Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #57

Day 57 brings us to Now! #57, which came out on 5th April 2004.

April 2004
This is the way the world looked in April 2004, or at least the bit that was me and the wee bro (clearly not quite as wee as he once was) silhouetted against central Manhattan. I am very behind on furnishing trends and that lampshade looks pretty futuristic to me even now, fourteen years later.

We’re really getting into the mid-’00s now.  Bring on the pop-punk and anthemic festival rock!

Now! That's What I Call Music #57
Track 1: Britney Spears – Toxic

Great danceable song – really good piece of pop.

Track 2: Kelis – Milkshake

Good atmosphere, good beat.  I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 3: Jamelia – Thank You

The tune’s a bit generic and forgettable for me.

Track 4: Kylie Minogue – Red Blooded Woman

Good atmosphere, love the instrumentals on this.  Great tune too.

Track 5: Justin Timberlake – I’m Lovin’ It

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

Irritating hooks, messy lines, jarring beat.  Not keen on this one.

Track 6: Enrique Iglesias and Kelis – Not In Love

Repeated artist alert!  We already had Kelis, only four tracks ago.

The track’s got a good beat, and I like the Spanish-tinged guitar and the way the vocals blend together.  Nice tune, although the chorus does slightly rip off Night Games by Graham Bonnet.

Track 7: The Black Eyed Peas – Shut Up

I love this one – probably my all-time favourite Black Eyed Peas track (and there’s some stiff competition from their 2009-2010 era).  In my second year at uni, there was someone in the flat next door who played this on a loop for several weeks, and I still never got sick of it.  Just a gorgeous piece of music.

Track 8: 2 Play and Raghav – So Confused

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

Quite like this tune, and the Latin-tinged instrumentals are nice.

Track 9: Beenie Man and Ms Thing – Dude

I shouldn’t like it, ’cause it’s really repetitive, but there’s something I find quite feelgood and endearing about it.

Track 10: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl

We’ve already had this one, on Now! #34!  This must have been around the time Peter Andre got famous again by going on I’m A Celebrity.  It’s still no excuse!

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 11: DJ Casper – Cha Cha Slide

Slow to get going, not enough melody.  It’s basically spoken dance instructions with some repetitive instrumentals in the background.

Track 12: Girls Aloud – Jump

Utterly pointless cover of the Pointer Sisters classic.  There’s nothing new here at all.

Track 13: Boogie Pimps – Somebody To Love

Electro cover of the Jefferson Airplane song.  It’s quite nice and atmospheric.

Track 14: Atomic Kitten and Kool & The Gang – Ladies’ Night

Semi-cover of the 1979 classic.  Apparently Kool & The Gang asked Atomic Kitten to ‘update’ the song, but this is a pretty pointless cover, as it doesn’t do anything different.

Track 15: Emma Bunton – I’ll Be There

Pretty ballad – quite like this tune.

Track 16: Sophie Ellis-Bextor – I Won’t Change You

Irritating theme, bland tune.  Not a fan of this.

Track 17: Scissor Sisters – Comfortably Numb

Danceable cover of the Pink Floyd track.  Quite like this one.

Track 18: Deepest Blue – Give It Away

Dull tune, dull beat.  It’s so boring I can’t even concentrate on it.

Track 19: LMC and U2 – Take Me To The Clouds Above

Dance cover of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know? that also samples With Or Without You, hence the U2 involvement.  Proof that no matter how many classic songs you bastardise in your terrible ’00s dance track, it will still be terrible.

Track 20: Special D – Come With Me

Dance track with a pleasant bleepy tune and interesting vocals.  Very danceable.

Track 21: Ultrabeat – Feelin’ Fine

It’s a bit saccharine, but there’s something slightly retro about the vocals that I quite like.

Track 22: Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes

Great beat, great atmosphere.  The vocals are a bit lacking, but it’s otherwise a good track.

Track 23: Ferry Corsten – Rock Your Body Rock

Not sure about the vocoder on the vocals, but I quite like the backing track – it sounds a bit like video game music.

Track 24: Will Young – Leave Right Now

I’ve always found the tune on this one really irritating.

Track 25: Katie Melua – The Closest Thing To Crazy

Actively disliked it at the time, still actively dislike it now.  Annoying and depressing.

Track 26: Norah Jones – Sunrise

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

Track 27: Blue – Breathe Easy

It’s got a nice epic feeling about it, though the tune’s a bit boring.

Track 28: Ozzy Osbourne and Kelly Osbourne – Changes

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

Appallingly cheesy semi-cover of the ’70s Black Sabbath song, with the lyrics altered to reflect the Osbournes’ father-daughter relationship.  I still laugh every time I remember this song coming on in big Bennets*, Edinburgh, and the consequent furious pub ranting of a mate of a mate who was a Black Sabbath fan.

*Not to be confused with wee Bennets, Edinburgh.  Big Bennets is in Tollcross, wee Bennets is in Morningside.

