Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #40

Day 40, and Now! #40, which takes us to 3rd August 1998.

August 1998
This is how the world looked in August 1998. There were maybe other things going on in the world that weren’t me posing on a rock, but this is what you get today. I loved that blue chenille cardigan and wore it constantly for my entire teenage years – I still have it in my keepsakes collection.

Let’s see what the hits were that summer!

Now! That's What I Call Music #40
Track 1: John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John – Grease Megamix

Megamix of You’re The One That I Want, Greased Lightnin’ and Summer Nights from the 1978 film.  It was apparently created in 1990 but wasn’t really a hit until the late ’90s.  This was another favourite at my school youth club.

Track 2: Spice Girls – Viva Forever

Lovely tune, nice melancholy atmosphere, gorgeous Spanish guitar.  The last song of the classic Spice Girls run to feature Geri Halliwell, and in many ways it’s a nicer farewell song for her than Goodbye was.

Track 3: Karen Ramirez – Looking For Love

I had this one on a Top of the Pops 1998 compilation.  I’ve never been that keen, as I find the tune a bit dull.

Track 4: Billie Piper – Because We Want To

Thought of it as a clearly-awful-but-sort-of-guilty-pleasure at the time, now think it’s just awful, but as a Doctor Who fan it’s always amusing to be reminded of Billie Piper’s ’90s pop career.

Track 5: All Saints – Lady Marmalade

So-so cover of the Labelle track.  It would be eclipsed a few years later by the much-more-memorable Moulin Rouge! soundtrack cover, so I’ve not listened to this one in years.

Track 6: Mousse T and Hot ‘N’ Juicy – Horny

You couldn’t escape this one in 1998, and at the time I quite liked it.  It’s not aged well though.

Track 7: The Tamperer and Maya – Feel It

What’s she gonna look like with a chimney on her?‘  That is the lyric, right?  It’s what I’ve always heard, anyway.  Everyone called this ‘The Chimney Song’ at the time.  Nowadays I’m more interested in the Can You Feel It? sample, which works quite well in this track.

Track 8: Aqua – Doctor Jones

Follow-up to Barbie Girl.  I remember a few of my friends complaining because they thought Aqua would have been the perfect one-hit wonder.  This one is a bit uninspired, but there are actually quite a few crackers off that first album, so I’m glad they stuck around for a while.

Track 9: Steps – Last Thing On My Mind

Steps lose the comedy line-dance schtick and settle into their standard full-on Abba tribute sound.  I’ve always found this one a bit annoying, to be honest.

Track 10: Groove Generation and Leo Sayer – You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

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

Semi-cover of Sayer’s 1976 track.  It’s basically a messy cut-up sample-y version of the original with a misplaced rap where the verses used to be.  Not impressed by this one.

Track 11: Bus Stop and Carl Douglas – Kung Fu Fighting

Another semi-cover of a ’70s hit, this time with Bus Stop rapping all over Carl Douglas’ classic track.  While it doesn’t quite live up to the original, I’ve always had a soft spot for this version.

Track 12: Ultra Naté – New Kind Of Medicine

Another one that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation, and it’s another boring tune, I’m afraid.

Track 13: Lutricia McNeal – Stranded

Nice piano opening, but the main tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 14: Lighthouse Family – Lost In Space

While it’s not my favourite Lighthouse Family track ’cause it’s a bit slow and dull, I always liked the video because of the helicopter shots of the then-new Angel of the North.  Now that I live near the Angel of the North, that makes it even better.

Track 15: Boyzone – All That I Need

It’s an okay tune, but it’s just a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 16: All Saints – Under The Bridge

Repeated artist alert!  Lady Marmalade and Under The Bridge were a double A-side, and I guess the Now! compilers couldn’t pick which one to include.

It’s a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song that is much less epic than the original.  I quite liked it at the time, though.

Track 17: K-Ci & JoJo – All My Life

I adored this one at the time and even bought the single.  I still think it’s a lovely tune, though it’s a little saccharine for me these days.

Track 18: Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely

Boring tune, irritating instrumentals!  Not keen on this at all.

