The original Now That's What I Call Music! series began in the U.K. in 1983. Since then, a few additional volumes have been added during each successive year. For pop fans in the U.K., the series has become a reliable and timely way to pick up a bunch of chart hits in one shot, and it tends not to discriminate between genres, meaning that it regularly delivers a representative snapshot of a specific point in time. Virgin, with help from Polygram and Universal, launched a U.S. series of the same name in late 1998. This was just as singles -- in the physical, buyable sense -- began to be phased out in the marketplace. The first volume covers hits of several stripes from the past year and a half or so, with rock (Lenny Kravitz' "Fly Away," Hanson's "MMMBop," Fastball's "The Way"), R&B (Brian McKnight's "Anytime," Janet Jackson's "Together Again," K-Ci & JoJo's "All My Life"), and dance-pop (Aqua's "Barbie Girl," the Spice Girls' "Say You'll Be There," All Saints' "Never Ever") covered rather equally. It was a ho-hum period for popular music, especially where mainstream rock is considered. Don't blame the compilers of this set.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman