Featuring everyone from the re-risen (Queen) to the bedwetters (Coldplay) to the merely silly or recently birthed (Britney, Ronan, Will, Blue, Backstreet Boys, Atomic Kitten, t.A.T.u. Westlife, and Shaggy), this compilation is sure to be a hot seller for at least a week.
Marketed as a handy way to relive your musical memories, it might make you wish you could just "forget the past and move on with the future" (groan).Disk 1 celebrates mainly the worst of the worst. The Queen track "Heaven for everyone" is about as distinctive as pie crust, and the rest doesn't make for a satisfying filler. Dido, Shania Twain and Jamelia are so much better than the average that hearing their overplayed hits rehashed is actually a relief.
Disk 2 isn't as bad. Rather than totally lame, it's merely a bit tired. Coldplay's "Trouble" makes its millionth compilation appearance. Nelly does "Hot in herre" (sic) and Black Eyed Peas offer the watered down version of the once risque hit, now renamed "Let's Get it Started". Then there's the coolly rude Kelis, and t.A.T.u., who are less interesting now that it's widely known that the underage schoolgirl lesbians thing was a marketing trick. Who'da thunk?
What you think of this second CD will depend mainly on how many other compilations you've had to listen to this year. If you've heard a couple, everything's overplayed to death, and the good songs are all by artists whose actual albums you should consider buying. But sadly, many of the tracks aren't the best the artist released in the last decade.
Also out now, from the same consortium, Now That's What I Call Music 41 which has a better track flow and also includes SA tracks, by the export friendly Arno Carstens and Watershed. It goes easy on the boy bands and the instant pop chicks by comparison to The Now Years.And 2005's been a good year for quality pop from acts like Gorillaz, Robbie Williams, The Killers, Coldplay, KT Tunstall, Gem, The Chemical Brothers and yes, the unavoidable Black Eyed Peas (again). There seems to be hope that pop is expanding beyond its chinzy limits. So Now 41 wins best album (of the two)! The big deciding factor being that it's only half as long as The Now Years and therefore half as painful.
All in all? If you love what you're force fed by radio, then you may enjoy being fed it for longer. But at some point, surely anyone's going to get bored of hearing the same 40 songs over and over again? Buy it if you must, but you may well find yourself pulling one of these CDs out of your CD rack in a few years time and thinking: "Wow... pity these disks aren't re-recordable."
- Jean Barker
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