Track 29: Blink-182 – I Miss You

It’s the lead track off the infamous album where Blink-182 grew up and went serious.  This one’s okay, but my favourite track from that album is All Of This, a duet with the Cure’s Robert Smith.  Worth checking out.

Track 30: Busted – Who’s David

Generic tune, offputting jealousy theme in the lyrics.  Not keen.

Track 31: Fountains Of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom

I adore this hilarious track.  It’s not even a guilty pleasure, I just love it.  Brilliant stuff.

Track 32: Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out

Great, classic piece of ’00s rock.  Love the intro, love the way the main song kicks in.

Track 33: Alistair Griffin – Bring It On

Bland, uninspired tune, boring acoustic-y instrumentals.  Not my thing at all.

Track 34: Sugababes – Too Lost In You

Gorgeous track.  It’s one of those ones that’s been turned into a Christmas song in recent years – it was on the Love Actually soundtrack and the film features heavily in the video, hence the music channels always adding it to their Christmas playlists – but the song’s lovely to listen to any time of year.

Track 35: VS – Love You Like Mad

Twee instrumentals, annoying vocals.  Not for me.

Track 36: Joss Stone – Fell In Love With A Boy

Quite like this soul track – it’s a bit different to what was generally going on in the charts at the time.

Track 37: FYA and Smujji – Must Be Love

Quite like the atmosphere on the intro, but I’m not keen on the rap, and the sung sections are very generic-sounding.

Track 38: NERD – She Wants To Move

Good head-nodder – I’ve always quite liked this one.

Track 39: Jamie Cullum – Frontin’ [Live]

I’m not hugely keen on most of Jamie Cullum’s laid-back lounge-y jazz stuff – it’s not exciting enough for me.  I don’t like live versions either.

Track 40: Keane – Somewhere Only We Know

Overplayed, irritatingly twee tune.  I actually prefer the Lily Allen cover that was done for the John Lewis Christmas advert a few years back.

Track 41: Snow Patrol – Run

Classic lighters-in-the-air anthem – gorgeous tune.

Track 42: Alex Parks – Maybe That’s What It Takes

Boring, slow ballad.  Not my kind of thing.

Track 43: Ronan Keating – She Believes (In Me)

An even slower ballad, with ‘bonus’ saccharine lyrics.  The tune’s awful too.

Track 44: Michelle McManus – All This Time

Nice tune, but it’s another one that’s too slow for my liking.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #40

Day 40, and Now! #40, which takes us to 3rd August 1998.

August 1998
This is how the world looked in August 1998. There were maybe other things going on in the world that weren’t me posing on a rock, but this is what you get today. I loved that blue chenille cardigan and wore it constantly for my entire teenage years – I still have it in my keepsakes collection.

Let’s see what the hits were that summer!

Now! That's What I Call Music #40
Track 1: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – Grease Megamix

Megamix of You’re The One That I Want, Greased Lightnin’ and Summer Nights from the 1978 film.  It was apparently created in 1990 but wasn’t really a hit until the late ’90s.  This was another favourite at my school youth club.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Viva Forever

Lovely tune, nice melancholy atmosphere, gorgeous Spanish guitar.  The last song of the classic Spice Girls run to feature Geri Halliwell, and in many ways it’s a nicer farewell song for her than Goodbye was.

Track 3: Karen Ramirez – Looking For Love

I had this one on a Top of the Pops 1998 compilation.  I’ve never been that keen, as I find the tune a bit dull.

Track 4: Billie Piper – Because We Want To

Thought of it as a clearly-awful-but-sort-of-guilty-pleasure at the time, now think it’s just awful, but as a Doctor Who fan it’s always amusing to be reminded of Billie Piper’s ’90s pop career.

Track 5: All Saints – Lady Marmalade

So-so cover of the Labelle track.  It would be eclipsed a few years later by the much-more-memorable Moulin Rouge! soundtrack cover, so I’ve not listened to this one in years.

Track 6: Mousse T and Hot ‘N’ Juicy – Horny

You couldn’t escape this one in 1998, and at the time I quite liked it.  It’s not aged well though.

Track 7: The Tamperer and Maya – Feel It

What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?‘  That is the lyric, right?  It’s what I’ve always heard, anyway.  Everyone called this ‘The Chimney Song’ at the time.  Nowadays I’m more interested in the Can You Feel It? sample, which works quite well in this track.

Track 8: Aqua – Doctor Jones

Follow-up to Barbie Girl.  I remember a few of my friends complaining because they thought Aqua would have been the perfect one-hit wonder.  This one is a bit uninspired, but there are actually quite a few crackers off that first album, so I’m glad they stuck around for a while.

Track 9: Steps – Last Thing On My Mind

Steps lose the comedy line-dance schtick and settle into their standard full-on Abba tribute sound.  I’ve always found this one a bit annoying, to be honest.

Track 10: Groove Generation and Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

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

Semi-cover of Sayer’s 1976 track.  It’s basically a messy cut-up sample-y version of the original with a misplaced rap where the verses used to be.  Not impressed by this one.

