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Friday, July 28, 2006

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? - Year 4 - the Number Sixes.

You might snort at this, but I reckon that this year's bunch of contenders have been our strongest selection to date. Particularly when compared to the horrors which I have in store for you next year; I sneaked a peek at the Top 10s for mid-February in 1967/1977/1987/1997, and I'm telling you: it ain't pretty.

So, settle back and enjoy this comparative Golden Age while it lasts, as we wheel out the Number Sixes.
1966: A Groovy Kind Of Love - The Mindbenders.
1976: Love To Love You Baby - Donna Summer.
1986: Borderline - Madonna.
1996: Open Arms - Mariah Carey.
2006: Check On It - Beyonce featuring Slim Thug.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
Hah! Battle of the divas, or what? The Mindbenders aside, this pits arguably the most iconic of each decade's female pop performers against each other. How fabulously representative!

I've got to be quick today, so shall have to trust you to form your own judgements (the arrogance!) without much further in the way of introductory nudging. But I will say this much at least:

The Mindbenders: Plodding, clunking and astonishingly primitive, as if mankind were just beginning to grasp the rudiments of songwriting and performing. It's the cack-handed lack of flow which gets me about this. Well, that and the rubbish rhymes.

Donna Summer: All that pseudo-orgasmic moaning (OR WAS IT?) was so shocking for its time, but now it just sounds kinda kitsch, in a Mayfair/Penthouse period softcore way. However, it's the essentially teasing, tickling nature of the track which gives it its true eroticism: all foreplay and no climax. (K said that he kept expecting the track to "start properly".)

Madonna: One of my all-time Top Five Madgetrax, although it belongs more to the spring of 1984 for me. In a word: breezy.

Mariah Carey: Like a parody of everything that's ridiculous about her grim power ballads. JUST STICK TO THE F**KING TUNE, CAN'T YOU? But then again, the void at the heart of "Open Arms" is precisely its lack of melody, and hence of any discernible direction. What's left is mere twittering blather. (K said that it sounds like the sort of music that people play to show off their new hi-fi systems.)

Beyonce: Passing quickly over the dubious merits of Slim Thug's contribution, what I like about this is its almost clockwork herky-jerkiness, which suits Beyonce's not-quite-human-ness rather well. (Have you ever seen a photo of her that hasn't been digitally enhanced, or heard her sing without the benefit of similar audio-airbrushing?) I imagine her twitching around to this like a pneumatic, silken-coated wind-up toy. Your fantasies may vary.

My votes: Madonna - 5 points. Donna Summer - 4 points. Beyonce - 3 points. The Mindbenders - 2 points. Mariah Carey - 1 point.

Over to you. Which diva rocks your world, or has your mind been sufficiently "bent" by yet more latter-day Merseybeat? Vote now!
Running totals so far - Number 6s.
1986: Borderline - Madonna. (149)
  • This is one of my all time fave tracks by any artist anytime anywhere, I think I included it in my desert island discs, darlinks - love it! (Tina)
  • pure talent, effortless in its timeless hummability (diamond geezer)
  • All that pop must aspire to. (Koen)
  • Even in my mid 80s sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, leather jacketed, bleached haired days I acknowledged that Madame Ciccone pumped out an awe inspiring string of hits in that first decade. btw, I lost my virginity in 1984 to 'Like A Virgin' on the wireless. Strange, but true. (andy)
  • Back when she was 'just' making pop records instead of co-ordinating Events, this is a flawless pop song that's curiously 1970s flavoured. Best of all, it's certainly back before she took steps to address the fact that her voice was a bit, well, Disney. (PB Curtis)
  • I was about to say that it's far from her best, but the snippet provided reminded me it's a decent little song. Easily the best thing here. (Ben)
  • The strongest song of the five and Madge does a good enough job with it. Like all the others, the sound immediately reveals which decade it's from. (Will)
  • Not my favourite Madonna song, but it feels very summery. I like the modulation about halfway through this clip. I expect I probbaly danced to this in the heady days of 86... (Gert)
  • I'm not generally a fan but good lord this is a good pop record. (Lord Bargain)
  • Like others not a huge fan, but this song makes my most played on my ipod. It's 'Borderline' and 'Cherish' for me. (Chris)
  • I remember, around the time of Like A Virgin, buying Smash Hits specifically for a spread of Madge in something silky. By the time Borderline came out I was all serious head up arse and the woodentops/smiths were as close as I came to pop (I appeared on Here Be Dragons and had a letter about Johnny Clegg and Savuka published in Folk Roots magazine around this time so you can see how far) and had to pretend I didn't like it but I did. (dem)
  • Quality there, admittedly, but I've never liked her voice. (z)
  • She sounds about 12 years old in this. What staying power. (asta)
  • Nice; boppy; harmless - for me she came into her own later on. (Hedgie)
  • As ever I am immune to the whole Madonna hype, a woman of no discernable talent who realised that if she acted outrageously enough nobody would notice. Proof positive that you can fool most of the people most of the time. (Alan)
1976: Love To Love You Baby - Donna Summer. (128)
  • As a prepubescent schoolboy in South Africa, I remember my English teacher being desperate to obtain a copy of 'Love to Love You Baby' after the government banned it. For me it is iconic, legendary, paradigm-shattering and thus easily deseres 5 points. (Hedgie)
  • I can still recall the first time this came on the the car radio while my mother was at the wheel. I was commanded to explain how this in any " way, shape, or form" was music and why it was allowed on the air. Being neither a music major nor a radio station owner I just sat and cringed, wishing it would end. But my friends and I thought it was the most daring thing around. (asta)
  • When Donna Summers was on, we'd have to turn down the radio or the parents would be sooo embarrassed. (guyana-gyal)
  • Five points - just because I was a teenager in the seventies and this was the soundtrack to a few sleepless nights, if you know what I mean *nudge, nudge, wink, wink* (Alan)
  • Embarrassing memories of this as a teenager when I was too repressed to go 'all the way' on the dancefloor. (Lucie)
  • For all that it's cheesy (and, let's face it BASE and VULGAR) I bet it's bloody difficult to er, pull off a record like this, so kudos for that. Also, memorably parodied by Cristina (Diva passim), which we wouldn't have had the considerable pleasure of without this. (PB Curtis)
  • An orgasm set to music wins every time. (cf. Jane & Serge, Lil' Louis). (Chig)
  • The ambient orgasm of 1976, a bit of foreplay before 77's Giorgio Moroder collaboration. (andy)
  • Orgasm or not - it goes on way too long. I detest it. (Chris)
  • To be honest I prefer the Jimi Somerville version, but as 70s disco stuff this is pretty good. and very summery! (Gert)
  • Reminds me of when the old man and I lived in a flat in Elm Avenue in Nottingham, one night our downstairs neighbours played "I feel love" constantly for seven hours - still love her and this track! (Tina)
  • Normally I would expect a bit more structure and variation from song, but this one really does it for me. (Simon C)
  • My least favorite of her 68 hits. But still. (Joe.My.God.)
  • too timid to be sexual, too tinny to be sensual (diamond geezer)
  • dated, not musical, probably would feel different about it if I'd had a girlfriend at the time... (Chris Black)
  • I just wanted to slap her by the time I'd listened to this a couple of times. And not in a good way. (z)
  • About as erotic as a pork scratching flavoured condom. (Ben)
1966: A Groovy Kind Of Love - The Mindbenders. (103)
  • Groovy Kind of Love is just a great song; feels very summery, which is all wrong for a February selection! Proper poppy pop, pop-pickers! (Gert)
  • it's great to hear the pre-Phil unsanitised original (diamond geezer)
  • Wonderful song, although it really does sound astonishingly primitive! (Simon C)
  • Kinda sweet , kinda clumsy. (asta)
  • Raw, certainly, but I like it far better than the Phil Collins version. (z)
  • Straightforward dad-dancing track. (Lucie)
  • Typically sixties but at least from a time when songwriting was more important than gimmicks. Not terribly original, but the song has held up well over the years. (Alan)
  • My Mum and Dad had this, and I've subsequently developed a deep ironic attraction for all the things that are wrong with it. The word "groovy" in particular, which is more memorably deployed by The Turtles ("I really think you're groovy/Let's go out to a movie") with whom The Mindbenders probably share a muse. (PB Curtis)
  • The production, orchestration and performance don't seem to suit the song, although I suspect I'm under the influence of the Phil Collins version, which - and I can't believe I'm saying this - I prefer. Fair enough track but, unless you're Austin Powers, "groovy" dates it somewhat. (Will)
2006: Check On It - Beyonce featuring Slim Thug. (89)
  • Catchy; sexy Beyonce vocals - the contrast between recicative and aria has been with us since Monteverdi. (Hedgie)
  • like it even if it's a bit "modern" to my elderly ears (Tina)
  • 5 points. When this was first released I hated it. I still think the video is rubbish and the lyrics are ridiculous -- but what gets me is how her voice plays off the arrangement. Sue me. I like experimental jazz too. (asta)
  • Not as good as 'Crazy In Love', but what is? She can dine out on that one for a bit longer as far as I'm concerned. (Ben)
  • It's got a good vocal melody, and this contrasts nicely with the stop-start rhythm. (Koen)
  • another tuneful chorus let down by a (c)rap verse (diamond geezer)
  • Could have done without Slim Thug but I agree, it suits her and that's not meant to be insulting. (z)
  • Really little more than an excuse to shake her booty a lot in the video but there are worse things in the world. (Alan)
  • Points for Beyonce's voice and the chorus. Points off for the chaps and the repetitiveness. (Will)
  • Oh god. This makes the ones above seem like classics. It's not just because I'm getting old, is it? But I find it very difficult to find anything to like, let alone love in Noughties pop. (Gert)
  • Would be great if the lyrics, vocals and part of the backing track were removed. (andy)
  • Unlike Mariah Carey, I'm clear that this song is shit. The rinky-dink melody reminds me of the theme to every pre-fives TV show ever made, and is further degraded by the revolting fad of soul divas to "dirty up" their bland piss by including some dork rapping badly. Is "wangstas" even a word? I DON'T THINK SO. (PB Curtis)
1996: Open Arms - Mariah Carey. (41)
  • Every now and again (back in the 90s at least), Mariah Carey could produce an all right, tuneful song. This run-of-the-mill ballad is somewhere between those and the sort of tuneless warbling she does these days. Nice piano bit though. (Will)
  • It would be a great song sung by someone else, but I really don't like Mariah Carey. I don't understand how she thinks straining and creeking equals emoting pain. I was watching a programme last night about Piaf, Hollieday, Garland, Callas, and Joplin - now they could do 'pain' without pretending they were giving birth. (Gert)
  • Journey's version was better. And that was a sentence never before written on a blog. (Joe.My.God.)
  • Succeeds in what might have been considered hitherto impossible, that being making the "Journey" original sound like a classic. (Alan)
  • Too much vocal wibble-wobbling: not much of song. (Hedgie)
  • I'm sure she's single-handedly responsible for the ridiculous amount of warbling present on American Idol et al. (Adrian)
  • Until this selection, I've remained happily ignorant of everything about Mariah Carey except that apocryphal starving africans urban myth quote but I now see that she is to blame for all those stupid vocal gymnastics in X Factor auditions. So if nothing else she has given me something to laugh at. (dem)
  • I couldn't tell the difference between one Mariah Carey song and another if there was money in it for me; they're all dominated by her "look at me working out my vocal cords" bullshit, so I have no idea whether the song is any good or not. (PB Curtis)
  • Poor mimi lives in her own little world and she's sucking all the air out of it. (asta)
  • Now every teenager that can't hold a tune thinks they have talent. Scarey starts each and every 'song' with at least 30 seconds in which to search for they right key, followed by a similar time searching in vain for the tune (if one is lurking) (andy)
  • words cannot express how much I hate the arrogant dead-end pompous vocal tricksiness peddled by this vastly overrated warbling automaton... but I've had a go (diamond geezer)
  • Phil Collins connects two of these acts: The Mindbenders - Groovy Kind Of Love - Phil Collins - Against All Odds - Mariah Carey. I should make clear now that I HATE Mariah Carey and EVERYTHING SHE F*CK*NG STANDS FOR with a passion. Luckily, this is one of the crappier of her crap songs anyway, so easily comes last. (Chig)
  • I don't hate this but it is the weakest of the bunch.....she seems to have collected quite a lot of ire from the previous commentators - poor Mariah must be crying all the way to the bank (Tina)
  • I'd better not add to the negative comments here in case she stumbles across this and reprises her washing-up "incident". Actually, what the hell - this is utter shite. Supremely soulless bombast "sung" by one of the most pointless human beings in existence. (Ben)
  • Close your arms and your mouth Pariah and shut the feck up!!!! (NiC)
  • It used to be the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse you know. It's just that the other four couldn't take any more of her whailing. (Koen)
Decade scores so far:
1 (1) The 1970s (16)
2 (3=) The 1960s (14)
3= (2) The 1990s (11)
3= (3=) The 1980s (11)
5 (5) The 2000s (8)

