Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? – Year 6 – the Number 6s.

Well now, here are a couple of Fun Facts that I didn’t know this time two days ago – and they both concern your new favourite and mine, H “two” O ft. Platnum’s “opinion-dividing” What’s It Gonna Be.

Firstly: in common with its 1968 rival Pictures Of Matchstick Men, What’s It Gonna Be was created in a toilet. Secondly: the toilet in question was right here in Nottingham, inside the Golden Fleece pub on Mansfield Road. (Read the full story here.) Yes, folks: a fully fledged Youth Culture Explosion has been taking place right under my nose, not half a mile from where I’m currently sitting, and I never knew about it until today. And I call myself a local music journalist? It Is Just Pathetic.

Anyhow, this means that What’s It Gonna Be stands a good chance of becoming Nottingham’s fourth ever Number One, after Paper Lace (Billy Don’t Be A Hero), KWS (Please Don’t Go) and Bob The Builder (Can We Fix It?) Or even the fifth, depending upon the importance that you place upon DJ Vimto’s contribution to Fragma featuring Coco’s immortal Toca’s Miracle. Who said that we don’t have a music scene to be proud of?

With that little flash of municipal pride duly dispatched, let us examine today’s Number Sixes.

1968: Am I That Easy To Forget – Engelbert Humperdinck. (video)
1978: Wishing On A Star – Rose Royce. (video)
1988: When Will I Be Famous – Bros. (video)
1998: Angels – Robbie Williams. (video)
2008: Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna. (video)
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.

wd08-06-68Oh dear, didn’t we have our fill of Engelbert “The Hump” Humperdinck this time last year? Then as now, this comes as a salutary reminder that the mid-to-late 1960s weren’t all about tinpot psychedelia, day-glo rainbows, granny glasses, foofy cravats, tie-dyes and bell-bottoms. Representing the interests of the age group of which I now find myself a part, The Hump could always be relied upon to remind us of The Way Things Were Supposed To Be Done, Before Those Pesky Kids Spoiled Everything: you know, proper music played by proper musicians, with lyrics that were actually about something, rather than all this juvenile matchsticks-and-fire-brigades nonsense. (In which case, perhaps every generation has its Humperdincks.)

None of which would particularly trouble me (for I quite like a good inter-generational ding-dong, when the sides are well matched), if only The Hump’s records were actually any damned good. But, no. Backed by the sort of string arrangement which forever puts me in mind of Care Homes and Chapels of Rest, Hump delivers a technically assured but not altogether convincing performance, with a certain smarminess at its core that smothers a good deal of the potential emotional effect – assuming that a dreary workaday ballad such as this could have such an effect in the first place, of course. None of this is helped by the syrupy and superfluous Mike Sammes-style backing singers, whose presence threatens to turn Hump’s lovelorn lament into a cosy saloon bar sing-song.

wd08-06-78In striking contrast to Hump’s inert self-pity, Rose Royce‘s similarly lovelorn Gwen Dickey is far from ready to accept defeat. Wishing On A Star she may be – but as long as there’s a glimmer of hope, she’s going to keep praying and pleading.

In certain respects, Wishing On A Star serves as the blueprint for Rose Royce’s masterpiece: Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, which hit the charts just over six months later. There’s a distinct similarity in the arrangements – and particularly with those swooning, soaring, shimmering, shivering strings, whose presence lifts both recordings into another almost unworldly dimension. For there’s true magic to be found here, despite this being the weaker of the two songs, as well as the sort of exquisite musicianly polish that can’t help but leave you wondering whether popular music really has slid steadily downhill ever since…

wd08-06-88…at which point, the blaring crash-bang-wallop of Bros is perhaps the last thing you might want to hear right now. But then, it’s worth bearing in mind that When Will I Be Famous is also the sound of pop music dropping down a generation, as it is historically wont to do at the end of each decade – and such drops have always jarred with the sensibilities of those who had spent the previous few years “maturing” with their pop music, secure in the false hope that pop music would continue to keep pace with them. We had it when bubblegum trampled over the ground that psychedelia had laid; when punk ripped up the cherished rule book of Dinosaur Rock; when the Spice Girls, UK garage and nu-R&B killed Britpop, diva house and “classic” soul; and with a bit of luck and a fair wind, we might be seeing faint signs of it again right now.

