A slight bit of blog business today. Now that I’m caught up with all my pre-pandemic gig reviews, I’m planning to make Wednesday ‘music day’ on the blog. I’ve not focused on music posts for a while, as I’ve not been focusing on music so much in my everyday life, for a couple of reasons. First of all, gigs are obviously on the back burner for now. Secondly, I’ve not been listening to music in a focused way during the last year – I’ve been finding I concentrate on work better when it’s quiet, and when I’m out for a walk with headphones I prefer to listen to podcasts. When I do put music on (largely at the request of Geth when he wants some background music), it’s always an old standby like ’80s pop or synthwave or videogame soundtracks – it’s been a long time since I’ve deliberately listened to an album or sought out new music.
It’s been about eighteen months since I wrote my last New Hits Friday post, because I’ve not been keeping up with the chart for the last year (most chart music is not to my taste so I was starting to find it a bit of a chore, though I will go back and catch up because I still find the chart really interesting academically). I’m a few Now! albums behind, and other than the usual Christmas shows, I can’t remember the last time I turned on the music channels. It’s just not been a focus for the last year and a bit; there have been other things going on.
However, I would like to get back into the habit of focused music listening, which is why I’m going to be setting aside Wednesday blog posts for related content. This could take many forms – reviews, features, general ramblings – as I want to keep the scope quite broad. I expect that at first, I’ll mostly be focusing on music topics I already know about, but there’s always the potential to learn something new. Sometimes on ukulele!
There’s a new Now! album out today, which is always exciting. Unfortunately I’ve been travelling for the last couple of days and haven’t had time to prepare a review! The review will be posted next Friday instead.
Geth and I went to Manchester yesterday as we had tickets to see the Midnight at the Albert Hall. It was an amazing gig, made even better by the venue layout (we were able to watch the band from right above the stage!). I know I keep saying this about every gig, but it really was one of the best ones I’ve seen this year. I’ll be catching up with a few gig reviews from the last few weeks very soon!
Back in Newcastle today. Geth is out boardgaming tonight (there’s a new Keyforge release today so he’ll be at tournaments all weekend), so I’m having a quiet evening watching Christmas cookery shows and planning out a few updates for my most recent text adventure game.
It’s going to be a busy weekend with a few more gigs and hopefully a vintage fair trip!
Today’s earworm playlist:
The Midnight – Gloria Tyler Lyle – Lost And Found (The Midnight Remix) The Midnight – Days Of Thunder A-ha – Hunting High And Low The Midnight – Lost Boy A-ha – Take On Me Eisenfunk – Pong Michael Land – LeChuck’s Theme Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Locomotion
This was released back in February and was a fairly frequent earworm for me in the early spring, but I’ve not heard it in months so I’m a bit surprised the Now! compilers have held it over for this compilation. It’s another one that annoys me now.
Track 7: Meduza and Goodboys – Piece Of Your Heart
I still quite like this tune! (I’m also endlessly confused by the lyric ‘I’m in Toronto and I got this view/But I might as well be in a hotel room’ – if he’s visiting Toronto, and he’s not in a hotel room, then where is he? Staying with a friend who has a really good view? Why is this not explained in the song?)
Track 10: Mark Ronson and Camila Cabello – Find U Again
I’m still gutted that, other than this track and a brief appearance by Catfish & The Bottlemen, there has been absolutely no rock music in the charts in 2019. I’m really hoping this trend reverses itself at some point during the 2020s!
I can’t stand this one. It’s way too saccharine for me, and the lyrics contain James Arthur’s favourite ‘romantic trope’ about holding girls’ hair back while they vomit due to overconsumption of alcohol. I have very little patience for that kind of message.
It’s another straightforward cover – Taron Egerton’s voice is sort of similar but not identical to Elton’s, which gives it a slight uncanny valley feel.
Track 44: Himesh Patel – Yesterday
Here’s another soundtrack song – this one is from the soundtrack to Yesterday, which got to number 40 in the album chart.
Like the Elton covers, this is arranged pretty identically to the Beatles original, which, as I understand it from reading about the film’s plot, is to be expected.
