Being a Band Aid baby, or: one hell of a bucket list

If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born.  Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be.  Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.

If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one.  It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.

I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me.  I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general.  It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January.  It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.

My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.

Do They Know It's Christmas?

I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK.  From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner.  (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)

Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one.  I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape.  I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre.  I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year.  It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind.  That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).

The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general.  But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one.  I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.

This is the part of the post where I get to the point.

I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one.  Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away.  But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible.  After all, I have more opportunity than some.  My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist.  People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.

Enter the Band Aid bucket list!

For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed.  Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever.  As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025.  That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible.  I’d better get a wiggle on.

The artists who sang on the track:

The extra artists who recorded messages for the B-side:

Current progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

I have arranged to find out about future performances by all of these artists using the extremely lazy 21st century method of following them all on Twitter!

I’ll keep updating this post as I see more artists.  I’m looking forward to this project!

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 #68

Day 68 takes us to Now! #68, which was released on 19th November 2007.

November 2007
This is how the world looked in November 2007. Well, it did if you were in a smoky neon synthpop club with your boyfriend, which is frankly the best place to be when you’re twenty-two.

It’s the time of year for party tracks.  Don’t disappoint me, Now! compilers!

Now! That's What I Call Music #68
Track 1: Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love

Lovely tune, quite like this one.

Track 2: Take That – Rule The World

I’ve always found this one a bit jarring, because the verse and chorus are two beautiful tunes that don’t really work with each other.  Just when you’re enjoying one, it breaks the mood by switching to the other.  Should have been two separate songs.

Track 3: Kylie Minogue – 2 Hearts

I like the stripped-back instrumentals at the start – it gives the track lots of edge and atmosphere.  The vocals are great too.

Track 4: Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse – Valerie

I mentioned this cover four days ago in my review of the Zutons original on Now! #64.  It’s a great, bombastic big band version, and I really like it, but the classic-rock-tinged original still has the slight edge for me.

Track 5: Sugababes – About You Now

Quite like this tune – nice solid pop song.

Track 6: Kanye West – Stronger

Really like this atmospheric electro-infused track – it’s probably the best song Kanye West ever did.

Track 7: Craig David – Hot Stuff (Let’s Dance)

It’s based around a sample of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which is obviously appreciated, but the rest of the track is very generic and just makes me want to go listen to Let’s Dance instead.

Track 8: Sean Kingston – Beautiful Girls

Pretty tune, quite like this one.  At the time, because I wasn’t following chart music very closely, I kept getting it mixed up with Mika’s Big Girls (You Are Beautiful).  The songs are very different, but that’s the power of a title.

Track 9: Shayne Ward – No U Hang Up

I like the electro-tinged instrumentals – it’s getting into that late ’00s era when that was in vogue, yay! – but the vocals are too cheesy for me.

Track 10: Timbaland, DOE and Keri Hilson – The Way I Are

Oh, it’s this one!  That electro hook is absolutely classic.  Great atmospheric track.

Track 11: Britney Spears – Gimme More

It’s Britney, bitch‘.  I remember everyone found this comeback a bit laughable at the time, but it was sampled brilliantly a few years later when she did Scream And Shout with will.i.am.  I really like the electro bassline on this one, too.

Track 12: Rihanna – Shut Up And Drive

Great guitar on this one – it’s an unusual style for Rihanna, but I really like it.

Track 13: Girls Aloud – Sexy! No No No…

Awesome epic atmosphere – it builds really nicely at the start and then launches into a brilliantly frenetic rock-tinged song.  Big fan of this one.

Track 14: Robyn and Kleerup – With Every Heartbeat

Quite like the chilled-out backing track, but the vocals are too high-pitched for me.

Track 15: Enrique Iglesias – Tired Of Being Sorry

Nice Latin tinge, though it jars slightly with the electro instrumentals.

Track 16: Groove Armada and Mutya Buena – Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)

Nice retro ’80s-sounding backing track, but I’m not hugely keen on the vocal style constantly veering between sung and spoken.

Track 17: Se:Sa and Sharon Phillips – Like This Like That

Nice upbeat track, with more retro instrumentals.  Very danceable.

Track 18: Ida Corr and Fedde Le Grand – Let Me Think About It

There’s a bit too much going on in this dance track, and it doesn’t all work together.

Track 19: Axwell and Max C – I Found U

Bit of a throwback to early ’90s dance, with some added ’70s retro instrumentals for good measure.  The tune’s boring though.

Track 20: Freaks – The Creeps (Get On The Dancefloor)

Another dull tune, with a very repetitive backing track.

Track 21: Peter Gelderblom – Waiting 4

House remix of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ By The Way.  It’s okay, but it’s one of those ones where I just want to listen to the original instead.

Track 22: David Guetta and Chris Willis – Love Is Gone

Some very irritating siren-sounding instrumentals in the middle of this one, but otherwise it’s quite a good upbeat electro track.

Track 23: Plain White Ts – Hey There Delilah

Pretty tune, but it’s a bit too acoustic-y and twee for my liking.

Track 24: James Blunt – 1973

Always love a 20th-century-inspired title!  Unfortunately the tune is not 20th-century-inspired – I was hoping it would be four-on-the-floor glam rock.  Instead, it’s a fairly standard melancholy one from James Blunt – pretty tune, but not really my style.

Track 25: Newton Faulkner – Dream Catch Me

Boring tune, irritating twangy guitar.  Not keen.

Track 26: The Hoosiers – Worried About Ray

Interesting instrumentals, good atmosphere, but the vocals irritate me.

Track 27: Scouting For Girls – She’s So Lovely

This one has always annoyed me – I find the tune and theme very twee.

Track 28: Feist – 1234

Too acoustic-y for me, and again I find the vocals irritating.

Track 29: Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight

We’ve already had this one on Now! #12!  I don’t care how awesome that 2007 Dairy Milk ad with the gorilla was – there’s no excuse for repeating songs!

As ever, see the link for my review.

Track 30: Avril Lavigne – When You’re Gone

Lovely piano at the start, but the vocals are too high-pitched and hurt my head.

Track 31: McFly – The Heart Never Lies

Horribly saccharine and repetitive.  Not my kind of thing at all.

Track 32: Amy MacDonald – Mr Rock And Roll

Nice tune – if I were in a folk-rock mood I would absolutely love it, but I’ve not been that way inclined lately.

Track 33: KT Tunstall – Hold On

Not keen on the jarring guitar lines at the start, but it’s got quite a good atmosphere.

Track 34: The Killers and Lou Reed – Tranquilise

I shouldn’t like this, as the lines are sort of messy and jarring, but it actually works really well to create an awesome epic atmosphere.

Track 35: Stereophonics – It Means Nothing

Dull and drone-y, not a fan of this one.

