Now That's What I Call Music!

Now That's What I Call Music!

Now That's What I Call Music! (1983–present) (often shortened to Now!) is a series of various artists compilation albums released in the United Kingdom and Ireland by Polygram (as Universal)/EMI/Sony Music/Virgin Records (The Big Four record labels); spinoff series were later introduced in South Africa (1984) and many other countries worldwide, including the United States in 1998. Since its launch in 1983, the series has amassed over 100 million album sales worldwide.[1]


Original United Kingdom & Republic of Ireland series

Looking for a way to re-issue/recycle music tracks for additional revenue, Virgin Records executives Stephen Navin, John Webster and Simon Draper[2] engaged Ashley Abram of specialist compilations consultancy Box Records (he still compiles the albums). The series took its name from a 1920s advertising poster hanging in an office for Danish meat products which showed a pig listening to a whistling cockerel. The pig became the Now! series' mascot for a while, making its last appearance on Now That's What I Call Music 5.[citation needed]

The first Now! compilation appeared in November 1983[3] and collected thirty UK hit singles from that year on a double vinyl LP or cassette. The concept of a compilation of recent hit singles was not new; Ronco and K-tel had been issuing single-disc collections since the early 1970s. However, by spreading tracks across two discs instead of one, the Now! series was able to achieve better sound quality (tracks were often edited to fit a running time on K-Tel and Ronco single disc compilations).

The other major difference of the Now! series was its collaborative nature between major record labels. Virgin agreed a deal with EMI, which allowed a greater number of major hits to be included (the first album in the series boasted of "eleven number ones" on its sleeve, something previously unheard-of). The album went to number one and soon had a major rival in CBS/WEA's The Hits Album which adopted a similar format to Now! The two series co-existed for the rest of the 1980s, but when Universal joined the collaboration the Now! series dominated commercially.

Although the rate of release varied in the early days, it has now settled down to three per year: one release around Easter, another during the summer, and a third around November. 79 albums have been released to date. The newest album in the series, Now That's What I Call Music! 79, was released on 25 July in the UK. The UK series continues to follow the double-album format, now exploiting the capacity of the CD to include between forty and forty-six songs over its two discs. At the current time, the Now series are only released on CD and digital download formats. Previously the Now series was available on Vinyl; audio cassette & MiniDisc formats, with the decline of popularity with these formats as well as the limited track number capacity of these formats, Nows are no longer issued on them.

Mark Goodier has been the voice of Now! adverts since the 21st volume in 1992, going back to his days with BBC Radio 1.


The most successful has been 1999's Now That's What I Call Music! 44, which has sold 2.3 million copies and is the 46th best selling album in UK chart history, and the biggest selling compilation album ever.[4] 2008's Now That's What I Call Music! 69 sold 382,759 units in the first week of sales, the biggest ever first week sale of any Now album beating the previous record of Now 57 in 2004.[5]

Spice Girls hold the title for most consecutive positions at track #1 on CD1. These include "Wannabe" on Now 34, "Say You'll Be There" on Now 35 and "Mama" on Now 36.

Robbie Williams is the artist to be featured the most times in the UK Now! series. In the first 79 Now! albums, he has appeared 33 times (including six times with Take That). His first appearance was with Take That on Now 22 with "It Only Takes a Minute" and he features on Now 79 with Take That with "Love Love". Robbie Williams is also the act with the most double appearances on a single Now album, as he has appeared with two songs on Now 39, Now 41, Now 47, and also with Now 75 due to his appearance on "Everybody Hurts".

Cheryl Cole is the most featured female artist and second most overall. She has 25 appearances (20 with Girls Aloud, 4 solo appearances and a featured appearance on's Heartbreaker on Now 70). She featured on Now 54 with Girls Aloud with "Sound of the Underground" and featured on Now 77 with "Promise This".