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? - Year 4 - the Number Sevens.

Yeesh, this heat. The fabled Long Hot Summer of 1976 has had nothing on the past couple of weeks. Which Decade Is Tops For Hots? No contest, mate.

K and I have taken to commuting from the cottage, which was built to cope with such extremes of temperature. Thick walls and small windows retain the warmth in the winter, and shut out the worst of the heat of the summer. Plus we have the use of the PDMG, which has reached maturity in its fourth year, and so has never looked better.

In stark contrast, our pressure cooker of a house in Nottingham has been rendered more or less uninhabitable. Yesterday evening, we lasted less than five minutes indoors, before grabbing some clean socks and pants, and heading for the A52.

Of course, the price to be paid for all this is the 50 minute drive there and back each day. But even that's not without its benefits: the sweet relief of the in-car air-conditioning, and the fact that K is a captive audience for the Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? project. Our respective votes have been surprisingly at variance with each other this year - until today's selection, which sees us more or less ad idem.

Will our unanimity prove to be universal? Well, let's find out! Here come the Number Sevens!
1966: Love's Just A Broken Heart - Cilla Black.
1976: Convoy - C.W. McCall.
1986: System Addict - Five Star.
1996: Do U Still - East 17.
2006: You Got The Love (New Voyager mix) - The Source featuring Candi Staton.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
In a break with tradition, I have let Cilla Black's section of the medley run on for much longer than usual, as a mere minute's worth couldn't possibly do justice to its gob-smacking over-the-topness. No, really, this is extraordinary. Each time that you think that the arrangement has reached saturation point, somebody cranks it up yet another notch, until you find yourself wanting to scream: "She's already on full throttle, you fools! She can't take any more pressure! She's gonna BLOW, do you hear?"

I've said this before somewhere, but my God, the fads of the 1970s were weird at times. Clackers. Pet rocks. And Citizen's Band Radio, or CB for short, with its ridculous slang: "Four on that, good buddy. What's your twenty?"

Ever the craze-jumper (he was possibly the first person ever to send marketing spam out via Prestel, and I HELPED HIM DO IT, oh the SHAME), my father soon had a CB kit installed in the drawing room at home - only to lose interest in it after the first week, thus giving my step-sisters unfettered access to chat up truckers during the school holidays. (These days, there would be a public outcry.)

Anyway. Strange as it may seem today, the concept of lorry drivers talking to each other via interactive radio sets seemed deeply glamorous and progressive in February 1976, when C.W. McCall enthralled us all with his hillbilly proto-rap "Convoy". Who could forget the tale of Big Ben, his "good buddy" Rubber Duck, and the "eleven long-haired friends of Jesus in a chartreuse micro-bus"? Why, they even made a film out of the song, starring sexy ole Kris Kristofferson. (Not to mention - and really, we mustn't - the parody record "Convoy GB" by Laurie Lingo & The Dipsticks, which went Top Five in April 1976.) Truly, the past is another country.

Turning once again to February 1986, I find myself increasingly staggered at what a truly SHIT time for pop music this was - as exemplified by the distressing success of the joyless, lifeless, characterless bunch of performing androids known as Five Star. Hearing "System Addict" again, I am transported back to the first job I had after graduating, at a small software house on the edge of town - where I spent a year or so festering in quiet desperation, unable to comprehend that my university education had fetched me up in such dismal, alienating, intellect-free, and okay okay I admit it I admit it, un-cool surroundings.

A couple of desks away from me, the company's sales guy spent many an afternoon cold-calling, trying to build on our impressive track record of supplying Bespoke Software Solutions to, inter alia, Western Europe's largest manufacturer of nightie cases, and a factory in Long Eaton which made nothing but knicker elastic. When he wasn't getting shitty with random P.A.'s who wouldn't put him through to the managing director (honestly, the man's telephone manner was appalling), the sales guy liked to sing to himself - invariably homing in on the one record in the current Top 40 which irritated me the most.

The sales guy loved "System Addict". Because, you know, it was obviously about us, the IT professionals - hell, it was Our Anthem! After all, weren't we all System Addicts ourselves, merrily bashing out our BASIC stock control packages on our dinky little networked micro-computers?

Twenty years on, this song still makes me shudder to my core. Which probably says more about me than it does about Five Star.

East 17, then - and I can hear your sighs from here. Oh God, lowest common denominator manufactured pop, yadda yadda yadda. Well, think again - because "Do U Still" really ain't too shonky. It's a close cousin of East 17's other great pop/rap moment, "Deep" - leery, grimy, and yet sporting some rather fetching ensemble vocal work. East 17 were like the Take That who you could actually imagine having a quick-and-dirty shag with (probably down the alley behind the chip shop) and it's their essential rough-arsedness which saves this track from production-line blandness.

I've wondered in previous years whether it is strictly fair to include re-issues in this survey, and there's a strong argument which says I shouldn't. Nevertheless, if a song is inside the Top Ten, then it can reasonably be said to represent the popular music of its time - and such is the case with the third re-issue of The Source featuring Candi Staton's "You Got The Love".

This started life in 1986 as a fairly straightforward piece of cheerfully happy-clappy soul/gospel (I have the original 12-inch in the attic), before someone had the bright idea of slapping Candi Staton's vocals over the instrumental track from Frankie Knuckles' "Your Love" as a sort of early bootleg mash-up - thus bringing a whole new dimension to the original song, which shifted from major to minor and sounded a whole lot better for it. Result: a top ten hit in 1991.

Six years later, the "Now Voyager" mix, which plonked the same vocal over a brand new Massive Attack-esque trip hop backing track, took the song back into the top ten. This version returned to prominence in 2004, when it was played over the closing credits of the last ever episode of Sex And The City.

And then, for no reason that I know of, someone saw fit to re-jig the "Now Voyager" mix as the "New Voyager" mix (but so slightly that you can barely tell the difference), and to bung it out again in 2006. Based on their dismal peformance this week thus far, 2006 should be grateful for such small mercies - 'cos this is GREAT.

My votes: The Source featuring Candi Staton - 5 points. Cilla Black - 4 points. C.W. McCall - 3 points. East 17 - 2 points. Five Star - 1 point.

Accumulating your votes from the first three days, the 1970s have taken an early lead, followed by an atypically strong showing from the 1990s. However, with the votes still open for all selections, anything could still happen.

