Singles of the year: #10 (NMC)

10. F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back) – Eamon

1999: Turn Your Lights Down Low – Bob Marley & Lauryn Hill
1994: I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
1989: Promised Land – Joe Smooth
1984: Holiday – Madonna

F**k what I said, it don’t mean shit now, f**k the presents, might as well throw em out, f**k all those kisses, it didn’t mean jack, f**k you, you ho, I don’t want you back…

For all the perceived “scandalousness” of this blog – the bursts of should-he-really-be-saying-that? confessionalism, the coy, veiled references to buried-safely-in-the-past misdemeanours – an altogether different set of dangerously unhinged impulses seem to be snapping at my feet these days, tempting me into committing ill-considered indiscretions which I might later regret.

For now that my Inner Party Monster has been more or less safely tethered, it is my Inner Middle Aged Daily Mail Reader which is rattling the cages and struggling to break free. All this Colonel Blimp-ish disapproval of modern manners and mores – from where has it sprung?

Warily threading my way through the city centre on a Saturday night not so very long ago, I caught myself eyeing up a screeching gaggle of severely under-dressed young binge drinkers, clacking their way up Pelham Street on their way to the Hockley pick-up joints, and thinking – actually, truly thinking, without any discernible level of redeeming irony – do their mothers know they’re out dressed like that?

Sneaking a semi-interested peek at Top Of The Pops last Spring, I caught 19 year old Eamon performing the UK’s Number One single – a song with the word “f**k” actually in its title – and found myself thinking: OK, that’s it. The barbarians are at the gates. It’s the death of Empire, the end of civilisation, the dawning of a new Dumbed Down Dark Age of unfettered coarseness and brutality.

I mean to say: this was Top Of The Pops! The programme I used to watch before bedtime with the family, hoping that Clive Dunn or Rolf Harris or The Scaffold or Mary Hopkin might be on! And here was this callow, insolent youth, miming to an absurdly “cleaned up” version of the track which merely involved the surgical removal of the rude words in question:

What I said, it don’t mean – now – the presents, might as well throw em out – all those kisses, it didn’t mean jack, – you, you – I don’t want you back…

And this from a year where the UK singles chart contained one record with the sampled word “motherf**ker” repeated over and over again, and another record which described the consumption of poor-quality ecstacy tablets in forensic detail, to say nothing of the “answer record” which succeeded Eamon at Number One: a charming little ditty entitled F**k You Right Back. I mean, what’s coming next?

“It’s the Nation’s Favourite Song! Straight in at Number One, it’s Give Me Back My F**king Gear, C**t Face!”

What’s more, nobody but me seems to be in the slightest bit bothered by any of this. It’s like I’m the only one who has even noticed. Did I miss a meeting or something?

Compare and contrast with the wholesome innocence of the Top Five from the particular week in Summer 1971 when, aged nine, I first started “following the charts”. Tom Tom Turnaround, Me And You And A Dog Named Boo, Co-Co, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep … and a record by Atomic Rooster called Devil’s Answer, whose title I didn’t dare to speak out loud in front of my parents, because it had the word “devil” in it.

Aged nine in 1971, I would be told off for saying “Damn”, “Oh God”, or even “Good Heavens”. Aged nine in 2005, I would be expected to collude in the flimsy fiction that the Number One song onTop Of The Pops actually went: “– you, you – I don’t want you back“.

Aged nine in 1971, I had never even heard of the F-word. That came a year later, when one of the cooler kids in my class faux-casually dropped it into conversation on the way home from school.

“Oh, bloody f**k.”

I can still hear – and see – him saying it (and repeating himself, for effect) and wondering what it meant, but not daring to ask, because I already had a reputation for being comically naive about these things.

(So naive, that I spent a year or so thinking that sexual intercourse took place between a man’s “little thing” and a lady’s nipple, because the nipple was the rudest part of a lady’s body that I could think of, and besides, if milk could get out, then surely the other stuff could get in. “Down there” never occurred to me, because “down there” was simply where a willy wasn’t. Nothing to see here; please move on.)

