Now 98

Now 98 goes for a skiing themed cover. I guess I can see how they arrived there:  winter-snow-skiing. The first track isn’t very snowy at all, as Latin influenced pop is back in the charts again. It is a well deserved track 1 CD 1 placing for ‘Havana’ by Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug.

Camila Cabello is Cuban-American, so it references her heritage, Havana being the capital city of Cuba.

The track ‘Havana’ is a very fun, sexy Latin pop song and has been a massive hit, topping the UK singles chart for 5 weeks. I LOVE the video, it’s very funny and Camila Cabello does a good job playing different characters.

‘rockstar’ by Post Malone feat. 21 Savage was a Translantic charttopper. As songs titled “Rockstar” go, it’s not as terrible as the Nickelback song, but it’s nowhere near as good as the N*E*R*D song.

The title of the Post Malone feat. 21 Savage ‘rockstar’ is all in lowercase, which is in contrast on this compilation to all the artists who have their name spelled all in capital letters, namely CNCO, ZAYN, SZA, ALMA and MK.

‘What About Us’ by Pink is not a cover of the Saturdays feat. Sean Paul charttopper from 2012. It is a very nice song though, in fact it’s lovely. But it’s one of those songs that sounds good every time you hear it in the radio, but you kind of forget about after it’s finished no matter how many times you hear it, and this song has been played a lot on the radio. A lot.

‘Galway Girl’ by Ed Sheeran seems a bit of a random inclusion considering it was from the beginning of the year, though Now albums occasionally include songs like that on the last album if they didn’t get them on before. ‘Galway Girl’ is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, I know it’s very novelty “Oirish”, but I really enjoy it. It’s clearly a very popular song despite lots of people saying they hate it, but I suppose, to quote a famous Irishman Terry Wogan, “It’s just the public that like it then”.

Sam Smith went to number one with ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’, the first single from his second album. The version included on Now 98 is the main ballad version, but to be honest I find it very slow and boring. But I LOVE the Galantis remix which turns into more of a dance track, and I think it actually showcases Sam Smith’s voice a lot more.

‘Anywhere’ by Rita Ora is a nice pop-dance track and it was a big hit, reaching number 2, but personally I prefer Rita Ora’s song with Avicci on here, ‘Lonely Together’, it’s a gorgeous track. The first thought I had when I saw the title was a line from the Futurama Christmas episode ‘Xmas Story’ in which Leela says to Fry that they are “lonely together”, and I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, and I won’t spoiler it here, but the video is very like ‘Meanwhile’, the final ever episode of Futurama.

‘Young, Dumb & Broke’ by Khalid has a church organ and electro beats, and is a little miserable. Khalid also has a track with Marshmello, ‘Silence’, which is an elegant dance track. Khalid makes a third appearance on this compilation, but I’ll talk about that later on.

‘Friends’ by Justin Bieber & BloodPop is really good, mainly due to BloodPop’s excellent production, but working with good producers is why Justin Bieber has turned out to do well as a popstar now. A lot of the songs on Now 98 show that teaming up with the right producer can work wonders.

‘More Than Friends’ by James Hype feat. Kelli-Leigh is not a one-upmanship battle with the above Justin Bieber track, like when Big Brother 8 contestant Chanelle Hayes released a song called ‘I Want It’ so her rival Charley Uchea released a track called ‘I Want It More’. That reference is increasingly obscure, but then BB8 was, let’s look it up, 10 YEARS AGO!!!

Anyway, ‘More Than Friends’ is actually a reworking of the ’90s classic ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)’ by En Vogue, which was a number 5 hit 20 YEARS AGO!!!!!! Time marches on
faster than any of us notice, doesn’t it? ‘More Than Friends’ is a good cover/remake, but I definitely think the original is better.

CNCO are a boyband who won an American Spanish singing contest, and they have been launched in the UK by collaborating with Little Mix, who we all know as a girlgroup who won The X Factor. The song is ‘Reggaeton Lento (Remix)’ and it’s a decent track.

