Now That’s What I Call Music – The Ultimate Pop Music Phenomenon

For over 35 years, the Now That’s What I Call Music franchise has been bringing the biggest and best pop hits together on one unmissable album. From compilation albums to streaming playlists, Now That’s What I Call Music has become a pop culture phenomenon, providing the soundtrack to people’s lives across generations.

The franchise began in the UK in 1983 when EMI and Virgin Records had the novel idea of bringing the top chart hits from different labels together onto one album. The first Now That’s What I Call Music album featured classics like Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” and UB40’s “Red Red Wine” and was an instant success, sparking a series of regular Now compilations that became essential collections for music fans.

Part of the appeal was the diversity of artists featured on each album, covering pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, and other genres. Now albums offered a snapshot of what was hot in music at the time of release, bringing together chart-toppers and showcasing fresh new acts. For many listeners, a Now album delivered their first exposure to artists who would later become favorites.

Beyond the UK, the concept took off internationally through the 80s and 90s. Now That’s What I Call Music became a global phenomenon, with over 100 million albums sold worldwide. The series launched in the United States in 1998 and has remained hugely popular, with a new numbered edition released every few months featuring today’s hits. For Americans, Now albums are often associated with long road trips, providing punchy pop playlists for the whole family to sing along to.

An endearing aspect of the Now franchise is its consistency and familiarity. While the songs change, the iconic Now logo and branding is instant nostalgia for generations who grew up listening to these albums. The cover art frequently features a playful visual interpretation of key tracks, often leading to memorable images. Who could forget the animal parade referencing WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN on Now 3? Or the mint chocolate bar for MMMBop on Now 38? The art makes each edition a time capsule of pop culture moments.

Now compilations have adapted with technology over the decades. When CDs replaced cassette tapes, the albums continued. As streaming took over from physical purchases, Now playlists emerged on Spotify and Apple Music, still compiling the latest chart-topping releases. The modern Now brand also includes remix albums, themed compilations, live performance albums, and more.

Part of Now’s staying power is its interactive nature. Pop music fuels conversations, debates, and memories. Now albums provide a common pop language to bond over and compare opinions on. Comparing favorites, surprise song choices, and omissions across different Now collections is all part of the fun. The albums ultimately represent a crowd-sourced selection of hits, showcasing pop consensus over time.

While pop music fads come and go, Now That’s What I Call Music remains a staple of the genre. For boybands or solo stars, club bangers or country crossovers – if it’s a smash hit, it deserves a spot on a Now album. With over 100 editions released, the series has become a pop culture institution, linking generations through shared musical passion and delivering an enthralling nostalgia rush. Few franchises have united pop fans across eras quite like the iconic Now albums. So next time you’re roadtripping, partying, or just feeling nostalgic, throw on a classic Now compilation and enjoy a concentrated burst of pop magic. You’ll be hooked once again by the phenomenon that is Now That’s What I Call Music.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: