Monday, July 27, 2009

Album Review: "Now 73" - Various Artists

Approximately three times a year, the "Now" compilations take the temperature of the UK singles chart of recent months. The series may be over 25 years old now, but it arguably remains this country's most popular compilation album. Unfortunately, as it provides a pretty accurate reflection of current/recent hits, it can also mean that when it's bad, it's pretty horrid.

So it goes with the 73rd running of the "Now" handicap, but compared to some previous editions this one struggles to get out of the starting blocks.

CD1 is a radio playlister's dream...yes, much of it is that bad. Cascada, La Roux, Pixie Lott, Pink, Katy Perry, Jordin Sparks, Shontelle. Each and every one of them has been disproportionately overplayed in relation to their actual chart positions. And it doesn't matter what radio station you listen to in this country - each one is as bad as the other.

On the plus side you get Lady GaGa, Calvin Harris, David Guetta, AR Rahman/Pussycat Dolls, The Veronicas, Agnes and Freemasons/Sophie Ellis Bextor, whose songs on this compilation I do like to hear on the radio.

CD2 traditionally offers more different/alternative songs which have made the charts. However, such is the dire state of chart music in this country at the present time, that it's like CD1 all over again, with more overplayed tripe which if you never heard it again it would still be too soon: yes I mean you Beyonce, Keri Hilson, Ciara, Black Eyed Peas, Soulja Boy, Akon, Flo Rida, 3OH!3, Florence and the Machine.

It's not all bad though: Pitbull, Kasabian, Little Boots, Empire of the Sun, Deadmau5 and Kaskade get my vote, although five tracks out of 22 is still a very poor result, and the remaining tracks I can take or leave.

"Now..." is only as good as what's in the charts, and you know how I feel about them by now. Times have also changed and as we are now in the download era, you can pick and choose your tracks which may be a good thing if you want to avoid that landfill r'n'b. But being the traditionalist that I am, I prefer to get a CD and then rip my favourites to the iPod.

If you're feeling nostalgic then check out which has year-by-year tracklistings of all the albums in the series. When you do this, you'll very quickly realise that no matter the year, there's always good music and bad music on a 'Now' album, but whether you liked it or not, they were always diverse. Current chart music is significantly lacking in diversity, and sadly "Now 73" is a casualty of that.

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