In my quest to review the entire history of pop through the medium of the Now albums, I have now listened to 305 songs by 192 different artists, across 10 seperate volumes of the series, which puts me in a hideously unique position as a data geek (and has also permanently affected my ability to accurately judge music forever). I now have a large amount of information on all manner of musical matters.
For example, up to this point, Phil Collins leads the pack, including his work with late era Genesis, with eight tracks on the first ten Now! albums. He’s closely followed by Queen (including a couple of Freddie solo tracks) and UB40 with seven a piece, and Duran Duran, Tina Turner and Madness on five each.
But as we know, quantity is not necessarily quality. So who are the best artists involved in the series? More entertainingly, who are the worst? And most importantly, why does Paul Weller anger me so?
The Best of the Best
I’ve judged this purely on artists who have featured three or more times. All songs are rated on my highly scientific scale of one point for a good song, half a point for an average one, and nothing for a pants one. So the top 5 artists of the mid 80’s, as proven by science are as follows:
1) Pet Shop Boys – 100% from 3 songs – I can only recommend you buy a best of post haste.
2) Queen – 93% from 7 songs – Let down only by It’s a Hard Life. Which isn’t even that bad a song!!!
3) Nik Kershaw/The Housemartins– 88% from 4 songs – Both massively underrated acts. Well overdue for a renaissance.
4) Communards- 83% from 6 songs – And only because there was a weak Bronski Beat song, so I feel a little harsh!
5) Eurythmics/Simply Red – 83% from 3 songs – Cannot believe that Simply Red did so well back then. Genuinely good band, back then at least. Science has proven they are the equals of Lennox and Stewart. Crivens!
The Worst of the Worst
1) Style Council– 0% from 4 songs – Paul Weller is the devil.
2) Big Country/Level 42/Jaki Graham/Howard Jones– 12.5% from 4 songs – None of these bands are especially awful (see Weller, Paul), but they’re consistently just there, a bland piece of filler, doing nothing of worth.
3) Gary Moore/Marillion– 17% from 3 songs – Both bland rockists, filling space that could have been filled by any number of more exciting bands, more representative of the interesting end of 80’s rock.
4) Simple Minds– 25% from 4 songs- Forgiven, for having written (Don’t You) Forget About Me
5) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark– 33% from 3 songs – They’re just not very interesting.
At last the Mixtape (s)! The weirdest of Now!. 1983-1987
Simple enough. A collection of the tracks that made me think WHAT IS GOING ON!?! WHO BOUGHT THIS?!? from the first 4 years of Now.
It contains a guide to kissing, a song about a ghost soldier, a CGI TV host, William Shatner impersonations, the cast of Eastenders, the plot of a Marlowe play, and cricket statistics. How many mixtapes can you say that about, eh?
Damn you Taylor Swift! The last two tracks weren’t on Spotify. They are here in YouTube form…
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