Track 19: Sparkle and R Kelly – Be Careful

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

Another dull, irritating track that was also on my TOTP 1998 compilation (the lyrics are good, but they can’t save the tune).  Looking back, I’m not sure why I bought that compilation – I didn’t actually like most of the tracks that were on it.

Track 20: Peter Andre – Kiss The Girl

Cover of the classic Disney track from Aladdin.  Hated it at the time, still think it’s pretty awful.  It comes nowhere near the original.

Track 21: Don Henley – The Boys Of Summer

Classic 1984 hit, back in the charts for some reason.  Not complaining!

Track 22: The Mavericks – Dance The Night Away

Found it annoying then, find it annoying (and depressing) now.  Never been a fan of this one.

Track 23: Eagle-Eye Cherry – Save Tonight

This one, however, I’ve always loved!  Gorgeous tune.

Track 24: Catatonia – Road Rage

Great, classic singalong track from Catatonia.  Wonderful tune.

Track 25: Natalie Imbruglia – Big Mistake

I’d forgotten about this one!  Great tune with a nice epic chorus.

Track 26: Embrace – Come Back To What You Know

Hated it then, hate it now.  Awful, depressing dirge.

Speaking of which…

Track 27: The Verve – Sonnet

It’s another depressing tune from the Verve, although after that godawful Embrace song, it sounds almost lively.

Track 28: Massive Attack – Teardrop

Great, epic track!  A classic.

Track 29: Mansun – Legacy

This one’s a bit drone-y for my liking.  Not keen.

Track 30: Baddiel & Skinner and The Lightning Seeds – Three Lions ’98

Reworking of Three Lions from 1996 to tie in with the World Cup in 1998.  It’s just as bad as the original.

However…

Track 31: Fat Les – Vindaloo

…if we have to be subjected to England football songs every time it’s the summer of a year that ends in an even number, this is the way to go.  Hilarious song, great video that parodies the awful video for Bitter Sweet Symphony that I mentioned the other day.

Track 32: Fatboy Slim – The Rockafeller Skank

Classic track, anthemic hooks.  Great stuff.

Track 33: David Morales and The Face – Needin’ U

Awful, repetitive dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.

Track 34: Lucid – I Can’t Help Myself

Irritating, depressing dance track.  This was also on TOTP 1998.  Why did I buy that compilation?

Track 35: Perpetual Motion – Keep On Dancin’ (Let’s Go)

Irritating squeaky hook throughout, repetitive beat, messy lines, uninspired spoken vocal.  It’s time to get out of the imaginary ’90s nightclub again.

Track 36: Barbara Tucker – Everybody Dance (The Horn Song)

Slight throwback sound to this one, which has a vocal that sounds like it should have been released earlier in the ’90s.  The titular horns, meanwhile, are super annoying.

Track 37: Imaani – Where Are You?

Nice atmosphere to this track, quite like it.

Track 38: Adam Garcia – Night Fever

Pointless cover of the Bee Gees track, released as part of the Saturday Night Fever: The Musical soundtrack.  Because of the nature of the release, it was never going to add anything interesting to the original, let’s face it.

Track 39: Kerri-Ann – Do You Love Me Boy?

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

The calypso instrumental is a bit different, and it’s fairly solid pop, but the tune is pretty uninspired.

Track 40: Los Umbrellos – No Tengo Dinero

Another one I’d forgotten about.  I quite liked it at the time ’cause of the Spanish chorus, but I find the vocal pretty irritating now.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #39

Day 39, and Now! #39 was released on 6th April 1998.

April 1998
This is the way the world looked in April 1998 – warm enough for a barbecue, even in Scotland (not dissimilar to the late April of twenty years later). Holiday caravans haven’t changed much, but I can’t remember the last time I had toasted marshmallows (it’s difficult to find ones that are gelatine-free).

Let’s see what was on the radio twenty years ago this spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #39
Track 1: All Saints – Never Ever

Classic track, great theme, great lyrics, great video.  All Saints never bettered this.

Track 2: Lighthouse Family – High

My favourite Lighthouse Family track – lovely tune.

Track 3: Janet Jackson – Together Again

Oh, it’s this one.  The tune’s okay, but I’ve always found this track a bit so-so.

