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

Now! #102 has been released today, 12th April 2019! EDIT: I only just realised that it’s been a whole year today since I started my marathon of the first 100 Now! compilations with Now! #1. Great timing!

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

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

Now! That's What I Call Music #102

Track 1: Ariana Grande – 7 Rings

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 2: Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 5: Pink – Walk Me Home

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 7: Tom Walker – Just You And I

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 8: Jonas Brothers – Sucker

New Hits Friday review.

A decade ago, I would not have believed you if you’d told me I would ever grow to like a Jonas Brothers song. They’ve grown up now, though, and they make much better music. This is a fairly decent pop song, and I always nod along when it’s on the radio.

Track 9: George Ezra – Pretty Shining People

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

Track 10: James Arthur – Empty Space

New Hits Friday review.

This one’s not been in the charts since last year, so I’m a bit surprised they’ve held it back for this Now! instalment. As is usually the case with James Arthur’s stuff, it’s too saccharine for me, but I’ll grant you it’s got a good atmosphere on the chorus.

Track 11: Lewis Capaldi – Grace

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

I could have told you that my feelings would not have changed about this ridiculous bastardisation of Andrea Bocelli’s Time To Say Goodbye. Awful interpolation that has me running screaming for the comfort of the original every single time.

Track 13: Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 14: Marshmello and Chvrches – Here With Me

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 15: Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 16: Khalid – Talk

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 17: Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 18: Charli XCX and Troye Sivan – 1999

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 19: Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 20: CamelPhat, Cristoph and Jem Cooke – Breathe

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 21: Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play

New Hits Friday review.

Good tune – I always nod along to this one.

Track 22: Zedd and Katy Perry – 365

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 23: Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 24: Dua Lipa – Swan Song

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 25: Ariana Grande – Thank You Next

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

Track 26: Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

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

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

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

Track 27: Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – Shallow

New Hits Friday review.

One of those tracks that I found a bit slow to begin with and have grown to appreciate. Lovely acoustic track from the A Star Is Born soundtrack (no interest in seeing the film, but the song is gorgeous).

Track 28: Keala Settle and The Greatest Showman Cast – This Is Me

Another one where the Now! compilers have been a bit tardy – this track first entered the charts well over a year ago – but it’s a great feelgood musical number, and probably the best song on the soundtrack.

Track 29: Jess Glynne – Thursday

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 30: Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

New Hits Friday review.

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

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

New Hits Friday review.

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had James Arthur on track 10.

One of the tracks from the Greatest Showman Reimagined album, where pop stars do karaoke versions of the songs from the musical. It’s okay, but not a patch on the original.

Track 32: Jack Savoretti – Candlelight

This wasn’t a hit – it only got to number 70. As I’ve been discussing since Now! #99, the Now! compilers have recently started to include songs that haven’t actually made the Top 40, but have been featured on hit albums – there’s less crossover than there used to be between the album and singles chart (mainly because the former is for older people like me who prefer classic pop and rock, and the latter is for the kids who like these strange new songs I’m always ranting about on here after listening to the chart on Fridays!). I wasn’t sure about this at first, but I think I’m okay about it now. After all, it’s probably an older demographic who actually still buys Now! albums. The Radio 2 demographic, if you like. This album got to number one, so I think it’s allowed.

Anyway, this track’s got a great atmosphere – lovely eerie instrumentals, lots of piano. Love this kind of epic tune!

Track 33: The 1975 – It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)

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

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

Track 34: Westlife – Hello My Love

New Hits Friday review.

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

Track 35: Take That – Everlasting

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

As I understand it, this is one of the few new tracks on Take That’s recent remastered retrospective. It’s a bit dull until the second chorus kicks in. Also, the self-referential spoken word bit at the end is a bit odd.

Track 36: Hozier – Almost (Sweet Music)

The single only got to number 82, but the album went top ten, getting to number six.

Great bit of soft rock – really like this one.

