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 #92

Day 92 means Now! #92, which brings us to 20th November 2015.

November 2015
This is how the world looked in November 2015 – or how I looked, rather – because this was the year we started going down to London for the Beat:Cancer event in November. I honestly think I looked about fifteen years older when I was bigger, although my improved hair/makeup game has helped too.

Let’s see what the party tunes were that year!  No, they most certainly wouldn’t have been played at Beat:Cancer.

Now! That's What I Call Music #92
Track 1: Sam Smith – Writing’s On The Wall

It’s a Bond theme, so it’s got a good epic atmosphere, even if it is a slow Sam Smith song.

Track 2: Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

Not keen on the tune – it’s a bit depressing.

Track 3: The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

Another tune that I don’t find particularly exciting.  The chorus has quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 4: Calvin Harris and Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

The vocals on this one really irritate me.

Track 5: Naughty Boy, Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’ (Lose It All)

Too slow for my liking, and again the tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 6: Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor – Marvin Gaye

Great upbeat big-band-sounding pop – really like this tune.

Track 7: R City and Adam Levine – Locked Away

One of those songs that’s so dull I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 8: Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Too high-pitched for me – it gives me a headache.

Track 9: Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Irritating tune, but the beat’s okay.

Track 10: Olly Murs – Kiss Me

I like the ’80s-tinged synthy lines on this one.

Track 11: Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Some really nice instrumentals on this track.

Track 12: Little Mix – Love Me Like You

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 13: One Direction – Drag Me Down

Good rhythm, and it builds quite well, but the tune is fairly uninspired.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Cool For The Summer

I really like the synth on this one.

Track 15: Years & Years – Eyes Shut

Nice piano at the start, but it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 16: Grace and G-Eazy – You Don’t Own Me

Cover of the Lesley Gore song.  It was used in the 2015 House of Fraser Christmas advert, so now it’s a feature of the annual Christmas playlists on the music channels.  It’s an okay tune, but in general I find there’s too much going on in this track.

Track 17: Birdy – Wings

Good tune, though it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 18: Aurora – Half The World Away

Cover of the Oasis song, the original being best known as the theme tune to The Royle Family.  This was the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert offering.  It’s a pretty cover, but I find it a little depressing when it shows up on the music channels at Christmas time.

Track 19: Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

Too slow, cheesy and acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Boring, depressing and again far too slow.

Track 21: Selena Gomez and ASAP Rocky – Good For You

Good atmosphere on this one, but as ever I could do with a more interesting tune.

Track 22: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She’s Kinda Hot

Good upbeat bit of pop-rock – the tune’s not that exciting but it’s refreshing to hear something in a different style.

Track 23: The Vamps – Wake Up

Great instrumentals, great atmosphere – shame the song is a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 24: KDA, Tinie Tempah and Katy B – Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)

Great danceable track – really like this tune.

Track 25: Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly

Good beat, but the track’s pretty messy.  I do like the ’70s-tinged lines though.

Track 26: Sigala – Easy Love

Another song that’s too high-pitched – it’s quite painful to listen to.

Track 27: Martin Solveig and GTA – Intoxicated

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

Track 28: MNEK and Zara Larsson – Never Forget You

The vocals annoy me on this one.

Track 29: Diplo and Sleepy Tom – Be Right There

Not sure what I think about the interpolation of Jade’s 1992 hit Don’t Walk Away.  I hadn’t even thought about the original track in years.  It’s certainly the most interesting thing about this track, which is very generic otherwise.

Track 30: Felix Jaehn and Jasmine Thompson – Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)

Interestingly tinkly cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  Obviously nothing can touch the original, but this version’s not horrible.

Track 31: Pia Mia, Chris Brown and Tyga – Do It Again

The beat’s okay, but it’s a pretty generic track.

Track 32: Rudimental and Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ed Sheeran on track 20.

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

Track 33: Sigma and Ella Henderson – Glitterball

Repetitive tune, not enough beat.  Quite like the ’90s tinge though.

Track 34: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Omen

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sam Smith on track 1.

This one’s another dull tune – there’s just nothing interesting about it at all.

Track 35: Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

Interesting track with great rhythm, even if the tune is a bit repetitive.

Track 36: Format:B – Chunky

Irritating, messy dance track with painfully blaring vocals.