Track 11: Bus Stop and Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

Another semi-cover of a ’70s hit, this time with Bus Stop rapping all over Carl Douglas’ classic track.  While it doesn’t quite live up to the original, I’ve always had a soft spot for this version.

Track 12: Ultra Naté – New Kind Of Medicine

Another one that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation, and it’s another boring tune, I’m afraid.

Track 13: Lutricia McNeal – Stranded

Nice piano opening, but the main tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 14: Lighthouse Family – Lost In Space

While it’s not my favourite Lighthouse Family track ’cause it’s a bit slow and dull, I always liked the video because of the helicopter shots of the then-new Angel of the North.  Now that I live near the Angel of the North, that makes it even better.

Track 15: Boyzone – All That I Need

It’s an okay tune, but it’s just a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 16: All Saints – Under The Bridge

Repeated artist alert!  Lady Marmalade and Under The Bridge were a double A-side, and I guess the Now! compilers couldn’t pick which one to include.

It’s a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song that is much less epic than the original.  I quite liked it at the time, though.

Track 17: K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life

I adored this one at the time and even bought the single.  I still think it’s a lovely tune, though it’s a little saccharine for me these days.

Track 18: Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely

Boring tune, irritating instrumentals!  Not keen on this at all.

Track 19: Sparkle and R Kelly – Be Careful

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

Another dull, irritating track that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation (the lyrics are good, but they can’t save the tune).  Looking back, I’m not sure why I bought that compilation – I didn’t actually like most of the tracks that were on it.

Track 20: Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl

Cover of the classic Disney track from Aladdin.  Hated it at the time, still think it’s pretty awful.  It comes nowhere near the original.

Track 21: Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

Classic 1984 hit, back in the charts for some reason.  Not complaining!

Track 22: The Mavericks – Dance The Night Away

Found it annoying then, find it annoying (and depressing) now.  Never been a fan of this one.

Track 23: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

This one, however, I’ve always loved!  Gorgeous tune.

Track 24: Catatonia – Road Rage

Great, classic singalong track from Catatonia.  Wonderful tune.

Track 25: Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake

I’d forgotten about this one!  Great tune with a nice epic chorus.

Track 26: Embrace – Come Back To What You Know

Hated it then, hate it now.  Awful, depressing dirge.

Speaking of which…

Track 27: The Verve – Sonnet

It’s another depressing tune from the Verve, although after that godawful Embrace song, it sounds almost lively.

Track 28: Massive Attack – Teardrop

Great, epic track!  A classic.

Track 29: Mansun – Legacy

This one’s a bit drone-y for my liking.  Not keen.

Track 30: Baddiel & Skinner and The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98

Reworking of Three Lions from 1996 to tie in with the World Cup in 1998.  It’s just as bad as the original.

However…

Track 31: Fat Les – Vindaloo

…if we have to be subjected to England football songs every time it’s the summer of a year that ends in an even number, this is the way to go.  Hilarious song, great video that parodies the awful video for Bitter Sweet Symphony that I mentioned the other day.

Track 32: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

Classic track, anthemic hooks.  Great stuff.

Track 33: David Morales and The Face – Needin’ U

Awful, repetitive dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.

Track 34: Lucid – I Can’t Help Myself

Irritating, depressing dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.  Why did I buy that compilation?

Track 35: Perpetual Motion – Keep On Dancin’ (Let’s Go)

Irritating squeaky hook throughout, repetitive beat, messy lines, uninspired spoken vocal.  It’s time to get out of the imaginary ’90s nightclub again.

Track 36: Barbara Tucker – Everybody Dance (The Horn Song)

Slight throwback sound to this one, which has a vocal that sounds like it should have been released earlier in the ’90s.  The titular horns, meanwhile, are super annoying.

Track 37: Imaani – Where Are You?

Nice atmosphere to this track, quite like it.

Track 38: Adam Garcia – Night Fever

Pointless cover of the Bee Gees track, released as part of the Saturday Night Fever: The Musical soundtrack.  Because of the nature of the release, it was never going to add anything interesting to the original, let’s face it.

Track 39: Kerri-Ann – Do You Love Me Boy?

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

The calypso instrumental is a bit different, and it’s fairly solid pop, but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 40: Los Umbrellos – No Tengo Dinero

Another one I’d forgotten about.  I quite liked it at the time ’cause of the Spanish chorus, but I find the vocal pretty irritating now.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #38

Day 38 takes us to 17th November 1997 with our Now! compilation marathon.

November 1997
This was how the world looked in November 1997 (actually September – it was another autumn where we didn’t really take any photos). I still have that jumper – it’s had a few recent reprieves from wardrobe culls!

Let’s see what was tearing up the charts at the time.