Track 37: Bryan Adams – Shine A Light

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

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

Track 38: Michael Bublé – Love You Anymore

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

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

Track 39: Rod Stewart – Look In Her Eyes

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

Love this danceable, atmospheric song! So yeah, this is the point where I’m officially on board with the Now! compilers including songs-from-hit-albums that didn’t make the singles chart, because the notion of Rod Stewart still managing to get his new songs onto Now! compilations is the BESTEST THING.

Track 40: Hugh Jackman, Keala Settle, Zac Efron, Zendaya and The Greatest Showman Cast – The Greatest Show

Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had the Greatest Showman cast on track 28.

Great stompalong number though. Fab track.

Track 41: Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Relax

We’ve already had this track on Now! #2! How dare they be so lazy…wait. I can’t really start ranting in this case, because what’s going on here is that the Now! compilers have chosen to include six tracks from Now! #2 in order to advertise the fact that it’s had a re-release on CD today, the same release day as Now! #102. I’m hopeful that this pattern will continue, and will be scouting out the re-release for my collection this weekend!

Anyway, see the link for my review – it was track 16 on Now! #2.

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

Still a classic from Nik Kershaw.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 2.

Track 43: Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride

I have this one on my running playlist these days!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 11.

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

One of my earliest ’80s favourites.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 9.

Track 45: Culture Club – It’s A Miracle

Still love that daft boardgaming video!

See my review on Now! #2 – track 25.

Track 46: Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now

If you spend any time watching the Now! ’80s channel, which often replays the classic TV adverts for the classic ’80s Now! compilations, you will be familiar with this song as the centrepiece for the Now! #2 advert due to it’s ‘hold me now‘ (geddit?) refrain on the chorus. Still a great track, and it was a highlight when I saw Tom Bailey supporting Culture Club in November.

See my review on Now! #2 – track 3.

Great choices for those bonus tracks. Could have done with a bit of love for Duran Duran’s New Moon On Monday (track 29) but I’m hopeful for The Reflex if they do this again when they re-release Now! #3!

Music Video Monday: recent chart catchup

A couple more recently-released chart hit videos today.

Pink – Walk Me Home

It’s Pink in a red dress, defying gravity and dancing with shadows in a New-York-City-on-pause. Why can’t all modern videos be like this?

Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

I love the ’80s decor in this video, with all the art deco posters and the blinds and the plants! Great stuff.

Back to the actual ’80s next week.

New Hits Friday: 8th March 2019

Four new hits in the chart today.

Sigrid – Don’t Feel Like Crying

It’s a nice tune, and the synthy backing track is good, but the lyrics are a bit cheesy.

There’s no official video for this one yet.

Swarmz and Tion Wayne – Bally

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

The video is mostly monochrome with lots of people in balaclavas. Early on there appears to be a kidnapping of some sort, but this subplot doesn’t really go anywhere.

The Plug, Roddy Ricch, Chip and Yxng Bane – How It Is

I like the atmospheric backing track. Could do with a bit more melody though.

Again, there’s no video for this one.

Jonas Brothers – Sucker

Hmm. Not a group I’d expected to get back together so soon (what happened to Joe Jonas singing with DNCE? I really liked their stuff). I quite like this track, though – it’s sort of standard tuneful pop.

The video is set in a mansion with tons of fancy costumes and excess, which seems to be a video trend at the moment.

More new hits next Friday.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #101

Today, 23rd November 2018, is the release of Now! #101!  It’s also mine and Geth’s sixth wedding anniversary 🙂

November 2018
This is the way the world looks in November 2018, with pretty anniversary cards on our dresser.

We’re now entering a new exciting era of Now! compilations where I only have to review them every four months!  The first hundred compilations were characterised by a gradually worsening quality of music.  I pray this trend will not continue.  Pop music can’t get any worse than it currently is.  Right?

Track 1: Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me

Great reggae-style rhythm, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 2: Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises

Sam Smith’s voice is great as ever, but the tune is pretty forgettable.  Somehow got to number one for weeks on end.

