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 #89

Day 89 means Now! #89, which was released on 24th November 2014.

November 2014
This is how the world looked in November 2014. Buffalo Bill’s was our favourite restaurant in Southampton, and so we went there for our wedding anniversary. I was wearing that silver top (which I originally bought for Millennium Eve in 1999 and is one of the many things I only just got rid of – I can’t remember whether I binned it or put it in storage) because I always wear my wedding shoes (which are silver) for our anniversary date, and my style is very matchy-matchy.

Let’s see what was in the charts during our final few months in Southampton.

Now! That's What I Call Music #89
Track 1: Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass

Love this one!  Great mid-century retro tinge, brilliant theme, and it’s another one to which my Southampton Zumba class did a really fun routine.

Track 2: Olly Murs and Travie McCoy – Wrapped Up

Love the retro feel, but I could do without the rap.

Track 3: Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj – Bang Bang

Good solid pop track – really like this one.

Track 4: Nico & Vinz – Am I Wrong

I really like the tune on this track.

Track 5: Magic – Rude

I can’t stand this one – the theme’s just awful!  Irritatingly, it was constantly stuck in my head at the time as well.

Track 6: Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One

Too slow for me.

Track 7: Tom Odell – Real Love

This one was the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert song (it was the year of Monty the penguin), so it still gets played on the music channels at Christmas time.  Again, it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 8: Gareth Malone and All Star Choir – Wake Me Up

Gareth Malone’s project for Children In Need 2014 – a choir of celebrities doing a cover of Avicii’s Wake Me Up.  It’s not that exciting, but the voice-spotting can be quite fun.

Track 9: Ed Sheeran – Don’t

Good rhythm, interesting vocals – quite like this one.

Track 10: George Ezra – Blame It On Me

I’m not too keen on the tune on this one.

Track 11: The Script – Superheroes

It’s got a good epic feel, but it’s a bit cheesy.

Track 12: OneRepublic – Love Runs Out

I really like this one – the atmosphere is great.

Track 13: Maroon 5 – Maps

Pretty tune, quite summery.

Track 14: Hozier – Take Me To Church

Beautiful track – the tune, atmosphere and theme are all absolutely stunning.

Track 15: Charli XCX – Boom Clap

I find this one pretty generic.

Track 16: One Direction – Steal My Girl

Irritating tune, irritating theme.

Track 17: The Vamps and Shawn Mendes – Oh Cecelia (Breaking My Heart)

Uninspired cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic with new verses.  Not a fan.

Track 18: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Amnesia

Too slow and saccharine for me.

Track 19: GRL – Ugly Heart

I really like this upbeat pop song.  Sadly, group member Simone Battle passed away during the promotion of this track, and they’ve not really had any hits since.

Track 20: Katy Perry – This Is How We Do

It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s pretty repetitive.

Track 21: Cheryl and Tinie Tempah – Crazy Stupid Love

It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s a bit annoying.

Track 22: Ella Henderson – Glow

Pretty tune, but it’s a little slow for my liking.

Track 23: The Veronicas – You Ruin Me

Dull and depressing.

Track 24: Calvin Harris and John Newman – Blame

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

Track 25: Sigma and Paloma Faith – Changing

Nice upbeat, feelgood track.  Quite like this one.

Track 26: Lilly Wood and Robin Schulz – Prayer In C

It’s not the kind of thing I usually like, but I’ve got a soft spot for this tune.

Track 27: Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – Real Love

I like some of the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals irritates me.

Track 28: Jeremih and YG – Don’t Tell ‘Em

The beat on the various lines of this is very jarring.  Not keen.  Also, that Rhythm Is A Dancer interpolation is done really badly.

Track 29: David Guetta and Sam Martin – Lovers On The Sun

Great Western-tinged instrumentals, and the tune’s quite nice.  Good stuff.

Track 30: Waze & Odyssey and R Kelly – Bump And Grind 2014

Reworking of R Kelly’s 1994 song.  I’m not keen on the original anyway, and this dance version is just messy.

