Earlier on today, controversy poked its ugly head into my dinky little fluffball of a project, as it was revealed that Beenie Man (yesterday’s 2004 entrant) is a rampant homophobe, who has recorded a song (Bad Man Chi Chi Man) with vicious – nay, murderous – anti-gay lyrics. But does this make Dude a worse record? Should we all be amending our votes to mark it fifth? And what does his fragrant sidekick Ms. Thing make of it all?
While we wrestle with our consciences, let’s all do it to the soundtrack of today’s sparkling array of contestants. Let’s hear it for the Number Nines!
1974: I Get A Little Sentimental Over You – New Seekers.
1984: Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell.
1994: I Like To Move It – Reel 2 Real featuring The Mad Stuntman.
2004: Amazing – George Michael.
Listen to a short medley (about a minute each) of all five songs.
In terms of the history and development of pop, Jim Reeves is a name which has slipped off most people’s radar altogether. Apart from the appearance of the occasional K-Tel 40 Golden Greats compilation in the album charts of the 1970s or 1980s, and an early 1970s BBC Nationwide film about an obsessive fan who had converted her flat into a Reeves shrine, curtains permanently drawn, never stepping outside the front door, and relying on her neighbours to fetch her groceries, he is someone whom I have always tuned out. Indeed, I Love You Because, a hit for Reeves just four months before his fatal plane crash, is the first record of his which I have ever knowingly listened to. And OK, so it’s hokey, sentimental and a heavily diluted take on Hank Williams – but nevertheless, there’s something which draws me in. I think it’s the song’s deeply reassuring quality; the aural equivalent of being wrapped in warm, freshly laundered, fluffy white bath towels. Reeves’ voice is so honeyed, so velvet smooth, that I begin to understand what it was that prompted so much posthumous adulation.
By the time that the equally hokey – and consciously “old-fashioned” sounding – I Get A Little Sentimental Over You hit the charts, Eve Graham & Lyn Paul had announced their departure from the New Seekers, who were midway through a marathon farewell tour prior to splitting up in May. As such, this was their final hit until a new line-up enjoyed rather more modest success two years later. It sounds a little bit valedictory, as it liltingly sways along in its cosy saloon bar sing-song style. It’s not much cop though, is it?
However, my real derision is reserved for so-called “mystery artist” Rockwell, enjoying his only real hit, assisted by Michael Jackson on what passes for the song’s chorus. In reality, Rockwell was the son of Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown records – which explains a) how this crock of poo got recorded/promoted in the first place and b) how a genuine talent like Jackson came to lend his name to it. (Bear in mind that in early 1984, Jackson was at the height of his Thriller-era mega-popularity; he would have had a hit with anything, even his shopping list.) Jobs for the boys, in other words. Oh, just listen to that ghastly, boggle-eyed, faux-spooky “comedy” rap and that weedy, wafer-thin backing. Unforgiveable.
I’m really making K suffer this week. Even ten years on, I can remember his near-violent reaction to Reel 2 Real‘s (admittedly total kack) appearance on Top Of The Pops, with The Mad Stuntman tunelessly growling his way through the track. It was one of his defining “this is the end of the line for all decent pop music” moments. As for me, I never cared much for I Like To Move It either… except that, as with yesterday’s Needles & Pins, it actually turned out to be quite prescient. There’s a line that can be drawn between this song and such gems as Basement Jaxx’s Jump & Shout, and on through to today’s dancehall/house crossovers. Viewed retrospectively, I find myself rather fond of it. Maybe that’s because, when all is said and done, I too like to move it, move it.
Which leaves us with dependable old George Michael, sounding for all the world like the eight years since his last album had never happened, with a song that basically comes across as a slightly re-jigged version of Fast Love. And what, pray, is wrong with that? I’m a sucker for this kind of smooth wine-bar funk, and George does it so well, so “classily”, with not the slightest nod to contemporary musical fashions.
My votes: 1 – George Michael. 2 – Jim Reeves. 3 – Reel 2 Real. 4 – New Seekers. 5 – Rockwell.
Over to you. The 1960s and 1980s both got off to a strong start yesterday, with the last two decades trailing badly behind. Will George and the Stuntman even things up, or will the dulcet tones of Gentle Jim send the Sixties soaring? Oh, I could drivel on like this all evening! Please leave your votes in the comment box.
Incidentally, it’s not too late to vote for yesterday’s selections either – voting will stay open for all ten groups of singles until the end of the project.