Now That’s What I Call Christmas

Okay… its a repost from last year. But it’s Christmas. And this album doesn’t change much each year. From a quick glance, I think there’s one song I haven’t covered in this article.

Sooo. In the spirit of completeness;

Idina MenzelDo You Want to Build a Snowman

A worthy addition to the Christmas song canon. But Let it Go is clearly better.



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. This, however, is a break from the norm to review an annual offshoot of the series, compiling (in theory) the best Christmas songs of all time onto three fun packed discs.

Released- 3rd November 2014 (Though, let’s face it, there’s one every year)

Music History

2000 years ago, in a manger, Jesus was born. 1950 odd years later, pop music was born. The two work well together.

Me Holiday History

Originally a Roman festival called Saturnalia, and appropriated by Christianity under the Emperor Constantine as the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday. In fairness, Jesus is pretty cool about the whole thing, and doesn’t want presents himself, and is just like, ‘Guys…

View original post 2,443 more words



A sort of companion to last week’s turkish delight recipe, except where that was simple, this is hardcore. You can make it simply by shopping online or living in North East London, where ready made filo pastry can be purchased.

Despite having two books on baking, I didn’t have a recipe for filo pastry. Despite being judgemental on the Great British Bake Off, even the sainted Paul Hollywood tells you to just to buy frozen filo! The filo recipe is by Michel Roux, and seems to come out pretty well.

Also, baklava is just crispy, nutty, syrupy heaven, so it’s worth every ounce of effort.



200g flour
170ml warm water (warmed to 50c)
1 tsp salt
15ml olive oil
Cornflour (for dusting)


300g shelled pistachios
125g butter (melted)


300ml water
500g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp rosewater
Some orange zest


So, are you brave? Are you going to try to make impossible pastry? Good on you. If not I’ve stuck a heading below for you so you can start from there.

Still reading? Okay! In a large bowl, mix together the flour salt and water until they all start to come together. As they do, pour the olive oil in in a thin stream, like you’re making mayonnaise.

Beat for another 5 minutes, and it should be soft and sticky. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and dust it lightly with some cornflour.

Pull the dough into 60g balls, about the size of a small satsuma, and lay on the baking tray. Cover with cling film, and leave somewhere cool for about 2 hours.


After 2 hours, dust your work surface with cornflour and roll each ball out into pieces about the size of your baking tray. You want the pastry so thin you’ll be terrified to move it for fear it will break. At the very most, about 3mm thick. As you finish each piece, lay it on some cling film, then lay more cling film on top for the next piece.

Anything you don’t use will keep well in the freezer, well wrapped in cling film.

Recipe for cowards

Preheat your oven to 180c.

Welcome back! So… If you have a food processor, stick the shelled pistachios in there and blend them up. If not, stick them in a sandwich bag, wrap it in a teatowel, picture the face of someone you hate, then beat it with a rolling pin until they’re reduced to crumbs.


In a suitably sized tin, place a layer of pastry. Brush this with melted butter all over, then add a thin layer of pistachio crumbs. Lay over more pastry, brush again, nuts again, until you have 5 or 6 layers of pastry. Pre-slice these into pieces about 2cm each. Pick whaterlver shape you fancy.

Stick this in the oven for 30 minutes, until puffed up and golden.

While this cooks, put the water and sugar in a pan over a high heat. Bring it to a pretty firm boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the lemon, rose water and orange zest.

Pour half of this over the baklava as soon as it comes out, then the other half at least 10 minutes later.

Eat sparingly. It’s syrupy and will be too rich for a full blown binge. Trust me… I tried.


Now That’s What I Call Music 53


Released-  18th November 2002

Music History

A good year for TV talent shows, which create Girls Aloud and Kelly Clarkson.  Sad day for hip hop, as Jam Master Jay dies. I saw Run DMC at reading the year before. A sad loss.