Track 31: Ariana Grande and Zedd – Break Free

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 3.

Very uninspired and irritating tune.

Track 32: Nicole Scherzinger – Your Love

Another track where the tune is so bland I’m not sure it even counts as a tune.

Track 33: Pitbull and John Ryan – Fireball

Good beat on this one – very danceable.

Track 34: Wankelmut, Emma Louise and Mark Kinchen – My Head Is A Jungle [MK Remix]

That chorus is horribly irritating!

Track 35: ZHU – Faded

I like the retro-sounding bassline, but in general it’s too repetitive for me.

Track 36: Duke Dumont – Won’t Look Back

One of those ’90s-sounding dance track from the mid-’10s.  It’s a bit too generic for my liking.

Track 37: Parra For Cuva and Anna Naklab – Wicked Games

Guitar-driven dance cover of Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.  It’s not a patch on the original, which is beautiful – somehow this version manages to be dull.

Track 38: Fuse ODG and Angel – TINA

Nice feelgood tune, quite like this one.

Track 39: Ten Walls – Walking With Elephants

Takes ages to get going.  When it does, it’s okay, but nothing special.

Track 40: Kiesza – Giant In My Heart

Some interesting lines on the backing track, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 41: The Magician and Years & Years – Sunlight

Another generic, bland tune.

Track 42: Melissa Steel and Popcaan – Kisses For Breakfast

I had this one stuck in my head for years afterwards.  Thankfully it’s an okay tune.

Track 43: Professor Green and Tori Kelly – Lullaby

The tune on the sung vocals is pretty, but I find the theme too depressing.

Track 44: Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora – Black Widow

Good atmosphere, but the tune is fairly uninspired.

Track 45: Nicki Minaj – Anaconda

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Nicki Minaj on track 3.

I find the theme on this one painfully stupid.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #88

Day 88 takes us to Now! #88, which came out on 21st July 2014.

July 2014
This is how the world looked in July 2014. The Wetherspoons cider festival was one of my summer highlights for a few years – I’ve not partaken in a while. Too much going on in July these days!  That beetroot cider remains the most interesting one I’ve ever tasted.

Let’s see what would have been blasting on the Wetherspoons sound system that summer.

Now! That's What I Call Music #88
Track 1: Ella Henderson – Ghost

The tune on the chorus is very atmospheric, but unfortunately the verses are very dull.

Track 2: Ed Sheeran – Sing

Nice epic track – really like this one.

Track 3: Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Saccharine ballad.  It’s very highly lauded but it’s not my kind of thing.

Track 4: George Ezra – Budapest

Interesting style, good tune – great track.

Track 5: Mr Probz – Waves [Robin Schulz Remix]

This is the kind of summer chillout I can get behind.  Great, melancholy tune.

Track 6: Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea – Problem

Very danceable pop track with some awesome trumpet instrumentals – really like this.

Track 7: Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

It’s got a good beat, but I find the tune irritating.

Track 8: Coldplay – A Sky Full Of Stars

Extremely grating – nothing redeeming here.

Track 9: Aloe Blacc – The Man

I do like the interpolation of Elton John’s Your Song on the chorus, but the verse is a bit bland.

Track 10: Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake – Love Never Felt So Good

Posthumous Michael Jackson release, cobbled together from a 1983 demo track and with Justin Timberlake drafted in to add extra vocals.  Obviously, I love that ’80s sound.

Track 11: will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday

I really like this one – it’s actually replaced 50 Cent’s In Da Club as the song that gets stuck in my head on my actual birthday.

Track 12: Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX – Fancy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Iggy Azalea on track 6.

The song is pretty dull, but the Clueless-homage video is quite fun.

Track 13: Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne and Tyga – Loyal

I quite like the electro hook, but the rap is fairly boring.

Track 14: Clean Bandit and Sharna Bass – Extraordinary

Too slow for my liking, and the tune is pretty forgettable.