Track 36: Peter, Björn & John and Victoria Bergsman – Young Folks

Oh, it’s this one.  I’ve always found that whistling really annoying, especially due to its use in the Homebase adverts!

Track 37: Freemasons and Bailey Tzuke – Uninvited

Great atmosphere, but the vocals are irritatingly generic.

Track 38: Mika – Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)

Daft theme, but it’s quite nice and feelgood.  At the time, because I wasn’t following chart music very closely, I kept getting it mixed up with Sean Kingston’s Beautiful Girls…oh, wait, I’ve done that anecdote.  Great bassline and retro feel, anyway.

Track 39: Amy Winehouse – Tears Dry On Their Own

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Amy Winehouse on track 4.

Great tune though, quite like this one.

Track 40: Jennifer Lopez – Do It Well

Some great, epic instrumentals going on here – good stuff.

Track 41: Fergie – Big Girls Don’t Cry

Slow and cheesy – not keen on this track.

Track 42: Akon – Don’t Matter

Nice tune, but the vocals are a bit too saccharine for me.  Also, it kind of rips off R Kelly’s Ignition.

Track 43: Nicole Scherzinger and will.i.am – Baby Love

Super irritating tune on the vocals!  Don’t like this at all.

Track 44: Westlife – Home

The usual nauseatingly saccharine guff from Westlife.  Time to line up that original version of Let’s Dance.

Three days in a row without a ‘Not on Spotify’ incident!  It would be nice if we’d seen the last of them, but I suspect there will still be a few lurking about.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #44

Day 44, and Now! #44, which was released on 22nd November 1999.

November 1999
This is how the world looked in November 1999 (actually December, you know the drill). Apologies for the poor quality photo, but these are dodgy old TIF scans from the early ’00s! I need to dig out the originals and re-scan them. Technology marches on, and so does my sense of style (I got rid of that shapeless gold velvet thing a LONG time ago).  My parents had the cushions of those screamingly ’70s chairs re-covered in the ’00s, and they’re still in use.

Let’s see what was in the charts as we approached the end of the millennium.

Now! That's What I Call Music #44
Track 1: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

Loved it at the time, bought the single.  It’s pretty overplayed these days, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for it.

Track 2: Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much

I’ve always quite liked this one, and I love her daft leopard-print outfit in the video.

Track 3: Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…)

The turn-of-the-millennium Latin pop craze was in full swing by this point, and so songs like this were huge.  I’ve always loved this one – the lyrics are great, and it’s really danceable.  I know it’s early on, but I’m going to make this my top wedding disco track of today.

Track 4: Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)

I absolutely adored this one at the time, mainly because people were constantly singing it at me (I had, and still have in storage, a bright blue chenille cardigan that I wore constantly between 1998 and 2004 – you can see it in the picture for the Now! #40 review).  I still love the tune and the lyrics – great song.

Track 5: Steps – Tragedy

Daft, epic cover of the Bee Gees classic.  I can’t not mention the ludicrous video, which I must have seen a hundred times back in the day.

Track 6: Geri Halliwell – Mi Chico Latino

Geri Halliwell hopping on board with the Latin craze.  I quite like this tune, and I always appreciate a bit of Spanish guitar.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – She’s The One

I shouldn’t like this ballad (and apparently Robbie Williams didn’t like it himself for quite a number of years), but I do actually really like the tune.  Not sure why, as it’s the kind of thing I’d normally find depressing.

Track 8: Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All

Cover of the country song.  I actually prefer this version, mainly ’cause it’s not country, but it’s still pretty cheesy and pedestrian.

Track 9: Melanie C – Northern Star

I had the Northern Star album and pretty much every track on it was a cracker – Melanie C’s solo stuff was far and away the best out of all the Spice Girls, and not just because she had the best voice.  This track is beautiful and melancholy, with an absolutely gorgeous atmosphere.

Track 10: Sixpence None The Richer – Kiss Me

The tune’s pleasant enough, but I find the theme a bit twee and irritating.

Track 11: Texas – Summer Son

Really like this one – it’s one of my favourite Texas tracks.  Love the instrumentals, love the edgy atmosphere to the song.

Track 12: Moloko – Sing It Back

Great upbeat tune – I’ve always quite liked this track.  Happily nodding along.

Track 13: Bob Marley & The Wailers and Funkstar De Luxe – Sun Is Shining

Remix of the 1971 track that adds a slightly messy dance beat over the top.  Still a great tune though.

Track 14: Diana Ross – Not Over You Yet

Dance track with a good atmosphere and interesting instrumentals.  Quite like this one.

Track 15: Tina Turner – When The Heartache Is Over

I’ve always quite liked this tune, though it mainly reminds me of an episode of Ally McBeal in which Tina Turner featured at the time.

Track 16: Jamiroquai – Canned Heat

Really like this tune – one of my favourite Jamiroquai tracks – though before I became aware of the title, I always misheard the lyric as ‘candy in my heels‘ rather than ‘canned heat in my heels‘.

Track 17: Tom Jones and The Cardigans – Burning Down The House

I owned and loved the Reload duet album that Tom Jones did, and this was probably one of the best tracks on it.  Great tune, wonderful singalong chorus, excellent stuff.

Track 18: Bran Van 3000 – Drinking In LA

Always really liked this one, to the extent that on the one single occasion in my life I have gone drinking in LA (at LAX airport in 2012 while waiting for a connection) I made sure to photograph the moment just so I could caption it appropriately on Facebook.

Track 19: Supergrass – Moving

I find this one a bit depressing – it’s just kind of slow and drone-y.

Track 20: Phil Collins – You’ll Be In My Heart

Boring tune, and I don’t like the country-tinged guitar.

Track 21: R Kelly – If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time

Slow, irritating ballad.  Not my thing.

Track 22: Geri Halliwell – Lift Me Up

Repeated artist alert!  This track’s a bit twee and cheesy, so really I think the Now! compilers should have just gone with Mi Chico Latino for this compilation.

Track 23: Tin Tin Out and Emma Bunton – What I Am

We’re certainly getting a lot of Spice Girls solo stuff at the moment.  This one is a fairly uninspired cover of the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians track from 1988.  It’s okay to nod along to.

Track 24: Martine McCutcheon – I’ve Got You

Boring ballad, depressing tune.  Not keen.

Track 25: Backstreet Boys – Larger Than Life

The track’s a great danceable song (especially that epic guitar solo!), and I always liked the Y2K-themed video.

Track 26: Jordan Knight – Give It To You

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

Interesting fairground-y instrumental during the intro, and there’s a good atmosphere to this one.  There’s a lot going on, but I quite like it.

Track 27: Gabrielle – Sunshine

Nice tune, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 28: Honeyz – Never Let You Down

Slow, dull ballad, and I don’t like those.

