Here at The Hard Times we’ve got deadlines to meet and sometimes those deadlines sneak up on you a bit. So every now and then you have to do an album retrospective from inside your mom’s 2004 Toyota RAV4 that you were borrowing because you’re only in your hometown for a few days and you’re not gonna get caught by anyone from high school driving around in some goofy Zipcar. It’s also at those times you remember that your mom only has one CD in here because she doesn’t see why she needs to own more than one CD when this one has all the songs she wants.
Well, here it goes.
“Now That’s What I Call Music! 22” was a watershed moment for the canon-defining franchise. They had been accused of phoning in their albums since “17,” though I personally think you’d have to go back to “12” to find the last time the Universal/Sony-owned company really pushed themselves creatively. But by opening their newest project with Rihanna’s “SOS,” they shattered preconceived notions of what a Now! album should sound like. Further, the transition into Sean Paul’s “Temperature” threw the rule book out the door completely.
Look, we’re trying.
After time-tested bangers by Chamillionaire, Beyonce, and Chris Brown (which is a can of worms we should not be opening on a time crunch like this), we get Bubba Sparxx’s influential anthem “Ms. New Booty,” a track that will make you ask, “Why is this the album that mom insists on keeping in her car?” She’s a very nice woman and works as the vice principal at a middle school. We called her to ask and she told us she likes the album mostly for KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” When we suggested that she buy Tunstall’s debut album instead, she got very cold with us and hung up. So that’s a fun thing we have to deal with now.
Alright, we admit it. Not every article is going to be a winner. That’s fine. How history sees this album doesn’t matter but it makes our mom happy and that’s enough to make it important to us. And if you don’t agree, we don’t care. Because this is what we call music.
Check back next week to read our oral history of the Barenaked Ladies Greatest Hits album that our dad keeps in his tool shed.