While the past few have been a bit mediocre, let’s see if the NOW series can recover. Could “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 11” become the saving grace for the series?
Released on November 19, 2002, “NOW 11” continues the trend of three albums per year for the series. I was eleven years old at the time the album came out. I must’ve spent more time around the radio before this volume hit, because I remember hearing a lot of these songs when I was younger, as well as significantly after their release. I’m not going to lie or withhold anything either; “NOW 11” is great. Let’s start from the beginning.
The album opens with “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, a classic club anthem that no doubt many of you started hearing in your head just now. This song is both a party starter and a great way to kick off an album. The track is quick but low-key, and it’s accompanied by a powerful vocal performance. While the lyrics themselves leave something to be desired, Nelly’s voice fits perfectly against the musical backdrop to bring out the real energy in the song. It’s absolutely a great way to start.
“Objection (Tango)” by Shakira is another noteworthy song. It has a unique blend of pop and classic tango-style music that helps the track come alive. This music, when combined with Shakira’s signature vocal sound, easily makes this track one of the reasons that “NOW 11” is so good. I mean, seriously, try to listen to this song without wanting to tap your feet or smiling a bit at the authentic tango opening. It helps lift the pace and spirit of the album up as a whole.
Vanessa Carlton returns with her song “Ordinary Day.” While not as a popular as her previous hit, “A Thousand Miles,” this song still features her clear, bright vocals and the distinct use of piano. I may just be a sucker for piano music, but the way the way the instrument combines with the twinkling guitar and crisp drum beats in this particular song works incredibly well. While similar in tone to the sweet and remarkably bad Mandy Moore, Carlton has managed to find the right space for that kind of saccharine voice. She makes it work.
Another addition to the “good” pile of songs on this album is “One Last Breath” by Creed. Now, it’s been a while since we’ve had a Creed song, with the last one being featured all the way back on “NOW 6.” However, Creed always sounds exactly the same. That’s not bad, either! Just Us Geeks will always have a soft spot for Scott Stapp’s mumble-like vocals and the band’s intricate guitar. “One Last Breath” hits a bit harder and is a bit louder than “With Arms Wide Open,” its companion on “NOW 6,” but we all know that Creed just gets better with age. Alas, though, we now have to mention the bad.
The good news about “NOW 11” is that there isn’t much bad to talk about. Kylie Minogue’s “Love At First Sight” sounds like they found the most generic female voice in existence and pasted it over some upbeat, infomercial background track. It’s just too generic in the midst of the other tracks on the album.
“Everyday” by Bon Jovi feels incredibly out of place as the last song on the album. It leaves you with a lot of energy, yes, but Bon Jovi sounds notably dated with the mix of modern artists. Finally, Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger shows up with his Spider-Man hit, “Hero.” We all really know he was just trying to sneak some Nickelback in the back door. Nice try, Chad, but leave it at home next time.
Overall, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 11” really helps the series recover. After a few bad eggs in a row, this album brings plenty of energy, recognizable hits, and a good blend back to the table. Almost everything works incredibly well together and I can only hope that future albums can bring the heat back to this series. To borrow a line from Nelly: good gracious, “NOW 11”’s bodacious.
For those looking for a list of hits to put right into their music library, here’s the full track listing for “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 11”:
1. “Hot in Herre” by Nelly
2. “Nothin'” by N.O.R.E.
3. “Gangsta Lovin'” by Eve featuring Alicia Keys
4. “Feel It Boy” by Beenie Man featuring Janet
5. “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas
6. “Love at First Sight” by Kylie Minogue
7. “Objection (Tango)” by Shakira
8. “Underneath It All” by No Doubt featuring Lady Saw
9. “BareNaked” by Jennifer Love Hewitt
10. “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton
11. “Landslide” by Dixie Chicks
12. “I Care 4 U” by Aaliyah
13. “Stingy” by Ginuwine
14. “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones
15. “Hero” by Chad Kroeger featuring Josey Scott
16. “Running Away” by Hoobastank
17. “In My Place” by Coldplay
18. “One Last Breath” by Creed
19. “Somewhere Out There” by Our Lady Peace
20. “Everyday” by Bon Jovi