Which decade is Tops for Pops? (9/10)

It was getting really good for a while back there, wasn’t it? Too good to last, though.

Just two more days to go then, and here come the Number Twos. I’ve been dreading this.

1963: The Wayward Wind – Frank Ifield.
1973: Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) – Gary Glitter.
1983: Too Shy – Kajagoogoo.
1993: I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston.
2003: I Can’t Break Down – Sinead Quinn.

Let’s get Gary Glitter out of the way first, shall we? Ten years ago, I would probably have been chuckling indulgently, and giving him the five points without a second thought. But now that we know what we know about the man, is it still at all possible to derive any enjoyment from his records? Before listening to this track, I told myself to try and view it as a collective effort, and not just as the work of one man. I told myself to leave Glitter’s crimes out of the equation, and to make a strictly objective assessment. Maybe with a different record (Rock And Roll Part 2 for example), this might have been possible. But oh deary deary me, out of all the songs that could have come up, did it have to be this one? Listening to Glitter’s lewd barking now, I find that what I once viewed as harmless comic bawdyness now comes across as grotesque, disturbing, and difficult to endure.

As for Whitney Houston – yes, the vocal gymnastics are technically impressive, but I don’t buy her ludicrously overblown, bombastic mis-interpretation of Dolly Parton’s tender, vulnerable classic for one moment. It was never supposed to be sung this way. Ghastly stuff.

Sinead “runner up in Fame Academy” Quinn‘s effort is the sound of grim careerism, of please please make me famous, of let’s mint some dosh out of this while we still can. Despite a deftly crafted chorus, this remains a bleak, joyless, soulless experience. At times like these, I despair.

Which means that Frank Ifield‘s piece of daft old hokum rises up, as if in a vacuum, to be my second favourite from this woeful selection. Well arranged, with a widescreen cinematic atmosphere that suits the song. I’m imagining him riding out of town on horseback, cheroot clamped between his teeth, never to return, as the camera pans back to reveal his jilted lady love still standing there in the middle of Main Street, clutching their infant to her heaving bosom. Or something like that, anyway.

I can’t believe that I’m actually giving the five points to Kajagoogoo – but to my surprise, Too Shy has worn rather well. It’s sorta jazz-funky, innit? Mmm, syncopated! Like it!

My votes: 1 – Kajagoogoo. 2 – Frank Ifield. 3 – Sinead Quinn. 4 – Whitney Houston. 5 – Gary Glitter. K’s votes are in the comments.

Over to you. The Seventies and Eighties are now starting to pull clear of the rest of the field. Are you all going to reveal yourselves as Whitney fans, dragging the Nineties back into contention? Or will the might of the Googoo send the Eighties shooting into the lead? The endgame approaches…

Running totals so far – Number 2s.

1983: Too Shy – Kajagoogoo. (118)

Limahl was obsessed with anagrams – Kajagoogoo is an anagram of “Oak a Jog Goo”, an old folk song taught to him by his Grandmother. (Steve)

i’ve just realised it rips off “angel eyes” by roxy music. which obviously makes it ace (noodle)

Love the song and used to lust after the lead singer. (Matty)

Out of all my confessional webloggings, this is the deepest thing i have ever told anyone. Limahl was the first popstar I ever fell in love with. I would therefore like to give all the points to Kajagoogoo, but I know my vote will be disqualified if I do. (‘bel)

another one for the “I used to fancy Limahl list please.” (suebailey)

I feel my Maths homework book as I hear this. (Gert)

Loved it when it came out, but kept quiet because I would have lost my friends. So twenty years later, close your eyes, forget the sartorially-challenged pretty-boy poster-images, and listen to the music. See? Classic Teenage Pop. (Nigel R (the UK one))

Oh sweet baby J, I just preferred Kajagoogoo to any other song on a list. (Stereoboard)

This is the type of record that caused me to stop taking an interest in chart pop in the eighties. Pseudo soul feel and odd melodic transitions. (Amanda)

1963: The Wayward Wind – Frank Ifield. (84)