A dumbing down? A return to Square One? A case of Have We Learnt Nothing? No, not a bit of it. Pop music has to be cyclical, it has to be rooted in an endless present, and certain key divisions of it have to address the concern of an eternally adolescent age group. However, this doesn’t mean that that the rest of us necessarily have to dismiss it as witless trash. We were all there ourselves at some point or other, defending our own Square Ones as if they were the beginning of time itself.

Yes Mike, but does this make When Will I Be Famous any good? Well, strangely enough, I’d venture that the years have been quite kind. Aged 26 at the time it charted, perhaps I in turn was generationally obliged to loathe Bros – or to see through their blatant artifice, at the very least. But as brash, solipsistic teen-pop goes, this ain’t too shabby. Someone with a central involvement in its construction has clearly been listening to their Heaven 17 and their Scritti Politti, and if you listen closely enough then you might detect a certain wryness at work, which rather subverts the thrusting Thatcherite triumphalism of those buzzcut bimbos up front.

wd08-06-98Then again: for every bunch of fresh-faced ingenues, there must always be a counter-balancing set of somewhat over-ripe idols, their three or four years in the sun drawing to a natural close, who are facing that crucial adapt-or-die crossroads. The thick ones, the cutie-pie chancers who merely got lucky (and please don’t look back up the page, you’ll only embarrass them): they’ll drop off our radars without us even noticing. Some will move into light entertainment in its wider sense; and others will try to pull off that riskiest of tricks, the “growing with our audience” manoeuvre.

So it was for Robbie Williams: dismissed as “the fat dancer from Take That” by his would-be role model Noel Gallagher, and floundering to such a degree that he had been reduced to playing venues the size of Nottingham Rock City on his Autumn 1997 solo tour. The debut solo album had stiffed, and the third single hadn’t even gone Top Ten. Angels was the only card that Williams had left to play: a final fourth single from the album, whose atypical trad-balladry took him far away from the sort of laddish latter-day Britpop that he had been attempting to peddle.

The turning point came one Friday in December 1997, with an appearance on Chris Evans’ TFI Friday. His live interview completed, a nervous, vulnerable – hell, almost humble looking Williams semi-apologetically squeezed through the crowd, made his way to the stage downstairs… and gave the best performance of his solo career to date, by a country mile. In a stroke, he had granted us the opportunity to exert one of our favourite powers: the power of redemption.

“Ah bless, Robbie’s not so bad after all! Let’s give him another chance!” We duly clasped the overtly sentimental Angels to our seasonally sentimental bosoms (perhaps those sleigh-bells at the start of the song were exerting a subliminal effect?), turned the former fat dancer into the biggest star of his generation (well, in the UK at least; we couldn’t work miracles), and appointed Angels as our new national anthem.

Ten years on, and while Williams looks to be a washed-up spent force, his public’s patience having run out at around the time of the scrappily indulgent, are-you-taking-the-piss-or-what Rudebox album, his formerly beached boy-band compatriots have spent the past eighteen months surfing their own wave of ah-bless-it’s-good-to-have-them-back public redemption, with the admittedly sublime Patience having taken the place of the over-played and ultimately tiresome Angels (one funeral too many, perchance?) in our affections.

