Released- 19th November 2001
A tragedy… the shaping event of the early 21st century… Yep, that’s right. Autumn 2001 was the release of the first iPod, and ever since then, culturally it’s been acceptable to buy an inferior product that will break within 2 years, so long as it looks nice. Still, at least Barack Obama eventually managed to kill Steve Jobs in his compound in San Francisco.
In my final year at school, doing my A levels and looking at universities. I go to look round UCL on September 11th. The events of the day put me off somewhat, and I swear off ever living in a big city, a decision I will not keep to. In less bleak memories, me and a few friends start a monthly open mic in our common room, which is good larks.
If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were cut due to an arbitrary limit, that track would be… by the half of South London who were members of So Solid Crew. Argh, still have six words left… Antipathti done.
Track by Track Breakdown
Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”
Actual, pure, pop genius. Minimal, surprisingly slow, with a wonderful counterpoint between the synth and the drums, which are permanently half a beat out, making the track sound… bouncy. Kylie couldn’t feasibly ever outdo this song.
Westlife – “Uptown Girl”
Get the hell off Billy Joel. Luckily, faithful enough that I don’t have to hurt anyone for messing with the Piano Man. They should count their lucky stars. Also, around this time, a dear friend of mine used to sing the line, ‘When my ship comes in,’ to communicate that he had partaken of intercourse the night before. Which still tickles me.
DJ Ötzi – “Hey Baby!”
An abomination that you still have to tolerate from particularly bad wedding DJs. Bring back the death penalty, I say.
Bob The Builder – “Mambo No. 5”
Who doesn’t love the strange appropriation of former pop hits by cartoon characters? Me. If it ain’t the Wombles, it can very well do one.
Steps – “Chain Reaction”
Oh come on! Completely unnecessary cover of a disco classic. The driving rhythm still makes it bearable, but not worth switching versions for.
Five – “Let’s Dance”
Joining Blue in the millenial boy band canon, here’s the bad boy group. They’re so edgy. This isn’t bad, but I know they have better to come.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor – “Take Me Home”
I’ve never quite trusted the ease with which she ditched britpop with theaudience and jumped on the disco house bandwagon. Song’s alright though.
Wyclef Jean – “Perfect Gentleman”
Like Will.I.Am’s way cooler uncle. This is a beautiful song about falling in love with a stripper. Genuinely. It’s great.
City High – “What Would You Do?”
Subtle as a sledgehammer attempt at some pop conscious hip hop. There’s a completely unnecessary ‘ooh’ at the end of each chorus. Embarrassing but catchy!
Blue – “If You Come Back”
Blue’s main problem is that for every All Rise there is a trite ballad that’s no good. This is mostly pants, saved at the brink by a very strong chorus.
Nelly Furtado – “Turn Off the Light”
The whole of her first album is brilliant. Very rare for a pop artist! This is a bit more groove laden than I’m Like a Bird but her laid back delivery kills it.
OPM – “Heaven Is a Halfpipe”
I really hope heaven isn’t. When I was 15 I spent an afternoon trying to learn to drop in on a quarter pipe. Only ended up with concussion. Irritating attempt to appropriate skate culture that falls far short of the magnificent Tony Hawk games of the time.
The Dandy Warhols – “Bohemian Like You”
It’s not their best song (they were all on ‘…Come Down’, the album preceding this) but they beat Nathan Barley by three years and Portlandia by about a decade in laughing at hipsters as a pastime. Good work chaps.
Alien Ant Farm – “Smooth Criminal”
This was the first single I ever owned. The original Michael Jackson version. But I do like this pop metal version too. Who wouldn’t enjoy such silliness?
Sum 41 – “Fat Lip”
Fuck you for making an entire generation think that this shite is punk. I blame Green Day more, but you’re Goebbels to their Hitler.
Wheatus – “A Little Respect”
Not a patch on Erasure, but much like Alien Ant Farm, the silliness and joy of the damn thing hides a lot of its inferiority!
Travis – “Sing”
Travis finally make it onto one of these… After all their big singles have been and gone. Not bad, but let’s face it, their best days have been and gone already.
Jennifer Lopez – “Ain’t It Funny”
Good fun, Spanish guitars and Gospel R&B collide quite pleasantly.
Emma Bunton – “Take My Breath Away”
With the exception of Posh, every Spice Girls solo single sounds like it would have been current about 3 summers earlier. Not horrible, but dated and dull.
Gabrielle – “Don’t Need the Sun to Shine (To Make Me Smile)”
It just happens really. Not terrible, but pretty unnecessary.
