Which decade is Tops for Pops? (3/10) – 2004 edition.

What with all the excitement over the outing (or not) of Belle de Jour, my poor little Top-di-Pop project is getting somewhat short shrift, with the number of votes for yesterday’s (admittedly rancid) selection registering an all-time low, even when compared to last year. Never mind; onwards and upwards we plough, with a reminder that voting will stay open for all the selections, right up until the end of the project.

Something else which I neglected to mention yesterday: the New Seekers track was the second of this year’s two substitutions, owing to the unavailability of the real Number 9 from 1974, Freddie Starr’s gloopy ballad It’s You. Yes, that Freddie Starr. Trust me, you were spared.

The general reaction to yesterday’s selection seems to be one of abject horror, with a couple of you professing to be so appalled that you found yourselves unable to put the five songs in any order of preference. We had similar reactions last year, with some of you wondering whether I had deliberately chosen the worst week in the history of pop. The simple truth to be gleaned from all of this: the charts have always been full of crap. And today’s tunes are, by and large, no exceptions. Steel yourselves, pop-pickers, as we hold our noses and plunge into the Number Eights:

1964: Boys Cry – Eden Kane.
1974: Jet – Paul McCartney & Wings.
1984: An Innocent Man – Billy Joel.
1994: Return To Innocence – Enigma.
2004: Red Blooded Woman – Kylie Minogue.
Listen to a short medley (about a minute each) of all five songs.

Playing these to K late last night in order to glean his votes, something in him snapped. “I refuse to put these in order”, he fumed. “Because I HATE ALL OF THEM!” Let’s see whether his hissy fit was justified, shall we?

Prior to the success of Boys Cry, Eden Kane, real name Richard Sarstedt, had spent over 18 months without a hit single, releasing a string of flops and even changing record labels. Sadly for him, Boys Cry proved to be his last ever hit. A few years later, both of his brothers had one-hit wonder mini-careers of their own: Peter Sarstedt with Where Do You Go To My Lovely (1969) and Robin Sarstedt with My Resistance Is Low (1976).

I’m stalling for time here, as I haven’t got much to say about Boys Cry. It… exists. Its message – that hey, men are sensistive too – may have been mildly radical for its day, but unfortunately The Searchers covered similar territory, with considerably more depth, just two days ago (Needles & Pinssee below).

Nevertheless, it has a certain period charm. Or, in K’s words: “It’s not very good, but I quite like it.” This is in stark contrast to his comments on Paul McCartney & WingsJet: “It’s quite good, but I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE IT. F***ing Wings! All this says is: I’ve married the Kodak heiress, so I don’t need to bother any more.”

Yeah – ‘cos Paul, like, really needed the money? Did I mention that we’d had a few by then?

Time to ‘fess up, then. Reader, I was a pubescent Wings fan. Band On The Run – loved it. Venus & Mars – loved it even more. Wings At The Speed Of Sound – OK, they lost it there. (Before temporarily regaining it with the genuinely excellent Goodnight Tonight in 1979.) Having said that, Jet was never one of my favourites. There’s an angularity about it which swiftly becomes grating, and an underlying hollowness – a sense that, with his young family and his newly found personal stability, McCartney has forgotten how to let loose and rock out, and is merely going through the motions. Nevertheless, he hasn’t yet lost his knack for melodic inventiveness; the horror of Mull Of Kintyre is still over three years away.

As soon as the opening strains of Billy Joel‘s An Innocent Man struck up, K began to keen and to wail, and to turn the air bluer than blue. Even more than dance music (which he can just about tolerate in small doses and at low volumes, if pushed), this represents everything he hates. Airbrushed AOR nothingness, made even more horrible by overuse of an echo chamber, and what I charitably presume must be deliberate nods to Ben E. King’s Stand By Me. Billy Joel has had his moments – particularly with the stirring My Life, which could have been a gay anthem if covered by a disco diva – but this ain’t one of them.

But how can you possibly rank An Innocent Man above or below the faux-ethnic, pseudo-deep, new-age-decaff montrosity that was Enigma? Return To Innocence is the sound of a thousand mashed-up queens with zero taste bunging something “tasteful” on the stereo to impress their new shags at four in the morning, while skinning up on the coffee table and waiting for the pills to wear off a bit. It gives me The Fear.

Which leaves us with dependable old Kylie Minogue, who is once again going through one of her “sophisticated” phases. As such, Red Blooded Woman, deftly constructed as it is, doesn’t really play to her strengths, coming across as little more than a poor man’s Britney Spears. I like Kylie best when she remembers that – as she once admitted in an interview – “I’ll always be a little bit naff.” Spinning cheese into gold – that’s her particular skill. Red Blooded Woman is neither cheesy nor golden, but merely adequate. On the other hand, as K grudgingly admitted, it does have the virtue of a certain freshness.

My votes: 1 – Kylie Monogue. 2 – Eden Kane. 3 – Paul McCartney & Wings. 4 – Billy Joel. 5 – Enigma.

