This is the first Now That’s What I Call Music! release after Now! 100
The cover is a very attractive one! It is in Earth’s orbit, with the Moon, satellites, space stations, shooting stars and galaxies all in view. The Now! logo itself is flying up rather like a rocket, and it is very shiny and silver with bright colours reflected in it. It’s one of their best covers in a long time. I actually think it also looks fairly retro too, like something which might have come out in the ’90s.
Getting the coveted track 1 CD1 placing are Little Mix feat. Nicki Minaj with ‘Woman Like Me’. The song is co-written by Ed Sheeran and Jess Glynne and with production by Steve Mac, it sounds very current and “now”, for want of a better word. It actually started life as a Jess Glynne solo track, but she decided not to include it on her album, then Little Mix got hold of it, a few tweaks were made, Nicki Minaj was added, and here we are.
And of course, Jess Glynne has a solo song on here too! It’s ‘All I Am’, and, well, it’s a Jess Glynne solo song. It’s nice and pleasant if bland and vanilla, it’s very playlist friendly, you quite like it when you hear it but you forget about it almost instantly and have no desire to listen to it again, but when it inevitably comes on again, you once again quite like it.
Calvin Harris & Sam Smith got to number one with ‘Promises’, a languid, mid-tempo dance track, and it’s pretty sweet natured as “one night stand” songs go! I found “magic is in the air, there ain’t no science here” quite interesting as a romantic lyric.
There are quite a few songs I really like on here!
One is ‘Let You Love Me’ by Rita Ora. It’s a hypnotic electropop song about being scared of trusting someone enough to be their partner, even though they want to let themselves have love.
‘Ocean’ by Martin Garrix feat. Khalid is rather beautiful. The CD booklet says it has live orchestral strings. They give the track a touch of class. Martin Garrix’s production is lovely on this song, and I agree with the booklet text which says it showcases Khalid’s voice well. It showcases it more than Khalid’s solo track does on this compilation, strangely, which is a mid-tempo R&B love song called ‘Better’.
‘Happier’ by Marshmello & Bastille is one of the most successful charting songs for both acts, reaching number 2 in the UK and number 3 in the US. It’s an indie and dance song, an I Want My Beloved To Be Happy style break-up song similar in theme to ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele. Still in love with somebody, but they aren’t in love with you, and realising that if that’s the case if you really love them then you have to let them go etc. Credit to Bastille’s singer Dan Smith, he might not be as gifted a vocalist as Adele, but he really sells the heartbreak on this track. Marshmello’s production gives it an added gloss you don’t tend to get on Bastille songs. The video has nothing to do with the song really, but it is a massive tearjerker, with a girl growing up getting bullied, getting a puppy, the puppy growing up to be a dog but having to be put down, and the girl growing up to be a mother who buys her daughter a puppy.
Another song I really like, but on the opposite side of the mood scale is ‘Electricity’ by Silk City & Dua Lipa feat. Diplo & Mark Ronson. It’s a very catchy “joy of being in love” house song. Dua Lipa makes a fantastic dance diva as we saw on the Calvin Harris track ‘One Kiss’, and honestly I think she sounds even better on ‘Electricity’!
Benny Blanco, Halsey & Khalid reached number one with their track ‘Eastside’. Benny Blanco is a producer and songwriter who has worked with lots of current big stars, and now he’s managed to get a number one himself with his debut single!
US number one ‘I Like It’ by Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin is a Latin trap song, a genre which is very popular at the moment, but it has actually been around in some form since the noughties. ‘I Like It’ has a huge list of people in the songwriting credits, which is partly because it has three artists on it, and also because it has three producers and a few samples as well, most notably the 1967 song ‘I Like It Like That’ by Pete Rodriguez. It also makes a reference to ‘Paparazzi’ by Lady Gaga.
Cardi B also features on a Maroon 5 track on this CD, called ‘Girls Like You’, and it’s crap, but, well it’s a Maroon 5 song so it’s to be expected. If they ever gave a toss about what they were putting out, they sure as hell don’t now.
‘In My Mind’ by Dynoro & Gigi D’Agostino is a rather peculiar sounding track, which may be something to do with it having a long journey to get to where it is now and picking up a lot of other elements along the way! The original version of ‘In My Mind’ was a house song by Ivan Gough, Fenixpawl and Georgi Kay in 2012, (although it didn’t make music charts until it was remixed by Axwell, and later on Flo Rida and the original artists made a new version). Anyway, in 2017 Dynoro did his own version, but added a hook from ‘L’amour toujours’ by Gigi D’Agostino. And I think the version that was a big hit is yet another remix too!
