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The power of Now! A pop music institution reaches its 100th compilation

Three of the 2,069 artists to appear on Now! share their memories of the pop comp everyone grew up with

By Nick Levine
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Since launching in 1983 with a 30-track compilation that included two tunes apiece from UB40, Kajagoogoo and Culture Club, the Now! That’s What I Call Music! series has become an unflagging music industry institution. Even today, in the streaming era, Now! albums still go platinum. Whether we bought them on cassette, CD, vinyl or download, many of us have cherished memories of our favourite Now! albums. They always supply a battalion of bangers with enough variety to keep everyone entertained on a long, boring car journey. Want Drake, Dua Lipa and Desiigner on the same comp? Now! 94’s got your back. To celebrate this week’s release of the 100th album, we talked to three Now! contributors and pop lovers alike: soul goddess Gabrielle, whip-smart crooner Rae Morris and songwriting collaborator and kickass-artist-in-his-own-right MNEK...

Artists share their Now! memories

Gabrielle

Basically the Adele of the ’90s.

Did you have a favourite Now! album growing up?
‘Definitely the one with 1989's big hits. It had Boy Meets Girl’s “Waiting for a Star to Fall”, Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance”, Tina Turner’s “The Best”. All absolute tunes. I used to play it so loud, my neighbours must have hated me!’

Your debut hit 'Dreams' features on Now! 25. How did it feel at the time?
‘I was just so excited. I grew up buying Now! albums so to have a song I wrote on one was a big moment for me.'

 

Rae Morris

Blackpool’s wide-eyed singer songwriter

What are your memories of the Now! albums?
‘They’d always be in my friends’ parents’ cars. The covers are always really good, aren’t they? A Now! album is quite a warming sight.’

Which is your favourite one?
‘Now! 65, which came out in 2006. It’s got Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”, Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu” and Rihanna’s “Unfaithful”. But then it goes indie with The Killers’ “When You Were Young” and full-on rock with Meat Loaf’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now!”! What a song!’

How do you think it holds up 12 years on?
‘If you whacked it on now at a party, everyone would be really happy, wouldn’t they?

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MNEK

A total pop pro, aged just 23.

Which Now! album really stands out for you?
‘I remember buying Now! 46 from Woolworths. Disc one literally had all the bops. But I think the song I played most at the time was Sonique’s “It Feels So Good”.’

How do you feel about the music on Now! 46 today?
‘It’s of its time, but so much of the music from the late ’90s and early ’00s are such great songs, regardless of production or anything. I’ve grown to appreciate it all as classic pop music.’

What do you think is the secret of Now!'s success?
‘They’ve always been able to depict where music is at a point in time. And it’s so diverse – there really is something for everyone on a Now! album.'

Now! That's What I Call Music! 100 is released on Fri Jul 20.

Now that's what I call stats!

Over half of the population has either bought or been given one. The average UK home has four Now! albums.

The first song ever to appear on a Now! album is Phil Collins' 'You Can't Hurry Love'. He actually appeared on eight of the first ten Now! albums.'

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Robbie Williams is all-time kind of the Now! albums with 30 appearances, including five with Take That.

Rihanna has made 25 Now! appearances, more than any other female artist.

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The longest track to appear on any Now! album is Don McLean's 'American Pie', which clocks in at a leisurely 8.34 minutes.

U2 have racked up the longest gap between first and last appearances: 34 years between 1984's Now! 4 and 2018's Now! 99.

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Bonnie Tyler and Mike Oldfield are among eight artists who appeared on the very first Now! album... and then never appeared on a second.

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