Over to you. Come on, be brave. At the time of writing, and after just two days, the 1960s are in a clear lead. Will Eden Kane keep them ahead, or will plucky little Kylie push the much-maligned Noughties into the lead? Please leave your votes in the comments box.

Running totals so far – Number 8s.

2004: Red Blooded Woman – Kylie Minogue. (95)

  • I’d just like to make a stand for that small section of the gay population who do not regard La Kylie as a gay icon. So that’s me and, er . . . well, um, it just looks like me then. I still recall I Should Be So Lucky and those ridiculous curls and toothy grin. These memories are not easily erased. Also, like Madonna, I keep getting an urge these days to speak in a gruff northern voice whenever she’s on telly and say, with a discernible trace of distaste, “‘Ey up, luv, put ’em away, there’s a lass.” (Vaughan)
  • I used to hate Kylie but over the years I’ve softened to her. She used to be the same age as me but curiously she’s become a year older over the last few years. Am I an idiot for hearing echoes of ‘They Call Me Slim Shady’ and Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Right Round’ (or whatever it was called)? (Demian)
  • d’ya think Beyonce will be asking if she can have the riff to Survivor back? Glossy and empty. And so’s the song (b’dum tishhhh) (noodle)
  • From the moment I wasted my money on Kylie’s last album, I realised that ‘Slow’ was the only worthwhile single on it, and so this proves. Weak, weak, weak. (Chig)
  • Just how many ” I’m a horny girl songs” are in heavy rotation right now? Apparently we needed another one. I couldn’t tell if I was listening to Brittney, H. Duff, or Simpson. Slow, was so much better. (asta)
  • It sounds that it’s been assembled in a cut and paste fashion from a million (slight exaggeration) other pop songs. (Amanda)
  • She’s made three or four really good singles. This isn’t one of them. (Dymbel)
  • anyone who thinks that this skeleton can sing, boowop or even look sexy is in severe need of a brain transplant, my partner included. a magpie can squak better than she can. (zed)
  • I don’t mind this one, and I didn’t even know it was her for ages. I quite like the chorus “Boy! Boy!” bit – and she looks quite foxy and sly in the video too. Lots of suggestive knee movements. Straight girls can appreciate these things! Shame about the crap lingerie line… *much* prefer Elle Macpherson. (elisabeth)
  • The only song of the five displaying any sign of human intelligence. (Simon)

1974: Jet – Paul McCartney & Wings. (89)

  • People wonder why John Lennon spent most of the 70s in a drug-addled/paranoid haze, and then became a recluse for the last part of the decade. Here’s the reason – if he’d been clean and in the public eye, he would have spent most of the era doubled up in laughter at Paul’s music. I don’t entirely subscribe to the theory that John was the genius in The Beatles – but, really, Paul’s Wings and solo stuff doesn’t really help anyone think otherwise, does it? (Vaughan)
  • I don’t care what you all say – it’s MACCA! God bless his thumbs. Jet is the first song that’s appeared on this survey that I’d listen to of my own free will. (Michael)
  • I know I probably deserve to spend some time in the stocks for saying so but I quite like Paul – he’s not my favourite Beatle but I prefer him to that bitter Lennon and I think the naffness of the later cutesy stuff can blind us to the fact that he was a Beatle and the Beatles are great on merit and some of that rubbed off on Wings. I fell I should denounce it as Babylonian but I really like the efforts at reggae too. (Demian)
  • Remember The Day Today’s Gulf War music video? Harmless. (noodle)
  • i’ve tried surpressing the fact that i actually like wings for many years, and despite the fact that linda couldn’t, for the love of god, sing, no matter how hard she tried i still thought they were great. i was very young and gullible at the time, you know. (zed)
  • #1 Sorry, it’s Wings. I’m a girl of the 70’s. Even though my parents were 18 in 1964 they just never did the Beatles. I didn’t learn to become Beatles obsessed until much later. But Wings, they WERE the AM top 10 soundtrack of my lust filled adolescence. I can remember transistor pressed to ear dial up to 9 for Live and Let Die. Of course my ear would bleed when it got to that mid point….. (jo)
  • I’m not a Wings fan really, but I quite like the pulsating insistency and the layered backing vocals. Maybe if I grew up with it, I’d feel differently. (elisabeth)
  • Shouting the title lots and going whoo-ooh-ooh does not, IMHO, a good song make. (Chig)
  • Sounds like they’re having fun, but I’m not. (Simon)
  • I was always (and still am) a bit puzzled about the lyrics to this one. What did the suffragettes have to do with it? (Amanda)

1964: Boys Cry – Eden Kane. (66)

