Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #54

Day 54, and Now! #54, which was released on 14th April 2003.

April 2003
This is how the world looked in April 2003. No pictures of people this month, so you can have some nice scenery courtesy of one of Mum and Dad’s weekend trips away.

I don’t want to jinx things, but I’ve got a vague memory that this was the year when chart music started to improve a bit and became more rock-oriented.

Now! That's What I Call Music #54
Track 1: t.A.T.u – All The Things She Said

Loved it at the time and bought the single.  It’s still a great tune, but there are obvious issues with the creepy male-gaze manufacturing of a couple of faux-lesbian Russian schoolgirls.  I remember the Top of the Pops performance – the BBC refused to show a same-sex kiss on stage at 7pm and cut to an opposite-sex couple kissing in the crowd instead.  We’ve come a long way since the early ’00s.

Track 2: Justin Timberlake – Like I Love You

I like the stop-start guitar at the beginning, but the tune to the vocals annoys me.

Track 3: Nelly and Kelly Rowland – Dilemma

One of my first-year uni flatmates was obsessed with this song and played it over and over.  As such, I’m amazed I still quite like it.

Track 4: Richard X and Liberty X – Being Nobody

Dodgy pointless cover of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody with an irritating ’00s backing track.  I strongly advise listening to the original instead.

Track 5: Room 5 and Oliver Cheatham – Make Luv

Classic dance track, good head-nodder, though it’s a little repetitive.

Track 6: Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

I’ve always found the chorus on this one highly irritating, but the song reminds me of my friend Sarah (who loved it at the time) so it’s not all bad.

Track 7: Girls Aloud – Sound Of The Underground

Still really like this one – great atmosphere, classic pop track.

Track 8: Busted – Year 3000

Yup, it’s awful (although the sanitised Jonas Brothers cover was even more awful).  I remember the looks of horror on everyone’s faces when the DJ decided it would be a good idea to play this in Studio 24 (Edinburgh’s biggest rock club at the time).  It only happened once, probably due to complaints.

Track 9: Melanie C – Here It Comes Again

The tune’s a bit bland, but I like the instrumentals.

Track 10: Sinéad Quinn – I Can’t Break Down

Great Spanish guitar, great atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 11: Darius – Rushes

Irritating vocals, but the tune on the chorus is okay.

Track 12: Appleton – Don’t Worry

Slow, dull acoustic-y ballad with an annoying tune.  Not keen.

Track 13: Atomic Kitten – Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt

Cheesy, generic song.  Not a fan of this one.

Track 14: Blue – U Make Me Wanna

Great atmosphere, great instrumentals, but the vocals are pretty irritating.

Track 15: Jay-Z and Beyoncé – ’03 Bonnie And Clyde

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

Love the guitar on this track – awesome theme, great song.

Track 16: Jaimeson and Angel Blu – True

Quite interesting for a dance track – like the atmosphere.

Track 17: Zoe Birkett – Treat Me Like A Lady

Generic tune, pretty bland really.

Track 18: S Club – Alive

S Club 7, now calling themselves S Club due to one of them having left.  The music is as irritating as ever.

Track 19: One True Voice – Sacred Trust

Repetitive, uninspired song – this one’s very dull.

Track 20: Kym Marsh – Cry

Appallingly saccharine, twee song.  Don’t like this one at all!

Track 21: Ainslie Henderson – Keep Me A Secret

Boring and generic.  We’re really getting into the nadir of the talent show era now.

Track 22: Daniel Bedingfield – If You’re Not The One

Awful track – whiny tune, hugely problematic stalker-y theme.  It really creeps me out.

Track 23: David Sneddon – Stop Living The Lie

Nice tune, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired.

Track 24: Robbie Williams – Feel

Lovely tune, great atmosphere.

Track 25: Oasis – Songbird

It’s better than other Oasis tracks of this era, but it’s still a bit drone-y.

Track 26: Turin Brakes – Painkiller

Good bit of soft rock – quite like this one.

