Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #102

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!

April 2019
This is the way the world looks in April 2019, with me and my ‘absolute beginner ukuleles’ classmates doing our thing up on stage. Fun fact: one of the songs we performed appeared on Now! #54, while the other has never been on a Now! compilation.

Let’s have a look at the Now! compilers’ roundup of what’s been going on in the chart recently.

Now! That's What I Call Music #102

Track 1: Ariana Grande – 7 Rings

New Hits Friday review.

Still think this is a bit of a daft interpolation, but I don’t hate it as much as I used to.

Track 2: Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

New Hits Friday review.

Pretty much loved this bit of synthy pop from the start, and I’m still a big fan. Should have been Christmas number one!

Track 3: Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

New Hits Friday review.

Another great pop track. At first I wasn’t keen on the country edge, but I’ve really grown to love this one.

Track 4: Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still not a huge fan of this one – it just doesn’t hook me.

Track 5: Pink – Walk Me Home

New Hits Friday review.

Still too acoustic-y for me, but I have grown to like the epic feel on the chorus.

Track 6: Sam Smith and Normani – Dancing With A Stranger

New Hits Friday review.

I originally felt this one was a bit generic, but it’s become a fairly regular earworm for me, and I find I quite like it now.

Track 7: Tom Walker – Just You And I

New Hits Friday review.

It’s a little cheesy, but it’s a pleasant upbeat tune.

Track 8: Jonas Brothers – Sucker

New Hits Friday review.

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.

Track 9: George Ezra – Pretty Shining People

New Hits Friday review.

I still can’t get over the blatant REM title ripoff. Urgh.

This one’s a little bland (can’t win ’em all, George), but it’s an okay tune.

Track 10: James Arthur – Empty Space

New Hits Friday review.

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.

Track 11: Lewis Capaldi – Grace

New Hits Friday review.

I first heard this one on the BBC over Christmas, and at first I thought it was a bit too wistful/singer-songwriter/acoustic-y etc. for me. But I’ve really come to like it – it’s a gorgeous tune.

Track 12: Jason Derulo, David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye

New Hits Friday review.

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

New Hits Friday review.

Another frequent earworm. I quite like the staccato on the verse.

Track 14: Marshmello and Chvrches – Here With Me

New Hits Friday review.

I find this one a bit forgettable, though the tune is very pleasant when I do remember how it goes.

Track 15: Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

New Hits Friday review.

Still love the retro feel on this track. Straight out of 1988! Well, apart from the NSFW lyrical content.

Track 16: Khalid – Talk

New Hits Friday review.

I really like the soft bubbly synth effects on this one.

Track 17: Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up

New Hits Friday review.

I wasn’t keen at first, but it’s been a grower and I quite like this solid pop track now.

Track 18: Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

New Hits Friday review.

Liked it when it came out, love it now! Shamelessly retro, actually sounds like the year it’s celebrating. Great stuff.

Track 19: Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

New Hits Friday review.

Another good danceable pop track, probably my favourite of Sigrid’s output so far.

Track 20: CamelPhat, Cristoph and Jem Cooke – Breathe

New Hits Friday review.

It’s kind of nice to have a dance track on here now that dance tracks are becoming a bit rarer in the charts. Nice tune, too.

Track 21: Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play

New Hits Friday review.

Good tune – I always nod along to this one.

Track 22: Zedd and Katy Perry – 365

New Hits Friday review.

I do like the Spanish-tinged opening, and the atmosphere is great when it gets to the chorus.

Track 23: Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

New Hits Friday review.

This one makes me really uncomfortable! I can’t get past the awful message in the lyrics, which is basically ‘go back to someone who’s really bad for you’.

Track 24: Dua Lipa – Swan Song

New Hits Friday review.

There’s some great stuff going on with the instrumentals, but I find the vocal line pretty bland.

Track 25: Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

New Hits Friday review.

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 1.

The tinkly instrumentals are quite nice, but I’m not sure how I feel about the ex-dissing lyrical content.

Track 26: Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

New Hits Friday review. (LOL I said it was too slow for me and now it’s my favourite song in the chart!)

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Lewis Capaldi on track 11.

Not complaining though, because this is an absolutely beautiful tune that has deservedly just scored a seventh week at number one. Song of the year, whatever happens in the next eight months.

Track 27: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

New Hits Friday review.

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.

