New year, and the chart’s magically back to normal – all the Christmas songs have disappeared. Today’s new hits:
Russ – Gun Lean
It’ss a rap track with zero melody and thus not remotely my thing. There are also some grim lyrics (though it’s not nearly as bad as some others I’ve heard in the last year), meaning they didn’t play this one on the radio.
The video is a bit wealth-braggy with one of those Lamborghinis you never see in real life, but it gets bonus points for the sequence that was shot in a Sainsbury’s.
Cardi B – Money
Boring, no melody, extremely repetitive.
The video is pretty NSFW with lots of topless women wandering around some sort of weird bank.
Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play
It’s not super exciting, but there are some nice lines and I expect it will grow on me.
There’s no video for this yet.
Post Malone – Wow
Kind of dull. Could do with some more melody.
The video (for now – I’m not sure if they’ll make a live action one too) is a headache-inducing Christmas-themed animation.
Something else worth mentioning from this week’s chart: Baby Shark has made it to #6 – Top Ten for the first time! Some people must just have been watching the video all through the Christmas holidays.
It’s been a while since I actually did a New Hits Friday post. August, I think? Anyway, here’s a giant catchup of all the hits that have entered the UK Top 40 for the first time in the intervening period. I’ll try not to leave it so long in the future!
Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life
I reviewed this one for Now! #101. Still a highly annoying earworm, made worse by the fact that I’ve really grown to hate the idiom ‘living one’s best life’ this year.
The video is the typical tasteless ‘look at how rich I am’ video beloved of R&B stars, all poolsides and girls in bikinis and helicopters and wasting champagne by pouring it everywhere. It matches the smug lyrics in that respect.
Travis Scott and Frank Ocean – Carousel
No melody whatsoever; incredibly, frustratingly dull. Can’t even be called music in my opinion.
There’s no video for this one yet.
Travis Scott – Stargazing
A bit slow, and the tune’s very dull. Lots of jarring noise in the background too. I guess the plus point is that the lyrics are quite nice.
Again, there’s no video yet. I don’t think Travis Scott is keen on making them!
The video is full of glitter and fabulousness – I highly approve.
Pinkfong – Baby Shark
Daft viral video that’s in the charts because of the new video rules. It’s ridiculous, and also the best thing in the Top 40 at the moment.
The video has small kids in, obviously, and so I find it to be of little interest – it’s the song that makes it.
Freya Ridings – Lost Without You
Pretty voice, but the tune’s very generic and it’s far too slow for me. Advert music, basically.
The video is very floaty and ethereal, with lots of shots of the singer’s hair blowing about all over the place. Quite relaxing to watch.
BTS and Nicki Minaj – Idol
Good upbeat bit of K-Pop – nice to hear something different in the charts! Almost beats Baby Shark. Almost, but NOT QUITE. And for once, the rap (courtesy of Nicki Minaj) actually works quite well with this song.
The video is super colourful and manic! Good stuff.
AJ Tracey – Lo(v/s)er
Lots of out-of-key clanging noises, and an uninspired rap over the top. Bad Spanish too – if you’re talking about a girl, it’s ‘I love a pretty Latina’, not ‘I love a pretty Latino’. (The lyrics online say ‘Latina’ but it definitely sounds like ‘Latino’!) Very repetitive, not keen.
The video is another smug, tasteless montage of bikini-clad girls, poolsides, and ostentatious jewellery, with some guns ‘n’ drugs for good measure.
Bazzi and Camila Cabello – Beautiful
I like the swirly instrumentals, but it’s very cheesy and too slow for my liking.
The video starts off very literally with Camila showing up to a party in an angel costume, and then turns into a full-blown Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet homage.
Dean Lewis – Be Alright
Again, see Now! #101, though I’ll point out additionally that this is a very annoying and incessant earworm!
The video is lots of badly lit shots of a very artfully decorated house that makes me feel bad about my own house.
LSD – Thunderclouds
Another one on Now! #101!
The video is daft and colourful with a flying campervan. Big fan of this one!
Eminem – Fall
Good beat, and I quite like the atmosphere.
The video is all about Eminem getting mardy about bad online reviews, so there’s a lot of arty shots of phones and tablets emitting black smoke monsters, which proceed to chase him around a deserted building like in a horror film. I like the beard, though, it suits him.
Eminem and Joyner Lucas – Lucky You
Another great, epic atmosphere – nice and eerie and looming.
The video is grim-looking and apocalyptic, but considerably enlivened by a comedic interlude halfway through.
Eminem – The Ringer
This one, on the other hand, is really dull. No tune in the background, super repetitive. It also charted the highest. I will never understand people in this century.
There’s no video yet.
Machine Gun Kelly – Rap Devil
Apparently a diss track about Eminem – Scott Mills could only play eight seconds of it on the Official Chart Show. Dull, repetitive, and I’m not into the drama. It goes on for so long that it just gets a bit awkward.
The video is just Machine Gun Kelly rapping the track and looking all tough with a shovel. Nothing interesting here.
Silk City, Diplo, Mark Ronson and Dua Lipa – Electricity
The video is all about Dua Lipa dancing around a New York apartment block with her neighbours during a heatwave, which doesn’t seem like the most efficient way to keep cool. I like the cameos from the other artists though.
Kanye West, Lil’ Pump and Adele Givens – I Love It
Scott could only play seven seconds of this one. People today listen to the most disgusting music. #getoffmylawn
Update after listening to the clean version: boring, repetitive, nothing interesting going on.
