Right then – I’m going to do this quickly today, because The Apprentice is on at 9pm, and I got a bit hooked on it last week, so I don’t want to be hanging around. (That control freak project leader from the girls’ team? Yeesh, NIGHTMARE.)
At the halfway stage, I’d say that this year’s contest has had a different feel about it so far. Two years ago, it really was all about the 1970s and 1980s, right from the off – leading me to suspect that we were all being driven by nostalgia for our youth. Last year, it was 1964 all the way, no messing. This year, I’m finding a lot more of an even spread in the voting, with less of a general consensus and more of an even spread across, well, at least four of our decades (you really have gone off beat groups in a big way). And best of all, you’re actually giving the 2000s a chance. This pleases me no end.
Now for the bad news: I reckon that today’s selection – with one obvious exception – is easily the weakest so far. This is where the voting can get tricky; just how do you rate crap against crap? But then, that is our unique challenge. Shall we face it together, people? Hold your noses! It’s the Number Fives!
1965: Game Of Love – Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
1975: The Secrets That You Keep – Mud
1985: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead Or Alive
1995: I’ve Got A Little Something For You – MN8
2005: Almost Here – Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
Following creepy old Uncle Val and his ode to the “special years”, today brings us more good-natured prescriptive normative heterosexism in the form of Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, and their jaunty avowal that the very purpose – yes, the purpose! – of a man is to love a woman. (And vice versa, ladies!) Well, different times and all that; after all, this was still two years before gay sex was even de-criminalised, let alone celebrated in the Hit Parade. Besides, this is spirited enough at heart, in a jolly, carefree sort of way. So we’ll let it pass, just this once – but no more of it, do you hear?
I have a distinct memory of Mud‘s The Secrets That You Keep being target marketed at Valentine’s Day, with a suitably “romantic” picture sleeve and all. Bearing in mind the distinctly forlorn nature of the lyrics, this seems like a strange decision to make; but then, who was listening to the lyrics?
Certainly not Mud’s Les Gray, who romps through the song like an Elvis impersonator at a Butlins holiday camp, tongue audibly in cheek, sounding like a man who can’t quite believe his luck, and making the most of his chance to get away with it before we all wised up and thought: hang on, how did these lumpy geezers ever get to be pop stars?
Mud were always a party band at heart: all streamers and balloons and silly dance steps and custard pies on Top Of The Pops. It was never in their nature to do heartbreak songs; and yet here they were, following Lonely This Christmas with their second in a row. Count yourselves lucky with this one, lads.
On the gay scene, we had been dancing to Dead Or Alive‘s You Spin Me Round for a good two or three months before it started selling in any significant quantities. It was a cult club hit: freely available in the shops, and hanging around in the lower part of the Top 75 from early December, but not singled out for a particular marketing push until it eventually crept into the charts at Number 40. One fluke appearance on Top Of The Pops later (somebody higher up the charts having dropped out of the show), and the single shot up to 19, then 5, then 2, then 1. Ah, climbers! That’s how things worked in those days. Economically inefficient no doubt, but vastly more satisfying to the rest of us.
You hardly need me to tell you that this is the obvious classic of the bunch. First places all round? The most popular single since Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain walked it two years ago? You have surprised me before, so I had better be careful with my predictions. But come ON. It’s a shoo-in, right?
It’s getting late, and I want my telly. How convenient that the final two songs can be dismissed as quickly as this:
MN8: Plastic boyband crap (man), with an early sighting of those horrible thin reedy nasal whiney “pop” voices that have blighted us ever since.
Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem: Plastic “power ballad” crap (man), from a depressingly characterless and charisma-free couple whose alleged “romance” has been all over the celebrity gossip rags for weeks. (Don’t ask me for details; I haven’t got the foggiest.) Have I ever told you just how much I hate power ballads, over and above any other musical genre you might care to mention? Well, perhaps now’s not the time to get started.
My votes: 1 – Dead Or Alive. 2 – Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. 3 – Mud. 4 – MN8. 5 – Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem.
Over to you. With the 2000s taking the lead for the first time in the three-year history of the contest, something tells me that their victory will prove short-lived. Unless you all reveal yourselves as a bunch of power ballad loving wusses, that is. You wouldn’t do that to me, would you? After all I’ve taught you? After all we’ve been through together? No, I know you’re all better than that.
