Various - Now 63
The series of Now compilations (or "Now That's What I Call Music" if you go back a bit) are a pretty good indication of the states of pop in the UK. And, looking at the track list of this new offering, it gratifies to see that there is a strong representation for Britain. Five of the songs on the two CD's were also number 1 singles in this country, but to be honest, these are probably the weakest tracks, and yes Chico, I'm looking at you.
Track one CD one is Corinne Bailey Rae with "Put Your Records On". EMI have pushed this new artist so much this year, and have reaped the rewards. It's an Ok song, but its downhill for much of the rest of this disc. Black Eyed Peas go on about their lady lumps, and its reality TV time as well, with Dead or Alive, Shayne Ward and of course Mr "What Time Is It?" himself. Also included is the baffling Orson - how this bunch of ageing Americans have become so popular is quite beyond me - they do nothing for me at all other than bring on a musical depression.
There is some reasonable stuff on the first disc - but it all ends very shrill. Liberty X bring us the worst kind of cover with "A Night To Remember", all retro drums and parping keyboards. Liz McClarnon honks like a goose through "Woman in Love", and Girls Aloud make an effort out of an already poor song with "See The Day".
CD2 is a whole lot better. It features what I think is the finest pop song of recent years. I've gone on about it so much that I am starting to bore myself, but I truly think that A-ha's "Analogue" is a career highlight and an astonishingly good track. I'm not a violent man but the fact it picked up so little recognition on its release just makes me want to go and stamp on the heads of anyone who bought that damn Chico record.
This is the jingly jangly indie disc, with Coldplay, Embrace, Kaiser Chiefs and Robbie Williams really rather good "Advertising Space". There are a couple of more interesting songs as well - Goldfrapp sound superb, really rising above the competition. Gorillaz with "Dirty Harry" is also a welcome edition. It ends with Jose Gonzalez and "Heartbeats" - a track that seems to be appearing on pretty much every compilation at the moment.
So there we go, the latest NOW album. It’s the usual bunch of fair to average with a few gems in-between. Its the stuff you hear on the radio all the time anyway, so not that essential a purchase, but as a document of POP2006, its not a bad mixture.