Track 3: Ariana Grande – God Is A Woman

I really like the tune on this one – nice and epic.

Track 4: George Ezra – Hold My Girl

A little slow for me, but it’s a nice tune.  Only entered the charts today, so it was definitely not a hit when chosen for this Now! compilation!

Track 5: Rita Ora – Let You Love Me

Great atmosphere on the chorus – tune’s a bit generic, but it’s an okay pop track.

Track 6: Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid – Eastside

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  It’s grown on me a bit since then!

Track 7: Jess Glynne – All I Am

I’ve never been much of a Jess Glynne fan – I find her stuff very boring and the lyrical content very saccharine, and this track is no exception.

Track 8: Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It

Not super keen on the rap (except the enjoyable nonsense in the first verse about Balenciaga et al.!), but I do love the Latin tinge, and it’s very danceable.

Track 9: The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar – Pray For Me

Black Panther soundtrack song – really like this epic track.

Track 10: Silk City, Dua Lipa, Diplo and Mark Ronson – Electricity

Bored of these ’90s dance-inspired beats now.  The tune is very generic too.

Track 11: Dynoro and Gigi D’Agostino – In My Mind

I really like the eerie atmosphere – there’s some great instrumentals here.  Not keen on the dance beat though.

Track 12: Loud Luxury and Brando – Body

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I’m still not hugely keen, but it’s a really irritatingly catchy track that’s constantly ending up on my daily earworm playlists.

Track 13: Maroon 5 and Cardi B – Girls Like You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Cardi B on track 8.

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

Track 14: Marshmello and Bastille – Happier

Too slow for me, and the tune’s very dull and generic.

Track 15: Clean Bandit, Marina & The Diamonds and Luis Fonsi – Baby

The vocalist on this is calling herself Marina now, but she was formerly known as Marina & The Diamonds (not a band, just a solo artist with a band name, kind of like Florence & The Machine – this was a bizarre 2009/2010 micro trend).  I’ve missed her vocal style and way with a tune.  This is very Latin-inspired, especially due to the involvement of Luis Fonsi.  Great party pop tune.

Track 16: Ellie Goulding, Diplo and Swae Lee – Close To Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Diplo on track 10.

Not exciting or original enough for me, but at least it’s got some semblance of a melody, and it’s starting to grow on me with time.

Track 17: Cheryl – Love Made Me Do It

The lyrics are okay if kind of cheesy, but the tune is terrible.

Track 18: Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  It’s become one of my songs of the year – really like this track.

Track 19: The 1975 – Too Time Too Time Too Time

Yes, I know the title’s supposed to be written in all caps with no spaces, but I won’t be having any of that nonsense here.  This is a dignified blog.

Lovely upbeat tune, though – really like this one.  One of my favourites of 2018.

Track 20: Mabel – One Shot

Not a hit – only got to number 44.

It’s a pretty tune, but it’s very generic.

Track 21: Take That – Out Of Our Heads

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018)!  They did perform it on Strictly last weekend, so maybe it’s not even out yet.

There’s a nice old-fashioned big-band feel about this one – it’s very jaunty.

Track 22: Lily James, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies and Celia Imrie – When I Kissed The Teacher

Taken from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.  Songs from musicals have been a bit of a chart trend this year.  It’s a fairly bog-standard cover of the Abba song, as is normally the case with jukebox musicals.

Track 23: Andrea Bocelli and Dua Lipa – If Only

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dua Lipa on track 10.

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018).

Standard pretty, slow romantic song from Andrea Bocelli – I never get sick of his voice.  Dua Lipa does fine, but she can’t hold a candle to Bocelli.

Track 24: DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper and Quavo – No Brainer

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I still find it really dull.