Me History

I’ve started university. I won’t finish. I live in a shared house on the outskirts of Canterbury, and I am physically incapable of cooking or cleaning. My specialty is a quorn fillet with pesto smeared on it. The sadist in met wants to go back and sniff my house. Just once. And feel shame.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest are rightfully burned with all the remaining copies of Now 53, that track would be…  Dy Na Mi Tee by a mile.

Track by Track Breakdown

DJ Sammy & Yanou featuring Do“Heaven”

I get the appeal. I quite like the stripped down version. But with the cheese house backing, this just falls flat.

Las Ketchup –  “Aserejé (The Ketchup Song)”

One of those fantastic European crossover tracks that you can’t help but enjoy. Also, their entry for the 2006 Eurovision song contest, Cubalibre, is an underrated gem too!

Enrique Iglesias –  “Love to See You Cry”

Okay. So after the stalkery Escape, he’s now saying he loves to see you cry. No offense, but he sounds like the most abusive partner ever.

Sugababes –  “Round Round”

Two classic singles in a row! The Soulwax remix is one of life’s great joys too.

Atomic Kitten“The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)”

Is it better than the original? No. Is it better than the Blonde version? No. But still, it’s pretty much unruinable, so you’ve got away with it.

Blue –  “One Love”

Another enjoyable one of Blue’s ‘pop with attitude’ type singles. Would that they had done more of these and less ballads…


Darius Danesh is still the greatest thing ever to feature on a TV talent show. I’m just leaving this here…

Busted – “What I Go to School For”

Haha. I forgot this silly, childish pop rock song exists. Oh Busted. Hello. Welcome. How cute are you?

Liberty X“Got to Have Your Love”

A welcome Mantronix sample carries a good pop song here. Wow. It’s been about 50 Nows since the original featured!

Romeo featuring Christina Milian – “It’s All Gravy”

He was born into the wrong time. He throws out memeable lines like Drake, but memes aren’t a thing yet! Tumblr would have made you a legend.

Samantha Mumba –  “I’m Right Here”

An almost successful attempt to do what Aaliyah did. Stuttering stop start beats prevent, but she’s not quite got the charisma to pull it off.

ABS – “What You Got”

Did you think you could get away with sampling Uptown Top Ranking ABS from 5ive? It’s one of the best reggae tracks ever. You ever see me, Althea and Donna in our jeans an’ ting, you better run.

Britney Spears“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Amusing enough Joan Jett cover. Really… could do better but I’ll take it.

S Club Juniors“Automatic High”

I want to be objective, but this just won’t stop creeping me out. There’s something so wrong about the concept… so very Jonathan King. Shudder.

Kylie Minogue“Come into My World”

After a pretty great run, Kylie has fallen into a bit of a rut, where this could be a bit from any of her other, better singles of the past few years.

Jakatta featuring Seal“My Vision”

Jakatta are no Adamski. In fairness, Seal has such a great emotive voice this couldn’t be bad. But in comparison to his previous dance crossover efforts, this is a little flat.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor“Music Gets the Best of Me”

It’s almost cruel that they always stick her tracks after Kylie doing it better on these albums. Poor lass.

Kelly Llorenna –  “Heart of Gold”

On the cheese scale, this is a camenbert growing blue green fluffy mould. It stinks.

Milk Inc.“Walk on Water”

This is all getting a bit generic here. If it were a person, it would be wearing a vest and an Obey snapback.

Jan Wayne –  “Because the Night”

So much better when it appears to be an 80s power ballad. The euro beat and synths are completely unnecessary and detract from the good bits.


Like so much vocal house, it’s really promising till the vocal kicks in. Ah well.


It’s like the worst MC ever, at a rave where only 3 people turned up. Possibly a little endearing in its underwhelmingness.

Coldplay – “In My Place”

Remember when Coldplay weren’t huge and actually had to write good songs to keep going? I miss it. Everyone should just not buy their new album, get them working like this again.

Oasis –  “Little by Little”

You’re pretty much safe writing off anything Oasis do from now on.

