Which decade is Tops for Pops? (5/10)

It gets worse, I’m afraid.

Day 5 brings us the Number 6 singles for this week in the past five decades. And guess what? They’re the biggest pile of old toss yet. Things can’t sink any lower than this, can they? Can they?

Let’s open the trap doors and bring them on, then. Steel yourselves, people. This isn’t going to be pretty.

1963: Loop-De-Loop – Frankie Vaughan.
1973: Long Haired Lover From Liverpool – Little Jimmy Osmond.
1983: Gloria – Laura Branigan.
1993: Ordinary World – Duran Duran.
2003: Songbird – Oasis.

With this cheerily moronic pub singalong, Frankie Vaughan could rightfully claim to be the DJ Otzi of his day. At least Little Jimmy Osmond was too young to know better.

Although – if I’m going to be strictly honest here – I did rather like Long Haired Lover From Liverpool in its day. Partly because I was still too young to care about Cool, partly because I could play the tune on my recorder, partly because Little Jimmy was the voice of my generation (kids in the charts – yippee!), and partly because I was always partial to a Novelty Hit back then.

Novelty Hits said to me that anything could get in the charts. They kept things fresh, surprising and fun. One month, it would be Lieutenant Pigeon’s Mouldy Old Dough, with a plump old dear bashing away at the Joanna. Another month, a bunch of bagpipers skirling through Amazing Grace, which I could also play on the recorder (and did, at great length, much to the annoyance of everyone around me). Or else it might be Benny Hill, bringing us Ernie’s ghostly gold-tops, a-rattlin’ in their crate, or Ray Stevens (“Don’t Look, Ethel!”) singing about coo gosh, naked people, in The Streak. I loved all that stuff. In which case, perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that I was only 18 months away from getting into the full-on intergalactic whimsy that was Gong.

Despite enjoying something of a commercial and critical renaissance last year (up to a point, at least), Oasis are back to scraping the barrel with this tossed-off-in-five-minutes-flat piece of inconsequential whimsy. Not much more than two minutes long, and yet after the first minute it’s more or less all over bar the strumming. Lazy, complacent, pointless. Only a certain residual folksy charm saves it from the last two positions in my vote.

Back in 1993, the once ubiquitous Duran Duran had long been consigned to the dumper, with two original band members gone and no Top Ten hits in the past four years. Ordinary World (and its follow-up, Come Undone) marked a brief and unexpected comeback for the group, much in the same way as Adam Ant had bafflingly resurfaced three years earlier with Room At The Top. The song is certainly not without merit, in particular its soaringly memorable chorus and some nice guitar figures towards the end. On the other hand, isn’t it just a bit of a plodding dirge at heart?

Which leaves a rather surprised looking Laura Branigan sitting at the top of my heap, by default rather than on account of any particular merit. Gloria was one of the first of those rather nasty rock-disco fusion records which briefly cluttered up the US charts in 83 and 84 – the most notable example being Michael Sembello’s Maniac (a guilty pleasure of mine, as it happens). But the queens all loved it, of course. They – and I – went on to love Laura even more the following year, when she unleashed the absolutely fan-TAST-ic Self Control on the world (“I live among the creatures of the night!”). Compared to that, Gloria is as nothing. But at least it’s got “a catchy tune and a good beat to it”, as callers to Tony Blackburn’s “National Pop Panel” used to say without fail, every single sodding weekday afternoon in the late 1970s. And for today, a catchy tune and a good beat is all you need to get yourself cinq points from moi. Pass the poppers, the chorus is coming up!

My votes: 1 – Laura Branigan. 2 – Duran Duran. 3 – Oasis. 4 – Little Jimmy Osmond. 5 – Frankie Vaughan. K’s votes are in the comments.

Over to you. We haven’t yet had a winner from the Eighties or the Sixties. I can’t see Frankie Vaughan topping today’s poll, but will Laura Branigan go all the way? Oo-er!

Oh, and a quick reminder, as Chig thinks some of you might be cheating. Although to be fair, I don’t think any of you are. Bastion of integrity, this place. Anyway, the reminder is this: please don’t vote unless you actually have heard all the tracks in question, preferably via the medley MP3 of course. But you were doing that already, weren’t you?

Running totals so far – Number 6s.