Track 25: Dave and Fredo – Funky Friday

This track is:

  1. The second number one this year to get to number one after exhortation from the previous number one artist (in this case Sam Smith with Promises – the previous example was George Ezra (Shotgun) telling people to stream Baddiel & Skinner and the Lightning Seeds’ Three Lions).
  2. The second number one this year to feature the word ‘Friday’ in the title (after Lil’ Dicky and Chris Brown with Freaky Friday).

Nothing much else interesting about this song.  It’s very dull and unmelodious and repetitive – no idea why enough people were listening to it to get it to number one.  Oh, wait, there’s a good instrumental electro bit for three seconds – then it goes back to the boring rap.

Track 26: DJ Snake, Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B – Taki Taki

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Cardi B on both track 8 and track 13.  That is far too much of one artist for one Now! compilation!

I do like the background instrumentals, especially the atmospheric whistling, and the Latin vocals are nice, but the rap is very dull.

Track 27: French Montana and Drake – No Stylist

I quite like the atmosphere, but it’s very repetitive.  Are they trying to win a competition to see who can say ‘Gucci’ the most times in a song?

Track 28: Dennis Lloyd – Nevermind

Great rhythm, very noddable.

Track 29: Khalid – Better

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

The track is so boring that I couldn’t even concentrate on writing this sentence.

Track 30: Martin Garrix feat. Khalid – Ocean

Repeated artist mega alert!  We’ve already had Khalid on track 6 and track 29.  That’s two mega alerts on one compilation, which is not an auspicious start for the second century of Now! entries!

It’s a pretty tune with a gorgeous atmosphere – I really quite like this one.

Track 31: Halsey – Without Me

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

Urgh, this track is so slow!  I do like the synthy background instrumentals though.

Track 32: B Young – 079ME

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I still think it’s too similar to Jumanji.

Track 33: Stay Flee Get Lizzy, Fredo, Young T and Bugsey – Ay Caramba

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Fredo on track 25.

I reviewed this one for New Hits Friday.  I’m still not keen on it at all.

Track 34: Travis Scott – Sicko Mode

There’s no tune, and the rap is extremely generic, but I quite like the eerie quality of the backing track.

Track 35: Shawn Mendes and Zedd – Lost In Japan [Remix]

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit dull.

Track 36: MK, Jonas Blue and Becky Hill – Back And Forth

More ’90s-inspired instrumentals.  Very generic tune.

Track 37: Jonas Blue, Liam Payne and Lennon Stella – Polaroid

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Jonas Blue on track 36.

Okay tune with a good pop beat, but it’s not super exciting.

Track 38: Au/Ra and CamelPhat – Panic Room

I quite like the atmosphere, but it’s a bit repetitive.

Track 39: Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had French Montana on track 27.

Daft song about payday.  The tune’s pretty uninspired, but it’s got a good beat and it’s quite fun – it’s a good danceable party track.

Track 40: David Guetta and Anne-Marie – Don’t Leave Me Alone

The tune is very generic and forgettable. I quite like the electro instrumentals, but on the whole there’s nothing interesting going on here.

Track 41: Hardy Caprio and One Acen – Best Life

Very repetitive, not very inspired, highly boring tune, dull rap.

Track 42: ZieZie – Fine Girl

I quite like the tune, but there’s some very irritating stuff with the vocals going on here.

Track 43: Sigrid – Sucker Punch

Not a hit yet (as of 23rd November 2018).

Nice bit of classic pop with a good atmosphere.

Track 44: Selena Gomez – Back To You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Selena Gomez on track 26.

The verse is nice, but the tune on the chorus irritates me.

Track 45: LSD – Thunderclouds

LSD are a collaborative project between Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo, hence the name.

It’s the mobile phone advert music.  I actually had it stuck in my head before it got into the charts – it’s a really incessant earworm.  It’s a bit of a messy track, but quite a good tune.

Track 46: Dean Lewis – Be Alright

Dull, acoustic-y ballad.  I never thought I’d type this sentence, but the Streets did this theme much better in Dry Your Eyes back in the ’00s.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #99

Day 99 brings us to Now! #99, which was released on 23rd March 2018.