Track 29: Jess Glynne – Thursday

New Hits Friday review.

I’m still not particularly keen on this one – I just find the theme a bit awkward.

Track 30: Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

New Hits Friday review.

I do appreciate the simplicity of the song, but it’s just a bit too slow for me.

Track 31: James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars

New Hits Friday review.

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)

Again not a hit on the singles chart – it only got to number 46 – but this was also a number one album.

Wonderfully retro-sounding as ever from the 1975. Great tune, great beat.

Track 34: Westlife – Hello My Love

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s still a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 35: Take That – Everlasting

This track wasn’t even released as a single, but again the album got to number one.

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.

Great bit of soft rock – really like this one.

Track 37: Bryan Adams – Shine A Light

No single release for this song, but the album got to number two.

Great beat, but it’s a little too acoustic-y for me. Nice to see Bryan Adams still rockin’ up Now! compilations though.

Track 38: Michael Bublé – Love You Anymore

Again no single release, but it was a number one album.

As usual for Bublé, it’s far too saccharine for me, but it is nice and feelgood.

Track 39: Rod Stewart – Look In Her Eyes

Yet another one that wasn’t released as a single, but the album went to number one.

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.

Track 42: Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t It Be Good

Still a classic from Nik Kershaw.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 2.

Track 43: Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

I have this one on my running playlist these days!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 11.

Track 44: Cyndi Lauper – Girls Just Want To Have Fun

One of my earliest ’80s favourites.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 9.

Track 45: Culture Club – It’s A Miracle

Still love that daft boardgaming video!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 25.

Track 46: Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

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.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 3.

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!

Now! That’s What I Call Music #1-#100: the statistics

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:

  1. ‘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.
  2. ‘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.
  3. ‘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!

Scotland, and a hen do

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.

Now! #1, #10 and #100
I also had just enough time to snap a photo of my two new Now! albums with their ancient cousin, because I am super lame.

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!

OOTD 28th July 2018
Saturday OOTD: comfy travelling outfit. T-shirt Lauren Ralph Lauren (bought at vintage fair in 2018, but still available on the website so probably not that old), leggings Primark (2018).

 

OOTD 29th July 2018
Sunday OOTD: my current favourite day dress, in a colour I’ve never worn before but quite like! Dress Primark (2018), terrible hair due to the aforementioned spa oils!

A day getting back to normal

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:

Now! #1 and Now! #100 albums on CD
Rod Stewart (just read his autobiography), Tracey Ullman (checking out her new BBC show at the moment) and Duran Duran (my current favourites) all in a row on an album cover? I call that a favourable omen. It is a cracking compilation, to be fair. As for Now! #100, I pretty much only bought it for the updated cute version of the Now! pig on the cover. (That was a lie. I also bought it to commemorate doing my Now! marathon, and to try and get it into the charts.)

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.

OOTD 26th July 2018
OOTD: typical comfy Thursday outfit for running about to Slimming World and Pilates class. T-shirt H&M (2018, just bought in Toronto last Saturday!), belt H&M (2017), leggings Under Armour (2017).

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #100

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.

July 2018
Finally, this is the way the world – and my family – looks now, in July 2018. We’re all a bit older, and music is definitely not what it was when the Now! compilations began, but we’re all still here, all together again this week, and all talking about building our collections of houseplants once again.

Here they are, then – the very last summer hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #100

(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

Okay.

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.

Another one we’ve been recently discussing due to its interpolation in Dimelo!

Track 39: Take That – Rule The World

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.

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 #98

Day 98 takes us to Now! #98, which came out on 17th November 2017.

November 2017
This is the way the world looked in November 2017. It may have been 2017 but it’ll always be the ’80s in my world. Especially in London goth clubs, where the style’s not changed in over thirty years and I can dance away happily to my favourite Tears For Fears and Soft Cell tracks.

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.

Now! That's What I Call Music #98
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.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #97

Day 97 equals Now! #97, which was released on 21st July 2017.

July 2017
This is how the world looked in July 2017, the morning of the day Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor and hence the last day I was able to wear that T-shirt without it being out of date. I was planning to get some iron-on stickers for it, but then it got far too big for me anyway!

Last year’s summer hits were pretty good from what I remember.  Let’s have a listen.

Now! That's What I Call Music #97
Track 1: Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber – Despacito

Gorgeous Latin summer tune, deservedly one of the biggest hits of the year.