Track 45: Grandmaster Flash and Grandmaster Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It)
We’ve already had this track on Now! #3…because the Now! compilers are doing exactly the same thing as they did on the last compilation, and so the last few tracks are all bonus tracks that originally appeared on the third release back in 1984! Now! #3 is also being re-released today, on CD for the first time. I really need to start picking up these re-releases again – I got Now! #1 on CD last summer but haven’t bought Now! #2 yet.
Because the Now! company was posting Duran Duran pictures in order to tease the re-release on social media, I was hopeful that they’d include The Reflex as a bonus track, but sadly there was no love for it this time round – I’ll just have to enjoy the original White Lines (famously a DD cover a decade later) instead!
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!
Well, I meant to post this back around the end of July, shortly after I finished my Now! marathon…but…life got in the way. What can I say? I’m a busy girl.
But seeing as Now! #101 is out today, I thought I’d better do my wrapping up of the first 100 entries before we move onto the new era!
I remember that as I gradually listened to all the Now! compilations, they seemed like more and more of a long slog every day. This is partly due to (a) the fact that every project gets boring after a while and (b) my considered and consistent opinion that pop music has got gradually worse over the course of my lifetime. However, the stats also show that Now! compilations have got longer over time, although they seem to have levelled off in recent years due to the fact that nobody’s interested in increasing the amount of data you can fit on a CD anymore.
Average track number of Now! compilations for each decade:
’80s (Now! #1 – Now! #16): 31.1875
’90s (Now! #17 – Now! #44): 38.6071
’00s (Now! #45 – Now! #74): 43.0667
’10s (Now! #75 – Now! #100): 44.1154
It also seemed like there were a good number of occasions where I was all like ‘ooh! I’ve seen this song performed live by the actual artist!’ or getting excited about the fact that I was going to see the artist soon. Apparently, that didn’t happen quite as often as I thought it did:
At the end of the Now! marathon on 20th July 2018, I had seen 60 of the 4,020 tracks on Now! compilations performed live by the original artists, and I was scheduled to see 49 more at various gigs and festivals, some of which I have now seen. That still leaves a massive 3,911 tracks that I have never seen live, though – most of which I have no interest in seeing! Maybe I’ll revisit this particular statistic at some point, but I am definitely not going to be doing a similar thing to the Band Aid baby bucket list with this one!
Of the 4,020 tracks on the first 100 Now! compilations, there were 46 songs that were repeated across compilations. 21 of these were on disc two of Now! #100, which I let slide because it was a special celebratory entry, but that still leaves 25 tracks annoyingly taking up slots that could have been given to new tracks. The most egregious offender was Candi Staton’s You’ve Got The Love, which was featured three times – on Now! #19, Now! #36, and Now! #63. Florence & The Machine then did an identical-sounding pointless cover of it, which was itself featured twice – first on Now! #74 and then as a duet with Dizzee Rascal on Now! #76 – meaning the song has been featured on Now! compilations a total of five times.
Repeated artist alert! I was annoyed by an artist being featured more than once on the same Now! compilation a total of 141 times. Over 100 of these occurred during the ’10s, which has been an era of collaborations – it’s not at all uncommon for there to be four or five artists credited on a track. 5 of the instances were repeated artist mega alerts, which meant an artist was featured THREE times on the same Now! compilation. The reason this annoys me so much is that when I dabbled in DJing during my university years, I was always taught that you shouldn’t feature songs by the same artist during a single set – it needs more variety. As such, when it happens on a professionally-created compilation, it’s fairly infuriating!
As mentioned, there were 4,020 songs on the first 100 Now! compilations. That’s a lot of songs to review in 100 days, which is why the vast majority of what I wrote was one-line stuff like ‘slow and dull’ or ‘happily nodding along here’.
Not on Spotify: of the 4,020 tracks, 152 were not on Spotify, which is highly irritating when you’ve developed the lazy 21st century habit of adding stuff to a playlist with one click. I mitigated this in three ways:
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 1: lazy tribute version substitute. If Spotify didn’t have the original but had a tribute/karaoke style version instead, I just slotted that into the playlist to save having to perform a Type 2, which took effort.
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM). This involved having to pause the Spotify playlist, navigate to a browser tab with YouTube on it, and press play on a video. SUCH HARD WORK.