U2“Electrical Storm”

Blander than anything they’ve done before. Like cooked pasta with no seasoning whatsoever.

Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott“Hero”

No offense Nickelback, but I still know it’s you from the way it plods along like a dog with three legs.

Richard Ashcroft –   “Check the Meaning”

Like the Verve, but without anyone to tell him the song needs more work. Not bad, but very dull.

Eva Cassidy – “Imagine”

Could this have been the moment that that godawful trend of recording great songs in a twee lullaby style began? Just listen to the original.

Vanessa Carlton –  “A Thousand Miles”

I realise that my masculinity is at threat here… but come on, this is really quite lovely. Overproduced maybe. But still beautiful.

Badly Drawn Boy –  “You Were Right”

Is the intro meant to sound like Digital Love? Because it really does. I like Badly Drawn Boy, but this one feels a bit directionless.

Ronan Keating“I Love It When We Do”

So middle of the road he’s falling over squashed hedgehogs.


Half of All Saints, and about half as good. My old band played on the same bill as them at a university ball! How far they had sunk…

Ms. Dynamite“Dy-Na-Mi-Tee”

Possibly the best British R&B song since Neneh Cherry went for cosy domesticity. Or possibly ever…

Beenie Man featuring Janet“Feel It Boy”

The Neptunes can’t make a bad track at the moment. The fact they’ve managed to blend two seemingly disparate artists is brilliant.

Daniel Bedingfield –  “James Dean (I Wanna Know)”

His good song’s been and gone. And so his sister starts plotting her moves…

Eminem“Without Me”

Come on… Two classic albums and nothing on a Now! album. His first weak (ish) song and they love him. A boat missed here…

Puddle of Mudd –  “She Hates Me”

Everyone does, you fake grunge horror.

Bowling for Soup –  “Girl All the Bad Guys Want”

Is this not just Teenage Dirtbag all over again? Amusing for two minutes, with a few very funny lines… Her CD changer’s full of singers who are mad at their dad… haha.


Their best has now passed, but this 70’s inflected stomper still hits the right notes. Finally a sound to match the sideburns.

Status Quo“Jam Side Down”

Strangely anachronistic, though aided by the preceding 70’s revivalism by Supergrass. Still, does this have any place on a pop compilation in 2002?

Raven Maize“Fascinated”

The best thing I can say about it is that I’ve never come across someone named after birds and grains before.

Who Da Funk featuring Jessica Eve – “Shiny Disco Balls”

Sinister and whispery. Can’t tell if that’s good or bad to be honest.

Oakenfold“Starry Eyed Surprise”

I’m trying to remember the band that this guy came from. They were terrible. Their big song was called Butterfly. Also, when did Paul Oakenfold lose his first name. It actually has quite a nice backing. But some of the most terrible rapping I have ever heard.

Edit- Crazy Town. They were called Crazy Town. They were awful. My little sister loved them.

Final Verdict

19.5 out of 43. 44%. Just terrible. Truly.

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.

Turkish Delight

Well its vaguely christmassy, if you’re a fan of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and more importantly, it’s bloody delicious.

Also, at the halfway point, as it’s setting, it looks like the pink goo from Ghostbusters 2, which made me want to put it in the toaster and sing to it!

Makes a very nice Christmas gift too! Or any time gift. People just like this stuff.

Also, if you fancy a more varied approach, lemon essence and coconut dusting, or orange and pistachio would both be a worthwhile try. Just vary what you stir in at the end!


300ml water
8 leaves gelatine (or equivalent of Agar powder for veggies)
500g caster sugar
Rose water
Pink food colouring
30g icing sugar
15g cornflour


Put the water in a large pan, and put the gelatine leaves in there. Go and have an amble for 10 minutes until they’ve started to bloom. In English, this means they’ve gone kind of wispy.

Put the pan on a hob at a very low heat, then stir until all the gelatine has gone. Add the sugar, increase to a medium heat and sturdy until all the sugar dissolves.