Track 29: S Club 7 – S Club Party

Another irritating track from S Club 7, though there are some good singalong hooks if you’re in the right mood (approximately six or seven pints should do it).

Track 30: Lolly – Mickey

Pointless cover of the Toni Basil classic, with the only change being the more muddy and electro instrumentals.  Unlike with most pointless ’90s covers, I was actually aware of the original when this one came out, and I remember being totally confused about why someone would release a cover that was so similar, and why anyone would buy it (I did have a friend who actually bought it, though I won’t name and shame!).

Track 31: Ann Lee – 2 Times

Pretty, feelgood, interesting track – I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 32: Vengaboys – We’re Going To Ibiza!

It’s a fairly typical daft Vengaboys track, with the added major irritation that they don’t know how to pronounce ‘Ibiza’, so the lyric sounds like ‘whoa – we’re going to eat pizza‘.  Which is definitely something to get excited about, but maybe not to the point of releasing a song.

Track 33: Enrique Iglesias – Bailamos

Loved it at the time, requested an Enrique Iglesias album for Christmas off the back of loving this track (and then it turned out to be an earlier album that didn’t have this track on it.  Oh well).  Still a great tune.

Track 34: Shaft – (Mucho Mambo) Sway

Oh, it’s this one!  Great atmosphere, great Latin beat.  Good stuff.

Track 35: ATB – Don’t Stop!

ATB using a similar irritating instrumental hook to the one on their last track, 9PM (Till I Come).  Bored already.

Track 36: DJ Jean – The Launch

Annoying, repetitive hook.  Not keen.

Track 37: Groove Armada and Gram’ma Funk – I See You Baby [Fatboy Slim Radio Edit]

Classic dance track, great vocal hook.

Track 38: Wamdue Project – King Of My Castle

I’ve always found this one pretty interesting, mainly due to the utterly incomprehensible lyrics (she’s doing what with her trestle?).  Good tune too.

Track 39: Alice Deejay – Back In My Life

Irritating, repetitive vocals, generic dance backing track.  Never really liked this one.

Track 40: Alena – Turn It Around

Boring dance track, nothing good about it.

Track 41: Tina Cousins – Angel

Pretty vocals, but the track is otherwise very uninspired.

Track 42: Liquid Child – Diving Faces

The vocal sample is awful, but I quite like the electro hooks.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #41

Day 41 brings us to Now! #41, which was released on 23rd November 1998.

November 1998
This is the way the world looked in November 1998…no it didn’t. Again, we don’t have any pictures from autumn 1998, so instead, you get this slightly cringeworthy one from January 1999 of me dressed up for a gangster-themed party. My hair was super curly then – it’s still curly but it calmed down a bit in the next couple of years.

Let’s see what might have been on the CD player at that party.

Now! That's What I Call Music #41
Track 1: Boyzone – No Matter What

It’s a bit slow and saccharine, but it is a nice tune.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Millennium

The tune is a bit dull, but there’s something quite pleasant about his one.

Track 3: The Beautiful South – Perfect 10

I’ve always been a bit mixed on this one – great tune, but for some reason I find the theme a bit depressing.

Track 4: U2 – Sweetest Thing

I’ve always quite liked this one, and the video‘s still great.

Track 5: Culture Club – I Just Wanna Be Loved

This reminded me that I read in Classic Pop (my new favourite magazine – it’s basically like Smash Hits grew up and is now a middle-aged man) the other day that Culture Club have finally made up and got back together in order to go on tour and release that album that they made a few years back before the last bust-up.  As such, I’ve just ordered tickets, and I’m going to see them in November!  So excited.

This song is from the late ’90s reformation, and it’s quite a pleasant reggae track, but it’s not quite up there with the ’80s stuff for me.

Track 6: Ace Of Base – Life Is A Flower

Loved it at the time, still quite like it now.  Nice tune.

Track 7: Jennifer Paige – Crush

Lovely tune, classic chorus.  I’ve always liked this one.

Track 8: Steps – Heartbeat

The annual music channel Christmas playlists have ensured that this is now a bona fide Christmas song, so it feels wrong in May.  Trying to put that aside, it’s a pretty daft, cheesy song, fairly standard for Steps.

Track 9: Honeyz – Finally Found

We return to the theme from yesterday, of tracks that were also featured on the Top of the Pops 1998 compilation, which I owned for some reason despite liking almost none of the songs on it.  This one has an annoying chorus and a boring theme.

Track 10: East 17 – Each Time

I like the instrumentals at the start, but the vocal is pretty uninspired.

Track 11: Kele Le Roc – Little Bit Of Lovin’

Overblown vocals, slow ballad, generic tune.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 12: Sweetbox – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

The Bach sample is nice, but the vocals over the top (both sung and rap) are pretty awful.

Track 13: UB40 – Come Back Darling

Fairly standard reggae track from UB40, except it’s got a sort of messy beat that I find a bit irritating.  Shame, ’cause the tune’s nice.

Track 14: Melanie B and Missy Elliott – I Want You Back

So-so effort from the Spice Girls’ Mel B for her first solo single.  The dull tune on the chorus does nothing for me, really…

Track 15: All Saints – Bootie Call

…and bizarrely, the dull tune on the chorus of this one is strongly reminiscent of it.  I’m also irritated by the theme.

Track 16: Aqua – Turn Back Time

Gorgeous tune, love this one.  Great song.

Track 17: Spice Girls – Too Much

The Now! compilers are a little late with this one, as it was the Christmas number one for 1997.  Still a nice tune, though, and possibly my favourite of the three consecutive Spice Girls Christmas number ones.

Track 18: Lutricia McNeal – Someone Loves You Honey

Super cheesy and irritating, but at least it attempts to bring back the sax solo, which was much neglected by this point of the ’90s.

Track 19: Lighthouse Family – Question Of Faith

Really nice tune, great atmosphere.  Good head-nodder.

Track 20: Phil Collins – True Colours

Laid-back cover of the Cyndi Lauper classic.  Interesting, slightly folky instrumentals, but it doesn’t quite have the rawness of the original.

Track 21: Janet Jackson – Every Time

Pretty song – quite like this one, even if the tune on the chorus does massively rip off Go West’s King Of Wishful Thinking.

Track 22: Billie Piper – Girlfriend

Annoyed by it at the time, annoyed by it now.  I remember taking the piss out of this one with mates at school using alternative lyrics, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

Track 23: 911 – More Than A Woman

Fairly pointless cover of the Bee Gees song, with the only real changes being some added tinkly instrumentals and the fact that it’s not sung in falsetto.  Meh.

Track 24: T-Spoon – Sex On The Beach

Well, it’s at least upfront.  Found it a bit awkward at the time – nowadays I just find it interesting as a ’90s musical artefact.

