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Who would win in a fight: 'Now That’s What I Call Music! 96' vs 'Now That’s What I Call Music! 34'

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Now albums are basically the best albums there are.

Oh, we can all pretend that Astral Weeks, Bitches Brew or OK Computer take pride of place in our record collections, but deep down you’re just lying to yourself. Really, it’s that well-worn double CD, with the lovingly torn insert and the discs slightly scratched from sheer overuse from when you put on the hit collection over and over again in your youth and learned the words to every single bloody song on there.

Yes, they’re merely gateways into music for some – they buy a couple and move into artist albums and the rest – but they deserve respect in and of themselves; they’re a time capsule of popular music. Some songs may stand the test of time, others will not, but they define a moment and – for you, the listener – they indelibly stamp themselves with vivid memories, usually from those formative teenage years. Now albums are the ultimate democracy: they are genre-blind, colour-blind, gender-blind – they don’t care what the song is, they don’t care who it’s by, they do not judge. One criteria: is it a hit?

Nonetheless, God did not make all Now albums equal. Some are definitely better than others, and their ‘time capsule’ aspect is also an excellent way of being able to definitively say, for example, that music today is not as good as it used to be, like a moaning old granddad.

And so, with Now That’s What I Call Music! 96 hitting stores/the internet/streaming sites/wax cylinders, it’s time to answer that very question. Is music as good as it used to be? 

We will be doing that by seeing who wins in a head-to-head fight between the latest Now! and the edition which is arguably the best one ever: Now That’s What I Call Music! 34.

Tale of the Tape

Now That’s What I Call Music! 34

We’ll be honest here, Now 96 has a seriously tough task on its hands. If it loses, there will be no disgrace, no inquest, because Now 34 is an astonishingly strong opponent. This is the Klitschko of Nows. The big boy has no apparent weaknesses, it’s an established brute, and it has all-round excellence. It’s 1996, we’re in a golden age of pop, Britpop is in full flow, there’s some mid-’90s chart dance, some Clarkson-approved soft rock, a dash of gangsta rap and the Macarena. Is it beatable? Our heads say no. But then did Tyson Fury listen to the pundits in 2016? No, he had (relative) youth on his side, threw a load of insults, then threw a load of punches and triumphed. Maybe Now 34 has aged badly and is ready to succumb to that.

Now That’s What I Call Music! 96

Before you ask, given Ed Sheeran’s ridiculous takeover of the singles chart, no, this compilation isn’t simply an extended version of his new album. Of course, he’s on there – but with only one track (don’t worry, they’re saving ‘Galway Girl’ for Now 97, thank God). Meanwhile, there are some pop heavyweights in the form of Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Little Mix, some new kids on the block (Chainsmokers, Dua Lipa and Zara Larsson), some good old faceless dance bangers and a quartet of old bastards in the middle. There is barely a guitar twanged in anger on it, telling you something about how popular indie is at the moment. We’ll be honest, it’s a bit of a transition time for pop right now – One Direction have hung up their boots, Swifty’s on the downlow, Beyoncé’s not really doing straight pop anymore – but they said you’ll never win anything with kids and look what happened there, so come on Now 96, give it your best shot and let’s see what goes down.

Track 1: Spice Girls – ‘Wannabe’ vs Ed Sheeran – ‘Castle on the Hill’

BOOM. Now 34 comes out swinging with ‘Wannabe’ and love it or hate it you know every word and it was the song responsible for launching one of the biggest pop juggernauts ever. Meanwhile, Now 96 offers up a serious competitor in the form of Ed Sheeran’s Snow Patrol-lite (and we weren’t sure that was possible) ‘Castle on the Hill’. Sorry Ed, you might have broken a load of chart records, but will ‘Castle on the Hill’ still be played at weddings in 21 years’ time? Maybe funerals mate, maybe funerals.