Track 2: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance The Rapper and Lil’ Wayne – I’m The One

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Justin Bieber on track 1.

This is an extremely irritating track with too many rappers on it, none of whom contribute anything good.

Track 3: Calvin Harris, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – Feels

Great funk rhythm, great tune.  Really like this one.

Track 4: Jonas Blue and William Singe – Mama

This tune really irritates me.

Track 5: Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson – Symphony

Gorgeous instrumentals – quite like this track.

Track 6: Little Mix and Stormzy – Power

This is one that was used in Zumba class last year – I love the vocals.

Track 7: Liam Payne and Quavo – Strip That Down

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

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

Track 8: The Chainsmokers and Coldplay – Something Just Like This

I find this tune insanely irritating, and the theme’s horribly twee.

Track 9: David Guetta and Justin Bieber – 2U

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on both track 1 and track 2.  Nobody needs that much Bieber on a Now! compilation!

This one’s a dull, forgettable tune.

Track 10: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

I really like the classic feel to this – there’s something about it that reminds me of the slower dramatic examples of glam rock.

Track 11: Shawn Mendes – There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back

Cheesy and annoying.

Track 12: Rita Ora – Your Song

I really like this one – great tune, great electro lines.

Track 13: Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson – Unpredictable

Excruciatingly boring tune.

Track 14: Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

Great rhythm, great lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 15: Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla Sign – Swalla

I love this one!  It’s really danceable, and the vocals are awesome.

Track 16: Katy Perry and Migos – Bon Appétit

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Katy Perry on track 3.

This tune is highly dull and generic.  I’m starting to wonder how all these half-arsed attempts at tunes are becoming hits.

Track 17: Nick Jonas, Anne-Marie and Mike Posner – Remember I Told You

Another track that’s so boring I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 18: Lady Gaga – The Cure

A slower track from Lady Gaga, but I like the dramatic feel.  Would have been even better if the lyrics had been about the Cure as in the band though!

Track 19: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

Love the atmosphere of this one, and the interpolation of the melody from Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle is done really well.

Track 20: Niall Horan – Slow Hands

The theme irritates me, and I can’t get on with the rhythm.

Track 21: Miley Cyrus – Malibu

Pretty tune – I find some of the lyrics a bit grating, but it’s got a nice summery feel.

Track 22: Ariana Grande – One Last Time

Originally released in 2014, back in the charts to raise money after the Manchester Arena attack.  It’s a gorgeous tune, but I find the theme uncomfortable.

Track 23: French Montana and Swae Lee – Unforgettable

Good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 24: Sigala and Ella Eyre – Came Here For Love

Another tune that I find really irritating.

Track 25: Maggie Lindemann – Pretty Girl [Cheat Codes X Cade Remix]

Annoying tune, but the theme is the real issue here – cloying and vomit-inducingly smug.

Track 26: The Weeknd – Rockin’

Forgettable and dull.

Track 27: Little Mix and Machine Gun Kelly – No More Sad Songs

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Little Mix on track 6.

Another annoying tune.

Track 28: Jax Jones, Demi Lovato and Stefflon Don – Instruction

I really like this one – great beat, great theme.

Track 29: Cheat Codes and Demi Lovato – No Promises

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Demi Lovato on track 28.

Again, I don’t like the tune.

Track 30: Disciples – On My Mind

Great track – good tune, very danceable.

Track 31: J Hus – Did You See

Interesting track – I like the lyrics.

Track 32: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Another interesting song – there’s some great lines here.  I quite like this one.

Track 33: Future – Mask Off

I really like the melancholy tune on the backing track – it’s gorgeous.

Track 34: Kygo and Ellie Goulding – First Time

Twee, saccharine and bland.

Track 35: Martin Garrix and Troye Sivan – There For You

Another tune I just can’t get into.

Track 36: Rudimental and James Arthur – Sun Comes Up

Generic, annoying tune.

Track 37: Hailee Steinfeld – Most Girls

It’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like this one.

Track 38: Selena Gomez – Bad Liar

Good retro sound, even better retro video.

Track 39: Neiked and Mimi – Call Me

Nice feelgood tune, but the vocals are really irritating.

Track 40: Raye – The Line

Nothing exciting about this one.

Track 41: Fifth Harmony and Gucci Mane – Down

Repetitive and dull.

