For those of you not in the know, Now That’s What I Call Music! is essentially a corporate mixtape. But rather than being full of songs that express exactly how to you feel to your best friend with whom you’re secretly in love, they’re top pop songs compiled into one album to see if they can get people to buy them again.
The Now That’s What I Call Music! CD series originated in the UK in 1983 but came over to the US in 1998 and we immediately treated it like it was our idea in the first place.
The series is on its 55th installment (if you don’t include the special editions, country editions, holiday series, Latino series, or Walmart exclusives) and I’m sure we can all imagine what sort of whiny Ed Sheeran songs are on it now. Sure, you could just go look up the track list, but who has the time? Or cares?
Instead, I wanted to revisit some of the gems from the very first installment of the Now That’s What I Call Music! series (obviously the U.S. version–the real version):
“As Long As You Love Me”–Backstreet Boys
I still love this song. I don’t care if you judge me as long as you love me.
I don’t really have anything fun or witty to say about this song. I wasn’t that into it but a friend of mine was so I had to hear it a lot.
“Flagpole Sitta”–Harvey Danger
I actually heard this song in a store the other day which caused a lot of confusion for me.
For the record, none of the 19-year-olds working at the store had any idea what song it was so then I was just the nearly 30 weirdo, singing to herself and creeping out anyone born after 1995.
“Say You’ll Be There”–Spice Girls
In case you missed my last column, I freaking love the Spice Girls. I even voluntarily watched Spice World as an adult which says more than enough about my commitment to girl power.
“If You Could Only See”–Tonic
The best part about this song is that when I pulled up the music video on YouTube, I started singing along and evidently I remember all the words, much to the amusement of my husband and the judgement of my dogs.
I had this album on cassette when it first came out and I listened to it until it practically disintegrated. I still remember all the words to this song and it’s dawning on me that maybe this is why I can’t retain anything these days–my brain’s hard drive is apparently full of 90s lyrics. I have no idea where the fuck my keys are but I can still sing “MmmBop” with disturbing accuracy.
The cornerstone of every middle school dance. Good luck getting this song out of your head anytime in the near future.
“Sex & Candy”–Marcy Playground
I absolutely loved this song when I was younger but in retrospect, it’s really not kid-appropriate. However, neither were a lot of songs from that time that I was really into. I remember Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” was played at every school dance I went to . . . at a Catholic school. That felt somewhat inappropriate at the time to me but I’m sure it’s nothing compared what school dances are like now since Nicki Minaj sampled “Baby Got Back” in her Now That’s What I Call Music! 52 hit “Anaconda.”
I won’t subject you to the rest of the songs on the first Now! CD in YouTube format in this article, but in case you’re interested in reliving one of your own favorites, click on these other gems from the track list:
“All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo
“Never Ever” by All Saints
“Zoot Suit Riot” by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
“Shorty (You Keep Playin’ with My Mind)” by Imajin
“Anytime” by Brian McKnight
“Karma Police” by Radiohead
“I Will Buy You a New Life” by Everclear:
“Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz
You know what, corporate mix tape? You won me over all over again. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.