Winner: Ginger Spice > Ginger Ed: NOW 34 1-0 NOW 96

Track 2: Robbie Williams – ‘Freedom’ vs Rag’N’Bone Man – ‘Human’

Ouch, this is a toughy. Mr ‘N’Bone Man might be something of a personality vacuum, but there’s no doubt that ‘Human’ is an absolutely brilliant song. But he’s up against Robbie ‘358 Brit Awards’ Williams and he’s doing a George Michael song. Fortunately for Now 96, it’s not George Michael singing it, and Robbie’s version sounds a little weak these days to be brutally honest, which is what we’re here to be.

Winner: We’re gonna give this one to the Bin raider, sorry Rob: NOW 34 1-1 NOW 96

Track 3: Peter Andre – ‘Mysterious Girl’ vs Little Mix – ‘Touch’

Little Mix rarely disappoint, and ‘Touch’ is yet another banger to add to their canon (which would be an exceptionally banging canon, even for a canon) but can it realistically compete with ‘Mysterious Girl’? No it cannot. It’s pop reggae, which automatically makes it amazing, it’s Peter Andre, which automatically makes it hilarious, and let’s have a shout out to Bubbla Ranx. Where is he these days? Anyone know?

Winner: Seriously, what a tune. NOW 34 2-1 NOW 96

Track 4: Dodgy – ‘Good Enough’ vs The Weeknd ft Daft Punk – ‘Starboy’

The glory of Now, how on earth are you supposed to pick a winner out of these two. But that, ladies and gentlemen is what we are paid the big bucks to do, so a decision must be made. ‘Good Enough’, is it good enough? Clearly, it’s an all-time summer anthem. But ‘Starboy’ is one of those brilliant songs that slowly creeps up on you and before you know it you realise just how good it is. We’re going to have to move the debate up a notch: do we want to live in a world where ‘Good Enough’ didn’t exist? No. Could we live in a world where ‘Starboy’ didn’t exist? Yeah, probably.

Winner: Damn you with your catchy Britpop Dodgy, take your point. NOW 34 3-1 NOW 96

Track 5: Ocean Colour Scene – ‘The Day We Caught The Train’ vs The Chainsmokers – ‘Paris’

The Chainsmokers are like evil geniuses. The melodies in their songs use about three notes (to be fair, Nelly got away with two for years), they use the same three chords every time (likewise, Quo), their songs are so bland they’re almost genreless, and yet – yet, they are damned catchy and they have a sort of dreamlike quality that few others manage. Is it as good as ‘The Day We Caught the Train’ though? Don’t be stupid.

Winner: get the beers in lads, it’s Ocean Colour Scene. NOW 34 4-1 NOW 96

Track 6: Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen – ‘Theme from Mission Impossible’ vs Starley – ‘Call On Me (Ryan Riback Remix)’

Pros for ‘Mission Impossible’: it’s the Mission Impossible theme which, objectively, is a classic. Cons for ‘Mission Impossible’: it’s the ‘other two’ from U2, who you probably wouldn’t recognise if they came over and whacked you over the head with say, a bass guitar and a snare drum (the bass would hurt, the snare would presumably just break over your head in a cartoonish manner). It’s a bit slow really as well, sorry lads a bit of energy would have been nice. ‘Call On Me’ is the most brilliantly generic piece of ‘current’ dance pop you’ll ever hear (is there a DJ Snake synth line in there? You bet your bottom dollar there is) but cock it, it’s a bit more exciting at least.

Winner: Well done Starley and Ryan Riback whoever you are. NOW 34 4-2 NOW 96

Track 7: Underworld – ‘Born Slippy’ vs Anne-Marie – ‘Ciao Adios’

This one’s a bit painful to watch. Anne-Marie, thanks for coming with your lovely slice of dancehall-lite pop and song clearly written by beginning with the title and then working back, but you’ve been crushed under the wheels of an absolute all-time gargantuan club banger.

Winner: Erm, it’s ciao adios to Anne-Marie (sorry). NOW 34 5-2 NOW 96

Track 8: JX – ‘There’s Nothing I Won’t Do’ vs Bruno Mars – ‘24K Magic’

A real clash of the titans here, JX with an absolutely awesome slice of mid-’90s dance in a thoroughly N-Trance style. God it’s brilliant. But on the other hand, we have Mr Bruno Mars, who is something of a rather amazing pop star these days and ‘24K Magic’ is one of those supremely confident, musically peerless songs that you make when you’re truly at the top of your game.

