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My freelance writing can now be found at mikeatkinson.wordpress.com.
Recently: VV Brown, Alabama 3, Just Jack, Phantom Band, Frankmusik, Twilight Sad, Slaid Cleaves, Alesha Dixon, Bellowhead, The Unthanks, Dizzee Rascal.
On Thursday September 17th, I danced on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Click here to watch, and here to listen.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Media, darlings. It's an endless giddy whirl... (SECOND UPDATE: Sunday March 13)
On Monday morning at around 8:40 (although possibly from around 8:20), I'll be appearing on BBC Radio Nottingham's Breakfast Show, talking to presenter Karl Cooper about this site, its nomination for the Best Gay Bacon Lettuce & Tomato category in the Bloggies, and probably about blogging in general.
Have you ANY IDEA what an inarticulate grouchbag I am in the mornings? Particularly on Monday mornings, when I have to get up two hours earlier than usual, in order to make it back from the cottage to central Nottingham before the traffic gets bad? Short of sprinkling amphetamine on my cornflakes, I am at a loss as to how to address this. Christ, I'm going to have to be PERKY! And full of CHAT!
Maybe K and I can do some interactive role-play on the journey over.
K: Good morning Nottingham! Today, we look at the latest craze on the World Wide Web: blogging! And to tell us all about it, here's Mike "I've Said They Can Use My Real Surname On Air Because Google Doesn't Index Radio Waves YET" Diva! Good morning Mike! So, what is blogging?Oh, this is going to be Quality Radio all right. Chris Moyles, are you quaking in your boots?
(I believe the technical term for this is "dead air".)
Mike: WHAT? What do you want NOW? JEE-sus. In case you hadn't NOTICED, I am TRYING to get some SLEEP.
Update (1): I was also interviewed on Friday - standing outside the office in my shirtsleeves, pacing up and down in the drizzle while burbling free-form into my mobile - for the BBC Nottingham website. Here's the finished article, which does a nice job of converting my free-form burble into coherent joined-up sentences.
Would that the same could have happened with this (Saturday) morning's taped telephone interview with Radio Nottingham, which they're going to edit down into a couple of bite-sized chunks in order to trail the Monday morning feature. Free-form burble? That would have been nice. Cold-start splutter and stutter, more like.
"Erbidi-burbidi-blogging is like it's you know weblogs which are written by erbidi-burbidi-we call them bloggers and there's stuff at the top of the page and then it goes down the page and then it disappears off the bottom and it's like personal diaries except when it's not like personal diaries and that's when it's erbidi-burbidi-something else, like it could be anything really and then people read them and that's nice..."
I am taking this as a good omen. If you get the crap version out of the way now, then it frees you up to be smooth and debonair and sparkling on Monday morning. I am now practising dropping an octave, and replacing my customary breathless breakneck jabber with a kind of low, intimate, sexy rumble (think Gerald Harper meets Alexis Korner) that will have them all swooning over their cornflakes. Oh yes. With my newly acquired basso profundo, I'll be blowing out woofers all over town; just you wait and see.
Update (2): Owing to a sudden and unexpected outbreak of Actual Serious Proper News in the Nottingham region, my radio interview has been "bumped" (to use another technical term; I'm learning fast) until Tuesday morning (probably).
My primary emotion on receiving this news was intense relief; there simply isn't a worse time to get sense out of me than first thing on a Monday morning.
My secondary emotion: raging paranoia. Oh God I KNEW I was crap down the phone on Saturday morning and now they've SEEN THROUGH MY HOLLOW FACADE and they've realised that I would be a UTTER DISASTER and they're just LETTING ME DOWN GENTLY which means that I'll NEVER HEAR from them AGAIN and Oh God what about the singles reviews I've just sent in to Stylus magazine I bet they were crap as well and they'll never see the light of day and there's NO WAY I'll be getting that Bloggie tomorrow and OH GOD it is all CRASHING DOWN AROUND MY EARS before it has even begun and and and...