1993: Ordinary World – Duran Duran. (92)

They returned with an anthem. Real class. (David)

Plush, polished, and the least bad. (Stereoboard)

we must never forget what they did to “white lines”. but this was a last flash of moody existential goodness (noodle)

Pleasant enough. But, for me, Duran Duran were a band who made really ace videos. Can’t recall the video for this one. Enough said. (Nigel R (the UK one))

Background music, but nice background music. (Junio)

By far one of their worst, but still – anyone who takes their wife’s surname… (Steve)

1983: Gloria – Laura Branigan. (89)

the “i will survive” that doesn’t conjure up images of battered fishwives doing karaoke and swigging hooch (noodle)

Drunk girls’ karaoke. Love it. (Su(zi)e)

Ah, such happy memories of my first visits to American girl bars. One of the few dancefloor singalong songs that I don’t hate. (Junio)

To really appreciate this, children, you had to be there, in your tight pseudo-rent-boy ripped jeans, pirate bandana round your head, Liquid Gold up your nose, expertly dodging the moustachioed fan-dancers in Heaven on a Saturday night. Hi-NRG crossover classic with a pounding, relentless beat that demands you throw your arms up in the air. (Nigel R (the UK one))

Fabulous memories of the Powerhouse, where the slightly scary clones on poppers would dance to Funky Dunc playing Gloria on (I presume) two discs, making it seem to last about 15 minutes. (Chig)

Got to confess I was addicted to Gloria. Totally and utterly. Almost certainly got it on a C90 somewhere in the mess. (Peter)

You forgot the white t-shirt, long since ripped off, stuffed into your jeans, and gaily flailing from which ever side took your fancy. And why stick at Heaven when Fire Island was available? Liquid Gold was OK, but me I was always a Rush man. This project is worth it for Gloria alone! (Peter (again))

Vile, just vile, but still, the legwarmers must’ve been somewhat jolly. (Steve)

2003: Songbird – Oasis. (65)

Don’t Look Back In Anger not withstanding, I hate Oasis and their sneering, derivative, manipulative, soul-less music with every fibre of my being and will continue to do so while there remains life in my body. (Nigel R (the UK one))

there are now schoolboy oasis rip-off bands who are better at being oasis than oasis are (noodle)

God, that’s dull. (Su(zi)e)

Surely they have enough money to retire? (Gert)

1973: Long Haired Lover From Liverpool – Little Jimmy Osmond. (44)

Musically it’s the pits. But after three Stellas in the company of non-judgmental mates, it’s actually quite fun, in a Music-Hall sort of way. (Nigel R (the UK one))

Apparently, I used to dance excitedly around the living-room to Jimmy Osmond’s superb homage to hirsute people from Merseyside.
I should add that I was two years old at the time. (Vaughan)

Thank the gods that I’ve not heard this for a while. This used to be my brother’s party piece. The shame. (Stereoboard)

Hm, this is of course a vote for fond memories (as a 6 year old) over musical quality. When this song came out, I had a poster, sent off for from The Sun, of Little Jimmy on my bedroom wall. The photo was printed in ‘purple & white’. The poster must have come from a relative or friend, because The Sun was certainly never allowed in our house. (Chig)

Careful with that – it’s pure concentrated evil. (Steve)

1963: Loop-De-Loop – Frankie Vaughan. (40)

Mildly amusing piece of old toffee. But find me five Stellas and a grannie to boogie with, and, oh my, what jollies we’ll have. (Nigel R (the UK one))

We used to play games to this in Reception. (Gert)

Just sickening – quite glad I wasn’t here for the sixties after hearing this. (Steve)

Possibly the only record ever likely to appear lower than the Jimmy. I may sue for aural torture. (Stereoboard)

Who knew there was such a thing as bad Frankie Vaughan? (Junio)

ssssss…it burnsssss usssss, it burnssss usssss, take it offssssss…. (noodle)

Have you deliberately chosen the worst week in the history of pop music??? (David)

I’m becoming numbed by the whole process. In fact, I don’t think I can feel my legs. I can’t feel my legs. Who wants to feel my legs? (djg)

Decade scores so far (after 4 days).
1. (2) The 1970s (15) — Hai Karate! The Three Day Week! Farrah Fawcett-Majors!
2. (1) The 1980s (14) — Acid house! Roland Rat! Michael Foot’s donkey jacket!
3. (4) The 1960s (12) — Christine Keeler! Apollo 11! I’m Backing Britain!
4 (3) The 1990s (10) — The Mary Whitehouse Experience! Shoegazing! Sun dried tomatoes!
5 (5) The 2000s (9) — Ironed hair! Ian Duncan Smith! All your base are belong to us!
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