Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #103

It’s the annual summer Now! release – Now! 103 has been released today, 19th July 2019.

July 2019
This is how the world looks in July 2019, with me and Geth out racing again.

Let’s see which recent tracks have been included.

Now! That's What I Call Music #103

Track 1: Lil’ Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus – Old Town Road [Remix]

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I’ve still got a real soft spot for this comedy cowboy rap track, especially since Billy Ray Cyrus showed up on the chorus for this new version.

Track 2: Ed Sheeran, Chance The Rapper and PnB Rock – Cross Me

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one’s a bit of a grower and a fairly frequent earworm.

Track 3: Billie Eilish – Bad Guy

New Hits Friday review.

This one, conversely, has got more annoying. I quite liked it when I first heard it, but I find it overplayed now.

Track 4: Avicii and Aloe Blacc – SOS

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve always quite liked these EDM-bluegrass tracks that Avicii did, and it’s nice if bittersweet that we’re getting the posthumous releases now.

Track 5: Katy Perry – Never Really Over

New Hits Friday review.

This is another one that I’m starting to find irritating after hearing it so often!

Track 6: Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored

New Hits Friday review.

This was released back in February and was a fairly frequent earworm for me in the early spring, but I’ve not heard it in months so I’m a bit surprised the Now! compilers have held it over for this compilation. It’s another one that annoys me now.

Track 7: Meduza and Goodboys – Piece Of Your Heart

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

It’s a very catchy chorus, so I can understand why it was such a big hit, but again I just find it really irritating now after months of radio play!

Track 8: Stormzy – Vossi Bop

New Hits Friday review.

I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve really grown to like this atmospheric track!

Track 9: Shawn Mendes – If I Can’t Have You

New Hits Friday review.

I still quite like this tune! (I’m also endlessly confused by the lyric ‘I’m in Toronto and I got this view/But I might as well be in a hotel room’ – if he’s visiting Toronto, and he’s not in a hotel room, then where is he? Staying with a friend who has a really good view? Why is this not explained in the song?)

Track 10: Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello – Find U Again

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Still very fond of this pop track!

Track 11: Mabel – Mad Love

New Hits Friday review.

This is another song that has really grown on me.

Track 12: Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Again, I’m starting to get a bit weary of this one due to radio overplay.

Track 13: Pink and Cash Cash – Can We Pretend

Not a hit – it only got to number 88. The album got to number one, though.

It’s a good pop tune, if a little cheesy for my liking.

Track 14: Jess Glynne and Jax Jones – One Touch

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one is really, really grating after a few listens! Not a fan at all.

Track 15: Zara Larsson – Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me

New Hits Friday review.

I quite like the upbeat backing track, but on the whole I find this one a bit forgettable.

Track 16: CamelPhat and Jake Bugg – Be Someone

Not a hit – it only got to number 59.

I’m a bit surprised to hear indie singer-songwriter Jake Bugg on one of CamelPhat’s dance tracks, but his voice actually works quite well here.

Track 17: Jax Jones, Martin Solveig and Madison Beer – All Day And Night

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Jax Jones on track 14.

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

The hook is a bit annoying, but I still find this one very danceable.

Track 18: Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days

New Hits Friday review.

Another track that has really grown on me – great beat and great funk bassline.

Track 19: Little Mix – Bounce Back

New Hits Friday review.

It’s okay pop, but I find it a bit uninspired, and the Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) interpolation is slightly insipid.

Track 20: Jonas Blue and Theresa Rex – What I Like About You

New Hits Friday review.

This one is too cheesy for me and very forgettable.

Track 21: The Chainsmokers and 5 Seconds Of Summer – Who Do You Love?

New Hits Friday review.

I’m not keen on the tune, and that chorus is super annoying.

Track 22: Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I said when I first heard this that I thought it would become a frequent earworm, and it certainly has. It’s also become one of my favourite tracks in the chart at the moment.

Track 23: Jonas Brothers – Cool

New Hits Friday review.

It’s not really my thing, but at least it’s got a tune.

Track 24: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had 5 Seconds Of Summer on track 21.

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve not changed my opinion on this one – it’s still squeaky and annoying. It’s also a terrible earworm, which makes it even more irritating.

Track 25: Steel Banglez, AJ Tracey and Mostack – Fashion Week

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one a bit repetitive.

Track 26: Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello – Señorita

Double repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Shawn Mendes on track 9 and Camila Cabello on track 10.

New Hits Friday review.

I’ve not been to dance class for a few weeks but I fully expect to hear this slow Latin-tinged track as cooldown music when I go back.

Track 27: Lewis Capaldi – Hold Me While You Wait

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

Pretty tune as ever from Lewis Capaldi. Nice chillout music.

Track 28: Ariana Grande and Victoria Monét – Monopoly

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 6.

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one pretty dull.

Track 29: Avicii – Heaven

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

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

This one’s a nice feelgood summery tune.

Track 30: David Guetta and Raye – Stay (Don’t Go Away)

Not a hit – it only got to number 41.

Nice atmospheric dance track with a slightly retro feel.

Track 31: Bastille – Joy

Not a hit – it only got to number 46. The album got to number four, though.

I find this tune a bit depressing, which I don’t think is the intention!

Track 32: Elton John and Taron Egerton – (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again

Not actually released as a single – this is from the Rocketman soundtrack album, which got to number five.

I’ve not seen the film, but this is a fairly straightforward semi-cover (I would call it pointless if it weren’t meant to be a close replica!).

Track 33: Kylie Minogue – New York City

Not actually released as a single – this is a bonus track from her recent compilation album Step Back In Time: The Definitive Collection, which got to number one.

