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The past is a collective hallucination, and we all chose to get well and forget Lil' Bow Wow
December 24, 2010 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Then That's What They Called Music is a series of posts on the Onion AV Club where writer Nathan Rabin (previously) listens to all of the NOW! That's What I Call Music CDs from 1999 onwards. The essays read like a history of a forgotten world, reminding you of terrible yet infectious pop tunes, and are full of great links, snappy writing and one man's struggle to deal with why the Black Eyed Peas, the most corporate band in America, are so popular.

Particular hi/low lights include reminding us all that in a time not so long along, Limp Bizkit were incredibly popular (Rabin: "I expected a never-ending deluge of crappy “Nookie” sound-alikes to follow, but Durst really wanted to direct movies like the ferociously mediocre 2009 Ice Cube family feature The Longshots. The group is apparently hard at work on a comeback album, though its commercial chances may be hindered by the fact that without his signature baseball cap, Durst looks like your uncle’s business partner.")

There's also the story of City High, a promising hip-hop lite trio who broke up in the way only a group featuring two guys and a girl can, and a reminder of Redman's surely ironic apperance on MTV Cribs ("it's a subversive exercise in reverse wish-fulfillment, where he showed MTV his incredibly nondescript New Jersey home, a shambles where the doorbell only works if you push two wires together, and some random dude is perpetually asleep on the couch") and the amazing story of Beyonce producer Scott Storch, who spent $30 million in a year on booze, drugs, women and cars. The rest, as the line goes, he just wasted.

The full series is well worth exploring - Rabin is currently up to Volume 23, November 2006.
posted by Sifter (29 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ooh, I got all excited, but this is the US version, not the original UK series which started in 1983. I only ever bought one, the mighty NOW 4 released in 1984. It was ACE. It's got Ghostbusters on it. Need I say more?
posted by jontyjago at 10:13 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


one man's struggle to deal with why the Black Eyed Peas, the most corporate band in America, are so popular.

Hint: It's because they're the most corporate band in America.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:17 AM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


@jontyjago - Yes, I initially got excited because I'm in the UK too, and have fond memories of getting NOW CDs (and the slightly cooler, Britpop focussed 'Shine' ones) for Christmas and birthdays when I was a teenager. But the writing of the AV Club series really does make it worth a look, and the concept behind the NOW CDs is exactly the same in the US...
posted by Sifter at 10:18 AM on December 24, 2010


Sifter: "a reminder of Redman's surely ironic apperance on MTV Cribs "

A computer monitor, a dreamcast and a bottle of lotion right next to the bed. That's something.
posted by boo_radley at 10:25 AM on December 24, 2010


I always eschewed the NOW discs as somehow being for poseurs, but this almost makes me wish I had picked up more of them; they'd be a lot easier to laugh at than my actual collection of individually-purchased, terrible 90s pop albums, which I recently sorted through. Some of those will bring shame on my family for generations.

And I haven't even started on the cassettes. God help me, the cassettes.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 AM on December 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Late '90s pop chart drinking game: whenever someone compares "You Get What You Give" to Todd Rundgren drink! Oy.
posted by mintcake! at 10:26 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You Get What You Give" is not as good as anything by Todd Rudgren.

Drink up!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:30 AM on December 24, 2010


Sifter: "a reminder of Redman's surely ironic apperance on MTV Cribs "

My favorite Cribs was where Scarface showed off the microwave on top of his toilet. "So you don't have to go all the way downstairs in your draws to get breakfast in the morning."
posted by electroboy at 11:13 AM on December 24, 2010


MTV Cribs: Scarface. Most surprising quote: "Aw MAN! Coldplay! That's my group!"
posted by electroboy at 11:17 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


AN OPEN LETTER TO
THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE
"NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL
MUSIC!" SERIES.

posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on December 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is going to be hours of reading material for me. The music of the ten years or so has baffled me, and I've been pretty out of touch with it since I stopped listening to the radio and started getting my music online. The back-stories on these bands and the songs are at times hilarious and facepalm-inducing. For example, the origins of Beyoncé's "Survivor". Yikes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:49 AM on December 24, 2010


I still want to see the show "MTV ribs: Where Are They Now?" where we revisit all those talentless one-quasi-hit wonders who had some shitty club remix of a half-decent pop tune with a misogynistic rap laid over it, who have since blown what little they'd ever earned (surely less even than what they'd financed that was in their garage) and were living in some crummy little apartment eating Top Ramen.