The Candi Station and The Source song "You Got the Love" is the song to appear most on a Now album in the main series. It appeared first on Now 19, then later on Now 36 and on Now 63, all three times in remixed form. Then later on Now 74 was a cover of the song by Florence + The Machine, and on Now 76 was a live version of the Florence + The Machine cover, under the name "You Got the Dirtee Love".


Although starting out on only vinyl records and cassette tapes, the formats on which the albums have been released have changed over the years:

  • Unabridged (double CD) full versions of Now were first available starting with Now 10 in 1987, although a version of Now 4 was released on CD featuring songs that had appeared on the vinyl and cassette configurations of Nows 2, 3 & 4. Now 8 (17 tracks) and Now 9 (16 tracks) were also released in 1986 & 1987 respectively as single disc CDs.
  • Vinyl editions ended in 1996 with Now 35.[6]
  • MiniDiscs of the Now series started with Now 43 in 1999 and ended with Now 48 in 2001.
  • Now 62 in 2005 was the first Now album to be released as a digital download across online music stores, and the first that allowed buyers of the CD format to unlock a secret free Now 62 area on the Now website, with features such as exclusive interviews and music videos.
  • Cassette tapes ceased in 2006 with the final cassette being Now 63.
  • VHS Tapes were released as companions to all the Now! albums from the first Now! to Now! 20 except for Now! 19. They contained music videos some of which were for tracks featured on the accompanying album and others for tracks which were not. Some of the earlier volumes were also released on Betamax and for some volumes laserdiscs were also released.

Now Podcasts

In 2008 the first Now podcast was created to celebrate the brand's 25th anniversary. All 71 volumes and 25 years of the Now series are chronicled and celebrated on these podcasts which include the thoughts and memories of several key players in the history of Now: John Webster, former Virgin Records executive and one of the fathers of Now; DJ and provider of all the voice-overs for all Now commercials since 1992; Mark Goodier, Pete Duckworth, co-managing director of EMI Music Marketing; and industry legend Ashley Abram of Box Music who has compiled every Now album since the second Volume in 1984.


In addition to the main Now That's What I Call Music series, there have been a number spin-off compilations in the UK using the name, including:

  • Now Dance - a series in its own right, these compilations originally consisted of 12" mixes of current hits. They now focus on 7" mixes of recent dance hits, and a Very Best of Now Dance compilation has been released.
  • At least two different series of year-by-year "retrospective" compilations, covering 1983 to 1995, and 1980 to 1999 respectively (the latter known as Now! - The Millennium Editions).
  • At least three "best-of" compilations covering the entire Now! series. Now Decades, Now Years and Now 25 Years are these three albums, but there have been other albums like Now No.1's which also cover the entire Now! series.
  • At least one tie-up with Smash Hits magazine in 1987, called Now Smash Hits.[7] (Smash Hits later went on to release their own compilations).
  • Christmas releases, including some classic Christmas favourites
  • Sometimes considered a spin-off, video releases, including video cassette editions of many early Now! compilations, and (more recently) yearly DVD video releases.
  • Other releases include Now Karaoke and the interactive DVD Now That's What I Call A Music Quiz.
  • A series of compilation video games (for the Commodore 64 amonst other home computers) were released in the mid-80s by Virgin Games with the name Now Games.
  • A Wii game is to be released on 25 November 2011 named Now That's What I Call Music! - Dance and Sing. It features tracks by recent artists, including Alexandra Burke, Jessie J, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris and Plan B. It features a Dance Mode, Sing Mode and Career Mode. [8]

Record labels

The record labels which make the UK series have changed over the years but remain to be controlled by EMI and Virgin Records, although Virgin Records' logo was last featured on Now! 74

  • Virgin Records were a label from Now 1 to Now 74. Up until Now 61, they used just the "Virgin" logo. From that same volume onwards, the "Virgin Records" logo was used.
  • EMI were a label on all volumes. Up until Now 75, they logo they used was simply the "EMI" logo. From that volume onwards, "EMI TV"'s logo was used instead.
  • Polygram were a label from Now 8 to Now 42.
  • Universal Music were a label from Now 43 onwards.
  • Box Music Ltd. have been a label of all volumes, but it was Now 26 onwards that their logo was used on the packaging.
  • Also, the "Music from EMI" logo was used Now 62 onwards.
  • Sony BMG's logo was also used on the special edition of the album, Now! No.1s

