This week we return to explore the offerings of “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 9.” Good, bad, or indifferent, we must keep moving on!
Released on March 19, 2002, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 9” was the first NOW album for 2002. This album marks the ninth appearance in a row for the Backstreet Boys, which is a record that I imagine will be hard to beat in future entries. Other artists on the album with multiple entries include Britney Spears with her 7th NOW appearance and ‘N Sync with their 5th appearance. But – despite having a reliable roster of artists – this album isn’t quite up to snuff. Let’s start from the top.
The opening song on the album is “Get The Party Started (Sweet Dreams Remix)” by Pink (ft. Redman). This version is not the typical, upbeat version that I grew up listening to on the radio. This version is a slower-paced version featuring quite a bit of rap-style lyrics and a severe lack of the original song. To really get the party started, the original version would’ve been a much more upbeat, energy-raising track to prepare the listener. However, many songs on the album follow the low-energy bar set by this opening track.
The second song worth noting actually comes from one of our recurring artists, Britney Spears. Her track “I’m a Slave 4 U” showcases a stark departure from her younger pop-idol days into a much more mature set of themes. Regardless of theme, though, the song isn’t very appealing on its own. It’s slow with trippy techno hits and a strange melody. As the second song on the album, it also fails at creating a high-energy mood in the listener. I definitely couldn’t see adding this song to any music library – it’s simply too bland and forgettable.
Another song worth mentioning is Petey Pablo’s “Raise Up (All Cities Remix).” While it has more energy than other songs on the album, it feels…off. I was recently exposed to Mr. Pablo with the non-remix version of this song, and while the changes are minor, the regular version is much better. The difference between the two is that the “All Cities Remix” features multiple cities and states being shouted rather than just “North Carolina.” It completely takes away from the consistency and well-put-together feeling that the original version of the song had. It feels like he threw the new locations in for no reason. Not all songs on the album fall into the bad category, though.
One of the redeeming tracks is a higher-energy piece, Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever.” This song is one of the more upbeat tracks in the collection, bringing a bit of energy to the otherwise low-power set of songs. It’s also pretty catchy and I remember liking it a lot back in the day. It’s a decent song, worth a listen or two, but even it is mediocre compared to some of the tracks on other NOW entries. For this particular outing, though, it’s redeeming.
“Rollout (My Business)” by Ludacris is another enjoyable song on the list. It’s slow, like most of the album, but it’s addictive. Its style is a good intro into the rap-style of the early 2000s. It’s definitely a different feel than classic rap and is more in line with the harder beats and darker tone of this era of rap. However, it’s hard to skip when it comes up on this album, which is hard to say about any other track.
Overall, “NOW 9” is a step back from the quality of “NOW 8.” The overall theme is definitely low-energy, slower tunes. While, overall, the album could be considered a bit of a breather for the series, it doesn’t lend itself to being particularly enjoyable or listenable. I found myself wanting to skip most of the tracks and just listening to a core few repeatedly. Despite having a few of the most veteran NOW artists on it, they all brought weak showings to this particular entry. We can only look to the future and hope that “NOW 10” brings the energy back to the series.
As a side note, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 55” has been released, meaning my goalposts have moved and you can look forward to one extra review near the end of this project. Thanks for continuing on this journey.
For those of you with a need for a good sleep album, here’s the full track listing for “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 9”:
1. “Get The Party Started (Sweet Dreams Mix)” by Pink (ft. Redman)
2. “I’m A Slave 4 U” by Britney Spears
3. “Family Affair” by Mary J. Blige
4. “Whenever, Wherever” by Shakira
5. “Ain’t It Funny” by Jennifer Lopez
6. “Livin’ It Up” by Ja Rule
7. “Roll Out (My Business)” by Ludacris
8. “Lights, Camera, Action” by Mr. Cheeks
9. “Raise Up (All Cities Remix)” by Petey Pablo
10. “Caramel (Trackmasters Remix)” by City High (ft. Eve)
11. “Turn Off The Light” by Nelly Furtado
12. “Gone” by ‘N Sync
13. “Emotion” by Destiny’s Child
14. “Differences” by Ginuwine
15. “Drowning” by Backstreet Boys
16. “Stuck In A Moment” by U2
17. “Just Push Play” by Aerosmith
18. “Dig In” by Lenny Kravitz
19. “I Wish You Were Here” by Incubus
20. “Giving In” by Adema
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