Track 42: Haim – Want You Back

Again, I just can’t get excited about this tune.  I do like the retro tinge on the instrumentals though.

Track 43: JP Cooper – Passport Home

Too slow for me, and the theme’s very cheesy.

Track 44: Take That – Giants

Another boring tune.

Track 45: Artists For Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Charity cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic to raise money for the victims of the Grenfell fire.  There’s some interesting stuff in this version, especially the added rap by Stormzy at the start.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #96

Day 96’s Now! compilation was released on 7th April 2017.

April 2017
This is the way the world looked in April 2017. The mouth of the Tyne was chilly but beautiful.  I’m glad we’re returning to the ferry photos in this final week, as they call to mind some early entries in the marathon such as Now! #3 and Now! #15.

Another new year, some more new hits.

Now! That's What I Call Music #96
Track 1: Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill

I wasn’t sure about this track when I first heard it, but it’s really grown on me – it’s a real singalong classic.  Things that are great about it:

  1. The very relatable poetic evocation of what it feels like to be nostalgic for your teenage years.
  2. The reference to Tiny Dancer.
  3. The section describing what all the old friends are doing now – I think it’s lyrically very beautiful.
  4. The fact that Suffolk Police needed to emphasise road safety in response to the ‘driving at ninety down these country lanes‘ lyric.  If you’ve ever driven on British country lanes, you’ll know why ninety miles an hour is not a good idea.

Track 2: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Human

Great track – I love the atmosphere on this one!  It was also used really effectively in the trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was a game I actually really loved.

Track 3: Little Mix – Touch

Good solid piece of pop – I really like this tune.

Track 4: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Starboy

Another great atmosphere.

Track 5: The Chainsmokers – Paris

The tune’s pretty depressing, but the lyrics are quite good.

Track 6: Starley – Call On Me [Ryan Riback Remix]

There’s something I find really irritating about the tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals.

Track 7: Anne-Marie – Ciao Adios

Great pop track!  Really danceable – we did a cooldown to this one in Zumba class for a while – and the tune’s good too.

Track 8: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

The tune’s a bit generic, but I like the ’80s feel.

Track 9: Zara Larsson – I Would Like

I find this tune really irritating.

Track 10: Katy Perry and Skip Marley – Chained To The Rhythm

Interesting theme, and it’s got a good beat.

Track 11: Sean Paul and Dua Lipa – No Lie

Another irritating tune.

Track 12: Martin Jensen – Solo Dance

It’s an okay beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 13: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

I really don’t like this tune – it’s very depressing.  Also, I was really irritated at the time when the Viva music channel would always mute out the word ‘rum’ in the lyric ‘drinking rum and cola‘, because apparently it’s not acceptable even to say the names of alcoholic drinks before the watershed nowadays.

Track 14: Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe

Boring and slow.

Track 15: Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson – Just Hold On

Very generic dance track, nothing special here.

Track 16: Dua Lipa – Be The One

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on track 11.

It’s got quite a good chillout feel, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 17: Jonas Blue and Raye – By Your Side

Highly irritating tune, and it’s too high-pitched.

Track 18: Coldplay – Hypnotised

Too slow, forgettable tune, so dull I can’t concentrate.

Track 19: John Legend – Love Me Now

The tune’s okay, but it’s another one where I can’t get onboard with the theme.

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Love My Life

Great to see Robbie Williams still going strong, even if this song is almost tipping into self-parody.

Track 21: George Michael – Fastlove

We’ve already had this one on Now! #35, but as it was included here as a tribute to the late great George Michael shortly after his passing, I’ll let it slide.

See the link for my review.

Track 22: Jax Jones and Raye – You Don’t Know Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Raye on track 17.

I really like this track though – the bridge is awesome, and it’s got a great beat.

Track 23: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Feel It Coming

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both the Weeknd and Daft Punk on track 4.

This one’s too cheesy for me, and not upbeat enough.  I like the retro feel though.

Track 24: Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa – Scared To Be Lonely

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on both track 11 and track 16.  This is getting annoying!

Yet another irritating tune.

Track 25: Kygo and Selena Gomez – It Ain’t Me

Again, there’s something that really annoys me about the tune.

Track 26: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane – Black Beatles

Great rhythm, but the tune’s very repetitive.

Track 27: Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello – Bad Things

I quite like this one – the tune on the chorus is nice.

