Top 50 Forgotten Gems From The Now! Series

"Now That's What I Call Music! 50" has just been released. Let's stroll through some of the underrated cuts from the hit series' lengthy back catalogue.

Since its debut in 1998, the "Now That's What I Call Music!" album series has dutifully gathered the biggest pop hits on the planet and presented those Top 40 smashes in regular, easy-to-digest compilations. Anyone who's anyone in contemporary pop music has appeared on a "Now!" album; your favorite pop song of the past 15 years is probably on one of them. And as the franchise has progressed, it has expanded in its numbered series to include country, rock, R&B and hip-hop hits, while also supporting all-Christmas entries, branching off into a country series, and releasing editions dedicated to the 80's, classic rock, love songs, Disney hits and faith-based music, among many others. Remarkably, all 49 of the numbered "Now" albums have reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart, and "Now! 50" has a great shot at continuing that streak.

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Not every song on a "Now!" album can be an all-time hit, of course; with up to 20 songs included on each album (typically released every four months), some of the "Now!" songs are long-forgotten hits, sometimes from artists that never became household names. Today, we salute the "Now!" songs that did not rule the charts but, at times, ruled our hearts -- songs by Sonique, Nick Lachey, Evan and Jaron, and of course, Lindsay Lohan included.

Listen to our playlist of 50 forgotten gems from the "Now!" franchise, and see which ones are a blast from your past (note: this list do not include any 'Now! Next' songs, a collection of tracks from rising artists that have appeared on the later editions of the franchise).

Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music!
Released: October 1998



A snark-fueled anthem from a one-hit wonder, "Flagpole Sitta" went back-to-back with Fastball's "The Way" on the original "Now," presenting a solid run from the alt-rock days of yore.

Imajin, "Shorty (You Keep Playin' With My Mind)"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music!
Released: October 1998



A few years before B2K cornered the R&B boy-band market, there was Imajin, the dubiously named quartet with a genuinely enjoyable single that features some emotional drawing-out of the phrase "player hatin'" in the second verse.

Blackstreet & Mya feat. Mase & Blinky Blink, "Take Me There"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 2
Released: July 1999



That cutesy intro you're hearing? Yeah, that's the theme song to Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" -- this happy-go-lucky track was the first single to "The Rugrats Movie" soundtrack.

Baz Luhrmann, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 2
Released: July 1999



Between directing "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!," Baz Luhrmann scored an out-of-nowhere hit with a spoken-word interpolation of 1997 Chicago Tribune column. The ultimate viral track, long before YouTube existed.

K-Ci & JoJo, "Tell Me It's Real"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 3
Released: December 1999



Props to super-crooners K-Ci & JoJo for scoring two songs on the first three "Now!" albums: after the enduring smash "All My Life" ended up on the first compilation, the relatively forgotten "Tell Me It's Real" was nestled between a Backstreet Boys track and Fatboy Slim's "The Rockafeller Skank" on "Now! 3."

Chante Moore, "Chante's Got a Man"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 3
Released: December 1999



A Top 10 hit that blends fragile vocals, sassy spoken-word interjections and third-person references, "Chante's Got a Man" is the biggest hit from an R&B artist that released a new album, "Moore is Moore," last July.

Oleander, "Why I'm Here"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 3
Released: December 1999



Looking for a slightly poppier version of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box"? Look no further than Oleander's heavy hit "Why I'm Here," which studied the post-grunge blueprint and perfected it before the turn of the century.

Sonique, "It Feels So Good"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 4
Released: July 2000



British DJ Sonique briefly crossed over to U.S. pop audiences with "It Feels So Good," a shimmering dance single with a deeply underrated music video. It was all a dream! Or was it?

Hanson, "This Time Around"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 4
Released: July 2000



The narrative goes something like this: after breaking big with 1997's mega-selling "Middle of Nowhere," Hanson couldn't stick the landing on the 2000 follow-up "This Time Around," and disappeared from the radio waves. But "This Time Around's" title track, buried at the end of "Now! 4," might secretly be Hanson's best-ever single. Gloriously schlocky pop-rock, and still undeniable 14 years later.

Nine Days, "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 5
Released: November 2000



Another Top 10 hit from a rock group that quickly disappeared from mainstream music, "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" is fueled by scruffy charm -- who doesn't nod appreciatively along with the line, "And while she looks so sad in photographs/I absolutely love her… when she smiles"?

soulDecision, "Faded"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 5
Released: November 2000



A boy band that existed at a time when there were simply too many boy bands, the incredible named soulDecision still has one pristine pop single under its Canadian belt -- although "Ooh It's Kinda Crazy" isn't half-bad, either.