The video features a lot of bizarre costumes, but the song is so gross that it’s best listened to on mute.
Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid
Another one on Now! #101. Just want to add a seasonal note that I love those cash register noises – they’re very I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day!
The video is a nice colourful pop affair with lots of dancing in launderettes. Good stuff.
David Guetta, Jason Derulo, Nicki Minaj and Willy William – Goodbye
Utterly appalling interpolation of Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye. The rest of the track is just a jarring, crackly and awful mishmash of styles, like three different songs layered on top of each other.
The video tells a slightly confusing story in which Jason Derulo appears to be sneaking off after a one-night stand in a London hotel room, though not before pausing to sing a song to the camera. Charming!
Mumford & Sons – Guiding Light
I’m not the biggest fan of Mumford & Sons’ brand of soft-folk-rock, and I find this one pretty dull.
The video is equally boring – just black and white performance footage. Not a fan!
I like the colours and costumes in the video – it’s very pretty.
Lil’ Wayne and XXXTentacion – Don’t Cry
Not enough melody for me.
There’s no video yet, and again there probably won’t be due to XXXTentacion’s death earlier this year.
Lil’ Wayne and Kendrick Lamar – Mona Lisa
I quite like the atmosphere on the piano intro, but I’m not keen on the rap at all (Scott couldn’t play it on the chart show, which tells you everything you need to know). Except for the Milli Vanilli reference, which is just beautifully random!
Again, there’s no video yet.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow
Acoustic song from the A Star Is Born remake. It’s not my kind of thing, but I’m so relieved to hear something different on the chart – it has melody! Actual melody!
The video is just lots of clips from the film, which is perfectly adequate.
Lady Gaga – Always Remember Us This Way
Another slow piano ballad from the A Star Is Born soundtrack. It’s pretty dull.
Again, the video is just clips from the film.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – I’ll Never Love Again
Yet another ballad that’s too slow and dull for my liking…
…and yet more clips from the film in the video.
6ix9ine and Bobby Shmurda – Stoopid
Generic unmelodious rap with gross lyrics that Scott couldn’t play on the radio.
The video is a pretty low-tech affair (and given that 6ix9ine is wearing a ridiculously blinged-out expensive watch on each wrist, you’d think they could have afforded a better camera), but I do like the colourful car.
Lil’ Baby and Gunna – Drip Too Hard
Boring song, no melody, not my thing.
‘This video may be inappropriate for some users,’ says YouTube, so I’m not looking forward to this. Turns out it’s because it’s a ‘girls in bikinis plus wasted champagne’ theme on acid. Not recommended.
The video starts off with a nice botanical gardens sequence with lots of flowers, but quickly degenerates into ‘showing off my wealth’ cars ‘n’ mansions. Boring.
Cadet and Deno – Advice
Nice funky reggae backing track, but that rap is awful and dull. I do like the comedic theme though!
The video is about a boring night-time petrol station with lots of tacky watch and car product placement.
Jess Glynne – Thursday
Cheesy and boring song.
The video is black and white and equally dull. Also, despite the lyrics, she does wear makeup in every scene.
Bad Bunny and Drake – Mia
Nice upbeat Latin track – quite like this one.
The video is set at a beers ‘n’ bongs garden party and gets pretty dull in places, although I do like the random old people on the porch at the party.
Kodak Black, Travis Scott and Offset – Zeze
Boring, unmelodious, sounds like everything else.
The video is meant to be a comedy story about making a music video, but it’s pretty gross and tasteless due to all the bling and twerking girls. Not my cup of tea.
Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
One from Now! #101, and another that’s become an incessant earworm for me recently!
The video is a lot of fun with all the pretty costumes.
Rak-Su – I Want You To Freak
That interpolation of Adina Howard’s Freak Like Me! Which has spawned so many cover versions, including most notably the Sugababes version with THAT interpolation of Are Friends Electric! There’s some good guitar going on here, even though it’s fairly generic and the cover/interpolation chain means there’s nothing original about it at all. Great to have an opportunity to ramble on about pop history though, and I never take songs with melody for granted nowadays!
The video is Caribbean-set and a bit generic, but I do like the dancing.
Dua Lipa and Blackpink – Kiss And Make Up
One of the welcome trends of 2018 has been K-Pop acts getting popular enough to enter the UK charts. This isn’t quite as good as BTS’ Idol – it’s a bit generic, and I’m not a huge fan of Dua Lipa’s vocals, but it’s decent enough pop, and any kind of melodious pop is a good thing at the moment, even when it’s as uninspired as this.
There’s no video yet.
D Block Europe, Young Adz, Lil’ Pino and Dirtbike LB – Nassty
Aaaaand we’re back to the offensive lyrics, depressing generic rapping, and dreary unmelodious drone. Awful.
The video is all the usual gross cliches like drugs and expensive cars. Not recommended.
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life
Too slow and dull for me, and the tune is really generic. Awful message too.
The video has lots of pretty costumes, though, so I quite like it.
Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
Dull and repetitive song.
The animated video, which ties in with Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, is fab though.
The Budapest-set video is gorgeous – so much stunning architecture, so many pretty costumes!
Billie Eilish – When The Party’s Over
Too slow for me, but I like the harmonisation – it’s a bit different.
Lots of weird stuff going on with a glass of ink in the video.
XXXTentacion, Lil’ Pump, Maluma and Swae Lee – Arms Around You
There’s some actual melody in this one! I was not expecting that at all! I really quite like it.