Winner: Julio, get the stretch. NOW 34 5-3 NOW 96

Track 9: Gina G – ‘Ooh Aah (Just a Little Bit)’ vs Zara Larsson – ‘I Would Like’

On the face of it, this would be a runaway win for Gina G. It’s a universally-acknowledged ridiculous pop song that was a Eurovision entrant and a chart topper in 1996 – and we’ve already established what a competitive time for music that was – surely it’s slam-dunk winner for a Now fight? But just wait a second: while Zara Larsson’s track, on first listen, sounds like a fairly standard modern pop banger (some classic backing ‘ohs’, minimal beat) it’s infuriatingly catchy and at the time of writing, the chorus has been stuck in my head for approximately two weeks. It’s a results business and ‘I Would Like’ has produced the goods.

Winner: A shock victory for Larsson. NOW 34 5-4 NOW 96

Track 10: Pianoman – ‘Blurred’ vs Katy Perry – ‘Chained To The Rhythm (featuring Skip Marley)’

Bloody hell, we’d completely forgotten about this track. Only in the heady Britpop days of 1996 would a GCSE-standard rave piano version of Blur’s ‘Girls & Boys’ be a hit. Meanwhile, Perry’s ‘Chained to the Rhythm’ is one of those glorious pop songs that on first listen doesn’t try too hard, sounds just fine, but grows and grows with every listen until you cannot stop listening to it.

Winner: A quarter of the way through and it’s all square. NOW 34 5-5 NOW 96

 

Track 11: Livin’ Joy – ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ vs Sean Paul – ‘No Lie (feat. Dua Lipa)’

First thing – an amazing fact for you: the two guys in Livin’ Joy were also members of Alex Party. Second thing – ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ is one of those brilliant ‘90s follow-ups-to-a-hit-that-is-basically-the-same-but-not-quite-as-good-but-that-basically-means-it’s-still-brilliant. Coming after ‘Dreamer’, it fulfilled its mission perfectly. ‘No Lie’, meanwhile, continues the Sean Paul comeback with aplomb (and with a healthy amount of ‘baby girls’) while Dua Lipa (born and raised in London) does her best Jamaican accent. It’s not enough though I’m afraid guys.

Winner: It’s (livin’) joy for for the Now 34 gang. NOW 34 6-5 NOW 96

Track 12: Louise – ‘Naked’ vs Martin Jensen – ‘Solo Dance’

The first one to leave Eternal and go solo, Louise’s debut single was quite comical even at the time, being so try-hard ‘grown up’ and ‘sexy’ that it was one of the least sexy things ever recorded. Listening back though, it’s actually a bit of a tune, albeit sung with less conviction than a corrupt judge. ‘Solo Dance’, meanwhile, is every single current tropical house cliché bundled into two minutes and 54 seconds with sub-Robyn lyrics. It’s rubbish but it is still a good pop song. That’s just how it works. But is it enough? No.

Winner: The Nurding. NOW 34 7-5 NOW 96

Track 13: Mark Morrison – ‘Return of the Mack’ vs Zedd – ‘Stay (featuring Alessia Cara)’

Do we really need to even listen to these again before picking a winner? Fine. One is a sub-Chainsmokers chase-the-zeitgeist non-event and one is one of the greatest party songs ever made. God has judged Mark, and God has judged him a winner.

Winner: It’s another triumph for Leicester. NOW 34 8-5 NOW 96

Track 14: 2Pac – ‘California Love (featuring Dr Dre and Roger Troutman)’ vs Sigrid – ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’

This is unfortunate. ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is probably one of the best pop songs of the year. It’s brilliant: instant enough to grab you from first listen yet wonky enough to really stand out. And what’s seriously impressive is that Sigrid is just 20 and this is her first song. But sorry girl, there’s no room for sentiment here and we all know that ‘California Love’ is a belter of such epic proportions that it hardly needs explaining.

