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April 2009 saw the release of the 72nd (can you believe it!) Now That's What I Call Music album. Designed to compile the latest chart hits all in one compilation, the Now collections, as they're commonly known, have been going since Now 1 came out in 1983.
This particular collection features music from around the Christmas 2008 period and early 2009, and so you'll see tracks on there such as X Factor winner Alexandra Burke's Hallelujah, along with Britney's revival in the form of Womanizer. What I find about these compilations in general is that their success very much depends on the quality of music in the charts for each given period. You can have a string of decent number 1 hits which seem brilliant at the time, but quite often their longevity is severely limited, and they quickly become boring or go out of favour with the current chart listeners.
Now 72 doesn't see this sort of thing happening, and I think this is due to new careers being forged as well as a surging British RnB style coming into the more general and commercial scene. The compilation, as per usual, is split into 2 CDs, and the intention has always been to have the more poppy and main stream tracks on the 1st CD, with the dancier and more cult tracks on the 2nd. Here, we kick things off with Lily Allen's The Fear and Lady GaGa's Just Dance, two tracks which were in the tracks for a while, not just at number 1, but in and around the top 40. They also had great radio play, and the familiarity of these two makes them a good starting point.
They're closely followed by some further releases from female soloists, and indeed, there is a certain female dominance of this first CD, which Alesha Dixon's The Boy Does Nothing, Shontelle's T-Shirt, and the aforementioned Britney and Alexandra tracks all featuring. The Saturdays have an impressive two tracks on this first disc, with one being the Comic Relief track Just Can't Get Enough, and the other being their catchy track, Issues. I have to say, the Girl Power is well and truly alive in this release, and I think it's a testament to the strong showing that women have had in the charts compared to men over the past 3 or 4 years that is showing in these compilations. I quite like the majority of these tracks, finding them all rather catchy and easy to listen to as well as sing along to (yes, it's true, I sing along to The Saturdays!).
But this doesn't necessarily mean that it's all one way - it's just the mainstream style that is female dominated at this stage. Flo Rida, Ne Yo, Akon and others all show up with hits, but it's this RnB sound as opposed the pop sound, that seems to be forging the way ahead for male soloists. N Dubz also feature, with their street style, the mixed sex group proving to be role models (until more recently) as well as musically gifted performers.
Looking at the 2nd disc, there's a bit more balance in the presentation, with male soloists such as James Morrison, groups such as The Killers and The Script, heavier stuff from The Prodigy, and some more vocally focused soloists such as Jason Mraz and Daniel Merriweather featuring. While I see the lure of the 1st disc, this second for me is what these compilations are all about - putting a diverse range of musical style together on one compilation to reflect the extremes of the popular music charts. Pop music, to be fair, has changed from just being 'popular' music and has its own assumed genre. The fact that other genres seem to be just as popular these days merely shows natural and progressive change. It's no longer a surprise to see U2's Get On Your Boots and Kanye West's Heartless on the same disc, nor is it unacceptable to sing along at the top of your voice to the feel good vocals of Mraz's I'm Yours and then immediately start bopping away to the lyrically basic dance tune that is Noisettes' Don't Upset the Rhythmn. It's what these compilations are all about, and this particular one marks a very well diversified range of style, era and formation in terms of musical groups and performances. If all of this weren't strange enough, the whole compilation finishes off with a combination of Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West, Tom Jones and Robin Gibb singing Islands In The Stream! Not sure I'd have popped this one in there, but it kind of sums up how diverse and therefore enjoyable this compilation is.
Late 2008/early 2009 was a good period for a range of chart music, and this has continued over the past year and a half since this compilation was put together. Perhaps this is how chart music will continue for a while. I'm sure this will remain one of the more interesting Now compilations for a while, and I do highly recommend it for its diversity in musical style if nothing else. It's well worth a listen, and has some excellent tracks on it.
1. Lily Allen : "The Fear"
2.Lady Gaga featuring Colby O'Donis : "Just Dance"
3. Flo Rida featuring Kesha - "Right Round"
4. Alesha Dixon : "The Boy Does Nothing"
5. The Saturdays : "Just Can't Get Enough"
6.Kelly Clarkson : "My Life Would Suck Without You"
7.Tinchy Stryder featuring Taio Cruz : "Take Me Back"
8. Kid Cudi vs Crookers : "Day 'N' Nite"
9. Britney Spears : "Womanizer"
10. T.I. featuring Rihanna : "Live Your Life"
11. Akon : "Right Now (Na Na Na)"
12. Shontelle : "T-Shirt"
13. Ne-Yo : "Mad"
14. The Saturdays : "Issues"
15. Leona Lewis : "Forgive Me"
16. Girls Aloud : "The Loving Kind"
17. September : "Can't Get Over"
18. Steve Angello and Laidback Luke featuring Robin S : "Show Me Love"
19. N-Dubz : "Strong Again"
20. Katy Perry : "Thinking of You"
21. Alexandra Burke : "Hallelujah"
22. X Factor Finalists : "Hero"
1. Take That : "Greatest Day"
2. Alesha Dixon : "Breathe Slow"
3. James Morrison featuring Nelly Furtado : "Broken Strings"
4. Taylor Swift : "Love Story"
5. Pink : "Sober"
6. The Killers : "Human"
7. The Script : "Breakeven"
8. Jason Mraz : "I'm Yours"
9. Noisettes : "Don't Upset The Rhythm"
10. Metro Station : "Shake It"
11. U2 : "Get On Your Boots"
12. MGMT : "Kids"
13. The Prodigy : "Omen"
14. Kevin Rudolf featuring Lil Wayne : "Let It Rock"
15. Wiley featuring Daniel Merriweather : "Cash in My Pocket"
16. Kanye West : "Heartless"
17. T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake : "Dead and Gone"
18. Daniel Merriweather featuring Wale : "Change"
19. Pet Shop Boys : "Love Etc."
20. Duffy : "Rain On Your Parade"
21. Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West, Sir Tom Jones and Robin Gibb : "Islands in the Stream"
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Lily Allen - The Fear
2 Lady Gaga feat. Colby O'Donis - Just Dance
3 Flo Rida feat. Ke$ha - Right Around
4 Alesha Dixon - The Boy Does Nothing
5 The Saturdays - Just Can't Get Enough (Official Comic Relief Song)
6 Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You
7 Tinchy Stryder feat. Taio Cruz - Take Me Back
8 Kid Cudi vs Crookers - Day 'N' Nite
9 Britney Spears - Womanizer
10 T.I. feat. Rihanna - Live Your Life
11 Akon - Right Now (Na Na Na)
12 Shontelle - T-Shirt
13 Ne-Yo - Mad
14 The Saturdays - Issues
15 Leona Lewis - Forgive Me
16 Girls Aloud - The Loving Kind
17 September - Can't Get Over
18 Steve Angello & Laidback Luke Feat. Robin S - Show Me Love
19 N-Dubz - Strong Again
20 Katy Perry - Thinking Of You
21 Alexandra Burke - Hallelujah
22 X Factor Finalists 2008 - Hero
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Take That - Greatest Day
2 Alesha Dixon - Breathe Slow
3 James Morrison & Nelly Furtado - Broken Strings
4 Taylor Swift - Love Story
5 P!nk - Sober
6 The Killers - Human
7 The Script - Breakeven
8 Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
9 Noisettes - Don't Upset The Rhythm (Go Baby Go)
10 Metro Station - Shake It
11 U2 - Get On Your Boots
12 MGMT - Kids
13 The Prodigy - Omen
14 Kevin Rudolf feat. Lil Wayne - Let It Rock
15 Wiley feat. Daniel Merriweather - Cash In My Pocket
16 Kanye West - Heartless
17 T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake - Dead & Gone
18 Daniel Merriweather feat. Wale - Change
19 Pet Shop Boys - Love Etc.
20 Duffy - Rain On Your Parade
21 Vanessa Jenkins, Bryn West & Sir Tom Jones feat. Robin Gibb - Islands In The Stream (For Comic Relief)