The video is kind of arty and dreamlike, very suited to the song.
Pink – A Million Dreams
Cover of the Greatest Showman number. Apparently doing Greatest Showman covers is a hot new trend (there’s a whole compilation album full of them), which is highly alarming! There’s nothing different about this at all, which I guess makes it a pointless ’10s cover. And the ’10s were doing so well at avoiding that if you don’t count the X Factor!
There’s no video for this yet.
Benny Blanco and Calvin Harris – I Found You
Boring and repetitive tune! People have been really bigging up this track, but it’s very disappointing. Nothing interesting here at all.
The video is a good laugh though, with various people trying to show Benny how to dance.
Clean Bandit, Marina & The Diamonds and Luis Fonsi – Baby
The video is fairly literal, with a cute story about a love triangle and all the characters portrayed by the artists (plus so-far one-hit wonder Starley, whom I wasn’t expecting to see here!)
James Arthur – Empty Space
Extremely dull. Also, I’ve just remembered how much I am NOT a fan of James Arthur’s vocals.
The video is really interesting though (in a slightly depressing way) – it appears to be about a troubled alcoholic (played by Tom Felton) stalking his ex-girlfriend, but all is not as it seems. Also, judging by the gadgets, set dressing, and costumes, it’s set in the early ’00s, which is also interesting!
Jonas Blue, Liam Payne and Lennon Stella – Polaroid
The video’s a bit dull and involves a lot of wandering round New York. I do like that Polaroid technology is having one of those retro moments though.
Ariana Grande – Thank You Next
Straight in at number one, which is unusual these days. I like the ’70s-esque synth sound on the instrumentals – it’s very pretty. The tune could be a bit more exciting, but on the whole it’s a nice bit of proper pop, and is much appreciated.
The video is a daft comedy sequence with lots of celebrity cameos and homages to ’90s and ’00s teen movies. Lots to like here.
Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
Really like this piece of classic-sounding pop. Good stuff!
The video features Ava as the eponymous psycho, and there’s a cute shout-out to the Hitchcock film at the start. Lovely colours, great costumes (and the dude in this video is actually attractive, which is extremely rare for ’10s media).
Fredo – BMT
Great atmospheric instrumentals but awful rap, which seems to be a theme.
The video is a depressing medley of mansions, cigars, champagne, and the obligatory bikini-clad girl in a swimming pool, with the slightly alarming implication at one point that Fredo and his mates have burnt a girl to death for keying his car. At least, that’s what it looks like. I really hope I’m wrong.
XXXTentacion – Bad
Well, at least there is melody…sort of? It’s a real dirge though.
There’s no video yet, and again there probably won’t be now.
I really like the dancing in the video, but she’s wearing the ugliest pair of boots!
Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999
Song paying tribute to 1999, which was the worst year of the twentieth century in my opinion, because it meant that the century was nearly over. Still, I really do appreciate the sentiment of the song, which is generally that last century was great and this century sucks. I can heartily get behind that message. The song is…of the same quality that pop songs were in 1999, which is a lot better than average pop songs from today, but nowhere near as good as in the ’80s.
I do also want to point out quickly that the Saturdays did this theme better with Disco Love.
The video, as you might expect, is a glorious mishmash of homages to pop culture from around the turn of the millennium!
Panic! At The Disco – The Greatest Show
Another one from the Greatest Showman tribute album, and it’s the first one I actually like. Great epic rock cover!
There’s no video for this yet.
The Plug, Nafe Smallz, M Huncho and Gunna – Broken Homes
Generic hip-hop. Nothing memorable here.
Another one with no video so far.
Sheck Wes – Mo Bamba
Awful and off-key. How can a song that’s unmelodious in the first place be off-key? It’s so dire I don’t know what to say. The vocals are worse than some appalling unsigned local bands I’ve seen, and that’s saying something.
I quite like the comedic video though. Just make sure to watch it on mute.
The video is a slightly depressing story about George being trapped in a rapidly flooding house and drowning at the end!
Little Mix and Sharaya J – Strip
Interesting spoken word intro, leads into a fairly R&B influenced pop song. On the whole, could do with a bit more melody in this one, but it’s got a good beat, and I do like the harmonies on the vocals!
The video is a nice black and white piece with a body positivity theme, featuring an homage to the Dixie Chicks’ ‘critical words written on nude bodies’ photoshoot (and hence starting a Twitter feud with Piers Morgan, which I’m not linking to because it’s depressing).
James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars
URGH this is saccharine. It’s another Greatest Showman cover, and I’m not keen.
This one actually has a video, though! It predictably goes with the film’s circus theme, but it’s very pretty and I quite like it.
6ix9ine – Kika
Scott could only play three seconds, so I couldn’t hear anything yet. Listening to it online, the lyrics are as gross as expected, but I quite like the steel drums in the background.
There’s no video yet.
Digdat, K Trap and Krept & Konan – Air Force
No melody, very repetitive. Atmosphere’s okay but it’s generally very dull.
The London-set video is all gritty and urban with lots of balaclavas and gang signs. Not really my cup of tea.
Meek Mill and Drake – Going Bad
Awful! So dull and generic and unmelodious.
There’s no video for this yet.
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Great atmosphere on the intro, though I’m not hugely keen on the main bit where it goes a bit country.
The video is a slightly daft story about Miley driving a car on the run from the police while wearing a pretty silver outfit, but it’s aesthetically pleasing so I’m all about it.
