It’s a nice summery tune, but it’s pretty generic. I’m sure Post Malone appreciates the namecheck though!
I quite like the video, which is all colourful backdrops and partying with drag queens. I have to dock it a couple of points for the car-standing, though.
Normani – Motivation
Good danceable pop beat. I find the tune a little forgettable though.
The video-within-a-video has some serious ’90s vibes, and not just because Normani has her birth year emblazoned across her top half the time.
Taylor Swift – Lover
A bit acoustic-y, which is kind of a throwback to her early work. It’s a little slow for me, but it’s nicely put together.
The video IS A CHRISTMAS VIDEO EEK. A little girl sits under a Christmas tree, holding a snowglobe which turns out to contain Taylor, her eponymous lover and their weird magical house, where at one point they have a New Year party. Nice video, but released at the wrong time of year!
Headie One – Both
That Ultra Nate sample OMG! Takes me right back to 1997. The generic rap over the top is not my thing though.
The video features an extravagant mansion, a dog, a bag of cash, a retro ’70s TV and the ubiquitous car-standing. It’s a bit of a surreal one, more imagery than storyline.
Jorja Smith and Burna Boy – Be Honest
I like the summery beat, and it’s an okay tune if not a standout.
The video is about people in an urban setting trying to keep cool in a heatwave. It makes me feel a bit claustrophobic and glad that it’s not been too warm here this summer!
Now! #102 has been released today, 12th April 2019! EDIT: I only just realised that it’s been a whole year today since I started my marathon of the first 100 Now! compilations with Now! #1. Great timing!
Let’s have a look at the Now! compilers’ roundup of what’s been going on in the chart recently.
A decade ago, I would not have believed you if you’d told me I would ever grow to like a Jonas Brothers song. They’ve grown up now, though, and they make much better music. This is a fairly decent pop song, and I always nod along when it’s on the radio.
This one’s not been in the charts since last year, so I’m a bit surprised they’ve held it back for this Now! instalment. As is usually the case with James Arthur’s stuff, it’s too saccharine for me, but I’ll grant you it’s got a good atmosphere on the chorus.
I could have told you that my feelings would not have changed about this ridiculous bastardisation of Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye. Awful interpolation that has me running screaming for the comfort of the original every single time.
Track 13: Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us
One of those tracks that I found a bit slow to begin with and have grown to appreciate. Lovely acoustic track from the A Star Is Born soundtrack (no interest in seeing the film, but the song is gorgeous).
Track 28: Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Cast – This Is Me
Another one where the Now! compilers have been a bit tardy – this track first entered the charts well over a year ago – but it’s a great feelgood musical number, and probably the best song on the soundtrack.
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had James Arthur on track 10.
One of the tracks from the Greatest Showman Reimagined album, where pop stars do karaoke versions of the songs from the musical. It’s okay, but not a patch on the original.
Track 32: Jack Savoretti – Candlelight
This wasn’t a hit – it only got to number 70. As I’ve been discussing since Now! #99, the Now! compilers have recently started to include songs that haven’t actually made the Top 40, but have been featured on hit albums – there’s less crossover than there used to be between the album and singles chart (mainly because the former is for older people like me who prefer classic pop and rock, and the latter is for the kids who like these strange new songs I’m always ranting about on here after listening to the chart on Fridays!). I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I think I’m okay about it now. After all, it’s probably an older demographic who actually still buys Now! albums. The Radio 2 demographic, if you like. This album got to number one, so I think it’s allowed.
Anyway, this track’s got a great atmosphere – lovely eerie instrumentals, lots of piano. Love this kind of epic tune!
Track 33: The 1975 – It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)
As I understand it, this is one of the few new tracks on Take That’s recent remastered retrospective. It’s a bit dull until the second chorus kicks in. Also, the self-referential spoken word bit at the end is a bit odd.
Track 36: Hozier – Almost (Sweet Music)
The single only got to number 82, but the album went top ten, getting to number six.
Love this danceable, atmospheric song! So yeah, this is the point where I’m officially on board with the Now! compilers including songs-from-hit-albums that didn’t make the singles chart, because the notion of Rod Stewart still managing to get his new songs onto Now! compilations is the BESTEST THING.
Track 40: Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya and The Greatest Showman Cast – The Greatest Show
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had the Greatest Showman cast on track 28.
Great stompalong number though. Fab track.