Track 15: Jess Glynne – Right Here

Very bland, irritating song.

Track 16: Ella Eyre – If I Go

There’s a bit too much going on with this track, and I don’t find the tune very interesting.

Track 17: MKTO – Classic

Good solid pop track – it’s a bit cheesy, but I quite like it.

Track 18: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Don’t Stop

Another good bit of pop-rock from 5 Seconds Of Summer.  Happily chair-dancing here.

Track 19: Little Mix – Salute

I can’t stand this song.  For some reason it still constantly ends up in my head four years later!  I would pay good money to be able to forget about this one.

Track 20: Rixton – Me And My Broken Heart

I love the tune on this one – nice and epic.

Track 21: The Vamps and Demi Lovato – Somebody To You

Some highly irritating chanting throughout, and the tune’s pretty uninspired.

Track 22: Idina Menzel – Let It Go

The big musical number from Frozen.  Awesomely epic, great to attempt at karaoke (not that I ever go anywhere near karaoke these days).

Track 23: Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – Rather Be

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Clean Bandit on track 14 and Jess Glynne on track 15.

The vocals are a little irritating, but the instrumentals are immense.

Track 24: Kiesza – Hideaway

Great beat, great tune.  Big fan of this one.

Track 25: Oliver Heldens and Becky Hill – Gecko (Overdrive)

This one’s a generic dance track with some very irritating instrumental lines.

Track 26: Sigma – Nobody To Love

I quite like that piano at the start, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 27: Calvin Harris – Summer

Probably my favourite summer-themed dance track of the decade.  The tune is gorgeous and it builds beautifully.

Track 28: Secondcity – I Wanna Feel

I do like the ’90s-influenced trend that was big in dance music around this time, and it works nicely here, but I find the tune very repetitive.

Track 29: Klingande – Jubel

Interesting track, and I always appreciate a bit of saxophone.

Track 30: Faul & Wad Ad and Pnau – Changes

This track’s got some incredibly annoying kiddie vocals throughout, but it does also have saxophone, so I don’t know whether I like it or not.

Track 31: Fuse ODG and Sean Paul – Dangerous Love

This was another track to which we did a really good routine at my Zumba class in Southampton.  I have a real soft spot for this one.

Track 32: DJ Fresh, TC and Little Nikki – Make U Bounce

I like the videogame-esque instrumentals at the start, and the track’s got a good beat, but there’s a bit too much going on.

Track 33: Shift K3Y – Touch

Boring tune, and I find the theme pretty awkward.

Track 34: MK and Alana – Always [Route 94 Remix]

I don’t like this tune at all – there’s something that sounds slightly offkey about it, and the vocals jar unpleasantly with the backing track.

Track 35: Tiësto and Matthew Koma – Wasted

Irritating theme, irritating tune.

Track 36: John Martin – Anywhere For You

Another boring song.

Track 37: Cash Cash and Bebe Rexha – Take Me Home

I like the ’80s-tinged synth on the backing track, but the vocals are super annoying.

Track 38: Matrix & Futurebound and Tanya Lacey – Don’t Look Back

The tune is fairly dull, but again I quite like some of the lines on the backing track.

Track 39: Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg – Wiggle

I like the atmosphere on this one, but the theme is super creepy.

Track 40: DJ Cassidy, Robin Thicke and Jessie J – Calling All Hearts

Great ’70s-tinged disco sound on this one!

Track 41: Neon Jungle – Welcome To The Jungle

Another awesome atmosphere – great stuff.

Track 42: Sia – Chandelier

Gorgeous, epic track.  It’s a little overplayed these days, but the vocals are just wonderful.

Track 43: The Vamps – Last Night

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had the Vamps on track 21.

The tune’s a bit generic, but I quite like the pop-rock style.

Track 44: Tove Lo and Hippie Sabotage – Stay High

Too slow for me, and I find the tune boring.

