Which Decade is Tops for Pops? (9/10) – 2005 edition.

For the past three rounds, we’ve had clear and easily predictable winners right from the off. Dead Or Alive, Bruce Springsteen, The Righteous Brothers – all of these have established leads of at least 30 points each.

I’m expecting another clear winner today, for a decade which badly needs the points, albeit with a considerably reduced margin. But whoa, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Eyes forward! Chins up! Backs straight! It’s the Number Twos!

1965: I’ll Never Find Another You – The Seekers
1975: January – Pilot
1985: Love And Pride – King
1995: No More I Love Yous – Annie Lennox
2005: Wooden Heart – Elvis Presley
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.

When it comes to The Seekers, whose 1966 hit Morningtown Ride is one of my strongest early musical memories, normal rational judgement fails me. There’s something about those folksy harmonies, that warm tone – at once yearning and reassuring – and Judith Durham’s pure, soaring voice which just gets me; not necessarily because of any particular objective musical merit, but because I am instantly transported back into the security and certainty of early childhood. Is it pap? Is it crap? Is it just too horribly Church Youth Group for words? Let me down gently, readers.

Pilot‘s almost-seasonal January (which didn’t reach Number One until the first week in February) is the second track from the 1975 top ten to feature on Sean Rowley’s delicious compilation CD from last year, Guilty Pleasures Vol. 1 – the other being Helen Reddy’s Angie Baby. However, it’s also one of the very few questionable choices on the album. For once the “ooh, I remember this one!” thrill has faded, all you’re left with is a rather slight, anaemic confection; nicely turned in several respects, but with some shrill, jarring qualities which tend to jar ever more with repeated listens. It also loses points for disobeying Pop Law, by failing to rhyme fire (FYE-yah!) with desire (diz-EYE-yah!).

Aside: Guilty Pleasures Vol. 2 – a double album this time round – is released on March 14. Despite the odd worrying choice (am I truly ready to welcome Foreigner, Exile and Chas & Dave in from the cold?), I am positively slathering with the piquant juices of anticipation (Starland Vocal Band! Clout! England Dan & John Ford Coley! Randy Edelman! Lonely Boy!).

King! The hot new band to watch in 1984! Oops, take two. King! The hot new band to watch in 1985! With a “style press” hype stretching at least as far back as the spring of 1983 (which is when I saw them live at Nottingham’s Asylum Club), some of us were getting a little impatient for King to start delivering on their promise. We knew all about the hairdos and the painted Doc Marten boots; but what about the music?

By February 1985, the tide was just beginning to turn against what the USA were dubbing the “haircut bands”. With Springsteen and U2 in the ascendant, Culture Club and Spandau Ballet in slow decline, and the paradigm shift of Live Aid only a few months away, words like “authenticity” were being banded about with ever-increasing frequency. Suddenly, King looked not fashionably late to the party, but awkwardly, disastrously late, swinging gaily through the doors just as the caterers were starting to pack up the crockery. (By the time that Sigue Sigue Sputnik showed up, a full year later, with a magnificently bad timing which verged on the heroic, the room was all but deserted.)

“Take your hairdryer, blow them all away”, indeed. Grrr! Bitch-slaps at fifty paces! I ask you, what kind of “manifesto” is that?

Now, I’m not normally one to get embarrassed about musical purchases that popular opinion might consider questionable. Five Nolan Sisters singles and proud of it, mate! And two by the Vengaboys! But if there is one item in my collection which makes me shudder with shame every time my eye catches its spine, it is Medusa: the wretched covers “project” which Annie Lennox inflicted upon the world in 1995. And why did I get suckered into buying it? Because of the one decent track on it: this cover of No More I Love Yous, which had flopped for an act called The Lover Speaks in the mid 1980s.

Yes, it’s lovely. We all know that. But oh, Annie – with your fifty squillion Brits awards and your seemingly unassailable position as First “Hey, She’s A Great Lady!” Of British Rock And Pop – you had always steered a precarious course between inspired and naff, but you well and truly jumped the shark with this one, didn’t you? Your career was never the same again, was it? Still, you have your trophy cabinet, and we have our Eurythmics Greatest Hits CDs. Shall we leave it at that?

I can scarcely muster the enthusiasm to comment on the ongoing Elvis Presley singles re-issue programme, which has seen a new Top Three chart entry for “The King” in every week of 2005 to date. Wooden Heart: ghastly kitsch from a neutered giant, or quaint sing-along fun that’s not worth making a fuss about? Don’t ask me; I’m past caring. (Well, almost.) It’s marketing stunts like these which rob the singles charts of their meaning, you know.

(What’s that? They never had any meaning in the first place? Hello, should you even be here?)

My votes: 1 – Annie “Hey, She’s A Great Lady!” Lennox. Because when has Annie ever NOT won anything she’s been nominated for? 2 – The Seekers. 3 – Pilot. 4 – Elvis Presley, who gets an extra point for singing in German. 5 – King.