Track 28: Sage The Gemini – Now And Later

I find this track pretty dull – it could do with a bit more melody.

Track 29: Tinie Tempah and Tinashe – Text From Your Ex

I quite like the atmosphere, but the tune’s nothing special.

Track 30: Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

Great rap track – the rhythm on this is awesome.

Track 31: Tom Zanetti and Sadie Ama – You Want Me

Takes ages to get going.  When it does, the tune’s very irritating and sounds almost off-key.

Track 32: Martin Solveig and Ina Wroldsen – Places

Another annoying tune.

Track 33: Robin Schulz, David Guetta and Cheat Codes – Shed A Light

I’m just not keen on this at all – it’s cheesy and generic.

Track 34: MO and Kent Jones – Not In Love

It’s another very forgettable tune, but I quite like the reggae-tinged beat.

Track 35: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Skin

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rag ‘N’ Bone Man on track 2.

The tune’s very pretty, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 36: Train – Play That Song

Extremely irritating and twee!

Track 37: The Vamps and Matoma – All Night

That chorus is insanely annoying with its kiddie-sounding vocals, and the rest of the track’s not much better.

Track 38: Ariana Grande and Future – Everyday

Too slow for me, and the track’s very messy.

Track 39: Major Lazer, PartyNextDoor and Nicki Minaj – Run Up

Another irritating tune, but it’s got quite a good beat.

Track 40: Post Malone and Quavo – Congratulations

Not keen on the tune on this one.

Track 41: Julia Michaels – Issues

I really don’t like this one – the vocal style and rhythm are kind of stop-start, the tune’s nothing special, and the theme annoys me.

Track 42: Lorde – Green Light

This is a great song – I love the beat and the way it builds.  Wonderful track.

Track 43: Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos – Slide

The kiddie-sounding bit of the vocals are just incoherent shouting, and the tune’s pretty dull, but I like the retro-sounding instrumentals.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #95

Day 95, and we’re at Now! #95, which was released on 18th November 2016.

November 2016
This is how the world looked in November 2016. Running was much harder when I was bigger (you can see the tailrunner just behind me, which means I was the last finisher out of several hundred people…again), but I’m a stubborn cow and I still went out and did it every week. (Photo by Maggie Davison at Newcastle parkrun.)

Time for some party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #95
Track 1: James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

I can’t stand this one!  It’s so saccharine, and the theme just sits really awkwardly with me.

Track 2: Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex

Great solid piece of pop – really like this.

Track 3: Clean Bandit, Sean Paul and Anne-Marie – Rockabye

The Christmas number one for 2016 – and, notably, the first Christmas number one since 1999 that wasn’t either a charity single or a talent show winner.  It’s a good song – although I find the theme too cheesy – but really I like this one for the hilarious bit in the video where all the old dudes in the pub mime along to Sean Paul’s vocals.

Track 4: The Chainsmokers and Halsey – Closer

It’s a bit repetitive, but I quite like this tune.  The lyrics are pretty daft though!

Track 5: Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and Mø – Cold Water

It’s an okay tune, but it’s a bit generic.

Track 6: Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj – Side To Side

Great piece of pop – love the rhythm on this.

Track 7: Sia – The Greatest

I find the chorus really grating, but the tune on the verses is okay.

Track 8: Calvin Harris – My Way

Nothing to do with the Frank Sinatra song.  This one’s got an irritating tune, and is very repetitive.

Track 9: Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd – Starving

Cheesy, too slow, and the lyrics are a bit awkward.

Track 10: MO – Who Do You Think Of?

This is the girl group MO, not to be confused with the solo singer Mø who also appears on this Now! compilation (twice).  This is a good, danceable pop tune – quite like this one.

Track 11: Neiked and Dyo – Sexual

Highly irritating tune, too high-pitched, awkward theme.  Not a fan.

Track 12: Anne-Marie – Alarm

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Anne-Marie on track 3.

Great atmosphere, but again I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 13: Olly Murs – You Don’t Know Love

I quite like this one – there’s a nice ’80s tinge to the backing track.

Track 14: Mø – Final Song

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Mø on track 5.

Pretty tune though, quite like this one.

Track 15: Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know

The tune is super irritating, but the video, which parodies the Pokémon Go phenomenon, is great.

Track 16: JP Cooper – September Song

The chorus for this rips off the chorus of Jealous by Nick Jonas, so whenever I get one or the other stuck in my head it usually turns into an unwelcome mash-up.  The rest of the tune is just annoying.

