New Hits Friday…uh, Sunday: 21st June 2019

There were four new hits in the charts this week!

Drake – Omertà

Nice atmosphere on the backing track, but it’s a bit repetitive for my liking otherwise.

There’s no video for this one, which I expected, as Drake rarely makes videos.

Drake and Rick Ross – Money In The Grave

Argh I could basically repeat what I said for the last one! Great atmosphere, but it’s too repetitive for me.

Again, there’s no video.

Little Mix – Bounce Back

Real bit of throwback ’90s pop here! It could have come off a Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child album, and that’s even before you get to the Soul II Soul sample.

The video is colourful and creepy, with Little Mix portrayed as dolls in a child’s dollhouse. I hadn’t thought about those Barbie makeup heads in years!

Taylor Swift – You Need To Calm Down

I’m not hugely keen on this track – the beat’s good but the tune’s a bit forgettable.

The Pride-themed video is set in the world’s most glamorous trailer park, with a ton of celebrity cameos. I’ve been hearing about it on the internet all week because of Katy Perry showing up in a hamburger costume (and hence ending her and Taylor’s alleged feud), but frankly that’s the least interesting part of the video (the lineup of drag queens dressed as contemporary female pop stars just about edges the embroidered Cher quote for me).

Some other chart notes of interest:

  1. I’m a few weeks late in noting that a new video has been released for Lil’ Nas X’s Old Town Road (now with Billy Ray Cyrus on guest vocals). Nas and Billy play cowboys who accidentally time-travel to 2019. Worth watching.
  2. Joy Division got to number five in the album chart just by re-releasing Unknown Pleasures on red vinyl! Again, this is something there’s been a lot of buzz about this last week.
  3. There was a good old-fashioned chart battle for number one album between Bruce Springsteen and Madonna this week, which has warmed my ’80s-loving heart. Springsteen just edged it to get the number one.

More new hits discussion next Friday!

New Hits Friday: 26th April – 3rd May 2019

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!

More new hits next Friday.

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 #85

Day 85 takes us to Now! #85, which was released on 22nd July 2013.

July 2013
This is how the world looked in July 2013. Geth and I were on a trip up to Edinburgh when one of those rare-for-Scotland 30°C days arrived, and the one thing I’d not packed was a swimsuit, so all I could do on this beach trip was paddle. Since then, I’ve packed one every time I’ve gone away during the summer, just in case.

I believe this was a good year for summer hits.  Let’s see if I’m remembering correctly.

Now! That's What I Call Music #85
Track 1: Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky

Great feelgood funk track – love this tune.

Track 2: Robin Thicke, TI and Pharrell Williams – Blurred Lines

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Pharrell Williams on track 1.

This track…urgh.  Infamously and rightly banned by the University of Edinburgh student union, among various other music-playing organisations, because the lyrics are really rapey and gross.  The sad thing is that it would be a really great track if it weren’t for the lyrics, ’cause the tune is great and it’s really danceable.

Track 3: Passenger – Let Her Go

Gorgeous, introspective tune – really like this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

Nice epic atmosphere, great track.

Track 5: Naughty Boy and Sam Smith – La La La

The theme is slightly irritating, but overall it’s an interesting song, which is unusual for an era where most things are really samey.

Track 6: Icona Pop and Charli XCX – I Love It

Great chant-along track – I’ve always really liked this one!

Track 7: John Newman – Love Me Again

Another song that I really like.  The instrumentals are great.

Track 8: Jason Derulo – The Other Side

Forgettable tune, but the chorus is nice and epic.

Track 9: Pink and Lily Allen – True Love

I find this one a bit cheesy and annoying.

Track 10: Taylor Swift – 22

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 11: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna

Every time I run the Great North Run, I find that because it’s the biggest race in the UK and the biggest half marathon in the world – nearly 60,000 runners these days – there’s no shortage of characters to keep me entertained (and believe me, you need that when running along miles and miles of identical-looking motorway).  One guy runs the race with a portable karaoke machine, and last year, when I encountered him, he was doing this song – except he’d changed the lyrics to ‘I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but who cares, I run like Mo Farah‘.  It’s possible you had to be there, but I found it hilarious, and it really got me through the rest of the race.  Thanks for that, portable karaoke guy!