Over to you. As the first three songs are all within a single BPM of each other, you’ll find that today’s selection is quite the Disco Mix. (I can still do it, you know.) Looking at the decade scores, we find that the 1960s are staging a remarkable comeback: from a poor fifth position, to just two points away from the 1980s. Meanwhile, the 2000s have yet to earn a single first place position in any of the daily rounds. Will Elvis bring it home for the Noughties? Or will Annie Lennox spearhead a late resurgence for the 1990s? There’s only one way to find out!

Running totals so far – Number 2s.

1995: No More I Love Yous – Annie Lennox (134)

  • I am still under her thrall so I must put her first……..obey the eurythmics, obey….. (timothy)
  • Not as good as Love Song for a Vampire but very good nonetheless. And I cannae be expected NOT to put the Scots lassie in pole position! Anyway all that aside just listen to that voice. There is an angel singing in my heart indeed. (Gordon)
  • Sorry. Annie is one of my Goddesses. She could sing me the phone directory whilst John Hannah relieved her on the breaks. It must be my Scottish fetish. (jo)
  • The first band I ever saw live was The Lover Speaks who were supporting Eurythmics at the NEC in December 1986. I think this was their only hit – certainly the only one I remember – and this version succinctly fuses both acts from that night together. (Simon H)
  • Memories of men dressed as ballet-dancing swans on TOTP. Respect. (Chig)
  • Ten years removed from having to constantly endure this song TV and radio, I don’t mind this song at all. Funny how that works. (Barry)
  • I always like her better when she’s making fun of herself, the business or both. Still. Diva or Ditz- she can sahng. (asta)
  • Medusa was indeed a pile of shite, apart from this single. Her subsequent solo album (Bare) was infinitely better, if rather harrowing in places (“the sound of one hand clapping while it’s pulling you apart“, as one of its lyrics memorably put it). (Hg)
  • Did nothing for me then, and nothing’s changed. (KoenS)
  • Have to say I’m surprised at all the votes for la Lennox. She’s an amazing singer who’s done some brilliant stuff, but that track is a dreadful dirge. Still, I’ve never been able to cope with ballads / slow songs. If it hasn’t got a beat, it’s not proper pop music. (Clare)
  • Cobblers, though slick and well-crafted cobblers. The song’s self-consciousness hinders its pop qualities and Annie was obviously bored to tears by this point. (Tom)
  • I wonder if this could be given some welly if you played it at 45? (Alan Connor)
  • Before I listened to this again, I was going to place it in at least the number two slot and maybe even above the divine Judith. Fond memories and all that, And then I heard it again. And then I realised just how teeth-grindingly awful Annie can be when she puts half a mind to it. Swanky screech-owl she is, with her bloody doobedoobedoo-ah-ah. No direction, no power, no point. No Dave Stewart. (Nigel)
  • I detested this track upon its release – time has not mellowed my opinion. (Richard)

1965: I’ll Never Find Another You – The Seekers (117)

  • Nothing too fancy, nothing too clever, and certainly nothing to scare your mum and dad, just another throwaway three-minute love song, transformed into something quite special by one of the truest and surest voices in sixties pop, with tight harmonies and a backing trio good enough to create their very own mini-wall of sound. (Nigel)
  • (1st place) Can’t help you overcome the nostalgia factor, Mike. This was one of my Dad’s favorites. I have absolutely nothing that’s even remotely objective to say about this. (asta)
  • When I heard this for the first time, on your medleyp3, I immediately thought church folk choir…and then I thought of you and K in your Christmas sock portrait, it did make me smile. (timothy)
  • this brings back memories of black and white TV and Judith Durham’s pudgy face (Tina)
  • The tune is strong. The arrangement is pretty. (Alan Connor)
  • This must be another one I know from commercial radio growing up. Was there a band called The New Seekers too? Were they related? Anyway, this is OK in a sub-Mamas and the Papas type way. (Will)
  • Oh dear…. I suppose this song title is what inspired the NEW Seekers hit “You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me”…. I’d not spotted that before. I liked the New Seekers…gawd help me. (NiC)
  • Sounds like harvest festival. Pseudo-religious. [Chig runs a mile.] (Chig)

1985: Love And Pride – King (104)

