Nice summery dance beat, but the tune’s not that inspired.
The video is all about Rita Ora leading a group contemporary dance routine in a neon-lit studio.
Remedee, Notes and Young Adz – Love Of My Life
Some interesting synthy things going on with the backing track, but there’s no tune to speak of.
The video features lots of shuffling around a London tower block and, of course, some standing around in front of cars.
Krept & Konan, Headie One and K-Trap – I Spy
Annoying squeaky voices on the backing track, repetitive rap. Not my thing.
Some interesting bits in the (NSFW-due-to-close-up-twerking-towards-the-end) video – there’s a chat show host involved and some random flamenco outfits – but it’s mostly a fairly generic haze of bling, exotic mansions and car-standing.
Day 99 brings us to Now! #99, which was released on 23rd March 2018.
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.
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.
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.)
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.