If you are reading this and claim to not own a single Now! That's What I Call Music compilation, I would have to call you a god-damn liar. There is no way that anyone, no matter how old, has managed to remove all traces of this mixtape from their lives. You may think you don't, but trust me, when it comes to your next house move, you'll be sorting through all the junk in your wardrobe or under the bed, then suddenly; BAM! Now 78 comes screaming out of the dark. And when you find one of these relics of days gone by, there is no chance that'll simply just leave it be. Of course you are going to check the tracklist, maybe have a giggle at the amazing memories that at one point in your life seemed cool and edgy. Maybe stick it in the stereo for old times sake. There is literally no better feeling than rediscovering something you once forgot about and reliving it in your current state.
Now the reason I'm suddenly so interested in these compilations is actually because of an article I read regarding one of the more recent episodes of the BBC series Peter Kay's Car Share. If you haven't watched it, it has a simple premise focused around Peter Kay, the northern comedian who made a career out of nostalgia, driving fellow characters around and having a good old chin-wag. It seems like a knock-off of Jerry Seinfeld online series 'Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee', except this one is scripted and there is no-one funny in the car. Either way, the pretence of this week's episode surrounded the discovery of a Now! compilation CD in the car, more specifically Now! 48. As a result, the 2001 release served as the soundtrack to the episode, resulting in tongue-in-cheek glee towards reliving the sounds of Hear'Say's seminal single 'Pure And Simple', as well as other naff offerings like Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me' and Bob The Builder's 'Can We Fix It?'
But one of the more unlikely side-effects of this sly addition was just how popular the compilation became in the following days. eBay sellers of the CD were seeing a huge rise in demand that saw bids as high as £20 for the double-disc set, proving that nostalgia does in fact sell. But if anything is to be said about this sudden interest in a forgotten music compilation, it is the fact that we are not as nostalgic about music as we might think.
Of course, we are all hypocrites when it comes to how we remember things. The amount of times that I've heard people drone on about how music used to be better when they were young is simply not true. You may be sitting there thinking about this right now, but just like all memories, they are being played back to you through a filter. Of course you'll look back on years like 1997 and say they were fantastic. And they were. That year brought us Prodigy's 'Fat Of The Land', Radiohead's 'OK Computer', The Verve's 'Urban Hymes', and Daft Punk's 'Homework. But there was also Gina G's 'Ooh Ah, Just A Little Bit', Hanson's 'Mmmbop' and Aqua's 'Barbie Girl'. Now I bet you weren't thinking about those when I mentioned 1997. And that's the problem with nostalgia, its narrow lens makes us believe that things were fantastic in those days but ignores the big picture.
But you know what never forgets, Now! compilations. These releases serve as a permanent reminder at just how shady and deplorable our taste in music has always been. It may seem like the songs in the charts at the moment are the worst they have been in years, but I can assure you, they are not. Popular music has always had it fair share of despicable oddities that plague our lives, which is why so many of us, after a certain numbers of years on this earth, revert back into our comfort zone and forget about new music. Emerging periodically to slate whatever comeback record just "isn't as good as they used to be". So with this in mind, I urge you to research whatever Now! you have been thinking of this whole time. I know you have because I have. We all have that one number of the never-ending numerical list that stands-out in our minds. Maybe it was the first one you purchased, or simply one you remember listening to time and time again on your walkman on the way to a relatives house. Either way, just look it up and listen to it again. The tracks may not have stood the time of time, but I guarantee that most important thing you'll realise is not how good the music was but how much fun you had while it played.