Dalton Harris and James Arthur – The Power Of Love
A real step back for the X Factor winner’s single, as they’ve gone back to covers. It’s horribly soulless and the singer just admitted on the chart show that he only first heard the original Frankie Goes To Hollywood song about a week ago (WTF? HOW do you go through twentyish Christmases without ever hearing The Power Of Love?). Far worse than the Gabrielle Aplin cover (HOW has he managed to make the ‘hooded claw’ line sound so EMPTY?). I am actually offended by this, even more so than I was by Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah (covered in similar circumstances in that Alexandra Burke had no personal love for the song). Just terrible.
There’s no video yet – time will tell if they do what they did with Rak-Su last year and just release the X Factor performance clip as the video.
Whew! All caught up. I’ll do this week’s New Hits on Saturday, as I won’t have time to listen to the chart tomorrow evening!
So. Three and a half months, ten and a half solid days of music listening, and 4,020 tracks later, here we are at Day 100, the final day of this Now! compilation marathon. Day 100 means that we have finally reached Now! #100, which has just been released today, 20th July 2018.
Here they are, then – the very last summer hits.
(Let’s take a minute to appreciate this awesome celebratory cover. On the top left, we have the pig that featured on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #5 – well, it’s actually a much cuter version! On the top right, we have an airship with the logo that was used on the covers of Now! #3 to Now! #16. Love the fireworks too! Perfect cover for this special occasion.)
Track 1: Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – One Kiss
This was number one for quite a few weeks, but it’s not my thing. I find the tune really irritating and a bit repetitive.
Track 2: George Ezra – Shotgun
I like the rhythm on this one.
Track 3: Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo
Good bit of pop – I quite like the tune. There’s some annoying vocal stuff going on in the chorus though.
Track 4: Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
Absolutely gorgeous pop tune – I really like this one.
Track 5: Anne-Marie – 2002
Hmm. I do like the clever interpolation on the chorus of a single line – ‘oops, I got 99 problems singing “bye, bye, bye”/hold up, if you wanna go and take a ride wit me/better hit me, baby, one more time‘ – that mixes up the hooks from Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time, Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye, Dr Dre’s The Next Episode, Nelly’s Ride Wit Me and Britney Spears’ Oops!… I Did It Again. If you remember the turn of the millennium, it’s very evocative.
I can’t stand the theme, though – and the tune on the verses really annoys me!
Track 6: Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
Extremely irritating, cloying tune. I don’t know why I always find Jess Glynne’s stuff so grating, but I do.
Track 7: Years & Years – If You’re Over Me
Great bouncy rhythm – this one’s quite fun.
Track 8: David Guetta and Sia – Flames
Annoying tune on the vocals – not keen.
Track 9: Post Malone – Better Now
Another irritating tune.
Track 10: Jonas Blue and Jack & Jack – Rise
I get this one stuck in my head a lot at the moment. I’m not sure why, ’cause the tune’s very uninspired.
Track 11: Liam Payne and J Balvin – Familiar
I really like this one – it’s got a great Latin feel to it.
Track 12: Banx & Ranx, Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane – Answerphone
Good solid pop tune – I love that singalong chorus.
Track 13: MO, Lotto Boyzz and Mr Eazi – Bad Vibe
Nice summery song – quite like this one.
Track 14: Tiësto, Dzeko, Preme and Post Malone – Jackie Chan
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Post Malone on track 9.
Ridiculous lyrics, annoying tune on the chorus. It’s got a good beat, though.
Track 15: M-22 and Medina – First Time
Another annoying tune, and the EDM backing track is painfully generic.
Track 16: 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood
Great epic rock track – the chorus is awesome. Really like this one.
Track 17: Bebe Rexha and Florida-Georgia Line – Meant To Be
Too country-tinged for me, and I really hate that chorus.
Track 18: Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey – The Middle
Yet another very irritating tune.
Track 19: Khalid and Normani – Love Lies
Beautiful tune – lovely and melancholy.
Track 20: Jax Jones, Mabel and Rich The Kid – Ring Ring
Great atmosphere – quite like this tune.
Track 21: Cheat Codes and Little Mix – Only You
Bit of a dull tune – not a fan of this one.
Track 22: Shawn Mendes – In My Blood
Again, I find the tune really annoying, and I don’t like the theme either.
Track 23: MU4 – You Can’t Hurry Love
Now, this is an interesting way to end the first disc! MU4 won a competition on Good Morning Britain to appear on this Now! compilation. The competition winners were asked to cover the Phil Collins classic, which was the very first song on a Now! compilation – track 1 on Now! #1 back in 1983.
I do like the harmonies on this cover, and the retro feel remains intact, which is great. Obviously I’ll always prefer the original, but this version is not bad.
Track 24: UB40 – Red Red Wine
Disc two of this special Now! compilation is not full of new hits, like it usually would be. Instead, it features favourite pop songs that have appeared on Now! compilations throughout the years. As you know if you’re one of the intrepid souls who have been following my Now! marathon right from the start, I don’t usually like it when songs are included that have already been featured on previous entries in the series. However, seeing as this is a special celebration album, I’ll let it slide today!
Red Red Wine first appeared as track 3 on Now! #1 in November 1983. See the link for my review.
Incidentally, seeing as both track 1 and track 3 of Now! #1 have been honoured on this compilation, I wouldn’t have minded a wee shout-out to track 2! The second half of my Now! marathon has not had any Duran Duran for me to love.