(Although, when I thought about it, sex must be an awfully uncomfortable business. How did the man manage to balance his “little thing” on the lady’s nipple without it slipping off? Perhaps you could buy double-ended plastic funnel things, to help things stay in place. Also, wouldn’t the lady have to bury herself halfway down the bedclothes, and wouldn’t that get a bit hot, and she might suffocate? I really didn’t like the sound of any of this, so why did grown-ups get so excited about it?)

(But I digress.)

Aged fourteen in 1976, I brought home Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s Derek And Clive comedy album; unaware, despite the warning message on the cover, of just how staggeringly foul-mouthed it was. Seeing the warning message, my father snatched the record from me, and demanded to listen to it before I took it up to my room.

Sitting at the head of the family dinner table, the rest of us all seated for lunch, he solemnly placed the record on the family hi-fi, and solemnly donned the family headphones.

An uneasy silence descended, as my father’s face grew redder… and redder… and redder.

After five minutes or so, with a great show of dignified self-control that (as so often was the case with my father) bordered on the farcical, he solemnly removed the headphones, and addressed me with one of his quiet, steady, only-just-keeping-it-together voices.

“Michael. There are … words … on this record … that I didn’t even know existed until I joined the army. You are to listen to this on headphones ONLY, in your bedroom ONLY, and you must promise me that you will NEVER let your sisters hear it even for a SECOND DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?

Within the week, he’d nicked it. Late one night, I could hear him playing the track Winkie Wanky Woo to his friends downstairs, and them all falling about laughing.

His vocabulary was never the same again. Seriously. Swore like a trooper after that. And they say that these things don’t deprave or corrupt.

Aged 42 in 2005, I realise that the word “f**k” has virtually lost all of its power to shock. They’ll be using it on Children’s TV by the end of the decade, I reckon.

“Hello, and welcome to Blue Peter! We’ve got a f**king good show for you today!”

You just mark my words and see if I’m wrong.

Back to Eamon, then. So how did a song which initially repelled me end up as my tenth favourite single of 2004?

Because I actually sat down and listened to it, that’s why.

And realised that, rather than being the puerile exercise in lowest-common-denominator Gonzo Capitalism of my imaginings, (“Tee-hee, he said f**k, I’m buying it!“) Eamon’s single fits easily into a tradition of classic teen rejection ballads which stretches all the way back through to Atlantic soul and Fifties doo-wop. He’s hurt, he’s betrayed, and as the pain hardens into bitterness, so the anger comes flowing out, nullifying everything that he thought was good and pure. From “Baby I love you” to “f**k you, you ho”.

Great pop.

Fucking great pop.

The faces of K. (NMC)

My, what fun there is to be had with the St Andrews University Face Transformer!
Presenting the faces of my Life Partner K:


Verily, ’tis the stuff of nightmares.

And what a SHAME there wasn’t a decent sized full-face photo of myself to play around with.

Update:Oh, very well. It’s only fair, after all.


While Elderly Mike terrifies me (the whiskey-soaked bottom-pinching scourge of Harpenden Conservative Club), I think that Caucasian+ Mike (middle manager, keen gardener and church warden) possibly represents a truer articulation of my fears.
Whereas East Asian Mike is Bert Kwouk.

(Thanks to Gina Snowdoll for the link.)

Singles of the year: #11

11. Through The Wire – Kanye West

1999: Once Around The Block – Badly Drawn Boy
1994: The Most Beautiful Girl In The World – Prince
1989: Keep On Movin’ – Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler
1984: Let The Music Play – Shannon

Kanye West? It’s rap music for people who don’t like rap music“, they say. Well, that can’t possibly apply; I’ve been enjoying rap music for the past quarter of a century, and I’ve got the Kool Moe Dee 12-inchers to prove it.

Then looking down the rest of this year’s list, I realise that – Kanye West aside – there’s scarcely a scrap of rap to be found. So what changed there then?

Singles of the year: #12

12. Millionaire – Kelis featuring Andre 3000

1999: You Don’t Know Me – Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden
1994: The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get – Morrissey
1989: Tell Me When The Fever Ended – Electribe 101
1984: William, It Was Really Nothing/How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

It’s got a catchy tune and a good beat to it, and it’s one of those tunes that can buzz around inside your head all day long without you minding too much. What else do you want to know?

