I own every single Now That’s What I Call Music! CD up until volume 20. Make fun if you will, but these CDs were so great! (I’ll admit that I was over it by volume 17, but the OCD in me made me keep buying them until I hit a good drop-off point. Volume 20 sucked). I’d pop one of the CDs into my Discman and scoff at my friends spending hours downloading bootlegs from Limewire (joking, I wish my friends were that cool). Other benefits of the Now! CDs included not having to bring your entire case of CDs everywhere with you (even thought I did anyway, Hoarders: Now! Edition), hearing up-and-coming artists, and having edited versions of your favorite songs to play at your 6th-grade birthday party without mom yelling at you. Some of the songs featured on these albums went on to become timeless, but many of these songs and artists were forgotten about, swept under the rug, or trapped in the closet (shout out to R. Kelly). Let’s bring back some of the better ones.
1. ‘(Shorty You Keep) Playin’ With My Mind,’ by Imajin
I’m pretty sure I always skipped over this one back in 1998, but I was a fool back then. This has a solid beat, and any song with “shorty” in the name is a keeper.
2. ‘Lights, Camera, Action!,’ by Mr. Cheeks
Ah, Mr. Cheeks, a one-hit-wonder, if you can even call him that. I hope he became a stripper after this so he didn’t have to change his name.
3. I Want You,’ by Thalia ft. Fat Joe
This is here for Fat Joe — what a horrible stage name and marketing platform. I get that he was kind of trapped since there’s already an R&B singer named Joe, but what’s going to happen in 2019 when your cardiologist puts you on a plant-based diet and you shrink down to under 200 pounds? Your high blood pressure’s gone, but so is your career, and pretty soon you’ll be as much of a no-name as Thalia (seriously still can’t figure out who she is).
4. Nothin’,’ by N.O.R.E.
At the white boy club, wildin’, buyin’ the bar, they like “hey now, you’re an all star.”
5. Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love),’ by J.C. Chasez
Poor J.C. — his solo career flopped so much that he doesn’t even have his own VEVO channel on YouTube. I still love him so much, even though he’ll always be the Gretchen Wieners to Justin Timberlake’s Regina George.
6. Suga Suga,’ by Baby Bash ft. Frankie J.
Don’t even front and say you didn’t slow dance to this (walkie-talkie distance apart, of course) to this in middle school.
7. Faded,’ by soulDecision
Definitely one of the more risqué boy band numbers…you want to do what?!
8. Aaron’s Party (Come Get It),’ by Aaron Carter
My parties have never and will never be as cool as this one — they never get mistaken for an open house, nobody puts up flyers, and everybody always flakes on being my backup dancer.
9. No More (Baby I’ma Do Right),’ by 3LW
Had to throw in a song that mentions pagers.
10. Flavour of the Weak,’ by American Hi-Fi
Needed some sort of teenage angst-y song on here. Plus, the Now! CD with this track used the European spelling of “flavor.” So edgy.