Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #61

Day 61 equals Now! #61, which came out on 25th July 2005.

July 2005
This is the way the world looked in July 2005. I had apparently got to that stage in my life and in world history where all photos were either selfies (or ‘MySpace photos’ as they were called in the ’00s), pictures of my cat sleeping in unlikely places, or drunken pub pictures. I’m sure my friends will thank me if I stick to the selfies and cat pictures.

Hoping for some festival rock anthems here and not too much saccharine pop!  Fingers crossed.

Now! That's What I Call Music #61
Track 1: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful

Overplayed and ludicrously saccharine, but it’s been parodied so much and become so infamous that I actually find it quite funny now.

Track 2: 2Pac and Elton John – Ghetto Gospel

Track from 2Pac’s posthumous 2004 album.  It samples Indian Sunset, hence the Elton John credit.  The sample is beautifully used, and works really well with the rap here.

Track 3: Coldplay – Speed Of Sound

Nice tune, nice piano, nice atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 4: Gorillaz and De La Soul – Feel Good Inc

Great beat, great danceable track.  Good stuff.

Track 5: The Black Eyed Peas – Don’t Phunk With My Heart

There’s a bit too much going on here for me, but the sung vocal is quite nice.

Track 6: Audio Bullys and Nancy Sinatra – Shot You Down

Yes, their grammatically correct name should be ‘Audio Bullies’.  Urgh.

The track is basically a remix of Nancy Sinatra’s version of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).  The sample is great, but the rest of the track is pretty dull.

Track 7: Jem – They

Oh, it’s this one!  Really like the vocal harmony hook that runs throughout the track.

Track 8: Natalie Imbruglia – Shiver

It’s quite a nice atmosphere, but the tune’s not interesting enough for me.

Track 9: KT Tunstall – Other Side Of The World

Boring tune, and it’s too acoustic-y for me.

Track 10: Oasis – Lyla

Bland Oasis-by-numbers track.  Nothing interesting here at all.

Track 11: Razorlight – Somewhere Else

Nice anthemic festival rock, really like this one.

Track 12: Bodyrockers – I Like The Way

Love the guitar riff, but it takes until the chorus for the track to get going properly.

Track 13: Kaiser Chiefs – Everyday I Love You Less And Less

It should be ‘every day’, not ‘everyday’.

It’s a great song though – that first Kaiser Chiefs album was really good.  I remember seeing them play an awesome set at T in the Park 2005.

Track 14: Caesars – Jerk It Out

Oh, it’s this one!  Great hook, great tune – really like this track.

Track 15: The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It

Not the most exciting track off the Hot Fuss album, but it’s still a really nice song.

Track 16: Hard-Fi – Hard To Beat

Really like this track – interesting tune, good beat.

Track 17: Weezer – Beverly Hills

Good rock beat, but the tune’s a bit lacking for me.

Track 18: Rob Thomas – Lonely No More

I quite like the tune until it gets to the uninspired chorus.

Track 19: The Magic Numbers – Forever Lost

At the time, I was really not keen on the Magic Numbers as I found their stuff very twee.  I’m still not the biggest fan, but I don’t hate this track as much as I used to.  The tune’s okay.

Track 20: Jack Johnson – Good People

Not my kind of thing – it’s too acoustic-y and I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 21: U2 – Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own

Nice tune, but it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 22: Akon – Lonely

The sample of the sped-up chipmunk version of Bobby Vinton’s Mr Lonely is inspired, and the rest of the track’s okay to listen to.

Track 23: Mario – Let Me Love You

Boring, generic tune.  Not my kind of thing.

Track 24: Gwen Stefani and Eve – Rich Girl

Interesting vocals, great take on If I Were A Rich Man.  It’s actually a cover of the Louchie Lou and Michie One song from 1993, but I’m not familiar with that version.

Track 25: Will Smith – Switch

Great beat, but the song’s a bit dull.

Track 26: MVP – Roc Ya Body (Mic Check 1 2)

Really like the sung vocals on the chorus, and it’s got a good beat.

Track 27: Mariah Carey – It’s Like That

Generic tune, not keen on this one.

Track 28: Nelly – N Dey Say

Love the sample of Spandau Ballet’s True, but the rap over the top just annoys me.

Track 29: Bobby Valentino – Slow Down

Boring tune, nothing redeeming here.

Track 30: Faith Evans – Again

Not keen on the tune – just find it very bland.

Track 31: Joss Stone – Don’t Cha Wanna Ride

Good beat, but again the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 32: Roll Deep – The Avenue

I like the sample of ’80s hit Heartache Avenue, though I’m not too keen on the rap over the top.  This seems to be a theme today.

Track 33: Charlotte Church – Crazy Chick

This was the album where Charlotte Church basically rebelled against her wholesome opera-voiced kid image and went pop instead.  The song’s a bit twee, and the tune’s nothing special.

Track 34: Rachel Stevens – So Good

Great instrumentals, great atmosphere, but the vocals are pretty generic.

Track 35: Inaya Day – Nasty Girl

Cover of the ’80s Vanity 6 song.  Good beat, but it’s another dull, generic tune.

Track 36: Deep Dish – Say Hello

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

Quite like the tune on the instrumentals, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 37: Freeloaders and The Real Thing – So Much Love To Give

The Real Thing’s contribution here is the sample.  Great tune as a result, but it’s a little repetitive.

Track 38: Kylie Minogue – Giving You Up

Good tune, interesting vocals – quite like this one.

Track 39: Girls Aloud – Wake Me Up

Good atmosphere, but I just don’t find the tune interesting enough.

Track 40: Crazy Frog – Axel F

I mentioned my disdain for this awful ringtone-advert cover of the Harold Faltermeyer track way back in my review of the original on Now! #5.  Why anybody spent money on this stuff is beyond me.

Track 41: Tony Christie – Avenues And Alleyways

Tony Christie still riding his wave of resurgence post-Amarillo.  This is a nice tune and the classic style is a refreshing change from regular chart music.

Track 42: McFly – You’ve Got A Friend

Cover of the Carole King classic.  It’s very uninspired and far too acoustic-y for me.

Track 43: Heather Small – Proud

Re-release of the 2000 hit in honour of 2005’s successful London 2012 Olympics bid.  I literally last heard this two days ago, over the PA while waiting in the start pen for the Blaydon Race – it’s still used a lot for sporting events and things like that.  It’s quite a nice, uplifting song.

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

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

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

Let’s see what the hits were that summer!

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

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

Track 2: Spice Girls – Viva Forever

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

Track 3: Karen Ramirez – Looking For Love

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

Track 4: Billie Piper – Because We Want To

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

Track 5: All Saints – Lady Marmalade

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

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

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

Track 7: The Tamperer and Maya – Feel It

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

Track 8: Aqua – Doctor Jones

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

Track 9: Steps – Last Thing On My Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Track 12: Ultra Naté – New Kind Of Medicine

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

Track 13: Lutricia McNeal – Stranded

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

Track 14: Lighthouse Family – Lost In Space

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

Track 15: Boyzone – All That I Need

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

Track 16: All Saints – Under The Bridge

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

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

Track 17: K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life

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

Track 18: Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely

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

Track 19: Sparkle and R Kelly – Be Careful

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

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

Track 20: Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl

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

Track 21: Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

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

Track 22: The Mavericks – Dance The Night Away

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

Track 23: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

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

Track 24: Catatonia – Road Rage

Great, classic singalong track from Catatonia.  Wonderful tune.

Track 25: Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake

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

Track 26: Embrace – Come Back To What You Know

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

Speaking of which…

Track 27: The Verve – Sonnet

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

Track 28: Massive Attack – Teardrop

Great, epic track!  A classic.

Track 29: Mansun – Legacy

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

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

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

However…

Track 31: Fat Les – Vindaloo

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

Track 32: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

Classic track, anthemic hooks.  Great stuff.

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

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

Track 34: Lucid – I Can’t Help Myself

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

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

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

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

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

Track 37: Imaani – Where Are You?

Nice atmosphere to this track, quite like it.

Track 38: Adam Garcia – Night Fever

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

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

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

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

Track 40: Los Umbrellos – No Tengo Dinero

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

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #39

Day 39, and Now! #39 was released on 6th April 1998.

April 1998
This is the way the world looked in April 1998 – warm enough for a barbecue, even in Scotland (not dissimilar to the late April of twenty years later). Holiday caravans haven’t changed much, but I can’t remember the last time I had toasted marshmallows (it’s difficult to find ones that are gelatine-free).

Let’s see what was on the radio twenty years ago this spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #39
Track 1: All Saints – Never Ever

Classic track, great theme, great lyrics, great video.  All Saints never bettered this.

Track 2: Lighthouse Family – High

My favourite Lighthouse Family track – lovely tune.

Track 3: Janet Jackson – Together Again

Oh, it’s this one.  The tune’s okay, but I’ve always found this track a bit so-so.

Track 4: Spice Girls – Stop

This was never my favourite Spice Girls song – I find the tune pretty irritating.

Fun fact: this was the first of their songs not to go straight in at number one – it only reached number two.

Track 5: Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

I still consider this a classic – it’s a gorgeous tune, but it is a bit overplayed nowadays.

Fun fact: this was actually the fourth version of the song, but it’s the one most people know.

Track 6: Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain

Gorgeous tune, really interesting vocals.  Great stuff.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – Angels

Probably Robbie Williams’ most classic track.  It’s a gorgeous ballad, but again it suffers a bit from being overplayed.

Track 8: Various Artists – Perfect Day

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause.

This was everywhere at the time – first as the BBC Music advert and then as the official Children In Need track for 1997.  Gorgeous, epic semi-cover (because Lou Reed was involved, alongside pretty much everybody else!) of the 1972 classic.

Track 9: Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You

Pointless ’90s cover of the Tracy Chapman song.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: I’m still really annoyed that it took me nearly two decades to realise that it WAS originally a Tracy Chapman song.

