Happy new year folks
As some of you might know, 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the Now albums, and thus the fifth anniversary of this blog. Whilst these birthdays don't occur until the end of the year, I thought I would led up to it with some lists and features about the albums... Who knows how many I'll actually get round to writing in time, but I'm starting the year in the most obvious way, with a study of the opening tracks on the 83 albums to date.
I've assembled a Spotify playlist for those who want to listen along, although I have to warn you that 4 isn't quite the right version and 7 isn't officially on there, so you'll only hear it if you've already got it on your computer. Naturally this also contains spoilers for possible future posts, so be warned if you actually care about that. List follows after the jump.
1. Phil Collins 'You Can't Hurry Love' 
The first new Number One single of 1983, and it was on Virgin too. So an obvious choice.
2. Queen 'Radio Gaga' 
Their first opener. Not, as you probably know, their last.
3. Duran Duran 'The Reflex' 
This is also the opener to the CD version of Now 4, so if you count that they're the first act to open more than one album.
4. Paul McCartney 'No More Lonely Nights (Special Dance Mix)' 
Not the only time a remix has appeared in preference to the main version, but the only time it's happened at the start of the album. That chart position relates to the single as a whole, not only this version.
5. Duran Duran 'A View To A Kill' 
Now they're definitely the first act to open two of the albums...
6. Queen 'One Vision' 
...And they're the second, despite this (relatively) low peak position.
7. Peter Gabriel 'Sledgehammer' 
The second member of Genesis to get this prize slot.
8. Duran Duran 'Notorious' 
9. Jackie Wilson 'Reet Petite' 
The first "oldie" opener, and the first posthumous one. Also the first Christmas Number One to get there.
10. Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe 'Barcelona' 
Not so fast Duran! Montserrat Caballe is technically the first act to open with her debut hit, but it doesn't quite seem to fit.
11. Pet Shop Boys 'Always On My Mind' 
Another Christmas chart-topper, and the first cover since Phil Collins on the very first album.
12. Wet Wet Wet 'With A Little Help From My Friends' 
And here's another cover, also a charity record for the first time here.
13. Yazz & The Plastic Population 'The Only Way Is Up' 
Technically this is also a cover, albeit not of a well-known hit. Also Yazz's first solo single though she'd previously charted with Coldcut.
14. Marc Almond & Gene Pitney 'Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart' 
And another cover, if partly a self-cover.
15. Queen 'I Want It All' 
Them again. But an original song.
16. Tears For Fears 'Sowing The Seeds Of Love' 
Their only appearance in the series, though that's not unique.
17. Erasure 'Blue Savannah' 
18. The Beautiful South 'A Little Time' 
19. The Clash 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go?' 
Another oldie and another one-off appearance.
20. Vic Reeves & The Wonder Stuff 'Dizzy' 
Yes, it's a cover.
21. Queen 'Bohemian Rhapsody' *
Not a surprising choice, having been re-issued in the wake of Freddie Mercury's death - a charity record on this occasion too. Between its chart runs, by far the biggest-selling track ever to appear in this spot.
22. Erasure 'Take A Chance On Me' 
Was the lead track on the Abba-Esque EP.
23. Tasmin Archer 'Sleeping Satellite' 
First proper debut hit to open an album.
24. The Bluebells 'Young At Heart' 
The first track to be an opener on its second appearance: it had previously been on Now 3.
25. Queen featuring George Michael 'Somebody To Love' (live) 
Just because the lead singer had died, didn't mean Queen were going to stop opening these albums.
26. UB40 '(I Can't Help) Falling In Love With You' 
27. Ace Of Base 'The Sign' 
First entirely new opener since Tasmin Archer.
28. Wet Wet Wet 'Love Is All Around' *
Spent longer at the top of the chart than any other track on a Now album, let alone at the start. Also the second-biggest-seller (to the end of 2013).
29. Pato Banton And The Reggae Revolution featuring Ali & Robin Campbell 'Baby Come Back' 
Second time in a year for the Campbell brothers of UB40.