The former One Direction boys continue with their solo careers. ZAYN feat. Sia – ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ is by far the best. It’s a little melodramatic, but it is the classiest of the One Direction solo stuff on here. Louis Tomlinson’s effort ‘Back To You’ is described in the CD booklet as his “second solo single which features Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals”. But most of it is sung by Bebe Rexha, she even sings some of Louis Tomlinson’s parts with him! He gets a vocoder effect on his voice too, because let’s face it, he still can’t sing. As Digital Farm Animals are the producers, then Louis Tomlinson probably contributes the least to this track, but he gets top billing  because, well, he used to be in One Direction. ‘Get Low’ by Zedd & Liam Payne isn’t a cover of the Lil Jon & The East Side Boys track, it’s an original, if incredibly generic, song. Liam Payne has another song too, the worst of the ex-One Direction songs on here, ‘Bedroom Floor’. The CD booklet mentions that Liam Payne is an “avid Harry Potter fan”. That has nothing to do with the song, apparently they just thought they’d mention it.

Dua Lipa has ‘New Rules’ on here, which reached number one. She seems to be everywhere, she does exceptionally well on streaming, but she seems oddly anonymous somehow? Like she isn’t making much of an impression despite the success.

Speaking of anonymous, Charlie Puth has a track called ‘How Long’, which sounds like something Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars might do, and I think people when hearing
this song will just assume that it is them.

Craig David’s comeback continues to go well, with his song on Now 98 ‘Heartlines’ one of his best in years. It was produced by Jonas Blue.

‘Swish Swish’ by Katy Perry feat. Nicki Minaj samples ‘Star 69’ by Fatboy Slim, which in turn sampled ‘I Get Deep’ by Roland Clark. Yep, I bet we’re going to see more and more songs which sample something which was already a sample in the first place, they’ll be like matryoshka nesting dolls. Anyway, ‘Swish Swish’ is something to do with when Taylor Swift’s petty, vindictive wrath was directed at Katy Perry in the form of ‘Bad Blood’ because Katy Perry, I don’t know, used the same dancers as Taylor Swift or whatever the hell it was.

Chris Brown has a track on here, ‘Questions’. Yeah, Chris Brown is still “a thing”, apparently. The track samples the 2004 number 2 hit ‘Turn Me On’ by Kevin Lyttle,
but I’d hardly call how much of it ended up in ‘Questions’ a “sample”, it has so much of ‘Turn Me On’ it might as well be a cover version of it. Stick with the original.

‘Finders Keepers’ by Mabel feat. Kojo Funds has nothing to do with the ’90s CITV gameshow presented by Neil Buchanan, and Jet from Gladiators in later years. That’s
really showing my age if I haven’t already. I am technically a Millenial, but one of the older ones. Mabel is the daughter of Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack record producer Cameron McVey.

Marshmello is a dance DJ who does that same kind of “dance producer wearing a mask” thing as Daft Punk and deadmau5 do, in Marshmello’s case the mask is of, what else, a marshmallow, with crosses for eyes and a smile drawn on. He has a second song after ‘Silence’, called ‘Wolves’, sung by Selena Gomez. In the CD booklet, the picture for it is of Selena Gomez, Marshmello and a wolf, with the word WOLVES in big letters and the ‘O’ being the full moon. It looks like a badly photoshopped bootleg horror movie poster.

Clean Bandit have another guest singer, Julia Michaels, on ‘I Miss You’, and her voice is so whiney! The vocoder makes it worse if anything. I somewhat like how psychotic and bunny boiler-ish the lyrics are though. The protagonist says she’s saved all the best texts over the years and how she is “wishing I could be your bottle so I could be close to your lips again” (!)

The video for Charly XCX – ‘Boys’ was massively hyped up on social media, but after all that the song only reached number 31 in the charts. Dare I suggest that the song’s flimsy and vapid and musically it sounds like a dying ancient games console, so that’s why it couldn’t stand up on its own terms?

Big Shaq – ‘Mans Not Hot’ has been a big internet meme and a top ten hit, getting to number 5. Big Shaq technically doesn’t exist however, he’s a fictional rapper played by comedian Michael Dapaah for a mockumentary YouTube series SWIL. I haven’t seen it, but from ‘Mans Not Hot’ it is, like Spinal Tap, believable and well-observed parody of the type of music it is affectionately sending up, so I kind of like it.