Over to you. Have Cilla's oxyacetalyne blowtorch pipes left scorch marks upon your soul? Does C.W. McCall make you feel like "chasing bear", fer sure fer sure good buddy? Have Five Star got you tappity-tapping your keyboard in time with their futuristic rhythms? Or do you fancy a quicky knee-trembler with East 17? Or has Candi Staton got you all weepy as you recall the reunion of Carrie and Big, Oh My God like she SO deserved a little happiness in her life, and that Michael Barynshiwotsit was like SO OBVIOUSLY wrong for her? As "Dickie" from Big Brother 2006 might squeal: my box is all yours!
Running totals so far - Number 7s.
2006: You Got The Love (New Voyager mix) - The Source featuring Candi Staton. (135)
  • I still remember the first time I heard it and realised, instantly, that it was a classic. It was just.. different.. amidst all the house music. This mix isn't too shoddy either. Super. Great. Smashing. (Gordon)
  • I'd give it 10 points if I could. I don't care which version it is. Candi Stanton can sahng and this song is so life affirming and optimistic that it always gets me. (asta)
  • Classic. Chig drifts off with memories of Flesh nights at the Hacienda.... (Chig)
  • wipes the floor in any decade (diamond geezer)
  • OK, Candi has a great voice. I'd like to hear her record Cilla's song. (Chris Black)
  • A great song survives being put through an unnecessary mincer. (PB Curtis)
  • 4 points - this despite my abhorrence of any mucking about with Massive Attack. Staton's Young Hearts Run Free is far superior, with Victim a close second. (Joe.My.God.)
  • The new backing isn't as good as the Frankie Knuckles, but the vocals are still excellent. (Adrian)
  • So uplifting. Not as good as the 1991 version but remixes are the only way 2006 is going to get points. (Lucie)
  • I'm sat here listening to the original as I type because that's all we wanted to do when listening to this. However it's the only one that had me singing and swaying along - the best out of a very bad bunch! (Bryany)
  • This version just reminds me how much I like the other two versions (ignoring Candi's original acapella version obviously) so it annoys me even though it's still good. It's a bit like seeing Goya's pictures defaced by the Chapman brothers; there's something good under there but I'd prefer it if it didn't exist in this state. OK, that reference is a bit far-fetched; but i've had a couple of pints so it stands at this (and because I'm recording it, every future) moment in time. (David)
  • I didn't especially like it first time round but in comparison to most of the stuff I've heard (10s, 9s, 8s and 7s) this has a refeshing sound. but I could really do without the idiot-dance stuff in the background. (Gert)
  • Brilliant song. Marked it down for the pointlessness of yet another very similar remix and rerelease. (Koen)
  • 2 points - just because it's the legendary Candi Staton, but good grief, are we really back to bloody remixes? Remember all those Stars on 45 debacles and "great original with techno drums" {date} carbuncles? (Andy)
  • What the hell is the point. The original is a great soul record, but all that's happened here is they've put a different beat on it. Yawn yawn. (Alan)
  • Is it destined to be re-issued every five years for eternity though? (betty)
  • A great feast of the two things that make me hate house music - unarpeggiated piano chords and over-reverberated wailing lady. Bury it deep. (Simon C)
1966: Love's Just A Broken Heart - Cilla Black. (128)
  • The 60s dared where the 80s feared to tread, and this is a great example of that. At least experimentation that blows up in your face is memorable. For the other end of the spectrum, see Five Star. (PB Curtis)
  • Beautiful song. Never heard it before, and I immediately liked it from the first few bars. And then it builds, and -indeed- never stops building. Brilliant. (Koen)
  • Oh I say, I think Cilla simply must have top marks for her remarkably near-perfect diction. And for effort. (z)
  • 5 points - for classic Petula Clark-esque drama. (Joe.My.God.)
  • Stirring stuff - a hint of Brel? (Stereoboard)
  • I can't remember ever having heard this before but as you said - extraordinary. (Hedgie)
  • It sounds as if Cilla is being led to the gallows and is giving us every note she's got left. (asta)
  • No contest really. Not with this competition! The sound over Cilla being aurally teased to orgasm. (Andy)
  • Christ, the musical arrangement makes Muse seem restrained. The whole thing brings to mind the image of a kettle whistling away furiously on the hob with someone turning the heat up every now and again rather than down. (Ben)
  • Always understood the value of understatement, didn't she? (betty)
  • I'm stunned, I've never heard this song in my life before. Remarkable over-the-top, maybe her finest hour. But still not very interesting. (Chris Black)
  • Nice, but feels a bit unfinished. (Simon C)
  • strained diva battles against orchestral whirlwind (diamond geezer)
  • Plinky-plink, plonky-plonk, plinky-plink, plonky-plonk. The planned key change was dropped for health and safety reasons. (Will)
  • I read Cilla Black and I say "No! Cilla!" I really can't stand her voice - be it the little girlie stuff, the affected diction to hide the common-as-muck Scouse accent or the bit where she gets all butch. Or the screeching that passes as high notes. (Gert)
  • Well on my way to becoming a Mouser (that's mock scouser, la) I'm trying to work out what part of Liverpool the young professional scouser sounds like she comes from and pulling me hur out in frustration. (dem)
  • When did Cilla have a plum in her mouth? (Bryany)
  • Can't stand the woman - get those sinuses scraped luv! (Tina)
  • Fun... if your idea of fun is having two Black & Decker drills pierce your eardrums simultaneously. No better case for the existence of the Devil and his purchasing of souls is provided outside of David Hasselhoff's career than in the case of the popularity of Cilla Black. (David)
  • Thanks to David I now have a hankering for Cilla and Carol to do a duet, just so they can release it as Black & Decker. (Will)
  • I think she should record hip-hop, beacuse I don't get either. (Chris)
  • GOOD GOD. STOP THE MADNESS, NO MORE STRINGS!! (Gordon)
1976: Convoy - C.W. McCall. (107)
  • A cheesy classic, when this first came out it had us all talking this kind of guff in the playground and begging our mums and dads to buy us a CB Radio. Also for innovative use of the word "trucking". (Alan)
  • We listened to this on a country tape we had in the car and sang along all the way to scotland (we were young then and stupid but I did like the lyrics - they've even got a bear in the air - marvellous. (Harriet)
  • My word, that camp chorus comes out of left field, doesn't it? The verse reminds me of something - maybe Stan Ridgway's Camouflage? (Will)
  • Sort-of started my Colt-truck-driver fantasies. (Chris)
  • The chorus is awful, but he does a pretty decent rap. Catchy. (Simon C)
  • I'm not proud of this and I've been forced into giving something that admittedly makes me smile but isn't that great. 5 points because of the other tracks. (David)
  • Of course it's crap but Convoy scores so high because it's the first time in this year's WDITFP that I was transported to my innocence and felt a genuine shiver down my spine and MDMA reminiscent warm scalp feeling. (dem)
  • Cheesy. Yes. Fun. YEEHAAAWWW (did the Muppets do this at some point?? That's all I can picture..) (Gordon)
  • This played every radio station, everywhere, all day, for a year, in my memory. It was a tortured youth. I also hold it responsible for the spread of CB radios into suburban compact cars.--a fad that lasted five miinutes, thank god. Or--that's a 10-4 fer sure, good buddy. (asta)
  • Not heard this in years, but it still pops into my head when stuck in traffic jams behind bloody caravans. (Simon H)
  • I preferred the British version, which I was given on my 10th birthday by my best friend Conor, who didn't realise that the opening line 'It was a foggy day on the sixth of May' is about my birthday itself! Spooky, but true. (Chig)
  • My least favorite of all the CB radio hit songs. Anybody remember Johnny Cash's One Piece At A Time? Or the hilariously tragic Teddy Bear by Red Sovine? By the way, I suggest hunting down the parody of Convoy , Rod Hart's C.B. Savage in which he affects a lithping gay accent and tries to pick up truckers. (Joe.My.God.)
  • I wanted to make special mention, re: CW McCall, of slightly Cramps-esque trucker/rockabilly combo, Deadbolt. A bit of a one-note gag, but their track "The Mocker" requires inclusion in the CB genre. (PB Curtis)
  • A real historical curiosity. Not music at all really, as bemusingly funny now as it was then. (z)
  • Distractingly the underlying beat is the same as the Teletubbies theme tune. (Lucie)
  • Not as good as hearing CB enthusiasts on the VHF radio band though (mainly middle aged housewives saying "Bysie bye good buddoy!" in Cannock accents). (betty)
  • Gimmick songs are hideous, all of them. This made me cringe with embarassment when I was 11; the fact that it still does so testifies to its singular quality. (PB Curtis)
  • mercy's sakes alive, looks like we've got us a rubber duck (diamond geezer)
  • Convoy is increasingly growing on me, but I'm still not sure what it reminds me of. Have dug out my copy of Camouflage and it wasn't that. I'm wondering if it was, of all things, car ad from The Simpsons... (Will)
1986: System Addict - Five Star. (80)
  • Whereas all the other 7s feature something irritating, be it over-orchestration or hillbilly proto-rap, this is a simple, beautiful song. I have no qualms whatsoever about putting this first, and then I'm not even factoring in the antiquity value of songs from and about the early days of computing... (Simon C)
  • Was I the only preteen who wanted five star to be my brothers and sisters so I could join in their co-ordinated song and dance routines?? yeah, thought so. (Lucie)
  • I *love* this track and can't believe how many of you slate it. I guess it must be because I'm a whole lot younger than most of you. (Oliver)
  • Unfair. You're just being unfair. Just cos *your* memories of the time were horrible... I was 13/14, had just got a new walkman, and - a few weeks before "The Boy with the Thorn in his Side" would change my life forever, this was a damn fine song. Good as any other that week, anyway. (Koen)
  • Their strongest song, but it still sounds feeble. However, 'boxes that go beep, little lights that leap' just about sums up my computer knowledge, so I do have some empathy. (Chig)
  • I liked this at the time. This is no longer the time. (Gordon)
  • I feel dirty and used... and not in a good way. 3 points by default. Ew. (David)
  • just the wrong side of manufactured tweedom (diamond geezer)
  • I hate Five Star. End of. Although this is probably their most catchy/memorable tune. I probably won't forgive you for reminding me of it. (Gert)
  • Urgh, I have nightmares about this band, eighties pap of the worst kind. (Alan)
  • As much fun as chewing Bacofoil. (betty)
  • The worst I've listened to so far this week. (z)
  • After listening to Candi and Cilla, I have to wonder if these people are even alive. (asta)
  • The sort of song Patrick Bateman would chainsaw people's heads off to if he'd left his Huey Lewis & The News tape in the car. (Ben)
1996: Do U Still - East 17. (75)
  • mm, there is a certain appealingly underlying griminess there, isn't there. (z)
  • I like the fact that that Brian guy kept getting into scraps in nightclubs! (Tina)
  • Lord forgive me for I have no choice but to award an excessive 3 points. At least they usually had a half decent chorus among the 'wigger' isms. (Andy)
  • Very reminiscent of Deep. Better without the rapping. (Will)
  • I'm still trying to understand how it is that I DON'T RECALL this song. I've astonished myself, but it doesn't ring any bells. Me! And boybands! I must have spent early 1996 in a coma. (Chig)
  • They were probably the last of the boy bands to actually have some kind of character of their own before they all became completely faceless. (Alan)
  • They were always trying so hard to be cool and they so were not! (Bryany)
  • Not one of their best, but quite endearing for all that. (betty)
  • Bless them. They did their best, and it wasn't always awful. This one is, though. (PB Curtis)
  • I quite liked East 17. But this is no "Stay" or "Deep". (Koen)
  • They had some better material than this, didn't they? The chorus is ok, but the rest is just awful. (Simon C)
  • Don't remember ever hearing this. Not their worst moment but still shite. (Lucie)
  • Oh dear, white boys do rap. Formulaic. I'd given up boy bands by then. Actually, I never really did boy bands. (Gert)
  • proof that white boys should stick to singing and cut the rap (diamond geezer)
  • Awww, East 17 - my postcode for 20-odd years of my life! Those boys went to the same school as me, though they had already left by the time I went there to do my A levels... I remember the excitement when we first saw the video to "House of Love", filmed around "The Stow" dog stadium. Walthamstow doesn't get a lot of publicity y'know, funny that... (anxious)
  • All the way through East 17 all I could think of was 'In me burberry in me burberry...' (dem)
  • See these guys, they're from my 'hood / Feels bad to diss them though they're no good (NiC)
  • Another song responsible for highly rating Five Star. Five Star are best summed up by someone ringing up children's TV to ask them why they were so shit. No, this isn't production-line pop... it's home made cake that no-one wants at a school fete. It reminds you that mass-production can work on occasions. (David)
  • It's not that it's bad, it's that it's really REALLY bad. (Gordon)
  • No wonder Brian Harvey tried to run himself over. (Ben)
Decade scores so far (after 3 days).
1. The 1970s (13) -- I'm just a love machine!
2. The 1990s (10) -- I vont to get high but I neffer know vye!
3= The 1960s (9) -- I WAS YOUR DESTINY!!! I WAS YOUR REASON TO LIVE!!! AND YOU WOULD GIVE ALL YOUR LIFE'S TREASURES TO MEEEE!!!!!
3= The 1980s (9) -- And when the electricity starts to flow, the fuse that's on my sanity's got to blow!
5. The 2000s (4) -- Cock it and pull it!

