Released- 27th March 2015
Hmm. Yeezy is on a worldwide tour saying odd things and getting press for it. Madonna is appropriating world leaders to promote her new album, and offering caution on autoerotic asphyxiation. And if you haven’t checked out the new Modest Mouse and Heems records, you’re missing out.
I’m 31. As is Now! I am running as a councillor for the Green Party, and I’m full of anticipation for the future of my country (happy St Georges Day by the way, he’s my favourite Middle Eastern saint). I’m writing a blog entry at the moment…
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were to be garotted by their enormous showy cape, that track would be… Heartbeat Song by Kelly Clarkson. She’s brilliant and it’s just so damn infectious. The whole thing is hook.
Track by Track Breakdown
Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – “Uptown Funk”
If Marvin Gaye’s greedy family got £9 million from Robin Thicke for Blurred Lines, I expect The Gap Band will shortly be buying an Eastern European nation with the settlement from this track! Still, never anything wrong with The Gap Band.
Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”
Makes me feel old. I just can’t see what sets him apart from any other mopey open mic night pleb, save for an engorged marketing budget.
Years & Years – “King”
There are some really good Years & Years tracks, but despite some nice filters and touches, this never really gets beyond decent.
Maroon 5 – “Sugar”
I’ll wait for the Maroon 6 to come out. This one’s clearly faulty and out of date.
James Bay – “Hold Back the River”
Nice, unremarkable Radio 2 rock ballad. Unfortunately he seems like one of those irritants who feels a hat is adequate in lieu of a personality.
Sam Smith – “Like I Can”
Amusingly, having stolen Tom Petty’s melody before, he’s now nicked the guitar line from the same song here. I think Sam Smith may be Tom Petty’s pension. The song is pretty good to be fair.
Olly Murs featuring Demi Lovato – “Up”
Two very likeable performers, even if their music isn’t always necessarily world shaking.
Meghan Trainor – “Lips Are Movin”
Silly subject matter- check. Infectiously annoying- check. Meghan Trainor is the new Daphne and Celeste. This is meant as high praise.
Jess Glynne – “Hold My Hand”
I may have used her collaborators, Microsoft ad men Clean Bandit, as an example of how pop dance hasn’t moved on in twenty years in my review of Now 25. In her defense, she has a great voice, and I can only hope that a songwriter provides material more deserving of it in future.
Sia – “Elastic Heart”
Thanks be to Sia. It does make the other pop seem rather drab by comparison, when something this quirky and eclectic can still go massively pop, and do it so bloody well.
Ben Haenow – “Something I Need”
The original of this was huge when I was in Australia. This version isn’t as good, but still carries some of the originals anthemicness over with it. Also, I really want him to cover Don’t Dream it’s Over by Crowded House before his career ends. Just for giggles.
Take That – “These Days”
At just three members left, and a reunion that appears to have lasted longer than the original union, you get the sense the wheels are coming off a bit…
One Direction – “Night Changes”
Terribly predictable. Joke about Zayn. Harry still looks sinister.
Alesso featuring Tove Lo – “Heroes (We Could Be)”
I try to be positive doing this, but I’m already a week overdue on this album, and frankly there is nothing good whatsoever about this, which doesn’t help.
Kelly Clarkson – “Heartbeat Song”
Always love a bit of Kelly Clarkson. Somehow it sounds derivative of a whole bunch of classic songs, yet unmistakably her. In a fantastic 80’s/2000’s pop way.
Calvin Harris featuring HAIM – “Pray to God”
I quite like HAIM. I quite dislike Calvin Harris. This falls about in the middle. Before it goes all pointless Ibiza twat, it’s a good Fleetwood Mac pastiche. The inevitable drop is less intrusive than it could have been. Overall? Pretty good.
David Guetta featuring Emeli Sandé – “What I Did for Love”
If anyone understands what David Guetta does can you let me know? It seems like everyone wants to work with him, but every track he does appears to be the same plod house with a featured celebrity these days.
Usher featuring Juicy J – “I Don’t Mind”
This actually really cute. Bless Lil Usher. He’s like a teeny tiny sweetie. It’s not Yeah or anything, but it is nice and pretty simple, in a good way.
Marlon Roudette – “When the Beat Drops Out”
Wetter than Chris Martin’s pissed sheets. It is to music what over boiled cabbage is to steak.
Chris Brown & Tyga – “Ayo”
Any review of Chris Brown (as with John Lennon and Peter Cook) is tempered by the fact he’s a woman hating shit bag. But also by the fact he has a really fruity voice. This track is carried by Tyga. Not too bad.
Fergie – “L.A. Love (La La)”
When you hear her gloriously dumb flow, you have to wonder why Will.I.Am gets all the Black Eyed Peas love. Great fun- almost as good as Glamorous.