Winner: Sorry Sigrid. NOW 34 9-5 NOW 96

Track 15: Pato Banton – ‘Groovin’ vs Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson – ‘Just Hold On’

Pato Banton, what an absolute legend. ‘Baby Come Back’ and ‘Bubblin’ Hot’ are both all-time classics, while ‘Groovin’ is the dictionary definition of a summer vibe. Equally likeable is Louis Tomlinson, with his first solo single after One Direction’s split/hiatus. He seems like a nice chap, he’s a big Doncaster Rovers fan and this is a singalong, simple pop track perfect for some summer pool parties.

Winner: Look, this is probably a draw but in the interests of the match, we’ll give it to Louis. NOW 34 9-6 NOW 96

Track 16: Reel 2 Real – ‘Jazz It Up’ vs Dua Lipa – ‘Be The One’

Another strong round, with ‘Jazz It Up’ a bit of classic ultra-fun Chicago House courtesy of the brilliant Erick Morillo, the core member of Reel 2 Real. However, it’s up against another rather brilliant bit of current pop in the form of Dua Lipa’s (this time singing in a normal accent) ‘Be The One’, a quality piece of late night electro which slinks its way along like a big synthy snake to take the point.

Winner: Dua wins this duel. NOW 34 9-7 NOW 96

Track 17: Maxi Priest – ‘That Girl (feat Shaggy)’ vs Jonas Blue – ‘By Your Side (feat Raye)’

As much as we love Maxi Priest and Shaggy, there’s a reason this song rarely features in either of their best-ofs – it’s really not very good. Mind you, ‘By Your Side’ is an egregious piece of Instagram house meets Coldplay from Jonas Blue, who we still haven’t forgiven for his ‘Fast Car’ abomination. The monotone, repetitive chorus really couldn’t be much more annoying.

Winner: Shaggy’s a legend. NOW 34 10-7 NOW 96

Track 18: Los Del Mar – ‘Macarena’ vs Coldplay – ‘Hypnotised’

Do you remember a time before the ‘Macarena’? We don’t. Yes, it’s the sound of a thousand awkward family parties with an aunt imploring you to join the ‘fun’ on the dancefloor, but come on, it’s the ‘Macarena’, it’s a song that exists independently of cool, time, criticism – it’s just there. Forever. For Coldplay, meanwhile, this is a phoned-in cut that clearly wasn’t good enough for their last album.

Winner: Yes, put that on your press release Coldplay: “Not as good as the Macarena”. NOW 34 11-7 NOW 96

Track 19: Umboza – ‘Sunshine’ vs John Legend – ‘Love Me Now’

As if the ‘Macarena’ wasn’t enough, here’s a song based on ‘Bamboléo’ by the Gypsy Kings from Now 34. It’s ludicrous and it’s brilliant. Seriously, is it possible to have more fun than on this song? Meanwhile John, bless him, trots out yet another slushily romantic song on behalf of Now 96. Which, to be fair, given he’s a consummate musician and songwriter, is very well written. But it’s not as good as ‘Bamboléo’ is it? Most things aren’t John, don’t take it personally.

Winner: BAMBOLÉO! NOW 34 12-7 NOW 96

Track 20: Josh Wink – ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ vs Robbie Williams – ‘I Love My Life’

One is an all-time dancefloor classic which exists in around 238 different versions, all of which are amazing. The other is the weird sound of Robbie, who’s already been on the wrong end of the result when representing Now 34 appearing completely content and writing a song for middle-aged housewives looking to justify their life choices.

Winner: Two defeats for Robbie, sad times mate, sad times. NOW 34 13-7 NOW 96

Track 21: Todd Terry – ‘Keep On Jumpin (feat Jocelyn Brown & Martha Wash)’ vs George Michael – ‘Fastlove Part 1’

This would have been the first track of tape two in the old days, so it’s a couple of biggies to kick off the second half of the contest. It’s a quirk of the Now system – no rules, remember, just is it a hit – that George Michael’s death has seen him pop up again with the utterly amazing ‘Fastlove, Part 1’ which obviously, despite the undeniable brilliance of ‘Keep On Jumpin’, means that it’s a point for Now 96. Hilariously, if we’d picked Now 35, he could have been up against himself with the same song, and I’m not sure exactly how we’d have picked a winner there. Actually: music. Music would have been the winner.