Anyway, it’s another solid pop song.

Track 12: Bruno Mars – Treasure

Bruno Mars still doing his 1980 pastiches – today he’s aping Michael Jackson.  Good stuff.

Track 13: Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’

This one’s a bit of a dull ballad, so I’m not keen.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

Great song with an awesome epic chorus.  Love it.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Come And Get It

Great tune – love the rhythm on this one.

Track 16: PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble

’90s classic, back in the charts to raise money for Childline.  It actually got to number one this time round, probably because Ant & Dec had promised to perform it on Saturday Night Takeaway.  It’s still as enjoyably daft as it was in 1994.

Track 17: Iggy Azalea – Bounce

Good beat, but there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 18: Fuse ODG – Antenna

Love the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 19: Nelly – Hey Porsche

The theme really irritates me, and the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 20: Paramore – Still Into You

Great tune, though the theme is a bit cheesy.

Track 21: Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

I was talking about this one yesterday when reviewing the identically-titled Rita Ora song.  On the whole it’s a bit dull, but it’s got a great chorus.

Track 22: Gabz – Lighters (The One)

Cringeworthy kiddie vocals, appallingly cheesy theme.  Just awful.

Track 23: Rudimental and Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night

Great beat, okay tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 24: Jessie J, Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal – Wild

Bland tune on the verses, but the chorus is okay.

Track 25: Duke Dumont and A*M*E – Need U (100%)

I find the vocals really irritating on this one.

Track 26: will.i.am and Justin Bieber – #thatPOWER

Very generic electro lines, boring tune.

Track 27: David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon – Play Hard

Great rhythm, great bassline, great Better Off Alone sample.  Annoying video, but you can’t have everything.

Track 28: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love

I’ve always found the tune on this one very irritating.

Track 29: Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment

Annoying, repetitive track, but the Take On Me interpolation is quite fun.

Track 30: Sebastian Ingrosso, Tommy Trash and John Martin – Reload

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 31: Armin van Buuren and Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like

Fairly bland dance song with an annoying chorus.

Track 32: Chase & Status and Louis Mattrs – Lost And Not Found

Nice atmosphere, but the vocals are really dull.

Track 33: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

Another boring tune, one of those ‘summer chillout’ tracks that were all the rage at the time.

Track 34: Disclosure and Eliza Doolittle – You And Me

Dull and forgettable.

Track 35: Breach – Jack

Very little melody in this – just drum machine, spoken word and fairly tuneless bassline – but at least it’s something different.

Track 36: Wiley, Angel and Tinchy Stryder – Lights On

Bland tune, but at least this one’s actually got a tune.  Very forgettable though.

Track 37: Dizzee Rascal and Robbie Williams – Goin’ Crazy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dizzee Rascal on track 24.

Interesting rhythm, but again the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 38: Psy – Gentleman

Follow-up to Gangnam Style that obviously wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the original.

Track 39: The 1975 – Chocolate

Love this tune – great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 40: Union J – Carry You

Saccharine and bland.

Track 41: The Saturdays – Gentleman

A slightly more standard song about a ‘gentleman‘ than Psy’s attempt above.  It’s actually quite edgy for the Saturdays, and I like the retro references in the lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 42: Charlie Brown – On My Way

Slow ballad, not my thing.

Track 43: Tom Odell – Another Love

Lovely piano at the start, and it’s got a nice atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 44: Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day

Nice and upbeat, but the song’s a bit too cheesy for me.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #84

Day 84 equals Now! #84, which came out on 25th March 2013.

March 2013
This is how the world looked in March 2013 – to be precise, how it looked on Six Nations finale night. My unlucky Scotland jersey, as usual, did nothing to prevent Scotland getting the wooden spoon, but what made up for it was being with about six Welsh people on the night that Wales stole the championship from right under England’s nose, hence the giant Welsh flag that we pinned to the wall. You can imagine how well this went down in a Southampton pub.