Samantha Mumba, "Gotta Tell You"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 6
Released: April 2001



What song was slotted at No. 2 on the "Now! 6" track list, between Britney Spears' "Stronger" and *NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye"? That's right, Samantha Mumba's "Gotta Tell You" was a fast-burning hit for the Irish singer, who would eventually depart music to star in films like 2002's "The Time Machine" and 2005's "Boy Eats Girl."

Evan and Jaron, "From My Head to My Heart"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 7
Released: July 2001



Unbelievably, identical twins Evan and Jaron Lowenstein have had two songs featured in the "Now!" series, first with their breakout hit "Crazy For This Girl" and then with the minor power-pop hit "From My Head To My Heart." Three years later, Evan and Jaron was no more, although Jaron would return years later to forge a country music career.

The Wiseguys feat. Greg Nice, "Start The Commotion"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 8
Released: November 2001



Made famous through its use in a Mitsubishi TV ad, the Wiseguys' "Start The Commotion" was later featured in "Zoolander" and became an unexpected radio hit for the electronic duo.

JIVEjones, "Me Myself & I"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 8
Released: November 2001



Miami producer-songwriter JIVEjones helmed hits like Mandy Moore's "Candy" before stepping out on his own with this intensely strange single, released (natch) on Jive Records. Following "Me Myself & I," Jones practically disappeared from pop, never releasing a proper album in the U.S..

Mr. Cheeks, "Lights, Camera, Action!"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 9
Released: March 2002



Terrance Darren Kelly, better known as Mr. Cheeks, was the leader of the New York hip-hop group Lost Boyz before briefly finding solo success with the Top 20 hit "Lights, Camera, Action!" Fun fact: Gil Scott-Heron was Mr. Cheeks' uncle through marriage!

Baha Men, "Move It Like This"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 10
Released: July 2002



Better known as the song that isn't "Who Let The Dogs Out," "Move It Like This" is a canine-free dance cut from the Baha Men that squeezed a few more drops of chart juice out of the soon-to-vanish collective.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, "BareNaked"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 11
Released: November 2002



Jennifer Love Hewitt couldn't quite construct the pop career that she longed for following "Party of Five" and the "I Know What You Did Last Summer" films, but she'll always have "BareNaked," an earnest pop single produced by Meredith Brooks (!) and designed for coffee shops, on "Now! 11."

Dirty Vegas, "Days Go By"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 11
Released: November 2002



A Grammy-winning dance cut from U.K. electronica vets Dirty Vegas, "Days Go By" follows the Wiseguys' "Start The Commotion" as a "Now!" inclusion boosted by its placement in a Mitsubishi TV ad.

Nivea feat. Brian & Brandon Casey of Jagged Edge, "Don't Mess with My Man"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 12
Released: March 2003



"Here's a little advice for you/Find your own man!" Nivea concludes on her R&B single "Don't Mess With My Man," which scooped up two members of Jagged Edge to provide the song's male counterpart. Nivea had actually appeared in the "Now!" series five compilations earlier, as the featured artist on Mystikal's "Danger (Been So Long)."

JC Chasez, "Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love)"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 12
Released: March 2003



We've already outlined the reasons why JC Chasez never became a huge solo star like his *NSYNC pal Justin Timberlake, but "Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love)," also featured on the "Drumline" soundtrack, still delivers as a flirtatious thumper.

Lisa Marie Presley, "Lights Out"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 13
Released: July 2003



Elvis' only daughter finally released a debut album, "To Whom It May Concern," in 2003, and its snarling single wound up smack dab in the middle of "Now! 13." Presley eventually released two more full-lengths, including 2012's "Storm & Grace."

Murphy Lee feat. Jermaine Dupri, "Wat Da Hook Gon Be"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 14
Released: November 2003



Following the multi-platinum success of Nelly, his fellow St. Lunatic Murphy Lee briefly enjoyed his own time in the spotlight with "Wat Da Hook Gon Be," off his under-appreciated 2003 debut "Murphy's Law." Another St. Louis native, Chingy, appeared one track earlier on "Now! 14," with "Right Thurr."

Eamon, "F--- It (I Don't Want You Back)"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 15
Released: March 2004



Easily one of the strangest songs to ever appear on a "Now!" compilation, Eamon's explicit-laden kiss-off is at once terrifying and touching, and answers the question, "What would an R&B Eminem song sound like?"