Now! That's What I Call Music #38
Track 1: Chumbawamba – Tubthumping

The ultimate in singalong classics, and a feature of every school disco and a lot of post-school discos in subsequent years.  Brilliant track.  Also, this album version that I’ve found on Spotify has a Brassed Off sample at the start, which makes it even better.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Spice Up Your Life

One of my favourites from the Spice Girls – really like this upbeat, danceable song.

Track 3: Hanson – Where’s The Love

Considering that I played Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere album non-stop for about a year, the fact that I couldn’t remember this song shows you how forgettable it is.  I sort of remember it now I’m listening to it again, but I doubt it’ll stick in my brain long.

Track 4: Boyzone – Picture Of You

I’ve never really liked this one – the tune has always annoyed me.

Track 5: Backstreet Boys – As Long As You Love Me

It should be too saccharine for me, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for it, largely because I always liked the video.

Track 6: Eternal – Angel Of Mine

Absolutely beautiful tune – love this one.

Fun fact: American singer Monica did a completely pointless cover of this that sounds pretty much identical, which was a huge hit in the US, so that’s the version that most people across the pond know.

Track 7: Lighthouse Family – Raincloud

Great, interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit dull.

Track 8: Janet Jackson – Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Love that Big Yellow Taxi sample…but in all honesty, nowadays it just makes me want to listen to Big Yellow Taxi instead.  I remember my dad getting similarly frustrated whenever it came on the radio at the time, ’cause you can’t improve on the original Joni Mitchell track.

Track 9: The Brand New Heavies – You’ve Got A Friend

Dull cover of the Carole King song (which was pretty dull to begin with) with an irritating funk bit over the top.

Track 10: All Saints – I Know Where It’s At

I quite like most of All Saints’ stuff, but this one’s got an annoying tune.  Not keen.

Track 11: Louise – Arms Around The World

Interesting Eastern-tinged instrumentals in the intro, and a nice synth riff running through the verses.  Shame the vocals are so generic.

Track 12: Gala – Freed From Desire

It’s not the kind of thing I normally like, but I’ve always quite enjoyed this one – I like the atmosphere.

Track 13: Sash! and La Trec – Stay

Great electro lines, but the vocals are a bit overblown.

Track 14: Dario G – Sunchyme

Love this electro track – lovely feelgood tune.  Only just realised right now that the sample is Life In A Northern Town – but it’s done really well, so I won’t moan.

Track 15: Tina Moore – Never Gonna Let You Go

Horrendous nails-down-a-blackboard vocal opening!  Then the rest of the track is repetitive and irritating.  Not keen at all.

Track 16: Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #9.  I’m keeping an eye on you, Now! compilers!  I’m guessing this was back in the charts due to The Full Monty.

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 17: N-Trance and Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Slightly messy semi-cover of the 1978 classic.  There are far too many vocal lines going on, but somehow it works.

Track 18: LL Cool J – Phenomenon

Good head-nodder, quite like this one.

Track 19: 911 – Party People…Friday Night

I’ve always quite liked this one, if only for the jaunty days-of-the-week bit in the chorus (I have a similar soft spot for 7 Days by Craig David, but I’m sure we’ll get to that later).

Track 20: Ricky Martin – María

I started studying Spanish the year after this, so I was a huge fan of Ricky Martin and had all his albums.  This one is a great, danceable, Latin-flavoured track, an early indicator of the Latin pop craze that would characterise the turn of the millennium.

Speaking of which…

Track 21: Bellini – Samba De Janeiro

…here’s another.  Absolutely classic trumpet line, great dance track.

Track 22: DJ Quicksilver – Free

Oh, it’s this one!  Really like the electro lines on this – great tune.

Track 23: Wet Wet Wet – Yesterday

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

Utterly pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There is nothing different about this version at all except for an irritating country-tinged twangy guitar instrumental in the middle.

Track 24: George Michael – You Have Been Loved

Lovely tune, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 25: The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work

Depressing in a bad way.  I’ve never been keen on this one.

Track 26: Oasis – Stand By Me

This track has a really irritating chord change sequence in the chorus that messes up the time signature in an infuriating way.  It’s been driving me nuts for over twenty years, and as such, I’m not a fan of this song.

Example of a song that messes up the time signature in a nice, pleasant way: Golden Brown by the Stranglers.  I think I’ll go listen to that once this compilation is done.

Track 27: Embrace – All You Good Good People

Nice tune, but I’m not keen on the vocals, as they sound kind of droning.

Track 28: Faithless – Don’t Leave

I really liked this one at the time ’cause I had it on the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  It’s still a good tune.

Track 29: Radiohead – Karma Police

Great tune, but I’m not hugely keen on the theme.

Track 30: Moby – James Bond Theme

I have often said throughout this Now! marathon that I love a James Bond theme.  This is slightly different, as instead of being a new song released for a James Bond film, it’s an electro cover of the main theme.  It’s okay, but you shouldn’t really mess with a classic.

Track 31: PF Project and Ewan McGregor – Choose Life

Dance track with Ewan McGregor’s ‘choose life‘ monologue from Trainspotting over the top of it.  The track itself is pretty awful, so the monologue is the only bit that’s of interest.

