Which decade is Tops for Pops? (6/10) – 2004 edition.

Goodness, are we halfway through already? Into the Top Five we lurch, then – with one much-loved classic, and four songs which are, well, slightly less than classics. (Oh, come on – you’ve heard worse.)

For yesterday’s vote, K admitted to actually liking – yes, liking – all five records. Today, I suspect he might revert to type. Quick – hide the crockery! It’s the Number Fives!

1964: Just One Look – The Hollies.
1974: You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr.
1984: Hello – Lionel Richie.
1994: Girls And Boys – Blur.
2004: Not In Love – Enrique Iglesias featuring Kelis.
Listen to a short medley (about a minute each) of all five songs.

Another day, another bunch of cut-price Beatles imitators. Merseybeat was the flavour du jour, and “beat groups” were springing up faster than a dose of acne on the face of a Liverpudlian teenager. Manchester’s Hollies hung around longer than most, with a run of 21 consecutive Top 20 hits between 1963 and 1970 – and yet how many people under the age of 50 could hum more than a couple of them? Here I Go Again? (#4) Look Through Any Window? (#4) I Can’t Let Go? (#2) Stop Stop Stop? (#2) Sorry Suzanne? (#3) No, thought not.

And so it is with the sweet, but ultimately forgettable, Just One Look, which climbed as high as #2. Do you think that maybe – just maybe – The Hollies were at all familiar with the works of Lennon & McCartney? Which isn’t to say that it’s a bad record – as with The Merseybeats at #7, there’s an untutored freshness and spirit which appeals considerably.

Round about this time thirty years ago, my sister (aged 9) and I (aged 12) devised a game which amused us greatly. Using the current edition of Disco 45 magazine as a guide, one of would choose a song, and – without revealing its title – would ask the other to supply a series of words. (noun – adjective – somebody’s name – item of clothing…etc.) Substituting those words in the appropriate places in the song, we would then sing the new version out loud – with hilarious consequences.

Why am I telling you this? Because the one song that sticks in my memory from these days is today’s 1974 selection: Ringo Starr‘s You’re Sixteen. “Lips like dandelion & burdock, tee hee hee“, we would trill, on car journeys to Sainsburys in the Doncaster Arndale Centre.

Earlier today, in a bid to re-create this cherished childhood memory, I asked you to supply eight words in my comments box:

You come on like a dream, peaches and cream
Lips like strawberry wine
You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine.
You come on like a NOUN, FOOD and FOOD
You’re NUMBER, you’re ADJECTIVE and you’re ADJECTIVE.

Before revealing the hilarious consequences, I should warn you: they are going to be hilarious. So hilarious, that you might want to go to the toilet before reading any further.

Yes, I think it’s probably best if we all go to the toilet now. See you back here in two minutes.

OK, has everyone been to the toilet? Good. I think we’re ready.

Now, I want you to promise me one thing. When you listen to today’s MP3, will you be sure to sing the hilarious new words, out loud if you please, in time to the music?

You would? Splendid! OK: on the count of three, let’s have a quick practice. One – two – three!

You come on like a BANANA, BROCCOLI and TOAST
You’re 666, you’re SMOOTH and you’re SHORT.

Very good. Give yourselves a nice big round of applause. I did tell you it would be hilarious, didn’t I?

And so the mood darkens. Hopefully, you will now have stored up sufficient hilarity to tide you over the minute-and-a-bit of Sheer Bloody Hell that is Lionel Richie‘s Hello. Have you ever noticed that time actually slows down when this is playing? It’s probably something to do with quantum physics. And, look, is anyone going to admit to liking this?

Anyone at all?


I’m not seeing any hands.

Look, if the people responsible for buying this execrable pile of toss don’t own up, I might have to keep the whole group back.

Oh, do stop snivelling. At least I haven’t made you watch the video.

Ah, here come Blur. Smiles all round!

Girls And Boys was, firstly, Blur’s comeback hit, almost exactly three years after their last Top 10 single (There’s No Other Way). Secondly, it could arguably be credited with being the first of the big Britpop hits; I’ve certainly always thought of it that way. Pulp, Oasis, Wake Up, Yes, You’re Gorgeous… for the next three years or so, the UK singles charts would be stuffed full with all manner of goodness. And, er, Cast and Ocean Colour Scene. But you can’t have everything.

And finally: Mister Potty Strain meets Ms. Potty Mouth in a dodgy Benidorm disco. I hold Enrique Iglesias personally responsible for the most annoying trend in pop vocals in living memory: the “potty strain” form of emoting, as demonstrated in the deathless Hero.

“….wwwwwrrrrrggggghhhhhhACHG-KN-be your hero….”

Bastard. On the strength of this, every other contestant in shows like Pop Idol now feels duty bound to demonstrate their “emotion” by pulling the same trick. Thanks, Enrique – thanks for giving birth to a whole nation of aspirant potty-strainers with ironed hair and tiger-striped “extreme boot-cut” jeans. Oh yeah, and thanks too for fooling a whole generation of otherwise attractive young men into thinking that they will somehow look cool with one of those bloody stupid woollen tea-cosy thingies on their heads. You’ve been a great help to society, haven’t you?

