At this early juncture, I should explain something about the thorny matter of re-releases. In past years, I have sometimes included them (Elvis Presley’s “Wooden Heart”), and sometimes excluded them (Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round”). This year, I’m definitely excluding them – and here’s my reasoning.
The objective of this little stunt is to compare the music that was actually made in each decade. Therefore, older records which happened to find popularity in a different decade – most usually because of successful marketing – would only skew the sample. Exceptions can be made for remixes which noticeably change the original, and for re-releases that still belong to the same decade.
This year, three singles fall foul of the re-release rule: Elvis Presley’s “Suspicion” (a 1962 recording which hit the charts in 1977), and two hits from 1987: Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”, which were both used in massively popular (and deliciously homo-erotic) TV advertisments for Levi’s Jeans. To fill the gaps, I’ve added Number 11 and Number 12 hits to the bottom of the lists, and shuffled everything up accordingly.
Now that we’re all singing from the same revisionist hymn sheet, let’s crack on with the Number Nines.
1977: Daddy Cool – Boney M. (video)
1987: The Music Of The Night – Michael Crawford. (video)
1997: Remember Me – Blue Boy. (video)
2007: I Wanna Love You – Akon featuring Snoop Dogg. (video)
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.
Ah, but didn’t The Artist Subsequently Known As Yusuf Islam have some great moments, before he went all soppy and sappy in the early 1970s? Boasting some terrific orchestration, “Matthew And Son” is a fine piece of slightly Kinks-esque social observation, which bemoans the plight of the Oppressed Worker and delivers a sophisticated pop take on the emergent genre of the “protest” song.
From deep and meaningful to shallow and meaningless, but in the best possible way: Boney M were rarely less than preposterous, and rarely more fun than on this, their debut hit. So good that they based a musical around it, “Daddy Cool” is production-line German disco from that eternal pop tart, Frank Farian (of whom more in a few days’ time) – and as such, it sits at the opposite end of the spectrum from Giorgio Moroder’s increasingly ground-breaking work with Donna Summer. “Daddy Cool” may be no “I Feel Love” – but at eight out of ten wedding discos, it’s the one which is more likely to get me wiggling my pin-striped booty with the bridesmaids.
Ooh Betty, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s done a whoopsie all over the Top Ten! From the musical Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford buries the memory of Frank Spencer with… with…
…no, sorry. We all have our blind spots, and this brand of over-egged, pseudo-operatic Musical Theatre is one of mine. Please don’t make me think about it any more than I have already had to.
Featuring vocal samples from Marlena Shaw’s superb “Woman of the Ghetto”, Blue Boy‘s “Remember Me” was one of those crossover club hits that just about everybody loved at the time. Perhaps it got a little over-played, and perhaps it needs laying aside for a few more years before we can all start loving it anew – for such is the fate of the “used groove” – but you can’t argue with class like this, can you?
I’ve tried to do my best by Akon & Snoop Dogg, even beefing their track up with a running beat-mix from “Remember Me”, but I can already hear the howls of outrage building up in my embryonic comments box. Although bearing the DJ-friendly title “I Wanna Love You”, the word “love” is mysteriously absent from the track itself – and there are no prizes for guessing which four-letter word takes its place, either.
A couple of years ago, I penned a fairly detailed defence of the use of the f-word in Eamon’s huge hit, “F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back)” – and I’d stand by that defence today. With Akon & Snoop’s “I Wanna F**k You” – a straightforward ode of dribbling lust towards a pole dancer – the issues are somewhat different. There’s no subtlety here. No subversion of the apparent meaning. Not even any redeeming wit. They want to f**k her. End of.
So in that case, why do I find myself becoming increasingly obsessed with this song, which I must have played half a dozen times in the past 24 hours? Maybe it’s because I’m trying to absorb the shock – because, yes, having a song like this in the Top Ten does shock me. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to work out, from a generational distance of at least twenty years if not thirty years, how this song is being consumed by its target audience. Do they find it funny, or horny, or thrillingly transgressive (I’ll bet this is huge with 13-year old boys), or are they even listening that closely in the first place?
Although this country doesn’t boast much in the way of a pole-dancing culture, it’s a safe bet that “I Wanna F**k You” will be blaring out thrice nightly, in every titty-bar from New York to L.A. Well, of course it would, as it handily perpetuates the fantasy that the dancers are gagging for it, and that the punters have some sort of legitmate claim over them.
On the other hand, perhaps people aren’t as dumb as I’m making out. Of course this track perpetuates an erotic fantasy. That’s the whole point. It’s a fantasy – and as such, does its existence necessarily have to be a harmful one?
But then again: is it just me, or isn’t there something bleak, desolate and almost mournful about the atmosphere on this track? Doesn’t it exude some kind of languid, disconnected loneliness, which intensifies with each repeated listen, to the point where the tune becomes perversely enjoyable?
Or maybe I’m over-analysing, and it’s just a pile of lazy, offensive crap (and also Akon’s second consecutive appearance in the 2007 Top 10, but I can’t think of anything remotely interesting to say about that). We shall see, soon enough.
My votes: Cat Stevens – 5 points. Blue Boy – 4 points. Boney M – 3 points. Akon & Snoop Dogg – 2 points. Michael Crawford – 1 point.
Over to you. Votes in the comments box, please. I’m predicting an early lead for the 1960s, but what do I know?
Continue reading “Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? – Year 5 – the Number 9s.”