Let’s see what the hits were that spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #84
Track 1: One Direction – One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)

Pointless cover mash-up of Blondie’s One Way Or Another and the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks.  This was the Comic Relief single for 2013, so I guess charity fundraising is the excuse for ruining both of these classic songs.

Track 2: will.i.am and Britney Spears – Scream And Shout

I really like this danceable track, especially the well-done callback to Gimme More.

Track 3: Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble

I quite like this tune, and it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 4: Pink and Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason

Great song – love the way the duet works here.

Track 5: Rihanna – Diamonds

Another pretty tune.  Very nice.

Track 6: Bastille – Pompeii

Epic and anthemic – love this one.

Track 7: James Arthur – Impossible

The annual inclusion of the most recent X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, which was not a great song to begin with.

Track 8: Olly Murs and Flo Rida – Troublemaker

I quite like this jaunty track – it’s got a great singalong chorus.

Track 9: Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

This is from my favourite Bruno Mars era, when he started doing all these pastiches of artists that were big circa 1980.  This song sounds like it should have been released by the Police.

Track 10: Kesha – Die Young

Nice beat, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 11: Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not

Irritating vocals, boring tune, and the chorus has a poorly-done interpolation of the Delfonics ’60s song (which was already done much better by the Fugees).  Nothing impressive here.

Track 12: Little Mix – DNA

Great epic atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit weak.

Track 13: The Saturdays and Sean Paul – What About Us

Another bland, forgettable song.

Track 14: Girls Aloud – Something New

Love this one!  Girls Aloud sort of came to a natural finish at the end of the ’00s, and so this special tenth anniversary track is really the only thing they’ve done as a group this decade.  Better one cracker than lots of poor tracks, though, and this song is great.

Track 15: Nicole Scherzinger – Boomerang

Good rhythm, but this is another uninspired tune.

Track 16: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Latch

I appreciate that it’s a bit different from most stuff that was in the charts at the time, but it’s not my kind of thing – the tune is generic and I’m not into this kind of chillout/trance stuff.

Track 17: Rita Ora – Radioactive

I usually get this one confused with the identically-titled Imagine Dragons song that came out around the same time.  This one’s probably my less-preferred (though there’s not much in it – the Imagine Dragons song is pretty dull too), because the tune’s very bland, but it does have a good electro backing track.

Track 18: Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

I quite like the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals annoys me.

Track 19: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

Boring ballad off the Twilight soundtrack, but at least she doesn’t sound quite as horribly off-key as she does in Jar Of Hearts.

Track 20: Emeli Sandé – Clown

I find the theme a bit awkward, and it’s too slow for me.

Track 21: Gabrielle Aplin – The Power Of Love

This was one of the first of the big ‘Christmas advert’ hits that have been a feature of Christmas music this decade.  Take a classic song, record a slow, melancholy, piano-based cover with female vocals, slap it over the top of an expensive John Lewis Christmas advert, debut the advert during an X Factor ad break in early November, job done.  Christmas classic guaranteed.

Of course, this was already a Christmas classic, and has been ever since Frankie Goes To Hollywood released the original in 1984.  Gabrielle Aplin’s version is very pretty, but it doesn’t have the pure emotional power of the Frankie version – Holly Johnson’s performance of the second verse is capable of moving me to tears when I’m in the right place, and Aplin just can’t compare.  Still, it is enjoyable, even if July is really not when I want to be hearing Christmas songs.

Track 22: Avicii and Nicky Romero – I Could Be The One

I love this dance track – obviously it’s got a great beat, but there’s also something very wistful about the vocals.  I actually can’t think of anyone who was better than Avicii (RIP) at emotion-inducing EDM.

Track 23: Bingo Players and Far East Movement – Get Up (Rattle)

Daft tune, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 24: Pitbull and TJR – Don’t Stop The Party

Messy and irritating.

Track 25: Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah – Drinking From The Bottle

Good beat, and I really like Tinie Tempah’s rap on this one.

Track 26: Dizzee Rascal – Bassline Junkie

Daft theme, but I find it very funny.  Good stuff.

Track 27: Wiley, Chipmunk and Dayo Olatunji – Reload

Boring tune, and there’s too much going on with the track.