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 3: Can’t Find It Anywhere! This only happened once, with Omero Mumba’s Lil’ Big Man on Now! #54. The track is apparently so awful that nobody wants to put it on Spotify, YouTube, or DailyMotion, and I certainly wasn’t going to go down the old-fashioned route of downloading it (who puts that much effort into listening to a song nowadays?), so it was the one song in the whole Now! marathon that I didn’t actually listen to.
144 times I had to do the hard work of pausing my Spotify playlist. 144. I also listened to 7 soulless tribute covers, and had to skip 1 song, which, while it sounds like it was for the best, means that in some respects I didn’t actually achieve 100% marathon completion. Please just put your stuff on Spotify in future, music people.
A list of the most featured artists on the first 100 Now! compilations:
Robbie Williams: 29 compilations
Kylie Minogue: 24 compilations
Calvin Harris: 23 compilations
David Guetta, Rihanna: 21 compilations
Britney Spears, Coldplay, Girls Aloud, U2: 20 compilations
Katy Perry, Sugababes: 18 compilations
Tinie Tempah: 16 compilations
Boyzone, McFly, Justin Timberlake, Take That: 15 compilations
The Black Eyed Peas, Little Mix, Jason Derulo, Phil Collins, Oasis: 14 compilations
Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, Erasure, Gabrielle, Ne-Yo, Ronan Keating, Tina Turner, will.i.am: 13 compilations
Backstreet Boys, Chris Brown, Flo Rida, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Olly Murs, Pet Shop Boys, Pink, Queen, R Kelly, The Saturdays, Steps, Texas, UB40: 12 compilations
Akon, Atomic Kitten, The Beautiful South, East 17, Elton John, Enrique Iglesias, Eternal, George Michael, Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Spice Girls: 11 compilations
Duran Duran, Emeli Sandé, Jessie J, Kanye West, Louise, Maroon 5, Nelly, One Direction, Rita Ora, S Club 7, Sean Paul, Taio Cruz, Wet Wet Wet: 10 compilations
Well done, Robbie. That record will take some beating. It doesn’t even count all the times he was featured as part of Take That and as part of charity singles.
And finally: the record for longest gap between first and latest appearances (not counting the repetitions of UB40 and Phil Collins on Now! #100) is held by U2, who first appeared on Now! #5 (released 5th August 1985) with The Unforgettable Fire and most recently appeared on Now! #99 (released 23rd March 2018) with You’re The Best Thing About Me. That’s a gap of 32 years and 230 days, which is nearly as long as I’ve been alive!
See you in 2051 for the Now! #101 – Now! #200 stats!
Geth and I just got back to Newcastle…again. We’re back for a good while now though!
We’ve been in Scotland for the weekend, for the respective hen and stag parties of our friends Lisa and Kieran. We headed off on Friday afternoon, just a couple of hours after Geth’s Canada luggage finally showed up, and managed to beat the ridiculous UK train chaos caused by the thunderstorms by getting on an alternative train and sitting on the floor of the doorway section. Not hugely comfortable, but at least we got to Edinburgh around the time we were supposed to.
After a quiet evening at Mum and Dad’s, we had an uncomfortable night’s sleep (it was REALLY hot and muggy) and then got up for parkrun, which I will post about later in the week. On returning to the house, I grabbed the world’s quickest shower and got ready to be picked up by my friend Fi to travel to the QHotels Westerwood Spa near Cumbernauld.
Having also picked up our other friends Gemma and Sarah, we headed along the motorway to the spa, checked in and spent a pleasant few hours in the hotel bar, during which Steph, Lisa, Nikki and Becky also arrived. At five o’clock we went downstairs for the treatments we’d booked. I’d never been to a spa before, so I had no idea what to expect from my face and back treatment, but it turned out to be a lovely massage with lots of oil and exfoliation and so on. It was so relaxing, I nearly fell asleep! The only downside is that two showers later, I’ve still not been able to get the oils out of my hair.
After the treatments, we were taken to a relaxation room, where we were able to chill out on daybeds with glasses of water for a while, and then we all went for a swim float in the warmer, shallower part of the pool and a soak in the jacuzzi.
Dinner was at eight, but unfortunately, because the service was really slow and poor, we were in the restaurant for three hours, at which point they still hadn’t served our desserts and we ended up having them brought through to the room where we were booked to have a cocktail and DVD night. The poor service from the waiting staff didn’t spoil our evening, but it was very frustrating, especially as we kept having to go and chase up our orders (and when they billed us for exceeding our food allocation when we hadn’t!).