Track 32: Robbie Williams – Lazy Days

Annoying dregs-of-Britpop tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 33: Ash – A Life Less Ordinary

Another one that’s (obviously) off the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack.  Great chorus, but the verses are pretty boring.

Track 34: Texas – Black Eyed Boy

Great beat, great tune.  One of my favourite Texas tracks.

Track 35: Meredith Brooks – Bitch

Loved it at the time, makes me cringe a bit now, mainly because my friends and I all loved to adapt the lyrics when literally bitching about other girls at school.  Growing up is a good thing.

Track 36: Jon Bon Jovi – Janie, Don’t Take Your Love To Town

Irritating tune, not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Ocean Colour Scene – Better Day

Lovely tune, great atmosphere – a longtime favourite.

Track 38: Cast – I’m So Lonely

Dreary, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 39: Conner Reeves – Earthbound

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

The vocals are far too saccharine for me, but the tune’s quite nice.

Track 40: Peter Andre – Lonely

Another slow, cheesy tune.  Blurgh.

Also, while Cast (see above) are so lonely, Peter Andre is just lonely full stop.  I’m pretty sure this was deliberate on the part of the Now! compilers…

Track 41: Boyz II Men – Four Seasons Of Loneliness

…especially now that Boyz II Men have both of them beat by being lonely all year round.  It shouldn’t be a competition, guys!

The piano instrumental on this one’s quite nice, but in general it’s yet another ballad that’s too slow and too saccharine for my liking.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #36

Day 36 brings us to Now! #36, which was released on 24th March 1997.

March 1997
This is how the world looked in March 1997. I’ve not been back to Malta since, so I don’t know how much it’s changed, but I know I don’t wear cycling shorts as daywear anymore.

Let’s see what would have been in my headphones on the plane to Malta.

Now! That's What I Call Music #36
Track 1: Spice Girls – Mama

So I guess every Now! compilation is going to feature a Spice Girls track for a few albums?  Okay then.

Mama wasn’t my favourite at the time – it was just a bit slow for me – and I’m not keen now either.  I’ve always preferred their more upbeat stuff.

Track 2: Texas – Say What You Want

Liked it at the time, find the tune a bit annoying now.

Track 3: Bee Gees – Alone

Nice classic-sounding track from the Bee Gees – lovely tune.

Track 4: The Beautiful South – Don’t Marry Her

Nice guitar intro, but I’m not hugely keen on the rest of the track.

Track 5: No Doubt – Don’t Speak

Gorgeous song – beautiful tune, lovely theme.  A classic.

Track 6: White Town – Your Woman

Great track – I absolutely love those spiky instrumental hooks.

Track 7: Blue Boy – Remember Me

Oh, it’s this one!  Interesting lines, quite like the vocal.

Track 8: Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity

Loved it then, still quite like it now.  At the time I couldn’t stop watching the classic video, which isn’t quite as impressive nowadays as it was twenty-two years ago but is still pretty cool.

Track 9: Robert Miles and Maria Nayler – One And One

Nice tune, but the vocals are a bit annoying.

Track 10: George Michael – Spinning The Wheel

I’ve always liked this one – lovely tune, great beat.

Track 11: Mark Morrison – Horny

Messy, irritating song.  Not a fan of this at all.

Track 12: Peter Andre – Natural

Generic tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen.

Track 13: Damage – Love Guaranteed

More cheesy pop-by-numbers – there’s nothing original or interesting about this.

Track 14: Eternal – Don’t You Love Me

Nice intro, great atmosphere, good instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Gabrielle – Walk On By

Awesome atmosphere, really interesting track.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Kavana – I Can Make You Feel Good

Kavana was a bit of a Smash Hits darling at the time, but I was never much of a fan.  This is okay though – nice solid pop song.

Track 17: East 17 – Hey Child

Nice harmony on the vocals, and the tune is pleasant, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 18: Boyzone – A Different Beat

One of the better Boyzone tracks – really like the tune on the chorus.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Anywhere For You

Saccharine and dull.  Not a fan.

Track 20: 911 – The Day We Find Love

Slow dull ballad from 911.  They definitely did better songs, from what I remember.

Track 21: U2 – Discothèque

It’s a bit messy, but it’s also quite refreshingly different at this point, what with the slightly harder rock guitars.

Track 22: The Prodigy – Breathe

Great danceable track, great vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 23: The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats

Liked it at the time, find the tune annoying and repetitive now.

Track 24: Placebo – Nancy Boy

Love this one!  Great guitar intro, great tune, awesome lyrics.  Another classic.

Track 25: Monaco – What Do You Want From Me?

Oh, it’s this one!  Great tune, good atmosphere, really like this track.

Track 26: Sheryl Crow – Everyday Is A Winding Road

Another Sheryl Crow song where I can’t get past the annoying tune.  Also, the word(s) in the title should be ‘every day‘, not ‘everyday‘.