CamelPhat & Elderbrook – ‘Cola’ sounds like a particularly unappetising option on a menu, but it is actually 3 DJs, 2 are CamelPhat and 1 is Elderbrook. The song… has a lot of different noises in it I guess, but on the whole it’s awful.

The worst track on the compilation though is ‘Little Bit Leave It’ by Chris and Kem, it’s annoying crap. Apparently they are two guys from Love Island, which yes I know “the
whole nation was talking about it” etc, but frankly I didn’t watch Love Island, I don’t care about Love Island.

I quite like ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ by Demi Lovato as a track, vocally and musically it’s good, though I don’t like the phrase “Sorry not sorry”. I know the list of popular slang I don’t care for seems to be getting longer by the day, but it is annoying! Don’t say “sorry” in the first place if you don’t mean it.

Still, that saying is kind of harmless. “Man up” is a phrase I really hate, I think that one is harmful in some ways. Paloma Faith isn’t a fan of it either, as she says on her song ‘Crybaby’ “you don’t have to Man Up. That phrase kind of sucks”. The song is about men not being afraid of their emotions and not to keep bottling things up, which is a very real issue currently given how high male suicide rates are.

Suicide, of course, can effect anyone. Towards the end of CD2, we have Logic, Alessia Cara & Khalid – ‘1-800-273-8255’. The number in the song title is America’s national suicide prevention lifeline. In the UK we have The Samaritans, I suppose this line is something very similar. The song is a bit of a tearjerker, about feelings of depression, suicide and loneliness, but also about getting through it, and for people in the US that the number is there if they need someone to talk to about it. For those of us in the UK, there is The

‘Wall Of Glass’ by Liam Gallagher is, believe it or not, his debut solo single! He is best known for being in Oasis, and he was in another band later called Beady Eye. He has made appearances in other charted songs though. He provided handclaps on ‘History’ by The Verve, which got to number 24 in 1995. He got to number 6 in 1999 with ‘Carnation’, which was a duet with Steve Cradock from Ocean Colour Scene. He also got to number 14 in 2002 with ‘Scorpio Rising’, as a guest vocalist for Death In Vegas. But, technically, ‘Wall Of Glass’ is his first single as a solo performer.

Now 98 feels a bit more like a summer Now album than a winter one somehow. The winter release often has summer songs on it, but I mean more in the sense that Now 98
doesn’t really feel like a big Christmas release. But it’s fine, as often is the case it’s a decent selection and has variety.

Posted in Music, Now That's What I Call Music! | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The X Factor (Series 14)

So The X Factor continues to… well, continue.

Continue reading

Posted in Music, The X Factor, TV | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Red Dwarf XII


Red Dwarf returned for a 12th series overall, but their 4th on Dave. It was filmed back to back with series 11, and saw the crew encounter bizarre spaceships, have conflict with various machines and travel to other universes.

Continue reading

Posted in Red Dwarf, TV | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pointless Celebrities: Writers Special

Once again I have a case of “blogger’s block”, if that is a thing. This one has been longer than most. For various reasons I haven’t had much time or been inspired enough to write a decent blogpost, but I want to post something at least once a month. I had several ideas, but either I couldn’t get it going or I didn’t think I’d be able to give them the time and effort they needed. So I’m just going to briefly talk about an episode of Pointless Celebrities from ages ago! Ironically, it was the Writers special, considering I’m talking about it because I can’t write much that’s any good at the moment.

Journalist Owen Jones and comedian Mark Watson won. They did well in quite tough episode. They were on to raise awareness for their chosen charities, Moldova Project (Watson) helping families in poverty in Moldova and RECLAIM Project (Jones) helping young working class people.

If I’m honest though, I think a main reason I liked the episode is quite superficial, as I fancy both of them. I also think in another universe they’d make a great couple!

So this has been a rather pointless post, pun slightly intended, but it’s unfortunately the best I can do at present time. Hopefully the next month will be better.

Posted in TV | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Now 25 (U.S.)