Oh, and it’s got thingy out of Outkast on it. You know, him who did the one that sounds a bit like Prince. Not the rap one with all the swearing on it; the other one, with Hey Ya! on it. Yeah, the nice one, with all the jokey bits and stuff.

Milkshake? No, that was in my Best Of 2003 list actually. Yeah, I know!

Those Number Twelves from Yesteryear are a stronger bunch than usual, aren’t they?

Are we nearly there yet?

Singles of the year: #13

13. Your Cover’s Blown/Wrapped Up In Books – Belle & Sebastian (from the “Books” EP)

1999: Northern Lites – Super Furry Animals
1994: Incredible – M Beat/General Levy
1989: Dirty Blvd. – Lou Reed
1984: Somebody Else’s Guy – Jocelyn Brown


…and exhale.

Gosh, are we nearly into the Top Ten already?

Singles of the year: #14

14. Blinded By The Lights – The Streets

1999: Unpretty – TLC
1994: Stay Together – Suede
1989: Say No Go – De La Soul
1984: Song To The Siren – This Mortal Coil

Because even grossly overrated and hugely disappointing albums like A Grand Don’t Come For Free can still contain a couple of tracks of such luminous brilliance that you remember why you fell so heavily for the artist in the first place. As I said very recently: The Streets’ Weak Become Heroes was my Nineties. But just as every shiny, brilliant surface has its dull, matted underside, so every Weak Becomes Heroes should have its Blinded By The Lights.

For this too was my Nineties. And just as Weak Becomes Heroes never fails to make me dewy-eyed with nostalgic fondness and a certain sense of longing (“if only…“), so Blinded By The Lights never fails to pull me up short with a shudder of sharp recall and a tangible sense of relief (“thank God…“).

Besides, there just haven’t been enough songs about being monged out on shite eckies in the UK Top 10.

Singles of the year: #15

15. Heartbeats / Heartbeats (rex the dog mix) – The Knife

1999: Flowerz – Armand Van Helden featuring Roland Clark
1994: Girls And Boys – Blur
1989: Eye Know – De La Soul
1984: Unity – Afrika Bambaataa & James Brown

The fifth Swedish act to make an appearance on this God-will-it-NEVER-end list, and the third single in which dance music’s man-of-the-moment Rex The Dog has had a hand. Like JC Chasez before it, this was first recommended to me last April, as part of the reader-compiled CD project, with the remix not coming my way until several months later.

Which, to be honest, is how I like it with remixes. To my mind, one of the great wrong turnings that dance music took in the early 1990s was when remixes started getting included on the original releases of tracks. Which is all well and good from a value-for-money point of view, but all wrong from a timing point of view. To enjoy a remix properly, you need to have spent at least a few weeks gaining familiarity with the original track, before being hit with the “bloody hell, what have they done to it?” shock of the new version. Now, back in my day, we…

…no, not going there again for a while. What is this: Grumpy Old Men? Let’s get straight back to the competition instead.

So, who has snatched the lead from Ben’s eager grasp? Why, if it’s not David: my original Blogdaddy, and former host of the still much-missed Swish Cottage. (Yes, I tried; no, he’s not, not never ever.)

Don’t forget (as if you could): the person who makes the closest guess to my favourite single of 2004 wins a self-compiled triple mix CD: 2004 – The Year In Song. Keep ’em coming, kids!

Already listed:
#15 Heartbeats – The Knife (Swish David) · #16 Trick Me – Kelis (Ben) · #19 Babycakes – 3 Of A Kind (dave) · #29 Girls (rex the dog mix) – The Prodigy (Waitrose David) · #32 Toxic – Britney Spears (Angus) · #36 I Believe In You – Kylie Minogue (Joe) · #38 Love Machine – Girls Aloud (Alan) · #49 The Show – Girls Aloud (Paul) · #64 Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters (Chig)· #85 Matinee – Franz Ferdinand (timothy)

Not (yet?) listed:
Tits On The Radio – Scissor Sisters (Todd) · Filthy/Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters (asta) · Common People – William Shatner & Joe Jackson (Gary F.) · Dry Your Eyes – The Streets (dave again) ·Real To Me – Brian McFadden (Alan again) · Music Is My Boyfriend – Hidden Cameras (timothy again) · Double Drop – Fierce Girl (Chig again)