Track 37: WSTRN – In2

Starts off with some boring, random chords.  The vocals have got quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 38: Ariana Grande – Focus

Great beat, good solid pop tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 39: Silentó – Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)

I like the videogame-esque beeping on the backing track, but the vocals are daft in an annoying way.

Track 40: Joe Stone and Montell Jordan – The Party (This Is How We Do It)

Remix of Montell Jordan’s 1995 classic (see Now! #31 for review of the original version).  It’s got a good beat, but I was never a huge fan of the original anyway, and the remix has a lot of jarring lines going on.

Track 41: Nick Brewer and Bibi Bourelly – Talk To Me

Messy and uninspired, and the rap is just irritating.

Track 42: KSI and JME – Keep Up

Inspired theme!  Good atmosphere, too.

Track 43: Wretch 32, Anne-Marie and PRGRSHN – Alright With Me

Good rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 44: Philip George and Anton Powers – Alone No More

Cover of the 1998 song by Another Level.  Very repetitive, and it’s another bland tune.

Track 45: Kygo and Ella Henderson – Here For You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ella Henderson on track 33.

The tinkly instrumentals are nice, but the track is slow, and I don’t like slow.

Track 46: Ben Haenow and Kelly Clarkson – Second Hand Heart

Great atmosphere, but the song’s too saccharine for my liking.

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 #85

Day 85 takes us to Now! #85, which was released on 22nd July 2013.

July 2013
This is how the world looked in July 2013. Geth and I were on a trip up to Edinburgh when one of those rare-for-Scotland 30°C days arrived, and the one thing I’d not packed was a swimsuit, so all I could do on this beach trip was paddle. Since then, I’ve packed one every time I’ve gone away during the summer, just in case.

I believe this was a good year for summer hits.  Let’s see if I’m remembering correctly.

Now! That's What I Call Music #85
Track 1: Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky

Great feelgood funk track – love this tune.

Track 2: Robin Thicke, TI and Pharrell Williams – Blurred Lines

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Pharrell Williams on track 1.

This track…urgh.  Infamously and rightly banned by the University of Edinburgh student union, among various other music-playing organisations, because the lyrics are really rapey and gross.  The sad thing is that it would be a really great track if it weren’t for the lyrics, ’cause the tune is great and it’s really danceable.

Track 3: Passenger – Let Her Go

Gorgeous, introspective tune – really like this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

Nice epic atmosphere, great track.

Track 5: Naughty Boy and Sam Smith – La La La

The theme is slightly irritating, but overall it’s an interesting song, which is unusual for an era where most things are really samey.

Track 6: Icona Pop and Charli XCX – I Love It

Great chant-along track – I’ve always really liked this one!

Track 7: John Newman – Love Me Again

Another song that I really like.  The instrumentals are great.

Track 8: Jason Derulo – The Other Side

Forgettable tune, but the chorus is nice and epic.

Track 9: Pink and Lily Allen – True Love

I find this one a bit cheesy and annoying.

Track 10: Taylor Swift – 22

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 11: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna

Every time I run the Great North Run, I find that because it’s the biggest race in the UK and the biggest half marathon in the world – nearly 60,000 runners these days – there’s no shortage of characters to keep me entertained (and believe me, you need that when running along miles and miles of identical-looking motorway).  One guy runs the race with a portable karaoke machine, and last year, when I encountered him, he was doing this song – except he’d changed the lyrics to ‘I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but who cares, I run like Mo Farah‘.  It’s possible you had to be there, but I found it hilarious, and it really got me through the rest of the race.  Thanks for that, portable karaoke guy!

Anyway, it’s another solid pop song.

Track 12: Bruno Mars – Treasure

Bruno Mars still doing his 1980 pastiches – today he’s aping Michael Jackson.  Good stuff.

Track 13: Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’

This one’s a bit of a dull ballad, so I’m not keen.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

Great song with an awesome epic chorus.  Love it.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Come And Get It

Great tune – love the rhythm on this one.

Track 16: PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble

’90s classic, back in the charts to raise money for Childline.  It actually got to number one this time round, probably because Ant & Dec had promised to perform it on Saturday Night Takeaway.  It’s still as enjoyably daft as it was in 1994.

