Nicki Minaj has been AWOL from the charts for a while and I’ve missed her daft rap style. The tune is a bit soulless but the lyrics are fun (well, I thought so until I heard all the uncensored ones when I watched the video).
The video, similarly, is too NSFW for my taste – it does have some nice colours and neon lights, though.
Digga D and Russ – Mr Sheeen
Great title! It’s fairly standard London grime otherwise though, nothing about it really stands out.
The video is mostly about cleaning stuff, as befits the title (and there’s a launderette sequence, which I always appreciate).
Lil’ Nas X – Panini
The chorus is nice, but on the whole I find the tune a bit dull.
There’s no official video yet, but this stylish CGI robot animation has been released that is fun to watch in the meantime.
Bugzy Malone and Aitch – Kilos
I like the Spanish guitar in the background.
The first half of the video is a bit confusing – it seems to be a story about drug smuggling, but instead of drugs it’s Bugzy’s clothing line that is contraband? Possibly? Aitch shows up in the second half and it becomes a much more straightforward video about yachts and champagne.
Jay1 – Mocking It
This one was a bit too repetitive for my liking at first, but it gets more lyrically interesting on further listens.
The video contains all my least favourite clichés – twerking girls, people standing around in front of cars, and high-end shopping bags – but I do like the friend who shows up to mime the ‘you’re mocking it’ bit at the end of every verse.
Stormzy – Crown
Great atmospheric tune, love the piano.
There’s no official video yet but Stormzy has released this nice church-set live performance video.
Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello – Señorita
Nice Latin-tinged pop duet. Like this tune.
The video is a fairly plot-light love story where the two singers hook up and then fall out at the end for some reason.
I’ve got three weeks’ worth of Friday chart hits to catch up with today, as I’ve been a bit late with the chart recently due to travelling.
There were six new hits on the 24th of May.
Dominic Fike – 3 Nights
Love that reggae beat – it’s something a bit different!
The video is about a guy driving around a lot and cheating on his girlfriend (I think?). There’s also a shoebox. And a tortoise.
DJ Khaled, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne and Big Sean – Jealous
It sounds pretty much like every other DJ Khaled song, though I can forgive it a lot for the ‘listening to Sade’ lyric.
The video begins with an overblown cinematic bit featuring Jennifer Lopez for some reason, then when the music starts, it’s all about standing around in front of those Lamborghinis. At least it’s colourful.
Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days
Really appreciate the funk guitar on this one.
The video is a wonderfully daft story about an attractive elderly lady who dresses like she’s still twenty and hence causes everyone she meets to sweat profusely and flood cars and stuff.
Tyler The Creator – I Think
I love the atmospheric synth on the backing track – very retro-sounding.
There’s no video for this one yet.
Halsey – Nightmare
Interesting and slightly creepy recital of ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’ at the start. Following this, there’s a promising rock-sounding chorus, which is great – I just wish the verse matched it. It’s been so long since we had anything vaguely rock-sounding in the charts.
Is that ‘save me a prayer’ lyric a Duran Duran reference? I’m going to jump the gun and say YES, because everything should be a Duran Duran reference.
There’s a lot going on in the video, which is very filmic and retro and veers between rock stylings that match the song, ’90s-influenced bondage costumes, and Lady Gaga-esque ‘shocker’ imagery. Watch out for cameos from the likes of Cara Delevigne and Debbie Harry.
Tyler The Creator – Earfquake
I find the lyrics to this one a bit irritating, but the backing track is nice and retro.
The video is utterly surreal, with Tyler setting himself on fire while performing, and then he turns out to be a fireman as well, and then… However, it’s set in the world of a 1970s chat show, so I’m all about it.
There were also six new hits on the 31st of May.
Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well
It’s very ’90s influenced, like most dance music is at the moment. Nice tune.
Again, there’s no video yet.
Jess Glynne and Jax Jones – One Touch
I like the bleepy backing track – again the ’90s dance influence is strong here – but the vocal melody is a bit dull.
No video for this one either.
5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier
5SOS seem to be completely divorced from their rock roots now. This is squeaky, annoying, and generic.
They’re still apparently playing their instruments in the video though. Why can I not hear those instruments in the song? Anyway, it’s set in a cave system, apart from when there’s a ‘walking through hallways while pictures on the wall catch fire’ sequence.
Young Thug, J Cole and Travis Scott – The London
I like some of the instrumentals on the backing track, but otherwise it’s a little repetitive for me.
There’s no video yet.
NSG – OT Bop
Great beat, but I’d prefer a bit more melody.