Winner: Of course it’s gorgeous George. NOW 34 13-8 NOW 96

 

Track 22: Robert Miles – ‘Children’ vs Jax Jones – ‘You Don’t Know Me (feat Raye)’

Ouch: two big hitters come out swinging at each other, with the very ‘90s-esque, and all-round pretty excellent track ‘You Don’t Know Me’ putting in a strong showing for Now 96. But come on, it’s ‘Children’. It’s an immortal slice of trance/pop crossover. It’s got thunder. It’s got euphoric piano. It’s obviously got to win the point.

Winner: You literally can win something (a point) with kids. It’s ‘Children’. NOW 34 14-8 NOW 96

Track 23: George Michael – ‘Jesus to a Child’ vs The Weeknd – ‘I Feel It Coming (feat Daft Punk)’

Now 96 has really not had the luck of the draw in this contest, with some of its strongest tracks coming up against no-nonsense belters from Now 34. ‘I Feel It Coming’ is a brilliant slab of funkiness, but can it compete with one of the most beautiful songs ever written, courtesy of that man George again? Unfortunately not lads.

Winner: It’s a valiant effort Mr The Weeknd, but it’s another point for Gorgeous George. NOW 34 15-8 NOW 96

Track 24: Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’ vs Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa – ‘Scared to Be Lonely’

The Now 34 engine room is really turning this match into a bloody mess now, the experience and know-how just proving too much for the rookies of Now 96 and the bodies of Martin Garrix and Dua Lipa lay stricken in midfield having just been utterly and embarrassingly outplayed. Come on ref, blow the whistle, it’s getting hard to watch.

Winner: Yeah we think Oasis shades this one ever so slightly. NOW 34 16-8 NOW 96

 

Track 25: The Bluetones – ‘Slight Return’ vs Kygo – ‘It Ain’t Me (feat Selena Gomez)’

Jesus just how many interchangeable tropical/Instagram house tracks are there around at the moment? I mean everyone loves a pineapple but come on. This one certainly can’t compete with a massive Britpop classic at any rate.

Winner: Don’t be blue, ‘The Bluetones’ because you’ve just won another point. NOW 34 17-8 NOW 96

Track 26: Paul Weller – ‘Peacock Suit’ vs Rae Sremmurd & Gucci Mane – ‘Black Beatles’

At the height of Britpop, the modfather himself is, appropriately, in full peacocking mode on this track, but we’re gonna have a vote for youth with the anthem of the Mannequin Challenge, ‘Black Beatles’ which, for a mainstream hit is an unsettlingly weird track – plus it also uses the word geezer, which is great.

Winner: Finally, the carnage for Now 96 subsides. NOW 34 17-9 NOW 96

Track 27: Bon Jovi – ‘Hey God’ vs Machine Gun Kelly – ‘Bad Things (with Camila Cabelo)’

Hmmm, this isn’t a strong match up. Everyone loves a bit of Jovi, but this is a bit by-numbers, albeit by-numbers during Jovi’s second imperial phase, thus still pretty good. And facing off is rapper Machine Gun Kelly and former Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabelo. In true mid-’90s rap style, she does the singy bit and he does the rappy bit. In fact, it employs Pachelbel’s Canon, just like Coolio’s ‘I’ll C U When U Get There’, although it’s obviously nowhere near as effective. Where are we going with this? No idea, both of these songs are extremely average, as befits their status as track 27 on their respective Nows.