Track 45: Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

I find this ballad a bit overblown and irritating.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #87

Day 87 equals Now! #87, which came out on 7th April 2014.

April 2014
This is how the world looked in April 2014…on a slightly overcast day in Salisbury. That hoodie, along with most of my hoodie collection, is far too big for me now and has been relegated to the pyjama drawer.

Into the mid-’10s already!  2014 was my last full year living in Southampton.  Let’s see what the chart sounded like.

Now! That's What I Call Music #87
Track 1: Pharrell Williams – Happy

It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s very joyful and danceable, so I quite like it.

Track 2: Route 94 and Jess Glynne – My Love

Annoying tune, generic track.  Not keen on this one.

Track 3: Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull – I’m A Freak

Good beat, but the tune’s pretty uninspired, and the chorus is really irritating.

Track 4: Avicii – Hey Brother

Another of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Quite like this track.

Track 5: Katy Perry and Juicy J – Dark Horse

Great atmosphere, and it’s got an okay tune.

Track 6: Sam Smith – Money On My Mind

I find this tune pretty irritating, and I’ve never been a fan of Sam Smith’s falsetto vocals.

Track 7: Little Mix – Word Up!

Pointless cover of the Cameo classic, released as the official Sport Relief single for 2014.  While the cover is pointless, the video is great – highlights include Chris Barrie reprising his role from The Brittas Empire and Melanie C showing she can still do those Spice Girl cartwheels.

Track 8: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect

Great bit of pop-rock – really like this tune!

Track 9: Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

Irritating overblown ballad, not a fan.

Track 10: Pixie Lott – Nasty

Great beat, good big band feel –  very danceable.

Track 11: One Direction – Story Of My Life

Boring, slow, cheesy, and too acoustic-y for me.  Everything I dislike.

Track 12: Gary Barlow – Let Me Go

Okay beat, but the tune is dull.

Track 13: Alesso and OneRepublic – If I Lose Myself

Generic tune – nothing exciting going on here.

Track 14: Gorgon City and MNEK – Ready For Your Love

Another very uninspired track, with a dance beat that’s the same as every other dance beat from this decade.

Track 15: The Vamps – Wild Heart

Too cheesy for me, but it’s got quite a good rhythm.

Track 16: Lady Gaga and R Kelly – Do What U Want

The atmosphere’s okay, but again the tune’s not very interesting.

Track 17: Elyar Fox – Do It All Over Again

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

It’s an okay pop song with a good beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 18: Katy B – Crying For No Reason

This one’s a bit depressing, but the tune is quite pretty.

Track 19: John Legend – All Of Me

It’s very saccharine, but parts of the tune are absolutely beautiful, so I quite like it.

Track 20: A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera – Say Something

Another boring, mood-killing ballad.

Track 21: Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You

And yet another one.

Track 22: Sam Bailey – Skyscraper

The 2013 X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of a Demi Lovato song.  Nothing interesting here.

Track 23: The Chainsmokers – #Selfie

That title is going to look so dated in decades to come.  Mind you, I don’t think anyone makes pop music with the thought that it’s going to be listened to in the future anymore – it’s all a bit disposable these days.  Anyway, this is interspersed throughout with the most annoying spoken word sample ever, which I think is meant to be the point, but it doesn’t make it in any way pleasant to listen to.

Track 24: Pitbull and Kesha – Timber

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

At my Zumba class in Southampton, we used to do a really fun, high energy, line dance-inspired routine to this, which I absolutely loved.  As such, I’ve got a soft spot for this song.

Track 25: DVBBS, Borgeous and Tinie Tempah – Tsunami (Jump)

Great rhythm – happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Calvin Harris, Alesso and Hurts – Under Control

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Alesso on track 13.

This is another one with a very unmemorable tune.

Track 27: Martin Garrix and Jay Hardway – Wizard

The hook’s okay, but everything that surrounds it is off – it could have created quite a good atmosphere if the track weren’t so messy.