Track 4: Spice Girls – Stop

This was never my favourite Spice Girls song – I find the tune pretty irritating.

Fun fact: this was the first of their songs not to go straight in at number one – it only reached number two.

Track 5: Natalie Imbruglia – Torn

I still consider this a classic – it’s a gorgeous tune, but it is a bit overplayed nowadays.

Fun fact: this was actually the fourth version of the song, but it’s the one most people know.

Track 6: Billie Myers – Kiss The Rain

Gorgeous tune, really interesting vocals.  Great stuff.

Track 7: Robbie Williams – Angels

Probably Robbie Williams’ most classic track.  It’s a gorgeous ballad, but again it suffers a bit from being overplayed.

Track 8: Various Artists – Perfect Day

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause.

This was everywhere at the time – first as the BBC Music advert and then as the official Children In Need track for 1997.  Gorgeous, epic semi-cover (because Lou Reed was involved, alongside pretty much everybody else!) of the 1972 classic.

Track 9: Boyzone – Baby Can I Hold You

Pointless ’90s cover of the Tracy Chapman song.

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: I’m still really annoyed that it took me nearly two decades to realise that it WAS originally a Tracy Chapman song.

Track 10: Tin Tin Out and Shelley Nelson – Here’s Where The Story Ends

Electronic cover of the Sundays song.  It’s fairly uninspired.

Track 11: Space and Cerys Matthews – The Ballad Of Tom Jones

Loved it then, love it now!  Hilarious theme, great track.

Track 12: Texas – Insane

Great atmosphere – really like this one.

Track 13: Hanson – Weird

Loved it at the time, but only because I was a huge Hanson fan.  Because I was the only one of my mates with cable TV at this point, I remember having to sit in front of The Box channel (‘music television YOU control!’ – I’ve discussed this before) for hours, waiting for the video to come on so I could tape it off the TV and give the VHS to my friend who was an even bigger Hanson fan.  Ah, 20th century technology.

But yeah, anyway, I find the song pretty irritating now.

Track 14: LeAnn Rimes – How Do I Live

Hated it then, still hate it now.  Can’t stand the tune, don’t like the style, just not my cup of tea in the slightest.

Track 15: Shania Twain – You’re Still The One

Again, not my thing.  I don’t like country music, especially not country music ballads.

Track 16: Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies

I do love a James Bond theme, and this is no exception.  Great, epic track.

Track 17: Radiohead – No Surprises

Another lovely, melancholy tune from Radiohead.  Great stuff.

Track 18: The Verve – Lucky Man

I’ve never been hugely keen on the droning style of Britpop vocals, and it takes a good song to mitigate them.  This is not quite a good enough song in that respect, although the tune’s okay.

Track 19: Pulp – This Is Hardcore

Great epic atmosphere, lovely instrumentals.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Robbie Williams – Let Me Entertain You

Repeated artist alert!  I’m shaking my head in disapproval, Now! compilers.

However, given that this is the best, most epic, most anthemic track that Robbie Williams ever did, I suppose I can forgive them just this once.

Track 21: Catatonia – Mulder And Scully

Great track – love the theme, love the tune.

Track 22: Cornershop – Brimful Of Asha [Norman Cook Remix]

A classic!  Endlessly danceable, great singalong track.  I’m going to make this one today’s top ‘wedding disco’ song.

Track 23: Run DMC and Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

House style re-working of the 1983 track.  This was everywhere at the time, and the video was great.

Track 24: Wildchild – Renegade Master ’98

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

We already had the original on Now! #32, and this version’s really not that different (other than some additional messy sampling), so I am side-eyeing a bit at its inclusion.

Track 25: Bamboo – Bamboogie

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

Oh, it’s this one.  Not the biggest fan of this one, as the lines are pretty messy, but I do like that KC & The Sunshine Band sample.

Track 26: Ultra Naté – Found A Cure

Quite like the guitar riff on the intro of this one, and the vocals are great too.  Good track.

Track 27: Sash! – La Primavera

Great feelgood dance tune, always liked this one.

Track 28: Aqua – Barbie Girl

Great track!  Brilliant theme, brilliant pop tune.  I bought the single of this while on a school trip to France, just because we heard it absolutely everywhere we went.

Track 29: Steps – 5, 6, 7, 8

See, this is the kind of corny faux-line-dance track I can get behind.  Steps were just at the right level of ‘not taking themselves too seriously’ that was perfect for late ’90s pop.

Track 30: Louise – Let’s Go Round Again

Cover of the Average White Band track.  I should find the tune annoying, but I actually quite like it.

Track 31: Chumbawamba – Amnesia

I’ve always loved this follow-up to Tubthumping – it’s another great, danceable track.

Track 32: Camisra – Let Me Show You

Highly irritating vocals, headache-inducing intro, but the main hook is quite pleasant.

Track 33: DJ Quicksilver – Planet Love

The tune’s okay, but the vocal samples are pretty generic.

Track 34: Rest Assured – Treat Infamy

There’s a bit too much going on in this track, but there is quite a soothing atmosphere – right up until the Bitter Sweet Symphony sample kicks in.  Just why?

Track 35: Warren G and Sissel – Prince Igor

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

Really like the instrumentals and the atmosphere, and the rap’s okay as well, but nothing compared to that lovely operatic chorus!  Quite like this one, but it is a bit of an odd mix.

Track 36: Lutricia McNeal – Ain’t That Just The Way

The tune is a little annoying, but otherwise there’s something quite pleasant and feelgood about this track.

Track 37: Prince Buster – Whine And Grine

Reggae track with a bit of a dull tune and an annoying theme.  Not hugely keen on this one.

Track 38: The All Seeing I – The Beat Goes On

Liked it at the time, find it a bit repetitive now.

Track 39: Goldie – Believe

Irritating, messy track – there’s just far too much going on.

Track 40: Backstreet Boys – All I Have To Give

It’s another painfully saccharine track from the Backstreet Boys.  I know they did do ones that were actually quite good, but we’ve not had any on these Now! compilations so far.

Track 41: Vanilla – No Way No Way

Loved it at the time (especially the Muppets-esque ‘mahna mahna’ bit), find the vocals pretty annoying nowadays.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #37

Day 37, and Now! #37, released 14th July 1997.

July 1997
This is how the world looked in July 1997 – and given how long those Hebridean structures have been standing, it’s how the world has looked for quite some time. I loved those leggings at the time, though I’m not quite sure about them now.

Let’s have a listen to some artists who have almost certainly never played live in the Outer Hebrides.

Now! That's What I Call Music #37
Track 1: Hanson – MMMBop

Loved Hanson at the time, as did all my friends – my walls were covered in their posters!  Nowadays I find this one pretty cringeworthy though.

Track 2: Eternal and Bebe Winans – I Wanna Be The Only One

I’ve always quite liked this one – the chorus is great.

Track 3: The Cardigans – Lovefool

A huge favourite!  Loved it then, love it now.  Gorgeous tune.

Track 4: No Doubt – Just A Girl

Another great tune from No Doubt – great beat, great instrumentals.

Track 5: Sash! and Rodriguez – Ecuador

I adored this at the time and played it over and over.  It’s still my favourite Sash! track.

Track 6: No Mercy – Where Do You Go

I’d totally forgotten about this one.  It’s quite a good dance track, through I’m not hugely keen on the chorus reference to ’60s hit Where Do You Go To (My Lovely), which I find to be a super irritating song!

Track 7: Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are

This was a double A-side with Mama, and this is undoubtedly the better song in my opinion.  It was the Comic Relief single for 1997, and it had a dance to go with it, which was the absolute best thing a song could have at the time.  Great tune.

Track 8: Ultra Naté – Free

Annoyed by it at the time, still find the chorus a bit irritating now.

Track 9: Rosie Gaines – Closer Than Close

Oh, it’s this one!  The backing track is dull, but there’s something I find quite endearing about the vocals.

Track 10: George Michael – Star People

Quite like the instrumentals, but it’s a boring tune.

Track 11: En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love)

Absolutely beautiful song – love this one.