As Peter is so fond of saying: I can deal with anything except success. Unless that success is vicarious, of course. I am more than comfortable with vicarious success.
Ooh! Crufts Best In Show just starting! Must dash!
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
MEME AID: The Bloggers' Disco. *** NOW CLOSED ***
Yo-ho-ho! Organised jollity ahoy!
As those of us in the UK will be aware, it's Red Nose Day
Down here at Troubled Fun-Is-Our-Middle-Name Diva, we like to jolly well Muck In and Add To The Madness. Ho yes we do! So, in the Great British "you too can make a difference!" Spirit of Joining In and Maybe Making Utter Prannets Of Ourselves But Wa-hey, We Just Don't Care... may we present...
MEME AID: The Bloggers' Disco.
Here's how it works.
Imagine, if you will, the blogmeet to end all blogmeets. One blogosphere under a groove. A sea - nay, a veritable ocean - of "LOVE your work!" hugs, "Darling, you were ROBBED at The Bloggies!" air-kisses and "WHEN is someone going to PUBLISH you?" schmoozes, where tout le monde and their blogroll are getting royally rat-arsed on Vodka Red Bulls, and bopping around like maniacs to the sound of... WHAT, precisely?
This is where the meme kicks in.
What I want you to do is compile the playlist for the Bloggers' Disco.
You should do this by:
1. Making a post on your blog, suggesting a suitably Phat Tune to be "dropped".
(Just one tune per blog, please. No-one gets to hog the decks at this bash.)
2. Linking back to this post with the following URL:
("But oh! I could never sully my extremely important weblog with such ghastly ephemera as this! My readers would never countenance such levity! I have standards!")
(Oh please. Get over yourself, Mary. Now stick this red plastic nose on and SMILE, dammit. It's for charity! Whoop!)
3. Leaving me a comment ("Woo! Me too!") in the comments box attached to this post.
I'll then compile a running playlist at the foot of this post, with links back to each participating blog.
Note: If you don't have a blog of your own, then just leave your suggestion in the comments box.
For every tune that is added to the playlist by 23:59 on Friday March 11th, I will donate one pound to Comic Relief, up to a maximum of 100 pounds.
(Because no-one wants a disco to last all night, after all. Well, not when you get to my age.)
OK, time to get this party started right. It's my blog, so I get to go first.
1. Dragostea Din Tei - O-Zone. (mike)Your turn. What's the next tune at the Bloggers' Disco?
2. Get Right - Jennifer Lopez (asta)
3. Wild Dances - Ruslana (sarah)
4. Panic - The Smiths (Pam)
5. Yeah (Crass Version) - LCD Soundsystem (Hg)
6. Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now - McFadden & Whitehead (Tina)
7. Fascinating Rhythm - Bassomatic (Vaughan)
8. The Prophet's Song - Queen (Clair)
9. Disco Inferno - The Trammps (Gordon)
10. Kiss Me - Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy (Chig)
11. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson (ModSue)
12. Oops Upside Your Head - The Gap Band (lathbud)
13. White Man In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash (thom)
14. Play That Funky Music - Wild Cherry (Graybo)
15. Voodoo Ray - Acid Brass (Lyle)
16. Woolly Bully - Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs (birdman)
17. Do Ya Think I'm Sexy - The Revolting Cocks (Green Fairy)
18. Filthy/Gorgeous - Scissor Sisters (pink)
19. LFO (Leeds Warehouse mix) - LFO (elisabeth)
20. Stay With You - Lemon Jelly (Larkin)
21. Shack Up - A Certain Ratio (jonathan shipley)
22. Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones (Mr.D.)