Winner: As a sympathy vote, we’ll give it to ‘Bad Things’. NOW 34 17-10 NOW 96

Track 28: Bryan Adams – ‘The Only Thing that Looks Good on Me is You’ vs Sage The Gemini – ‘Now and Later’

‘Now and Later’ is a really good track. Lovely funky groove, really refreshing production and some tight rapping. It’s really great. But come on, this is prime time Adams, managing to find that distinctive blend of being ridiculously cheesy (that title is ridiculous) and yet the ultimate in Eddie Stobart trucking music. And there ain’t nothing better than that is there?

Winner: Hit the road and put that pedal to the metal. NOW 34 18-10 NOW 96

Track 29: Belinda Carlisle – ‘In Too Deep’ vs Tinie Tempah – ‘Text From Your Ex (feat Tinashe)’

‘In Too Deep’ is a classic slice of Carlisle and does the job effectively and with the minimum of fuss. ‘Text From Your Ex’ is a classic slice of Tinie, complete with cheeky chorus. Neither is amazing but, wearily, we must choose a winner and it is Tinie, if only because if you were a kid you’d think this song was really naughty, and that’s a special thing indeed when you’re eight.

Winner: Don’t lose your Tempah Now 96, you’re still (just about) in this fight. NOW 34 18-11 NOW 96

Track 30: Suggs – ‘Cecilia’ vs Stormzy – ‘Big For Your Boots’

Oh sweet Lord, how on earth are you supposed to pick a winner from these two, both absolute, 24-carat bangers and no mistakin’. We all love Stormzy and ‘Big For Your Boots’ is brilliant, but Suggs is a national treasure so ‘Cecilia’ – just about – edges it.

Winner: You’re breaking my heart so you get the point. NOW 34 19-11 NOW 96

Track 31: Blur – ‘Charmless Man’ vs Tom Zanetti – ‘You Want Me (feat Sadie Ama)’

One is a great tune. One is absolutely bloody terrible. Guess which one is which.

Winner: Now 96 you need to take a long hard look at yourself, this is an insult to my ears. NOW 34 20-11 NOW 96

Track 32: Suede – ‘Trash’ vs Martin Solveig – ‘Places (feat Ina Wroldsen)’

Oh look, it’s another Scandi pop-dance track, although to be fair this one’s pretty good. It’s no ‘Hello’ though is it Martin? ‘Trash’ is an absolute Clint Boon for the ages so this is only going one way.

Winner: Another Britpop point as Now 34 shuts down any hope of victory for Now 96. NOW 34 21-11 NOW 96

Track 33: Joan Osborne – ‘One of Us’ vs Robin Schulz and David Guetta – ‘Shed a Light (feat Cheat Codes)’

‘One of Us’ is such a good song that it even managed to survive being parodied in an Austin Powers film. The other one is more dance-pop that’s so generic we can’t even be bothered to say anything else about it.

Winner: If God was one of us he’d choose to listen to Now 34. NOW 34 22-11 NOW 96

Track 34: Crowded House – ‘Instinct’ vs M.O. – ‘Not in Love (feat Kent Jones)’

Not Crowded House’s finest hour this, which probably explains why this is buried down at Track 34. It’s alright though. ‘Not in Love’ is alright too. It’s not as good as ‘Not in Love’ by 10cc though which, perhaps unfairly, means that the point goes to Crowded House, as we need something to differentiate them so it may as well be that as much as anything else.

Winner: “I'm gonna wear a t-shirt with Crowded House written on the front of it” NOW 34 23-11 NOW 96

Track 35: Lighthouse Family – ‘Ocean Drive’ vs Rag’n’Bone Man – ‘Skin’

Look Rag mate, we’ll give you ‘Human’ but this is just a bit dull. And dull is a word which has never been applied to Lighthouse Family, with their evergreen middle-of-the-road banger ‘Ocean Drive’ taking an easy point as Now 96 lose all discipline now their title challenge is over.

Winner: The sun’s gonna shine on everything you do (if you’re Now 34). NOW 34 24-11 NOW 96

Track 36: Tina Turner – ‘On Silent Wings’ vs Train – ‘Play That Song’

‘Play That Song’ is one of the worst musical crimes ever committed so let’s just pretend we never even mentioned it.

