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The 'NOW' series continues

NOW 45's recent release brings back memories

Any self-respecting ’90s kid knew and loved the compact collections of pop songs from NOW That’s What I Call Music. I’m sure many of us have at least five still hoarded somewhere. The digital forces of iTunes and Spotify have made such compilations essentially obsolete, and yet Now 45 was released just last month.

How many jokes were made on the playground that NOW 100 would come out when we were, like, married? Or worse, graduating college. The real world fast approaches, but the eternal debate between Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC remains preserved in the NOW series.

We all knew the good songs came first, followed by a few random, irrelevant songs usually at least by artists we recognized, and finally some bonus tracks from up-and-coming artists. Sometimes NOW would correctly predict a future hit, but more often you would just skip back to the beginning of the CD rather than listen to Hanson’s attempt to have a second hit.

And not all NOWs were created equal — _NOW 8 _was definitely one of the best. From *NSYNC’s “Pop” to Usher’s “U Got it Bad” to the modern classic “Bootylicious,” it’s got it all.

We can’t be blamed for what we listened to, but NOW poses a question: Are top hits popular because we listen to them, or do we listen to them because they are popular?

This conundrum has become more of an issue with the rise of digital media and the downward spiral of radio. Most stations won’t risk playing anything but the top hits because they are the songs most requested and will attract the broadest spectrum of listeners. NOW 45 documents this by including such teenybopper sensations as One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

The irony of the title is not only due to the excessive number of installments, but also, several songs are not even remotely recent. “It’s Time,” ”Daylight” and “Home” have bombarded top hit stations for months, or more. If this composition means to capture the moment of pop culture — the right now — they have fallen a bit behind the times.

As for their upcoming artists, Walk the Moon’s “Anna Sun” was popular two summers ago. I’m all for promoting underrated talent, but I would like to think we could do better.

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