Lighthouse Family – “(I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be) Free / One”
Really? They thought they were good enough to take on Nina Simone? Wow. Arrogant. Even Jeff Buckley failed (admirably) with Lilac Wine. Adding a bit of U2’s good songs only makes matters worse.
Kate Winslet – “What If”
It’s nice. Boring as hell. But she has a very nice singing voice. Better actress than a singer though.
iiO – “Rapture”
I used to cover this very sarcastically at open mics. Mainly to demonstrate that it’s one of those songs that is very poor, hiding behind a beat.
Supermen Lovers – “Starlight”
More disco styled house. This is one subgenre of house that I literally cannot get enough of. Probably due to a love of French culture.
Jamiroquai – “Little L”
I swear it’s the same song every time with Jay Kay. And the same stupid hat. Still, it’s a goodish song. Over and over again.
Destiny’s Child – “Bootylicious”
Destiny’s Child never do a bad song (as long as you deny they ever released a Christmas album). It’s actually that good, I don’t think anyone can handle this… woo!
D12 – “Purple Hills”
And so the wheels start to come off of the Eminem Show. No doubt he is a supremely gifted rapper, but this was the first point at which he stopped with the quality control, started repeating himself, and demonstrated that the throne was available. Doesn’t help that at the same time, Jay Z released ‘The Blueprint’.
Eve featuring Gwen Stefani – “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”
Possibly the sexiest guitar riff ever used in hip hop (cheers Dr Dre) and a real change of scene for Gwen Stefani too. Eve has a damnably good flow as well. Another one who deserves to still be bigger in the game.
Britney Spears – “I’m a Slave 4 U”
Teaming up with The Neptunes revitalises her career. At this point, everything Pharrell touches turns to gold, and he’s not even wearing a stupid hat.
Mis-Teeq – “One Night Stand”
Big driving R&B. Look, I really like Mis-Teeq. I know it may not be right. But it’s good nonetheless.
Mary J. Blige – “Family Affair”
I can’t say that I always love MJB. But I always enjoy this string backed bunch of attitude.
Samantha Mumba – “Baby Come On Over”
Lazy, trite and incredibly of its time. Amazed I lasted all 3 minutes.
Liberty – “Thinking It Over”
Another reality TV band. These guys have the sense to try and be a bit more edgy though. This lifts a garage beat… later on they’ll make killer pop with Richard X.
Victoria Beckham – “Not Such an Innocent Girl”
Okay… I was nice earlier, but this song is a perfect illustration of why she is better placed in Hello magazine shoots than record shop shelving.
Louise – “Stuck in the Middle with You”
Given the natural association you’d make with this song… it’s ironic that it makes you want to cut your own damn ears off.
Geri Halliwell – “Scream If You Wanna Go Faster”
An absolute mess of a song. Like, who approved the mix on this. It needs another good week’s work.
ALLstars – “Things That Go Bump in the Night”
I don’t really believe in the whole ‘guilty pleasures’ school of thought of music. You either like a thing or you don’t. But if somebody caught me listening to this, even for the purposes of writing this review, I would actually die of embarrassment. It’s that bad.
N-Trance – “Set You Free”
This was originally on Now 30, back in 1995! As ever, I cannot be bothered to rereview, so here’s what I said all those weeks/years before…
Anthemic. I listened to this track about eight times, and I have nothing more to say on the matter. Go and listen to it eight times. Enjoy.
The Ones – “Flawless”
A bit of a classic. Freaky vocal filter, funked up bassline, absolutely great, this one.
Daft Punk – “Digital Love”
Put your helmets on and dance. Daft Punk come and correctly rearrange disco house in their own image.
Groove Armada – “Superstylin'”
If the Now! albums have lacked anything so far it’s BASS. Thank Groove Armada for rectifying this.
Jean-Jacques Smoothie – “2 People”
Minnie Riperton can never be a bad thing ever. Do check out the original, Inside My Love, which manages to be one of the dirtiest songs ever without ever being explicit. As of today, I’ve outlived Ms Riperton by a day.
So Solid Crew – “21 Seconds”
Every time I hear this, I have to count to check none of them cheat the time limit. I love this song. None of the raps are that great, they’re clearly chancing it, but it’s just so irresistibly jumpy and fun.
Afroman – “Because I Got High”
An absolute novelty song, but by coinciding with my own enjoyment of weed, I have a soft spot for it. Still a good excuse for anything. I was gonna write a decent blog…
25.5 out of 44. 58% and the best selection for years! Honestly, rather enjoyable trip through a great 4 months in pop.
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.