Track 17: Iggy Azalea – Bounce

Good beat, but there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 18: Fuse ODG – Antenna

Love the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 19: Nelly – Hey Porsche

The theme really irritates me, and the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 20: Paramore – Still Into You

Great tune, though the theme is a bit cheesy.

Track 21: Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

I was talking about this one yesterday when reviewing the identically-titled Rita Ora song.  On the whole it’s a bit dull, but it’s got a great chorus.

Track 22: Gabz – Lighters (The One)

Cringeworthy kiddie vocals, appallingly cheesy theme.  Just awful.

Track 23: Rudimental and Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night

Great beat, okay tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 24: Jessie J, Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal – Wild

Bland tune on the verses, but the chorus is okay.

Track 25: Duke Dumont and A*M*E – Need U (100%)

I find the vocals really irritating on this one.

Track 26: will.i.am and Justin Bieber – #thatPOWER

Very generic electro lines, boring tune.

Track 27: David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon – Play Hard

Great rhythm, great bassline, great Better Off Alone sample.  Annoying video, but you can’t have everything.

Track 28: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love

I’ve always found the tune on this one very irritating.

Track 29: Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment

Annoying, repetitive track, but the Take On Me interpolation is quite fun.

Track 30: Sebastian Ingrosso, Tommy Trash and John Martin – Reload

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 31: Armin van Buuren and Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like

Fairly bland dance song with an annoying chorus.

Track 32: Chase & Status and Louis Mattrs – Lost And Not Found

Nice atmosphere, but the vocals are really dull.

Track 33: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

Another boring tune, one of those ‘summer chillout’ tracks that were all the rage at the time.

Track 34: Disclosure and Eliza Doolittle – You And Me

Dull and forgettable.

Track 35: Breach – Jack

Very little melody in this – just drum machine, spoken word and fairly tuneless bassline – but at least it’s something different.

Track 36: Wiley, Angel and Tinchy Stryder – Lights On

Bland tune, but at least this one’s actually got a tune.  Very forgettable though.

Track 37: Dizzee Rascal and Robbie Williams – Goin’ Crazy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dizzee Rascal on track 24.

Interesting rhythm, but again the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 38: Psy – Gentleman

Follow-up to Gangnam Style that obviously wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the original.

Track 39: The 1975 – Chocolate

Love this tune – great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 40: Union J – Carry You

Saccharine and bland.

Track 41: The Saturdays – Gentleman

A slightly more standard song about a ‘gentleman‘ than Psy’s attempt above.  It’s actually quite edgy for the Saturdays, and I like the retro references in the lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 42: Charlie Brown – On My Way

Slow ballad, not my thing.

Track 43: Tom Odell – Another Love

Lovely piano at the start, and it’s got a nice atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 44: Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day

Nice and upbeat, but the song’s a bit too cheesy for me.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #83

Day 83 equals Now! #83, which brings us to 19th November 2012 – just four days before mine and Geth’s wedding.

November 2012
This is the way the world looked in November 2012. Not every day looks like your wedding day – to put it mildly – but on that day the world looked very good indeed, and so did we.

I am proud to report that we played absolutely none of the following songs at our wedding disco.  Not even Gangnam Style.

Now! That's What I Call Music #83
Track 1: Psy – Gangnam Style

It’s still hilarious nearly six years later, and very danceable, even if you’re not inclined to do the comedy dance that goes with the song.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Candy

Nice feelgood tune that gave Robbie Williams an unexpected number one later in his career.  Good song.

Track 3: Swedish House Mafia and John Martin – Don’t You Worry Child

The theme is pretty cheesy, and the tune is a bit bland.

Track 4: Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Great folk-pop track with an awesome singalong chorus – really like this one.

Track 5: The Wanted – I Found You

Good danceable track, but the tune’s a bit bland.

Track 6: Calvin Harris and Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing

Another boring tune – not keen on this one.

Track 7: Maroon 5 – One More Night

Great reggae-tinged beat – this one’s a great head-nodder.

Track 8: Wiley, Skepta, JME and Dayo Olatunji – Can You Hear Me? (Ayayaya)

Love those steel drums at the start – good tune, great rhythm.