As if this wasn’t enough, Julio’s little boy has seen fit to:

a) Drag the otherwise impeccable Kelis – fresh from bringing us all to the yard with her Milkshake – into an ill-advised “boundary crossing” collaboration. For such a usually mouthy gal, I’d say that Kelis was keeping pretty quiet on this one. Is she even in the studio? Is she phoning her part in on Enrique’s mobile? For shame, Kelis. For shame.

b) Re-contextualise the key line from 10cc’s sublime I’m Not In Love, whilst robbing it of all its multiple levels of meaning. While 10cc were – movingly – trying to pretend to themselves that they weren’t in love, Potty Man actually isn’t in love; like “Fiddy” Cent before him (on In Da Club), all he wants is a sodding shag. Tsk, youth of today. Ten years ago, Blur were being ironic about it; in 2004, Enrique is living it, entirely without irony.

Ooh, I’ve got quite steamed up. Shall we move onto the votes?

My votes: 1 – Blur. 2 – Ringo Starr (by a whisker). 3 – The Hollies. 4 – Enrique & Kelis (at least it’s got a catchy tune). 5 – Lionel Richie.

Over to you. Yesterday, Relax became the most popular record in the series so far, thrusting the 1980s into the lead. Will it be an even cleaner sweep for Blur? God knows, the 1990s need some urgent help. Please leave your votes in the comments box.

Running totals so far – Number 5s.
1994: Girls And Boys – Blur. (134)

  • Musically, lyrically, and, in its sentiment, the best of the lot with a chug-a-chug steamroller of a singalong party chorus which, for me, just defines the early nineties. (Nigel)
  • Looking for girls who do boys who like boys like they’re girls who like boys with their girls who do boys like they’re well, yes, you get the idea. Genius. (Florian Armstrong)
  • Du bist sehr schoen. Polymorphous perversity at its most misunderstood. (noodle)
  • A brilliant pop classic. Cunning use of stringed instruments. Reminds me of a once glorious nation, now reduced to… what was the UK’s last entry to the Eurovision? I can’t remember, and please don’t remind me… (Simon)
  • Memories. Misty coloured they are. This was ALWAYS played at the local indie hotspot I used to frequent as a youth. (zbornak)
  • britpop before it became blairpop (quarsan)
  • this makes me feel all modern and grungey. i’m one kewl mum. (zed)
  • Nee nah nee nah nee nah nee nah nee nah nee nah nee nah nee nah! Damon! You’re wearing a shellsuit and speaking Mockney! It’s not funny! Damon! Get back to public school! Not bad, though. (Vaughan)
  • This would be a great track if it wasn’t for Damon Albarn and his horrid, gratey voice. Bleh. (PB Curtis)

1964: Just One Look – The Hollies. (99)

  • As refreshing as a glass of Tizer, but you wouldn’t want a second one. A likeable, well-scrubbed pleaser of a tune, if a little run-of-the-mill, from the days when pop was all about having a giggle with your mates in the youth club on Saturday night. Much prefer the Klaus Nomi version though. (Nigel)
  • I like the Hollies, at least before Graham Nash buggered off to join Celebrity Fat Club with Dave Crosby and Stephen Stills. (noodle)
  • yet another pleasant, but, ultimately, inconsequential song (Gert)
  • This song has been co-opted by so many commercial products that it’s hard to listen to it without checking to see if I still have my wallet. (asta)
  • fairly pleasant, if nondescript song ruined by an appaling vocal track (quarsan)
  • Less ‘just one look’ and more ‘just one listen’. Next! (Vaughan)

1974: You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr. (94)

  • Oh, sod music credibility; I’m putting this at number one. Gleefully admitting he’s the least talented, but by far the most likeable of the Beatles, Ringo gets Auntie Gladys, Uncle Fred and everyone else around the piano for a lock-in down the Scottie Road. Irresistible mindless fun, and I just can’t stop smiling. Give me a Double Diamond, find me a pair of drainpipes, or, failing that, a ra-ra skirt, and I’ll be dancing on the bar before you know it. (Nigel)
  • It’s silly, but then it isn’t pretending to be great art . It’s Ringo… (asta)
  • I quite like it, it’s naive and it makes me happy. Maybe I’m just tired. (Stereoboard)
  • Is this song about trains? No. Nonetheless, it’s cheery, poppy, and remeniscent of bygone days. (Florian Armstrong)
  • I really like this, especially the second line of this verse – I can’t quite describe the effect, but it sort of swoops low. Can you imagine the outrage if it had been “You’re Fifteen”? (Gert)
  • Sadly for me, Ringo Starr’s Sixteen is slightly tarred by a friend getting a free LP with a barbie doll (here man, we were aged 9), which solely contained a cover of that song, identical except for a female vocalist. Who replaced the word “sixteen” with “barbie” *shudder* (sarah)
  • Poor Ringo. Having spent years being given the crap song to sing on every album, he spends his solo career believing that he’s got musical talent beyond drumming, and records an album of standards that, apparently, his mum would like. The only thing is . . . I’m not quite certain if his mum was dead at the time. Let’s hope, for her sake, that she was. (Vaughan)
  • “He wasn’t the best drummer in the world. He wasn’t the best drummer in the Beatles.” (b’dumm-tish) (noodle)
  • alcohol can be so damaging, can’t it? (quarsan)