Now! series in other countries

Numerous different versions of the Now! brand exist in other parts of the world, including:

  • Arabia (under the name Now That's What I Call Arabia)
  • Argentina
  • Asia region
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • South Africa
  • South America
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • United States


South Africa

Volume one was released in 1984 (a year after the original UK series launched). The series often makes use of ideas from previous UK Now albums for its artwork. Now 50 was the double CD to celebrate the 25 years that the series ran and was released in November 2008. As of September 2, 2005, there has also been a Now DVD series.


South East Asia

This edition was released in Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand etc. The first Asian Now That's What I Call Music! was released in 1995.

The series is often called Now Asia since Now 1 and Now 2 are from EMI Hong Kong, Now 3 and Now 4 are from EMI Malaysia, Now 7 is from EMI Taiwan and Now 5, Now 6 and Now 8 are from EMI Asia. The Indonesian versions of the albums are slightly different from the Asian ones.

EMI Asia has also released Now Dance (2000), Now The Essential Collection (2003), Now + volume 1 (2004) and Now + volume 2 (2005).

EMI Indonesia has released Now Jazz (2007) and Now Arabia (2011). [9]


Following its introduction in China, the Now! series has enjoyed great success, with a new compilation released approximately every three to four months. Each album contains current and recent hit singles from Chinese artists signed to EMI or Polydor, and from British and Australian pop acts such as Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sugababes or Robbie Williams.


Now has been seen in Israel, starting in 1999. The first three albums are double discs. Now 4 was the first single disc.


The first Japanese Now That's What I Call Music was released in 1993. The albums contain major hits from both Japanese and British acts[citation needed], like Kylie Minogue or Sophie Ellis-Bextor (in a similar manner to the Chinese Now! compilations). The Japanese series also has released some of the spin-offs like other countries do.

As of late 2006, twenty-one Now! albums have been released in Japan with little success; they haven't been on Oricon's charts for at least the past three years.[10] EMI Music Japan and Polydor Japan plan to release Now 22 on December 4, 2006.[dated info]

Europe (in addition to UK & Irish series)

Czech Republic

Now Hity is the Czech version of the Now That's What I Call Music! series. Originally branded under the main family name, it was changed to Now Hity later in the run. There have also been spin-offs like Now! 2006.


Now Music is a Danish record label set up especially to release Now That's What I Call Music! albums in Denmark. As well as the Now regular series (as of November 2007 up to the nineteenth release), there have also been spin-offs including Now Big Hits, Now Christmas, Now Summer, Now Clubbing, Now Dance and Now Hip Hop

Robbie Williams is the artist to be featured the most times in the regular Danish Now series, just as he also is in the UK Now! series. He has appeared ten times in the Danish series.


The first Finnish Now That's What I Call Music was released in 2003 where it replace the Absolute Hits series. The albums are released as double discs.

As of 2007, eight Now! albums have been released in Finland. There have also been spin-offs including Now That's What I Call Music Pop Hits and Now That's What I Call Dance Music.


In France the Now series is called Now! Hits Référence. There have been released Now! Hits Référence 1-7 and Now! Hits Référence 2005, 2006 and 2007.


In Greece the Now series is called Now Αυτά Είναι Τα Hits Σήμερα! ("Now These Are the Hits Today!").[11] Now 1 was released in 2002 and Now 9 was released in 2006. There have also been released some Now Dance albums in Greece.


The Now series started in the Netherlands back in 1984 as Now This Is Music and a couple of spin-offs, such as Now Dance, a Christmas compilation (Now This Is Xmas) and several year-end compilations. The series ran from 1984 to 1989, ending with its 11th installment. The series was released on the EVA label, a joint venture of the Dutch branches of EMI, Virgin and Ariola (later: BMG Ariola, a subsidiary of BMG/RCA Records). A second series under the same title started in 1997, but only two albums were released.


