After the number 13 is the number 14, right? I think I remember how to count. All this pop music is getting to my head. Anyway, regardless of how much has come before it, we’re on “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 14.”
Released on November 4, 2003, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 14” continues that oh-so-clever tactic of blending popular music from the time on one easily accessible album. Hot on the heels of the amazing “NOW 13,” “NOW 14” actually manages to be a decent album. It’s not spectacular, but it’s not headed immediately to the garbage bin. We’ll begin our specific evaluation from where we always do, track number one.
Beyoncé, alongside Jay-Z, opens up “NOW 14” with her memorable hit “Crazy In Love.” I remember this hit from my younger days simply because, like a ton of other Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child hits, it played on everything all the time. Commercials, television shows, movies, you name it. Now, unlike her other constantly repeated hits, I can actually stand this one in short bursts. It’s a high-energy opener and it meshes well with the rest of the album. I wouldn’t listen to it more than once or twice, but for now, it comes in as a positive.
A little further down the list we encounter another hyper-popular song: “Right Thurr” by Chingy. I cannot count the times I’ve heard this song played in both mocking and legitimate enjoyment. I still remember the massive pickups blasting this as they squealed out of the Jr./Sr. high school parking lot. It’s in the positive side of things for two reasons: A) It’s incredibly catchy and, B) even if in a joking manner, you will always sing this song when it comes on. I have a feeling I’ll be expressing similar feelings about that “boots with the fur” song if it happens to be on a future NOW. “Right Thurr” is at least silly entertainment in your music library.
Further down, and still in the realm of hip-hop and R & B, comes “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash, featuring Frankie J. This is another song I remember hearing on repeat through public channels. It’s like “NOW 14” is strictly made of songs that never stopped playing. You don’t need an album for this if it’s on all airwaves at all times. Anyway, “Suga Suga” may be gross, but again, it’s catchy and I can only wonder how it got “so fly.”
Stepping out of the hip-hop half of the album, we’ve got a few hits in the rock/punk/everything-that’s-not-R&B section. “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne is one of them. That’s all I have to say. You’ve heard that song. Don’t lie. You’ve sung it, too. It was also played a lot. Listen to it again. You know you want to. It’s got it going on.
Surprisingly, The Ataris cover of “The Boys of Summer” is an exceptional addition to the album. Now while the original is good, it seems to perfectly be updated for the time with The Ataris punk stylings. The vocals are strong and reminiscent of the original and the music is spot-on, fast-paced, and a lot of fun to listen to. I’d gladly shove this into my regular playlist, for sure.
As for negatives, this album does have quite a few more than “NOW 13.” “Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)” by Lumidee is not appealing, not in the least. It’s slow, generic, and a little grating. It’s no wonder I’d never heard of Lumidee until this album. “Thoia Thoing” by R. Kelly kind of makes its terribleness known all on its own. It’s a crap song in addition to other obvious negatives. Rounding out the troop of bad is “Someday” by Nickelback. Oh, Nickelback. It’s cute how you try. There are several more bad songs on the album, but I don’t have nearly enough words for them.
“NOW That’s What I Call Music! 14” is an oddly polarizing beast. The songs on it that are good are really, really good while the songs that are bad are really, really bad. There’s no way around it. As a whole, I’d be hard-pressed to grab “NOW 14,” but I’d definitely buy a majority as single tracks just to have. It fell short of the glory that was “NOW 13,” but “NOW 14” presented a strong showing. For the first time in a long time, I’d say we’ve got two positives in a row.
For those who want to slice the album up themselves, here’s the full track listing for “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 14”:
1. “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
2. “Where Is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas featuring Justin Timberlake
3. “My Love Is Like…Wo” by Mýa
4. “Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)” by Lumidee
5. “Right Thurr” by Chingy
6. “Wat Da Hook Gon Be” by Murphy Lee featuring Jermaine Dupri
7. “Thoia Thoing” by R. Kelly
8. “Let’s Get Down” by Bow Wow featuring Baby
9. “Señorita” by Justin Timberlake
10. “I Want You” by Thalía featuring Fat Joe
11. “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash featuring Frankie J
12. “In Those Jeans” by Ginuwine
13. “Walked Outta Heaven” by Jagged Edge
14. “(There’s Gotta Be) More to Life” by Stacie Orrico
15. “Why Can’t I?” by Liz Phair
16. “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne
17. “Girls & Boys” by Good Charlotte
18. “The Boys of Summer” by The Ataris
19. “Someday” by Nickelback
20. “Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down