it is enjoyable, even if July is really not when I want to be hearing Christmas songs.

Track 22: Avicii and Nicky Romero – I Could Be The One

I love this dance track – obviously it’s got a great beat, but there’s also something very wistful about the vocals.  I actually can’t think of anyone who was better than Avicii (RIP) at emotion-inducing EDM.

Track 23: Bingo Players and Far East Movement – Get Up (Rattle)

Daft tune, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 24: Pitbull and TJR – Don’t Stop The Party

Messy and irritating.

Track 25: Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah – Drinking From The Bottle

Good beat, and I really like Tinie Tempah’s rap on this one.

Track 26: Dizzee Rascal – Bassline Junkie

Daft theme, but I find it very funny.  Good stuff.

Track 27: Wiley, Chipmunk and Dayo Olatunji – Reload

Boring tune, and there’s too much going on with the track.

Track 28: Rudimental, John Newman and Alex Clare – Not Giving In

Slow and dull intro, and the tune’s very irritating.

Track 29: Conor Maynard and Wiley – Animal

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

The rap’s very bland, as is the tune, and the whole thing’s just a bit repetitive.

Track 30: Disclosure and AlunaGeorge – White Noise

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

This one takes ages to get going.  The electro hook’s okay, but the vocals are super bland.

Track 31: Devlin and Diane Birch – Rewind

Another very forgettable song.  Also, part of the melody on the chorus rips off Heart’s Alone, which has been an irritating theme in recent Now! compilations.

Track 32: Lawson – Standing In The Dark

A little more upbeat than previous Lawson tracks, but it’s still a very bland, saccharine song.

Track 33: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

I saw Biffy Clyro once.  It was the worst gig I’ve ever been to.  Not because of Biffy Clyro, I hasten to add – they were fine to listen to, although the heavier stuff they were playing as the second support band in 2003 wasn’t really my thing.  The main act was Linkin Park, who were okay (and I am glad I got to see them given sad future events), but the SECC in Glasgow had done this thing (I don’t know if it was by band request or what) where they barriered off a huge semicircle around the stage and only let about fifteen people into it, leaving the remaining hundreds of gig-goers to squash uncomfortably round the outside of the barrier and completely ruining the atmosphere.  The only person onstage who seemed to be on the audience’s side was Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, the main support band, and I don’t really want to give him credit seeing as how he turned out to be a sex offender.

Anyway, I never went back to the SECC again.  Barrowlands all the way if it was a Glasgow gig, even if I did lose a lot of brain cells and earrings over the years through being booted in the head by crowdsurfers.

I think what I’m trying to say is that this song’s a lot more interesting than the stuff Biffy were doing back in 2003.  I quite like the vocal hook at the start, and the chorus is great.

Track 34: Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)

There’s a nice atmospheric chant-along bit on this one – quite like the track.

Track 35: McFly – Love Is Easy

Twee and irritating.  I should note that Geth appreciated the It’s A Wonderful Life sample though.

Track 36: Ben Howard – Only Love

I find this tune pretty annoying.

Track 37: The Lumineers – Ho Hey

It’s a bit twee, but it’s quite a nice, jaunty song.

Track 38: One Direction – Little Things

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had One Direction on track 1.

This one is an irritating saccharine ballad with an irritating black and white video where One Direction sit around and play acoustic guitars in an attempt to look like serious musicians.  The song was apparently written by Ed Sheeran, which will surprise no one.

It was also number one on Geth’s and my wedding day, which is far from ideal.

Track 39: Pink – Try

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pink on track 4.

This one is a gorgeous tune though – really like it.

Track 40: Gabrielle Aplin – Please Don’t Say You Love Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Gabrielle Aplin on track 21.

The only thing this song achieves is proving that she should have been a one-hit wonder.  Dull and uninspired.

Track 41: Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

1987 classic, back in the charts due to a mobile phone advert.  Not complaining here at all – I’m very partial to Fleetwood Mac, and this is one of my favourites.

Track 42: Ellie Goulding – Explosions

Not keen on that choral bit at the start, and on the whole it’s too slow for me and I don’t find the tune interesting enough.

Track 43: The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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

Charity cover of the ’60s classic to raise funds for Hillsborough victims’ charities, and the Christmas number one for 2012.  Some good voice-spotting to be done here.