Track 9: Flo Rida – I Cry

I quite like the tune on this one – despite the title, it’s quite feelgood.

Track 10: Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

Irritating tune, even more irritating theme.

Track 11: Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time

Another annoying tune, and the theme is really cheesy.

Track 12: Katy Perry – Wide Awake

Again, a very bland tune.

Track 13: Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Great beat, and I love the instrumentals.

Track 14: Little Mix – Wings

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 15: Stooshe – Waterfalls

Uninspired cover of the TLC classic.  What’s kind of irritating is that the surviving members of TLC show up in the video.

Track 16: JLS – Hottest Girl In The World

Good beat, but in general I find this track a bit messy and jarring.

Track 17: Nicki Minaj – Pound The Alarm

Another very danceable track, another fairly forgettable tune.

Track 18: Redlight – Lost In Your Love

Dull, repetitive tune, and the messy beat gives me a headache.

Track 19: Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)

Boring, bland track – not enough melody for me.

Track 20: Cheryl – Under The Sun

It’s got quite a nice retro tinge, but the tune’s fairly forgettable.

Track 21: Wiley and Dayo Olatunji – Heatwave

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Wiley and Dayo Olatunji on track 8.

Great rhythm, but the vocals are repetitive and irritating (and it’s never clear whether the lyric is ‘body‘ or ‘party‘).

Track 22: Sam & The Womp – Bom Bom

Daft track that’s a lot of fun.  Happily chair-dancing right now.

Track 23: Labrinth and Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful

I know the grammar of that title looks horrible – it’s actually because they’re using ‘beautiful’ as a noun rather than misspelling ‘you’re’.  Still wrong, but not a your/you’re fail.  ‘Beneath Your Beauty’ is what they actually mean.

Anyway, the song’s a slow, saccharine ballad, and I’m not keen on those.

Track 24: The Script and will.i.am – Hall Of Fame

Collaboration cooked up between will.i.am and Script singer Danny O’Donoghue, who were both coaches on The Voice at the time.  It’s a bit awkward and poor.

Track 25: Florence & The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris Remix]

Not technically a repeated artist alert, but this is the second collaboration between Florence Welch and Calvin Harris on this Now! compilation.

This tune is epic and gorgeous.  Lovely stuff.

Track 26: David Guetta and Sia – She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)

Boring, forgettable tune, and I don’t find any of the hooks very interesting.

Track 27: Calvin Harris and Example – We’ll Be Coming Back

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Calvin Harris on track 6, and sort of on track 25.

Nice atmosphere though, and the tune’s quite pretty.

Track 28: Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen

I find this one pretty dull.

Track 29: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Wonder

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Emeli Sandé on track 23.

Not keen on this tune – I find it a bit twee.

Track 30: Conor Maynard and Ne-Yo – Turn Around

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ne-Yo on track 10.

This one’s another boring, uninspired tune.

Track 31: One Direction – Live While We’re Young

Extremely bland tune – very forgettable.

Track 32: Chris Brown – Don’t Wake Me Up

Irritating spoken word bit at the start, dull saccharine vocals.  Not a fan.

Track 33: Amelia Lily – You Bring Me Joy

Another dull, forgettable song.

Track 34: Fun – Some Nights

Good tune – there’s something a bit folk-rock about this one.

Track 35: Example – Say Nothing

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

This is another bland, uninspired tune.

Track 36: Lawson – Taking Over Me

Too cheesy for me.

Track 37: Karmin – Brokenhearted

Yet another forgettable song.

Track 38: Trey Songz – Simply Amazing

Again, this one’s far too saccharine for my liking.

Track 39: Simple Plan and Sean Paul – Summer Paradise

Nice jaunty track, though it’s a bit cheesy.

Track 40: Angel – Wonderful

This tune’s okay, and there are some interesting instrumentals going on too.

Track 41: Devlin and Ed Sheeran – Watchtower

The chorus samples/covers Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower, and there’s also a bit of the guitar riff from the Jimi Hendrix version.  Other than that, it’s mainly a rap, which I’m not keen on.

Track 42: Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait

I find this tune really dull, and a bit depressing.

Track 43: Elbow – One Day Like This

2008 hit that was back in the charts for 2012 – I can’t remember why.  Classic tune though, and that repeated anthemic hook at the end is epic.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #75

Day 75 brings us to Now! #75, which came out on 29th March 2010.