Track 28: Rudimental, John Newman and Alex Clare – Not Giving In

Slow and dull intro, and the tune’s very irritating.

Track 29: Conor Maynard and Wiley – Animal

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

The rap’s very bland, as is the tune, and the whole thing’s just a bit repetitive.

Track 30: Disclosure and AlunaGeorge – White Noise

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Disclosure on track 16.

This one takes ages to get going.  The electro hook’s okay, but the vocals are super bland.

Track 31: Devlin and Diane Birch – Rewind

Another very forgettable song.  Also, part of the melody on the chorus rips off Heart’s Alone, which has been an irritating theme in recent Now! compilations.

Track 32: Lawson – Standing In The Dark

A little more upbeat than previous Lawson tracks, but it’s still a very bland, saccharine song.

Track 33: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

I saw Biffy Clyro once.  It was the worst gig I’ve ever been to.  Not because of Biffy Clyro, I hasten to add – they were fine to listen to, although the heavier stuff they were playing as the second support band in 2003 wasn’t really my thing.  The main act was Linkin Park, who were okay (and I am glad I got to see them given sad future events), but the SECC in Glasgow had done this thing (I don’t know if it was by band request or what) where they barriered off a huge semicircle around the stage and only let about fifteen people into it, leaving the remaining hundreds of gig-goers to squash uncomfortably round the outside of the barrier and completely ruining the atmosphere.  The only person onstage who seemed to be on the audience’s side was Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, the main support band, and I don’t really want to give him credit seeing as how he turned out to be a sex offender.

Anyway, I never went back to the SECC again.  Barrowlands all the way if it was a Glasgow gig, even if I did lose a lot of brain cells and earrings over the years through being booted in the head by crowdsurfers.

I think what I’m trying to say is that this song’s a lot more interesting than the stuff Biffy were doing back in 2003.  I quite like the vocal hook at the start, and the chorus is great.

Track 34: Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)

There’s a nice atmospheric chant-along bit on this one – quite like the track.

Track 35: McFly – Love Is Easy

Twee and irritating.  I should note that Geth appreciated the It’s A Wonderful Life sample though.

Track 36: Ben Howard – Only Love

I find this tune pretty annoying.

Track 37: The Lumineers – Ho Hey

It’s a bit twee, but it’s quite a nice, jaunty song.

Track 38: One Direction – Little Things

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had One Direction on track 1.

This one is an irritating saccharine ballad with an irritating black and white video where One Direction sit around and play acoustic guitars in an attempt to look like serious musicians.  The song was apparently written by Ed Sheeran, which will surprise no one.

It was also number one on Geth’s and my wedding day, which is far from ideal.

Track 39: Pink – Try

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

This one is a gorgeous tune though – really like it.

Track 40: Gabrielle Aplin – Please Don’t Say You Love Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Gabrielle Aplin on track 21.

The only thing this song achieves is proving that she should have been a one-hit wonder.  Dull and uninspired.

Track 41: Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

1987 classic, back in the charts due to a mobile phone advert.  Not complaining here at all – I’m very partial to Fleetwood Mac, and this is one of my favourites.

Track 42: Ellie Goulding – Explosions

Not keen on that choral bit at the start, and on the whole it’s too slow for me and I don’t find the tune interesting enough.

Track 43: The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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

Charity cover of the ’60s classic to raise funds for Hillsborough victims’ charities, and the Christmas number one for 2012.  Some good voice-spotting to be done here.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #83

Day 83 equals Now! #83, which brings us to 19th November 2012 – just four days before mine and Geth’s wedding.

November 2012
This is the way the world looked in November 2012. Not every day looks like your wedding day – to put it mildly – but on that day the world looked very good indeed, and so did we.

I am proud to report that we played absolutely none of the following songs at our wedding disco.  Not even Gangnam Style.

Now! That's What I Call Music #83
Track 1: Psy – Gangnam Style

It’s still hilarious nearly six years later, and very danceable, even if you’re not inclined to do the comedy dance that goes with the song.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Candy

Nice feelgood tune that gave Robbie Williams an unexpected number one later in his career.  Good song.

