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Now That's What I Call Music! (or Now!) is a series of various artists compilation albums that was first released in the UK and Ireland in 1983. Each album features the biggest pop hits in the UK charts of that year.

And this year sees a major milestone in the Now! series - the release of Now That's What I Call Music! 100...

Now that's a success story! We’ve all bopped along to a Now! compilation – but can you believe they’re about to release the 100th one? We explore how it all began


Now That’s What I Call Music! is set to release its 100th numbered edition

The idea for the albums first came from Richard Branson's cousin Simon Draper

Now! which began in 1983 compiled songs from Virgin Records and EMI

Radio 1 DJs shared views on how the compilations have stood the test of time

By Nicole Lampert For Weekend Magazine
22 June 2018

Back in 1983, New Romantics ruled the airwaves, the compact disc was still a new-fangled thing we weren’t sure would ever take off, and The A-Team was one of the biggest things on television.

And when it came to compilation albums, we were practically in the dark ages. They were either terrible covers of hit songs or had two hits and 15 duds.

Then along came Now That’s What I Call Music!.

The compilation album series, which is about to release its 100th numbered edition (there are also Christmas and genre specials, including one for Disney princesses), was different from the start.


Former Radio 1 disc jockey Mark Goodier has voiced the adverts for Now! (pictured) since their 21st album. He and other music experts including former Radio 1 DJ Gary Davies shared what they believe has helped the compilations stand the test of time

It merged talent from Richard Branson’s Virgin Records, including Culture Club, Phil Collins and The Human League, with artists from rival label EMI.

The first album had hits including Collins’s You Can’t Hurry Love, Duran Duran’s Is There Something I Should Know, UB40 with Red Red Wine, Kajagoogoo’s Too Shy and, er, the odd one-hit wonder like The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats. Forget the artists, a star was born.

Thirty-five years on, the Now! franchise has sold 120 million records in the UK and has been the nation’s most popular album every year, apart from 2015 when it was beaten by Adele.

As a new BBC Radio 2 documentary reveals, for those in the industry it changed the way the nation listened to music.

The average home has at least four Now! albums. Three of the numbered albums are released per year: one in March/April, another in July and a third in November.

‘Before Now!, compilations were cynically exploitative and were often cover versions of hits,’ says Mark Goodier, the former Radio 1 disc jockey who has voiced Now!’s adverts since the 21st album came out in 1992.

‘You’d only ever buy one of those. But people still love Now!. They’ve only ever gone for the biggest and best songs, customers know they can rely on that.

‘It’s a good thing for the music business as it means people who aren’t following every nuance of the pop world are discovering new sounds and artists.


Duran Duran's Is There Something I Should Know featured on the first Now That’s What I Call Music! album alongside UB40 and Kajagoogoo


Chart singers including Rihanna (pictured left) and Taylor Swift (pictured right) have had their biggest hits feature on Now!



Now! 14 was released in 1989 featuring big chart hits of that year, including songs from Phil Collins, INXS, Roy Orbison and Duran Duran


Now! 32 was released in 1995, featuring hits from Queen, U2 and Oasis



1999's Now! 44 is the biggest selling Now! album, featuring hits from Shania Twain, Geri Halliwell and Backstreet Boys



Now! 99 was released in March 2018, featuring songs from Taylor Swift, Sam Smith and George Ezra


Then they might buy that artist’s albums. For smaller artists, getting onto a Now! album meant a new income stream; and some have done pretty well out of it.’

For some of today’s pop stars, growing up in a Now!-dominated music world, getting onto the album is akin to how artists a generation before felt about being on Top Of The Pops or the cover of Smash Hits magazine.

Kylie Minogue sums it up: ‘It’s amazing to think these compilations have been around for 35 years. They’ve been a big part of my career right back to when I Should Be So Lucky was on Now! 11 in 1988 all the way to 2018 and Dancing being on Now! 99.’

Now! by numbers

2,069 artists have been featured on the albums
654 weeks is the time the compilations have spent at the top of the charts over the last 35 years
30 appearances have been made by Robbie Williams, the most featured artist


Singer Calum Scott recalls: ‘When my manager explained that Now! wanted to have my song Dancing On My Own on the album [Now! 94], the first person I called was my mum.

‘She knew what that would mean to me. She bought me the albums all the way through my childhood so it’s surreal to have my music on there too. It’s a real privilege for me.’

Former Westlife star Mark Feehily, whose group were on six of the albums, adds: ‘When our songs didn’t make Now!, we felt terrible.

If you’re on Now! it means you’ve made enough impact to be among this very select amount of songs.

When I was 14 and dreaming about being a singer in my bedroom, I’d have a Now! CD on all the time; being on a Now! album was always a pinch-me moment.’

UB40’s Ali Campbell hasn’t got such fond memories: ‘I was robbed of my Christmas number one in 2003 when UB40 did Swing Low, Sweet Chariot with the England rugby squad, who won the World Cup.


Robbie Williams remains the most featured artist across the Now! albums after having 30 songs listed


Now (first album pictured) stopped being made in vinyl in 1996 and on cassette a decade later

We could’ve sold the records from a lorry in Trafalgar Square in hundreds and thousands. But our manager did a deal to put it on the next Now! album.

They used us on their TV advert and their album went straight to the top. We didn’t sell any singles – but we sold a lot for Now!’

The idea for Now! came from Branson’s cousin, Virgin Records managing director Simon Draper. Its uncatchy name came from a bizarre 1920s advert for bacon.

Richard had bought a poster of the advert for Simon from an antiques shop where Richard fancied the assistant, Joan Templeman, who he later married.

It had a pig watching a singing chicken sighing Now That’s What I Call Music!. ‘We’d had other companies trying to put our music on their records,’ recalls Branson. ‘So we decided to do the same thing but with style and panache.’

As the Now! compilation became a big deal worldwide, many other record labels agreed to have their music featured, with some exceptions – Madonna has only agreed for one single to be featured, Into The Groove, which was on the 30th anniversary edition.


Kylie Minogue (pictured in 1988 ) says Now! has been a big part of her career after having songs feature on Now! 11 and Now! 99

The albums stopped being made in vinyl in 1996 and on cassette a decade later. The music business has changed in so many ways with people ‘streaming’ music or downloading albums over the internet, as you can with Now!, rather than buying a CD.

Fans can now curate their own song lists digitally, so much of the cherry-picking done by Now! can be done at home. But the popularity persists.

‘There aren’t many music brands that started in 1983 that are still going strong but Now! has stood the test of time,’ says the former Radio 1 DJ Gary Davies, who narrates the Radio 2 documentary.

‘It’s phenomenal. The quality is always high; and they always featured the original artist.

‘They were the first to venture into playlists really, which so many people now do at home. Some might say it’s had its time but the music it features is as relevant now as in the 1980s.

It’d be nice to think it could survive – and that in 35 years it will be celebrating Now That’s What I Call Music! 200.’

Now That’s What I Call Music Now!, 4 July, 9pm, BBC Radio 2. Now That’s What I Call Music! 100 will be released on 20 July.

we explore how Now! compilations began as they prepare to release their 100th one | Daily Mail Online
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jun 25th, 2018 at 09:47 AM..