Labels:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? - Year 4 - the Number Eights.

It's not every day that you pop out for lunch and bump into the Prime Minister - but that's exactly what happened to me today, in my endlessly exciting little life. Well, maybe "exactly" is the wrong word, as Tony Blair (for it was he) was safely behind a fairly sizeable security cordon, as he stepped out of Nottingham's Albert Hall (no relation) and into a big black car, before speeding off up the Derby Road - passing a titchy clump of protesters with just the one banner between them.

("Shame On You!", it screeched, in big black marker pen, but it failed to be any more specific than that. Well, there's so much to choose from.)

Down at my end of the patch, there were just a few mildly curious sandwich-munchers from Cast Deli at the Nottingham Playhouse, plus a few of the Playhouse staff. "Alright Tone!", bellowed one wag, just as Blair came into view.

(Apparently, the wag has a blog - but he was coyly refusing to divulge its URL to his friends. Blog anonymity, how quaint!)

Being one of the respected elders of my community, I refrained from such puerile attention-grabbing. Instead, I inched a teensy bit closer to the crash barrier, and called out to the Dear Leader in my most authoritative yet respectful tone.

"Mr. Blair: as a keen musician yourself, would you care to give us your opinion on Day Three of the Troubled Diva Which Decade Is Tops For Pops Project? I have a medley of today's tracks right here..."

As the Prime Minister turned to greet me, his teeth bared in a manner that bore the closest approximation to "welcoming" that a decade and a half of on-the-job media training would allow, I stretched out my hand and offered him my iPod, already queued up at the relevant MP3.

Blair's grasp of digital media technology was little short of masterful. Why, he knew which buttons to press, and everything! Who says that today's politicians are out of touch? Six minutes later, he removed the headphones and passed the device back to me, quickly patting his hair back into position with his free hand.

"Thanks Mike, that was great stuff. You know, the robust good health of the British popular music industry is one of our greatest success stories as a nation, and I want to pay tribute to that, here today in Nottingham..."

Tony Blair's votes are in the comments box. And now it's your turn! Because that's Democracy! So pray be upstanding for... the Number Eights.
1966: Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group.
1976: Love Machine - The Miracles.
1986: Burning Heart - Survivor.
1996: Children - Robert Miles.
2006: Sugar We're Goin' Down - Fall Out Boy.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
Picture this: North Nottinghamshire, August 1973. An 11 year old boy called Michael, and his 9 year old sister, are home for the holidays. It is the Golden Summer of Glam Rock. Slade, T.Rex, The Sweet, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Gary Glitter, Wizzard and Mott The Hoople reign supreme. The children's father has enlisted a "home help" called Ruby, to assist around the house now that their mother has left to re-marry. (She walked out at the end of July, and the children are still raw and numb from the shock.)

Ruby is 24, and jolly, and good fun to have around. She is also well into her music - but lacks some of the children's enthusiasm for all things glittery. "This stuff is all very well," she smiles, "but you need to hear some proper music. Have you ever heard the Spencer Davis Group? No? Really? OK, I'll bring something in with me tomorrow."

The next day, Ruby places her 45rpm copy of "Keep On Running" on the family stereo system. "I used to love this when it came out", she enthuses. "Isn't it great?"

Being a well brought-up little boy, Michael manages a polite response - but inwardly, he isn't too impressed. To his ears, there is something dour, lumpy and colourless about "Keep On Running". Despite its driving dance beat, it all sounds a bit too earnest, a bit too blokey, a bit too lacking in fun.

Thirty-three years later, Michael does not see much reason to change his opinion.

Compare and contrast with the zing and verve of the only UK hit which The Miracles enjoyed after splitting with Smokey Robinson. I am particularly struck with the way that the group aren't shy of connecting with their feminine side, with gleeful falsetto punchlines such as "...and my indicator starts to glow, WOO!" Camp as hell - but playfully so, and without that any of that tediously heavy-handed nudge-and-a-wink mugging to camera that has become so prevalent in more recent times.

(Here, I must put in a quick word for another mid-1970s Miracles track which I have only just discovered, on a fascinating compilation assembled by the writer Jon Savage called Queer Noises 1961-1978: from the Closet to the Charts. The track is called "Ain't Nobody Straight In L.A.", and contains such breezily delivered lines as "Homosexuality, it's a part of society; I guess that they need some more variety; freedom of expression, is really, the thing!" What a markedly different approach from the US R&B stars of today. It's not all been progress, you know.)

There will be no such dangerous "touching base with our feminine side" malarky for the resolutely macho Survivor, hoping to reprise the massive success of "Eye Of The Tiger" (the theme tune from Rocky III) with the similarly anthemic hair-metal bombast of "Burning Heart" (the theme tune from, erm, Rocky IV). This is the one where Sylvester Stallone's Rocky comes up against the might of the Soviet Union's champ fighter Ivan Drago, played by blonde lunkhead Dolph "Not My Type" Lundgren. Yes, it's a thinly veiled metaphor for the final days of the Cold War - a fact which is suitably reinforced in Survivor's lyrics, should we somehow have failed to get the point.

Back then, at the height of my impeccably right-on phase, I hated "Burning Heart". Listening to it again now, I find it almost quaint - indeed, almost camp in its overblown ludicrousness. Now, there's a thing.

I have nothing but fondness for "Children" by Robert Miles: Italy's trance/techno answer to Richard Clayderman. Sure, it inspired a thousand and one deeply rubbish "ambient trance" monstrosities (ATB's "9pm (Till I Come)" springs immediately to mind) - but this was genuinely ground-breaking stuff for its day. I love the atmosphere which the track conjures up: of sweaty ravers emerging into the misty dawn, and sharing a "spiritual" moment as the sun rises over the fields. Or something.

Which isn't so far from the truth, actually. A story went round at the time that "Children" had been specifically composed in order to ease over-excited (cough) Italian clubbers "down" at the end of the night, so that they would then drive safely home. Indeed, it was reported that Miles was the recipient of dozens of tear-streaked letters from grateful Italian mothers, thanking him for saving their children's lives with his unique and innovative style of melodic trance music. And you wonder who were the ones taking drugs?

And finally, Fall Out Boy give it some NME-approved, MySpace-friendly, generic indie welly, with a song that bore the rare distinction of steadily climbing the singles chart week on week, just like proper hit singles used to do in the Olden Days. I've slowly been warming to his, having managed to overcome my initial antipathy to their chosen genre. For if nothing else, "Sugar We're Goin' Down" has a good deal more youthful spirit, and many more twists, turns and general points of interest, than that stodgy old "classic track" from the Spencer Davis Group. So there.

Bonus points also for the couplet "I'll be your number one with a bullet/A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it." Because it sounds a bit rude. (Cock! Pull! Arf!)

My votes: Robert Miles - 5 points. The Miracles - 4 points. Fall Out Boy - 3 points. Spencer Davis Group - 2 points. Survivor - 1 point.

So. Will Spencer Davis get you stomping, or will the Miracles get you swishing? Will you be beating your chest with Survivor, or taking a well-earned rest with Robert Miles? Or are you a Young Person, who thinks that Fall Out Boy represent the total artistic pinnacle of fifty accumulated years of rock history?

Over to you. The comments box is now open.
Running totals so far - Number 8s.
1966: Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group. (136)
  • Trying to keep objective as requested, but this brings back memories of op art mini-dresses, black eyeliner and saturday night discos at St Mary's Church Hall in Whitley Bay - ah heady days... (Tina)
  • a toe-tapping wedding reception classic (diamond geezer)
  • A decade ahead of it's time. Compare the richness of the sound compared with the previous sixties tracks. (Chris Black)
  • Well it's just a classic isn't it, and Winwood had one of the best sets of vocal chords in the business. (Alan)
  • A classic song and for good reason - it's anthemic...! I used to play my friend's guitar at Uni. It had been his Dad's and he claimed that his Dad had taught Spencer Davis to play guitar on that very instrument. It actually had a really beautiful tone. I like this song but it would never feature in my top 100 of all time! (Gert)
  • 5 points: because I must have grown to love this while in the womb. (Chig)
  • As it says in the title, so it manages in the song. (Adrian)
  • A bit sterile but I do still like it (probably best in little snatches like this though... there's not really enough to keep on running through the whole song is there? (NiC)
  • Pretty simplistic but gets points for the intro, the rhythm, the bass and the hey hey heys. (Will)
  • Simplistic yet catchy. Sadly lacking hammond organ but not too shoddy. (Gordon)
  • Decent enough, if a bit stodgy (Ben)
  • Somebody strained a major muscle trying to get this clunker to move. (asta)
  • One of the creepiest songs ever. It's not devotion, it's stalking and threatening with menaces. It's not entirely deluded, though, as the line "Everyone is laughing at me" illustrates. Brrr, nonetheless. (PB Curtis)
1976: Love Machine - The Miracles. (130)
  • Epitomises disco. So bad it's gloriously good. And you ALL dance to it when it comes on. Don't lie. (Gordon)
  • Unfortunately, I'm liable to break into a Young Generation-style dance routine if I hear this, even if I'm sober. (betty)
  • 5 points - for the lyrics, the oooo yeah and the falsettos. (asta)
  • even camper than the Wham! cover, were that possible (diamond geezer)
  • can't keep the old feet still while that's on (Tina)
  • that grrrowl at the beginning! (Lucie)
  • Glorious. It's not something I'd listen to if I wasn't in the mood for it. I mean, the Robert Miles song played and it *became* my mood - I'll be downloading pop trance all day - but this, on any other day, might have irritated me. Today was a good day. (Koen)
  • Distinguished from blander tracks of the same type by some amusing vocal noises and a bit of innuendo. (Will)
  • After a poor start, it's pulled me in. I thought it'd be tired disco, but it's better than that.(Adrian)
  • Not a great song, but some superb innuendos that appeal to my British sense of humour. See for example: "My meter starts to rise". I blame it all on 'Allo, Allo'. (Ben)
  • Decent sound, but a bit vacuous. (Chris Black)
  • not quite miraculous enough for me. (NiC)
  • I really like this, but just a bit too camp. The Grrr at the start, great. The one in the middle, too much. The la-las at the end tipped the balance - the wrong way. (z)
  • When does it start? Nothing going for it whatsoever. (Gert)
1996: Children - Robert Miles. (120)
  • Trancy-dance from the height of my club-going. It is a classic isn't it? (Adrian)
  • A standard "dancefloor classic", and perfect for trancing away into the night. (Gordon)
  • one of a v. small number of ravey dance tunes I actually liked (Lucie)
  • Absolutely superb, ambient dance-floor music par excellence. (Alan)
  • it takes talent to make something so clever so simple (diamond geezer)
  • I hardly ever listen to trance. This I remember and still like. (asta)
  • I don't think I even spent a thought on Robert Miles at the time, and only got into this type of music with the dodgy knock-offs (ATB's 9PM (Till I Come) springs to mind haha:), but this is really rather beautiful. I think my sentimental phase is really finally upon me (turned 34 at the weekend). (Koen)
  • Pleasant enough stuff. Probably good to ski to. (Chris Black)
  • Never used to be that impressed by this, but I was listening to it on a compilation as we were driving back from the New Forest (well within the speed limit of course) and it sounded great. (betty)
  • That's worn better than I might have expected. (NiC)
  • I'd always thought that Children was a play on the theme from X-Files. Is that not so? In any case, it conjures some horrible memories for me, as '96 was my annus horribilis. (Joe.My.God.)
  • I totally see where everyone praising this song is coming from, now as well as in 96. However, to me it's still a bit point- and soulless. (Simon C)
  • I recall hating this at the time although I'm not sure why now (connotations, perhaps) as it's preferable to much of its contemporary trance. The tune's OK but the beat and beepy sound effects detract from it. Catchy, but then so's measles. (Will)
  • Atmospheric, yes, but I don't think it's stood the test of time. (z)
  • Never been much of a "proper" clubber at all, and this sort of piano-led trance has always left me completely cold. (Ben)
  • So people actually bought this? I was getting itchy wanting it to end. (Gert)
  • This is just Giorgio Moroder revisited. He wasn't in. (PB Curtis)
2006: Sugar We're Goin' Down - Fall Out Boy. (88)
  • Introduced to me by our kids, the first almost decent band that's come to me this way (I keep waiting for them to introduce me to the next big thing). (NiC)
  • would have come top had it been a Nine or Ten, but unfortunately it's an Eight and the competition's much steeper (diamond geezer)
  • I don't think I've ever put a Noughties song so high, which is partly a comment on the crap below, but more a reflection that this is a throwback to an earlier era - my era. It's actually not bad. (Gert)
  • The chorus lingers after the song is done, and that happens so rarely with these sorts of bands. (asta)
  • Named after the Simpsons character? Nothing special but the chorus is OK. (Will)
  • While it seems the UK is finally managing to squeeze out some decent indigenous hip-hop, US rock is still out in the wilderness without a compass. This is not too bad, I guess, but I prefer my traditional four-piece rock acts either with lots of finesse, or with masturbatory guitar solos. (Simon C)
  • Surprisingly enough, this is growing on me. He's straining his voice though - take singing lessons, FOBoy. (z)
  • Now I've heard it, it sound familiar... my girlfriend loved it when it was out, although she could never remember who it was by or what it was called. (Adrian)
  • The voice isn't easy to listen to, I wouldn't bother to listen to it again. (Chris Black)
  • ohh slightly punky, slightly distorted, slightly "heard it before". (Gordon)
  • Just can't understand the appeal of this sort of thing, try as I might. Sorry. (betty)
  • The sort of song tailormade for skateboarding videos - ergo it's bad. (Ben)
  • never impinged on my consciousness when it came out and didn't when listening to it here (Lucie)
  • Yeah yeah whatever, snotty spotty kids. You sing worse than him out of Green Day. And at least they had decent melodies. (Koen)
  • A couple of days on, I have the Fall Out Boy song in my head... (Will)
1986: Burning Heart - Survivor. (51)
  • I had high hopes for this, probably because I remember it featuring in a guitar songbook I've got. It hasn't aged too well has it? (Adrian)
  • I can just imagine the video with large chunks of landscape spontaneously combusting... (Tina)
  • Football clubs in the Austrian Premier League are required *by law* to play this during half-time, you know. (Koen)
  • so difficult to be objective when you remember the terrible video (Lucie)
  • Isn't this exactly the same as 'Eye Of The Tiger'? The intro is at least. (Ben)
  • Oh dear. "We had a Monster hit" with Eye of the Tiger so let's re-do it but do it crap. (Gert)
  • I thought Eye of the Tiger was unbeatably awful until they put this out. (asta)
  • It's not too bad for its genre, but it's not a good genre. (Will)
  • At least it's quite funny. (betty)
  • Made me laugh, quite a lot. Which is at least a response. I might want this played at my funeral now. Yes, I'm just being perverse, because most of these songs are rubbish. (PB Curtis)
  • I still remember the first time I saw Rocky IV - classmate's 10th birthday, complete with hot dogs, oven chips and a rented video. It made a huge impression. To this day, the scene where Rocky runs away from his minders, ascends a snowy mountain and shouts "DRAGO! DRAAAAGO!" from the top, is the inner metaphor I use when preparing myself for major imminent challenges (PhD viva coming up, ho hum). That said, this song rings no bells at all, and I can see no reason why it should. No finesse, lacklustre guitar solo. (Simon C)
  • Possibly the most blatant copy of a band's own previous hit I have ever heard. The philosophy here was presumably to make sure the production was identical whilst forgetting that songs also need a catchy tune/riff/something! (NiC)
  • A prime example of the worst kind of eighties big-hair euro-rock, it's only redeeming feature is that it was this kind of pap that caused bands like the Pixies and Nirvana to come along to sweep it away hopefully forever. (Alan)
  • every battle-weary cliché assembled with talentless bravado (diamond geezer)
  • This is all that was bad about the 80's. No, No, No ..... just NOOOOOOO! (Bryany)
  • Should they have released an double album called "29 Identical Hits"? (Chris Black)
  • I'd rather be castaway on a desert island than have to listen to this again. (Gordon)
  • If even I can recognise it as derivative, it's scraping the barrel. (z)

Labels:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? - Year 4 - the Number Nines.