Track 28: Tiësto – Red Lights

Depressingly generic tune.

Track 29: Duke Dumont and Jax Jones – I Got U

I like the steel drums, but otherwise it’s fairly boring.

Track 30: Bastille – Of The Night

Track completely made up of interpolations of Snap’s Rhythm Is A Dancer and Corona’s The Rhythm Of The Night, so I guess it’s sort of a cover.  I love both tracks so I don’t mind – this compilation has had so many boring forgettable tunes on that it’s a relief to hear a tune I like, even if it’s not original.

Track 31: Example – Kids Again

I like the backing track, but again I’m just not enthused by the tune.

Track 32: Little Mix – Move

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Little Mix on track 7.

This one’s a nice solid bit of pop – good stuff.

Track 33: Neon Jungle – Braveheart

Good solid pop tune – this one’s quite danceable.

Track 34: DJ Fresh, Jay Fay and Ms Dynamite – Dibby Dibby Sound

Bit of a Zumba theme to this playlist, because this is one that we danced to in a Zumba class I was attending in Newcastle last year.  I really need to go back to dance class – I fell out of the habit during the move and am a bit too busy at the moment.  Maybe in the autumn.

Anyway, this one’s a bit repetitive to listen to, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 35: Tujamo, Plastik Funk and Sneakbo – Dr Who!

I’m a bit surprised I ignored this one when it was in the charts, because I’m always looking for daft vaguely Doctor Who-related songs to add to that Doctor Who playlist I’m going to create at some point in the future.

It’s a bit tuneless, but it’s got a good beat.  It’d be nice if the lyrics were slightly more relevant to the title.

Track 36: Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne – Thank You

I find the rap a bit awkward.  Good rhythm, though, and the sample of Alicia Myers’ 1981 hit I Wanna Thank You is awesome.

Track 37: Fuse ODG – Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)

Great atmosphere, good tune.  Really like this one.

Track 38: John Newman – Out Of My Head

Too slow for me, and the tune’s pretty depressing.

Track 39: Sub Focus – Turn Back Time

Bit of ’90s-tinged dance – great atmosphere.

Track 40: Matrix & Futurebound and Max Marshall – Control

Good beat, but this is another forgettable tune.

Track 41: Foxes – Let Go For Tonight

I like that piano at the start, and the chorus is epic.

Track 42: Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

Interesting tune, good beat.  Not a bad track.

Track 43: Le Youth and Dominique Young Unique – Dance With Me

Great beat, and it’s got a welcome ’80s tinge.  Love the No Scrubs interpolation too.  Good stuff.

Track 44: London Grammar – Hey Now

I quite like the backing track, but the tune’s boring and it’s too slow.

Track 45: Vance Joy – Riptide

Endearingly daft lyrics, feelgood tune.  Big fan of this.

Track 46: American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

Good beat, but it’s a bit too twee for me.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #82

Day 82 brings us to Now! #82, which came out on 23rd July 2012.

July 2012
This is the way the world looked in July 2012. Our Southampton flat was a bombsite because we were about to move at the end of that August, our wedding was set for the November, I was finishing the first draft of a novel, I had a million and one things to do…and yet my nose was buried in The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s. Some days I think there’s no hope for my procrastination habit. Other days, when I feel I never get a break, I think I could learn a few lessons from my twenty-seven-year-old self.

Let’s have a listen to some summer hits I would have been far too busy to go partying to.  Except when I felt like it.

Now! That's What I Call Music #82
Track 1: Fun and Janelle Monáe – We Are Young

Gorgeous atmosphere, awesome tune.  A favourite.

Track 2: Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

I’ve always had a soft spot for this feelgood track.  Love the instrumental hook.

Track 3: Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa – Payphone

Very pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 4: Flo Rida – Whistle

I find the theme and chorus of this track a bit irritating.

Track 5: Coldplay and Rihanna – Princess Of China

Another beautiful tune.  Really like the way this works as a duet.