Track 27: Blur – Beetlebum

It’s not the kind of song I’d typically like, but I’m quite fond of this one – happily nodding away here.

Track 28: James – She’s A Star

Nice tune, nice atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 29: Mansun – Wide Open Space

Interesting tune, good atmosphere, good stuff.

Track 30: Cast – Free Me

Dull, repetitive tune.  Not keen on this one.

Track 31: Space – Dark Clouds

I quite like the instrumentals and atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty boring.

Track 32: Cathy Dennis – Waterloo Sunset

Guitar-driven cover of the Kinks classic.  It’s quite a nice version, but it doesn’t change much from the original.

Track 33: The Divine Comedy – Everybody Knows (Except You)

Sweet upbeat tune, quite like this one.

Track 34: Alisha’s Attic – Indestructible

Interesting instrumentals (nice to hear a bit of synth!) but it’s a little slow for my liking.

Track 35: Ant & Dec – Shout

Bizarrely serious-sounding song for Ant & Dec, with dodgy ‘homage’ to Tears For Fears’ Shout during the chorus.  The only saving grace is Erasure’s Andy Bell on backing vocals (though I’ve no idea what he was doing there).

Track 36: The Source and Candi Staton – You Got The Love

We’ve had this one already, on Now! #19!  Do they think nobody was listening back then?

Grr.  See the link for my review.

Track 37: Sash! – Encore Une Fois

I adored this one at the time, but I don’t think it’s aged that well, and I find it a bit so-so nowadays.

Track 38: DJ Quicksilver – Bellissima

Loved it then, still quite like it now – great tune.

Track 39: BBE – Flash

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

Like the hooks, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 40: Amen! – Passion

Really like the instrumental hook, but I don’t like the vocals at all!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #35

Day 35 equals Now! #35, which takes us to 18th November 1996.

November 1996
This is the way the world looked in November 1996 (well, obviously it wasn’t actually November, as I wouldn’t have been wearing short sleeves in November in Scotland – this was September, as we didn’t take any photos in the latter part of the year for some reason). I don’t know why I chose those trainers, ’cause I thought they were super ugly even at the time.

Let’s listen to some tracks by people who were probably better dressed, even if it was the sartorially-challenged ’90s.

Now! That's What I Call Music #35
Track 1: Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There

The eagerly-awaited (by me, anyway) follow-up to Wannabe.  With hindsight, this song’s actually pretty poor, with a dull tune and generic theme; however, it’s quite hard to separate it from the nostalgia for me, so I still have a soft spot for it.

Track 2: George Michael – Fastlove

Lovely atmosphere, great vocal hooks – really like this one.

Track 3: Peter Andre – Flava

The instrumentals are quite fun, but the vocals are pretty annoying, and that rap is super generic.

Track 4: East 17 and Gabrielle – If You Ever

Really like the intro, and it’s got a lovely tune and atmosphere.

Track 5: Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Loved it then, love it now.  This one was a youth club classic during my first year of high school.  Great theme, great lyrics, lovely tune.

Track 6: Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)

I’ve always liked this one – a nice slower track with a feelgood atmosphere.

Track 7: Babybird – You’re Gorgeous

Found it annoying at the time, really quite like it now.  Love the theme and the instrumentals.

Track 8: The Beautiful South – Rotterdam

This one, on the other hand, I’ve never stopped finding annoying.  It’s that irritating chorus.

Track 9: Dodgy – If You’re Thinking Of Me

This is Dodgy’s slow, dull one.  I don’t think I even enjoyed it when I saw it live.

Track 10: Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over

Crowded House’s late ’80s classic, back in the charts – I’m not sure why, but I’m not complaining.  Lovely tune.

Track 11: The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson

Oh, it’s this one!  Great guitar hook, nice tune.

Track 12: Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

An all-time favourite!  Absolute anthem, epic energy, great lyrics, wonderful guitar riff.  I adore this one.

Track 13: Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy

I’ve always found this one annoying – not keen on the tune.

Track 14: Garbage and Tricky – Milk

Great atmosphere – really like this track.

Track 15: Neneh Cherry – Woman

Nice epic intro, awesome atmosphere all the way through.  Good stuff.

Track 16: Lighthouse Family – Goodbye Heartbreak

Nice to hear some saxophone at this late stage!  The rest of the track is a little dull, although the ‘I don’t need you now‘ bit has quite a good singalong aspect.

Track 17: Pulp – Something Changed

Nice tune, nice instrumentals, great epic chorus.  Lovely track.

Track 18: Cast – Flying

Oh, it’s this one.  Found it a bit dreary at the time, still do now.  Just not keen on the tune.

Track 19: Suede – Beautiful Ones

Good upbeat track, great tune, great lyrics.  Another solid song from Suede.

Track 20: Belinda Carlisle – Always Breaking My Heart

Nice guitar intro, nice classic-sounding track, great chorus.  Really like this one.

Track 21: Dina Carroll – Escaping

Interesting chillout bit at the start, nice beat during the verses.  Not a typical Dina Carroll ballad, which is a welcome relief.

