Exploiting the Archives: Spinning the Hits with Then That’s What They Call Music!


I have written so many columns for so many people over the years that, to be honest, I forget about a lot of them most of the time. That’s obviously not true of something like My World of Flops, which I continue to write to this day (note to self: write a damn new My World of Flops piece. It’s been a while) but it is true of Then That’s What They Call Music! 

That was a column I wrote in 2010 and 2011 for The A.V Club where I went back and listened to every single installment of the contemporary hits series Now That’s What I Call Music!, which was a huge hit in the United Kingdom before it was brought to the United States in 1998 with similar success. The column, and the wonderfully idiotic, sometimes irresistible ditties found on the compilations, provided me a very public space to work through my complicated and intense feelings about pop music. 

It was, above all else, an opportunity to write about my love of pop music, and an excuse to subject myself to the kind of instantly disposable Top 40 ephemera I would never listen to unless I had an enormous project like this to throw myself into. But it was also an opportunity to make fun of pop music and the ridiculous people who create it. 

If nothing else, the column afforded me a very public arena in which to write obsessively about Black Eyed Peas mastermind Will.I.Am, who seemed to produce, co-write or appear on about one third of the chart-toppers and wannabes found on the various compilations. 

I came to hate Will.I.Am and guiltily love Will.I.Am with equal passion and fervor over the course of the project and I just recently thought it might be worth revisiting this idea today with my 41 year old, unemployable Juggalo brain, since I haven’t written about a new entry in Now That’s What I Call Music since I ended the column in 2011 with this entry

I’ve been thinking about Now That’s What I Call Music! because I’ve finally reached the point in the Weird Accordion to Al where Al’s career is beginning to overlap with my own, and also, perhaps not coincidentally, with the American debut of Now That’s What I Call Music!, whose all-the-hits-all-the-time aesthetic mirrors that of Al’s polka medleys, at least one of which is named after the venerable compilation of pop hits. 

What do you think? Should I launch the Post-Pop Project or should I focus on the thirty seven other columns I’m writing for the site? 


And enjoy this epic jaunt back through pop music past. Looking back, it’s something of a precursor of the Weird Accordion to Al, albeit way, way smuttier and with roughly a thousand times more sex and profanity. 

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