So I had a big holiday in America ten years ago, and while I was there I bought Now 25. 10 years on, it might be worth looking back.

They started doing Now That’s What I Call Music compilations in the U.S. in 1998. In the U.K. we were on about Now 40/41 at that point.

The cover for the American Now 25 goes for a beach balls in pool design. Now 67 in the U.K., released at around the same time mid-July 2007 had the same cover design, obviously with a different title.

I don’t know if things have changed since, but on Now 25 the first thing I noticed was that you don’t get as much as what you get in the U.K. version. There are only 20 tracks on one CD, in the U.K. it’s two CDs which tend to have 22 tracks each. Also in the American one the booklet just has the pictures of the album the track is taken from and the writing credits, no mini write-ups like you get in the U.K. version. Though nowadays the U.K. versions don’t give you the writing credits anymore.

The first track on Now 25 is by Fall Out Boy – ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmmrs’, or Thanks For The Memories. They just took the vowels out of the title. It was what txt spk on mobile phones (or should I say “cell phones” considering we’re talking about an American compilation?) was like at the time. As such, now it looks extremely dated. The song itself isn’t bad though. In fact, I think I like it more than I did at the time, when it came out it mostly passed me by. Lyrically it’s a bitter break-up song (“thanks for the memories even though they weren’t so great”), but the instrumental is pretty good, it’s quite dramatic and almost circus-like, not so much as ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance, but around that same area.

Then we have Avril Lavigne with ‘Girlfriend’, a Billboard Hot 100 number one. It’s a cheerleader type song, and cheerleading is one aspect of American culture that has
always baffled me a bit. Not that it exists per se, but that it appears to be taken so seriously when it’s an incredibly superficial thing. Anyway, you can file  ‘Girlfriend’ with other cheerleader tracks like ‘Mickey’ by Toni Basil, ‘Get Ready For This’ by 2 Unlimited, ‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani or ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift. ‘Girlfriend’ is probably even more Valley Girl than all of those, as it literally contains lyrics such as “she’s like so whatever”.Then again, ‘Shake It Off’ goes “she’s like Oh My God”, which is probably a bit more irritating.

‘Girlfriend’ has a pretty nasty, spiteful sentiment to it, as it is about stealing someone else’s boyfriend, so I don’t like it much for that reason, but to be honest the main reason I’m not keen on it is it is so ANNOYING! It’s repetitive and you just want it to shut up! Listening to it ten years on though, it is a lot rockier than I remember it. It is still on the pop side of pop-rock, but I remember it being more electronic.

I mentioned Gwen Stefani before, and she is next on track 3 with ‘The Sweet Escape’, which featured Akon. The song comes from Gwen Stefani’s album of the same name,
and there is an argument that it is the best of her solo songs. When making this song, they were trying to make it sound like something her band No Doubt might do, and Gwen Stefani’s best work probably was with No Doubt to be honest. ‘The Sweet Escape’ is quite sassy, the horns are used well. It has a slightly gangster’s moll feel to it. The track seems more remembered than any of Gwen Stefani’s other solo stuff, and certainly more remembered than any of Akon’s songs nowadays.

‘What You Waiting For’, from Gwen Stefani’s first solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby, is the other main contender for her best solo song, and it is a lot more interesting, but ‘The Sweet Escape’ works better as a pop song. ‘The Sweet Escape’ is her highest charting solo song in the UK, it reached number 2, the same position it got in America.

Pink is next with ‘U + Ur Hand’, another txt spk pop-rock one, and is about just wanting to go out and have a good time, and telling horny loser guys that they won’t be going with her, they’ll have to make do with wanking instead. I loved this song at the time, and I danced to it while I was in America. In the U.S. ‘U + Ur Hand’ becoming a hit revived interest in its album, I Am Not Dead.

I wasn’t a fan of Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie‘s mostly awful solo career, but I did really like the song on this compilation, ‘Glamorous’, which features Ludacris. I suppose I found it strangely moving. It’s about coming a long way, now having a lot of money living a glamorous lifestyle but how it hasn’t changed her and she still has her feet on the ground. ‘Glamorous’ was a U.S. number one.