Track 22: Boyzone – Words

Introspective cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 23: Eternal – Someday

Fairly paint-by-numbers ballad that was released to tie in with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame film.  As such, it’s very musical-theatre-sounding.

Track 24: Backstreet Boys – I’ll Never Break Your Heart

Far too saccharine for me, and also now a Christmas-associated song thanks to the music channels (the video‘s set in a ski lodge, which I guess is why it gets put on the Christmas playlists).

Track 25: Damage – Love II Love

Oh, it’s this one.  Never been keen on this – the chorus is repetitive and irritating.

Track 26: Clock – Oh What A Night

Fairly pointless cover of the Four Seasons classic.  The main addition is the rap over the top.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the version that introduced me to this song.

Track 27: Louise – Undivided Love

Good beat, but it’s a pretty generic pop tune.

Track 28: Ant & Dec – When I Fall In Love

Ant & Dec, now having changed their name from PJ & Duncan (see Now! #31 review for discussion of why), try their hand at a ballad (well, it’s a ballad until the chant-along chorus kicks in, anyway).  Horrific!

Track 29: 911 – Don’t Make Me Wait

Great, interesting piano intro.  It leads into a fairly generic and cheesy pop track, though.

Track 30: Strike – My Love Is For Real

I quite like the verses on this dance track – there’s a bit of edge there – but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 31: Faithless – Insomnia

Classic dance track, great epic atmosphere, wonderful electro hook.

Track 32: BBE – Seven Days And One Week

Oh, it’s this one.  I think I liked this more at the time than I do now – it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 33: Stretch ‘N’ Vern – I’m Alive

Loved it at the time, forgot about it for over twenty years, can’t say I’m too keen on it now.  The backing track is great, but the rap’s fairly awful.  I quite like the Boogie Wonderland sample though.

Track 34: Healy & Amos – Stamp!

I think I’m back in the imaginary ’90s nightclub that plays nothing but dance, although to be fair 1996 isn’t quite as bad as 1995 was.  This one has some interesting lines, but it’s a bit messy for my liking.

Track 35: Livin’ Joy – Follow The Rules

Another very generic dance track – nothing special here.

Track 36: Wildchild – Jump To My Beat

Very messy track with irritating lines.  Don’t like this at all.

Track 37: Underworld – Pearl’s Girl

Dull lines, very little melody, messy track.  The beat’s quite good though.

Track 38: Space – Neighbourhood

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, really nice track.

Track 39: Björk – Possibly Maybe

Not keen on the experimental-sounding instrumentals – they’re giving me a headache – but the vocal is nice when I can hear it over the top.

Track 40: Shed Seven – Chasing Rainbows

One of my friends had a poster of Shed Seven on the wall even though she didn’t really like them.  I think she’d got it free when they were supporting someone else.  That sort of sums up Shed Seven for me – they weren’t really a band that anybody actually liked.

The track itself is dull, slow and very forgettable.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #34

Day 34 brings us to Now! #34, which came out on 12th August 1996.

August 1996
This is the way the world looked in August 1996 (actually July – we seem to be short of photos again for 1996). Sunlounger, Walkman and speakers, dodgy cycling shorts ‘n’ swimsuit combo – a perfect late 20th century summer’s day.

Let’s hear those summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #34
Track 1: Spice Girls – Wannabe

At eleven, I was exactly the right age for the Spice Girls, and from the moment this first song of theirs came out, I adored them.  I bought every single and every album in HMV on the day they came out, I had every single Spice magazine (still do), I had the limited edition Spice Girls Impulse body spray.  I was a huge fan, to put it mildly, and I remember carefully writing down the lyrics of this song and editing it over the course of several months, trying to work out what they were saying (I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good with being able to hear lyrics, and a lot of it was so nonsensical that there were endless arguments in the playground about what the words were – it was only when the album came out in December, complete with lyric insert, that I was able to confirm them properly).

Nowadays, I find this first track pretty cringeworthy – they did much better songs later on.  I still remember how much I loved it at the time, though, the summer I moved from primary school to high school.  Interesting times.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Freedom

Pointless cover of the George Michael track.  Although Robbie was my favourite member of Take That and I was gutted when he left, I find his solo stuff can be a bit hit and miss, and this cover doesn’t add anything to the original.

Track 3: Peter Andre and Bubbler Ranx – Mysterious Girl

Quite liked it at the time –  nowadays I see it as a ‘so-bad-it’s-hilarious’ classic.

Track 4: Dodgy – Good Enough

I was never hugely keen on this one, though I quite enjoyed it when we saw them live at Beautiful Days in 2013.

Track 5: Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train

I adore Ocean Colour Scene (they were my favourite band for quite a while in my teens) and this is an absolute classic – great tune, great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 6: Larry Mullen Jr and Adam Clayton – Theme From Mission: Impossible

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

The two less famous members of U2 taking on the Mission: Impossible theme for the film version.  It’s perhaps slightly rockier than the original, but not hugely different.  I’ll give it a pass, though, ’cause you wouldn’t want a classic theme like this to be changed too much.