(And I am uncomfortably conscious of using that most irritating of devices, the first person plural, in order to make my point. “When DID we all fall out of love with Robbie?” “Why HAVE we all fallen back in love with Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason?” “What IS this, Troubled Diva or G2?“)

wd08-06-08Despite the corner-cutting laziness of her recent Nottingham Arena show (under an hour and a quarter on stage including costume changes; songs dropped from the set list because it’s the last night and it’s only Nottingham, so who even cares), I am still just about prepared to acknowledge (and gosh, she’ll be so glad to hear it!) Rihanna‘s current pre-eminence as one of our brightest, boldest and best pop stars. Don’t Stop The Music (another fourth-single-off-the-album, like Angels before it) was perhaps THE key unifying moment of that live show, even more so than her run of fine, astute ballads (and definitely more so than Umbrella, which chugged on for ten long minutes as the cast and crew indulged in end-of-term foam fights with each other, almost oblivious to the 10,000-strong crowd in front of them).

Now in its third month on the chart – and still inside the Top Ten at that – this is a track which seems to accumulate power as time goes on, and repeated plays during the past few days have only served to reinforce its greatness. Just as Althea and Donna may never have heard the 1967 Alton Ellis single which set off the chain of events leading to Uptown Top Ranking, so it is entirely possible that the 20-year old Rihanna has never even heard of Manu Dibango, the veteran African saxophonist whose 1972 single Soul Makossa provides Don’t Stop The Music with its central motif (via a circuitous route which takes in Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Starting Something, Jay-Z’s Face Off, Jennifer Lopez’s Feelin’ So Good – and hell, even Thursday’s Will Smith track quotes from it).

Well, at least not until Dibango filed a law suit against Rihanna in December for unauthorised usage, but that’s beside the point for the purposes of this argument. What I’m trying to say is that there’s something rather wonderful about these chains of mutation: quoting and re-quoting and re-re-quoting, like a game of Chinese Whispers, such that the end product isn’t even aware of the original source. And most importantly of all – and it has this in common with the H “two” O track – Don’t Stop The Music remains thrillingly, propulsively, intoxicatingly modern and of the moment.

For a wrinkly old bifter like me, caught at a vulnerable enough moment (as happened during the walk to work yesterday morning, and again during the walk home that evening), it can even represent a kind of prayer for the future: a re-statement of faith, that the gloriously daft and conflicted medium of pop music, which has obsessed me for almost all of my life, can still, and hopefully always will, have the power to delight, to surprise, to challenge, to excite, and to make me feel that life is worth living. All together now! MAMMA SEH MAMMA SAH MA MAKOOSA, MAMMA SEH MAMMA SAH MA MAKOOSA, PLEASE DON’T STOP THE, PLEASE DON’T STOP THE, PLEASE DON’T STOP THE MUSIC!

My votes: Rihanna: – 5 points (but sort things out with Manu Dibango, you thieving little bitch). Rose Royce – 4 points (the most musically proficient by far, but I’m voting for the future this time, as perhaps I should have done with H “two” O on Thursday). Robbie Williams – 3 points. Bros – 2 points. Engelbert Humperdinck – 1 point.

Over to you. Sheesh, I’ve rambled on for so long that I’ve ended up missing a day. Future posts will probably be shorter than this one, but I had a lot to say. And in any case, you always skim-read this bit and head straight to the comments box, don’t you? Oh, don’t attempt to hide it! Well, let me detain you no further. It’s down there. Off you trot…

Running totals so far – Number 6s.

1978: Wishing On A Star – Rose Royce (156)

Absolute genius song. If the World Trade Centre was still about, this song would be on top of it, weeing down on the other four. (Nottingham’sMr Sex‘)

This was THE slow dance song when we were in grade school, well this and Stairway to Heaven – but no one could ever figure out what to do when things broke loose about 3/4 of the way through the track. Keep clinging to your partner or break apart and do more of the white people dance. I remember hearing it for weeks on end on Kasey Kasem’s Top 40 on Saturday mornings when I would be forced to clean my room before being let outside. (jo)

Lovely gooey Norman “Roger” Whitfield production and Gwen Dickey vocals. (betty)