March 2010
This is the way the world looked in March 2010…if you were attending a ceilidh in a slightly darkened room. I’m so glad I’ve lost the weight and don’t have to wear those shapeless black dresses anymore.

Can you believe we’re three quarters of the way through this Now! marathon?  That’s like being 19.65 miles of the way into an actual marathon.  Only 6.55 miles to go – that’s easy!  I will remember this moment when I’m 19.65 miles of the way through the London Marathon next April (spoiler: I almost certainly will not).

Also, we’re finally into the 2010s, the fourth and final decade of the Now! compilations so far (and also my life so far).  Having followed the charts very closely this decade, I can say with certainty that the remaining Now! compilations will definitely be better than the ’00s ones.  The ’00s was a real low for music.  (Except 2009, when it picked up.)  Thankfully I don’t have to listen to those again!

Now! That's What I Call Music #75
Track 1: Lady Gaga – Bad Romance

Stunning, classic electropop track – brilliant right from the a cappella intro.  Great stuff.

Track 2: 3OH!3 and Katy Perry – Starstrukk

I love this track, even with the silly whistling bit during the verse.  Awesome party song.

Track 3: The Black Eyed Peas – Meet Me Halfway

Beautiful tune!  The video‘s gorgeous too.

Track 4: JLS – Everybody In Love

Far too cheesy for me, I’m afraid!

Track 5: Iyaz – Replay

Another great tune – really like this one.

Track 6: Tinie Tempah and Labrinth – Pass Out

Love the daft lyrics, and it’s got a great atmosphere.

Track 7: Kesha – Tik Tok

Another good party song – and the vocal style was refreshingly different at this point.

Track 8: Timbaland and Katy Perry – If We Ever Meet Again

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

Love the chorus though – good track.

Track 9: Jason Derulo – In My Head

The tune’s a bit generic, but it’s still a good danceable song.

Track 10: Rihanna – Rude Boy

Nice atmosphere, interesting vocals.  Another great track.

Track 11: Chipmunk and Talay Riley – Look For Me

This one’s a bit bland and forgettable, and the chorus is annoying.

Track 12: Glee Cast – Don’t Stop Believin’

Cover of the ’80s Journey classic by the cast of hit TV show Glee.  This cover resulted in the original version – which had never actually been a hit in the UK when it was released in the ’80s – becoming a huge song during 2010 and staying prominent for the rest of the decade so far (I hear it played at every half marathon I run).  I’m not complaining – both versions are awesome and epic.

Track 13: Gabriella Cilmi – On A Mission

Great ’70s disco throwback track!  Love it.

Track 14: Alexandra Burke – Broken Heels

Another great party tune – very danceable.

Track 15: Sugababes – About A Girl

Great dance beat, but the tune’s pretty generic.

Track 16: The Saturdays – Ego

There’s something about the tune that’s a little irritating, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 17: Jedward and Vanilla Ice – Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)

So we had Vanilla Ice sampling Queen and David Bowie’s 1981 song Under Pressure in 1989 for Ice Ice Baby, which was already considered fairly sacreligious, and then in 2010 we had Jedward doing a medley of both tracks and getting Vanilla Ice to help out with vocals.  It’s as awful as you might expect, but it somehow got to number two in the charts.

Track 18: Justin Bieber – One Time

Bieber in his early ‘fifteen and squeaky’ era.  It’s sort of half laughable and half headache-inducing.

Track 19: Jay Sean, Sean Paul and Lil’ Jon – Do You Remember

Good tune, but I can’t listen to it without hearing Sean Paul’s opening vocals as ‘got dirty egg‘, thanks to presenter Reggie Yates pointing it out on the Radio 1 chart show at the time.

Track 20: Pixie Lott – Cry Me Out

Too ballad-y and slow for me.

Track 21: Joe McElderry – The Climb

The annual inclusion of the previous year’s X Factor winner.  This is the one from 2009 that didn’t get the Christmas number one thanks to the much-publicised campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name to number one instead.  That campaign reinvigorated my interest in the music charts after a few years of being Too Busy Being Goth, and led to my decision to follow the charts for the entirety of the 2010s to see how the decade would pan out musically.  Halfway through 2018, that particular habit is still going, and I expect it will last into the 2020s and beyond.