Still, we had a good time watching Moulin Rouge! and Monty Python & The Holy Grail, and I had two delicious cocktails – the second one was especially good, as it came with a drumstick lolly dipped in it, and I’ve not had one of those since I was a kid.
After a good sleep, we went for hotel breakfast – I resisted the bread table, as I’ve got to lose my Canada holiday weight this week, but the scrambled egg was amazing (much better than the egg in Toronto – sorry, Grand Hotel), the mushrooms and tomatoes were very welcome, and I got to have a tattie scone, which I never get to do as I’m rarely in hotels in Scotland.
We spent a good couple of hours chatting in the hotel bar again, but decided to skip the lunch we’d booked, as most people were too full for lunch/needed to get home. We headed back in Fi’s car again, this time with added Steph, and got back to Edinburgh in plenty time for me to go back to Mum and Dad’s and repack my stuff. I also caught up with Geth, who had enjoyed Kieran’s stag yesterday (they’d spent the afternoon and evening boardgaming – what else?).
We had a much more straightforward train journey back to Newcastle, and are now relaxing with the World Series Triathlon on BBC iPlayer.
Not a perfect weekend, but that massage was so good that I’m definitely interested in going to a spa again!
I woke up to my alarm at 8am this morning as normal on a Thursday, and had managed to sleep quite well, so I seem (touch wood!) to have nixed my jetlag straight away. We’ll see how I do over the next couple of days.
This morning’s main task was attending my Slimming World group to face the post-holiday music. I’ve put on six pounds during my holiday (ouch) and am out of target range. I know I can lose it again quickly though – just have to be really good this week.
After I got home, I got all my post-holiday laundry done, and then later in the afternoon Geth arrived home sans luggage. His flight turnaround at Heathrow was too tight for the bag to make the connection, so he settled down to wait for news about it and I headed off to Pilates.
It was great to get back to Pilates again – all the stretching was very welcome after a week on holiday. Sadly it was the last class of the course and we’re now on summer break until September – I’m going to have to practise lots at home instead!
After class, I nipped down to Sainsbury’s to pick up my souvenir Now! #100 CD and do my bit for getting it into the album charts tomorrow. Excitingly, Sainsbury’s have a deal on, where you can get Now! #100 for £3 cheaper if you also buy another Now! compilation – so I took the opportunity to grab a copy of Now! #1 as well, which has just had a re-release on CD:
I went home to make healthy food for the first time in a couple of weeks, and Geth had news of his bag – they won’t be delivering it till tomorrow. Hopefully it will arrive sooner rather than later.
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.
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.
Day 98 takes us to Now! #98, which came out on 17th November 2017.
The following are not likely to be played at goth clubs, but let’s see what the party season songs were for this most recent Christmas period.
Track 1: Camila Cabello and Young Thug – Havana
Good solid pop tune – love the Latin feel. Really nice song.
Track 2: Post Malone and 21 Savage – Rockstar
There are some interesting instrumentals going on, but it’s got quite a depressing feel.
Track 3: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes
Too slow and ballad-y for me.
Track 4: Pink – What About Us
It’s an okay song with an important theme, but I find it a bit depressing.
Track 5: Dua Lipa – New Rules
Absolutely wonderful track, gorgeous instrumentals, great tune, clever lyrics and vocals. The video is immense too.
Track 6: Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl
Inspired by the Irish folk classic of the same name, but nowhere near as good. Still a nice upbeat song though.
Track 7: Charlie Puth – How Long
I really like this one – great atmosphere, awesome tune, retro feel.
Track 8: CNCO and Little Mix – Reggaetón Lento
Very danceable Latin-tinged pop – good stuff.
Track 9: J Balvin and Willy William – Mi Gente
More great Latin pop (Despacito really kicked off a trend in 2017). I remember dancing to all of these in Zumba class. This one’s got an awesome atmosphere and a really interesting rhythm.
Track 10: Justin Bieber and BloodPop – Friends
I really like the bassline, but the tune’s pretty uninspired.
Track 11: Zayn and Sia – Dusk Till Dawn
Nice epic chorus, but on the whole the tune’s a bit generic.
Track 12: Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish
Great beat, but agin the tune’s not very exciting.