Track 3: Swedish House Mafia and John Martin – Don’t You Worry Child

The theme is pretty cheesy, and the tune is a bit bland.

Track 4: Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Great folk-pop track with an awesome singalong chorus – really like this one.

Track 5: The Wanted – I Found You

Good danceable track, but the tune’s a bit bland.

Track 6: Calvin Harris and Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing

Another boring tune – not keen on this one.

Track 7: Maroon 5 – One More Night

Great reggae-tinged beat – this one’s a great head-nodder.

Track 8: Wiley, Skepta, JME and Dayo Olatunji – Can You Hear Me? (Ayayaya)

Love those steel drums at the start – good tune, great rhythm.

Track 9: Flo Rida – I Cry

I quite like the tune on this one – despite the title, it’s quite feelgood.

Track 10: Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

Irritating tune, even more irritating theme.

Track 11: Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time

Another annoying tune, and the theme is really cheesy.

Track 12: Katy Perry – Wide Awake

Again, a very bland tune.

Track 13: Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Great beat, and I love the instrumentals.

Track 14: Little Mix – Wings

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 15: Stooshe – Waterfalls

Uninspired cover of the TLC classic.  What’s kind of irritating is that the surviving members of TLC show up in the video.

Track 16: JLS – Hottest Girl In The World

Good beat, but in general I find this track a bit messy and jarring.

Track 17: Nicki Minaj – Pound The Alarm

Another very danceable track, another fairly forgettable tune.

Track 18: Redlight – Lost In Your Love

Dull, repetitive tune, and the messy beat gives me a headache.

Track 19: Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)

Boring, bland track – not enough melody for me.

Track 20: Cheryl – Under The Sun

It’s got quite a nice retro tinge, but the tune’s fairly forgettable.

Track 21: Wiley and Dayo Olatunji – Heatwave

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Wiley and Dayo Olatunji on track 8.

Great rhythm, but the vocals are repetitive and irritating (and it’s never clear whether the lyric is ‘body‘ or ‘party‘).

Track 22: Sam & The Womp – Bom Bom

Daft track that’s a lot of fun.  Happily chair-dancing right now.

Track 23: Labrinth and Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful

I know the grammar of that title looks horrible – it’s actually because they’re using ‘beautiful’ as a noun rather than misspelling ‘you’re’.  Still wrong, but not a your/you’re fail.  ‘Beneath Your Beauty’ is what they actually mean.

Anyway, the song’s a slow, saccharine ballad, and I’m not keen on those.

Track 24: The Script and will.i.am – Hall Of Fame

Collaboration cooked up between will.i.am and Script singer Danny O’Donoghue, who were both coaches on The Voice at the time.  It’s a bit awkward and poor.

Track 25: Florence & The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris Remix]

Not technically a repeated artist alert, but this is the second collaboration between Florence Welch and Calvin Harris on this Now! compilation.

This tune is epic and gorgeous.  Lovely stuff.

Track 26: David Guetta and Sia – She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)

Boring, forgettable tune, and I don’t find any of the hooks very interesting.

Track 27: Calvin Harris and Example – We’ll Be Coming Back

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Calvin Harris on track 6, and sort of on track 25.

Nice atmosphere though, and the tune’s quite pretty.

Track 28: Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen

I find this one pretty dull.

Track 29: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Wonder

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Emeli Sandé on track 23.

Not keen on this tune – I find it a bit twee.

Track 30: Conor Maynard and Ne-Yo – Turn Around

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ne-Yo on track 10.

This one’s another boring, uninspired tune.

Track 31: One Direction – Live While We’re Young

Extremely bland tune – very forgettable.

Track 32: Chris Brown – Don’t Wake Me Up

Irritating spoken word bit at the start, dull saccharine vocals.  Not a fan.

Track 33: Amelia Lily – You Bring Me Joy

Another dull, forgettable song.

Track 34: Fun – Some Nights

Good tune – there’s something a bit folk-rock about this one.

Track 35: Example – Say Nothing

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

This is another bland, uninspired tune.

Track 36: Lawson – Taking Over Me

Too cheesy for me.

Track 37: Karmin – Brokenhearted

Yet another forgettable song.