Coincidentally, his real name was Alfred Ifink – an anagram of Frank Ifield. (Steve)

Sorry. Can’t help myself. Always loved cowboy songs. Always will. (Nigel R (the UK one))

although not as great as “i remember you”, everything the man’s golden tonsils caress is utter genius. one day frank will record an album of will oldham covers and i will die of sheer joy (noodle)

sounds about ten years after its time (Gert)

Amazing how far into the ’60s music that sounds like the ’50s goes, though I rather like the country sound here. (suebailey)

Frank was big with Ma and Pa Junio. What’s the betting this shows up in the next Austin Powers accompanying a fart joke? (Junio)

Makes me want to be a cowboy. (Stereoboard)

2003: I Can’t Break Down – Sinead Quinn. (77)

Sinead is actually the great-great-great grand-daughter of the real Dr. Quinn, Medicine woman. (Steve)

pleasant enough (Douglas)

too gorgeous (Pam)

Hey, it’s not bad, at all. Quite possibly the second best solo Irish female singer since Dana Provincial. (Gert)

against any other opposition, this written-by-committee pish would be number 5. she looks like a bemused cat (noodle)

headed for one-hit-wonderland… I hope and pray. (Asta)

“I know I can handle this.” Sorry, love, but I can’t. Hope you’ve got a day job to go back to. (Nigel R (the UK one))

words cannot express how bad this is. (suebailey)

She sounds like she needs her adenoids out. (Junio)

1973: Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) – Gary Glitter. (64)

This song was an integral part of being at junior school, along with footy in the playground and wearing shorts in the cold. (Stereoboard)

I liked Gary Glitter when I was a gel; had photos of GG cut from Jackie affixed to my wardrobe, even, but this sounds pretty bloody dreadful now. (Junio)

…his crimes don’t make me dislike the music he produced. (David)

I’m sorry, but I liked it at the time, and it’s not so bad now, despite the evilness of the man. (Gert)

he may be a sad twat, but the glitter band rocked like a juggernaut full of depleted uranium tearing through a country village (noodle)

I know it’s easy now to say ‘I never liked him’ but the fact is – I never liked him – I wasn’t immune to the charms of the Glitter Band stomp but I was totally put off by the meglomaniac stage act. (Amanda)

Even without hindsight, dodgy beyond belief, and one of his worst songs. After the exuberance of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Parts 1 & 2), and even I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am), he morphed into a leering, lascivious, camp joke. Oh, and how we loved him for it, for so many years.. (Nigel R (the UK one))

1993: I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston. (62)

My dislike for her singing turned to aversion after she was on continuous rotation (every 15 minutes) on the only radio station available while we were honeymooning several years ago. (Asta)

Look Whitney, it’s nice to know you love me but do you have to bellow? (Amanda)

…proving once again that belting out “I… love you” over and over again *does* sell. (Luca)

cliche-abounding yuckiness (Gert)

currently on continuous rotation in hell (noodle)

Shut it. Now. (David)

When you’re heart-broken, to the point you’re actually quite enjoying it, shameless wallowing in this track is understandable. Ten years on, you finally see it for what it is: an insincere, self-promoting, over-indulgent, flaccid, fifth-rate imitation of the Real Thing. Bit like the one who broke your heart in the first place, really. (Nigel R (the UK one))

You made me listen to Whitney Houston. I’ll remember this. (Stereoboard)

Dolly’s version is much better for my money, but even if Whitney’s version is overblown–and oh, my dear, it is–it’s still a belting single. (Junio)

Decade scores so far (after 7 days).
1= (1) The 1970s (28) — Medallion men! Bra-burning libbers! Shut that door!
1= (2) The 1980s (28) — Red Wedge! Nouvelle cuisine! There is no such thing as society!
3 (3) The 1990s (23) — Monica Lewinsky! Black Wednesday! I’d like to be a queen of people’s hearts!
4 (5) The 1960s (21) — Grosvenor Square! Arts labs! I have a dream!
5 (4) The 2000s (20) — Ring tones! Retro-modern wenge sideboards! I love blinking, I do!


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