Track 25: The Tamperer and Maya – If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better

It’s pretty similar to their previous hit Feel It, except this time it samples Material Girl instead of Can You Feel It?  It’s okay, but there’s a reason it wasn’t as big a hit as the first one.

Track 26: Stardust – Music Sounds Better With You

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

I should be irritated by this one, but I do like that singalong hook.

Track 27: Vengaboys – Up And Down

I’ve always quite liked this one, although it’s not the most memorable of the Vengaboys’ tracks.

Track 28: Sash! and Shannon – Move Mania

The backing track is great, but I’m not keen on the vocals.

Track 29: Touch & Go – Would You…?

I like the instrumentals, and the vocal sample’s used quite well.  While it’s still not exactly innuendo, it’s not as in-your-face as Sex On The Beach (see above), and I actually quite like the track.

Track 30: The Corrs – Dreams [Tee’s Radio Mix]

Pretty, folky cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic.  Really like this one.

Track 31: The Cardigans – My Favourite Game

Great track!  Loved it at the time, love it now.  That guitar riff is gold.

Track 32: James – Sit Down ’98

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

We already had the original on Now! #20, but this version is different enough that I’m not going to moan about that.  It’s not different in a good way, though – it’s just really messy.

Track 33: Fatboy Slim – Gangster Trippin’

I like the instrumental hook, but the rest of the track is pretty haphazard and irritating.

Track 34: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Falling In Love Again

It’s okay, but it sounds too similar to Save Tonight.  I prefer artists to diverge a bit more.

Track 35: Sheryl Crow – My Favourite Mistake

A bit repetitive, and it’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 36: Robbie Williams – No Regrets

Repeated artist alert!  I know Robbie Williams was having a lot of hits at the time, but that’s really no excuse.

The tune is lovely, and had I been the Now! compilers, I would have chosen this one over Millennium and given the extra slot to someone else.  I’ll remember that when I get round to building that time machine.

Track 37: Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Interesting, atmospheric cover of the Animals classic.  Quite like this one.

Track 38: Embrace – My Weakness Is None Of Your Business

It’s another depressing one from Embrace.  Droning vocals, slow tune, brings my mood right down.  Next one, please.

Track 39: Alisha’s Attic – The Incidentals

Oh, it’s this one!  Nice tune, but it’s a bit acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 40: Deetah – Relax

Pretty intro, but the instrumentals don’t really go with the rap.

Track 41: R Kelly and Keith Murray – Home Alone

Not enough melody for me, and it’s very repetitive.  Not a fan.

Track 42: Sham Rock – Tell Me Ma

Dance-infused version of the traditional Irish song that I absolutely adored at the time – I bought the single and everything.  It’s still a guilty pleasure, but I do find it a bit daft nowadays!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #27

Day 27, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 28th March 1994.

March 1994
This is the way the world looked in March 1994. TVs were still box-shaped, walls were still wallpapered, and I was clearly getting to my awkward-looking phase (although I’m going to give myself points for the cute dress, clearly an ’80s hand-me-down from someone).

Let’s see what that TV might have been showing when I switched on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night!

Now! That's What I Call Music #27
Track 1: Ace Of Base – The Sign

Great tune, interesting lines.  Happily chair-dancing along here.

Track 2: Chaka Demus & Pliers, Jack Radics and Taxi Gang – Twist And Shout

Fairly uninspired cover of the ’60s classic – I’d go as far as to call it pointless.  Nothing much added other than some reggae vocals over the top.

Track 3: D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better

Is there anyone who doesn’t associate this one with its use for the campaign of New Labour in 1997?

In late April 1997, a few days before the election, I went to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh with my family for a Labour Party rally.  Once we’d gawked at the famous politicians hanging about outside (George Robertson!  I’ve seen him on the telly!), we went inside, found our seats and waited for the show to start.  I asked my dad excitedly if maybe D:Ream would come on stage and perform Things Can Only Get Better.

Dad, perhaps not wanting to get my hopes up, shook his head.  ‘Nah,’ he said.  ‘I think they’re a bit too famous to come and do that.’

And for the most part, the rally didn’t feature anyone as famous as D:Ream.  There were a lot of comedians I’d never heard of doing semi-funny sketches, and then the main event was an hour-long speech by Tony Blair that was revered in the press the next day as showing him to be a ‘man of the people’, as he had come out from behind the lectern and put his hands in his pockets, which apparently gave him the air of someone having a chat down the pub.  Ah, 1997 media.  Anyway, the speech captured my twelve-year-old attention for a whole hour, so it can’t have been bad.

What was much better, though, was that as soon as Blair left the stage to rapturous applause, D:Ream bounced on and launched into Things Can Only Get Better.  I grinned at my dad, and my dad grinned at me, and it was one of those awesome moments.  I’ve reminisced about seeing a lot of these Now! tracks played live by the bands, but this was the one I saw first.

Back in 1994, however, there was no political bent to this song – it was just an awesome pop track that I adored watching on Top of the Pops, with Peter Cunnah in his brightly coloured plaid suits.

And skipping forward to the 2010s, it will never stop being hilarious that the keyboardist from D:Ream eventually became Professor Brian Cox.  Not ever.

Right, back to my usual one-line reviews about epic atmospheres, head-nodders and annoying choruses.

Track 4: East 17 – It’s Alright

Speaking of epic atmospheres!  That melancholy piano intro is just stunning.  Then it bangs into a classic dance track with a great chant-along chorus.  Loved it at the time, still love it now.

Track 5: M People – Moving On Up

Nice feelgood tune, great singalong chorus – good stuff.

Track 6: Eternal – Save Our Love

I quite like those bells tolling at the start, but the vocals are too overblown for what is a fairly mediocre tune – which is very typical of mid-’90s pop, I find.

Track 7: Enigma – Return To Innocence

Yup, it’s the overplayed chillout track.  I’ll give it a pass for being used to good effect on Britain’s Got The Pop Factor.

Track 8: Bee Gees – For Whom The Bell Tolls

I normally like the Bee Gees in all their eras, but this one is too slow for me, although the tune is nice.

Track 9: Wendy Moten – Come In Out Of The Rain

It’s everything I dislike in a ballad – slow, saccharine, overblown vocals, zero edge, generic tune.  Don’t like this one at all!

Track 10: Dina Carroll – The Perfect Year

The music channels have defined this one as a Christmas song by featuring it in all their Christmas playlists, so I am most definitely feeling the seasonal dissonance right now.  It’s another slow ballad from Dina Carroll, and I’m still not a fan, even with that sax solo.

Track 11: Phil Collins – Everyday

Nice piano intro, gorgeous tune.  Really like this one.

Track 12: Richard Marx – Now And Forever

Lovely tune, but it’s just far too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 13: The Cranberries – Linger

Lovely tune, typically gorgeous vocals from Dolores O’Riordan (RIP 🙁 ).  Geth and I used to play this one a lot when we were DJing our Motherfolker night at Mr Modos circa 2010.  Good times.