Superstar collaborations usually end up as a disappointment, but ‘Beautiful Liar’ by Beyonce & Shakira was one of the better ones. It has been semi-forgotten now, which is odd because it has aged better than a lot of the songs on this CD! Like a few female pop duets, it’s about two women talking about the same man. Sometimes in those songs they are fighting over him, but this is one where they realise that he’s been cheating on both of them and decide to both dump him and remain friends with each other. The video is memorable as it showed how much Beyonce and Shakira look a lot like each other! In the U.K., this reached number 1, as it did in several countries, but in the U.S. it made number 3.

‘Summer Love’ by Justin Timberlake was a song I’d never heard before, and I’ve never heard since. It was a reasonably big hit in the U.S, reaching number 6. For whatever reason, it was never released as a single in the U.K. I’m quite grateful for that though, as it’s a bit rubbish!

Ne-Yo is next with ‘Because Of You’, not to be confused with the Kelly Clarkson song of the same name. Despite the identical titles, the two tracks are very different. Obviously, Ne-Yo and Kelly Clarkson are two very different artists to begin with, Ne-Yo is a black male R&B singer while Kelly Clarkson is a white female pop-rock singer. The Kelly Clarkson ‘Because Of You’ is about how the breakdown of her parents relationship affected her , while Ne-Yo’s ‘Because Of You’ is about falling in love. The Ne-Yo track is a nice enough mid-tempo R&B love song, he has a nice voice, and it’s overall very nice. It reached number 2 in the U.S., number 4 in the U.K.

There is then a run of hip hop tracks, and while urban and hip hop is quite popular in the is MUCH more popular in the U.S. In the 2000s in general, urban music was HUGE, I think it has somewhat gone down in popularity in the current decade. ‘Buy You A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)’ by T-Pain feat. Yung Joc is the third and final U.S. number one on Now 25, and I’m not sure it would be a hit today. I’m not saying it’s bad as such, I did like it at the time.

I had completely forgotten about ‘Get It Shawty’ by Lloyd, but listening to it again now I like it more than ‘Buy You A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)’, mainly due to  the production. Apparently the producer of ‘Get It Shawty’ was Usher’s younger brother!

I remember ‘Pop, Lock & Drop It’ by Huey, even though it never charted in the U.K. Crunk was a big new genre around 2006/2007. ‘Pop Lock + Drop It’ has great production, and still sounds pretty good today. Huey was a one hit wonder in the U.S., and his name is his actual surname, which is similar to the next act, MIMS.

MIMS is another rapper and his name is his actual surname, but in his case he also used it to make an acronym for his album Music Is My Saviour. I very much remember MIMS’ track ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’, a U.S. number one which made number 18 in the U.K. That track isn’t included on Now 25, it’s a song called ‘Like This’. That song does reference ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ though, and that it was “top ten number one download ringtones”. ‘Like This’ is pretty generic, boring and forgettable to be honest, and it only made number 32 in the U.S., and 82 in the U.K. Perhaps it was asking for trouble by referencing ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ so heavily, like that’s the big hit song people will know, this song is just the follow-up single. ‘Like This’ is even overshadowed by ‘This Is Why I’m Hot’ with its own lyrics!

‘I Tried’ by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Akon was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s first U.S. top ten hit in ten years, and to date it is their last one. I thought ‘I Tried’ sampled an old song, but apparently it doesn’t. I’ve only heard this track on this CD, but I love it! It talks of how struggling to get through life when it doesn’t seem to be getting any better, feeling like he is taking “five steps forward, ten steps back”. I like the “sleet, hail, snow” line too.

‘Outta My System’ by Bow Wow feat. T-Pain & Johnta Austin is… OK. It’s another track that’s a bit on the forgettable side.