Track 27: Coldplay – Clocks

The piano instrumental is nice, but I find the rest of the track pretty dull.

Track 28: Lulu and Ronan Keating – We’ve Got Tonight

Painfully bland cheesy ballad.  Not my thing.

Track 29: Sugababes – Stronger

Nice atmosphere, good tune.  Quite like this track.

Track 30: Beenie Man – Street Life

Good head-nodder, but the tune’s a bit boring.

Track 31: Cam’Ron, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zeekey and Toya – Hey Ma

Oh, it’s this one.  Repetitive and tuneless, but I suppose it’s got a good beat.

Track 32: Nelly and Justin Timberlake – Work It

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Nelly and Justin Timberlake on this Now! compilation.

The track’s okay, but there’s a bit too much going on.

Track 33: Panjabi MC – Mundian To Bach Ke

Absolute classic – brilliant piece of bhangra.  Love this tune.

Track 34: Scooter – Weekend!

More daft rave from Scooter, with some insanely irritating chipmunk-tuned vocals in the middle.  The rest of the track’s quite danceable.

Track 35: DJ Sammy – The Boys Of Summer

Awful trance cover of the Don Henley classic.  Not a fan.

Track 36: Divine Inspiration – The Way (Put Your Hand In My Hand)

More trance.  This has got quite a good atmosphere, though.

Track 37: Queen and DJ Vanguard – Flash

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

Semi-cover of the 1980 classic with lots of repetitive hi-hat over the top.  It kind of loses the epic atmosphere of the original.

Track 38: Erasure – Solsbury Hill

Good to see Erasure back in the charts for the ’00s, especially as they sound exactly like they did in the ’80s.  This is a nice synthpop cover of the Peter Gabriel song.

Track 39: The Mock Turtles – Can You Dig It? [Fatboy Slim and Simon Thornton 2003 Remix]

Nice feelgood soft rock song, quite like this one.

Track 40: Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi

Pointless cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, but it’s a good song whoever does it (well, maybe I wouldn’t be saying that if it were one of DJ Sammy’s trance covers, but you know what I mean).

Track 41: Richard Ashcroft – Science Of Silence

Dull, drone-y track, but it’s at least more upbeat than most of Richard Ashcroft’s stuff.

Track 42: Massive Attack and Sinéad O’Connor – Special Cases

Love the slightly spooky atmosphere on this one – great track.

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 #11

Day 11’s Now! compilation takes us to 21st March 1988.

March 1988
This is the way the world looked in March 1988 – and it’s a welcome break from the baby photos today, as we had a new-to-us car, a ropey old Austin Ambassador. I loved that car and I cried my eyes out when it broke down and we had to get rid of it a year or two later.

Here’s some music by people who almost certainly drove better cars than my dad did that month.

Now! That's What I Call Music #11
Track 1: Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind

Great cover of the Elvis classic.  I love the synth line on this one, but then I love the synth line on pretty much every Pet Shop Boys track.  This was the 1987 Christmas number one – I would say ‘deservedly so’ if it weren’t for the fact that it should have been Fairytale Of New York that year.

Track 2: Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Love this one!  Another classic from my ’80s playlist I made in the early ’00s.  I used to blast it in my first student flat.  Thankfully my flatmates all loved it too.

Track 3: Billy Ocean – Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car

Is Billy Ocean’s car a dodgy red Austin Ambassador?  If so, I’d get into it any day.  I miss that car.

Great bit of pop, always liked this one.

Track 4: Jermaine Stewart – Say It Again

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

Nice piano intro, nice tune on the chorus, generally pleasant song.

Track 5: Eddy Grant – Gimme Hope Jo’anna

Argh, annoying chorus alert!  Good party song, but give me Electric Avenue any day.

Track 6: Eddie Cochran – C’mon Everybody

Not sure why this ’50s classic was back in the charts, but here it is.  Nice bit of timeless rock ‘n’ roll.

Track 7: Morrissey – Suedehead

Fairly typical of Morrissey’s just-post-the-Smiths era.  I’m not a big fan of this one, there’s nothing in the tune that I like.