Now That's What I Call Music! released in Norway in late 2009.[citation needed]


The Now series in Portugal is a joint-venture between the three major international publishers present in Portugal – EMI, Sony and Universal. In 2010, it was announced that total sales of the series, not counting the extra editions, topped one million copies in Portugal.[12] Through Volume 21 of the series, the multi-volume sets have included 414 national and international artists and a total of 787 different songs, raking in an impressive four gold and 19 platinum records.

The first album released in Portugal was NOW 99 and released by EMI on 2 December 1999. From the Now 2 through Now 21, the compilation was always done on a rotation system among the three music companies. In addition to these volumes, the series includes six dance editions, a DVD and the tenth anniversary commemorative edition, NOW 10 ANOS, released by EMI in December 2009. On April 26, 2010, Now Mix 2010 was released, which includes dance versions of popular songs in a non-stop mix format.[2].

The most recent editions, Now Mix 2[3] and Now 23[4], were released in October and November 2010, respectively.


Now has also been seen in Spain under the name of Now Esto si es música ("Now This Is Music"). The original series included six releases from 1984-1989. The compilation album is released as a double CD album. Later the series started over with Now Esto Es Música 1,[11] which included songs from artists like Juanes, Enrique Iglesias, George Michael, Sheryl Crow, Tiziano Ferro, Alex Ubago, Las Ketchup and U2. Now Esto Es Música 2003 has also been released.[13] But due to the lukewarm success, no more albums were released since 2004.

However, in late 2009, EMI Music released in Spain the album "Now Dance", which contains all the biggest Dance hits in Spain during the 2009, including Lady GaGa, David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland, The Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry, among others.[14]

North America


A single CD with the same logo and full name Now That's What I Call Music was released in the mid 1980s. The similarly themed and named Canadian Now! CDs were first released in 1996, and have been released annually since then, usually in the summer. This Canadian series is not officially affiliated to the UK or U.S. series.


Now has also been seen in Mexico, with at least ten releases. The track listings on the Mexican albums are only slightly different from those of the Argentine ones.

United States

The U.S. series of Now! albums began in 1998, initially just called "Now" before being given the full "Now That's What I Call Music!" title in the second compilation. The most recent album in the series, Now That's What I Call Music! 40, was released on November 8, 2011.

The Now! compilations have done extremely well in sales in the U.S. Each of the first twenty-nine volumes has received at least a platinum certification, and fifteen albums from the series reached number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. However, recent releases have not sold as well with Now! 34 selling only 88,000 copies in its first week, compared to the 621,000 copies Now! 7 sold in its debut week in July 2001.[15]

Recent trends in the United States have been releases of "special edition" Now! albums, such as Now Esto Es Musica! Latino, Now That's What I Call Country, and Now That's What I Call Motown; and the inclusion of "bonus tracks" by not-yet-established artists at the expense of additional hit songs.[16]



The Australian series is a single disc edition and began in 2002, as a replacement for the long-running 100% Hits brand. The series is a joint venture between EMI Music Australia and Warner Music Australia.

Now 01 appeared in July of that year, followed by Now 02 in time for Christmas 2002. 2003's Now 03 came with a bonus DVD; the first standalone DVD release (Now Vision 2004) appeared the following year. After Now 08 the series changed its name to Now Winter 2005, Now Spring 2005 etc.

In 2006 the Now Summer 2007 was the first double disc edition in the Australian series.

In 1994 four albums were released, all with the title Now That's What I Call Music - 100% then Dance, Ballad, Rap or Alternate.

New Zealand

Now That's What I Call Music! has released 36 albums, the latest one released in July 11. The series is compiled in co-ordination with New Zealand's top record companies. The series is one of the highest selling compilations in New Zealand music history (RIANZ) with multi-platinum album sales.