Track 41: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax
We’ve already had this track on Now! #2! How dare they be so lazy…wait. I can’t really start ranting in this case, because what’s going on here is that the Now! compilers have chosen to include six tracks from Now! #2 in order to advertise the fact that it’s had a re-release on CD today, the same release day as Now! #102. I’m hopeful that this pattern will continue, and will be scouting out the re-release for my collection this weekend!
Anyway, see the link for my review – it was track 16 on Now! #2.
If you spend any time watching the Now! ’80s channel, which often replays the classic TV adverts for the classic ’80s Now! compilations, you will be familiar with this song as the centrepiece for the Now! #2 advert due to it’s ‘hold me now‘ (geddit?) refrain on the chorus. Still a great track, and it was a highlight when I saw Tom Bailey supporting Culture Club in November.
Great choices for those bonus tracks. Could have done with a bit of love for Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday (track 29) but I’m hopeful for The Reflex if they do this again when they re-release Now! #3!
Another raft of current chart hits where the video’s only recently been released!
Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play
Daft, colourful, supermarket-checkout-themed video with lots of miniaturised people dancing on one of those motorised belts you put your shopping on. I highly approve of this one!
Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant
Slightly trippy video with a nonsensical, unclear story. At first it seems to be a depressing tale about a young guy whose mother has a prescription pill addiction, and I’m going to guess that the rest of the stuff in the video is just part of his fantasy about escaping his life, because it’s all random shots of Calvin Harris living a secluded, self-sufficient life out in the woods with lots of fishing and campfire cooking, and then there’s some people riding horses, and then Rag ‘N’ Bone Man appears to be playing the role of some kind of nighttime forest dance cult leader, although he doesn’t actually dance himself. Anyway, some of the imagery is quite pretty, and I guess that’s the important thing in a music video.
Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With A Stranger
The setting for this one is all very grey and minimalist, and I (obviously) love the ’80s-inspired grey leather sofas in Sam Smith’s otherwise empty living room, but it’s pretty bleak-looking until everyone starts dancing.
I quite like the acoustic guitar, and it’s a pretty tune, but it’s a bit too sedate for my liking.
There’s no video for this one yet.
Flipp Dinero – Leave Me Alone
It’s got a good rhythm, but there’s not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.
The video is all about smoking weed and dancing in supermarkets. Dancing in supermarkets is a bit of a trend in hip-hop videos at the moment.
Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved
It’s got a pretty tune and a lovely atmosphere, but it’s too slow and saccharine for me.
The video is just Lewis Capaldi playing guitar in what looks like a train station waiting room, but the surroundings are quite nice.
Catfish & The Bottlemen – Longshot
*blink* Is this…is this actual rock music in the chart? In 2019? Are my ears deceiving me?
I can’t tell you how refreshing this is. It’s not exactly the most original rock song ever, but OMG IT’S A ROCK SONG.
The video is black and white and there’s some stuff with an old truck, but it’s mostly a performance in a marquee, which is fine.
Westlife – Hello My Love
It’s a bit more upbeat and atmospheric than Westlife’s stuff usually is, but it’s still very cheesy.
There’s a lot of pretty stuff in the video like pink lights and rocks and colourful hot air balloons. It does have that awkwardness inherent in ‘manband’ videos though. Pick up some guitars or something, lads, the earnest singing poses aren’t really cutting it now you’ve been going for twenty-plus years.
Gesaffelstein and The Weeknd – Lost In The Fire
It’s got a great atmosphere and lovely retro synths. I really like this one.
The video is very arty and image-heavy, most of which is quite pretty.
Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant
It’s got an okay tune, and I like the soul feel and the trumpets.
So. Three and a half months, ten and a half solid days of music listening, and 4,020 tracks later, here we are at Day 100, the final day of this Now! compilation marathon. Day 100 means that we have finally reached Now! #100, which has just been released today, 20th July 2018.
Here they are, then – the very last summer hits.
(Let’s take a minute to appreciate this awesome celebratory cover. On the top left, we have the pig that featured on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #5 – well, it’s actually a much cuter version! On the top right, we have an airship with the logo that was used on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #16. Love the fireworks too! Perfect cover for this special occasion.)
Track 1: Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
This was number one for quite a few weeks, but it’s not my thing. I find the tune really irritating and a bit repetitive.
Track 2: George Ezra – Shotgun
I like the rhythm on this one.
Track 3: Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo
Good bit of pop – I quite like the tune. There’s some annoying vocal stuff going on in the chorus though.