Bring this mix to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

When you’re done, remove from the heat, then stir in the colouring and the rose water. A few drops of each should suffice. Subtlety is key here!

Pour into a moistened mould (I used a small loaf tin) then leave to set overnight.


The next part is hard. Put the icing sugar and cornflour on a plate and mix well. Then remove the jelly from the mould, directly onto the sugar mixture.

It is the stickiest thing in the world, so it will be a nightmare to get out, and if you don’t land it on the sugar it will stick to whatever it touches!

Get your sharpest knife, rub a little neutral tasting oil all over the blade, then cut the jelly into bite sized cubes, tossing each one in the sugar until it’s no longer sticky.

Put in a suitable container, and add some more sugar mixture, just in case!


Tasty Tuesdays on

Rock Around The Clock

As always Sundays is number one days (you can try and move the charts Radio 1, but no one’s buying it) so here is the next one.

Closing in on the end of 1955, it’s Bill Haley and his Comets with rock around the clock. Technically the first rock and roll song. Although… really it’s the first successful and good rock and roll song by a white person!

Anyway, that’s not to do the song down at all. Everybody knows this one. Almost everybody loves it, myself included. So its still bloomin brilliant. Blaming Bill for the racist one sided way history is decided is like blaming Freddie Mercury for We Will Rock You the musical… He didn’t have any say in it, he just wrote some great songs!

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

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Now That’s What I Call Music 92


Released-  20th November 2015

Music History

Adele releases an album much like her previous two, which appears to be revolutionary in this day and age. Cilla Black  dies, which is a pity. And as a response to allegations that he uses a ghostwriter, Drake dances badly…

Me History

Haha. This is an odd one to do… I am in the process of getting divorced, I’ve moved house twice, and the company where I work has had a massive restructure which means I have to do the work of three people. Yet, my life hasn’t been this enjoyable in years. My new house is amazing, I’m doing all of the awesome things around my beloved Birmingham, dating hasn’t yet become bleak and terrifying to me, and best of all, nobody tells me off for smoking.

If I had to save one track from this album, mostly because they’ve shockingly overlooked Hotline Bling, that track would be… well… Grace and G Easy deserve it musically. But sometimes the fun one beats the worthy one. So Silentó steals the crown… Now watch me whip. WATCH ME NAE NAE.

Track by Track Breakdown

Sam SmithWriting’s on the Wall

Tries for the same level as Adele’s Skyfall but it’s a bit too melodramatic and a little bit dull. Who cares though… the film has Blofeld in it.

Justin BieberWhat Do You Mean?

Beibs bas got very good at picking up prevailing trends. After the Diplo heavy ‘song of the summer’ Where Are Ü Now, this is basically a Kygo track with his vocal over it. A Good Thing.

The WeekndCan’t Feel My Face

Still find it weird that The Weeknd is big now. I remember being really excited about his Noir n B in 2012, but would never have expected him to blow up like this.

Calvin Harris and DisciplesHow Deep Is Your Love

In a fair world, Calvin Harris would have been introduced to heroin at the age of about 17, and died in a pile of his own urine and faeces by 22. Sadly, instead I am forced to listen to the piss and shit he forces into our ears every second month.

Naughty Boy featuring Beyoncé and Arrow BenjaminRunnin’ (Lose It All)

A lot of waiting for a good chorus. Can’t help but feel he’s wasted two very good collaborators here…

Charlie Puth featuring Meghan TrainorMarvin Gaye

Referencing Marvin Gaye is cool. This song is kind of alright but not worthy of the guy’s name, I’m afraid.

R. City featuring Adam LevineLocked Away

Liking that reggaeton has made a return this year. More the soppier lovers end but I take the wins where I can!

Rachel PlattenFight Song

Landfill ballad. Going big like it’s 2013 on the chorus doesn’t save it. It tries too hard to be the moving song from the end of a reality TV show…

Jess GlynneDon’t Be So Hard on Yourself

All your songs sound the same. Like a boringly classy dance music. Radio 2 rave.