Television commercials remain the albums' sole marketing tool in New Zealand. The commercials for albums 18 through 32 are voiced by Mai FM DJ, Doug "Big D" Te Moni, and produced by Auckland television and film production company, Flying Start Pictures.[17]

Doug Te Moni says "It's very funny..i normally never get to see the visuals and most times i record (cold) without music...i'm always blown away when i see it on TV like everybody else" "..I get to work with some very talented people". "All my friends and their kids have at least two albums in the series...i know some people that have the entire series".

The success of the television commercials has been in part due to the delivery of the slogan by Big D during the recording sessions for the album. The slogan, "It's Hot", was created for Now 18 and delivered with an inflection that has made the slogan easily one of the most recalled by fans of the album. Variations of the slogan have included "It's Super Hot" and "It's Sizzling Hot".

The commercials are now produced by Nick Smart (Nick Smart Marketing)with the voice recorded at - Stebbing Recording Studios, Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand.

South America


Now has been seen in Argentina, with at least nine releases. The track listings on the Argentine Now albums are only slightly different from those of the Mexican ones.

See also


  1. ^ 'Now' Compilation Celebrates Silver Anniversary
  2. ^ "Now That's What I Call Music - 25 Years Album Review". Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  3. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Now, Vol. 1 - Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-29. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Now 69 record sales
  6. ^ Said in the inlay of 'Now That's What I Call Music! Decades', released in 2003.
  7. ^, "Welcome To My Now Music Page!" Article retrieved 2006-11-10.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^
  10. ^ "アルバム 週間ランキング" (in Japanese). Oricon Style ランキング. Oricon Inc.. Retrieved 25 November 2008.  There's a menu for the archives above the ranking.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ NOW - compilação atinge 1 milhão de unidades vendidas em Portugal!. Sony Music Entertainment Portugal.
  13. ^
  14. ^ El Corte Inglés - Now Dance 2009
  15. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (2004-11-10). "Nelly, A Perfect Circle No Match For Now 17". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  16. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Now, Vol. 34 - Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  17. ^

External links

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  • Now That's What I Call Music! 2 — or Now 2 may refer to several Now That s What I Call Music! series albums. Now That s What I Call Music II (UK Series), released on 7 April 1984 Now That s What I Call Music! II (South African series), released in 1984 Now This Is Music 2… …   Wikipedia

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  • Now That's What I Call Music — The Summer Album Compilation album by Various artists Released 1986 Recorded Various times Genre Pop …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 76 — Álbum recopilatorio de Varios artistas Publicación 16 de julio de 2010 19 de julio de 2010 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 49 — or Now 49 may refer to at least two Now That s What I Call Music! series albums, including Now That s What I Call Music! 49 (UK series) (original UK series, 2001 release) Now That s What I Call Music! 49 (South African series)(South African… …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 15 — may refer to several Now That s What I Call Music! series albums, including Now That s What I Call Music 15 (UK series), released 26 August 1989 Now That s What I Call Music! 15 (South African series), released in 1991 Now That s What I Call… …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 5 — or Now 5 may refer to at least four different Now That s What I Call Music! series albums, including Now That s What I Call Music 5 (original UK series, 1985 release) Now That s What I Call Music! 5 (U.S. series, 2000 release) Now 05 (Australian… …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 20 — may refer to at least four different Now That s What I Call Music! series albums, including Now That s What I Call Music! 20 (UK series), released on 30 November 1991 Now That s What I Call Music! 20 (South African series), released in 1995 Now… …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 3 — may refer to at least three different Now That s What I Call Music! series albums, including Now That s What I Call Music 3 (original UK series, 1984 release) Now That s What I Call Music! 3 (U.S. series, 1999 release) Now That s What I Call… …   Wikipedia

  • Now That's What I Call Music! 27 — refers to at least four different Now That s What I Call Music! series albums. Now That s What I Call Music! 27 (UK series), released in 1994 Now That s What I Call Music! 27 (South African series), released in 2000 Now That s What I Call Music!… …   Wikipedia

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