Track 25: Phil Collins – Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)
Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) first appeared as track 8 on Now! #3 in July 1984. See the link for my review.
Phil Collins is getting a good look-in on this celebratory Now! entry!
Track 26: Bon Jovi – Livin’ On A Prayer
Livin’ On A Prayer first appeared as track 25 on Now! #9 in March 1987. See the link for my review.
I’m not sure how I feel about the ’80s being represented on this disc by a reggae track, a ballad and a hairmetal song. Just one synthpop or New Romantic track would have made me a very happy girl.
Track 27: Wet Wet Wet – Love Is All Around
Love Is All Around first appeared as track 1 on Now! #28 in August 1994. See the link for my review.
Interesting to see this one again after recent discussion of Drake equalling the second-place number one longevity record!
Track 28: Spice Girls – Wannabe
Wannabe first appeared as track 1 on Now! #34 in August 1996. See the link for my review.
I think eleven-year-old me would have been thrilled to find out the Spice Girls would be featuring on Now! #100, so thirty-three-year-old me will try not to roll her eyes too much!
Track 29: Oasis – Wonderwall
Wonderwall first appeared as track 24 on Now! #34 in August 1996. See the link for my review.
That’s two tracks for Now! #34, which is interesting! Really, though, Wonderwall should have appeared on a Now! compilation earlier, as it had been released about a year before it made its appearance.
Track 30: Robbie Williams – Angels
Angels first appeared as track 7 on Now! #39 in April 1998. See the link for my review.
Another favourite childhood artist that I would thoroughly have wanted to receive this honour back in the day!
Track 31: Cher – Believe
Believe first appeared as track 3 on Now! #42 in March 1999. See the link for my review.
Good to see Cher on here, though I’ll always prefer her ’80s stuff. (Yes, I know that’s the case with most decade-spanning artists.)
Track 32: Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time
…Baby One More Time first appeared as track 1 on Now! #44 in November 1999. See the link for my review.
Well, it would have been wrong if we hadn’t had at least one of the songs featured in Anne-Marie’s 2002 interpolation on track 5!
In my opinion, the ’90s selection on this disc has been a little more representative than the ’80s selection (it helps that twice as many were included), but it’s a shame that there was absolutely nothing from the early ’90s – a bit of classic dance like 2 Unlimited or Snap! wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Track 33: S Club 7 – Reach
Reach first appeared as track 2 on Now! #46 in July 2000. See the link for my review.
Track 34: Destiny’s Child – Survivor
Survivor first appeared as track 13 on Now! #49 in July 2001. See the link for my review.
Track 35: Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head
Can’t Get You Out Of My Head first appeared as track 1 on Now! #50 in November 2001. See the link for my review.
Track 36: Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Cry Me A River first appeared as track 3 on Now! #55 in July 2003. See the link for my review.
Track 37: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
You’re Beautiful first appeared as track 1 on Now! #61 in July 2005. See the link for my review.
Track 38: Shakira and Wyclef Jean – Hips Don’t Lie
Hips Don’t Lie first appeared as track 2 on Now! #65 in November 2006. See the link for my review.
Rule The World first appeared as track 2 on Now! #68 in November 2007. See the link for my review.
Track 40: Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Viva La Vida first appeared as track 24 on Now! #71 in November 2008. See the link for my review.
Track 41: Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
I Kissed A Girl first appeared as track 2 on Now! #71 in November 2008. See the link for my review.
Now! #71 getting a double look-in as well!
Very representative selection from the ’00s overall – songs from every part of the decade and lots of different genres.
Track 42: Ed Sheeran – Sing
Sing first appeared as track 2 on Now! #88 in July 2014. See the link for my review.
Mind the six-year jump there, Now! compilers! Could have done with fewer ’00s tracks to make room for some more from the ’10s!
Track 43: Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk
Uptown Funk first appeared as track 1 on Now! #90 in March 2015. See the link for my review.
My favourite track on this celebratory disc – absolutely deserves to be on here.
Track 44: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself
Love Yourself first appeared as track 2 on Now! #93 in March 2016. See the link for my review.
I’m not sure how I feel about a celebration of thirty-five years and a hundred compilation albums worth of pop music being ended on a Justin Bieber track. They could at least have gone with Sorry, his one good track, which was released around the same time.
Short and sweet from the ’10s, but at least it was more representative than the ’80s selection.
Final note: So, that’s it from me and my Now! marathon, then – well, until Now! #101 comes out in the autumn. I’ll post some stats from the whole thing at some point over the weekend as well, ’cause I love my stats – but other than that, I’m looking forward to having my music listening time back to myself again!
It’s been an interesting few months, and as a pop music geek, it’s really consolidated for me what I already felt about the way chart music has evolved during the course of my lifetime. I’ll always prefer the ’80s stuff, I’ll always cringe when the ’90s stuff reminds me of my childhood, I’ll always think most of the ’00s stuff is really tacky, and I’ll always wish most of the ’10s stuff weren’t such poor quality and so generic.
On many days – especially days when the music was especially terrible and boring – it’s the daily picture feature that has been the most fun. It’s been fascinating and terrifying at the same time to watch my life flash by, season by season.
Finally, surprisingly, after all that, I appreciate the institution of Now! That’s What I Call Music more than ever. I’m actually already looking forward to the next one.
Day 99 brings us to Now! #99, which was released on 23rd March 2018.
I’m starting to get a little suspicious that some of the tracks on these latest Now! compilations weren’t actually hits at all. I know that a) the charts change so rapidly that there too many songs to remember and b) most chart music these days is so generic that it all blurs into one, but my memory is pretty good, and given that all of these songs are supposed to have been in the charts just a few months ago, I’m surprised that there are so many song titles I don’t recognise. I will have to do some research as we go through them.
We’ve finally reached the current year, 2018! Let’s see what pop music has come to these days.
Track 1: Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days
Now I know I’m nearly at the end of this long Now! marathon – this track is still currently (as of today, 19th July 2018) in the Top 40. We’re so close to the end!
I find the tune pretty irritating and the theme a bit awkward, but there’s some good stuff going on with the lyrics.
Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF
Another tune that really annoys me.
Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still
Great tune, great danceable beat, and a lyric like ‘let me kick it like it’s 1986 now‘ is always going to go down well with me. Love this one.
Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something
I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.
Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?
Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.
Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends
This one is insidiously catchy and was stuck in my head for weeks earlier this year. I’m not a fan of the tune or the theme, so it wasn’t pleasant.
Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse
I do like that early ’90s feel (which, judging by the style of the video, is deliberate). Like the callback to Walk This Way too.
Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby
Another annoying tune, but it’s got a good beat.
Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You
I really like the rhythm, but I find the song a bit cheesy.
Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe
Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.
Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.
Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise
I really like George Ezra’s stuff – it’s so different to the generic EDM-hip-hop-pop lyrically-vapid tuneless mush that makes up the bulk of the charts these days. This is an upbeat feelgood song with great lyrics and an awesome chant-along bit near the end.
It’s got a good rhythm, but I could do with some more melody.
Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words
Nice tune, but the rap’s too messy for me.
Track 32: B Young – Jumanji
It’s got an okay beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.
Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline
It’s based heavily around an interpolation of 2002 hit Always On Time by Ja Rule and Ashanti. I just find it very unoriginal.
Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover
Double repeated artist alert! We’ve already had both Notes and Mabel on track 15.
This tune really irritates me.
Track 35: Rak-Su, Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy – Dimelo
This is an interesting one. It was the X Factor winner’s single for 2017, and for the last couple of years the X Factor winner’s single has not been featured on the spring Now! compilation like it used to be – both Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young and Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around were left out, the latter presumably partly because nobody wants to hear an explicitly Christmas-themed song in the spring. Part of this, I believe, is because of the X Factor‘s decline in popularity recently, but it’s meant we’ve not been following an interesting change. Louisa Johnson’s winner’s single was a cover as usual – Forever Young was originally a Bob Dylan song – but Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around was an original song (written by Ed Sheeran), which was a first for the X Factor since Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal, and signalled an interesting move away from its irritating karaoke format. This move towards original songs continued in the 2017 competition, with many of the contestants (notably Rak-Su and Grace Davies) performing tracks they had written themselves.
As such, this winner’s single from Rak-Su is self-written – an upbeat Latin-tinged hip-hop track with great lyrics and a clever interpolation of Wyclef Jean’s lines from Hips Don’t Lie – and as a result it’s the only X Factor winner’s single I’ve ever liked. It’s a great track. It’s just a shame we had to put up with years of awful pointless cover versions to get to this stage.
(I should note that, despite the above essay, I’ve never actually watched the X Factor. My interest in this stuff is purely from a chart geek perspective.)
It’s nice to hear some rock music, but the tune’s a bit dull. It’s got a good retro-sounding instrumental in the middle though.
Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever
This wasn’t actually back in the charts this year (so it’s yet another non-hit, although of course it was a hit on its original release in 1994), but there was an increased awareness of it due to Liam Gallagher performing it at the Brits in tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing victims.
One more thing: I just want to add a quick note about all the non-hits that have littered this playlist. While I’ve only just noticed it with this one, I suspect non-hits have been a thing for quite a few Now! compilations leading up to this, as there have been quite a few instances where I’m surprised I recognise so few of the tracks (as I mentioned in the intro, while it is tough to remember hundreds of generic songs, I have followed the charts religiously this decade and have a good memory).
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I can sort of understand it in a way, as 95% of chart music in the late ’10s is woefully, utterly dire. It’s awful – the worst quality it has ever been in my lifetime. Most of it is completely generic, uninspired and half-arsed, and so I have a bit of sympathy for the Now! compilers deciding to include songs that they think are good but didn’t trouble the charts for whatever reason, rather than yet another terrible identical-sounding EDM track that somehow managed to get to number 24 for a few weeks.
At the same time, what I’ve always liked about the Now! compilations is that they do reflect the most popular music of the time – good and bad. I feel that including songs that weren’t hits, that weren’t soundtracking people’s lives by being played on the radio and on TV shows and at sports events – well, it kind of takes away from the status of these albums as cultural artefacts of the time. I’m a little sad about that. We’ll see what tomorrow brings with the release of the 100th entry in this long music marathon.
Day 98 takes us to Now! #98, which came out on 17th November 2017.
The following are not likely to be played at goth clubs, but let’s see what the party season songs were for this most recent Christmas period.
Track 1: Camila Cabello and Young Thug – Havana
Good solid pop tune – love the Latin feel. Really nice song.
Track 2: Post Malone and 21 Savage – Rockstar
There are some interesting instrumentals going on, but it’s got quite a depressing feel.
Track 3: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes
Too slow and ballad-y for me.
Track 4: Pink – What About Us
It’s an okay song with an important theme, but I find it a bit depressing.
Track 5: Dua Lipa – New Rules
Absolutely wonderful track, gorgeous instrumentals, great tune, clever lyrics and vocals. The video is immense too.