  • (5 points) I know, I know. I can barely believe it too. But I’d never heard of this record or this singer before, and when compared to the other offerings, it’s a work of genius. I mean, he should get top place just for his chosen name – “This is EDEN KANE – international man of mystery, super-sleuth, and lover to a thousand women.” With a name like that, why wasn’t he in Man From UNCLE? As for the record – oh, bargain basement Phil Spector but not as good, since nobody dies horribly in a motorcycle accident (well, unless they do and you’ve not included that segment of the recording). (Vaughan)
  • dated lyrics, granted – but I place it first on the strength of its warm ‘n fuzzy 60s production and the fact that it’s a bit like “Then he kissed me” by the Crystals. But I am a 60s gal after all… (elisabeth)
  • Hm – I wonder about that name – is he saying he’d like to kill his more Abel brothers? But there’s a momentum to the song I don’t mind and I’d like to hear it done by Lee Hazlewood or Nick Cave. (Demian)
  • I’m starting to believe that 60s chaff sounds better just by dint of the lovely production values. Not exactly essential listening though. (noodle)
  • This one was #5 until I heard the other drivel on offer. Still, it’s an Alan Alda paean to ‘men have emotions too, you big brute’. Perhaps 10cc listened and rebutted. (jo)
  • Sounded catchy at first, but the more I listened to it, the more obvious it became that it’s rubbish to the bone. The lyrics are rubbish, the music is laughable and his voice is nauseating. (Simon)

1984: An Innocent Man – Billy Joel. (63)

  • Ah, Billy. Billy, Billy, Billy. There’s a man who I’ve often had dreams about being basted in his own saliva and then roasted over an open spit. Slowly. And painfully. Whilst being prodded with sticks and forced to sing a medley of Just The F***ing Way You Are and Uptown Girl (although, with the latter, I always felt a twinge of sympathy for him when he had a godawful song made even more godawful by Westlife. This song – An Innocent Man – makes me want to lay waste to whole continents with a penknife. (Vaughan)
  • How did this man have a career? Innocent of what? Guilty of filling my ears with excrement say I. (Demian)
  • Makes me want to burn my speakers, much like Jimi Hendrix, but in a completely different way. (Simon)
  • I don’t care how long he writes symphonies or has Broadway shows with Twyla Tharp, he’s still a big goomba from the hood. Drivel. (jo)
  • Insipid rip off of Blue Bayou. I hate him. I hate Uptown Girl, which then spawned more song fodder for Westsh*te. I hate “The Bridge” album, which my parents ordered from the Columbia House tape club in 1986 and played incessantly. (elisabeth)
  • I can’t bring myself to hate this as much as I should, the tune’s quite pretty. The lyrics, on the other hand, are UTTER CACK. And Billy’s a self-satisfied dwarf. (noodle)
  • You’re all being really hard on Billy Joel. He’s ace. And my auntie’s god daughter used to see him shopping in King Cullen (like Sainsburys, only not). (Gert)

1994: Return To Innocence – Enigma. (62)

  • Mike’s summing up of this made me laugh because my bezzy mate at work at the time tried to convince me that Enigma were good and he was a twenty-something gay bloke in Nottingham – I can see him skinning up post-shag at 4am with this playing. I have another record with Native American chanting that makes my spine tingle but this sounds like a mentally ill Geordie. (Demian)
  • i liked the wailing. very tribal. forget about the rest of the song. (zed)
  • It sounds like it could be a Eurovision song. There’s a bit of a novelty effect in the chorus, like Baka Beyond with Native Americans instead of Pygmies. (Amanda)
  • Let’s just suppose, for a minute, that I was a monk sitting in a Swiss monastery, whose only entertainment was a drum machine that I’d been bought by my holy brothers for Christmas (with, crucially, only ONE pattern available – the one that Soul II Soul used about fifteen years ago), and an urge to make music with the monastery choir. I’d be bloody pissed off by now, wouldn’t I? I’d want to scream, “YOU NEW AGE TOSSERS NICKED MY IDEA! YOU BLOODY BASTARDS! YOU BLOODY, BLOODY BASTARDS! I WANNA GET OUT OF HERE! I WANNA BE ON MTV! YOU DON’T REALLY THINK I *WANT* TO BE IN A F***ING MONASTERY, DO YOU? NO, I DON’T! I’M ACTUALLY AN ATHEIST WITH POP STAR DELUSIONS!” – but, of course, being in a silent order, would I be able to shout that? Would I buffalo! (Vaughan)
  • Estate Agent House. Would probably cop you a “diminished responsibility” plea in a court of law. (noodle)
  • The kind of thing a yuppie would play in his highrise flat to impress his date, as he pours her a glass of cheap champagne and dims the lights. Oh, and is it *that* hard to try a different drum loop while you’re at it? (elisabeth)
  • this just reeks of bad sex. it’s dope music for people who don’t smoke. (quarsan)
  • Thanks for undoing 10 years of expensive therapy! (Michael)
  • I sorry, I’m really, truly, very sorry. And I hate myself. But it is actually almost a decent song. I think the problem is the kind of people who actually like this dung, and buy their album or (I’ll have a trained monkey write the rest of the sentence, to save myself from the mere thought of it) attend concerts. Filthy, nasty peopleses. (Simon)

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