March 2018
This is how the world looked in March 2018. I have hundreds of photos from that month depicting things that I was getting rid of in my clothes cull – the joys of digital hoarding – but this is the only one I have of me, although I suspect Mum and Dad probably have some from their visit to Newcastle that month that I’ve not seen yet. Winning my Slimming World group’s Greatest Loser award was one of my highlights of my journey to target. The house, meanwhile, was even messier and full of boxes than it is now.

I’m starting to get a little suspicious that some of the tracks on these latest Now! compilations weren’t actually hits at all.  I know that a) the charts change so rapidly that there too many songs to remember and b) most chart music these days is so generic that it all blurs into one, but my memory is pretty good, and given that all of these songs are supposed to have been in the charts just a few months ago, I’m surprised that there are so many song titles I don’t recognise.  I will have to do some research as we go through them.

We’ve finally reached the current year, 2018!  Let’s see what pop music has come to these days.

Now! That's What I Call Music #99
Track 1: Rudimental, Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

Now I know I’m nearly at the end of this long Now! marathon – this track is still currently (as of today, 19th July 2018) in the Top 40.  We’re so close to the end!

I find the tune pretty irritating and the theme a bit awkward, but there’s some good stuff going on with the lyrics.

Track 2: Dua Lipa – IDGAF

Another tune that really annoys me.

Track 3: Portugal The Man – Feel It Still

Great tune, great danceable beat, and a lyric like ‘let me kick it like it’s 1986 now‘ is always going to go down well with me.  Love this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton – Say Something

I really like this tune – it builds very nicely.

Track 5: Taylor Swift – Ready For It?

Good atmosphere, but the tune is very forgettable.

Track 6: Marshmello and Anne-Marie – Friends

This one is insidiously catchy and was stuck in my head for weeks earlier this year.  I’m not a fan of the tune or the theme, so it wasn’t pleasant.

Track 7: Bruno Mars and Cardi B – Finesse

I do like that early ’90s feel (which, judging by the style of the video, is deliberate).  Like the callback to Walk This Way too.

Track 8: Sigala and Paloma Faith – Lullaby

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

Track 9: Craig David and Bastille – I Know You

I really like the rhythm, but I find the song a bit cheesy.

Track 10: Jason Derulo and French Montana – Tiptoe

Good solid danceable pop song – really like this one.

Track 11: Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Good beat, good tune – quite like this track.

Track 12: George Ezra – Paradise

I really like George Ezra’s stuff – it’s so different to the generic EDM-hip-hop-pop lyrically-vapid tuneless mush that makes up the bulk of the charts these days.  This is an upbeat feelgood song with great lyrics and an awesome chant-along bit near the end.

Track 13: Kylie Minogue – Dancing

There is something indescribably comforting about the fact that, thirty years after I Should Be So Lucky became the favourite song of every girl in my nursery school class, Kylie Minogue is still featuring on Now! compilations.  I feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I really like the guitar on this one – it’s a nice, pretty tune with a retro feel.

Track 14: Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

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

Track 15: Mabel and Notes – Fine Line

I quite like the tinkly instrumentals on this one, and it’s a good tune.

Track 16: Sigrid – Strangers

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

Track 17: Paloma Faith – Guilty

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Paloma Faith on track 8.

As I explained in the intro, there have been a few tracks on Now! compilations recently I’ve not recognised, including this one.  Looking it up, I now know why.  This wasn’t actually a hit – not in the UK or anywhere else.  As such, I’m not sure why it’s been included!

It’s got a great atmosphere and a nice classic feel, though.

Track 18: Pink – Beautiful Trauma

I find this one a bit depressing, though the tune is very pretty.

Track 19: James Arthur – Naked

Too slow for me, and I don’t like the tune.

Track 20: Tom Walker – Leave A Light On

Again it’s a little too slow for me, but it’s got a good epic atmosphere.