Track 38: Trey Songz – Simply Amazing

Again, this one’s far too saccharine for my liking.

Track 39: Simple Plan and Sean Paul – Summer Paradise

Nice jaunty track, though it’s a bit cheesy.

Track 40: Angel – Wonderful

This tune’s okay, and there are some interesting instrumentals going on too.

Track 41: Devlin and Ed Sheeran – Watchtower

The chorus samples/covers Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower, and there’s also a bit of the guitar riff from the Jimi Hendrix version.  Other than that, it’s mainly a rap, which I’m not keen on.

Track 42: Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait

I find this tune really dull, and a bit depressing.

Track 43: Elbow – One Day Like This

2008 hit that was back in the charts for 2012 – I can’t remember why.  Classic tune though, and that repeated anthemic hook at the end is epic.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #72

Day 72 brings us to Now! #72, which came out on 6th April 2009.

April 2009
This is how the world looked in April 2009. That is the kind of happy face you only get from me on the first day it’s warm enough to sit out in a beer garden after a long winter.

2009 really brought the electropop, from what I remember, so let’s get cracking!

Now! That's What I Call Music #72
Track 1: Lily Allen – The Fear

Great tune, great lyrics.  I’ve always really liked this one.

Track 2: Lady Gaga and Colby O’Donis – Just Dance

Awesome danceable piece of electropop.

Track 3: Flo Rida and Kesha – Right Round

It’s based around the hook from Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), so I was always going to like this one.  Flo Rida’s rap style actually goes really nicely with it.

Track 4: Alesha Dixon – The Boy Does Nothing

Alesha Dixon’s post-Strictly solo comeback song.  Love this tune, and the retro big band feel is much appreciated.

Track 5: The Saturdays – Just Can’t Get Enough

Pointless cover of the Depeche Mode classic, and one of the official Comic Relief singles for 2009 (so charity fundraising, as ever, is the ‘point’).

Track 6: Kelly Clarkson – My Life Would Suck Without You

This one’s pretty acclaimed, but I’ve always found the tune and theme really annoying.

Track 7: Tinchy Stryder and Taio Cruz – Take Me Back

Nice atmosphere – I like the electro lines.

Track 8: Kid Cudi and Crookers – Day ‘N’ Nite

Boring, repetitive tune, with some irritating vocal tics going on.

Track 9: Britney Spears – Womaniser

Great pop track – love the hooks on this one.

Track 10: TI and Rihanna – Live Your Life

It’s based around the hook from O-Zone’s Dragostea Din Tei, which gives the track quite an interesting sound.

Track 11: Akon – Right Now (Na Na Na)

Nice tune, quite like this one.

Track 12: Shontelle – T-Shirt

Interesting vocals, but I find the tune very generic.

Track 13: Ne-Yo – Mad

Boring tune, annoyingly saccharine vocals.

Track 14: The Saturdays – Issues

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had the Saturdays on track 5.

I quite like the rhyming of the lyrics on this one, but the tune’s a bit dull.  The Saturdays did much better songs later on.

Track 15: Leona Lewis – Forgive Me

Great vocals, great atmosphere, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 16: Girls Aloud – The Loving Kind

Another boring tune, and the vocals make it a bit too ballad-y for me.

Track 17: September – Can’t Get Over

Good beat, good electro lines.  The vocals are a little generic though.

Track 18: Steve Angello, Laidback Luke and Robin S – Show Me Love

Semi-cover of Robin S’s 1993 hit, mashed up with various other things.  It’s not very inspired.  See my Now! #24 review for the original song.

Track 19: N-Dubz – Strong Again

Boring tune, but I quite like some of the vocal hooks.

Track 20: Katy Perry – Thinking Of You

Dull ballad, not keen on this one.

Track 21: Alexandra Burke – Hallelujah

The annual bit of karaoke from the X Factor winner.  To give credit to Alexandra Burke, this is not a pointless cover: there have been so many different and beautiful versions of the Leonard Cohen classic, and she did put her own stamp on it, but it just doesn’t have as much feeling in it as classic versions like those of Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright.