Track 7: Underworld – Born Slippy

Really liked it at the time, find it dated and annoying now.

Track 8: JX – There’s Nothing I Won’t Do

Quite like the tune on this dance track, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 9: Gina G – Ooh Aah (Just A Little Bit)

The UK’s Eurovision entry for 1996.  Loved it at the time, find it irritating now.  I’m finding that’s a bit of a theme with 1996.  I must not have been hugely discerning at eleven.

Track 10: Pianoman – Blurred

Nice piano lines, as you might expect – the rest of the track is a bit messy, especially the misplaced sample from Blur’s Girls And Boys.

Track 11: Livin’ Joy – Don’t Stop Movin’

Oh, it’s this one.  The vocals are at least interesting, but I find the style irritating and a bit generic.

Track 12: Louise – Naked

Finally a decent one from Louise – great solid pop track.

Track 13: Mark Morrison – Return Of The Mack

Classic tune, quite like this one.  It’s been sample-covered horribly by at least two different ’10s artists, but I’m sure we’ll get to those later.

Track 14: 2Pac and Dr Dre – California Love

Really like this one!  Great song, love that chorus.

Track 15: Pato Banton – Groovin’

Dull tune, dull vocals, not keen.

Track 16: Reel 2 Real – Jazz It Up

Quite a funky danceable beat, but it’s a bit of a dull tune.

Track 17: Maxi Priest and Shaggy – That Girl

Nice jaunty vocals, but that sample of Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions is super repetitive.

Track 18: Los Del Mar – Macarena

No, that’s not a typo.  Los Del Mar were basically a tribute band that only existed in order to cover Macarena by Los Del Rio (who were themselves little more than a one-hit wonder).  Maybe the Now! compilers couldn’t get the rights to the original.

The cover is pretty pointless – it’s pretty much note for note the River Fe-Mix version of the original.

Track 19: Umboza – Sunshine

Another misplaced sample, this time Bamboléo by the Gipsy Kings.  The rest of the track is fairly generic.

Track 20: Josh Wink – Higher State Of Consciousness

We’ve had this already, on Now! #32, which was only a couple of compilations ago!  That’s just lazy.

Urgh.  See the link for my review.

Track 21: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Keep On Jumpin’

Messy semi-cover of the ’70s hit, with samples and random lines all over the place.  It’s pretty awful.

Track 22: Robert Miles – Children

I’ve always loved this one!  Gorgeous electro tune.

Track 23: George Michael – Jesus To A Child

Lovely, melancholy song from George Michael.  Beautiful tune.

Track 24: Oasis – Wonderwall

A little late to the party for the Now! compilers, as this was more of a late 1995 hit, but it’s a classic, probably the best song Oasis did in my opinion, and so still very welcome.

Track 25: The Bluetones – Slight Return

Oh, it’s this one!  Pleasant tune, happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Paul Weller – Peacock Suit

Dull tune, very dad-rock.  Not keen.

Track 27: Bon Jovi – Hey God

I normally like Bon Jovi, but I find this one a bit uninspired.

Track 28: Bryan Adams – The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You

Found it annoying at the time, just find it a bit so-so now.

Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – In Too Deep

Nice instrumentals, but the vocal is pretty dull.

Track 30: Suggs – Cecelia

Loved this reggae-tinged cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic at the time, still love it now!  Great track.

Track 31: Blur – Charmless Man

I’ve always found the tune to this one a bit annoying.  Not my favourite Blur track.

Track 32: Suede – Trash

Good head-nodder from Suede – really like this one.  Great singalong chorus too.

Track 33: Joan Osborne – One Of Us

That old-timey American traditional rhyme at the start is super annoying, but the song itself is an absolute classic – great tune.

Track 34: Crowded House – Instinct

Nice tune, really like this one.

Track 35: Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive

Feelgood track with an awesome singalong chorus.  Lovely.

Track 36: Tina Turner – On Silent Wings

Dull tune, dull ballad.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 37: Everything But The Girl – Wrong

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

Track 38: OMC – How Bizarre

I’d forgotten about this one!  Pleasant, jaunty track, really like it.

Track 39: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Walking On The Milky Way

Lovely tune, really interesting track.

Track 40: Space – Female Of The Species

Loved it at the time, love it now.  I remember endless arguments in the back of the car about whether the lyric was ‘more deadlier‘, which was what it sounded like, or the grammatically correct ‘more deadly‘.  I think I argued for the latter position, just because I couldn’t believe a professional band would write such a horrendously wrong sentence (ah, childhood innocence).  A quick google just now tells me it was indeed the latter, but it really does sound like the former.

Track 41: Cast – Walkaway

Nice tune, but a bit slow for me.

Track 42: Boyzone – Coming Home Now

Liked it at the time, find the tune pretty irritating now.