Track 21: Calum Scott – You Are The Reason

Another one that wasn’t a hit – it only got to number 43!

This one’s too slow for me, and the tune’s very depressing.

Track 22: Sam Smith – One Last Song

I quite like the retro-sounding instrumentals on this track.

Track 23: Stormzy and MNEK – Blinded By Your Grace [Part II]

Good tune – quite like this one.

Track 24: Post Malone and Ty Dolla Sign – Psycho

Interesting instrumentals, but I don’t like the tune – it’s very repetitive.

Track 25: Blocboy JB and Drake – Look Alive

Not enough melody for me.

Track 26: Khalid – Location

Another non-hit – this only got to number 67!

Great atmosphere and classic feel – quite like this one.

Track 27: NF – Let You Down

I can’t stand this track – the tune and the high-pitched vocals are so irritating.

Track 28: Ramz – Barking

Great track!  Endearing theme, interesting tune.  Big fan of this one.

Track 29: J Hus – Bouff Daddy

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s boring.

Track 30: Cliq and Alika – Wavey

Also not a hit – this one only got to number 44!

It’s got a good rhythm, but I could do with some more melody.

Track 31: Dave and Mostack – No Words

Nice tune, but the rap’s too messy for me.

Track 32: B Young – Jumanji

It’s got an okay beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 33: Raye and Mr Eazi – Decline

It’s based heavily around an interpolation of 2002 hit Always On Time by Ja Rule and Ashanti.  I just find it very unoriginal.

Track 34: Notes and Mabel – My Lover

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Notes and Mabel on track 15.

This tune really irritates me.

Track 35: Rak-Su, Wyclef Jean and Naughty Boy – Dimelo

This is an interesting one.  It was the X Factor winner’s single for 2017, and for the last couple of years the X Factor winner’s single has not been featured on the spring Now! compilation like it used to be – both Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young and Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around were left out, the latter presumably partly because nobody wants to hear an explicitly Christmas-themed song in the spring.  Part of this, I believe, is because of the X Factor‘s decline in popularity recently, but it’s meant we’ve not been following an interesting change.  Louisa Johnson’s winner’s single was a cover as usual – Forever Young was originally a Bob Dylan song – but Matt Terry’s When Christmas Comes Around was an original song (written by Ed Sheeran), which was a first for the X Factor since Shayne Ward’s That’s My Goal, and signalled an interesting move away from its irritating karaoke format.  This move towards original songs continued in the 2017 competition, with many of the contestants (notably Rak-Su and Grace Davies) performing tracks they had written themselves.

As such, this winner’s single from Rak-Su is self-written – an upbeat Latin-tinged hip-hop track with great lyrics and a clever interpolation of Wyclef Jean’s lines from Hips Don’t Lie – and as a result it’s the only X Factor winner’s single I’ve ever liked.  It’s a great track.  It’s just a shame we had to put up with years of awful pointless cover versions to get to this stage.

(I should note that, despite the above essay, I’ve never actually watched the X Factor.  My interest in this stuff is purely from a chart geek perspective.)

Track 36: G-Eazy and Halsey – Him And I

Pretty tune, quite like this one.

Track 37: Sza and Calvin Harris – The Weekend

Another non-hit!  This only got to number 55.

I’m not hugely keen on the tune on this one, but it’s got a good retro-sounding beat.

Track 38: Hailee Steinfeld, Alesso, Florida-Georgia Line and Watt – Let Me Go

Another generic, irritating tune.

Track 39: 5 Seconds Of Summer – Want You Back

Nice tune, but the verse is too slow and cheesy for me.  The chorus is good though – and I love that rock guitar.

Track 40: Demi Lovato – Tell Me You Love Me

Yet another one that wasn’t a hit – this one only got to number 85!

It’s got a good atmosphere though – really like those instrumentals.  The tune’s nice, but it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 41: Maroon 5 – Wait

And another non-hit – number 79 for this song.