There is a lot of car-standing in this video, but I’m quite fond of the daft dance routines that are going on.
Ed Sheeran and Chance The Rapper – Cross Me
Love that synth line in the background.
Another one that doesn’t have a video as of yet.
Yet another six hits on the 7th of June. There’s a bit of a pattern to the chart at the moment!
Skepta – Bullet From A Gun
Not enough going on in this track melody-wise for me, but the lyrics are great.
I really like the video, which is just Skepta sitting on a bench in Camden Town tube station while the world goes by. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Camden Town so un-busy, mind!
Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter
Good atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit forgettable. I have the feeling it’ll grow on me though.
The video’s not out yet.
Lewis Capaldi – Bruises
Another pretty piano ballad from Lewis Capaldi. Lovely atmosphere.
No official video for this one right now.
Mostack and Stormzy – Shine Girl
Nice summery rhythm to this one.
The video is a nice straightforward ‘does what it says on the tin’ affair, with Mostack and Stormzy just chilling with their girlfriends round the house.
Skepta and J Hus – What Do You Mean
I like the eerie instrumentals in the background.
We’re still waiting for the video.
Katy Perry – Never Really Over
I find the tune to this fairly dull.
The video is colourful, cartoony, and a bit daft – a textbook Katy Perry video, in other words.
More new hits next week (I will definitely be on time with them because I’ve got a nice quiet week ahead of me!).
Double New Hits today ’cause I was too busy doing marathon prep last Friday.
Four new hits on the 26th of April.
Kygo and Rita Ora – Carry On
It’s got some pretty tinkly piano instrumentals, but it’s fairly generic.
The song ties in with that daft-looking Pokémon: Detective Pikachu movie, so the video involves numerous shots of Rita Ora doing detective work in a shiny yellow mac. There are also a lot of neon-lit nighttime rain-slicked clips from the film, which actually make me interested in seeing it. I will resist.
Digga D – No Diet
Not enough melody for me, and it’s a bit repetitive.
The video starts off with a shot of a mid-’00s mobile phone, which I guess is retro now. There are also a lot of cans of regular Coke (fitting with the song title), to the extent that Coca-Cola should probably be paying them for the advertising. Oh yeah, and there’s some people wandering around with golf clubs…but they never seem to get round to playing golf.
Lil’ Dicky – Earth
This is a charity collaboration single with too many artists to name, which is lovely and retro – I approve. It’s a nice tune and I like the tropical-sounding instrumentals.
The video is equally good – a kid finds a magical book in a bin and a fast-paced animated adventure ensues, with all the guest artists depicted as random animals.
Jonas Blue and Theresa Rex – What I Like About You
It’s a bit cheesy for me, but at least it’s got some semblance of a tune.
The video is fairly typical for a dance track, featuring a young couple and their friends enjoying days out at the beach and nighttime parties. There’s a bit of interest in that the girlfriend is hiding the relationship from her parents, but this plot thread doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.
On today’s chart, there were five new hits.
Ellie Goulding – Sixteen
Boring and saccharine song!
The video is interesting but a little confusing. It’s scenes of Ellie and her friend/girlfriend in a car, interspersed with the story of a couple of teenage girls who I presumed were their younger selves…but then they run past the car at the end, so I don’t know.
Zara Larsson – Don’t Worry About Me
I like the synthy backing track at the start, but I find the tune pretty uninspired.
In the video, Zara appears to be keeping a semi-naked man prisoner in a glass case. She also has lightning superpowers…I think? I’m only really here for her cute feathered outfit.
RSPB – Let Nature Sing
Charity single entirely composed of birdsong. This is the kind of novelty I like to see in the charts! Hope it raises lots of funds.
The video is very nicely done shadow puppetry of birds. Sad ending though 🙁
Taylor Swift and Brendon Urie – Me
It’s interesting, this one – I get slight hints of ’90s Britpop in the chorus. I do quite like the trumpet bit.
The video is colourful and luxe with lots of pretty costumes (including a retro ’60s bit!) so I’m all about it. Good stuff.
Stormzy – Vossi Bop
Nice eerie backing track, which I always like. Otherwise I find this one a little repetitive.
The video: (a) features a lot of nausea-inducing camera spinning, which I’m starting to worry is a new trend; (b) is basically a big advert for London tourism at the start, with a sequence shot on Westminster Bridge (including the currently-scaffolding-clad Big Ben clock tower that I noted in my London Marathon race review); and (c) really shows how expressive Stormzy is as a performer compared to his contemporaries.
Interestingly, we have a full complement of timely music videos for both weeks’ worth of new chart entries. I hope this trend is one that continues!
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 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.