Olly MursKiss Me

The X Factor cheeky chappie tries to go sexy. Nope. It’s akin to Liam Gallagher trying to go emo. It’s too late. Your role is decided now…

Ellie GouldingOn My Mind

Still haven’t quite worked out the purpose of Ol’ Big Nose. Weak singing voice, and a desperate relentless bandwagon jumper. Answers on a postcard.

Little MixLove Me like You

You go girls. Lovely Motown style number. You could imagine The Supremes or The Shirelles absolutely killing this. I hope they put it out on 7″ for authenticity.

One DirectionDrag Me Down

After appropriating Journey before, this is a mildly EDM appropriation of The Police. Honestly I’m a little impressed at the clever way they steal from very uncool sources and sell it on. It’s good by the way. The above makes me sound like I don’t like it…

Demi LovatoCool for the Summer

Despite some sort of alt pop riffing at the chorus, this is a dissapointingly dull effort from a pop artist I know can kill on her best days – Heart Attack is pure gold.

Years & YearsEyes Shut

It’s a shame when the beat and clicks kick in, because the piano tone on this track is fantastic. Unfortunately it’s knocked down to mediocrity by the rest of the song.

Grace featuring G-EazyYou Don’t Own Me

Nice to hear some triplets (the musical rhythm, not trizygotic children). Also, the switches in style every 12th bar is both disorientating and brilliant! One of the best tracks out at the moment.

BirdyWings (Acoustic)

No chance of a difficult second album here, was there! Bless, it’s a steady job at least.

AURORAHalf the World Away

Oooh. I know what would be a good idea! Why not get a girl to sing a great song in the style of a lullaby NOBODY’S DONE THAT BEFORE! This is the music from John Lewis’ Christmas advert, where an intergalactic paedonazi grooms a small girl into helping him plot his escape to earth.

Jamie LawsonWasn’t Expecting That

Okay. It’s really cute. Maybe I’m a little sentimental but I kind of love it. I’m ashamed that I do. But I do.

Ed SheeranPhotograph

As always it’s not terrible. Like a guy at an open mic night who is just a little too in love with Coldplay. its nice, but not worth writing home about.

Selena Gomez featuring A$AP RockyGood for You

Last year he was collaborating with Drizzy and Kendrick. Now he’s on this bleak, dark ballad that sounds a little like a new age offcut. Not a bad effort though.

5 Seconds of SummerShe’s Kinda Hot

Basically it’s The Offspring’s Why Don’t You Get a Job updated for modern gender politics… In a good way. Big and stupid.

The VampsWake Up

Sounds like Passion Pit without the passion. Going into U2 at their worst for the chorus.

KDA featuring Tinie Tempah and Katy BTurn the Music Louder (Rumble)

Yeah. It’s alright. Tinie Tempah can always charm his way above an average song.

GalantisPeanut Butter Jelly

Promising start… even if we call it JAM here, you Yank gits. And the drop lives up to the intro. I like it a lot.

Sigala Easy Love (Radio Edit)

If you make a deeply average song, don’t then include a Jackson 5 reference. You’re just advertising your own weaknesses.

Martin Solveig and GTAIntoxicated

Fun. Just plain fun. Big farting horns and a tasty beat. Great.

MNEK and Zara LarssonNever Forget You

One of those attempts at emotional EDM for people who lack the basic intelligence to have real feelings. The relentless bass noise is a small saving grace.

Diplo and Sleepy TomBe Right There

Starts dissapointingly. I was ready to call time on Diplo, but luckily it jumps into some 80s electro grooves and recovers somewhat.

Felix Jaehn featuring Jasmine ThompsonAin’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)

Much like Kygo’s remix of Sexual Healing this summer, this seems to add some faint dance tropes and a xylophone. It works but seriously? WTF is the deal with all this xylophone house? 2015 is the year glockenspiels blew up?