Track 6: Rudimental and John Newman – Feel The Love

I like the vocals, but I find the rest of the track a bit dull.

Track 7: Nicki Minaj – Starships

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

Track 8: Rihanna – Where Have You Been

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

This one’s pretty uninspired and forgettable.

Track 9: Rita Ora and Tinie Tempah – RIP

Another annoying theme, and I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 10: Conor Maynard – Can’t Say No

Daft theme, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 11: Justin Bieber – Boyfriend

Justin Bieber sounding like Justin Timberlake.  It’s not a bad tune though.

Track 12: Ed Sheeran – Small Bump

I find this one really depressing!

Track 13: D’Banj – Oliver Twist

Good danceable track, great atmosphere.

Track 14: Stooshe – Black Heart

Another nice retro-tinged track from Stooshe – good stuff.

Track 15: Katy Perry – Part Of Me

The verse sounds too similar to David Guetta and Rihanna’s Who’s That Chick?, and the chorus is pretty generic.

Track 16: Marina & The Diamonds – Primadonna

Pretty tune – quite like this one.

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Picking Up The Pieces

Depressing, annoying tune.

Track 18: Train – Drive By

Good beat, but the theme and tune are irritating.

Track 19: Cover Drive – Sparks

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 20: Jason Mraz – I Won’t Give Up

So slow and depressing that I actively dislike it.

Track 21: Alex Clare – Too Close

Great atmosphere, builds beautifully.

Track 22: Emeli Sandé – My Kind Of Love

Lovely tune, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 23: will.i.am and Eva Simons – This Is Love

I really like this one – beautiful atmosphere, epic chorus.

Track 24: Cheryl – Call My Name

It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s a bit generic.

Track 25: DJ Fresh and Rita Ora – Hot Right Now

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rita Ora on track 9.

This is a great track though – really upbeat and danceable.

Track 26: Tulisa – Young

Annoying tune, but it’s got an okay beat.

Track 27: David Guetta and Nicki Minaj – Turn Me On

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Nicki Minaj on track 7.

Interesting hook, but the vocals are pretty bland.

Track 28: Calvin Harris and Ne-Yo – Let’s Go

Quite like this tune, and it’s very danceable.

Track 29: Usher – Scream

Good beat – happily nodding along to this one.

Track 30: Jessie J and David Guetta – LaserLight

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

Annoying tune, uninspired bland electro lines.  Just boring.

Track 31: Chris Brown – Turn Up The Music

Another forgettable dance track.

Track 32: The Wanted – Chasing The Sun

Quite like this one – it’s very danceable, and the atmosphere’s great.

Track 33: The Saturdays – 30 Days

Another one with a good rhythm, but the tune’s a little repetitive.

Track 34: Loreen – Euphoria

The Eurovision winner for 2012.  Great tune, awesome atmosphere.

Track 35: Swedish House Mafia – Greyhound

Great beat, and it’s got a nice epic feel, but again it’s very repetitive.

Track 36: Azealia Banks and Lazy Jay – 212

Love this one – the rhythm is awesome.

Track 37: Plan B – Ill Manors

Great atmosphere, but it’s another one that’s too repetitive for me.

Track 38: B.o.B – So Good

Love that piano at the start.  Good stuff.

Track 39: Sway – Level Up

There’s some interesting lines here – I like the hint of harmonica – but on the whole it’s too messy for me.

Track 40: Taio Cruz and Pitbull – There She Goes

Daft lyrics, generic tune.  Not hugely keen on this one.

Track 41: Labrinth – Express Yourself

Interesting rhythm, but I find the tune pretty irritating.

Track 42: Scissor Sisters – Only The Horses

The tune’s okay, but it’s a bit forgettable.

Track 43: Lawson – When She Was Mine

Boring tune, cheesy lyrics.  Not my thing.

Track 44: Gary Barlow, The Commonwealth Band and Military Wives – Sing

Song released to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  It’s cheesy and fairly awful.