Before we start: two important reminders.

1. Voting will remain open for all songs until the end of the fortnight, i.e. just before the final totals are tallied. So if you're late to the party, or if you miss a few days and need to play catch-up, then sweat not.

2. When casting your votes, do try not to be swayed by nostalgia for your youth, or by familiarity with some songs over others. We're looking for a reasonable degree of objectivity here - after all, this is AN IMPORTANT SOCIO-CULTURAL SURVEY, the results of which might have IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS for the advancement of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE. Oh yes. And anyway, if everyone keeps automatically voting for the 1970s and 1980s, it just gets boring, doesn't it?

With that in mind, let us crack on with... the Number Nines.

1966: Tomorrow - Sandie Shaw.
1976: We Do It - R & J Stone.
1986: Living In America - James Brown.
1996: Slight Return - The Bluetones.
2006: Say Say Say (Waiting 4 U) - Hi_Tack.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
And straight away, I'm having the same difficulties wih Sandie Shaw as I did yesterday with Pinkerton's Assorted Colours. "Tomorrow" has many admirable qualities - but nevertheless, it remains low on impact. Or, as we IT types would have it: stickiness. Or, as common parlance would have it: it goes in one ear and out the other. During the preparatory stages of the "project", I have played this many times over - and yet, I don't think I have ever managed to sustain full concentration throughout. What emotion is Sandie trying to convey here?

OK, look, I'll give it one more shot. Bear with me as I stick my headphones on.

...

Ah. Got it. This is all about the apprehension of a cheating girlfriend, preparing herself to break things off with her hapless cheatee. Which could make for a gripping mini-drama, but there's a prosaic flatness to the verses which doesn't quite come off, despite all of Sandie's best efforts. Still, nice triplets and all that.

"Tomorrow" was also Sandie's sixth Top Ten hit in less than 18 months. However, her initial flush of success was about to come to an end. Following a #14 position with her next single, and two consecutive #32s with the two after that, there was nothing for it but to take a deep breath, hold her nose, and submit herself to the indignities of "Puppet On A String" - which gave her a third Number One, but also finished her off as a credible hit-making artiste. Cast in this light, maybe the weaknesses of "Tomorrow" showed the writing on the wall.

Oh Lord. Now, what was I just saying about maintaining objectivity? Because in the case of R & J Stone's syrupy yet soulful love duet, which I hadn't heard for the thick end of thirty years, all my objectivity goes flying out of the window. Why? Because the boy I loved at the time - madly, yet hopelessly - loved this song, and bought a copy, and played it during morning break times on the gramophone in our school common room, and so hearing this all over again brought back such strong memories of the sweet yet searing pain which I felt so keenly, because of course we never "did" it, because I never dared make my feelings known, and so the song both reflected and mocked my overblown romantic idealism, and...

...and exhale. Oh dear. The thing is: after all the obvious hits of the time have been exhumed and re-played and re-purchased and downloaded onto your iPod, thus draining them of most of their personal resonance, then all you have left are the minor hits - and so it's often the musical also-rans of any era which end up sabotaging the emotions in this way. Except, this doesn't sound to me like an also-ran. On the contrary, it's quite swoonsomely lovely and stirring, and deserves to be listened to in full. (Unfortunately, and scandalously, it doesn't appear to be available on CD.)

Oh, and one other thing: in its day, "We Do It" was thought to be really rather scandalous and risqué - presumably because a 1970s Britain which had been weaned on the light comedic smut of Benny Hill and the Carry On team couldn't quite cope with the profound erotic resonances of the expression "do it". ("Every night, every day, every possible way"... oo-er missus.) In fact, I even remember a hand-wringing think-piece in the Daily Mail, which claimed that the UK singles charts were sinking into a mire of filth, on account of this song, "Squeeze Box" by The Who, and Donna Summer's "Love To Love You Baby". Well, honestly. Such innocent times.

I dare say that James Brown's "Living In America" will pick up a fair few votes - but for me, it has always been a bit of a dud. Yes, of course his 1960s and especially early-to-mid 1970s work was classic classic classic all the way, and of course it was good to have him back after so long - but, if you're going to try to re-create your classic funky sound, then why employ Dan "Instant Bloody Replay" Hartman to do it for you? It just all sounds so air-brushed, so ersatz, so hollow - so typically bloody mid-1980s, in fact. But played on the tinny laptop speakers last night, with the nasty hi-gloss sheen all but obliterated, I have to confess it sounded OK. Which will be why my partner K gave it 5 points, while I only gave it 2.

Eek, more instant nostalgia: it's Britpop's fabulous Bluetones, with easily their finest hour. OK, so it's three parts Stone Roses to three parts Lloyd Cole, sprinkled with a little bit of Aztec Camera's "Oblivious", with weedy vocals and inconsequentially lumbering lyrics, and who remembers the band's three other Top Ten hits nowadays (Cut Some Rug? Marblehead Johnson? Solomon Bites The Worm? No, thought not) - but come on, this was their moment in the sun, and despite all the above: IT WORKS.

About the only positive thing you can say about Hi_Tack is that at least they had the good grace to take the piss out of themselves - for high tack this most certainly is. A bog-standard Ministry Of Sound Dance Anthems Part 94 club-throb backing is pasted beneath some samples of an old Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson hit which was never much cop in the first place, all of which provokes the simple reaction: why did they bother?

(Answer: for the same reason that they colluded in similar pointless "desecrations" of Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" and "Message In A Bottle" by The Police.)

Googling tells me that the chaps behind Hi_Tack were also responsible for one of my all-time most loathed dance tracks: "The Launch", by DJ Jean. (Don't remember it? Lucky old you.) And that concludes the case for the prosecution.

My votes: R & J Stone - 5 points. Bluetones - 4 points. Sandie Shaw - 3 points. James Brown - 2 points. Hi_Tack - 1 point.

So. Will Sandie stir you? Will R & J Stone make you swoon? Will the Godfather Of Soul make you get up offa that thang? Will The Bluetones get you misty-eyed for the days of TFI Friday and your local indie disco? Or will - heaven forfend - Hi-Tack make you wish it was Friday night down your local Ritzys?