23. Delilah - Tom Jones (Joe)
24. Too Drunk To F**k - Nouvelle Vague (Karen)
25. Common People - Pulp (Pete)
26. Ask Me (Danny Krivit re-edit) - Ecstacy, Passion & Pain (Adrian)
27. C'est La Vie - Chuck Berry (rachie)
28. Anxiety - A Guy Called Gerald (bedsit bomber)
29. Billy Boola - Gavin Friday & Bono (Caroline)
30. Seven Deadly Finns - Brian Eno (Marcello)
31. Witchy Is A Punk Rocker - The Ramones (Blue Witch)
32. Hey Jude - The Beatles (Dave)
33. PlAnarchy For The UK - Sex Pistols (NiC)
35. Heroes - David Bowie (Simon)
36. And I Will Cry - The Little Rabbits (Anne)
37. Ace of Spades - Hayseed Dixie (pixeldiva)
38. Love Shack - The B-52's (nayf)
39. What Is Hip - Tower Of Power (jo)
40. Tainted Love - Gloria Jones (adhoc)
41. The Feeling's Gone - The Appolinaires (James)
42. Vienna - Ultravox (cyberevolution)
43. Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-Lite (Karen)
44. Disco 2000 - Pulp (andre)
45. She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult (Mr McMuffin)
46. Crash - The Primitives (Inspector Sands)
47. Jump Around - House Of Pain (Kirsty)
48. Being Boiled - Human League (dave)
49. Blame It On The Boogie - The Jacksons (Em²)
50. Chocolate Jesus - Tom Waits (Simon)
51. Take On Me - a-ha (Southern Bird)
52. My Way - Sid Vicious (bad bunni)
53. Abracadabra - Steve Miller Band (Smacked Face)
54. Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker) — Parliament/Funkadelic (Jerry)
55. Eight Miles High - Leo Kottke (Mystic Mog) (*)
56. Reet Petite - Jackie Wilson (Gary Flood)
57. Our Lips Are Sealed (12" version) - Funboy Three (hedgerow)
58. Kongas - Anikana-O (carlozz)
59. Tonight - Easyworld (Gary)
60. I Am The Resurrection - Stone Roses (Andrew Brown)
61. How Soon Is Now? - Tatu (T.(formerly Dragon))
62. Absolutely Fabulous - Pet Shop Boys (Joe Stalin)
63. Where It's At - Beck (quin)
64. Never Understand - The Jesus And Mary Chain (Ben)
65. Groovin' With Mr. Bloe - Mr. Bloe (quarsan)
66. Teenage Kicks - The Undertones (stressqueen)
67. Cool For Cats - Squeeze (Kat)
68. The Snake - Al Wilson (Anna) (do go and read this one; it made me smile)
69. Eberneezer Goode - The Shamen (Nathan)
70. Caroline - Status Quo (Andy)
71. Come Dancing - The Kinks (Miss Mish) (and this one; a necessary corrective?)
72. Lust For Life - Iggy Pop (la peregrina)
73. If I Can't Have You - Yvonne Elliman (Daisy)
74. Build Me Up Buttercup - The Foundations (Hobbes)
75. From New York To L.A. - Patsy Gallant (Fozzy O)
76. Love You Madly - Cake (meg)
77. Prince Charming - Adam & The Ants (MsShoes)
78. Let's Stay Together - Al Green (ansy)
79. 9 Volt - The Fierce Lime and his Pony-Tailed Assassins (Jim)
80. Birdhouse In Your Soul - There Might Be Giants (Alan)
81. Step On - Happy Mondays (stroppycow)
82. Deceptacon (DFA Remix) - Le Tigre (Dykes And The City)
83. Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealer's Wheel (harriet)
84. You Came - Kim Wilde (newplanet)
85. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) - Sylvester (Angie)
86. Bright Yellow Gun - Throwing Muses (Richard)
88. Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go) - Wham! (Nigel) (*)
89. Funky Cold Medina - Tone Loc (april)
90. Cân Megan - Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci (Deiniol ap James)
91. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor (zed)
92. I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness (Neil)
93. Chunga's Revenge - Gotan Project (KW)
94. Don't Stop Till You Get To Bollywood - Bollywood Freaks (Tim)
95. Born Slippy - Underworld (Paul)
96. Don't Leave Me This Way - Thelma Houston (soulfire)
97. Love To Hate You - Erasure (The Observer) (!!!)
98. 1999 - Binary Finary (stephen)
99. Bliss - Muse (Mark)
100. Girl From Mars - Ash (Chick)
Tunes from 101-110 are sponsored by Neil of MovieBuff.
101. Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh (Clare)
102. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana (sweetney)
103. Animal Nitrate - Suede (Aaro)
104. MacArthur Park - Donna Summer (Aunty Marianne)
105. I'm In The Mood For Dancing - The Nolans (Rachel)
106. Drop The Pressure - Mylo (Destructor)
107. Cannonball - The Breeders (Oiseau)
108. Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms (Liz)
109. Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 - Ian Dury & The Blockheads (k)
110. Tubthumping - Chumbawamba (Silver Lining)
Tunes from 111-130 are be sponsored by Anna of little.red.boat.
111. Rise And Shine - The Cardigans (Russell)
112. Copacabana - Barry Manilow (Emma)
113. Jive Soweto - Sipho Mabuse (annanomsa)
114. Girls - The Prodigy (Robyn)
115. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life - Monty Python (Andy)
116. Finding Out True Love Is Blind - Louis XIV (Junky)
117. Blue Monday - New Order (strugglingauthor)
118. You To Me Are Everything - The Real Thing (Floatykatja)
119. I'm A Cuckoo - Belle & Sebastian (Pete)
120. My Generation - The Who (grump)
121. Let's Get Ready To Rumble - PJ & Duncan (Laura)
122. Thru' These Architects Eyes - David Bowie (Julius)
123. A Boy Named Sue - Johnny Cash (abi)
124. Y'a un fille qu'habite chez moi - Bénabar (laputain)
(*) Ooh, an Ethical Dilemma! What to do if a blogger suggests a song but doesn't post about it on their blog? My solution: songs highlighted with a red asterisk only warrant donations of 50p.
You're the DJ! You decide!
It's all right, I can take it, no really I can, ha ha yes...
First we had this...
...and now we have this.
I sense a pattern forming, people.
So glad I never went for that "clone" look in the 1980s.
Monday, March 07, 2005
Which decade is Tops for Pops? - THE WINNER.
1st place - The 1980s. (34 points)
Last year: 3rd place, 30 points.
Two years ago: 2nd place, 35 points.
10: 1999/Little Red Corvette - Prince. 1st place, 5 points.Three different years, three different winners... and really, who would have thought at the outset that 1985 - that much derided frumpy old trout of a year - would ultimately have triumphed?
9: Nightshift - The Commodores. 3rd place, 3 points.
8: Close (To The Edit) - Art Of Noise. 2nd place, 4 points.
7: A New England - Kirsty MacColl. 2nd place, 4 points.
6: Things Can Only Get Better - Howard Jones. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.
5: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - Dead Or Alive. 1st place, 5 points, most popular.
4: Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen. 1st place, 5 points.
3: Solid - Ashford & Simpson. 5th place, 1 point.
2: Love And Pride - King. 3rd place, 3 points.
1: I Know Him So Well - Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson. 3rd place, 3 points.
So maybe 1985 wasn't all bad after all. You showed your love for Prince, Dead Or Alive and Bruce Springsteen - all of whom produced classics, whether or not you choose to acknowledge them as such. You showed affection for Art Of Noise and Kirsty MacColl, polite respect for King, The Commodores and Elaine Paige/Barbara Dickson, and only heaped vitriol upon Howard Jones (understandable) and Ashford & Simpson (unfortunate).