Nina Sky feat. Jabba, "Move Ya Body"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 16
Released: July 2004



Still a dancehall staple, "Move Ya Body" represents the legacy of identical twin duo Nicole and Natalie Albino, who have worked with Bruno Mars and Major Lazer over the past few years but have yet to duplicate the immediacy of this single.

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Crossfade, "Cold"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 17
Released: November 2004



Crossfade's debut single is also its biggest to date, and helped comprise the "heavy rock" portion of "Now! 17" along with Switchfoot's "Dare You To Move" and Finger Eleven's "One Thing." Note: "Cold" is not to be confused with Breaking Benjamin's "So Cold," also a hard-rock hit in 2004.

Lindsay Lohan, "Rumors"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 18
Released: March 2005



Despite being grouped in the first half of "Now! 18" with memorable hits like U2's "Vertigo," Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For?" and Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot," LiLo's stop-spreading-slander anthem has failed to rise above its cult pop treasure status over the past decade.

Brooke Valentine feat. Big Boi & Lil Jon, "Girlfight"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 19
Released: July 2005



Why settle a conflict with words when you can throw down with Lil Jon chirping in the background? Brooke Valetine's crunk entry makes a compelling argument, and even garnered a remix with Da Brat, Ms. B and Remy Ma.

The Click Five, "Just The Girl"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 20
Released: November 2005



Boston power-pop troupe the Click Five caught lightning in a bottle with the fantastically catchy "Just The Girl," which followed a game plan that Fall Out Boy would tinker with a few years later. The Click Five has found success in Asia over the past few years, releasing third album "TCV" exclusively overseas.

Rihanna, "If It's Lovin' That You Want"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 21
Released: April 2006



Rihanna made her "Now!" debut one compilation earlier with the far more memorable "Pon de Replay," but her sparkling "Music Of The Sun" single "If It's Lovin' That You Want" deserves a little bit of shine too, and thankfully received it on "Now! 21." "S.O.S." would appear on "Now! 22," and Rihanna Takeover was in full effect.

Nick Lachey, "What's Left of Me"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 22
Released: July 2006



98 Degrees heartthrob Nick Lachey could not forge a long-lasting solo career, but he did score a legitimate (and legitimately solid) hit with the heartstrings-tugging breakup ode "What's Left Of Me." Further down on the "Now! 22" track list is another boy band member's solo bid: "Let U Go," from O-Town's Ashley Parker Angel.

Cherish feat. Sean Paul of YoungBloodZ, "Do It To It"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 23
Released: November 2006



Sean Paul of YoungBloodZ (not to be confused with Sean Paul) guested on the R&B quartet's sensual club track, which references another "Now!" gem, Dem Franchise Boyz's "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It," in its chorus.

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, "Face Down"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 24
Released: March 2007



Florida alt-rockers the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus could not match the sustained popularity of "Now! 24" rock groups the Fray, Nickelback, Daughtry and the All-American Rejects, but "Face Down" is a beloved slice of emo pie that found some well-deserved radio play at the end of 2006.

Huey, "Pop, Lock & Drop It"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 25
Released: July 2007



The apex of St. Louis rapper Huey's career, "Pop, Lock & Drop It" is a helpful guide to dirty dancing as well as a lovable hit on a "Now!" album that also features Lloyd's "Get It Shawty," T-Pain's "Buy U a Drank" and Mims' "Like This.

The Last Goodnight, "Pictures of You"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 26
Released: November 2007



Connecticut rockers the Last Goodnight opened for artists like Lifehouse and Avril Lavigne before scoring fleeting fame with "Pictures of You," which performed well in Australia and Europe but never quite caught on in the United States.

Santana feat. Chad Kroeger, "Into The Night"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 27
Released: March 2008



Hey, can you really blame the "Now!" powers-that-be for betting big on a Santana song with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger? "Into The Night" unfortunately did not achieve "Smooth"-like success, but snuck onto the 27th "Now!" compilation.

Metro Station, "Shake It"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 28
Released: June 2008



Miley Cyrus' half-brother Trace briefly appeared to be rivaling Miley's popularity when his dance-rock outfit Metro Station's chart-conquering hit "Shake It" first appeared. Three years later, Metro Station called it quits, with only one self-titled album to its name.