Not keen on this tune – it’s pretty generic.

Track 42: James Bay – Wild Love

This one’s too slow for me.  Nice tune though.

Track 43: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – As You Are

The complete opposite of a hit.  This didn’t chart at all!

I like the instrumentals at the start, but again it’s not upbeat enough for my liking.

Track 44: U2 – You’re The Best Thing About Me

This one, meanwhile, only got to number 92.

It’s nice to hear some rock music, but the tune’s a bit dull.  It’s got a good retro-sounding instrumental in the middle though.

Track 45: Oasis – Live Forever

This wasn’t actually back in the charts this year (so it’s yet another non-hit, although of course it was a hit on its original release in 1994), but there was an increased awareness of it due to Liam Gallagher performing it at the Brits in tribute to the Manchester Arena bombing victims.

One more thing: I just want to add a quick note about all the non-hits that have littered this playlist.  While I’ve only just noticed it with this one, I suspect non-hits have been a thing for quite a few Now! compilations leading up to this, as there have been quite a few instances where I’m surprised I recognise so few of the tracks (as I mentioned in the intro, while it is tough to remember hundreds of generic songs, I have followed the charts religiously this decade and have a good memory).

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I can sort of understand it in a way, as 95% of chart music in the late ’10s is woefully, utterly dire.  It’s awful – the worst quality it has ever been in my lifetime.  Most of it is completely generic, uninspired and half-arsed, and so I have a bit of sympathy for the Now! compilers deciding to include songs that they think are good but didn’t trouble the charts for whatever reason, rather than yet another terrible identical-sounding EDM track that somehow managed to get to number 24 for a few weeks.

At the same time, what I’ve always liked about the Now! compilations is that they do reflect the most popular music of the time – good and bad.  I feel that including songs that weren’t hits, that weren’t soundtracking people’s lives by being played on the radio and on TV shows and at sports events – well, it kind of takes away from the status of these albums as cultural artefacts of the time.  I’m a little sad about that.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings with the release of the 100th entry in this long music marathon.

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

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

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

Another new year, some more new hits.

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

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

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

Track 2: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Human

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

Track 3: Little Mix – Touch

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

Track 4: The Weeknd and Daft Punk – Starboy

Another great atmosphere.

Track 5: The Chainsmokers – Paris

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

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

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

Track 7: Anne-Marie – Ciao Adios

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

Track 8: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

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

Track 9: Zara Larsson – I Would Like

I find this tune really irritating.

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

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

Track 11: Sean Paul and Dua Lipa – No Lie

Another irritating tune.

Track 12: Martin Jensen – Solo Dance

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

Track 13: Zedd and Alessia Cara – Stay

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

Track 14: Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe

Boring and slow.

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

Very generic dance track, nothing special here.

Track 16: Dua Lipa – Be The One

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

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

Track 17: Jonas Blue and Raye – By Your Side

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

Track 18: Coldplay – Hypnotised

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

Track 19: John Legend – Love Me Now

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

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Love My Life

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

Track 21: George Michael – Fastlove

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

See the link for my review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet another irritating tune.

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

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

Track 26: Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane – Black Beatles

Great rhythm, but the tune’s very repetitive.

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

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

Track 28: Sage The Gemini – Now And Later

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

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

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

Track 30: Stormzy – Big For Your Boots

Great rap track – the rhythm on this is awesome.

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

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

Track 32: Martin Solveig and Ina Wroldsen – Places

Another annoying tune.

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

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

Track 34: MO and Kent Jones – Not In Love

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

Track 35: Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Skin

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

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

Track 36: Train – Play That Song

Extremely irritating and twee!

Track 37: The Vamps and Matoma – All Night

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

Track 38: Ariana Grande and Future – Everyday

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

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

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

Track 40: Post Malone and Quavo – Congratulations

Not keen on the tune on this one.

Track 41: Julia Michaels – Issues

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

Track 42: Lorde – Green Light

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

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

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