The chart from February 1985 is certainly the one which means the most to me personally. Seven of the top ten were played by myself and Dymbel at my second ever gig as a DJ, in what was to remain the biggest venue I ever played in. One of them (I Know Him So Well) was the break-up song for a short but affectionate relationship, on which I look back with nothing but fondness.
Two Number Ones later, Easy Lover by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins became the break-up song for my next relationship, if we can call it that: an ill-advised, pointless affair, which I brought to a swift and merciful end before too much damage was done. (I moved fast in those days.)
While Easy Lover remained at Number One - on Saturday April 20th 1985, to be precise - I embarked upon my next relationship. We celebrate our twentieth anniversary as a couple next month.
This winning Top Ten therefore represents practically my last gasp as a single man. It also represents practically the last gasp for a particularly fine era in pop, which was just drawing to a close. The long dark nights of Simply Red, Chris De Burgh, Tina Turner, Dire Straits, Jennifer Rush and Marillion were about to close in. Next year, I suspect that the 80s will struggle hard to survive. But for now, let us give them their due.
1985: you Rule The World. Indeed, you Are The World. The readers of Troubled Diva salute you.
The Top Ten and the Bottom
(Positions are calculated by dividing the numbers of points scored by the number of people voting on that day.)
1. You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - Dead Or Alive.
2. 1999/Little Red Corvette - Prince.
3. You've Lost That Loving Feeling - The Righteous Brothers.
4. Dancing In The Dark - Bruce Springsteen.
5. Angie Baby - Helen Reddy.
6. Shame Shame Shame - Shirley & Company.
7. Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.
8. A New England - Kirsty MacColl.
9. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - The Animals.
10. No More I Love You's - Annie Lennox.
46= Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley, Come Tomorrow - Manfred Mann.
47. The Special Years - Val Doonican.
48. Black Superman - Johnny Wakelin.
49. Almost Here - Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem.
50. Think Twice - Celine Dion.
Cumulative scores for the decades to date, after three years:
1 (2) The 1980s - 99 points.
2= (3) The 1960s - 97 points.
2= (1) The 1970s - 97 points.
4 (4) The 2000s - 80 points.
5 (5) The 1990s - 78 points.
As the 1980s pull ahead of the 1960s and 1970s, a yawning chasm of seventeen points opens up between these three decades and the 1990s/2000s.
Will all of this change next year?
Come back in February 2006 to find out.
Thank you for participating. As always, it's been a blast. Regular transmissions will now be resumed.
Interval act: the Tops For Pops Notepad Awards.
You know when you throw a party, and you've got these totally different groups of friends all converging in the same place, and you start worrying about what they're going to think of each other and how they're all going to get along? Well, so it has been with this year's Which Decade project. Brought here as a result of some generous plugging by Tom Ewing on the venerable ur-music-blog New York London Paris Munich, a whole bunch of new commenters have appeared this year. These people, with whom I am wont to mingle in my other online identity over on the I Love Music messageboard, take their pop music seriously, and they know of what they speak. So how are they going to get along with my Core Readership Base, who know what they like but aren't necessarily bothered about dissecting every last nuance of the codes and signifiers of the prevalent semiological structures of the blah-di-blah?
I am inclined to conclude that - as usually happens at such potentially fraught gatherings - everybody rubbed along together just fine. The world of the music-blog can be a rather hermetically sealed one; a closed shop, to which only those who talk the talk with conviction may gain admittance. Maybe it has therefore been of some interest for the ILM crowd to find out what, um, how do I put this, people with more typically arranged priorities feel about this kind of stuff. Meanwhile, maybe the regulars on this site have been confronted with some fresh and unexpected new ideas along the way.
Oh look, this is my bubble, so don't be going popping it. Actually, what I did notice towards the closing stages of the contest was that a lot more commenters started explicitly linking the songs with their own personal situations, rather than always confining themselves to some sort of "objective" commentary. Which, as any brave soul who managed to wade through my last big overblown blog stunt will testify, is something I approve of whole-heartedly.