‘High Hopes’ by Panic! At The Disco is their highest charting single ever, and it actually sounds a lot like the songs they released when they first broke through in 2006, albeit ‘High Hope’ has more bombastic production than those songs did.
‘Funky Friday’ by Dave & Fredo entered straight in at number one. It is pretty groundbreaking for a song by two British rappers to do that! The production is very good,
and it is by Dave himself, along with 169, and Dave plays most of the instruments on it too. It’s also from his own record label!
‘Pray For Me’ by The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar is on the soundtrack to the Marvel superhero film Black Panther. In fact Kendrick Lamar contributed to the entire soundtrack of that film!
‘One Shot’ by Mabel is a fine pop track with a rather exotic sound and is probably my favourite song of hers to date.
Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini/McQueen/Fisher/Costello/Browning/Owen – OK, I’m only joking, she is simply credited as “Cheryl” nowadays. Anyway, Cheryl has a
track called ‘Love Made Me Do It’, referencing her past relationships generally if not specifically. It was co-written with, among others, Cheryl’s fellow Girls Aloud bandmate Nicola Roberts, and apparently Kylie Minogue and Nastasha Beddingfield too!
Cheryl’s ex Liam Payne also has a song on here, featuring on a Jonas Blue track, which also features a singer called Lennon Stella. I thought it read “lemon stella” for a second, making me wonder if they’d brought out a lemon flavour of Stella Artois lager. But no, Lennon Stella is an American singer and actress. The song they are all on is called ‘Polaroid’. Isn’t it a bit strange people are still referencing Polaroids? I didn’t know people still bothered with them in the age of camera phones and Instagram!
‘Baby’ by Clean Bandit feat. Marina And The Diamonds & Luis Fonsi, is generic-as-hell Latin pop. Clean Bandit and Marina And The Diamonds have collaborated before on
‘Disconnect’, a song about how spending too much time on the internet can have a bad effect on your mental wellbeing, and that was a lot more interesting a song than ‘Baby’, but ‘Baby’ was a much bigger hit. I guess ‘Baby’ is more in tune with what’s “in” at the moment though.
I get that they probably wanted to include something from the soundtrack to Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, but ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’ seems a little random. Perhaps
they couldn’t secure the rights to ‘Fernando’ by Cher, as that is the one people talked about. Then they could have made reference to Cher’s ABBA covers album too!
‘No Brainer’ is a sort-of sequel to ‘I’m The One’, in that it features most of the same people (DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Quavo). Lil Wayne isn’t on it though. I’m not sure a follow up to ‘I’m The One’ was necessary really. “No brains” kind of sums both those obnoxious tracks up.
It may be too easy a pun to say that ‘Taki Taki’ by DJ Snake feat. Selena Gomez, Ozuna and Cardi B is “tacky, tacky” but, well if the boot fits. It is unlistenable, and it has a horrible, grating sound running through it.
‘Ay Caramba’ by Stay Flee Get Lizzy feat. Fredo & Young T & Bugsey is nothing to do with the Bart Simpson catchphrase. They are in fact a clothing brand. According to the CD booklet, this track is “the first single to be released in the UK by a clothing label”. So that’s… that, I suppose.
I quite like ‘079ME’ by B Young. It is a bit overloaded with social media/mobile phone references, but the production is decent.
‘Panic Room’ by Au/Ra & CamelPhat talks of a room full of your worst fears. As this is Now! 101 I guess that is apt, as Room 101 was the room where your worst fears were in Nineteen Eighty-Four. But I’m not sure the song title itself fits! I thought the idea of a panic room was that it was somewhere you could hide out protected from a threat?
Sigala & Ella Eyre & Meghan Trainor feat. French Montana (another song with a huge cast list!) are on here with ‘Just Got Paid’, a song about blowing your whole work wage to drink and party, thinking that you really should be saving up, paying the bills and doing proper grown up stuff, but concluding that what the hell, you’ve worked for it, you might as well go and have fun.
Now 101 is pretty good! I like the dance influence on pop music shown on this CD. On the whole, I really enjoyed this compilation!