Track 6: Ed Sheeran – Galway Girl
Inspired by the Irish folk classic of the same name, but nowhere near as good. Still a nice upbeat song though.
Track 7: Charlie Puth – How Long
I really like this one – great atmosphere, awesome tune, retro feel.
Track 8: CNCO and Little Mix – Reggaetón Lento
Very danceable Latin-tinged pop – good stuff.
Track 9: J Balvin and Willy William – Mi Gente
More great Latin pop (Despacito really kicked off a trend in 2017). I remember dancing to all of these in Zumba class. This one’s got an awesome atmosphere and a really interesting rhythm.
Track 10: Justin Bieber and BloodPop – Friends
I really like the bassline, but the tune’s pretty uninspired.
Track 11: Zayn and Sia – Dusk Till Dawn
Nice epic chorus, but on the whole the tune’s a bit generic.
Track 12: Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj – Swish Swish
Great beat, but agin the tune’s not very exciting.
Track 13: Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry
This tune really irritates me.
Track 14: Stefflon Don and French Montana – Hurtin’ Me
Another one where I just don’t like the tune. I also find the theme irritating.
Track 15: Louis Tomlinson, Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals – Back To You
Yet another annoying tune!
Track 16: Khalid – Young Dumb And Broke
I quite like this one – it’s got an interesting rhythm and an endearing theme.
Track 17: Maroon 5 and Sza – What Lovers Do
Nice feelgood song – the vocals are a little irritating, but I quite like the tune.
Track 18: Jason Derulo – If I’m Lucky
Good atmosphere, but the tune’s very generic.
Track 19: Clean Bandit and Julia Michaels – I Miss You
Again, I just don’t find this tune very interesting.
Track 20: Alma – Chasing Highs
Uninspired and depressing.
Track 21: Zedd and Liam Payne – Get Low
Another very bland tune.
Track 22: Charli XCX – Boys
Great track! Fun theme, interesting instrumentals. The celebrity-filled video is great too.
Track 23: Rita Ora – Anywhere
It’s got a good beat, but it’s another bland tune.
Track 24: Marshmello and Khalid – Silence
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Khalid on track 16.
This is a lovely tune though.
Track 25: Avicii and Rita Ora – Lonely Together
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Rita Ora on track 23.
I find the tune on this really irritating, but the backing track is great.
Track 26: James Hype and Kelli-Leigh – More Than Friends
Generic-sounding dance cover of En Vogue’s ’90s classic Don’t Let Go. The original song is beautiful. This track is anything but.
Track 27: Yungen and Yxng Bane – Bestie
That chorus is incredibly annoying.
Track 28: Mabel and Kojo Funds – Finders Keepers
So is the chorus on this one.
Track 29: Chris Brown – Questions
This is the second hit in the space of eighteen months that interpolates Kevin Lyttle’s 2003 classic Turn Me On, after Cheat Codes and Dante Klein’s Let Me Hold You (Turn Me On) in 2016. I think it’s fairly poorly done, and I love the original so I find all these poor imitations pretty irritating.
Track 30: Craig David – Heartline
Dull and generic.
Track 31: Selena Gomez and Marshmello – Wolves
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Marshmello on track 24.
I quite like the tune on this one, though.
Track 32: MK – 17
Another really irritating tune.
Track 33: Axwell & Ingrosso – More Than You Know
I like the guitar at the start, and the tune’s okay if a bit generic.
Track 34: Liam Payne – Bedroom Floor
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Liam Payne on track 21.
It’s another fairly generic tune, but I remember I had the chart on in the background last year, and this was playing and got to the lyric ‘but your clothes say different on my bedroom floor‘. Geth interjected crossly, ‘Stop stealing her clothes then!’ It really cracked me up and is all I can think about when I hear this song now.
Track 35: Duke Dumont, Gorgon City and Naations – Real Life
Another boring tune that sounds like every other dance track this decade.
Track 36: CamelPhat and Elderbrook – Cola
Really squicky theme – to put it bluntly, it’s blatantly a song about spiking someone’s drink. It’s a shame, ’cause it would be a good track if it weren’t for that.
Track 37: Lil’ Uzi Vert – XO Tour Llif3
Some interesting instrumentals going on, but the tune’s very bland.
Track 38: Big Shaq – Man’s Not Hot
Very funny hip-hop parody, and it’s got a good rhythm to boot. Really like this.
Track 39: Chris & Kem – Little Bit Leave It
Apparently these dudes were on Love Island or something. I’m not sure why someone allowed them to release a song – it’s extremely grating.
Track 40: Cardi B – Bodak Yellow
I find this one extremely depressing.
Track 41: Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid – 1-800-273-8255
Repeated artist mega alert! We’ve already had Khalid on both track 16 and track 24. Give someone else a chance!
This one’s got a nice tune, but it’s too slow for me.
Track 42: Paloma Faith – Crybaby
I like the rhythm, but the tune’s very dull.
Track 43: The Script – Rain
The tune’s okay except for that annoying chorus.
Track 44: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Grace (We All Try)
The tune’s quite interesting, but again it’s too slow for me.
Track 45: Liam Gallagher – Wall Of Glass
Very refreshing to hear some actual rock music – it’s something different, finally.
Track 46: The Killers – The Man
Love the retro disco sound on this one. Great stuff.
Day 96’s Now! compilation was released on 7th April 2017.
Another new year, some more new hits.