There’s a word for this, and the word is “Sumptuous”. (Erithian)

Well, you can see what they’re aiming at with the big Motown strings. Well arranged, and I like the counterpoint wah-wah pedal, and Dickey’s tremulosity just about wins through. (Simon)

A gorgeous lush voice that would place much higher in previous groups. (asta)

Gorgeous, but disconcerting. The syrupy sound of an obsessive? This is possibly the hopelessly optimistic precursor to the distraught husk of the following year’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore. She got her man. And then he left her. Because she was a psycho. It’s a lesson to us all. (imsodave)

I first heard this as the 80s cover by Fresh 4 feat. Lizz E, but the original is even better. (Adrian)

Ooh, I like this. It’s a rather lovely, wistful and yet hopeful lament. Sadly, my liking of this song is rather ruined by the knowledge that Paul Weller has covered it….hideously. (SwissToni)

4 points. The reason for that “nearly” qualification; the disorientated strings from “Just My Imagination” (both Whitfield and Riser still on duty) turning in on themselves to face the opposite end of a less luscious decade than they might have expected. Note also the Sisyphus performance of Gwen Dickey; every time she threatens to go over the top and explode, Whitfield’s finger rolls her back down to the bottom, especially in the extended fadeout. Still a dry run for the superior “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” however. (Marcello Carlin)

Kind of hypnotic. Can be annoying, depending what mood one is in. A reasonably good example of the late 70s liking for tunes, words that mean something however obscurantist. An all-round good song, but I could happily live without it. (Gert)

I’m sure at the time I’d have thought this annoying pap but it seems to have something after all. Timeless in its own way. (NiC)

This is more a kind of coda to the great years of soul and Tamla Motown, it’s decent enough but heavily overshadowed by what went before. (Alan)

Wonderful voice, dreary song. (Z)

2008: Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna (127)

It’s just so bloody good. Roots stretching wide and far through pop history, firmly planted in the moment, reaching far into the future. Commence accumulation of Rihanna songs (I have been blind and a fool to dismiss her as just some other contemporary nonsense…) (Simon C)

5 points, because it’s her time (did the Klaxons even need to bother turning up last Wednesday?) and she drives whereas nearly everyone else in this list is still arguing about parking spaces. (Marcello Carlin)

I remember seeing her being interviewed on Much Music (Canadian MTV equivalent)shortly after Pon de Replay took off. She was just a girl from Barbados with looks and a catchy tune. Now she’s sleek, slick, and cold as polished granite. She records to her strengths. Don’t Stop the Music works. (asta)

Like H two O, a staple of MTV Dance at the moment. I like Rihanna very much and will buy her greatest hits when it comes out. (Geoff)

There’s an automaton quality about her appearance/voice which I love. (betty)

Powerfully effective pop. She sells her own Rihanna branded umbrellas, you know. Of course she does. (SwissToni)

The bottom three aren’t particularly strong today, but this has more life to it than the others. Still, it’s a bit monotonous, from the woman who brought us the most overrated single of 2007. (Scrub that – I was forgetting “Bleeding Awful” or whatever it was called.) (Erithian)

Seems to be the logical extension to the mash-up movement, I guess. Mindlessly fun, and relentlessly danceable, yet it leaves me cold. Will almost certainly be forgotten in comparison to her other future classics. Good samples though. (imsodave)

You get the feeling that Rihanna could one day produce a stone cold production-led pop classic for the ages, but it’s not happened yet (Umbrella reeks too much of a Top Of The Pops album studio band trying to be Linkin Park). This is her singing over a Janet Jackson record being played by the flat below. (Simon)

Now here’s why I should probably not take part in these things. I listen to so little chart music these days that, 3 months or no, I’d never heard this before. Furthermore, and you’re really going to roll your eyes here, although I keep hearing about this umbrella song, I’ve never heard that either. Anyway, taking this purely on what it is, I’m not a fan of modern R’n’B, but as far as it goes it could be a lot worse. Have to say I was finding it a bit monotonous by half way through though. (Alan)