Track 10: Tin Tin Out and Shelley Nelson – Here’s Where The Story Ends

Electronic cover of the Sundays song.  It’s fairly uninspired.

Track 11: Space and Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

Loved it then, love it now!  Hilarious theme, great track.

Track 12: Texas – Insane

Great atmosphere – really like this one.

Track 13: Hanson – Weird

Loved it at the time, but only because I was a huge Hanson fan.  Because I was the only one of my mates with cable TV at this point, I remember having to sit in front of The Box channel (‘music television YOU control!’ – I’ve discussed this before) for hours, waiting for the video to come on so I could tape it off the TV and give the VHS to my friend who was an even bigger Hanson fan.  Ah, 20th century technology.

But yeah, anyway, I find the song pretty irritating now.

Track 14: LeAnn Rimes – How Do I Live

Hated it then, still hate it now.  Can’t stand the tune, don’t like the style, just not my cup of tea in the slightest.

Track 15: Shania Twain – You’re Still The One

Again, not my thing.  I don’t like country music, especially not country music ballads.

Track 16: Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies

I do love a James Bond theme, and this is no exception.  Great, epic track.

Track 17: Radiohead – No Surprises

Another lovely, melancholy tune from Radiohead.  Great stuff.

Track 18: The Verve – Lucky Man

I’ve never been hugely keen on the droning style of Britpop vocals, and it takes a good song to mitigate them.  This is not quite a good enough song in that respect, although the tune’s okay.

Track 19: Pulp – This Is Hardcore

Great epic atmosphere, lovely instrumentals.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You

Repeated artist alert!  I’m shaking my head in disapproval, Now! compilers.

However, given that this is the best, most epic, most anthemic track that Robbie Williams ever did, I suppose I can forgive them just this once.

Track 21: Catatonia – Mulder And Scully

Great track – love the theme, love the tune.

Track 22: Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha [Norman Cook Remix]

A classic!  Endlessly danceable, great singalong track.  I’m going to make this one today’s top ‘wedding disco’ song.

Track 23: Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

House style re-working of the 1983 track.  This was everywhere at the time, and the video was great.

Track 24: Wildchild – Renegade Master ’98

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

We already had the original on Now! #32, and this version’s really not that different (other than some additional messy sampling), so I am side-eyeing a bit at its inclusion.

Track 25: Bamboo – Bamboogie

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

Oh, it’s this one.  Not the biggest fan of this one, as the lines are pretty messy, but I do like that KC & The Sunshine Band sample.

Track 26: Ultra Naté – Found A Cure

Quite like the guitar riff on the intro of this one, and the vocals are great too.  Good track.

Track 27: Sash! – La Primavera

Great feelgood dance tune, always liked this one.

Track 28: Aqua – Barbie Girl

Great track!  Brilliant theme, brilliant pop tune.  I bought the single of this while on a school trip to France, just because we heard it absolutely everywhere we went.

Track 29: Steps – 5, 6, 7, 8

See, this is the kind of corny faux-line-dance track I can get behind.  Steps were just at the right level of ‘not taking themselves too seriously’ that was perfect for late ’90s pop.

Track 30: Louise – Let’s Go Round Again

Cover of the Average White Band track.  I should find the tune annoying, but I actually quite like it.

Track 31: Chumbawamba – Amnesia

I’ve always loved this follow-up to Tubthumping – it’s another great, danceable track.

Track 32: Camisra – Let Me Show You

Highly irritating vocals, headache-inducing intro, but the main hook is quite pleasant.

Track 33: DJ Quicksilver – Planet Love

The tune’s okay, but the vocal samples are pretty generic.

Track 34: Rest Assured – Treat Infamy

There’s a bit too much going on in this track, but there is quite a soothing atmosphere – right up until the Bitter Sweet Symphony sample kicks in.  Just why?

Track 35: Warren G and Sissel – Prince Igor

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

Really like the instrumentals and the atmosphere, and the rap’s okay as well, but nothing compared to that lovely operatic chorus!  Quite like this one, but it is a bit of an odd mix.

Track 36: Lutricia McNeal – Ain’t That Just The Way

The tune is a little annoying, but otherwise there’s something quite pleasant and feelgood about this track.

Track 37: Prince Buster – Whine And Grine

Reggae track with a bit of a dull tune and an annoying theme.  Not hugely keen on this one.

Track 38: The All Seeing I – The Beat Goes On

Liked it at the time, find it a bit repetitive now.

Track 39: Goldie – Believe

Irritating, messy track – there’s just far too much going on.

Track 40: Backstreet Boys – All I Have To Give

It’s another painfully saccharine track from the Backstreet Boys.  I know they did do ones that were actually quite good, but we’ve not had any on these Now! compilations so far.

Track 41: Vanilla – No Way No Way

Loved it at the time (especially the Muppets-esque ‘mahna mahna’ bit), find the vocals pretty annoying nowadays.