Tom Ewing

16
Apr 14

OASIS – “All Around The World”

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#781, 24th January 1998

When “All Around The World” came out, it wasn’t yet quite clear that Oasis had peaked. Yes, the album was a folly, but they were still colossal, with no sign they wouldn’t come back stronger next time. This record felt belligerent: the pointless length, the Pepperland video – a band being deliberately, grandly lazy. Think what you like about us, it said, we’re going nowhere.

Which turned out to be true. And with hindsight, I can hear a different, far less triumphant record hidden in this one’s rolls and folds of overdubbed flab. To get to it, though, I have to ask: how on Earth did this thing get so big, anyway? What were they feeding it?

15
Apr 14

PWC14: Group G Finale (USA, Portugal, Ghana, Germany)

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brandy Welcome to the final Group G game! Let’s see how things stand.

USA (managed by The Lex), Portugal (managed by Weej) and Ghana (managed by Jonathan Bogart) all have 4 points, and the barest whisker of percentile difference between them. So it’s a straight knockout – the two sides doing best from those three go through.

Germany (managed by Tak), meanwhile, fell victim to the Group of Death and are on 0 points. They’ll be playing for pride only.

Poll and songs below the cut, and an ADMIN UPDATE for fans of those.

13
Apr 14

PWC14: Group F Finale (Nigeria, Iran, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina

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dubioza Welcome to the final Group F game. Let’s see how things stand.

Pretty straightforwardly, as it happens, since both the earlier results in this group ran exactly the same way. Nigeria (managed by Cis) are through on 6 points, Bosnia-Herzegovina (managed by Scott) are eliminated with zero. Which leaves Iran (Wichita Lineman) in a strong position for the second qualifying place with 4 points, and Argentina (Chris) needing a win here on 2.

Songs and poll below the cut!

ALL SAINTS – “Never Ever”

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#780, 17th January 1998

NeverEver You’re in the car with the radio on and no expectations, and suddenly you hear it: a song that stops everything around it, breaking through the playlist and announcing itself as a hit. More than a hit, a classic, a song you’ll be hearing for the rest of your life. And the feeling when it happens is a kind of classic itself, one of the iconic freeze-frame moments of loving music. As a self-conscious pop fan it’s something I knew was meant to happen, and every time I was listening to the radio a part of me was willing it to.

So when it did happen – when, for instance, I was in my girlfriend’s car at the end of 1997 and I heard a song start with the chords from “Amazing Grace” and a hesitant woman tiptoeing across them, talking out of the radio, asking for help turning fragments back into a life that might make some kind of sense – how much could I believe my reaction? I’d spent the back half of the year getting my own head together, and the glue I’d used was 60s pop and soul. I’d listened – a lot – to Motown, Philly, Spector, girl groups. I was ready for “Never Ever”. I needed it. Right then, I loved it.

10
Apr 14

Popular ’97

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I give every entry a mark out of 10. Here’s your opportunity to tick the ones you’d have given 6 or more to.

My highest score of 1997 turns out to have been a solitary 8, for Hanson’s “MMMBop”. U2 and Elton both got 2s. Use the comments box to talk about the year in general!

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 1997 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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SPICE GIRLS – “Too Much”

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#779, 27th December 1997

toomuch Their three Christmas number ones are as much to do with canny release date bagatelle as with enduring public love, but the Spice Girls still gave the impression of taking special care over their year-end singles. Or maybe they just had a knack for ballads. “Too Much” isn’t their most distinctive record – less lush than “2 Become 1”, less melodramatic than their later big weepies – but after the slapdash clatter of “Spice Up Your Life”, a bit of crafted stability might be no bad thing.

9
Apr 14

PWC14: Group E Finale (France, Honduras, Switzerland, Ecuador)

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borisb Welcome to the Group E finale! Here’s how things stand.

France (managed by Jessica) have qualified with 6 points, and will top the group unless they come last here.

Honduras (managed by Kat) have 3.5 points. They will definitely qualify if they come first or second, and may do even if they don’t.

Switzerland (managed by Mullah Rezmat) have 1.5 points. They need to go for the win here and hope Honduras screw up.

Ecuador (managed by Meghan) have 1 point. They also need to go for the win and hope Honduras screw up.

To the songs and votes!

7
Apr 14

TELETUBBIES – “Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!”

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#778, 13th December 1997

ehoh My main point last entry was that “Perfect Day” saw the BBC applying its gift for pop spectacle to the demands of a more curatorial time. This would become – on broadcast TV particularly – an era of tighter demographics and multiplying niches, and the BBC would respond. BBC3, BBC4, 1Xtra, 6Music, CBBC, and in 2002 CBeebies, its channel for the under-6s, anchored for years by Teletubbies reruns.

In the old TV model, Top Of The Pops and the charts had enjoyed a happy symbiosis. With that show well along its slow decline, the charts were left without a centre. Instead they had new outlets – the supermarkets, and Woolworths, increasingly determined what reached No.1. As James Masterton pointed out in the comments for “Perfect Day”, this meant a dramatic broadening of the singles audience – the number of people visiting Tescos or Asda dwarfed the HMV or Our Price customer base, and included millions of musical impulse buyers. Put a tempting single in front of them and your sales could be colossal.

5
Apr 14

Beamslingers

FT1 comment

I have finally compiled Hazel and my posts about Young Avengers (and matters related) into a series – you should be able to see it there at the side when you open this post.

This post – which I’m writing weeks after Hazel put her final essay up – will end up being the intro to the whole thing. So here’s the intro-ish bit.

4
Apr 14

VARIOUS ARTISTS – “Perfect Day”

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#777, 29th November 1997

PDay Charity covers as multi-artist jigsaw puzzles were a whiskery idea by this point, so it’s remarkable how startling and beguiling “Perfect Day” sounds. It’s a successful reinvention of the Band Aid concept that also more or less finishes it off: the next time I write about this kind of record, it’ll have explicit nostalgic overtones.

There are several things this record gets right. Firstly, it wasn’t a record. The “Perfect Day” collage was a video first – a promotional film for the BBC justifying its license fee – and it had a huge visual impact. Massive stars, enticingly shot, and – crucially – not collaborating. The point of Band Aid and USA For Africa was that the famine crisis had been big enough to bring all of pop together, but the BBC’s aim on “Perfect Day” was to celebrate its diversity, not its unity.