Now That’s What I Call A Cash-In!

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the Now That’s What I Call Music series of compilation CDs that come out with a new edition every few months or so. The series began in the United States around ten years ago, which was a good 15 years after the franchise as a whole was founded in the UK back in 1983. The US version of the Now series has just reached its 31st installment, which was released last week and is currently at #14 on the iTunes Top Albums chart.

You mean I can get all the most overplayed songs on MTV and the radio for 12 bucks on iTunes instead of listening to them on MTV or the radio for free? And no commercials between the songs? SIGN ME UP!

The Now series, of course, collects all of the most ubiquitous Top 40 radio hits from the last few months and puts them all on one disc for your convenience. I can understand why people might have snapped these up back in the days of the Internet’s infancy, before iTunes and Amazon and torrents and file-sharing became household words. The artists featured on these CDs tend to make albums that only have a couple decent songs surrounded by forgettable filler, so why not grab a CD that only gives you the song you actually want to hear?

The answer comes after the jump.

Well, for one thing, this is assuming you’re not already sick and tired of the latest overplayed chart-toppers from the likes of Britney Spears, the Black Eyed Peas, and Nickelback (among other token rock bands that get tacked on to the end after 15 tracks of pop and hip-hop). These CDs tend to come out a couple months after the songs featured on them, giving the songs plenty of time to get stuck in your head and then make you wish they would just go away. By the time the Now CD comes out, you’ve already heard every song on it at least a million times. And that’s more than enough for one lifetime, so what’s the point of getting a CD that collects them all together? You might as well be listening to Top 40 radio, and you can do that without having to pay 15 bucks to get all those songs.

And bear in mind, this point still applied back in the pre-iTunes, pre-Amazon, pre-Internet-as-giant-virtual-record-store era. Now that we have all this stuff, there’s no reason for this series to continue to exist. And to make matters worse, you can’t even go on iTunes and buy the individual tracks on a Now CD that you actually want (and miraculously haven’t gotten sick of yet) because the whole thing is Album Only.

So if you really want to buy that new Nickelback single on iTunes, but you hate everything else on Now 31, tough shit. You have to get the whole Now CD and all the crap you didn’t want by Soulja Boy and the Ting Tings and 3OH!3 and Flo Rida… or, you know, you could always just track down that Nickelback album on iTunes and buy “If Today Was Your Last Day” for $1.29. You can do this with every song on every Now CD that comes out anymore. In fact, assuming you listen to the usual Now fare, you probably already have done this. Out of the 20 songs featured on the latest Now compilation, 14 are among the top 100 most popular songs on iTunes. And I’d be willing to bet the six songs that aren’t are pretty damn close.

Oh, and there’s one other thing that kind of bugs me about the Now series — as time has gone on, the tracklistings on these compilations seem like they started having less variety. Or at least that’s how it is here in the States. The UK version has always been a double-disc collection of 30-40 songs, so maybe there’s a little more variety on the other side of the Atlantic. Early editions would feature a bunch of rock songs mixed with a bunch of pop songs and some hip-hop and some dance music in there as well. Now rock music has basically been limited to Nickelback, bands that sound like Nickelback, and girls who claim to be rockers because they sing over basic power chord progressions. I guess it’s better than featuring Lil Wayne’s “Prom Queen,” but then again it was more fun having my wisdom teeth taken out than listening to “Prom Queen.”

Seriously, if he ever gets around to releasing Rebirth, it’s going to be a clusterfuck of epic proportions. I’d like to say you heard it here first, but I’m not alone in having this opinion. Meanwhile Rolling Stone continues to pretend this is groundbreaking stuff even though Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park were doing this 10 years ago, Rage Against The Machine were doing it 15 years ago, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were doing it 20 years ago, and Run-DMC was doing it before I was even born. Oh, wait… they weren’t using AutoTune. And what really gets me is that Weezy is using software designed to make your voice sound better by keeping it on key, but he still sounds terrible!

But anyway, nowadays the Now series is pretty much dominated by mainstream hip-hop, AutoTune pop, and any combination of the two you can concoct — much like the radio waves, come to think of it. Not that it matters, because like I already said earlier, you’ve probably either already heard these songs ad nauseum or you’ve already downloaded them so you can make yourself sick of them at your own pace.

You don’t need to buy a Now CD. You may never have needed to buy one in the first place, but now that we have iTunes and Amazon and Megaupload and the Pirate Bay and Insound and basically the Internet in general, the Now That’s What I Call Music series is even less necessary than ever before. At some point, to paraphrase the Foo Fighters, they’ll just have to go and let it die.

Well, I guess it could be worse. Don’t even get me started on that stupid Kidz Bop bullshit…



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