Track 14: Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl

Great tune with really interesting piano lines and nice jaunty vocals.  Good stuff.

Track 15: The Beautiful South – Good As Gold (Stupid As Mud)

Nice bouncy tune, quite like this one.

Track 16: Meat Loaf – Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through

One of my favourites!  We had it on a Top Gear compilation, and as a result it’s one of my favourite Meat Loaf songs (and I unashamedly adore Meat Loaf, so there’s stiff competition).  For me, it evokes fast cars driving along cliffside roads in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.  Wonderful track, especially that epic squealing sax solo.

Track 17: Primal Scream – Rocks

Absolutely classic track – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 18: Gin Blossoms – Hey Jealousy

Nice tune, but the chorus annoys me slightly.

Track 19: Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm

Love those bells at the start – well, I love all the instrumentals in this track!  Great epic atmosphere, great song.

Track 20: Doop – Doop

Wonderfully silly novelty song.  I loved watching this one on Top of the Pops because of the girls’ colourful outfits – I’m not sure how many years it was before I realised it wasn’t actually them singing on the track.

Track 21: Right Said Fred – Wonderman

Great synthy dance track, typically silly vocals.  Really like this one.

Track 22: Cappella – Move On Baby

Good solid dance track, nodding along to this right now.

Track 23: Culture Beat – Anything

Nice epic slow synth bit to start, and then it kicks into the interesting vocal melody, and then we have dance track liftoff.  Great track.

Track 24: 2 Unlimited – Let The Beat Control Your Body

2 Unlimited starting to get a bit samey now, although it’s still very danceable.

Track 25: Reel 2 Real and The Mad Stuntman – I Like To Move It

Another lifelong favourite!  I always sing this when I’m impatient for people to hurry up (in my head, obviously, because I’m a coward).  Great hooks, great danceable beat.

Track 26: K7 – Come Baby Come

This one’s a bit repetitive for me, although I do like some of the instrumentals, and the chanting bits.

Track 27: Credit To The Nation – Teenage Sensation

That whistling at the start is super annoying, and the rest of the song is not really anything to write home about.

Track 28: EYC – The Way You Work It

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

I remember pretty much every word of EYC’s Smash Hits interviews during this period, especially the one they did about different brands of cola, but I don’t really remember any of their songs.  This one’s okay, though – not a bad piece of pop, if a little generic.

Track 29: Bitty McLean – Here I Stand

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

Nice jaunty beat, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 30: Deep Forest – Sweet Lullaby

Nice atmosphere, good bit of chillout.  Vocals are awful though.

Track 31: Björk – Violently Happy

Great epic atmosphere as ever from Björk – really like this one.

Track 32: Shara Nelson – Uptight

The tune’s a bit dull, but the beat’s alright for nodding along to.

Track 33: Gabrielle – Because Of You

Good head-nodder, nice tune.

Track 34: Carleen Anderson – Nervous Breakdown

Interesting tune, quite like this track.

Track 35: Juliet Roberts – I Want You

Love that epic intro, great atmosphere, solid dance track.

Track 36: Urban Cookie Collective – Sail Away

Another great dance tune from Urban Cookie Collective – the chorus is a little repetitive, but the beat is great.

Track 37: Degrees Of Motion and Biti – Shine On

Nice beat, but the vocals are a bit much for me, and the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 38: Joe Roberts – Lover

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

Dull, slow tune, though the atmosphere’s quite nice.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #18

Day 18, and today’s Now! compilation takes us to 19th November 1990.

November 1990
This is the way the world looked in November 1990 (actually December, but November was another one of those months we didn’t take any photos). Pirate Lego, thankfully, hasn’t changed (or at least it hasn’t if you keep all your stuff from childhood! The new larger pirate minifigures are just wrong). Also, those twentieth century carpets are still a regular sight in British pubs, who obviously all got a job lot circa 1980.

Here’s some music from some people who may have grown out of Lego by 1990, ’cause apparently it’s only millennials who keep playing with that stuff into adulthood.

Now! That's What I Call Music #18
Track 1: The Beautiful South – A Little Time

Nice tune, vocals and atmosphere, but this track’s a bit slow for me.

Track 2: Steve Miller Band – The Joker

This one was later a Modos classic when I hung about there in 2008-2011 – it was always on DJ Mantash’s playlist.  Good times.

Good tune, great lyrics, solid head-nodder.

Track 3: Elton John –  Sacrifice

Quite a nice ballad – lovely tune, nice tinkly synth hooks.

Track 4: Roxette – It Must Have Been Love

Really like this Roxette ballad – lovely vocals, great atmosphere.  Awesome track.

Track 5: Phil Collins – Something Happened On The Way To Heaven

Epic intro, epic tune.  Like this one.

Track 6: Wilson Phillips – Hold On

Great rock ballad!  Love the tune and the vocals.

Track 7: Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

Classic, beautiful song.  Perfect lyrics, stunning melody.

Track 8: The Righteous Brothers – Unchained Melody

No idea why this was back in the charts, but it’s a ’60s favourite for me, so I’m not complaining!

Track 9: Belinda Carlisle – (We Want) The Same Thing

Probably my favourite Belinda Carlisle track – brilliant, epic rock ballad.

Track 10: Status Quo – The Anniversary Waltz [Part 1]

Irritating retro-tinged dad-rock medley of all of Status Quo’s worst tracks.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 11: INXS – Suicide Blonde

Great instrumentals, nice upbeat atmospheric pop-rock.  Really like this one.

Track 12: Public Image Ltd – Don’t Ask Me

Good tune, like the guitar intro, interesting vocals (well, it is John Lydon).  Great track.

Track 13: Talk Talk – It’s My Life

I’m a little surprised to find this featuring so late, ’cause I had it in my head as being late ’80s.  Great synth line, great tune.

Track 14: The LAs – There She Goes

The LAs crack the definitive ’90s sound early on.  Super acoustic and plaid-sounding.

Track 15: Tina Turner – Be Tender With Me Baby

Pretty dull ballad, but some of the instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 16: Robert Palmer and UB40 – I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

Standard reggae tune from UB40, with Robert Palmer’s vocals giving it plus points.

Track 17: Pet Shop Boys – So Hard

Pet Shop Boys enter the ’90s with some slightly harder electro.  The usual great synth lines are still intact though.

Track 18: Bass-O-Matic – Fascinating Rhythm

Nice bassline (as you might expect) but everything else is a bit generic.

Track 19: Soul II Soul and Kym Mazelle – Missing You

Boring soul track with standard early ’90s beat, nothing special.

Track 20: DNA and Suzanne Vega – Tom’s Diner

Love that jaunty singalong hook!  Fantastic track.

