Sometimes you hear a flaw, a niggle in a track you love and it gradually sours you on the whole. I am worried that this might be happening to “Blockbuster”. For tens, perhaps hundreds, of plays, I had enjoyed this most wholehearted of tracks, and then suddenly, one day, I noticed that of course they’re not singing “blockbuster”, they’re singing “block Buster”. Whoever he is.
That irritates me. I won’t go into why, because I’m not even sure there is a why, but I wonder if it’s possible to somehow train myself not to notice it when I hear the thing. This is a related fantasy, I guess, to the “oh, imagine hearing it for the first time” one I sometimes have about favourite tracks that have become as worn and threadbare as an old stuffed toy.
Luckily I can remember hearing “Blockbuster” for the first time – I’d heard bits of it used here and there, the rhythm and the klaxons, but not the whole thing in its confident might. With the album charts pulling in more profits and more of bands’ and marketers’ attention, the singles charts had been left to recidivist stomp rock and to bubblegum – writers Chinn and Chapman’s big idea was to fuse them. The genius of “Blockbuster” is its easy combination of bolshy glam muscle and campy pop theatre (into which, yes, “block Buster” fits, though I don’t really want it to). The opening klaxons are an amazing headrush – the first time they’d been used like this in pop? – immediately turning the track into an event: clear the airwaves boys, this is what you want to hear. If the song had just stuck with the riff and the howls and the sirens it would be the first rave track (might be anyway), but then it starts getting teasy, flirty with you even (“Does anyone know the way?”) before stepping right into pantoland with the “doesn’t have a clue WHAT to do” delivery – and then cranking the frenzy right up again. Delicious, delirious.