Want? Wait, no, I need to see that show...
posted by hincandenza at 12:27 PM on December 24, 2010


Oh gods these just keep getting better.
“Sometimes I run, sometimes I hide, sometimes I’m scared of you,” Spears sings in the chorus. “Sometimes” is the rare teen pop ballad whose hook could be addressed to either an overly persistent boyfriend, or to the family of cannibalistic mutants from The Hills Have Eyes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:48 PM on December 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


When that annoying 20 favorite albums Facebook meme was going around recently, I posted nothing but NOW! That's What I Call Music volumes in random order.

(This is hilarious stuff, by the way.)
posted by brundlefly at 1:42 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would also like to see something similar for the UK series of albums. I can remember listening to NOW 1 back in the 80s. I remember the sound quality of the albums was pretty bad back at that time - maybe because they were trying to get as many tracks as possible squeezed in - compression be damned. But before this series came along you had the choice of buying the original singles that you liked, buying the albums you liked, trying to make home taping compilations or (worst of all) getting suckered into buying a cheap compilation album made by soundalike bands - just because of the minimally clad girl on the cover.
posted by rongorongo at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2010


Since I'm at the parents, I have access to my dad's LP of the original, UK Now That's What I Call Music! - so all I can say to this is "needs more Kajagoogoo".

More seriously, great idea, would love it if someone could do the UK ones too.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:09 PM on December 24, 2010


I see you try to dis our function by stating that we can't rap/Is it cuz we don't wear Tommy Hilfiger or baseball caps?/We don't use dollars to represent/We just use our innocence and talent.

The Black Eyed Peas, 1998. No shit.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:20 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, reading this really emphasizes how disconnected I am from pop music. In my random skimming through eight or nine of these, the only band I'd actually heard any of as more than brief snippets coming out of passing cars was the Gorillaz - and that of course was because I'm an animation nerd so it was all about HEY CHECK OUT THE BAND THE DUDE WHO DREW TANK GIRL IS ANIMATING. Oh, I vaguely recognize about half the names of the acts from their times as sources of important news items like "Beyonce no longer likes the term 'bootylicious'" but I couldn't pick any of them out of a crowd, or hum any of their music.

I really can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It's just a thing, I guess.
posted by egypturnash at 2:34 PM on December 24, 2010


I have been all over this internet many times, in many iterations, and seen such horrors as Rule 34 can only hint at; and none of these have surprised or shaken me too deeply. Yet here I am completely mystified as to how the human frame might hold in it an inch of inclination to blow Fred Durst.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:00 PM on December 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Sisqo showing off his bidet and exhorting the ladies to "waaaaaash the thooooong" remains my favorite Cribs moment.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:06 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


“Sometimes I run, sometimes I hide, sometimes I’m scared of you,” Spears sings in the chorus. “Sometimes” is the rare teen pop ballad whose hook could be addressed to either an overly persistent boyfriend, or to the family of cannibalistic mutants from The Hills Have Eyes.

I could dream, but I'm sure if it was Britney it would be addressed to the shitty remake family and not the originals.

Seriously you bitch, there was nothing nuclear about them!!!
posted by mannequito at 3:29 PM on December 24, 2010


The theme of "Britney Spears! We all knew she'd go crazy!" is reiterated so many times it makes me wonder. Is that really a thing? Were people really expecting her to end nuts?
posted by NoraReed at 7:36 PM on December 24, 2010


Also: rewatching these music videos reminds me that all I want for Christmas is ribbons worn as bracelets on upper arms and shirts with strings for backs to make a comeback.
posted by NoraReed at 7:42 PM on December 24, 2010


shirts with strings for backs

How... how does that even work?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:46 PM on December 24, 2010


shirts with strings for backs

How... how does that even work?


Oh man, I totally had one of those in the 90s. I cried when I lost it in someone's truck. Anyway, it's basically a piece of fabric around the front, and then laces together in the back. Kind of like this but different styles, sometimes with sleeves.
posted by arcticwoman at 6:55 AM on December 25, 2010


You gotta love Redman a little bit after watching his Cribs segment. I wish Cribs would do follow up segments.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 12:22 PM on December 25, 2010


How... how does that even work?

Like this. It's awesome.

In retrospect this is probably where my thing for shoulderblades came from...
posted by NoraReed at 2:50 PM on December 25, 2010


That looks really cold. Summer thing, I guess.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 PM on December 25, 2010


I reckon Marcello Carlin should do the UK ones.

We are up to Now 80, i think, over here. And the first Black Eyed Peas song I heard was Request Line, with Macy Gray - they sound a different band now. I only keep up with chart music now via adverts so their album tracks may be heavily influenced by Carl Orff and Stockhausen for all I know, but nope, me no likey.

I remember there being two songs in about 1999 about how we shouldn't consider lapdancers hos. i was looking forward to this developing into a genre in the next millennium, but alas, it was not so.
posted by mippy at 2:56 PM on December 26, 2010


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