Track 21: Sting – Englishman In New York

An all-time favourite – lovely, melancholy song with beautiful lyrics and a gorgeous sax solo.  Love this one.

Track 22: The Cure – Close To Me ’90

Really like this 1990 reworking of the 1985 classic.  Great track from the Cure.

Track 23: Neneh Cherry – I’ve Got You Under My Skin

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

Not enough melody here for me, although there’s quite a nice bassline that starts up mid-track.

Track 24: Blue Pearl – Little Brother

Dull tune, annoying vocals.  Not keen on this one.

Track 25: Kylie Minogue – Step Back In Time

Annoying chorus alert!  It would be a solid pop song, but that chorus makes it the kind of unwanted earworm that I need to cleanse with OMG ANYTHING OTHER THAN THIS.

Track 26: Kim Appleby – Don’t Worry

Nice ’70s-retro-tinged pop tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 27: Technotronic – Megamix

Largely enjoyable medley of dance tracks, some better than others.

Track 29: Bombalurina – Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

This silly novelty track was played at every birthday party I went to in the early ’90s.  It’s not high art, let’s face it, but I still find myself happily nodding along.

Track 30: Betty Boo – Where Are You Baby?

For some reason, I’ve got a vague, distant memory of Betty Boo being a figure of derision in Smash Hits in the early ’90s.  But then, lots of artists were, so I could be getting confused.

The track’s not much to write home about either way – bad rap verse, mid-century-retro-tinged chorus.  Not my thing.

Track 31: The Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (Money Talks)

Like the atmosphere on this one – good solid pop, with a bit of sax in there for good measure.

Track 32: MC Hammer – Have You Seen Her?

Irritating slow track from MC Hammer with slightly creepy vocals.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 33: Jimmy Somerville – To Love Somebody

Odd, slow reggae cover of the Bee Gees classic.  Still, better than the saccharine ballads that usually end these compilations.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #17

Day 17 and we’ve arrived in the 1990s with our Now! compilation journey!  This one was released on 23rd April 1990.

April 1990
This was the way the world looked in April 1990 (actually March – we apparently didn’t take any photos in April – but I don’t imagine it changed much in the course of a couple of weeks). I was clearly much hardier as a child, because I spent a lot of time on British beaches in months when it’s traditionally too cold to do so (i.e. every month of the year), whereas nowadays I’ll stand and shiver for a couple of minutes before going back into the pub.

Let’s see what the 1990s have in store for us!

Now! That's What I Call Music #17
Track 1: Erasure – Blue Savannah

More solid synthpop from Erasure.  Great tune, great epic atmosphere.

Track 2: The Rebel MC – Better World

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

Repetitive beats make for a dull intro, but it’s better once a bit of melody kicks in.

Track 3: Paula Abdul – Opposites Attract

Good beat, but the tune’s a bit dull for my liking.

Track 4: Beats International – Dub Be Good To Me

Classic dance track, really like this tune.  Great vocal melody.

Track 5: UB40 – Kingston Town

Bit of a slow one from UB40, with an irritating tune.  Not really a fan.

Track 6: Candy Flip – Strawberry Fields Forever

Weird synth cover of the Beatles classic.  Pretty much a pointless cover other than the synth, as the vocals definitely don’t do anything new.

Track 7: Tina Turner – I Don’t Wanna Lose You

Fairly standard Tina Turner ballad, a bit dull for me.

Track 8: Phil Collins – I Wish It Would Rain Down

Phil Collins turns his hand to a rock ballad.  To be fair, that guitar is just the right level of over-the-top for me, so I quite like this one.

Track 9: Happy Mondays – Step On

Love this one!  Classic track – I will always dance to this at weddings, in clubs, and in my chair right now.

Track 10: Primal Scream – Loaded

Another classic dance track – love those trumpet hooks.

Track 11: Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

How were Depeche Mode not on a Now! compilation throughout the entirety of the ’80s? *blink*

Anyway, this classic synthpop track is not a bad way to start.  Epic tune, great vocals, has had me on the dancefloor of a thousand goth clubs.

Track 12: Jesus Jones – Real Real Real

Great upbeat rock-tinged track.  Happily nodding along here.

Track 13: Inspiral Carpets – This Is How It Feels

Lovely electro instrumentals, beautiful classic song.  Really like this one.  Another example where Carter USM did a great and not-at-all-pointless cover.

Track 14: The House Of Love – Shine On

Really like this one!  Great tune – love those guitar instrumentals.

Track 15: Faith No More – From Out Of Nowhere

Another great guitar riff.  Not so keen on the vocals, but it’s a good tune.

Track 16: The Quireboys – Hey You

I quite like the rock turn this Now! compilation has taken!  This one’s a great head-nodder.

Track 17: Technotronic and MC Eric – This Beat Is Technotronic

Great dance track, really like the melody on this one.  Geth just arrived home and talked all over it, so I wasn’t quite able to hear it properly!

Track 18: Lonnie Gordon – Happenin’ All Over Again

Like the tune, but the vocal line is a bit repetitive for my liking.

Track 19: 49ers – Don’t You Love Me

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

Nice upbeat dance track, interesting vocal.  Bit dull otherwise.

Track 20: Jimmy Somerville – Read My Lips (Enough Is Enough)

Another solid pop track from Jimmy Somerville.  Great atmosphere on this one.

Track 21: Cliff Richard – Stronger Than That

More saccharine vocals from Cliff Richard.  His band are doing a good job at the pop-rock though.

Track 22: Jam Tronik – Another Day In Paradise

Interesting electro cover of the Phil Collins track.  Really like this one.

Track 23: JT & The Big Family – Moments In Soul

Interesting instrumentals, good atmosphere, but some of the samples are a little irritating.

Track 24: Mantronix and Wondress – Got To Have Your Love

Nice bass intro, nice instrumentals, good solid pop, though the vocals are a bit dull until the chorus kicks in.

Track 25: Bizz Nizz – Don’t Miss The Party Line

Great electro dance tune, though I could do without the live crowd on the track.

Track 26: E-Zee Possee and MC Kinky – Everything Starts With An ‘E’

Another live crowd spoiling the otherwise good guitar intro.  Then the weird vocal starts and it all goes south.  Also, I’m guessing that title is a drug reference (the ‘ec-ec-ec-ec-ecstasy‘ lyric is also a bit of a clue), which means the 1990s have properly arrived.

Track 27: D-Mob and Nuff Juice – Put Your Hands Together

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

Is that a brief sample of the Halloween theme at the start?  If so, it makes the track 100% more awesome, even though the rest of it is a bit of a messy sample-fest.

Track 28: Adamski and Seal – Killer

Absolute classic – that chorus is great, and the instrumentals are wonderfully epic.