1984: Hello – Lionel Richie. (71)

  • #1 – There is a pattern of me voting for the ones that (almost) everyone else hates. But this is a song full of memories of a time and a place – the place being the school hall, at the post-Ruddigore cast party, when, for the first time in my life, I was truly in love with somebody very very special, the gorgeous Martin, whom I still have great affection for. (Gert)
  • #1 – Mainly because one of my early childhood memories involves seeing one of the kids from Fame singing this on the Fame TV series, so I always smile when I hear it. Also, his daughter. Sorry. (zbornak)
  • #2 – Surprising, eh? Any song that is that memorable after twenty years deserves it. I remember the video, the awful clay head, the pathos – oh my god, the pathos. The song may be dirge-tastic, but Richie does his best and the song is hugely memorable, if only in the same way that Charlene’s Never Been to Me is memorable. (Florian Armstrong)
  • God, this breaks my heart. Sorry, I have no taste. (Somewhat)
  • this reminds me of ‘slows’ at school discos where we literally had to hold the boys up who were attempting to grope our bums whilst heavily pissed on orange squash. (zed)
  • I am fortunate not to be a manicurist from Croydon, nor a footballer’s wife, and I shall never see nineteen again, so this maudlin piece of over-sentimental, candy-floss tosh holds no appeal whatsoever. Stickier and more sugary than treacle, and rots your teeth and soul even quicker. (Nigel)
  • At least we haven’t been forced to listen to Three Times a Lady. But there is karma. I can change channels when his daughter Nicole appears; he’s stuck with her. (asta)
  • A truly sickening song. It’s saving grace is that Lionel Richie doesn’t oversing it. Just imagine if Whitney or Mariah or that Canadian woman whose name I’ve temporarily forgotten recorded it. (Amanda)
  • genuinely offensive. the video was a dreadful, patronising exploitation of disability to make money. they decided to make the video feature a blind person, then had lionel creeping around her like a lovesick stalker. he should have his eyes pecked out by eagles for this monstrosity. (quarsan)
  • There are some records that are just evil, and this is worse than most of them. The video just compounded the crime. (Stereoboard)
  • It feels horribly wrong to put ‘Hello’ anywhere near the top five of anything, even if it is in last place. It is, almost without question, the worst record ever recorded and as such deserves the number 50,000 next to it instead of 5. But that wouldn’t be playing the game right, would it? (Dave)
  • quite definitely the biggest atrocity ever committed in the name of pop. (Michael)
  • “Hello / Is it me you’re looking for”
    “No, it isn’t. Stop calling me. In fact, why don’t you f*** off and die?” (Vaughan)
  • What can I say that thousands of post-1984 suicides haven’t already said? (noodle)

2004: Not In Love – Enrique Iglesias featuring Kelis. (51)

  • This has a strange ring of Y Viva Espana about it. Probably acceptable when you’re slightly more pissed than I currently am. (noodle)
  • I KNOW it’s not very good. But there just arn’t enough fit men in the charts nowadays, so when there’s an even slightly nice-looking one there I feel he has to be supported. Not that I’m shallow. Although, I do want to be. (zbornak)
  • I have heard this, but forgot it almost immediately afterwards. Perhaps it’s a sign of my age but I have no idea who he is, and he’d be quite cute if he took the tea cosy off his head and took something for the constipation. Avoided it like a plague. (Florian Armstrong)
  • This was a hard one, as I really really like the song, but hate hate HATE his voice. (Simon)
  • oh good god. 2 people who think they’re kewl and are so desperately un-cool. their vocal chords should be extracted. (zed)
  • Goes nowhere. Does nothing. Moves nothing, apart from my stomach, that is. (Nigel)
  • enrique is such a wonderful argument in favour of contraception, and this backs up that case wich sounds like a bad mix of worse records (quarsan)
  • You’ll recall that I said what I had to say about ‘featuring’ records a few days ago, so all I shall say about this is that it sounds like the noise that mating pigs make. (Vaughan)
  • Pleasantly, I’d never heard this before today. All good things come to an end. (PB Curtis)
Decade scores so far (after 5 days).
1 (3) The 1980s (17) — Listen very carefully; I shall say zis only once!
2 (1) The 1960s (16) — You dirty old man!
3 (2) The 2000s (15) — It’s proper Bo!
4 (4) The 1970s (14) — Look at the muck in here!
5 (4) The 1990s (13) — You wouldn’t let it lie!

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