Running totals so far – Number 5s.
1985: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead Or Alive (165)
- Ho hum. It’s just that DOA is in my top ten fave singles ever, ever, of all time, ever. Brilliant record, first months of going on the gay scene. Nuff said. So the rest just pale into insignificance. (Chig)
- No question. Best of the bunch. Confession time. You know how sometimes lyrics can be misunderstood? When this first came out, I spent *cough* a few weeks singing “You sling light rum”, before a kind but far too amused friend clued me in. (asta)
- great, I can’t help but circle my finger in the air as a vague impression of a record spinning round it as I listen to the clip (Tina)
- And in a second I’m transported straight back to stripey legwarmers, pink ribbons and my mate’s bedsit. Poptastic. (Clare)
- A song of near-genius defying analysis. I have absolutely no idea why, whenever this comes on, I grab someone’s poppers, make for the nearest podium, and start, er, well, spinning around like a record. Baby. It’s Pavlovian. Apparently. Learn to live with it, or pretend you don’t know me. (Nigel)
- note, I will be ranking the other songs from 894-897, because none of them deserve to be anywhere in the vicinity of “You Spin Me Round” (Barry)
- Brilliant. The best thing PWL ever did. (djg)
- On my “80s Dance” compilation there’s a version of this which is identical to the single mix I know except it starts with a voice going “ROCK IT ROCK IT ROCK IT” – it makes it even more exciting so I always play it out, but what is it? Fantastic song, obviously. (Tom)
- I was fairly indifferent to this until the fashion show for the Sixth Form appeal, when I was deeply affected by this blasting out in the school hall with strobing lights. (Gert)
- (1st place) even though Pete Burns is now officially madder than the average moose (Lyle)
- Ah Pete Burns what’s she like. I remember the TOTPs as if it was yesterday. A gold lamé leotard if the memory doesn’t fail me. I spent the next day trying to convince a group of middle aged women that the ‘thing’ (their words) was a guy and not a girl. Although, if you’ve seen Pete these days, those collagen lips are unreal. (Ïan)
- This was right up there for me in the 80’s with Adam Ant (hangs head in shame – I was young!) But OMG have you seen him lately? I mean really have you? He could give any plastic surgeon nightmares. I don’t think trout pout even comes close to describing those lips. (jo)
- I have nothing but bad memories of this one I’m afraid. I hear it on the radio now and then and don’t think it’s that bad anymore. But still. (KoenS)
1965: Game Of Love – Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders (135)
- Outdated sentiments aside, great track. Love the big pounding drums it starts with, and how the drum patterns then change 3 times within the minute. Love the “Lahve/lurve” chorus too. (KoenS)
- great intro – used to use it on my radio show (Gordon)
- Chugs along quite nicely. Love isn’t a game though. It’s a drug. (djg)
- Terrific break opening then it’s all just the Bill Chill and Good Morning Vietnam. Second-hand nostalgia for me. Still..a snappy song. (asta)
- cracking ‘break beat’ intro.. otherwise just another old chestnut, although inoffensive (David)
- Great drums, otherwise shrugs all round. (Tom)
- Wayne Fontana has a certain naive charm. (David)
- He lived just round the corner from me. Story is he once brought PJ Proby into the pub. Tiresome but not unpleasant song. (Gert)
- I’m sure it sounded great on transistor (timothy)
- Nascent psychedelia. (Stereoboard)
- I couldn’t place the Wayne Fontana track and realised that I was getting confused (easily done, at my age!) with Wayne County and The Electric Chairs (the classic “If you don’t wanna fcuk me, fcuk off”) (Mr.D.)