Speaking of the X Factor

Track 22: X Factor Finalists 2008 – Hero

There was an annoying trend in the late ’00s/early ’10s where the final twelve contestants in the X Factor would release a group single with everyone getting a line, which, just like the winner’s single, was inevitably a pointless cover of a classic song.  This meant that everyone who was interested in pop music but didn’t care about the X Factor had to put up with not one but two irritating karaoke numbers in the charts around Christmas time.  2008’s offering was a pointless cover of the Mariah Carey song.  (As often happens, the ‘point’ was charity fundraising, this time for Help For Heroes and the Royal British Legion.  Charity fundraising = awesome!  Releasing a soulless, uninspired remake of an existing song = not awesome.)

Track 23: Take That – Greatest Day

It should feel epic and sweeping – but I just find the tune irritating.  I’m not sure why.

Track 24: Alesha Dixon – Breathe Slow

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Alesha Dixon on track 4.

This one’s got a nice backing track, but the tune is fairly generic.

Track 25: James Morrison and Nelly Furtado – Broken Strings

Irritatingly cheesy and slow ballad.  Not my cup of tea.

Track 26: Taylor Swift – Love Story

Super saccharine soft pop-rock!  Again, not my thing.  I prefer Taylor Swift’s more pure pop stuff from the early-to-mid-’10s.

Track 27: Pink – Sober

Nice guitar, interesting theme, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 28: The Killers – Human

I still remember people getting irritated about the grammar of the line ‘are we human or are we dancer‘.  Would it sound better and less jarring if the lyric was ‘dancers‘?  Yes.  Is it grammatically incorrect?  Technically, no.  Brandon Flowers is using ‘dancer‘ to mean a sort of faux-species here, and the use of the singular as an adjective in the same way that ‘human‘ can be used as an adjective is, I believe, meant to emphasise this.

Anyway, it’s quite a good tune.

Track 29: The Script – Breakeven

I’m generally not keen on this kind of soft rock, and this is no exception.  Bland tune, very forgettable.

Track 30: Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

I find this kind of cheery, bouncy, acoustic-y track really irritating.  Sorry!

Track 31: Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go)

Great bassline, lovely bit of electropop.  Really like this one.

Track 32: Metro Station – Shake It

Really like the instrumentals on this track – great guitar, great synth.  It all adds up to a nice retro ’80s tinge, which I’m all about!

Track 33: U2 – Get On Your Boots

Interesting vocals, good guitar line, quite like this one.

Track 34: MGMT – Kids

Oh, it’s this one!  Lovely electro hook, great bassline.

Track 35: The Prodigy – Omen

I saw the Prodigy at M’era Luna 2009, and this song was the anthem of the weekend, with everyone singing it all over the place.  Great dance track, builds beautifully, wonderful atmosphere.

Track 36: Kevin Rudolf and Lil’ Wayne – Let It Rock

Another great bassline and another awesome atmosphere – good track.

Track 37: Wiley and Daniel Merriweather – Cash In My Pocket

I like the ’60s retro tinge on this one.

Track 38: Kanye West – Heartless

Nice tune, quite like this track.

Track 39: TI and Justin Timberlake – Dead And Gone

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

Nice piano intro, nice epic atmosphere.  Great stuff, though it would be better without the rap.

Track 40: Daniel Merriweather and Wale – Change

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Daniel Merriweather on track 37.  Give someone else a chance, Now! compilers!

This is a great track, though – lovely tinkly piano, good beat.

Track 41: Pet Shop Boys – Love Etc.

Nice to see Pet Shop Boys back in the charts.  I have missed that perfect synth!  Wonderful tune.

Track 42: Duffy – Rain On Your Parade

More great instrumentals!  Lovely atmosphere on this one.

Track 43: Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West, Tom Jones and Robin Gibb – Islands In The Stream

Daft semi-cover (semi due to Robin Gibb’s involvement) of the Bee Gees-written song made famous by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, featuring comedy characters Vanessa Jenkins (Ruth Jones) and Bryn West (Rob Brydon) from the sitcom Gavin & Stacey.  This was another song released for Comic Relief 2009.  The video‘s funny, but the song’s a bit pedestrian until Tom Jones shows up at the end.