Savage feat. Soulja Boy Tell 'Em, "Swing"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 29
Released: November 2008



A half-decade before Lorde started seeing diamonds in the flesh, another New Zealand import, Savage, teamed up with the donk-loving Soulja Boy for this minor Rap Songs hit. Comparatively, Lorde has yet to begin a chorus with the line, "Oh shit, shake that ass!"

Ciara feat. Justin Timberlake, "Love Sex Magic"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 31
Released: June 2009



"Love Sex Magic" is nowhere near Ciara's biggest hit, but the Justin Timberlake collaboration is magnetic enough to earn a spot in the R&B star's collection of best singles, and gave JT fans something to hold them over during that seven-year gap between "FutureSex/Lovesounds" and "The 20/20 Experience."

Boys Like Girls, "Love Drunk"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 32
Released: November 2009



Although Boys Like Girls' "Love Drunk" has been compared (unfavorably) to the Killers' "Somebody Told Me," Brandon Flowers never had Ashley Tisdale star in a music video, so who's really coming out on top? The group's Martin Johnson has since found huge success producing songs for Avril Lavigne, Jason Derulo and Gavin DeGraw, among others.

Katharine McPhee, "Had It All"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 32
Released: November 2009



"Now! 32" ends with "Had It All," the tender lead single from "American Idol" finalist Katharine McPhee's "Unbroken" album that glowed with a country feel but could not expand the singer's audience. "Unbroken," from 2010, is McPhee's most recent studio album; the singer starred on the NBC series "Smash" following its release.

Orianthi, "According To You"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 33
Released: March 2010



Australia's Orianthi Panagaris is an amazing guitarist -- she was supposed to play lead for Michael Jackson's This Is It concerts -- and a pretty great Kelly Clarkson student, based on her only solo hit, "According To You." Don't weep for Orianthi, though -- she's still shredding on the road, recently with Alice Cooper.

Iyaz, "Solo"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 34
Released: June 2010



The Jamaican-pop explosion of 2010 helped Iyaz's "Replay" become a durable hit for the Virgin Island-born singer, but "Solo" -- which smartly nicks Janet Jackson's "Again" melody -- never caught flame.

Miranda Cosgrove, "Kissin U"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 35
Released: August 2010



Back before Ariana Grande was the Nickelodeon star with huge mainstream potential, that title belonged to Miranda Cosgrove, whose sweet pop-rock track "Kissin U" crept onto "Now! 35" but never connected at radio in the States. "Sparks Fly," Cosgrove's 2010 debut, is still her only released full-length.

Adam Lambert, "If I Had You"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 36
Released: November 2010



Adam Lambert first appeared in the "Now!" series with the breakout single "Whataya Want From Me," but the underachieving "If I Had You" sticks out like a sore thumb on the hits-packed 36th edition of the "Now!" franchise. Still, the Max Martin-helmed confection deserves another listen, and previewed Lambert's progression on sophomore LP "Trespassing."

Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina, "Stereo Love"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 37
Released: February 2011



An offbeat radio smash across the globe from Romanian producer Edward Maya and Russian-Romanian singer Vika Jigulina, "Stereo Love" seems primed to be the answer to "Remember This Hit?" trivia questions for decades.

Dev, "In The Dark"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 40
Released: November 2011



After scoring a No. 1 single on the Hot 100 chart with the Far*East Movement collaboration "Like a G6," Dev replicated that sultriness on the minor solo hit "In The Dark," eventually included on the 2012 solo effort "The Night The Sun Came Up."

LMFAO, "Sorry For Party Rocking"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 42
Released: May 2012



LMFAO reached the top of the Hot 100 chart twice with singles from their "Sorry For Party Rocking" album -- "Party Rock Anthem" and "Sexy And I Know It" -- but the title track failed to find a similarly massive audience. Equally underrated is the track's music video, which lets Sky Blu and Redfoo play dress-up as an old couple protesting a house party.

Usher, "Numb"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 44
Released: November 2012



To be fair, Usher's 2012 full-length "Looking 4 Myself" is a gem in itself, but how the rave entry "Numb" didn't sit atop the Hot 100 for weeks is beyond us. The track was co-produced by Swedish House Mafia, who appear one track later on "Now! 44" with their own "Don't You Worry Child."

Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida, "Troublemaker"
Found On: Now That's What I Call Music! 46
Released: May 2013



An international hit that never quite caught fire in the States, Olly Murs' "Troublemaker" is a well-produced introduction to a male artist with a promising future. And hey, perennial "Now!" artist Flo Rida is along for the ride, too!