Particular thanks go to the following people, who voted on every day of this year's contest: Alan Connor, Barry, Chig, Clare, David (dubmill), David (swish), Dymbel, hedgerow, James, KoenS, lathbud, Lyle, megan, NiC, Simon H, thom, timothy, Tina, Tom, Will and zebedee. To you, I award the Bronze Notepad, for services to Popular Music Studies. Future generations will doubtless be in your debt.
The Silver Notepad award goes to those of you who have voted each time over the last two years: Adrian, jo and Simon Cede, as well as Gordon (19 out of 20 ain't bad) and djg (full sets in 2003 and 2005, with a year off last year).
The Golden Notepad goes to those of you who have lasted the course over the past three years: to Nigel, who has provided gloriously entertaining commentary on almost every entry, only missing four days in total, and to asta, another stellar commenter who has only ever missed one day.
However, the ultimate award - the Troubled Diva Platinum Premier Notepad Plus - goes to the three people who have left a comment on every single entry to date. Including the 2003 tie-break and the 2005 double A-side from Prince, that adds up to no less than one hundred and fifty-seven daft little pop songs. Such stamina!
So step forward Pam (who admittedly abstained on one particularly crap day, but who still left a comment explaining her reasons), Stereoboard (I know where he lives, so there was never really going to be any excuse), and - with her last minute mercy dash into the two remaining comments boxes on Sunday night - Gert, who has provided hand-crafted individual reviews of all one hundred and fifty-seven songs.
Asta, Gert, Nigel, Pam and Stereoboard: you all qualify for copies of my Best Of 2004 triple mix CD. Please send your current postal addresses to mikejla at btinternet dot com... and allow 14 days for delivery, 'cos I'm a lazy sod. A round of applause, please.
Coming soon... the winner of the Which Decade Is Tops For Pops project for 2005.
Who could it be?
Fret not. The time is almost nigh.
Which decade is Tops for Pops? - the results.
2nd place - The 1960s. (33 points)
Last year: 1st place, 36 points.
Two years ago: 3rd place, 28 points.
10: Go Now - The Moody Blues. 2nd place, 4 points.After a catastrophic start to this year's contest, with three last places in a row from The Ivy League, Manfred Mann and Val Doonican, last year's winning decade looked like a lost cause. Who would therefore have predicted such a strong comeback over the remaining six days? Never coming lower than second from that point on, the 1960s clawed their way back from a poor fifth to a strong second, breathing down the neck of our winning decade all the way to the finishing line, and causing me to prepare an emergency tie-break medley, just in case.
9: Funny How Love Can Be - The Ivy League. 5th place, 1 point.
8: Come Tomorrow - Manfred Mann. 5th place, 1 point.
7: The Special Years - Val Doonican. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.
6: Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - The Animals. 1st place, 5 points.
5: Game Of Love - Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. 2nd place, 4 points.
4: Keep Searchin' - Del Shannon. 2nd place, 4 points.
3: You've Lost That Loving Feeling - The Righteous Brothers. 1st place, 5 points, most popular.
2: I'll Never Find Another You - The Seekers. 2nd place, 4 points.
1: Tired Of Waiting For You - The Kinks. 2nd place, 4 points.
Just as the 2000s received a raw deal, so I can't help feeling that 1965 has rather lucked out. Standard issue beat groups and unreconstructed male chauvinism are the order of the day here; indeed, The Seekers' Judith Durham provides the only female voice on this list.
Nevertheless, when the 1960s are good, they're bloody good. With the first revolution of 1963/1964 beginning to settle down, and the second revolution of 1966/67 yet to come, 1965 provides something of an entr'acte, with an emphasis on strong songwriting (several of these songs having since become standards) and a sometimes overpowering emotional pull.
Yes, maybe that's what 1965 has in particular abundance this year: emotional pull. Even if some of those emotions are decidedly questionable at times.
Which decade is Tops for Pops? - the results.