‘Never Again’ by Kelly Clarkson was from her My December album, and was a bit like Pink’s Try This album in that it moved into more of a rocky direction. It’s  interesting just how similar Kelly Clarkson and Pink’s careers have been actually. First album was a very poppy R&B album which ended up half-forgotten (Can’t Take Me Home for Pink, Thankful for Kelly Clarkson). Second album was more pop-rock and was a massive hit (Missundaztood for Pink, Breakaway for Kelly Clarkson). Third album was more rocky, but ended up with lower sales (Try This for Pink, My December for Kelly Clarkson). From then on, both pretty much stuck with a lighter, mainstream pop-rock sound and went on to have more Billboard Hot 100 number ones, and release Greatest Hits albums which implied they would release another Best Of one day. Pink’s was called Greatest Hits…So Far!!! and Kelly Clarkson’s was called Greatest Hits – Chapter One.

I heard ‘Never Again’ on the radio not so long ago, and my friend thought it was by Pink! I found ‘Never Again’ a bit tuneless in 2007, but I like it more now!

‘The Great Escape’ by Boys Like Girls is another song I first heard on this CD, and it’s one I’ve listened to a fair bit since! It’s in a bit of an awkward somewhere-between-pop-rock-and-alternative-rock lane, but ‘The Great Escape’ is a happy song. It’s very much a “start of the holidays” anthem, specifically graduating from high school and starting the next chapter in your life. ‘The Great Escape’ still brings a smile to my face, and it is my favourite song on Now 25.

Keith Urban has ‘I Told You So’. Despite the name Urban, he is a country artist. Country music is even more of a genre which is huge in the U.S. but not as popular in
the U.K. than urban is! ‘I Told You So’ is a rekindling romance song rather than a break-up song or a falling in love song, so that’s a bit different I suppose. If you think I’m struggling to think of things to say about this track, you’d be right. Erm…. if you like country music, you might like it I suppose.

‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood is another country-pop song, and I quite like it! It’s sort of a guilty pleasure. It was criticised at the time for being incredibly vindictive – the protagonist drags her key across her cheating boyfriend’s car to punish him, and she’s pretty bitchy towards the woman he might be with, when this woman doesn’t sound like she knows he’s cheating on someone. All of those criticisms are fair, but I still can’t help but enjoy this song. I suppose it’s the “don’t mess with me” thing it has going on.

The ballad ‘Wait For You’ by Elliot Yamin is the sort of track that sounds like it was made to play at the end credits of a ’90s movie. It also sounds like something Westlife might record.

Speaking of Westlife, they famously recorded an enfeebled cover of ‘What About Now’ by U.S. rock band Daughtry. Seriously, the original is much better. Daughtry have the
last track on Now 25, ‘Home’. ‘Home’ is such a generic title, particularly for rock bands, so you can probably imagine what it sounds like. Like ‘Wait For You’, ‘Home’  also sounds like it would be played on the end credits to a movie. It’s a decent song, but I feel like I’ve heard it millions of times, even though I’m sure I haven’t. ‘Home’ wasn’t covered by Westlife, but it WAS covered by member Kian Egan for his solo album.

Daughtry’s version of ‘Home’ was actually a bigger hit in the U.S. than ‘What About Now’, the former got to number 5, the latter got to number 18. Oddly enough, Daughty’s version of ‘What About Now’ outpeaked it’s U.S. chart placing, charting at number 11 in the U.K.

The U.K. Now albums usually try to bunch similar tracks together, and the U.S. version is even more structured from this CD. It starts with pop-rock(ish), then goes into pop-R&B, then hip hop, then rock, then country.

On the whole, Now 25 is a good selection of songs. The pop world has moved on in ten years obviously, but they still sound pretty good, and it is interesting to look back at what was popular a decade ago. Personally the three songs I enjoyed listening to the most this time were songs which I only heard from buying this CD and which weren’t big hits in the U.K. (‘I Tried’, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Before He Cheats’), while with a lot of the songs that were big hits in both countries, my interest has diminished a little over time from hearing them played so much, so I am pleased I bought this complialtion as I heard songs I liked I might not have heard otherwise.

Posted in Music, Now That's What I Call Music! | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Months Of The Year in the UK Singles Chart

Having done songs named after days of the week, now I move on to how the months of the year have been represented through chart entries in the Official UK Singles Chart.