- You’re not allowed to sing that kind of shit over that riff. Your punishment is to be put lower than the terrible Mud, MN8 and McFadden/Goodrem toss. (Alan Connor)
- Quite appalling. I really, really hope they were taking the piss, for the alternative is just too dreadful to contemplate. (Nigel)
1975: The Secrets That You Keep – Mud (100)
- I always liked Mud, a bunch of yer mates from the boozer having a bit of a laugh and never taking themselves too seriously. And since when did pop have to be serious anyway? A playful and affectionate pastiche, karaoke for the pre-karaoke generation. And anyone who, on hearing this, didn’t end up doing their Elvis routine right there at the keyboard, I really do not want to know. (Nigel)
- You rightly alluded to the cheesy Valentines day packaging… I still have my copy and linked to it last year when the song featured (bizarrely) in the Beebs excellent Blackpool. Lovely bass line and, as alrready mentioned, a hilarious Elvis impersonation……Mud never took themselves seriously. (NiC)
- not so great, but they used to give fabulous performances on TOTP and thus they garner the sentimental vote (Tina)
- not actually hateful at all, as in making me hate it, but this is the one I’d go out of my way most to avoid listening to, because there’s NOTHING in it I like.. no sound, riff, beat, nothing (David)
- Not very memorable at all, not even for the half-arsed vocal delivery. (KoenS)
- I do believe you said it all with your ‘Elvis impersonator at a Butlins holiday camp’ assesment. (jo)
- last only because if you’re going to try and impersonate Elvis, you at least have to get the vowel sounds right. That was just bizarre. They aren’t Welsh, are they? Because they sure aren’t American. (asta)
- You’ve just ruined Marc Almond’s “Child Star” for me. I always thought it a reasonable pastiche of a big 50s ballad, when in fact, all along, it was dreck, like this. (David)
- What fresh hell is this? Did that backing track come from a karaoke machine? (Barry)
- The last three I’d happily never hear again in my entire life. (Gordon)
1995: I’ve Got A Little Something For You – MN8 (80)
- How odd. I like it. I liked it back then, and I still do. It’s quite cheeky. (djg)
- Very fond memories of their TOTP performances, which were phenomenally sexy (and sexual). (Chig)
- very influenced by Sly and Robbie’s Boots to Go (or whatever). Is it a sign of getting old when you start thinking they don’t make hip-hop records like they used to? (Gert)
- Surprisingly, it’s that so-called hook of a chorus which ruins it for me. Cut that pre-pubescent playground chanting (like *they’ve* got something I want?), and I’d like this raunchy tease of a single much more. (Nigel)
- Very honest, moving attempt to break the silence about penis size. It may be only little, but it’s for you. (KoenS)
- horrid, but I find myself vaguely tapping my foot to it (David)
- A true low point for boy band pop, this. Gets 4th on account of the memory of an entertaining late-night pub debate on which was better, this or K7’s “Come Baby Come”. K7 won. (Tom)
- Never heard of ’em. Hope to never hear these pitchy pretenders again. Whatever that little something is, they can keep it. (asta)
2005: Almost Here – Brian McFadden & Delta Goodrem (60)
- Starts off promisingly, even a little George Michaely, and then it’s downhill all the way, especially when the orchestration comes in and Missy Delta starts whining. Still, I surprised myself by liking this more than is properly healthy, and now all I want is to break up with someone so we can have our last dance together to this one. (Nigel)
- She’s pretty. He isn’t. And neither is the song. (djg)
- this is difficult because, in a lot of ways, it’s easier to hate this than Mud, but, at the same time, it’s pleasanter to listen to than Mud (David)
- romance “in trouble” allegedly; after this, I’m not surprised (zebedee)
- I despise power ballads as well. I’m surprised Celine didn’t try and get her claws into this one and the attraction of Brian McFadden totally escapes me. (asta)
- The four above songs are all at least okay and have all some merit but this is entirely pointless. Boo hiss to the Noughties. (Gert)
- I had to stop the medley before being subjected to Formerly Fat-Faced Brian. (Will)
- I’m not even going to type it. My ears are currently spitting, and making dire threats about my audio ability. If they were Iraqi prisoners, you, sir, would now be at a court martial… (Lyle)
- Yuck. (KoenS)
- Sludge. (Tom)
Decade scores so far (after 5 days).
1 (2) The 2000s (18) — You have been my life! And I never planned growing old without you!
2= (1) The 1980s (16) — All I know is that to me, you look like you’re lots of fun!
2= (2) The 1970s (16) — I’ve only got myself to blame! I played a losing game!
4 (4) The 1990s (14) — So take this tag! Tear it off your wrap! ‘Cause the gift that I got ain’t goin’ back!
5 (5) The 1960s (11) — Love your daddy with all your might!