The track has a great disco feel, and I love the spoken word intro.

Track 34: Ellie Goulding – Sixteen

New Hits Friday review.

I still find this one saccharine and irritating.

Track 35: OneRepublic – Rescue Me

Not a hit – it only got to number 52.

I really like the guitar on this one.

Track 36: Dominic Fike – 3 Nights

New Hits Friday review.

I do still like this, but I’m finding it to be a bit overplayed at the moment.

Track 37: Lighthouse Family – My Salvation

Not actually released as a single – this is from their recent album Blue Sky In My Head, which got to number three.

Great atmosphere on this track – I’m tempted to check out the album now!

Track 38: Emeli Sandé – Sparrow

Not a hit, and not released properly as a single, though it did get to number 53 on the official download charts.

It’s a pretty tune with nice tinkly instrumentals, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 39: Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

Not a hit – it only got to number 65.

I find the song a bit dull, but it’s good to see indie-ish stuff on here alongside the pop and rap tracks.

Track 40: Liam Gallagher – Shockwave

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still gutted that, other than this track and a brief appearance by Catfish & The Bottlemen, there has been absolutely no rock music in the charts in 2019. I’m really hoping this trend reverses itself at some point during the 2020s!

Track 41: James Arthur – Falling Like The Stars

New Hits Friday review, plus video review.

I can’t stand this one. It’s way too saccharine for me, and the lyrics contain James Arthur’s favourite ‘romantic trope’ about holding girls’ hair back while they vomit due to overconsumption of alcohol. I have very little patience for that kind of message.

Track 42: Westlife – Better Man

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s still too cheesy for me.

Track 43: Taron Egerton – Rocketman

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Taron Egerton on track 32.

Again, this one is from the Rocketman soundtrack and hasn’t been released as an actual single.

It’s another straightforward cover – Taron Egerton’s voice is sort of similar but not identical to Elton’s, which gives it a slight uncanny valley feel.

Track 44: Himesh Patel – Yesterday

Here’s another soundtrack song – this one is from the soundtrack to Yesterday, which got to number 40 in the album chart.

Like the Elton covers, this is arranged pretty identically to the Beatles original, which, as I understand it from reading about the film’s plot, is to be expected.

Track 45: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)

We’ve already had this track on Now! #3…because the Now! compilers are doing exactly the same thing as they did on the last compilation, and so the last few tracks are all bonus tracks that originally appeared on the third release back in 1984! Now! #3 is also being re-released today, on CD for the first time. I really need to start picking up these re-releases again – I got Now! #1 on CD last summer but haven’t bought Now! #2 yet.

Because the Now! company was posting Duran Duran pictures in order to tease the re-release on social media, I was hopeful that they’d include The Reflex as a bonus track, but sadly there was no love for it this time round – I’ll just have to enjoy the original White Lines (famously a DD cover a decade later) instead!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 10.

Track 46: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion

Love OMD and I’m gutted I missed out on tickets for their upcoming tour!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 4.

Track 47: The Weather Girls – It’s Raining Men

Still a party classic!

See my review on Now! #3 – track 26.

Track 48: Nik Kershaw – I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Not my favourite Nik Kershaw track, but still a good tune.

See my review on Now! #3 – track 2.

We’ll return to the world of Now! in the autumn for Now! #104 (and presumably a re-release of Now! #4!).

New Hits Friday: 14th June 2019

Eight new hits in the chart today!

Mostack and Fredo – I’m The One

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.)

New Hits Friday: 24th May – 7th June 2019

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!).

New Hits Friday: 22nd-29th March 2019

Two weeks’ worth of New Hits today seeing as I didn’t manage it last week!

On the 22nd of March, there were three new hits in the chart.

Lizzo – Juice

Great classic retro-sounding tune! Really, really like this one.

The video does not disappoint – it is absolute gold, chock full of 20th century retro. I am going to be watching this over and over!

Ava Max – So Am I

Another solid pop tune from Ava Max. Good stuff!

The video is a sort of alt-tinged homage to Britney Spears’ classic 1999 video for …Baby One More Time. I really quite like it!

Marshmello and Chvrches – Here With Me

It’s a bit saccharine, and I’m missing the good synths you usually get with Chvrches, but it’s quite a nice tune, and I like the way it gets more epic on the chorus.

They’ve not released the official video yet, but they have done this placeholder one with lots of cool neon effects.

This week saw another four new hits enter the top 40.

George Ezra – Pretty Shining People

First time in the chart for this track due to George Ezra’s recent tour. Nothing to do with the similarly-titled REM song! It’s a standard nice upbeat George Ezra tune with a good singalong chorus.

The video is a fairly twee story about George being executive-meddled by some little kids. There are some excellent retro touches in the set dressing though!

Meduza – Piece Of Your Heart

Cheesy upbeat vocals over dark atmospheric instrumentals, which is a bit jarring. Good beat though.

There’s no video for this one yet.

Russ and Tion Wayne – Keisha And Becky

They really like these two women, but they don’t like the idea of putting any semblance of a tune in the track. The backing track to the rap is really dull and repetitive. I do like the reciting of the women’s names in the chorus, though.

I’ve got a horrible feeling that I already know what this video’s going to be like before I watch it.

I was right. It’s all cars and twerking girls. Highly NSFW, and not my thing.

Steel Banglez, AJ Tracey and Mostack – Fashion Week

There are some nice chilled steel drums going on in the background here, but the track in general is a bit repetitive.

There’s an awful lot of ‘sitting around on a kitchen island’ in this video! Towards the end they go outside and start standing around by a car instead, which is more familiar territory for videos in 2019.

More new hits next week!

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.