Winner: Tina of course. Now let’s move on from this sordid business. NOW 34 25-11 NOW 96

 

Track 37: Everything But The Girl – ‘Wrong’ vs The Vamps and Matoma – ‘All Night’

Now 96 must have the most amount of ‘featurings’ and collaborations of any Now album ever, right? I mean, obviously we’re not going to go through every Now album ever to find out – the would be madness – but it must be, it feels like at least the last 20 tracks have had a feature on. Anyway, as previously discussed about follow-up singles that sound basically the same as previous hits, this simply has to be Everything But The Girl’s attempt to cash in on ‘Missing’ (*looks on Wikipedia and, yep, there we go, it’s the next but one single after that*) which means that it’s good but not as good as ‘Missing’. And the other one? We feel like we’ve heard this a million times recently. We’ve forgotten it already.

Winner: It’s bad news for TheVampsandMatoma. NOW 34 26-11 NOW 96

Track 38: OMC – ‘How Bizarre’ vs Ariana Grande – ‘Everyday (feat Future)’

We’re down down in the nether regions of the B-side of tape two, a place where traditionally only best guesses at singles that might be a hits by the time Now hits the shops and that number 34 ‘hit’ by that weird indie band lived, but bugger us backwards if there aren’t two bangers sitting in track 38 of these respective Nows. We love a bit of Ariana, but even though this would be a bit of a consolation point, unfortunately ‘How Bizarre’ is an absolute beauty so sorry Now 96, you’re not even getting that.

Winner: Seriously, what a tune. NOW 34 27-11 NOW 96

Track 39: OMD – ‘Walking on the Milky Way’ vs Major Lazer – ‘Run Up (feat PARTYNEXTDOOR and Nicki Minaj)’

This truly is a sight to behold. The sheer strength in depth exhibited by Now 34 here is laying waste to the young pretender. Someone throw the towel in for god’s sake. Major Lazer and Nicki Minaj are responsible for some absolute legit bangers but this is not one of them.

Winner: What a chorus. NOW 34 28-11 NOW 96

 

Track 40: Space – ‘Female of the Species’ vs Post Malone – ‘Congratulations (feat Quavo)’

We’re not quite sure how ‘Congratulations’ is on Now 96 as it hasn’t actually charted in the UK. So we think this disqualifies it.

Winner: It wouldn’t have beaten Space anyway, let’s be serious. NOW 34 29-11 NOW 96

Track 41: Cast – ‘Walkaway’ vs Julia Michaels – ‘Issues’

Until Julia Michaels writes a song that tearfully soundtracks the exit from a major football tournament of a likeable and talented England team that deserved to get through to the final then she will not earn a point in this competition ahead of Cast.

Winner: Gazza why didn’t you just stretch that leg out a bit further. NOW 34 30-11 NOW 96

 

Track 42: Boyzone – ‘Coming Home Now’ vs Lorde – ‘Green Light’

Finally – the carnage subsides as Boyzone phone in this shuffleballad (the will-this-do sixth single from their debut album) complete with comedy spoken word section and Lorde’s bright and breezy comeback track takes a point for the bloody, bruised and battered Now 96.

Winner: Don’t worry Now 96, the suffering is nearly over now. NOW 34 30-12 NOW 96

Track 43: N/A vs Calvin Harris – ‘Slide (feat Frank Ocean and Migos)’

Now 34 is so triumphantly victorious that it’s buggered off early to the pub to celebrate, leaving Now 96 to gain an extra consolation point with this rather brilliant summery tune from Calvin ‘n’ Frank ‘n’ Migos which would have stood a good chance of winning even if it had actually had an opponent.

Winner: Walkover, and the final score is in: NOW 34 30-13 NOW 96

THE FINAL VERDICT

The youngster put up a good effort in the first half of proceedings, but class will win out, and the second half onslaught from Now 34 was simply too much for Now 96 to take. There’s no disgrace in defeat but there you have it: conclusive, scientific proof that music was better in 1996 than it is now. Now 97: you’re gonna need to up your game guys.

Now 34 remains the heavyweight undefeated champion of Nows. Bow down.

 

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