Continue reading

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now 97

The cover for Now 97 has sun, sea, sand, speedboats, surfboards and ships, as well as planes, parachutes, palm trees and parrots. As often with the middle Now! release of the year it’s going for a summer holiday theme, in this case on a tropical island.

Track 1 on CD 1 is the unfortunately inescapable ‘Despacito (Remix)’ by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee, the remix adding some English lyrics and Justin Bieber. It’s very generic latin pop, and seeing a translation of the full lyrics into English, it’s incredibly sleazy. Still, it could be worse. At least it’s not track 2, ‘I’m The One’.

‘I’m The One’ has a long list of acts on it. They are, deep breath, DJ. Khaled feat. Justin Bieber (yep, him again), Quavo, Chance The Rapper & Lil Wayne. It’s an awful track though. The music is mind numbing and in your ear for ages, the sound of it is like a cheap old mobile phone circa 1998.

Then there’s track 3, ‘Feels’. God, I can’t stand it when people use “feels” to mean “feelings”. It just looks and sounds stupid! Anyway, it’s another track with a long cast list. Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean. I honestly don’t think this track would have been a hit without all those big names attached, as it is bland and forgettable.

The first song I actually liked on Now 97 is track 4, ‘Mama’ by Jonas Blue feat. William Singe. It’s a tropical house track about staying out all night, but telling their mother not to worry as they’ll be back in the morning. The CD booklet informs us that William Singe was in a boyband on the Australian version of The X Factor. Speaking of former X Factor boyband members, some of the former One Direction lads have solo material on here.

Liam Payne has the shrug of a pop-R&B song ‘Strip That Down’. It features Quavo. I always think of Quavers crisps whenever I see Quavo’s name! Harry Styles has ‘Sign
Of The Times’. The title is similar to one of Prince’s albums, Sign O’The Times and the track itself sounds like it was trying to be a David Bowie song, but it’s a little bit dull and pretentious really. Niall Horan has ‘Slow Hands’ which contains a line “like sweat dripping down my dirty laundry”. A romantic image for sure. Other than that, it’s a little boring. Songs by Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson aren’t on here, but I didn’t like those either. So, I’m afraid I haven’t liked any of the One Direction solo careers so far.

We also have a solo song from a former X Factor girlgroup member, though from the American version of the show. Ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello has ‘Crying In
The Club’, which is a pretty good moody, smoky dance-pop track which samples ‘Genie In A Bottle’ by Christina Aguilera.

‘Crying In The Club’ is track 19 on CD 1, and track 19 on CD 2 is none other than Fifth Harmony themselves! Although it’s unclear if they can be called Fifth Harmony anymore if there are only four of them. They could do what Five did when they got a cardboard cutout of Sean to stand in for him in the ‘Let’s Dance’ video after he left the band. Though for now the booklet says guest rapper Gucci Mane counts as the fifth member for the track on CD 2, ‘Down’.

The first track on CD 2 is French Montana feat. Swae Lee – ‘Unforgettable’. Oh, it’s just too easy to make a joke out of that song title. I wouldn’t say it was forgettable as such though, more it just blends into the background.

Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson got to number one with ‘Symphony’, which is quite a nice song, but one of those songs that when it’s on the radio and it comes on you and you change to another station and you find it’s on that one too!

Bruno Mars – ‘That’s What I Like’ talks of strawberries, champagne, jewellery, diamonds, silk sheets, making love by the fireplace, holidays abroad. Not a bad song as such, but it is very cheesy.

‘Power’ by Little Mix feat. Stormzy is a bit of an obnoixous, noisy mess, regardless of whether the point is to be “in your face” or not.

Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson duet on ‘Unpredictable’, which I think is the first time two The X Factor acts have collaborated! Well, apart from all those X Factor Finalist charity singles.

I like ‘Sun Comes Up’ by Rudimental feat. James Arthur more than any other track I’ve heard of James Arthur’s, but it is still a bit summer-song-by-the-numbers.

‘Swalla’, by Jason Derulo feat. Nicki Minaj & Ty Dolla $ign, has an annoying, repetitive electronic beat, and it’s like they keep shouting random words out like Father Jack Hackett in Father Ted. One of those random words is even “DRINK!”.