3rd place - The 1970s. (30 points)
Last year: 2nd place, 31 points.
Two year ago: 1st place, 35 points + 1 tiebreak point.
10: Black Superman - Johnny Wakelin. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.As the 1970s slowly slips from first to second to third place, so does any sense of purpose and direction about its pop music. Take away the three undeniable classics from Steve Harley, Helen Reddy and Shirley & Company - distinctive, unique, pushing at the edges of their genres - and you're left with seven rather ploppy, soppy pieces of feather-light inconsequence. The relative paucity of your comments on songs such as Sugar Candy Kisses and January says it all: with nothing much to love or to hate, your overall reaction was a resounding "so what".
9: Footsee - Wigan's Chosen Few. 4th place, 2 points.
8: Angie Baby - Helen Reddy. 1st place, 5 points, most popular.
7: Shame Shame Shame - Shirley & Company. 1st place, 5 points.
6: Goodbye My Love - The Glitter Band. 4th place, 2 points.
5: The Secrets That You Keep - Mud. 3rd place, 3 points.
4: Sugar Candy Kisses - Mac & Katie Kissoon. 3rd place, 3 points.
3: Please Mr. Postman - The Carpenters. 4th place, 2 points.
2: January - Pilot. 4th place, 2 points.
1: Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel. 1st place, 5 points.
Not a great year, 1975. With glam-rock all played out and disco still finding its feet, 1975 was the year when the Bay City Rollers went stratospheric, while an ever more pompous and facile prog-rock emerged from the underground, smoothed over its trippier edges, and started shifting serious units in the album charts. Snobbery was rampant. Albums were "serious", singles were "for kids", and the divide between the two had never been greater. Even as a 13-year old at the time, I felt that the singles charts were getting a bit beneath me. Who still needed Mud and The Glitter Band when you had Roger Dean gatefold sleeves and Rick Wakeman performing The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur on ice?
With the singles chart regularly being denounced by the more haughty members of the then all-powerful music press, a paradigm shift was badly needed. Luckily, we got two, as the combined forces of punk/new wave and disco eventually pulled the Top 40 out of the mire during 1978, thus restoring some measure of legitimacy to the form. As for poor little 1975, the session men had well and truly taken over the asylum.
Which decade is Tops for Pops? - the results.
4th place - The 2000s. (27 points)
Last year: 5th place, 26 points.
Two years ago: 4th place, 27 points.
10: Goodies - Ciara featuring Petey Pablo. 3rd place, 3 points.Time and again when totting up the voting, I see the same divide: while first, second and third places are shared between the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, it always seems to be the two most recent decades which are left scrapping for fourth and fifth places. And so it is with the final scores, as the 1990s and 2000s occupy the back positions for the third year running.
9: Galvanise - Chemical Brothers. 2nd place, 4 points.
8: Only U - Ashanti. 3rd place, 3 points.
7: Angel Eyes - Raghav. 3rd place, 3 points.
6: Black & White Town - Doves. 2nd place, 4 points, most popular.
5: Almost Here - Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.
4: Soldier - Destiny's Child. 4th place, 2 points.
3: Like Toy Soldiers - Eminem. 2nd place, 4 points.
2: Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley. 5th place, 1 point.
1: Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own - U2. 4th place, 2 points.
At least the 2000s had their brief moment of glory this year, as respectably consistent placings for Ciara, The Chemical Brothers, Ashanti, Raghav and the Doves combined to put the decade in the lead for one day only. However, this good early start was swiftly demolished by a catastrophic run in the top five, with two fourth places and two fifth places sending the Noughties into an irreversible free-fall.
