CARDIFF, WALES - DECEMBER 28: CDs on display on a shelf at the HMV store on Queen Street on December 28, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. The music retailer has announced it is calling in administrators KPMG - putting 2200 jobs at risk at 125 stores. It is the second time in six years that the retailer has called in administrators. The company has said that stores will continue to trade while negotiations are held with suppliers and potential buyers. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

With Now 10, it’s mainly a nostalgia thing. Even though the 14-year-old from New Jersey wasn’t born yet when it was released in 2002, the tenth installment of the long-running pop hits compilation — which starts with Britney Spears’ “Overprotected” and ends with Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” — still brings back memories of music he heard as a kid. With Now 64, which featured Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” and Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes,” Gandia credits the “top-notch” sequencing: “I don’t even think there’s a single problem with Now 64.” As for Now 57, Gandia says it’s “essential” because of the way it captures what he sees as a moment when pop music was at its peak, featuring Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Ariana Grande’s “Focus,” and Selena Gomez’s “Same Old Love” (though there are some notable omissions, he says, like Drake’s “Hotline Bling”).

Now That’s What I Call Music! was started by Virgin Records in the U.K. in 1983; 15 years later, it crossed the Atlantic for an inaugural American edition that included the Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There,” Hanson’s “MMMBop,” and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” Throughout the early 2000s, Now regularly topped the U.S. charts.

Decades later, even as album sales have cratered, Now That’s What I Call Music! has held onto a passionate fanbase, albeit a smaller one. Both Now 77, the most recent installment, and Now 73 debuted on the Rolling Stone Top 200 Albums Chart, at Numbers 159 and 104, respectively. And if the RS 200 were based purely on physical sales, Now albums would regularly debut near the top, with as many as 10,000 copies sold in a week even in lean years. In the past five years, only two Now albums have missed the top 10 by sales during their debut weeks.

Fans like Gandia — a self-proclaimed Now critic who posts reviews to YouTube under the name Trevortni Desserped, and an avid collector of Now CDs — offer an eager and earnest answer to the question: “Who listens to Now anymore?” He says that even with endless playlists available on streaming services, Now offers something unique in the way it brings everything together. “As dumb as it sounds, it’s kind of changed my life,” Ganda says. “It provided me with a different format for listening to music. It’s a phenomenon that deserves to be recognized.”
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