Track 4: Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
Absolutely gorgeous pop tune – I really like this one.
Track 5: Anne-Marie – 2002
Hmm. I do like the clever interpolation on the chorus of a single line – ‘oops, I got 99 problems singing “bye, bye, bye”/hold up, if you wanna go and take a ride wit me/better hit me, baby, one more time‘ – that mixes up the hooks from Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time, Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye, Dr Dre’s The Next Episode, Nelly’s Ride Wit Me and Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again. If you remember the turn of the millennium, it’s very evocative.
I can’t stand the theme, though – and the tune on the verses really annoys me!
Track 6: Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
Extremely irritating, cloying tune. I don’t know why I always find Jess Glynne’s stuff so grating, but I do.
Track 7: Years & Years – If You’re Over Me
Great bouncy rhythm – this one’s quite fun.
Track 8: David Guetta and Sia – Flames
Annoying tune on the vocals – not keen.
Track 9: Post Malone – Better Now
Another irritating tune.
Track 10: Jonas Blue and Jack & Jack – Rise
I get this one stuck in my head a lot at the moment. I’m not sure why, ’cause the tune’s very uninspired.
Track 11: Liam Payne and J Balvin – Familiar
I really like this one – it’s got a great Latin feel to it.
Track 12: Banx & Ranx, Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane – Answerphone
Good solid pop tune – I love that singalong chorus.
Track 13: MO, Lotto Boyzz and Mr Eazi – Bad Vibe
Nice summery song – quite like this one.
Track 14: Tiësto, Dzeko, Preme and Post Malone – Jackie Chan
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Post Malone on track 9.
Ridiculous lyrics, annoying tune on the chorus. It’s got a good beat, though.
Track 15: M-22 and Medina – First Time
Another annoying tune, and the EDM backing track is painfully generic.
Track 16: 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood
Great epic rock track – the chorus is awesome. Really like this one.
Track 17: Bebe Rexha and Florida-Georgia Line – Meant To Be
Too country-tinged for me, and I really hate that chorus.
Track 18: Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey – The Middle
Yet another very irritating tune.
Track 19: Khalid and Normani – Love Lies
Beautiful tune – lovely and melancholy.
Track 20: Jax Jones, Mabel and Rich The Kid – Ring Ring
Great atmosphere – quite like this tune.
Track 21: Cheat Codes and Little Mix – Only You
Bit of a dull tune – not a fan of this one.
Track 22: Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Again, I find the tune really annoying, and I don’t like the theme either.
Track 23: MU4 – You Can’t Hurry Love
Now, this is an interesting way to end the first disc! MU4 won a competition on Good Morning Britain to appear on this Now! compilation. The competition winners were asked to cover the Phil Collins classic, which was the very first song on a Now! compilation – track 1 on Now! #1 back in 1983.
I do like the harmonies on this cover, and the retro feel remains intact, which is great. Obviously I’ll always prefer the original, but this version is not bad.
Track 24: UB40 – Red Red Wine
Disc two of this special Now! compilation is not full of new hits, like it usually would be. Instead, it features favourite pop songs that have appeared on Now! compilations throughout the years. As you know if you’re one of the intrepid souls who have been following my Now! marathon right from the start, I don’t usually like it when songs are included that have already been featured on previous entries in the series. However, seeing as this is a special celebration album, I’ll let it slide today!
Red Red Wine first appeared as track 3 on Now! #1 in November 1983. See the link for my review.
Incidentally, seeing as both track 1 and track 3 of Now! #1 have been honoured on this compilation, I wouldn’t have minded a wee shout-out to track 2! The second half of my Now! marathon has not had any Duran Duran for me to love.
Track 25: Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) first appeared as track 8 on Now! #3 in July 1984. See the link for my review.
Phil Collins is getting a good look-in on this celebratory Now! entry!
Track 26: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Livin’ On A Prayer first appeared as track 25 on Now! #9 in March 1987. See the link for my review.
I’m not sure how I feel about the ’80s being represented on this disc by a reggae track, a ballad and a hairmetal song. Just one synthpop or New Romantic track would have made me a very happy girl.
Track 27: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around
Love Is All Around first appeared as track 1 on Now! #28 in August 1994. See the link for my review.
Interesting to see this one again after recent discussion of Drake equalling the second-place number one longevity record!
Track 28: Spice Girls – Wannabe
Wannabe first appeared as track 1 on Now! #34 in August 1996. See the link for my review.
I think eleven-year-old me would have been thrilled to find out the Spice Girls would be featuring on Now! #100, so thirty-three-year-old me will try not to roll her eyes too much!
Track 29: Oasis – Wonderwall
Wonderwall first appeared as track 24 on Now! #34 in August 1996. See the link for my review.
That’s two tracks for Now! #34, which is interesting! Really, though, Wonderwall should have appeared on a Now! compilation earlier, as it had been released about a year before it made its appearance.
Track 30: Robbie Williams – Angels
Angels first appeared as track 7 on Now! #39 in April 1998. See the link for my review.
Another favourite childhood artist that I would thoroughly have wanted to receive this honour back in the day!
Track 31: Cher – Believe
Believe first appeared as track 3 on Now! #42 in March 1999. See the link for my review.
Good to see Cher on here, though I’ll always prefer her ’80s stuff. (Yes, I know that’s the case with most decade-spanning artists.)
Track 32: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time
…Baby One More Time first appeared as track 1 on Now! #44 in November 1999. See the link for my review.
Well, it would have been wrong if we hadn’t had at least one of the songs featured in Anne-Marie’s 2002 interpolation on track 5!
In my opinion, the ’90s selection on this disc has been a little more representative than the ’80s selection (it helps that twice as many were included), but it’s a shame that there was absolutely nothing from the early ’90s – a bit of classic dance like 2 Unlimited or Snap! wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Track 33: S Club 7 – Reach
Reach first appeared as track 2 on Now! #46 in July 2000. See the link for my review.
Track 34: Destiny’s Child – Survivor
Survivor first appeared as track 13 on Now! #49 in July 2001. See the link for my review.
Track 35: Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head first appeared as track 1 on Now! #50 in November 2001. See the link for my review.
Track 36: Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Cry Me A River first appeared as track 3 on Now! #55 in July 2003. See the link for my review.
Track 37: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful first appeared as track 1 on Now! #61 in July 2005. See the link for my review.
Track 38: Shakira and Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie
Hips Don’t Lie first appeared as track 2 on Now! #65 in November 2006. See the link for my review.
Rule The World first appeared as track 2 on Now! #68 in November 2007. See the link for my review.
Track 40: Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Viva La Vida first appeared as track 24 on Now! #71 in November 2008. See the link for my review.
Track 41: Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
I Kissed A Girl first appeared as track 2 on Now! #71 in November 2008. See the link for my review.
Now! #71 getting a double look-in as well!
Very representative selection from the ’00s overall – songs from every part of the decade and lots of different genres.
Track 42: Ed Sheeran – Sing
Sing first appeared as track 2 on Now! #88 in July 2014. See the link for my review.
Mind the six-year jump there, Now! compilers! Could have done with fewer ’00s tracks to make room for some more from the ’10s!
Track 43: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Uptown Funk first appeared as track 1 on Now! #90 in March 2015. See the link for my review.
My favourite track on this celebratory disc – absolutely deserves to be on here.
Track 44: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself
Love Yourself first appeared as track 2 on Now! #93 in March 2016. See the link for my review.
I’m not sure how I feel about a celebration of thirty-five years and a hundred compilation albums worth of pop music being ended on a Justin Bieber track. They could at least have gone with Sorry, his one good track, which was released around the same time.
Short and sweet from the ’10s, but at least it was more representative than the ’80s selection.
Final note: So, that’s it from me and my Now! marathon, then – well, until Now! #101 comes out in the autumn. I’ll post some stats from the whole thing at some point over the weekend as well, ’cause I love my stats – but other than that, I’m looking forward to having my music listening time back to myself again!
It’s been an interesting few months, and as a pop music geek, it’s really consolidated for me what I already felt about the way chart music has evolved during the course of my lifetime. I’ll always prefer the ’80s stuff, I’ll always cringe when the ’90s stuff reminds me of my childhood, I’ll always think most of the ’00s stuff is really tacky, and I’ll always wish most of the ’10s stuff weren’t such poor quality and so generic.
On many days – especially days when the music was especially terrible and boring – it’s the daily picture feature that has been the most fun. It’s been fascinating and terrifying at the same time to watch my life flash by, season by season.
Finally, surprisingly, after all that, I appreciate the institution of Now! That’s What I Call Music more than ever. I’m actually already looking forward to the next one.