30. Freak Power 'Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out' 
Lowest-charting opener since the start of the decade.
31. Wet Wet Wet 'Don't Want To Forgive Me Now' 
...But that record didn't last long. This seems an almost wilful choice with so many bigger hits on the album.
32. Queen 'Heaven For Everyone' 
33. Queen 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' 
The first consecutive openers from the same act. 'To Much Love Will Kill You' is also the smallest hit to open an album.
34. Spice Girls 'Wannabe' *
35. Spice Girls 'Say You'll Be There' 
36. Spice Girls 'Mama' 
The first (and as yet only) run of three consecutive openers by the same act.
37. Hanson 'Mmmbop' 
38. Chumbawamba 'Tubthumping' 
39. All Saints 'Never Ever' *
40. John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John 'The Grease Mega-Mix' 
The least contemporary opener - it was released in 1990 and peaked in early 1991, but opens an album in 1998.
41. Boyzone 'No Matter What' *
42. Boyzone 'When The Going Gets Tough' 
Another double. The latter is a charity cover.
43. Martine McCutcheon 'Perfect Moment' 
44. Britney Spears '...Baby One More Time' *
45. Gabrielle 'Rise' 
46. Britney Spears 'Oops!... I Did It Again' 
47. Robbie Williams 'Rock DJ' 
Took a while for him to show up here.
48. Atomic Kitten 'Whole Again' 
49. Robbie Williams 'Eternity' 
50. Kylie Minogue 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' *
51. Enrique Iglesias 'Hero' 
The first act from a non-English-speaking country here.
52. Ronan Keating 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' 
53. DJ Sammy featuring Yanou and Do 'Heaven' 
The covers return for another couple of albums.
54. Tatu 'All The Things She Said' 
55. R. Kelly 'Ignition Remix' 
56. Black Eyed Peas 'Where Is The Love' 
The first rap opener, though a pretty weedy one.
57. Britney Spears 'Toxic' 
58. Rachel Stevens 'Some Girls' 
Breaking the run of chart-toppers, though it was a charity record.
59. Blue 'Curtain Falls' 
The least appropriate title for an opening track ever?
60. Gwen Stefani 'What You Waiting For?' 
61. James Blunt 'You're Beautiful' 
I think this may have the longest unbroken chart run of an opener.
62. Sugababes 'Push The Button' 
63. Corrine Bailey Rae 'Put Your Records On' 
64. Gnarls Barkley 'Crazy' 
65. Scissor Sisters ' I Don't Feel Like Dancin' 
66. Mika 'Grace Kelly' 
67. Rihanna featuring Jay-Z 'Umbrella' 
68. Leona Lewis 'Bleeding Love' *
69. Duffy 'Mercy' 
70. Estelle featuring Kanye West 'American Boy' 
71. Girls Aloud 'The Promise' 
72. Lily Allen 'The Fear' 
73. Lady Gaga 'Poker Face' 
74. Cheryl Cole 'Fight For This Love' *
75. Lady Gaga 'Bad Romance' 
76. Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dog 'California Gurls' 
77. Rihanna 'Only Girl In The World' *
78. Bruno Mars 'Grenade' 
79. Adele 'Someone Like You' *
80. Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera 'Moves Like Jagger' *
The biggest-selling single on this list not to have topped the chart.
81. Gotye featuring Kimbra 'Somebody That I Used To Know' *
82. Fun. featuring Janelle Monae 'We Are Young' 
83. PSY 'Gangnam Style' 
The first opener not in the English language.
Singles marked with an asterisk had sold a million by the end of 2012, though 'Gangnam Style' is only weeks away from joining them and 'We Are Young' not too far behind.
For once the stereotype is correct, Queen do have a big share of the opening tracks. Their initial rivals Duran Duran fell away, despite still being alive. Beyond this, there's surprisingly little pattern.
Charting 1997: 27th December
4 years ago