Track 17: Shawn Mendes – Mercy

Too slow for me, but it’s an okay tune.

Track 18: Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You

Dull, saccharine and irritating.

Track 19: Emeli Sandé – Hurts

Great tune, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Michael Bublé – I Believe In You

Too cheesy for me.

Track 21: Craig David – All We Needed

The official Children In Need single for 2016 – and it’s finally something that’s not a cover!  I’m so glad the trend has finally shifted!

What I’m not glad about is that this track is super slow.  The piano’s nice, though.

Track 22: Drake, Wizkid and Kyla – One Dance

This was number one for fifteen weeks in the summer of 2016, equalling the second place for longest-lasting number one held by Wet Wet Wet since 1994 for Love Is All Around.  I found this really interesting – because I have clear memories of the Wet Wet Wet chart run from when I was nine, I was able to compare the way fifteen weeks felt as a child versus as an adult.  It went a lot quicker as an adult, because time always does (I’m a firm believer in the theory that we are constantly subconsciously comparing intervals of time to our total life so far, which is why time just gets faster and faster as you age), but it also felt like I did and achieved more, probably because I was running and working so much during that summer.

Anyway, the track.  It’s got a good beat, and the tune’s okay, but it certainly didn’t deserve to be number one for fifteen weeks.  Thankfully it didn’t equal or beat Bryan Adams’ 1991 record of sixteen weeks for Everything I Do (I Do It For You), so that still stands.

Track 23: DJ Snake and Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 5.

This tune is almost unbearably irritating and cheesy.  Not my thing at all.

Track 24: Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl

The tune’s a bit annoying, but it’s got a good rhythm.

Track 25: Sigma and Birdy – Find Me

Too slow, but the atmosphere’s okay.

Track 26: Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha – In The Name Of Love

Pretty tune on the vocals, but the electro hook annoys me.

Track 27: Nevada, Mark Morrison and Fetty Wap – The Mack

This is the second ’10s cover version of Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit Return Of The Mack, after the one by Mann, Iyaz and Snoop Dogg in 2011 (which was also called The Mack).  It doesn’t really add anything to the original.

Track 28: Tieks and Dan Harkna – Sunshine

It’s got a good beat, but the tune annoys me.

Track 29: Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault

Okay tune, but the theme is really problematic.

Track 30: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Lvndscape and Bolier – Is This Love

Semi-cover of the 1978 classic, with some dance rhythms over the top.  It’s got a good atmosphere, but it can’t touch the original.

Track 31: Digital Farm Animals, Cash Cash and Nelly – Millionaire

Irritating kiddie-style vocals on the chorus, and the tune annoys me.

Track 32: Snakehips and Zayn – Cruel

Forgettable tune, boring vocals.

Track 33: Matoma and Becky Hill – False Alarm

Another bland tune.

Track 34: Galantis and Hook ‘N’ Sling – Love On Me

I’ve never been keen on the vocals on this one, which sound to me like someone is faking a Scottish accent.

Track 35: Charli XCX and Lil’ Yachty – After The Afterparty

Irritating tune, but I quite like the theme.

Track 36: Dua Lipa – Blow Your Mind (Mwah)

Good beat, annoying chorus.

Track 37: Louisa Johnson – So Good

Good solid piece of pop with a great atmosphere.  Not keen on the theme though.

Track 38: James TW – When You Love Someone

Pretty tune, but it’s a bit too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 39: Wilkinson and Karen Harding – Sweet Lies

I find this tune very generic, and the beat is like every other dance track this decade.

Track 40: Craig David and Sigala – Ain’t Giving Up

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David on track 21.

I quite like the tune and the tinkly instrumentals, but the chorus is kind of annoying.

Track 41: Charlie Puth – Dangerously

Good atmosphere, but it’s a little too high-pitched for me and the theme’s a bit saccharine.

Track 42: Offaiah – Trouble

Very repetitive tune, not keen.

Track 43: Christine & The Queens – Tilted

Good, interesting track.  I really like the instrumentals on this one, and there’s something lovely and classic about the vocals.

Track 44: Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion

I like the rock edge on this one.

Track 45: Niall Horan – This Town

Saccharine acoustic ballad, and I don’t like the theme.  In short, it’s pretty much everything I dislike.