Fine for the first minute or two, and then it grated more and more. It was too relentlessly thumpy for me. (Z)

I would like it a lot more without the retro-HI NRG computer beat. That would make it a decent-ish song. But IMO if you’re going retro you have to do it better, not be a low-rent imitation. (Gert)

Had the misfortune to hear the new Akon/MJ duet of Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ this afternoon. This tune instantly dropped a couple of places by association. (Sarah)

1998: Angels – Robbie Williams (127)

Do I have to apologise for really liking this? It is a great song. I could get all pointy-headed and deconstruct it, but being a great song, it transcends deconstruction. Yeah, lots of really uncool people like it, but maybe that’s because it’s a great song. (Gert)

A bit hackneyed from too many plays it may be, but it’s no accident that it became an alternative national anthem, it’s a terrific record. But you could win pub quizzes on the fact that it wasn’t the highest-charting single from the album – “Old Before I Die” was number 2 the week New Labour came to power. (Erithian)

North America never got caught up the mutual love/hate relationship between Robbie and the audience. I’d be lucky to find a dozen people on the street who even know who Robbie Williams is. It wouldn’t occur to anyone around here to play Angel at a funeral. It wasn’t played relentlessly for months on end on the radio. All that to say, stripped of the baggage, Angel is a big soppy power pop ballad of the first order. (asta)

Rarely heard on the radio now, but still massively overplayed on the many music channels on TV, yet despite EVERYTHING it remains a classic of its type. I always assumed the turning point was the Glastonbury performance where both crowd and performer suddenly realised that they weren’t alone in thinking that he might actually be ok. Of course, someone had to then go and take things a little too far, but… (imsodave)

The one British male pop star I’ll go out of my way to defend almost to the death is, coincidentally, Robbie. I thought Rudebox was by turns hilarious and genius, and I’m crossing my fingers its alleged “flop” status doesn’t send him scurrying back into the MOR hell he was stuck in previously. As for “Angels”, well it’s low down on my list of favourite Williams singles, but I still get a lump in my throat when TV or radio broadcasts that Glastonbury performance. (jeff w)

There is just something about Robbie, I like him – I really couldn’t tell you why if pressed further, but he has something. (jo)

5 points. I hate Robbie Williams but I’m being objective… (Dymbel)

5 Points – Oh I hate myself! He may be an irritating little twunt with the most punchable face in the music industry, but when he got it right, he really got it right, and he never got it so right as on this song. (Alan)

I’m not really a fan, but it’s kind of hard not to have had this sort of seep under my skin over the years. There’s a kind of underdog, vulnerable puppy-dog charm to our Robbie, and it’s perfectly captured on this record. Women have been aware of this charm for years, of course, and have fallen for him in their droves….but just because he’s straight and I’m straight doesn’t mean that I won’t acknowledge its power either. (SwissToni)

A karaoke classic, but with far too large a range for me (or almost anyone else) to do it justice. Doesn’t stop many drunk blokes from trying… (Adrian)

I’ve heard it too many times but it’s good to sing to when you’ve had a few too many. (Rebecca)

I was never a fan, and I think we (oh damn, I’m doing it too) need more time to forget just how tired we became of this, but I think it’s holding up pretty well. (Z)

This one still shines for me despite its ubiquity. Though somehow it seems dimmer this time. Hmmm, maybe it’s fading for me too at last. (NiC)

The sort of song loved by young mums who only liked one Oasis song, Wonderwall. I have to admit that I prefer this to Wonderwall, but then I don’t have to listen to Heart FM or Magic all day, where I assume both are played to death. (betty)