Track 29: Orbital – Chime

Upbeat dance track with some interesting instrumentals – good head-nodder, though it gets a bit repetitive after a while.

Track 30: Tongue ‘N’ Cheek – Tomorrow

Nice sweeping piano intro, then it goes a bit house, then a bit ’70s retro.  Once it gets going, it’s pretty much pop-by-numbers, with a random rap late in the track (yup, the ’90s are definitely here…sigh).

Track 31: Electribe 101 – Talking With Myself

Good instrumentals, dull vocal.  Bonus points for the James Bond theme randomly popping up in the middle of the song, though.

Track 32: Sydney Youngblood – I’d Rather Go Blind

Problematic title and theme, for starters.  Fairly tuneless intro, repetitive vocals, out-of-kilter instrumentals.  Not a fan of this one.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #14

Two weeks into this review series, and Now! 14 takes us to 20th March 1989.

March 1989
This is how the world looked in March 1989. Nice garden stonework features, lots of plants, and head-to-toe red outfits.

Both me and the wee bro were clearly better dressed than this lot, but let’s listen to their songs anyway.

Now! That's What I Call Music #14
Track 1: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney – Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart

The Gene Pitney solo original from the ’60s is one of my all-time favourite songs.  This version with Marc Almond doesn’t quite match the original for me, but it’s still really good.

Track 2: Phil Collins – Two Hearts

Phil Collins back on form after that awful one from yesterday.  Great bouncy singalong chair-dancer.

Track 3: Erasure – Stop!

Love the spiky synth on this one.  More great pop from Erasure.

Track 4: Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo – Help!

An early example of a Comic Relief single, with Bananarama teaming up with their parody versions (actually French and Saunders) for a not-quite-pointless cover of the Beatles classic.  There’s not much added to the song other than the daft comedy spoken word sections, but the backing instrumentals are quite interesting.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda

More upbeat than Ordinary Angel yesterday, but the chorus annoys me.  Sorry!

Track 6: Yazz – Fine Time

Yazz has ditched the Plastic Population, and judging by this song, I can’t decide whether it was the best move.  The tune is nice and soulful, but perhaps a little slow for me.  No annoying chorus, though, so that’s a huge improvement.

Track 7: Kim Wilde – Four Letter Word

Obligatory Kim Wilde gig mention.  Yes, she played this one too!

Bit of a slower, quieter one from Kim Wilde, but still a great pop track – really nice build to the atmosphere.

Track 8: Sam Brown – Stop

This is the second track on this compilation with this title.  Between this and the Transvision Vamp/Duran Duran mixed message from yesterday, I’m beginning to think bands in the late ’80s were running out of originality when it came to titles.

Absolutely love this track – beautiful tune, wonderful epic atmosphere.

Fun fact: Jamelia did the most pointless of pointless covers of this in 2003 for the Love Actually soundtrack – it sounds EXACTLY the same.

Track 9: Roy Orbison – You Got It

Was Roy Orbison really still going in 1989?  *googles*  Apparently so.

Really like this tune, especially that bridge.  Nice head-nodder.

Track 10: Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Hands down my favourite Fine Young Cannibals song.  Absolutely classic track with a beautiful simplicity to the vocals and lyrics, and some stunning guitar instrumentals.  Adore this one.

Track 11: INXS – Need You Tonight

That hook!  Another one that used to be used to announce the ad breaks on VH1 Classic.  An all-time favourite, with wonderful vocals and a great atmosphere.

Track 12: Status Quo – Burning Bridges (On And Off And On Again)

Annoying riff to start that reminds me of a sing-song nursery rhyme.  This is echoed in the chorus.  The verses are okay though.  Then there’s that random instrumental of the tune that I only know from Manchester United’s Come On You Reds song in the ’90s.  Just a bit of a mess, really.

Track 13: Then Jerico – Big Area

Nice tinkly intro, which smashes into a bit of epic guitar-led atmosphere.  Boring vocals, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 14: Morrissey – The Last Of The Famous International Playboys

Fairly upbeat for Morrissey.  Bit of a dull tune though.

Track 15: Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Boring slow guitar track.  My least favourite kind of music!  Not a fan at all.

Track 16: Simple Minds – Belfast Child

Beautiful track from Simple Minds, based on traditional melody As She Moved Through The Fair.  A favourite since childhood.

Track 17: Neneh Cherry – Buffalo Stance

I’ve got a soft spot for this classic, which I find to be a great singalong head-nodder.

Track 18: Inner City – Good Life

A little repetitive, but better than Big Fun yesterday.

Track 19: S-Express – Hey Music Lover

Super irritating spoken sample at the start!  I like the synth lines though.

Track 20: Living In A Box – Blow The House Down

Nice upbeat pop track, good head-nodder.  Really like that chorus.

Track 21: The Style Council – Promised Land

I’m a little surprised the Style Council were still going in ’89 – I was sure Paul Weller had gone solo by then.  Oh well, gotta keep improving that music knowledge.

Nice track though – good bouncy song, great synth going on in there.

Track 22: Adeva – Respect

Vocals a bit erratic for my liking, but a good dance track.

Track 23: Tone Lōc – Wild Thing

I quite like that clappy intro.  Rap bit is kind of dull though.

Track 24: Natalie Cole – I Live For Your Love

The dullest type of dull ballad, only marginally saved by the tinkly instrumentals.  Not keen.

Track 25: Robin Beck – First Time

Really like the tune on this one – great rock ballad.

Track 26: Paula Abdul – Straight Up

Great chair-dancing track.  Love the chorus too, good singalong potential.

Track 27: Samantha Fox – I Only Wanna Be With You

Upbeat cover of the Dusty Springfield classic.  Different enough not to be pointless (there’s no mistaking that ’80s synth), but there’s something cheesy and annoying about it.

Track 28: Brother Beyond – Be My Twin

Vocals are too saccharine, but I quite like the tune.  Nice sax solo too.

Track 29: Climie Fisher – Love Like A River

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

We’re getting towards the end of the compilation!  Do I dare hope?  Could today finally be the day when every track from the original compilation is present and correct on Spotify…oh.  Oh well.  So close.

Typically cheesy vocals for Climie Fisher, although there’s a nice almost-edge to the instrumentals underneath.

Track 30: Duran Duran – All She Wants Is

Yup, I still love Duran Duran, and this one is predictably wonderful (that bassline! that synth! those vocals! that chanting!) as ever.  Just a cut above.

Track 31: Level 42 – Tracie

All right, all right, I’m clicking on that ticket link now!  I’m buying those tickets!  I’ve received the email confirmation!  I’m going to see Level 42 in October!

It was for the best that I did that tonight, too, ’cause there were only two floor seats left that were next to each other!

This one’s a great jaunty track with some nice synth hooks.  Hope they play it when I go see them!