Track 13: Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
This tune really irritates me.
Track 14: Stefflon Don and French Montana – Hurtin’ Me
Another one where I just don’t like the tune. I also find the theme irritating.
Track 15: Louis Tomlinson, Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals – Back To You
Yet another annoying tune!
Track 16: Khalid – Young Dumb And Broke
I quite like this one – it’s got an interesting rhythm and an endearing theme.
Track 17: Maroon 5 and Sza – What Lovers Do
Nice feelgood song – the vocals are a little irritating, but I quite like the tune.
Track 18: Jason Derulo – If I’m Lucky
Good atmosphere, but the tune’s very generic.
Track 19: Clean Bandit and Julia Michaels – I Miss You
Again, I just don’t find this tune very interesting.
Track 20: Alma – Chasing Highs
Uninspired and depressing.
Track 21: Zedd and Liam Payne – Get Low
Another very bland tune.
Track 22: Charli XCX – Boys
Great track! Fun theme, interesting instrumentals. The celebrity-filled video is great too.
Track 23: Rita Ora – Anywhere
It’s got a good beat, but it’s another bland tune.
Track 24: Marshmello and Khalid – Silence
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Khalid on track 16.
This is a lovely tune though.
Track 25: Avicii and Rita Ora – Lonely Together
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Rita Ora on track 23.
I find the tune on this really irritating, but the backing track is great.
Track 26: James Hype and Kelli-Leigh – More Than Friends
Generic-sounding dance cover of En Vogue’s ’90s classic Don’t Let Go. The original song is beautiful. This track is anything but.
Track 27: Yungen and Yxng Bane – Bestie
That chorus is incredibly annoying.
Track 28: Mabel and Kojo Funds – Finders Keepers
So is the chorus on this one.
Track 29: Chris Brown – Questions
This is the second hit in the space of eighteen months that interpolates Kevin Lyttle’s 2003 classic Turn Me On, after Cheat Codes and Dante Klein’s Let Me Hold You (Turn Me On) in 2016. I think it’s fairly poorly done, and I love the original so I find all these poor imitations pretty irritating.
Track 30: Craig David – Heartline
Dull and generic.
Track 31: Selena Gomez and Marshmello – Wolves
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Marshmello on track 24.
I quite like the tune on this one, though.
Track 32: MK – 17
Another really irritating tune.
Track 33: Axwell & Ingrosso – More Than You Know
I like the guitar at the start, and the tune’s okay if a bit generic.
Track 34: Liam Payne – Bedroom Floor
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Liam Payne on track 21.
It’s another fairly generic tune, but I remember I had the chart on in the background last year, and this was playing and got to the lyric ‘but your clothes say different on my bedroom floor‘. Geth interjected crossly, ‘Stop stealing her clothes then!’ It really cracked me up and is all I can think about when I hear this song now.
Track 35: Duke Dumont, Gorgon City and Naations – Real Life
Another boring tune that sounds like every other dance track this decade.
Track 36: CamelPhat and Elderbrook – Cola
Really squicky theme – to put it bluntly, it’s blatantly a song about spiking someone’s drink. It’s a shame, ’cause it would be a good track if it weren’t for that.
Track 37: Lil’ Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3
Some interesting instrumentals going on, but the tune’s very bland.
Track 38: Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot
Very funny hip-hop parody, and it’s got a good rhythm to boot. Really like this.
Track 39: Chris & Kem – Little Bit Leave It
Apparently these dudes were on Love Island or something. I’m not sure why someone allowed them to release a song – it’s extremely grating.
Track 40: Cardi B – Bodak Yellow
I find this one extremely depressing.
Track 41: Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid – 1-800-273-8255
Repeated artist mega alert! We’ve already had Khalid on both track 16 and track 24. Give someone else a chance!
This one’s got a nice tune, but it’s too slow for me.
Track 42: Paloma Faith – Crybaby
I like the rhythm, but the tune’s very dull.
Track 43: The Script – Rain
The tune’s okay except for that annoying chorus.
Track 44: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Grace (We All Try)
The tune’s quite interesting, but again it’s too slow for me.
Track 45: Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass
Very refreshing to hear some actual rock music – it’s something different, finally.
Track 46: The Killers – The Man
Love the retro disco sound on this one. Great stuff.