Track 12: Shola Ama – You Might Need Somebody

Originally an ’80s track, but this is the version everybody knows.  I’ve never been that keen on this tune – I don’t like the chorus.

Track 13: Coolio and 40 Thevz – C U When U Get There

I like the sample from Pachelbel’s Canon in D, even when it goes a bit electro and odd.  The rap’s a bit generic, though.

Track 14: Warren G and Ron Isley – Smokin’ Me Out

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

Nice atmosphere on the intro, but I find the rest of the track a bit messy.

Track 15: R Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly

Quite liked it at the time, find it massively overplayed and irritating now.

Track 16: Damage – Wonderful Tonight

Soul-tinged cover of the Eric Clapton classic, generally a bit uninspired.  Not different enough to be worthwhile in my opinion (even if they do change the blonde subject of the song into a brunette!).

Obligatory ‘I hate pointless ’90s covers’ rant: this was the first version of this song I ever heard.  I still can’t believe that.

Track 17: 911 – The Journey

Slow, dull ballad.  Not keen on this one.

Track 18: Boyzone – Isn’t It A Wonder

This one’s far too saccharine for me, I’m afraid.

Track 19: Backstreet Boys – Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)

I suggested this song the other day when Geth and I were in the pub trying to come up with songs that had ‘game‘ in the title for a boardgame-themed playlist.  I wouldn’t actually put it in a playlist, though, ’cause it’s cheesy and irritating.

Track 20: N-Tyce – Hey DJ! (Play That Song)

I quite like the backing track, but the vocals are super annoying.

Track 21: Foxy Brown and Jay-Z – I’ll Be

The rap is good, but there’s not enough of a tune for me.

Track 22: Wet Wet Wet – If I Never See You Again

Slow beat, slightly irritating tune, but at least it’s got a nice classic edge to it.

Track 23: U2 – Staring At The Sun

Nice atmosphere, but again, the tune is slow and dull.

Track 24: The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Overplayed at the time, irritating now, and of course it’s not helped by that infuriating video.

Track 25: The Seahorses – Love Is The Law

Really like the guitar intro and the melody – great tune.

Track 26: Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City

Another rock classic from OCS, with a slightly ’60s tinge about it.  Awesome track.

Track 27: Robbie Williams – Old Before I Die

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune.

Track 28: Cast – Guiding Star

Oh, it’s this one.  I’ve always found the vocal hook super annoying – not a fan.

Track 29: Paul McCartney – Young Boy

Nice upbeat track, like the tune.  Good stuff.

Track 30: Sheryl Crow – A Change Would Do You Good

The ‘change’ here for me is that I actually quite like this one, which is a first for the Sheryl Crow tracks that have been on Now! compilations so far.  Nice beat and atmosphere on the verses.

Track 31: Radiohead – Paranoid Android

Nice tune on the instrumentals, but the vocal line is depressing (and not in a good way).

Track 32: Texas – Halo

Lovely tune, apart from the chorus, which annoys me.

Track 33: Supergrass – Sun Hits The Sky

And this one’s vice versa – irritating, repetitive tune on the verses, but the chorus is all right.

Track 34: James – Waltzing Along

Great track – love the melody on this one, and the atmosphere’s really nice too.

Track 35: Blur – On Your Own

Great beat, interesting instrumentals, but once the vocal is added to the mix it becomes a bit messy.

Track 36: Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Scooby Snacks

I’ve always really liked this one!  Great singalong track.

Track 37: Orbital – The Saint

Electronica cover of the theme tune to The Saint.  It’s as random as it sounds.

Track 38: Brainbug – Nightmare

Great spiky electro dance, really like this one.

Track 39: The Course – Ain’t Nobody

Messy dance cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  It’s pretty atrocious.

Track 40: Todd Terry, Martha Wash and Jocelyn Brown – Something Going On

Oh, it’s this one!  Generic beat to start off, but the vocals are quite nice.

Track 41: Diddy – Give Me Love

No, it’s not the hip-hop act – he was known as ‘Puff Daddy’ at the time.  ’90s Diddy was a dance producer, and I reckon he should probably have sued when Puff Daddy decided to change his name.

The track is a pretty generic dance offering, very forgettable.