Track 32: Michael Ball – Love Changes Everything

I’ve got a soft spot for Michael Ball, mainly ’cause he’s so ubiquitous on British TV these days.  This track from the musical Aspects Of Love is as saccharine as you would expect, but it makes a nice change from the slow pop ballads that have been ending the last few Now! compilations.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #13

Day 13’s Now! compilation came out on 21st November 1988.

November 1988
This is the way the world looked in November 1988. I wasn’t actually put in a cage that often. If I had kids they’d be in a cage – uh, sorry, ‘playpen’ – 24 hours a day. This is one of the many reasons I know I’m not meant to be a parent.

Let’s see what pop hits the Now! compilers have for me today.

Now! That's What I Call Music #13
Track 1: Yazz & The Plastic Population – The Only Way Is Up

Classic party track, and that blaring horn at the start is great, but I find the tune to the vocal a bit annoying.

Track 2: Womack & Womack – Teardrops

Nice tune, though it’s a bit repetitive for me.

Track 3: Erasure – A Little Respect

I adore this one!  Brilliant singalong party track.  Also, I can’t not post that excellent Tube singalong video.

Track 4: The Christians – Harvest For The World

A little ashamed to say that I’m not familiar enough with the Isley Brothers original to be able to say whether this cover is pointless or not.  There’s lots of very ’80s twiddly instrumentals, but the vocal is a bit mid-century throwback, so it’s hard to guess.

Track 5: Hue & Cry – Ordinary Angel

Interesting instrumentals at the start, a bit Eastern-tinged.  Nice tune, though it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 6: UB40 and Chrissie Hynde – Breakfast In Bed

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

Fairly standard UB40 slow reggae – great vocals from both singers.  I actually like this even more than their cover of I Got You Babe.

Track 7: Robert Palmer – She Makes My Day

Really nice tune from Robert Palmer – interesting instrumental lines and great vocals.

Track 8: Breathe – Hands To Heaven

Nice instrumentals, but far too slow and saccharine for me.  Apart from the sax solo.  You can’t go wrong with a sax solo.

Track 9: Phil Collins – A Groovy Kind Of Love

Not a pointless cover as it’s very different from the Mindbenders original.  It’s much slower and a lot more boring.  Not a fan.

Track 10: Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry, Be Happy

I’ve always quite liked this jaunty tune.  Didn’t they use to sell singing novelty fish that sang this song, or am I imagining that?

Track 11: The Art Of Noise and Tom Jones – Kiss

Nothing can beat the original Prince version, but this cover is not bad at all.  It’s very different to the original, and I’m a big fan of Tom Jones and his distinctive voice.  That guitar solo is great too.

Track 12: Bryan Ferry – Let’s Stick Together

Nice upbeat track, originally released a decade earlier, so the stylings are obviously very ’70s.  Love the instrumentals though, and though it’s a late ’70s song, there’s something quite glam rock about it – Ferry still channelling his earlier Roxy Music days.

Track 13: Kim Wilde – You Came

At the Kim Wilde gig last week (sorry, not going to shut up about that just yet!), Kim dedicated this one to the audience.  Great solid pop track with an awesome epic singalong chorus.

Track 14: Bomb The Bass – Don’t Make Me Wait

Bit of an irritating intro, but the track is good once you get past that – great synth line, great vocals, great tune.

Track 15: Brother Beyond – The Harder I Try

This one’s a bit cheesy for me, but the tune’s quite nice and it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 16: The Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

Not sure why this one was back in the charts, but it’s a classic for a reason.  Great track.

Track 17: Fat Boys and Chubby Checker – The Twist (Yo, Twist!)

It’s that Fat Boys cackle at the start again, but this retro-tinged rap track would not have been at all scary to my toddler self.  Definitely a party song.

Track 18: Wee Papa Girl Rappers – Wee Rule

Quite an interesting song – I like the tune on the chorus, and it’s nice to hear female-fronted rap in the ’80s style.

Track 19: Salt-N-Pepa – Twist And Shout

Speaking of which…  Was it a thing in 1988 to fuse rap with retro rock ‘n’ roll stylings?  I wouldn’t have expected to like that, but I do.  This one’s great, with rap verses straddling the classic chorus.  The opposite of a pointless cover.

Track 20: Yello – The Race

Ohhhh…it’s this one!  Classic party tune, but I didn’t know what it was called or who it was by.  Every day’s a learning experience.

Track 21: Inner City and Kevin Saunderson – Big Fun

Fairly standard for Inner City – nodding my head, but the tune’s not super exciting.

Track 22: D-Mob and Gary Haisman – We Call It Acieed

Infamous vocal, classic dance track.  Bit repetitive for me, but it’s a good party song.

Track 23: Beatmasters and PP Arnold – Burn It Up

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

I find this one a bit dull, nothing out of the ordinary, though I quite like that trumpet hook.

Track 24: Milli Vanilli – Girl You Know It’s True

By the time I started reading Smash Hits in the early ’90s, Milli Vanilli were a bit of a joke in the pop magazines as it was widely believed that they didn’t actually provide the vocals on their records.  I’m not sure if this was true, but it was the kind of thing that was a symptom of the irritating move towards manufactured pop groups.

As for the song itself, the possibly-fake vocals are a bit cheesy, but the instrumentals are great.

Track 25: Level 42 – Heaven In My Hands

I have the Sage Gateshead tab open ready on my browser to order those tickets!  I’ve just…not done it yet.  I will soon.

More fab instrumentals, great upbeat guitar, interesting track.  Like this one.

Track 26: Jane Wiedlin – Rush Hour

Chair-dancing here from the start – great singalong chorus, great tune.

Track 27: The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)

The unofficial Scottish national anthem, played whenever we score points at the rugby.  Get several hundred Scots in a room, play this song, and watch the chaos ensue.  The ultimate in singalong classics.

Track 28: T’Pau – Secret Garden

The chorus annoys me, but otherwise it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: Transvision Vamp – I Want Your Love

Really interesting song with great vocals.  Big fan of this one…

Track 30: Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love

…and the title juxtaposition here is hilariously schizophrenic.  I hope that was deliberate, Now! compilers!

Duran Duran may not want our love…but I think you know what I’m about to say.  I love Duran Duran, and this song is another cracker.  Lovely vocal harmonies on the verses, nice epic atmosphere, brilliant singalong chorus, great lyrics.

Track 31: The Human League – Love Is All That Matters

Interesting to hear the Human League’s later ’80s stuff here.  The synth isn’t nearly so prominent, and it’s a bit smoother and more polished-sounding than their earlier stuff, especially the backing vocals.  Nice tune, too, and that outro is beautiful.

Track 32: All About Eve – Martha’s Harbour

Classic goth ballad.  I’ve always liked this one, so I’ll forgive the Now! compilers for ending yet another compilation with a ballad.