Truth be told, I was all for Life Thru A Lens at the time, even things like South Of The Border which he now says was his creative lowpoint and from this distance sounds like an attempt to be a Costcutter Northern Uproar. This, however, was never really anything but an attempt to show that just because he wasn’t in a boy band any more couldn’t mean he couldn’t do great big lighter waving ballad anthemry. And only reached number 4, lest we forget. (Simon)

I’m basically on Robbie’s side, albeit with reservations. There’s something of the Magnificent Failure about Rudebox, which I can see eventually obtaining cult status, and as a live performer he is almost without parallel: it takes a lot to create “atmosphere” within the Birmingham NEC, but his sheer love of being on stage came across loud and clear, leaving me feeling at the time that he was our natural successor to Freddie Mercury (as reinforced by Brian May and Roger Taylor’s presence at the same show). But yes, it’s those lapses into MOR balladry which put me off most of all… (mike)

Problematic in a sub-“All Of My Heart” This Is Me sense, such that he verges more towards Freddie Starr than Martin Fry. Too much growling and indecision to make the song anything like the hymn intended, too many bad rhymes and schemata without Trevor Horn or Anne Dudley to cover for them. “I’m loving angels instead.” And I respond with the same question I’ve been asking for the past decade – instead of WHAT? (Marcello Carlin)

I’ve disliked it ever since I first heard it, and its appropriation by drunken karaoke singers and warbly auditionees on reality TV shows hasn’t helped. (Will)

Des O’Connor with tats. The other one who capitalised on Lady Di snuffing it. Horrible, mawkish bum-vomit. Fact: Every train-wreck of a relationship you see on Jeremy Kyle started with the male singing this to the female on Karaoke night. And if any of my friends have this as their funeral song, I am going to rip the coffin lid off and cling on to them as they go up the conveyor belt, getting in as many punches to their faces as possible. (Nottingham’sMr Sex‘)

I once saw Robbie in Trafalgar Square. He was much taller than I’d imagined. Has he ever sung this live at a funeral? (Geoff)

1988: When Will I Be Famous – Bros (95)

5 points. I was too old for this back in 1988. Now, I’m not. (Z)

Maybe I was too young, maybe they were never big in Sweden. Either way, without any frame of reference, I have to say I like the song, quite a lot in fact. (Simon C)

They were nicely torpedoed by French and Saunders, various lines in “Only Fools and Horses” and their own interview in Q – but it has some merit. (God, how condescending does that sound – like Frasier Crane discovering karaoke.) (Erithian)

I remember, at some point in the late eighties, this Bros track playing loudly as I trepidly completed circuit after slow circuit of the local roller disco while the older boys did tricks on their skates. The song itself is surprisingly OK in hindsight. (Will)

Fond memories of this song (and what easy targets Bros were for p*ss-taking) – though it doesn’t wear all that well with time. (Sarah)

Hmm, I was just too old to buy the Bros hype. Listening to it now, the over-production, late 80s artifical glam is really quite sickmaking. But the chorus is catchy and iconic, and with the wisdom of being a forty-something in today’s celebrity culture, it has a delicious irony to it. (Gert)

I guess I was one of those puzzled by the next generation suddenly elevating Bros to Next Big Thing status. But as you say, the acid test is: how does it sound now? And whereas the Debbie Gibson song leaped out at me the other day as obviously great, Bros… don’t. Then again, I do have previous as preferring female teenpop over male… (jeff w)

Have I really wasted 20 years of my life hating this record? Listening to it now, it all seems so…so… innocuous. How could I have expended so much passion loathing something that is ultimately this harmless? (SwissToni)

I agree it’s not as bad as I remember, but it’s still pretty bad. And remember, this may have been what all the “cool kids” were listening to, but at the time the “really cool kids” were listening to the Pixies and the Violent Femmes instead. (Alan)

When everybody is using the same synths with the same beats it’s very hard to tell one group from another. (asta)