Tough Love – “So Freakin’ Tight”
2015 is so 1993. Or 2004. Dance music at this end really hasn’t even inched forward. Even the video could be Call On Me or something by 2 Unlimited.
Philip George “Wish You Were Mine”
Now That’s What I Call 1993. Good for what is. Which is Livin Joy’s Dreamer with 50% less fun and 30% more pitch shift.
Avicii – “The Nights”
Somebody not only combined Mumford and Sons with David Guetta, they made it popular too. There is not a method of death gruesome enough to satisfy my need for this Frankenstein to die.
Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding – “Outside”
They were both in a room and no one set fire to it and yet people still believe there is a god.
David Guetta featuring Sam Martin – “Dangerous”
It is amusing when someone this autotuned and soft tries to carry a song with an edgy title. Cute, like when your Nan swears. Not by any means good though.
Flo Rida featuring Sage the Gemini & Lookas – “G.D.F.R.”
Yeah. I like this one. Ridiculous horn part and I always like an acronym. Going Down For Real, for your information.
DJ Fresh featuring Ella Eyre – “Gravity”
I swear DJ Fresh used to have more variety to his songs. This is a female vocalist, then the Amen break kicks in and out around her. Like every other one. I love the Amen break. But this is like having ribs for every meal… eventually you’ll want chicken.
Sigma featuring Labrinth – “Higher”
It’s all a little bit Jesus Walks without the purpose, then a generic drum and bass beat kicks in. Does better than the sum of it’s parts would suggest.
Tchami featuring Kaleem Taylor – “Promesses”
Acceptably wubby popstep. Reminds me of the latter days of 2000’s garage when every South Londoner with a laptop was featured on a 3cd compilation…
Blonde featuring Melissa Steel – “I Loved You”
Pure 90’s dance. Not quite as forgivable given 20 years of musical advances, but it just survives on my moderate amusement.
Oliver Heldens featuring KStewart – “Last All Night (Koala)”
I assume Koala would be the instrumental of this track. Which would be amazing. 80’s cop show house. Unfortunately the clichéd average female vocalist saying something sexual trope kicks in and let’s the whole track down.
Wretch 32 – “6 Words”
Somehow it manages to remain a ballad while throwing in drum and bass beats. Actually a technically impressive feat!
Charli XCX featuring Rita Ora – “Doing It”
Argh. It’s not bad, more average, but deeply frustrating given that at her best, Charli XCX can be truly brilliant.
Ne-Yo – “Coming with You”
Through his weak ass voice, it sounds like it’s actually called ‘Car Me Wee Shoe’.
Cheryl – “I Don’t Care”
Whoever produced Cheryl the artist formerly known as Cole’s latest deserves credit, neither track I’ve heard has been bad. This isn’t as good as Crazy Stupid Love, but still isn’t all bad.
Karen Harding – “Say Something”
Bleak but bouncing dance track. About three times better than I just made that sound…
Gorgon City featuring Jennifer Hudson – “Go All Night”
Again, very 90’s. I can only assume there’s now a vintage 90’s bad house scene. The bass has improved marginally since then. That’s about it. This could be Now 26.
Alex Adair – “Make Me Feel Better”
At last some decent sounding dance music. Slightly chilling and stark marimba.
Labrinth – “Jealous”
Very sweet. Possibly not all that melodically exciting, but cute and a little moving, in its simplicity.
Ella Henderson – “Yours”
Ella Henderson isn’t normally my kind of thing, but the warm, resonant, bassy piano and subtlety of the arrangement makes this add up to more than it initially appears.
Rixton – “Wait on Me”
A little bit different. Slightly dance hall, slightly R&B, slightly like Ratatat. A bright point in an otherwise fairly bleak selection.
McBusted – “Air Guitar”
Amazing. What was awful a decade ago becomes endearing now. Especially as the original bands have now formed the King Ghidra* of pop punk by combining Busted and Mcfly into one fast food sounding whole.
Florence and the Machine – “What Kind of Man”
Hi. I want Kate Bush, but I only have £1.25. Is there any sort of pound shop version? Kate Shrub? Katherine Herbaceous Border? I suppose Florence will have to do…
Sam Smith – “Lay Me Down”
A bit boring. It’s nice. Emotive. But shallow and empty and not even the version with the infinitely more talented John Legend.
21 out of 45. 47% is a lot higher than I felt about this while listening to it. An interminably long retro house section nearly broke me listening to this one. And now I have to go back to a 90’s Now, and hear more of the same. GAH!
This article is part of a series, chronicling a foolish attempt to chronicle the history of modern pop, through the Now That’s What I Call Music series. All the previous articles, and some other fun stuff, can be found here.
* 3 headed nemesis of Godzilla. Geek ed.