  • Perhaps it’s a Midlands thing. Although it took this breakthrough in 1985 for the rest of the country to catch up, we had been dancing to this song in the club that we went to illegally when we were still at school the year before. Chimes in Royal Leamington Spa, it was. I left school in May 1984, so it was well before that, which shows you how long the track had been hanging around. King were already local legends, so when I went to Aston Uni, I spent most of my first year evangelising about them. I had their album (on vinyl) and have never, before or since, taped so many copies of an album for other people. Then, in a masterstroke, our student union booked them well in advance, and they were number 2 the week they played. My sister came over for the gig, such was their pulling power. We hung around the student union and crept in and had a chat with Paul King during the afternoon. I took a photo of him that didn’t come out properly, because of a faulty lens on my camera. Boo hoo. The gig was fantastic! I spent the rest of the first year with a huge Love And Pride poster on my campus wall. I bought the second album too. And, here’s the most telling point – for most of my first year at uni, my hair was short at the sides, long at the back, long and spiky on top. I was a fan. After Dead Or Alive, this is my 2nd fave tune of the 50 here. It’s a pop classic and I love it. Here endeth the lesson. (Chig)
  • Easily the best of what is the weakest selection so far. First single my little sister ever bought, as I remember (mine was Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” 3 months earlier). (KoenS)
  • (1st place) only because I now work with the former Princess (of “Say I’m Your #1), and it’s a great trivia question to ask “Name a hit single by King, Queen, Prince and Princess”, and no one EVER gets King. (Joe)
  • today’s trivia, my friend’s brother was in a punk band with Paul King in Coventry in the late 70s, the Reluctant Stereotypes, before he went on to semi-mega stardom with King and then became a VJ on MTV (Paul King that is, not my friend’s now unfortunately late-lamented brother) (Tina)
  • I used to go round to my mate’s house and play records, this was always the one we looked forward to most. He bought the King album and there’s not a lot of people you can say that about. It had a track on it called “I Kissed The Spiky Fridge”. Sounds very K-Tel but not entirely in a bad way. (Tom)
  • I am the proud owner of 2 (two!) singles off his second album. Oh yes. I could have bought New Order’s “The Perfect Kiss” of course, which came out round about the same time. But no, “Taste of your tears” it was. (KoenS)
  • The NME lied to me, and told me this was a great new funk album. Reading their ’80s compilation thing, I now see they called everything a great new funk album. After all this time, though, some of the album tracks still stick in the head. Like “I Kissed The Spikey Fridge”. Which was awful. (Alan Connor)
  • Even though I think 80s music was pretty crap, the nostalgia’s slaying me every time. Odd really, cos I spent the 80s listening to the Beatles, the Who and David Bowie. Or I thought I did. (Clare)
  • Ah, King. I’d forgotten all about him/ them (I never could work out which). Dreadful dirge trying too hard to be… well, I’m really not too sure what it’s trying too hard to be, but, whatever it is, it falls flat on its face. A messy rip-off of half-a-dozen contemporary musical influences. (Nigel)
  • I still have unpleasant flashbacks to a picture of Paul King in Smash Hits with his mega-mullet, red boxing boots, and a flasher mac. Gross! (Simon H)

1975: January – Pilot (101)

  • No, you are not going to ruin it and make me sit down and think about why I like this song so much. I just do, and that’s all there is to it. (Nigel)
  • Decent enough bit of 70s bubblegum. What sort of a name is January anyway? (Tom)
  • ‘January’ was on my K-Tel album of hits of early 1975. Even as an 8 year-old I knew it was a poorly produced cover version. Fond memories though. (Chig)
  • my sister got this on a flexi disc when she had her new school uniform bought for her in Sept 76. The blazer alone cost £104, the flexi-disc was crap, apart from this track (Gert)
  • Not their best even if it’s probably their most well known. I still get hits from people searching for the lyrics to this song…. their best is IMHO “Just a Smile” by the way. (NiC)
  • I thought I was going to enjoy this much much more than I did. (Alan Connor)
  • Under what circumstances would anyone actually choose to listen to this? (djg)

2005: Wooden Heart – Elvis Presley (69)

  • I always think this one was recorded with an enormous smile on his face… it has to be a joke surely. Love it. (NiC)
  • Don’t much like the production, but this is the first tune I thwack out on any instrument when working out that I shan’t be able to play it. (Alan Connor)
  • Pure nostalgia. A cousin who does the full blown Elvis *thing*, head hung in shame, combined with a record my Dad oft played by a local DJ called Woo Woo Ginsberg from the car hop makes this a nostalgic hit for me…albeit NOT the 2005 version. but there you go. (jo)
  • great voice of course but I’m more of your late period Vegas-Elvis sort of girl, “Suspicious Minds” etc (Tina)
  • Brings back memories of my correspondence German teacher from Year 12 singing the German version of this song to me on a cassette – a very bizarre moment. (megan)
  • I am unenthused and confused. I’ll never understand this UK hysteria for the Elvis rereleases. And I”m sure the UK doesn’t understand why some Canadians get their tits in an uproar about The Guess Who not getting invited to perform at the Junos next month in Winnipeg. So it all evens out. (Barry)
  • Not exactly his best ‘werk’. (sic) (Chig)
  • (5th place) I was going to mark this one down from an anti-cynical-marketing-ploy type of standpoint. Then I thought better of it. Then I realised it didn’t matter. (Stereoboard)
  • Should be disqualified really, for not having anything to do with how good the noughties are for pop. One of his worst records too, so no problems putting this last even with what precedes it today. (KoenS)
  • What he says. Wooden. Then. Now. And forever. (Nigel)

Decade scores so far (after 8 days).
1 (2) The 1980s (27) — In you I’ve found a story I want to keep hearing!
2 (3) The 1960s (25) — I still need you there beside me, no matter what I do!
3= (3) The 2000s (23) — Sei mir gut, sei mir gut, sei mir wie du wirkflich sollst!
3= (2) The 1970s (23) — Don’t be cold, don’t be angry to me!
5 (5) The 1990s (22) — No one ever speaks about the monsters!

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