Track 1: Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill
I wasn’t sure about this track when I first heard it, but it’s really grown on me – it’s a real singalong classic. Things that are great about it:
The very relatable poetic evocation of what it feels like to be nostalgic for your teenage years.
The reference to Tiny Dancer.
The section describing what all the old friends are doing now – I think it’s lyrically very beautiful.
The fact that Suffolk Police needed to emphasise road safety in response to the ‘driving at ninety down these country lanes‘ lyric. If you’ve ever driven on British country lanes, you’ll know why ninety miles an hour is not a good idea.
Good solid piece of pop – I really like this tune.
Track 4: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Starboy
Another great atmosphere.
Track 5: The Chainsmokers – Paris
The tune’s pretty depressing, but the lyrics are quite good.
Track 6: Starley – Call On Me [Ryan Riback Remix]
There’s something I find really irritating about the tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals.
Track 7: Anne-Marie – Ciao Adios
Great pop track! Really danceable – we did a cooldown to this one in Zumba class for a while – and the tune’s good too.
Track 8: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
The tune’s a bit generic, but I like the ’80s feel.
Track 9: Zara Larsson – I Would Like
I find this tune really irritating.
Track 10: Katy Perry and Skip Marley – Chained To The Rhythm
Interesting theme, and it’s got a good beat.
Track 11: Sean Paul and Dua Lipa – No Lie
Another irritating tune.
Track 12: Martin Jensen – Solo Dance
It’s an okay beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.
Track 13: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay
I really don’t like this tune – it’s very depressing. Also, I was really irritated at the time when the Viva music channel would always mute out the word ‘rum’ in the lyric ‘drinking rum and cola‘, because apparently it’s not acceptable even to say the names of alcoholic drinks before the watershed nowadays.
Track 14: Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe
Boring and slow.
Track 15: Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson – Just Hold On
Very generic dance track, nothing special here.
Track 16: Dua Lipa – Be The One
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Dua Lipa on track 11.
It’s got quite a good chillout feel, but I’m not keen on the tune.
Track 17: Jonas Blue and Raye – By Your Side
Highly irritating tune, and it’s too high-pitched.
Track 18: Coldplay – Hypnotised
Too slow, forgettable tune, so dull I can’t concentrate.
Track 19: John Legend – Love Me Now
The tune’s okay, but it’s another one where I can’t get onboard with the theme.
Track 20: Robbie Williams – Love My Life
Great to see Robbie Williams still going strong, even if this song is almost tipping into self-parody.
Track 21: George Michael – Fastlove
We’ve already had this one on Now! #35, but as it was included here as a tribute to the late great George Michael shortly after his passing, I’ll let it slide.
See the link for my review.
Track 22: Jax Jones and Raye – You Don’t Know Me
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Raye on track 17.
I really like this track though – the bridge is awesome, and it’s got a great beat.
Track 23: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Feel It Coming
Double repeated artist alert! We’ve already had both the Weeknd and Daft Punk on track 4.
This one’s too cheesy for me, and not upbeat enough. I like the retro feel though.
Track 24: Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa – Scared To Be Lonely
Repeated artist mega alert! We’ve already had Dua Lipa on both track 11 and track 16. This is getting annoying!
Yet another irritating tune.
Track 25: Kygo and Selena Gomez – It Ain’t Me
Again, there’s something that really annoys me about the tune.
Track 26: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane – Black Beatles
Great rhythm, but the tune’s very repetitive.
Track 27: Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello – Bad Things
I quite like this one – the tune on the chorus is nice.
Track 28: Sage The Gemini – Now And Later
I find this track pretty dull – it could do with a bit more melody.
Track 29: Tinie Tempah and Tinashe – Text From Your Ex
I quite like the atmosphere, but the tune’s nothing special.
Track 30: Stormzy – Big For Your Boots
Great rap track – the rhythm on this is awesome.
Track 31: Tom Zanetti and Sadie Ama – You Want Me
Takes ages to get going. When it does, the tune’s very irritating and sounds almost off-key.
Track 32: Martin Solveig and Ina Wroldsen – Places
Another annoying tune.
Track 33: Robin Schulz, David Guetta and Cheat Codes – Shed A Light
I’m just not keen on this at all – it’s cheesy and generic.
Track 34: MO and Kent Jones – Not In Love
It’s another very forgettable tune, but I quite like the reggae-tinged beat.
Track 35: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Skin
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Rag ‘N’ Bone Man on track 2.
The tune’s very pretty, but it’s too slow for me.
Track 36: Train – Play That Song
Extremely irritating and twee!
Track 37: The Vamps and Matoma – All Night
That chorus is insanely annoying with its kiddie-sounding vocals, and the rest of the track’s not much better.
Track 38: Ariana Grande and Future – Everyday
Too slow for me, and the track’s very messy.
Track 39: Major Lazer, PartyNextDoor and Nicki Minaj – Run Up
Another irritating tune, but it’s got quite a good beat.
Track 40: Post Malone and Quavo – Congratulations
Not keen on the tune on this one.
Track 41: Julia Michaels – Issues
I really don’t like this one – the vocal style and rhythm are kind of stop-start, the tune’s nothing special, and the theme annoys me.
Track 42: Lorde – Green Light
This is a great song – I love the beat and the way it builds. Wonderful track.
Track 43: Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean and Migos – Slide
The kiddie-sounding bit of the vocals are just incoherent shouting, and the tune’s pretty dull, but I like the retro-sounding instrumentals.