The look and sound of clattering metal. Hatred possibly coloured by the fact that just when I became interested in girls, the girls became interested in this bag of toss. (imsodave)

Joyless Hitler Youth Teenybopper nothingness, who should have stuck with their original band name, Caviar (Caviar!) 1988 seems to be the year where it all started to go horribly wrong for Pop, doesn’t it? Somebody please make Tom Watkins write his memoirs, though, they’d be absolutely hilarious. And put him on the X Factor. (Nottingham’sMr Sex‘)

Cupid & Psyche ’85 without the Baudrillard and Adorno and therefore without much point (I cringe at the Oliver!-type moment just before the last chorus). So you want to be famous? So what? (Marcello Carlin)

Was the idea of calling your song When Will I Be Famous? all postmodern and ironic in 1988? I seem to remember that they brought out I Quit just before they split as well. Perhaps they should re-form and bring out a single called A Paternity Suit And A New Conservatory To Pay For. (betty)

My mate – who had just started working for the Daily Star at the time – was mistaken for a Bros by a Mirror writer at a press launch, and even gave him an interview, which was splattered all over the paper the next day. That morning, he walked into the office to a standing ovation, as if he was both Woodward and Bernstein. (Nottingham’sMr Sex‘)

1968: Am I That Easy To Forget – Engelbert Humperdinck (65)

Like Tom Jones and Glen Campbell I have a strange affection for this period/style of music. Hearing it reminds me of hearing my mom wandering about the house singing along and it remains a happy memory. Rose coloured glasses and all. (jo)

Engelbert is one my mum’s favourites and I can still smell the Bush radiogram and blue Decca labels of my youth so I’m not going to say anything against him in this context. A fairly makeshift song, however, too flimsy to get him a fourth consecutive number one (if only Decca/Gordon Mills had gone with “Quando Quando Quando” as an A-side)… (Marcello Carlin)

I couldn’t stand him back in the 60s and I’m rather relieved to find I’m not mumsy enough yet for him now. Horrible overblown backing and too much false emotionalism. Actually, given a different, edgier treatment, I think I could like the song. (Z)

Am I riding on horseback through the countryside? (Rebecca)

This doesn’t really get going. You’re letting the 60s down, my son. (Geoff)

Oh 60s, 60s, 60s it was going so well. (Stereoboard)

My parents ran his local pub (when he’s in Britain) for a week in the early 90s. He wasn’t in at the time. In my head everything he’s ever done sounds like this – drowning in syrupy arrangements and an ironed-over smooth, well within himself delivery with one eye already on the Las Vegas club. (Simon)

The opening strings and crooning set me off badly. Then he comes in and it’s even worse. Here’s a guy who thinks he can sings but plays it safe and croons, then he fails to hit a high note. Surely on a studio recording the trick is to try and try again until it’s hit. Or record the high notes first and splice them in. (Gert)

It’s the moment where the cooing backing singers swoon in and the cloying strings begin to smother the dreadfully emotionless vocal that any chance of not wanting to forget The Hump is lost. This was the real sound of the sixties, I suspect. (imsodave)

The oily creepy ‘uncle’ who seemed far too interested in hearing about your high school gym classes at your parents’ dinner parties. (asta)

1 point. Although, objectively speaking, his hairstyle was a mainstay in those posters you used to get in the windows of provincial barbers until about 1980, so perhaps that’s where his strength lay. (betty)

Good heavens. Loving that orchestration and ‘aahh-aahh-ahhh’ stuff, but then old Hump comes along and ruins it with his sentimental old clap-trap. Are you that easy to forget? If only Hump, if only…. (SwissToni)

1 Point: Engeldink Humperbum. No, with a name like that you’re not easy to forget, but the song is. (Alan)

Decade scores so far (after 4 days).
1 (1) The 1960s (17)
2 (1) The 1970s (16)
3= (4) The 1990s (12)
3= (3) The 2000s (12)
5 (5) The 1980s (5)

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