Track 8: Elton John – Candle In The Wind

Again, I have no idea why this song was back in the charts more than a decade after its original release, but it was.  I actually prefer the Diana tribute reworking from 1997.  Honestly!

Track 9: Wet Wet Wet – Angel Eyes (Home And Away)

Another annoying chorus – there’s something kind of whiny about it.  I’m not sure what the ‘home and away’ in the title is about, either – it just reminds me of the soap opera, which I’m not sure had even started in 1988.

Track 10: Johnny Hates Jazz – Turn Back The Clock

Kind of a dull one in my book, though the instrumentals are quite nice.

Track 11: T’Pau – Valentine

Really like the way this one builds – great, interesting track.

Track 12: Billy Idol – Hot In The City

A bit repetitive in its tune, but still a good head-nodder.

Track 13: Sinéad O’Connor – Mandinka

Nice upbeat track, love the guitar and the vocals on the bridge and chorus.

Track 14: The Mission – Tower Of Strength

Goth club classic!  Get that two-step going.

Track 15: Whitesnake – Give Me All Your Love

Not as epic as the best Whitesnake songs, but still a nice singalong hair metal chorus.

Track 16: Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky

This was my favourite song in 1988, but then it was also the favourite song of every other girl in my nursery class (you’re not very original when you’re three).  I still love it – great pop track.

Track 17: Mel & Kim – That’s The Way It Is

More great pop from Mel & Kim.  I think this may be one of my favourites of theirs.

Track 18: Joyce Sims – Come Into My Life [Radio Mix]

Nice tinkly intro, great catchy hooks, great tune.

Track 19: Jellybean and Elisa Fiorillo – Who Found Who

Chair-dancing from the start with this one – bit of a cheesy vocal, but a nice bouncy track.

Track 20: Bananarama – I Can’t Help It

Love this one!  Another solid pop song from Bananarama.

Track 21: Dollar – Oh L’amour

Fun fact: the original Erasure version of this was never a hit, which is probably why this Dollar cover (which was a hit) appears on so many ’80s compilations.  Absolute epitome of a pointless cover, as it changes nothing from the original (in fact, I was playing it the other day and I don’t think Geth even noticed it wasn’t the original, and he’s a huge Erasure fan), but that at least means that it’s just as danceable.

Track 22: Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Slightly slower one, but still a nice track.  One for the chillout playlist.

Track 23: Morris Minor & The Majors – Stutter Rap (No Sleep Till Bedtime)

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

Daft Beastie Boys parody, very of its time.  Mildly amusing, but not playlist-worthy.

Track 24: Bomb The Bass – Beat Dis

How could I fail to love a track with a Thunderbirds sample?  This one is great.

Being the queen of misheard lyrics, I was all ‘OMG, is that the f-word in my lovely innocent ’80s pop?’  No, of course it’s not!  They’re actually singing ‘funky’.  Contrast that to today’s charts, where every second word in pretty much every song has to be muted on the radio.  I hate this century. </getoffmylawn>

Track 25: Coldcut and Yazz & The Plastic Population – Doctorin’ The House

Another annoying chorus.  What is it with those today?  I quite like the rest of the track, though.

Track 26: Krush – House Arrest

Great dance song.  I don’t imagine most wedding DJs would play this one, but I might request it off Geth next time he’s DJing a wedding.

Track 27: Jack ‘N’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

I really like this one as well – lots of chair-dancing today.  Great synth line, love the samples too.

Track 28: Beatmasters and The Cookie Crew – Rok Da House

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

This one’s not so much my cup of tea, though I do like the piano bit.

Track 29: Two Men, A Drum Machine & A Trumpet – Tired Of Getting Pushed Around

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

Wikipedia informs me these were actually a Fine Young Cannibals spinoff band.  I quite like the track.

Track 30: Climie Fisher – Rise To The Occasion

Bit of a dull ballad, which is becoming standard for the last track.  Let’s have something more upbeat, Now! compilers!