Anyway, the track.  It’s a pointless cover of the Miley Cyrus song, and there’s nothing else to say about it.

Track 22: Helping Haiti – Everybody Hurts

Charity cover of the REM classic by too many artists to mention.  There’s some interesting voice-spotting to be done, but the point of this cover, as ever with these things, was fundraising to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Track 23: Alicia Keys – Empire State Of Mind [Part II]

It’s Part II because this is the slow piano version.  Part I was a more upbeat song with Jay-Z rapping the main verses.  I prefer Part I, but that’s mainly ’cause I’m not into slow songs – this is still a great tune.

Track 24: Owl City – Fireflies

It’s a bit twee, but it’s a gorgeous tune – love that chorus.

Track 25: Jay-Z and Mr Hudson – Young Forever

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

The track is mainly a cover of the chorus and first verse from Alphaville’s Forever Young, which is fairly pointless but still great, ’cause it’s a great song.  The rest is filled in by rapping from Jay-Z, which is okay, but I’m definitely lining up the original to play later on.

Track 26: Cheryl and will.i.am – 3 Words

Lovely melancholy tune, quite like this one.

Track 27: Robbie Williams – You Know Me

Nice tune, but for some reason the music channels always put this on their Christmas playlists, so it’s got festive associations for me now.

Track 28: Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

Well, we often have repeated artists on these Now! compilations, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a repeated song!  We already had the Glee Cast doing this song on track 12.

As I explained up-page, the Glee cover made this one a big hit too, and deservedly so, seeing as how it was overlooked by the UK music-buying public in the ’80s.  The piano intro is just beautiful, the lyrics are immense, and the tune is epic.

Track 29: Florence & The Machine – Dog Days Are Over

I find Florence & The Machine’s stuff a bit samey, and this is no exception.  There’s not really anything interesting about the tune, though the vocals are nice.

Track 30: Marina & The Diamonds – Hollywood

Gorgeous, unique track!  Great lyrics, awesomely different vocals.  Love this one.

Track 31: Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed

Beautiful tune.  It was Ellie Goulding’s debut and, as far as I’m concerned, one of her best ever songs.

Track 32: Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror

Wonderful rock track – I love the tune, and the way it builds is stunning!  I’m almost certain we’ll hear the X Factor cover version in three days’ time so I’ll skip ranting about that for now.

Track 33: Plan B – Stay Too Long

Nice retro-sounding rock track, quite like this one.  If I weren’t the queen of misheard lyrics, I’d make an effort to listen to the concept album of which it was part.  As it is, I’d probably be better off just reading the lyrics to all the songs in order to understand the story.

Track 34: Naughty Boy, Wiley and Emeli Sandé – Never Be Your Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the White Town classic with added rapping.  Always a great tune, but the original is obviously better.

Track 35: Example – Won’t Go Quietly

Great, atmospheric dance track.  Really like this one.

Track 36: Sidney Samson and Wizard Sleeve – Riverside (Let’s Go!)

Another highly danceable track – I really like the rap style.

Track 37: Gramophonedzie – Why Don’t You

Interesting track based around a sample of Peggy Lee’s Why Don’t You Do Right? from 1947.  Quite like this.

Track 38: Lemar – The Way Love Goes

I find this one a bit saccharine, but it’s got a good beat and the piano is nice.

Track 39: N-Dubz and Mr Hudson – Playing With Fire

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Mr Hudson on track 25.

Nice epic atmosphere on the chorus, but the rest of the tune’s fairly generic.

Track 40: Chiddy Bang – Opposite Of Adults

Love the electro hook, which is a sample from Kids by MDMT.  Nothing much else interesting here, though.

Track 41: Young Money and Lloyd – BedRock

Irritatingly daft track based around the infamously appalling Fred Flintstone pick-up line.  If you ignore the lyrics, it’s actually okay.

Track 42: McLean – My Name

I find the tune on this one pretty uninspired.

Track 43: Rihanna – Russian Roulette

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rihanna on track 10.

I find both the lyrics and tune on this one a bit depressing.  Not the best way to end what has been an excellent Now! compilation!