NOW That's What I Call Music! Turns 40: 21 fun facts about the compilation series

Plus, a chance to win some of your very own NOW CDs.
now thats what i call music 40

Happy, happy birthday to NOW That's What I Call Music, which turns 40 years old today. 

Across those four decades, NOW has become a British musical institution - before the advent of streaming, the compilation albums were often the only place young music fans could listen to the biggest current hits in one place.

Reliably released three times a year, every year, here are 21 fun facts about the main NOW series to celebrate its 40th birthday!

Do you consider yourself to be among Now's biggest fans? Test your knowledge with our NOW That's What I Call Music Quiz to find out once and for all.

NOW That's What I Call Music! turns 40: 21 fun music facts

1. The first edition of NOW That's What I Call Music! was released 40 years today, on November 28 1983. It included 30 tracks from acts such as Phil Collins (You Can't Hurry Love), Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart) and Madness (The Sun And The Rain) who, in a strange coincidence, currently have the UK's Number 1 album

2. To date, the main NOW series have featured no less than 675 Official UK Number 1 singles. The most hit-packed collection was NOW 88, with no less than 15 Number 1 singles. The latest, NOW 116, includes 4 (Olivia Rodrigo's vampire, Doja Cat's Paint The Town Red, Kenya Grace's Strangers and Billie Eilish's What Was I Made For?)

3. The artist to make the most appearances across the NOW series is none other than Robbie Williams, with 38 inclusions in total. This includes 32 songs from his solo career, six with Take That. As an uncredited member of charity singles, he also sinks another four; with Helping Haiti, Justice Collective, Artists for Grenfell and World Music Project. 

4. It would take 300 hours to listen to all 116 volumes of NOW back to back - that's twelve and a half days. 

5. The youngest artist to appear on NOW is Willow Smith, who was nine years old when her cheeky hit Whip My Hair was placed on NOW 78 in 2011. Whip My Hair peaked at Number 2 on the Official Singles Chart. 

6. And the oldest artist to appear? Captain Sir Tom Moore, who was 100 when his charity single You'll Never Walk Alone with Michael Ball popped up on NOW 106. 

7. Little Mix are the group to have clocked in the most NOW appearances, with 28 in total. They're followed by Coldplay (24) and Girls Aloud (21).

8. Girls Aloud do come out on top on one feat, though. They're the act with the most consecutive appearances in NOW history - they had a track on 13 consecutive NOW volumes, from NOW 54 to NOW 66. No-one's beaten them yet. 

9. NOW 70 holds the record for the biggest first-week sales for the franchise in the UK. It debuted with 383,000 chart units. 

10. Since NOW's inception, the series has included 22 Official Christmas Number 1 singles. The first was The Flying Pickets' Only You on NOW 2. The most recent is Clean Bandit, Anne-Marie and Sean Paul's Rockabye

11. The longest song title featured across NOW's 116 volumes has been Pet Shop Boy's Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You). The shortest has been 17 by MK. 

12. The longest song ever featured on NOW is Don McLean's classic American Pie, which runs to an epic 8 minutes and 34 seconds. The shortest is Wings by the Jonas Brothers, which clocks in at just 1 minute and 58 seconds. 

13. Several songs have appeared several times across the NOW volumes. The first was Simple Minds's Alive And Kicking, which turned up on NOW 6 and NOW 23.

14. The first song to appear twice by two different artists was Twist And Shout. Salt N Pepa's version was on NOW 13, while Chaka Demus and Pliers with Jack Radics and Taxi's take appeared on NOW 27.

15. NOW albums regularly topped the Official Albums Chart with 12 Number 1s from NOW 1 to NOW 13 (the only one to miss out was NOW 4 at Number 2). From 1989, the series was then moved over to the Official Compilations Albums Chart. Across the two charts, NOW has 114 Number 1s. 

16. Ed Sheeran is the only artist to ever appear four times (!) on one NOW album. On NOW 113 in 2022, he had one solo credit, for Celestial and a further as a featured artist; Peru with Fireboy DML, My G with Aitch and For My Hand with Burna Boy. 

17. NOW has also become a family affair. Neneh Cherry and her daughter, Mabel, have both made appearances in the main NOW series. 

18. If its current schedule of three albums a year is kept up, NOW 120 is due to arrive in March 2025, while we'll see the landmark NOW 200 appear just in time for Christmas 2051. 

19. Including the roster of NOW 116, the main series has included 2,409 different artists over 40 years. 

20. NOW even marked the 70th anniversary of the Official Singles Chart last year. NOW #1s included 100 of the best chart-topping UK singles of all time, from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball. Buy your own copy of NOW #1s here.

21. The popularity of the NOW albums series has even crossed over into popular culture. In Peter Kay's acclaimed sitcom Car Share, a running gag is that Sian Gibson's character Kayleigh declared that NOW 48 was her favourite album of all time. To be fair to her, it does have a stacked tracklist, including Emma Bunton's What Took You So Long, Steps's It's The Way You Make Me Feel and Samantha Mumba's Always Come Back To Your Love. 

Enter our NOW That's What I Call Music! competition below

To celebrate NOW That's What I Call Music's 40th anniversary, we've giving away a prize bundle including brand-new release NOW That's What I Call 40 Years on CD, NOW Yearbook '88 on vinyl and more! 

To be in with a chance of winning, answer the question below correctly. Good luck!

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