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!
Let’s have a look at the Now! compilers’ roundup of what’s been going on in the chart recently.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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!
More videos for recent chart hits that have only recently been released!
J Cole – Middle Child
Some interesting dark imagery in this one. There is a bit of ‘standing around next to a car’, but I’ll forgive it because the car is covered in mud so it’s more of an artistic thing.
Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us
The nice thing about Little Mix videos is that they’re always really pretty – pretty outfits, pretty imagery. This one has lots of butterflies and snow. Good stuff.
Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me
I like the retro diner setting and the costumes (Cardi B’s hair is awesome!) but I’m not really into the NSFW dancing. I think I’m getting old. I do like the subtle homage to the video for Michael Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel though.
It’s very generic, but at least there’s some melody.
The video, however, is great! It’s got an actual story, with a sort of robot-Frankenstein-betrayal thing going on (and Kehlani and Ty Dolla Sign actually playing characters in the story). So much better than dancing in clubs or standing around next to expensive cars!
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and 6ix9ine – Swervin’
I like the atmosphere and the bass-heavy backing track. On the whole, though, it’s not exciting enough for me.
There’s no video yet.
Little Mix and Ty Dolla Sign – Think About Us
Good beat, good pop tune. I quite like this one.
Again, no video for this one yet.
Yungen and Dappy – Comfortable
Really like the Caribbean sound on the backing track – it provides a great atmosphere. There’s not much of a hook though.
The video is a bit of a ‘standing around next to cars’ video, but there’s some interesting stuff going on with colour.
Dua Lipa – Swan Song
The instrumentals on the intro are quite interesting, and the atmosphere’s good (it’s from a film soundtrack so it’s appropriately epic), but the vocal’s not interesting enough for me.
The video ties in with the film, so it’s all very dusty and apocalyptic.
J Cole – Middle Child
Jarring instrumentals, repetitive rap. Not my thing.
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.
At my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, my sister-in-law’s bridesmaids all sang a version of this with altered lyrics about the wedding couple, so it tends to be that version I think of when I hear this song.
Track 24: Galantis – No Money
I find this one insanely irritating – awful tune, appalling kiddie-sounding vocals.
Track 25: DJ Snake and Bipolar Sunshine – Middle
Slow and depressing.
Track 26: Desiigner – Panda
Great brooding atmosphere, but I could do with a bit more melody.
Track 27: Kent Jones – Don’t Mind
Irritating theme, irritating tune, irritating lyrics. Not keen on this one at all.
Track 28: Cheat Codes and Kris Kross Amsterdam – Sex
Dodgy dance cover of Salt-N-Pepa’s ’90s hit Let’s Talk About Sex, with new verses in order to bastardise the original safe sex theme into one about general horniness. Have I mentioned before that I hate this century?
Track 29: Sigala, Imani Williams and DJ Fresh – Say You Do
Boring tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals (steel drums again!).
Track 30: Blonde and Craig David – Nothing Like This
Nice beat, and the vocals are quite interesting, but the tune’s a bit repetitive.
Track 31: Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore
Beautiful tune – really like this one.
Track 32: Ariana Grande – Into You
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 13.
I’m a big fan of this song though – it’s probably my favourite Ariana Grande track. Great solid piece of pop.
Track 33: David Guetta and Zara Larsson – This One’s For You
Not keen on this tune, but the track builds quite well.
Track 34: Jonas Blue and JP Cooper – Perfect Strangers
I’ve always found this tune really grating.
Track 35: Dua Lipa – Hotter Than Hell
Good beat, very danceable.
Track 36: Kygo and Kodaline – Raging
I quite like the guitar on this one, but it’s not upbeat enough for me.
Track 37: Selena Gomez – Kill ‘Em With Kindness
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Selena Gomez on track 31.
I quite like this tune though, even if the chorus is a bit repetitive.
Track 38: will.i.am and Pia Mia – Boys And Girls
Great beat on this one – happily nodding along right now.
Track 39: Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – New Girl
Daft theme and lyrics that I’m not wholly keen on. The tune’s nice and feelgood, though, and I like the beat.
Track 40: Tinie Tempah and Wizkid – Mamacita
Love the Latin tinge on this one! Great stuff.
Track 41: Craig David – One More Time
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Craig David on track 30.
I really like the rhythm and the vocal style, but the tune’s fairly bland.
Track 42: Sigala, John Newman, Nile Rodgers, Cedric Gervais and Laurent Simeca – Give Me Your Love
Repeated artist alert! We’ve already had Sigala on track 29.
That is a long list of artists for a not-especially-inspiring song. The tune’s okay, but it’s nothing special.