Over to you. Favourites first, least favourites last, comments welcome, you know the drill.
Running totals so far - Number 9s.
1996: Slight Return - The Bluetones. (148)
  • Modern classic. Forever brilliant. Song of our time. Etc. Etc. It was just "right". Of the time? Yes. But still demands your attention today. (Gordon)
  • I love the indie music of 1995 and 1996 and was terribly disappointed at having to put the Number 10 track from 1996 bottom, so I'm delighted to be able to rectify that today. I do remember Cut Some Rug, Solomon Bites The Worm and, particularly, the marvellous Marblehead Johnson. If... was a great Bluetones track too. As was Bluetonic. And Mark Morris has a lovely voice. OK, I sound like the Bluetones Police. (Will)
  • A highly underrated band who went almost unnoticed at the arse end of the "Britpop" scene but deserved to be a lot bigger than they were. (Alan)
  • "You don't have to have the solution, you've got to understand the problem" has been my number one guideline the past few years (doing PhD research), and I always get a bit teary at the end with the final "I'm coming home". Save this from the anti-Britpop reformation, please. (Koen)
  • Sing along, toe-tapping wonderfulness (Bryany)
  • blessed by simple timeless charm (diamond geezer)
  • Aah, a cheerful jangly memory (Andy)
  • hooray for jangly indie guitars (Lucie)
  • had forgotten how much I liked this song (Tina)
  • Indie boy guitar takes up a fair chunk of my music collection, although I don't think I've got this track, so it's a refreshing return to hear it. (Adrian)
  • I'm surprised I don't know this, because I basically really liked this whole genre back in the mid 90s and still do now; after a while the metrosexual girly boy voice and twanging guitars can get too much but it's a thoughtful song and he has a pleasant voice, and can sing. Can't really distinguish the words on my lappy. (Gert)
  • I was very happy in Feb 1996 - I had a boyfriend! - and this brings back good memories. (Chig)
  • Rises above the baleful influence of Roger McGuinn (or more probably REM, at that time) with some sloppy funky drumming. (PB Curtis)
  • Not my cup of tea, but I'll admit it has some merit. (Simon C)
  • indie wiffle. yawn. (asta)
  • 1 point - for being and representing everything I hated about Britpop. The Bluetones were (and still are) a tedious say-nothing do-nothing waste of space. It's not so much that the world would have been a better place without them that no-one would have noticed. (Ben)
1986: Living In America - James Brown. (121)
  • The Godfather of Soul. Dan Hartman aside, if you turn up the bass on this it's STILL thumpingly good. And come on, NO-ONE can "AAAOOOWWWW" like JB. (Gordon)
  • The Godfather doing what he does best, maybe not the best he had ever done it, but still better than everybody else. (Alan)
  • Barrelling down the open highway on a bright summer day. Yes, we still sometimes get an open highway with nary a cop in sight. (asta)
  • While I'm no big fan of the man, at least this song has some things that the others lack. Quality and some kind of purpose, I guess. (Simon C)
  • It's the only one I really know, but, considering that this is the chart from a couple of weeks after I got a seriously gorgeous stereo for my 18th, you'd think I'd appreciate it more - too synthetic for that style of music. (Gert)
  • Happy memories of student discos (with me DJing and playing this). (Chig)
  • I always skip this on my James Brown's greatest hits CD, because it isn't a patch on his earlier stuff. However, that means I've not listened to it in an age, and it's not as bad as I remembered. (Adrian)
  • The chorus is OK but I don't like Brown's vocal style. I suspect that's tantamount to heresy in some parts. (Will)
  • only my over-familiarity breeds acceptance (diamond geezer)
  • Marred by the 80's-ness of it all (Andy)
  • catchy but unmemorable, must be the only track of his that is (Tina)
  • airbrushed 80s awfulness (Ben)
  • Still as soulless and manufactured sounding as I recall. (NiC)
  • With synth drums. NO NO NO NO NO. That's like Hendrix playing the banjo. Worst thing he ever did, by a long long long way. (PB Curtis)
1976: We Do It - R & J Stone. (106)
  • Top chorus. Look - it modulates, for fun! Easily the best of the bunch. (PB Curtis)
  • Wow! Never heard (of) it before, and it's gor-gee-us! Syrupy soul is very much my thing these days, and this is an excellent example. (Koen)
  • There's a bit of feeling here (no pun intended) so it scrapes in first. (Chris Black)
  • I can see the bell bottoms and Dorothy Hamill bobs from here. I have no idea what these performers looked like, but that's how they sound. (asta)
  • That sounded much better than I recalled. Rather good in a syrupy way. Maybe I'm getting old. (NiC)
  • I didn't realise I knew this 'til the chorus, and it's fun in a cheesy way. (Adrian)
  • abhor the verse, adore the chorus (diamond geezer)
  • Possibly the blandest verse of all, if it cut straight to the chorus and stayed there it'd be a Eurovision contender, or something, dunno really. Forgettable. (Andy)
  • To a nine year old, this just seemed smutty, and therefore embarrassing. I can't get past the slightly uncomfortable feeling that it still brings back. Sorry. (Chig)
  • ne of those records I'd completely forgotten about until I heard it - sub Saturday Night Fever pap with a soul diva who apparently couldn't sing very well. Very bland. (Alan)
  • I love a good 'diva' ballad. Pity this isn't one. (Gordon)
  • syruppy gloop but partly redeemed by a halfway-decent chorus (Ben)
  • I liked this at first, but it got steadily stickier until I waded in treacle. (z)
  • cheese in extremis (Tina)
  • Started off promising but as soon as she went into that pre-menstrual squawking that masquerades as emotion, ooh no, my ears are bleeding. And if I wanted Bee Gees on backing vocals, I'd get the Bee Gees proper. (Gert)
1966: Tomorrow - Sandie Shaw. (100)
  • Sandie Shaw is always worth a point-boost for having a proper distinguishable torchy voice. And although very clearly Sixties, it manages to avoid being too formulaic. (Gert)
  • Sandie's greatest hits are much played around Chig Mansions and we've always loved this one. (Chig)
  • It's as forgettable and formulaic as Pinkerton's Assorted Colours, but pleasant enough while you're actually listening. (Will)
  • You were being a bit unfair I think in your blurb, I *do* get the gripping mini-drama, maybe even because of the matter-of-factness of the verses. (Koen)
  • First record I ever bought was "Girl don't come" (at the same time as Gene Pitney "24 hours from Tulsa" - 1965 I guess. (Tina)
  • Very typical track for Miss Shaw, nothing spectacular but she knew her audience and gave them what they wanted. (Alan)
  • God, it's that thumpa thumpa beat AGAIN! What IS IT with the 60s? Or, more specifically, where is all the good stuff? (Gordon)
  • I really can't stand her voice. The melody isn't interesting enough to be memorable. (asta)
  • That juxtaposition of sweetness and nasal yow-yowness hurt my teeth. I really wanted to put her last as she could do so much better than that, but Hi Tack were just too awful. (z)
  • Sez you: who's this squawking Sandie Shaw wannabe, is what I want to know. Rubbish. (PB Curtis)
  • alas, so very yesterday (diamond geezer)
  • ...proving the 60s had gold plated shite as well. (Chris)
2006: Say Say Say (Waiting 4 U) - Hi_Tack. (65)
  • A bit of energy overcomes the other weaknesses. (Chris Black)
  • It IS a good dance tune, even if it was probably very easy to make. (Chig)
  • The better elements are entirely down to the original. I'm not a fan of dancifying old tracks and this is tedious. (Will)
  • "Best disco groove collection #34"-fodder. (Simon C)
  • Of course I remember the original, and I do wonder what creative processes went into making this. "Hmm, we have a mediocre McCartney song, let's arrange it and call it a piece of art and get the suckers to buy it." I prefer it to that ghastly one from the 70s, but what strikes me is that 60s-90s, if they were played in a pub, as long as they weren't too loud, it wouldn't intrude, but this one could never be played to relax yet some twunting tosser will no doubt play it in a pub because he's too stupid to understand the effect music has on punters. (Gert)
  • Pish. Such people shouldn't be allowed near a mixing desk. (Lucie)
  • Crap version of a crap song. Some record exec needs a slap. (Andy)
  • All I can think to say is, what the hell is the point in this record? Electronic dance music fodder of the worst kind. (Alan)
  • This sounds like a deathknell, like a social inept embarassing would-be peers by saying the things they're Just Too Cool to say themselves: "Yeah! Me too! I totally take drugs, I think they're brilliant, they way they make your head go MAD WOOOOOO. Yeah. Er. Mad." Goodbye, This Type Of Music: I never really knew what to call you anyway. (PB Curtis)
  • a ghastly talentless remash (diamond geezer)
  • what a mess. (asta)
  • I cheated, I'm typing this as your preview plays and I've ALREADY got Hi_Tack in 5th, despite not even knowing what it sounds like. Ohh it's just started. Ohh god.. *skips track* (Gordon)

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Stylus Singles Jukebox: Being Jacques Lu Cont.

In a week which sees the release of fantastic new singles by Madonna, The Knife and the Pet Shop Boys - all reviewed in this week's Stylus Singles Jukebox - the singles assigned to me for review came from these (cough) Major Artists: Nadiya, Ne-Yo, Beatriz Luengo, Ze Pequino, The Similou... and, er, George Michael. Well, you can't win them all.

For the sake of completeness - and because I abhor waste - here are the two reviews of mine which didn't make it to the finished article. (They have to commission more than they need, so it's an occupational hazard.) Particular apologies to George Michael: one doesn't like to kick a man when he's down, but a dud single is still a dud single.

Update (1): Ah well, at least my spoken word recital of the Ze Pequeno review made this week's accompanying podcast for the Stylus Jukebox, along with my recital of the Similou review. Goodness, what a smug smart-ass I sound.
Ze Pequeno - Ze Phenomene.

Reggaeton en Français, somewhat inevitably rendered in a Manu Chao-esque style, avec accordion (naturellement). Probably huge in back-packer beach bars; markedly less essential anywhere else.
[5]
George Michael - An Easier Affair.

Nope: this one isn’t going to arrest the long slow artistic/commercial decline, either. Over the same tired old suburban-wine-bar soul/funk backing that he has been peddling ever since “Fast Love”, George recycles the same tired old post-coming-out “revelations” that have peppered his interviews since being busted for cottaging eight years ago. Whereas 1998’s “Outside” handled much the same issues with wit, aplomb, and a boldness which was genuinely ground-breaking for its time, “An Easier Affair” has nothing to say that we haven’t heard before, and says it with the sort of narrow, self-absorbed literalism that even Madonna at her most solipsistic manages to swerve clear of. Hell, some of this half-digested self-help piffle (“Don’t let them tell you who you are is not enough!”) would make even Geri Halliwell cringe. In the words of the wise old gay saying: get over yourself, Mary.
[4]
Update (2): Tell you what: here's my spoken word recital of the George Michael review, which didn't make the Stylus podcast.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? - Year 4 - the Number Tens.

Right then. I've been postponing this for long enough, so let's lurch straight in with the minimum of preliminaries. Most of you will be familiar with the drill by now - but if you've not taken part in this exercise before, then skip down a couple of posts for a brief introduction. Everything else should become clear as the next couple of weeks roll on - but for now, all you really need to do is listen and vote.

First up, it's the Number Tens. Have a listen to this eclectic bunch of more-or-less one hit wonders...
1966: Mirror Mirror - Pinkerton's Assorted Colours.
1976: Dat - Pluto Shervington.
1986: The Captain Of Her Heart - Double.
1996: I Wanna Be A Hippy - Technohead.
2006: That's My Goal - Shayne Ward.
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
Crikey. We're not exactly rolling out the big guns on Day One, are we? So who the hell are this bunch of also-rans, anyway?

All I can tell you about Pinkerton's Assorted Colours is that they hailed from Rugby, that they "pioneered the use of the amplified auto-harp" (thank you Google), and that they never troubled the UK Top 40 again after this, their debut release. (Although they did hit the US Top 5 three years later, under their new name of The Flying Machine, with a song called "Smile A Little Smile For Me".) "Mirror Mirror" comes across as an orchestrated version of Merseybeat, two years after the fact; it's that particular early Sixties pop voice which is the giveaway here. It's a pretty enough tune, but I can't say that it moves me particularly one way or the other - it's just sort of there.

Ah, now... I know loads about Pluto Shervington's "Dat", having bought it at the time and played it dozens of times. Sung in full-on Jamaican patois over what was by then a rather dated "rock steady" beat, it tells the story of "Rasta Ossie from up the street", who decides to be a very naughty boy indeed, and purchase some pork from his local butcher. The consumption of pork being taboo for those of the Rastafarian faith, this has to be done on the hush-hush, by referring to the meat simply by the agreed code word "dat". In the chorus, you get to hear the butcher running through the meats which he has for sale ("You want goat?" "Try the beef!"), as Ossie comes up for transparently feeble excuses for rejecting each of them ("I no check for the grass were green"), before concluding "Hush your mouth, mind me brethren hear, sell I a pound of dat thing there". Yup, it's a satirical depiction of the breaking of religious taboos, which hit the UK Top 10 without noticeably offending anybody. Impossible to imagine these days, isn't it?