Pia Mia featuring Chris Brown and TygaDo It Again

I remain amazed at the number of women willing to work with Chris Brown. His career should be down there with Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris’. This track is pretty much exactly how you expect it to sound. Lazy EDM/R&B crossover.

Rudimental featuring Ed SheeranLay It All on Me

More middle of the road EDM that won’t challenge your brain. With that nice ginger lad. It came, it went.

Sigma featuring Ella HendersonGlitterball

Bland. Even by the standards of the artists involved.

Disclosure featuring Sam SmithOmen

Probably the best Disclosure song I’ve heard. Yeah. That is like saying it’s the best sexually transmitted disease I’ve ever had.

Fetty WapTrap Queen

Up there with Biz Markie’s Just a Friend for badly sung songs by rappers. He’s missing the notes… With autotune. Genius.


Quirky with a deep groove. I’m pretty into this one. A lot of it sounds like it’s held together with elastic bands. In a good way.


The Hey beat is well overused at the moment. This is not great. It appears that so long as you have a South London accent at the moment you’ll get on the track… even if you can’t sing or rhyme.

Ariana GrandeFocus

Cowbell people! One of those rare ones where the verse and fills are so much better that the chorus. Good work you doughnut licking loony.

SilentóWatch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)

Basically it’s Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em all over again. Which is a very good thing. Okay… its not quite that great. But you get the idea.

Joe Stone featuring Montell JordanThe Party (This Is How We Do It)

Taking away the Slick Rick backing from the original is a huge loss. Still, a good fun way to hear it if you end up in a shot club, rather than one that would just play the original.

Nick Brewer featuring Bibi BourellyTalk to Me

More 90s dance sampling. A bit of Crystal Waters. I love the original, so this gets away with some weak rapping out of nostalgia for the original.

KSI featuring JmeKeep Up

Grime lite. But it has its bit of ringtone Rick Ross fun as it goes on. You know, does anyone still use ‘bare’ in the real world these days? Anyway, it’s bare okay.

Wretch 32 featuring Anne-Marie and PRGRSHNAlright with Me

I like it. A false lead at the start ends up taking it down a Billy Squier The Big Beat route. On fleek.

Philip George and Anton PowersAlone No More

More stuff I thought we’d left behind in the 90s. Ah well. It’s inoffensive. Not much else.

Kygo featuring Ella HendersonHere for You

More plinky xylophone. But what will happen when Kygo gives up his gimmick? I look forward to finding out. Though I will miss his brand of plonk house.

Ben Haenow featuring Kelly ClarksonSecond Hand Heart

I always feel sorry for unsuccessful X Factor winners. There should be a special home for them. Bless Kelly Clarkson for trying to arrest the decline. I love Kelly Clarkson.

Final Verdict

23 out of 46. It’s like they were aiming for that 50%. It’s half great!

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.

Quick and Simple Healthy Bubble & Squeak


Bubble and squeak is one of God’s finest creations, and one of the essential parts of a proper fry up.

For reference, these are;

  • Egg
  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Black pudding
  • Beans
  • Hash brown
  • Grilled tomato
  • Mushrooms
  • Bubble and squeak
  • Brown Sauce

Anything further is optional. And I would insist on proper bubble and squeak, as in fried, and with spuds for breakfast.

This option is more for a nice evening meal, as an interesting side. I tend to get healthier as the day goes on!

It’s bloody simple and tasty as hell.


  • 500g Sweet Potato
  • 150g Kale or trimmed Cavolo Nero
  • A wodge of butter or butter type product.
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • Chilli flakes, to taste


A first for me… use a microwave. Blast the sweet potatoes till they’re soft all the way through. You could steam them. But really… why bother? It’ll take about 8 minutes.

While these are nuked, bake the cumin and coriander seeds for 4 or 5 minutes, till they smell nice.

Once everything is done, put the flesh of the potatoes, kale, baked seeds and butter in a large baking dish and smoosh it all together. Add salt to taste, then bake at about 180c for 20 minutes.


Simple and tasty, a solid weeknight snack or side.

Tasty Tuesdays on