Review: Various Artists, Now 49: That’s What I Call Music


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Now 49 is an improvement over previous compilations

Various Artists • Now 49: That’s What I Call Music • UMe • US Release Date: February 4, 2014

Compilation efforts have great intentions, but also can possess their respective flaws as well.  The Now Series is a superb way to give music lovers some of the biggest hits via one album.  The problem with the series is often by the time some of the hits make the compilation they’ve actually faded or cooled off a bit. Part of this is the restlessness of society while part of it is the assemblers being mindful of what’s currently “hot” and what’s “not”.  Now 49 serves its purpose like its colleagues, but of course there are puzzlements with the inclusion of certain songs given the timing.  Ultimately though, Now 49 is an improvement over previous compilations.

Some excellent choices found on Now 49 definitely includes the opener, “Timber”, a recent number one hit performed by Pitbull and featuring Ke$ha.  “Timber” fits perfectly because it is arguably the freshest song on the track list.  Another excellent choices with release date being a considered is “Say Something” by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera.  While “Say Something” has been out a while, A Great Big World’s debut effort Is Anybody Out There? was just recently released.  Additionally, the former Billboard Hot 100 top five hit has remained and only grew in popularity.  Another solid choice is “Demons” by Imagine Dragons.  With “Radioactive” still incredibly popular after a lengthy run, current single “Demons” seems ‘brand new’, even with album Night Visions original bowing in 2012.  One could also make the argument for others, like “Unconditionally”, Katy Perry’s outgoing single before the rise of the “Dark Horse” (featuring Juicy J), or the sustained popularity of “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Drake featuring Majid Jordan) or “Stay The Night” (Zedd featuring Hayley Williams).  There are some solid tracks featured on Now 49.

As always, there are also question marks.  Britney Spears’ “Work Work” (an edited version of “Work B**ch”) may have no issue given its relevance where time is concerned, but Britney Jean as a whole was a bomb. “Work” received some attention, but it certainly wouldn’t earn the honors as the pop star’s best single ever.  Similarly, “TKO” by Justin Timberlake feels out of place with much bigger, more relevant hits. The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 definitely didn’t match the popularity of the original.  “TKO” could’ve been axed from this set and wouldn’t have been missed.  “Gorilla” by Bruno Mars is an excellent song (I didn’t think so when I first heard it over a year ago, but it grew on me), but it has ‘expired’ for this particular set.  To the ear, one truly nitpicky person might even chastise the inclusion of Lady Gaga’s duet with R. Kelly, “Do What U Want”.  While ARTPOP‘s best joint has only been on the Hot 100 for about 15 weeks, it’s ‘peak’ success has been finished for a couple of weeks at this point.

Ultimately though, Now 49 seems to be an improvement over the last couple of compilations.  There are fewer miscues in regards to who and what is included.  Now 49 is not perfect, but what compilation is? On greatest hits albums don’t the assemblers often goof somewhere? Sometimes aren’t soundtracks only so-so when listening to them outside the context of the film? Now 49 sports enough meat to please fans, particularly those who want some of their favorites for their own personal playlist.

Verdict: ★★★½

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