Just as Pinkerton's Assorted Colours picked up the fag end of Merseybeat without doing anything particularly interesting with it (groundbreaking amplified auto-harps notwithstanding), so the Swiss duo Double (pronounced Doo-ble, like yer actual French) picked up the fag-end of early 1980s synth-pop, augmenting it with a typically mid-1980s sax solo. Although I've not looked at the video (CBATYT already!), I would wager an educated guess that it features a) someone with Big Hair and his jacket sleeves rolled up, staring through a gap in his Venetian blinds at the sunlight outside his darkened room, and b) a champagne flute being knocked off a lacquered black ash coffee table, and shattering in slow motion.

I can still remember the first time I ever heard Technohead's "I Wanna Be A Hippy". It was over a year earlier, on New Year's Day 1995 to be precise, on the dancefloor of the mega-hardcore gay club FF, in the middle of a particularly brutal and uncompromising set of banging techno from Mrs Wood. As you might imagine, its absurdly bonkers cheeriness stood out a mile, particularly as the track featured - oh horror of horrors! - a full vocal. (Down at FF, we simply didn't do vocals.) If you had told me then that it would end up being covered by The Smurfs, who took the song back up to Number 4 in September 1996 as "I've Got A Little Puppy", I wouldn't have believed you. (On the other hand, I was probably in such a messed-up state that I would have believed anything. "Oh my God The Smurfs that's AMAAAAZING I LOVE THEM...")

Which just leaves British reality TV's most recently anointed "star", Shayne Ward, and the song that he was given to record as a reward for winning ITV's The X-Factor. As with all of these events, the words have been deliberately crafted to describe the very act of winning the TV competition itself. Just as Will Young sang "Gonna take this moment and make it last forever" (which he sort-of did), and just as Michelle McManus sang "I'm praying this moment's here to stay" (which it most certainly wasn't), so sweet, obedient little Shayne faced his adoring viewing public, and began with the lines "You know where I've come from, you know my story, you know why I'm standing here tonight". Shayne's first single peaked at #1, his second at #2... and his third, just a couple of weeks ago, at #14. We do, indeed, know his story.

My votes: Pluto Shervington - 5 points. Technohead - 4 points. Pinkerton's Assorted Colours - 3 points. Double - 2 points (because an amplified auto-harp narrowly trounces a naff sax solo). Shayne Ward - 1 point. My partner K's votes are in the comments.

Over to you. In the comments, please place these five songs in order of preference, starting with your favourite and working your way down. Remember: you must vote for every song, and no tied places are allowed - so there will be none of this lazy "I hate them all equally!" nonsense. Because even shite comes in several shades.

I'll be back tomorrow with the Number Nines. Have fun!
Running totals so far - Number 10s.

1976: Dat - Pluto Shervington. (141)
  • I had forgotten entirely about this record but as soon as it started playing I started grinning from ear to ear. Great memory. (Alan)
  • The only one of the five I'd have on my iPod. (Em³)
  • Always had an affection for this song, and it's worth checking out his single Your Honour with the Brian Rix farce lyrics. (betty)
  • Very far from what I think of as 70s music (and all the better for that). (Lucie)
  • Your explanation of this is a revelation. I thought it was fun at the time, but I don't think, at 9 years old, that I tried to interpret it. I was too busy writing down the words to Slik (see the number twos)and singing Bohemian Rhapsody. (Chig)
  • Distinguished, in this company, by sounding fresh. (PB Curtis)
  • Entertaining, but more as a novelty than music. (z)
  • Ohh reggae-ish. Ohhh it's ... er.. rather boring, sounds over produced (I prefer my reggae to be a little less polished), but doesn't sound like it's 30 years old... much. (Gordon)
  • It sounds like a song for one of those old ABC Saturday morning cartoon lessons on things like conjunctions or House a bill is passed in Congress. Sorry. It's a North American reference, but that's what it sounds like to me. (asta)
  • deserving of a position beyond Uranus (diamond geezer)
  • Incidentally, Rasta Ossie's excuse for not buying goat - "No, I might kill a queen" - is the least convincing explanation for homophobic violence that I have yet to hear. "The goat made me do it, your honour!" Or maybe that's a valid defence under Jamaican law? (mike)
1986: The Captain Of Her Heart - Double. (134)
  • To my surprise, I recognised this. Like so many songs I instinctively know, it must have been on commerical radio when I was growing up. The Big Sound might be a bit of a cliche, but there's something a bit Al Stewart about it and the familiarity makes me put it top. (Will)
  • I woke up one day thinking that the 80s really were the aesthetic high point of humanity. Still haven't snapped out of it. (Simon C)
  • I have this on seven inch. In fact, I think it's in a 'double' (sic) pack. It still has a wonderful, mournful atmosphere to it, which suited our miserable student house at the time and the cold Winter we'd just endured in it. (Chig)
  • I must admit that little piano riff just before the hookline is one that has always stuck in my memory so it must have some merit. (Alan)
  • The only one I registered hearing before. I agree with Alan, it must have some merit for being memorable. (Lucie)
  • Ugly synthetic instrumentation, but a great voice and nicely understated melancholy. (Koen)
  • Has a creepy, haunted '80's charm. (betty)
  • As I remember, dire. It was a pathetic attempt to be New Romantic but without any vestige of talent. And about three years too late. (Gert)
  • Horrible synthetic instrumentation throughout, particularly the way the piano hook ends, with - excuse me while I get all muso - a frightening lack of decay. It just 'plonks' to a dead halt. (PB Curtis)
  • If I never hear this nauseating slab of putrescence it'll be a fraction too soon, one of the many reasons for avoiding your local BBC radio station. (Andy)
1966: Mirror Mirror - Pinkerton's Assorted Colours. (114)
  • Believe it or not, we studied this record in a music lesson at school! Our groovy music teacher brought in and played some of his favourite records and we did the same. We even studied the charts. This was one of his choices. Dollar's cover version was quite different, wasn't it? ;-) (Chig)
  • 5 points: for that unmistakable 60s sound and for the girl harmonies at the beginning that St Etienne reproduced so well. (Lucie)
  • I think I have to take up where I left off last year: Most of these Merseybeat stuff are perfectly pleasant and entirely disposable. (Gert)
  • The strings and that other "plunky" thing make me clench my jaw. The rest is innocuous enough to get by. (asta)
  • VERY of it's time, plinky plinky noises, string backing and a key change. And they say today's song writing is formulaic! (Gordon)
  • The production is very Mamas and the Papas. OK little song but not the most original thing going. (Will)
  • chirpily inoffensive (diamond geezer)
  • not memorable but seemed pleasant enough to listen to (Alan)
  • Boo. There is nothing "sixties" about this song, except the harmonising, which in itself is unimaginative. It's L7, man. There's nothing "good" about this song either. (PB Curtis)
1996: I Wanna Be A Hippy - Technohead. (93)
  • Moronic, brilliant. (betty)
  • Totally daffy. The world needs daffy every once in awhile. (asta)
  • Won me over with their relentless stupidity. (PB Curtis)
  • How I hated this back then. How silly and lovely it sounds now. (Koen)
  • Sounds more like 1992 than 1996. (Simon C)
  • It's just *noise* - I expect you need drugs to appreciate it, but not the sort of drugs that get you stoned. Wasn't this beat big in about 1990? (Gert)
  • Despite being only 10 years ago this is such an instantly forgettable record I'm not even sure I ever heard it. (Alan)
  • I think I may have heard this at the time, but familiarity isn't a factor here - it's too awful, sorry. If, God forbid, this came on in any club I frequent, it would be time to get some air/head to the gents/go to the bar/hack off my ears. (Will)
  • Everything I hate about techno wrapped up in one neat package. Awful awful awful. (Gordon)
  • Please don't insult techno by calling this techno. It's just a novelty record, and it's crap. (Chig)
  • I speak as a hippy, and no-one who really wanted to be a hippy would ever produce this load of toss. (Stereoboard)
2006: That's My Goal - Shayne Ward. (58)
  • It's a real junior prom moment. Somewhere under all that computer enhancement I suspect there lurks an honest-to-god voice. (asta)
  • 4 points: Because anyone who sends me an autographed copy of his album booklet for my 40th birthday deserves big points. I do like this though. As you say, it was the perfect choice of song for his first single. It's a shame that we voted for Shayne as a British Justin Trousersnake, and Louis Walsh, by putitng nothing but schmaltz on Shayne's debut album, is turning him into Perry Como. He needs to get a new manager and salvage a pop career, quick! (Chig)
  • I expect it's a perfectly pleasant song, but it's over arranged, over produced, and you could drive a ten ton lorry through thegaps in his voice which is just breathy breathy breathiness. (Gert)
  • Thankfully I've avoided hearing this till now. At first glance I read it as 'That's My Goat' - surely a far more promising title? (Lucie)
  • A sub-Westlife knock-off, as with Double you can predict the video - young man in a suit, arms outstretched, singing pleadingly into the camera. Ballad by numbers. (Will)
  • bland and characterless, could be absolutely anyone (Alan)
  • A remarkably unexpressive voice matched with an entirely forgettable meander through the scales. (PB Curtis)
  • If an alien visitor was presented with this sample I am sure they would conclude that all good songs had been discovered by 2001 or so, humans now reduced to making what best they can from the sub-standard leftovers. While I'm sure this would have earned some friendly neighbour-votes if entered into Eurovision, I hope such saving graces won't be available for it in WDITFP. (Simon C)
  • the sound of a barrel being scraped (diamond geezer)
  • All of the quirky bits that make pop music interesting have been ironed out of this one. Minus 500 points, more like. (betty)
  • The best I can say about Shayne Ward is that I'm impressed he knew where to put the apostrophe (I suspect he had help though). (dem)

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