Tom Ewing

11
Jun 14

BOYZONE – “No Matter What”

FT + Popular48 comments • 2,658 views

#798, 15th August 1998

nmw “No Matter What” has an elevated position in Boyzone’s catalogue. It’s their big crossover hit, the one by songwriters of real mass-appeal pedigree – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman – and the only one to have done well in the USA. You might see it as Boyzone asking to be taken seriously, except it fits so well with the stately, windy ballads they were already making: this isn’t a stylistic change so much as a levelling up in songwriting competence. There’s an efficiency to the hook and a solidity to the structure here which you’d expect from two men made swinishly wealthy by their ability to pull out a show-stopping ballad.

10
Jun 14

PWC14 Semi-Final: England v Iran

Pop World Cup 201416 comments • 686 views

foalz هشت سال از صدمه هرگز من خواب – for those of you not fluent in Farsi that is (er, according to Google Translate) “Eight years of hurt never stopped me dreaming”. Yes, Iran – managed by Wichita Lineman – are back in the semi-finals of the Pop World Cup after their 2006 defeat at this stage, but standing in their way is England, managed by Ronald, at this stage for the first time in the PWC era. And whoever wins will have to take on defending champions Nigeria, aiming to make it two in a row after very narrowly beating Chile – who will fight the loser here for third.

SF2: England v Iran - Which track do you pick?

  • ENGLAND: Foals 56%
  • IRAN: Persian Empire ft Rai 44%

Total Voters: 89

Poll closes: 16 Jun 2014 @ 13:00

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We’ll run this game until Monday – songs under the cut and our final farewell to South Korea.

4
Jun 14

PWC14 Semi-Final: Chile v Nigeria

Pop World Cup 201417 comments • 441 views

kalimutsa Four more games to go in this Pop World Cup, and our first semi-final sees lartsaegis’ Chile face off against Cis’ Nigeria. Nigeria got here with a win over Ghana, and as defending champions will be used to the pressure at this level. Chile, meanwhile, enjoyed a narrow victory over Japan and will hope to be peaking at the right time for another giant-killing.

SF1: Chile v Nigeria - Which track do you pick?

  • NIGERIA: Starboy ft LAX & Wizkid 55%
  • CHILE: Kali Mutsa 45%

Total Voters: 49

Poll closes: 9 Jun 2014 @ 21:00

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The match is up until Monday – songs are below the cut, along with a tribute to quarter-finalists Croatia.

3
Jun 14

SPICE GIRLS – “Viva Forever”

Popular47 comments • 2,727 views

#797, 1st August 1998

spiceviva A single overtaken by events, “Viva Forever” found its modest theme – the embers of holiday romance – completely sidelined when it turned out to be the Final Spice Girls Single, meaning the last single by the founding quintet. Suddenly the pressure of attention warped just another enjoyable Spice ballad into a grand valedictory statement. “Viva Forever” still just about bears that weight, though “fleeting, doomed and bittersweet” wasn’t quite the emotional note the band would have picked for a send-off. And sure enough the remaining four members decided to take a second shot at mythologising the Geri Era (and the band), which we’ll get to in time, and means I can take this track at face value.

29
May 14

JAMIROQUAI – “Deeper Underground”

Popular73 comments • 3,050 views

#796, 25th July 1998

jamzilla Another early 90s press darling scores another late 90s number one – except the reaction isn’t “Wow” this time but “what kept you?”. Within a year or two of turning up, Jamiroquai had moved from The Face’s anointed to a bona fide UK best-seller. By 1996, they’d built a solid global audience and were briefly the toast of MTV for “Virtual Insanity”. They were big. But – plenty of airplay notwithstanding – their singles belied their size. That one tremendous video aside, Jamiroquai were a steady presence in pop, never a dominating one.

28
May 14

PWC14 Quarter-Final: Iran v South Korea

Pop World Cup 201419 comments • 467 views

big bang Chile, Nigeria and – as of this afternoon – England are through to the Pop World Cup semi-finals. One more team will join them – Wichita Lineman’s Iran, who thumped Switzerland in the second round, or Iain Mew’s South Korea, who dispatched the USA. There are no underdogs at this level of Pop Football, with Iran a previous semi-finalist and South Korea widely tipped to go all the way. We expect a tight battle between these two sides.

QF4: Iran v South Korea - which do you pick?

  • IRAN: The Waterfront 58%
  • SOUTH KOREA: Big Bang 42%

Total Voters: 55

Poll closes: 2 Jun 2014 @ 15:00

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This match ends on Monday – go below the cut for songs, and a farewell to Ghana.

27
May 14

ANOTHER LEVEL – “Freak Me”

Popular43 comments • 1,835 views

#795, 18th July 1998

alevel It’s no “Boom Boom Boom”, but “Freak Me” is the frankest boyband track on Popular so far – a cover of Silk’s 1993 R&B hit, which gives Dane Bowers and company the opportunity to sound (and look) intensely earnest and moody while pitching to go down on you. (For some value of “you”). It goes as far as it can without needing a radio edit – and at the old school pre-Matthew Bannister Radio 1, “Freak Me” might still have picked up a ban. But behind the corny growling about whipped cream, this is a celebratory sex jam with consent and respect at its centre. “Let me lick you up and down, til you say stop… Let me do all the things you want me to do.”

23
May 14

PWC14 Quarter-Final: Croatia v England

Pop World Cup 201410 comments • 475 views

pipschips Our third quarter-final – and the last two European teams left in the competition. Croatia (managed by intothefireuk) are a team with momentum on their side, sneaking through Group A at the last second and then seeing off the Netherlands in the second round. England (managed by Ronald) find themselves at the treacherous Quarter-Final stage after a solid win over Cote D’Ivoire. The winner here faces either Iran or South Korea in the semis.

QF3: Croatia v England - which do you pick?

  • ENGLAND: Years & Years 74%
  • CROATIA: Pips Chips And Videoclips 26%

Total Voters: 65

Poll closes: 28 May 2014 @ 15:00

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This match runs until Wednesday – songs below the cut, and a farewell to the loser of our first quarter-final…

BILLIE – “Because We Want To”

Popular55 comments • 3,114 views

#794, 11th July 1998

billie because Pop Between Realities, Home In Time For TOTP

I’ve talked about Dr Phil Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum blog before on Tumblr, but I’ve held off mentioning it here until this post, for hopefully obvious reasons. TARDIS Eruditorum is a critical Doctor Who blog which has been running since 2011 and will end this year. Its format – which Sandifer calls psychochronography – should be familiar to Popular readers: take a cultural object with a long history, and write about it in chronological order. Naturally, writing about the thing ends up meaning writing around the thing. My brother gave me the first three volumes of the book edition of Eruditorum for Christmas, and it was the kick in the arse I needed to really get moving on Popular again.

21
May 14

Popular ’60

Popular16 comments • 627 views

The next entry is turning out to be quite a big one, so I’m pushing it back a day or two and putting up the last of our 60s polls. It’ll find its way to its proper place in the blog in time.

I give a mark out of 10 to every song on Popular. In these polls, you tick any you would have given 6 or more to. 1960 was a slim year for Number Ones – only 16. My personal high point was “Shaking All Over” (8), and my low was Lonnie’s “Dustman” (1).

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 1960 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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Over to you! And discuss the year in general in the comments too.