This time round, I think that the present decade has been sorely hard done by. A couple of glaring horrors (Brian McFadden, Destiny's Child) and a pointless re-issue (Elvis Presley) aside, this was as strong a Top Ten as we could reasonably have wished for. Bold, tough, futuristic R&B from Ciara and Ashanti, which simply couldn't have been conceived of ten years earlier. Solid, above-par offerings from "proper music" stalwarts (Doves, U2). Interesting blends of Western and Eastern styles from Raghav and the Chemical Brothers. Eminem back on form with the arresting "Like Toy Soldiers", which at least forces you to form an opinion on it. Come on, this was hardly a shonky selection! Compared with the strained, over-sexualised fakery of most of last year's Top Ten, we're practically living in a Golden Age!
Nevertheless, you have spoken decisively. This modern pop, she is not for you; and even when you do show an interest, it rarely converts to passion. (This is the only decade which failed to score a first place on any of the ten days.)
There's little point in pretending that this isn't generational, either. Of course most of you will always opt for the music of your own youth, with all of its accumulated personal resonances. So next year, I'm going to do what I can to draft in some bona fide Young People, to see whether they draw the same conclusions.
We said we'd never let this happen to us, didn't we? Yeah, whatever.
Which decade is Tops for Pops? - the results.
5th place - The 1990s. (26 points)
Last year: 4th place, 27 points.
Two years ago: 5th place, 25 points.
10: Don't Give Me Your Life - Alex Party. 4th place, 2 points.I never was much good at making predictions. Witness this piece of misplaced optimism, from last year's results:
9: Reach Up - Perfecto Allstarz. 1st place, 5 points.
8: Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Nicki French. 4th place, 2 points.
7: Run Away - MC Sar & The Real McCoy. 4th place, 2 points.
6: Here Comes The Hotstepper - Ini Kamoze. 3rd place, 3 points.
5: I've Got A Little Something For You - MN8. 4th place, 2 points.
4: Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex. 5th place, 1 point.
3: Set You Free - N-Trance. 3rd place, 3 points.
2: No More I Love You's - Annie Lennox. 1st place, 5 points, most popular.
1: Think Twice - Celine Dion. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.
The glories of the Britpop years were just about to begin. Had our sample been taken from the Top 10s of 1995, 1996 or 1997, I suspect that the 1990s would have placed a lot higher than fourth.How wrong can you be? In a year which is chiefly remembered for the twin mass movements of Britpop and Dance, 1995 is instead represented by a rag-bag of cheesy commercial dance hits which bear little relationship to what was being "dropped" in "credible" clubs of the time. Some (N-Trance, Perfecto Allstarz) have worn well. Others (Alex Party, The Real McCoy) less so. Most feature that essential accessory of the era, the wailing disco diva - as ubiquitous then as Mariah-esque cadenza trills and Enrique-style potty-strain grunts are now.
This isn't just a freak result from an atypical week, either. In the recent 1000 UK Number Ones poll which I hosted at I Love Music, no hits between 1992 and 1996 charted in the Top 100. By contrast, at least one hit charted from every other year between 1962 and 2004. There's no denying it any longer: something went very wrong with chart pop in the early-to-middle 1990s.
Or maybe we're all just trapped in the traditional cycle of popular taste, where thirty years ago equals classic, twenty years ago equals cool, and ten years ago equals stale/boring/hideous. Whilst it's difficult to imagine MN8 ever being elevated to "cool", or Nicki French being elevated to "classic", perhaps we should let the perspective of another ten years settle before making our final damning judgement.
There's a fine line between "building tension" and "losing the moment"...
...and I fear that I am on the verge of crossing it. But fear not! Now that Gert has raised herself from her sick-bed to cast the final votes (like any of this delay was her fault, but it's handy to deflect), I am finally in a position to announce the results of this year's Which Decade Is Tops For Pops shebang.
As you will already have deduced, there was no need to go to tiebreak. Which, since my FTP session screwed up on Friday evening, leaving me without a copy of the tiebreak MP3 for the rest of the weekend, came as a blessed relief.
The next thing that I type into Blogger will be the results. In reverse order. In instalments. Decade by decade. Between now and midnight. Don't go changing!