‘Remember I Told You’ by Nick Jonas feat. Anne-Marie & Mike Posner reminded me of “‘member I told you!” Alexandra from Big Brother 9. Although I can’t remember what Alexandra told us, and I can’t remember how the song ‘Remember I Told You’ goes either.

CD 2 has lots of random capitalisation, which makes it look like you should be SHOUTING that word out: Maggie Lindemann – ‘Pretty Girl (Cheat Codes X CAPE Remix)’. Kendrick Lamar – ‘HUMBLE’. Some acts too, NEIKID feat. MIMI. HAIM and RAYE.

Speaking of RAYE, Jax Jones feat. RAYE – ‘You Don’t Know Me’ was one of the best dance songs of this year, and they are both on Now 97 with separate tracks. Producer Jax Jones teams up with Demi Lovato & Stefflon Don for ‘Instruction’, a song about being in a club. Meanwhile singer RAYE has ‘The Line’, a song about queueing up for a club. I do like the video for ‘The Line’, it’s fun and quite brilliantly trashy.

My favourite song on here is ‘Something Just Like This’ by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay. They surprisingly produce a nice sound together! Granted, it’s nothing groundbreaking. The drop is recycled from Chainsmokers feat. ROZES’ song ‘Roses’, and lyrically the song sounds like almost any stadium rock band being asked to write a superhero movie end credits theme song. But I still really like it! The protagonist compares himself to superheroes and legendary figures and thinks he doesn’t measure up, but his girlfriend tells him she isn’t looking for a fairytale anyway, and she loves him for who he is. It’s quite sweet really!

The other contender for my favourite song on Now 97 is ‘Came Here For Love’ by Sigala & Ella Eyre. This tropical house track is such an uplifting song, and Ella Eyre’s vocals are great!

I also like ‘Your Song’ by Rita Ora. It’s not a cover of the Elton John track, it’s a pop song about falling in love, and only wanting to hear love songs rather than sad songs. It was co-written by Ed Sheeran, and you can probably tell with some of the more down to earth lyrics (sleeping on a best friend’s couch, flats and taxis).

Despite his dominance of the UK singles chart, Ed Sheeran doesn’t appear on here himself, but he still makes his way in the background. As well as co-writing ‘Your Song’ for Rita Ora,  he also co-wrote Liam Payne’s song.

‘The Cure’ by Lady Gaga is one of the best songs on here. While it is quite generic R&B-pop ballad, the icy production and the rather understated way Lady Gaga sings it make it all the more powerful really. Lady Gaga might not be as popular as she once was, but she is good.

‘There For You’ by Martin Garrix & Troye Sivian is a song I feel I should like more than I actually do. It’s well put together, and I think they are both very talented, but the song doesn’t really do anything for me.

I LOVE ‘Most Girls’ by Hailee Steinfeld. It has a catchy tune and a brilliant message. From the title I thought it was going to be one of those “I’m not like all those other girls” songs, which are mostly about putting down other girls. Not so! It says that most girls are strong, smart and beautiful, they should embrace what makes them unique and individual because they are all great in their own way. This song is so refreshing!

I feel I should say that on my Now 96 review I said I didn’t like ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ by Sigrid, which I take back wholeheartedly now, I like Sigrid’s voice and ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ has become one of my top tracks of the year so far!

The final tracks on CD 1 and CD 2 are charity singles released after horrific tragedies.

I always thought ‘One Last Time’ by Ariana Grande was a great song, but it has an added poignancy now. It has become and anthem for and a tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester Arena earlier this year. It was re-released as a charity single after the One Love Manchester benefit concert that Ariana Grande organised to raise money for the victims and their families.

CD 2 ends with ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Artists For Grenfell. It is a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s famous song and was released with proceeds going to help people effected by the Grenfell Tower fire. It managed to go to the top of the UK singles chart on just 2 days of sales.

As for Now 97 as a whole, it is fine. The good ones here are great, and even the average ones are reasonable. It’s a decent compilation.

Posted in Music, Now That's What I Call Music! | Tagged , , | Leave a comment