Jul 08

BACCARA – “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”

FT + Popular84 comments • 8,892 views

#414, 29th October 1977

“Already told you in the first werse…”: I’m not sure whether “Yes Sir” is deceptively dumb or deceptively clever. On the one hand you can see why Goldfrapp, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and a generation of raised-eyebrow indie fans have been drawn to it. The arch and chilly fourth-wall breaking which inverts the song, recasting it as the hustle it always was, is smart stuff. On the other hand it’s not just pretending to be a low-rent “Love To Love You Baby”. I put it on a disco mix I made for my wife once, and she loathed it: all the “yes sir”, “no sir” business came across to her as creepily subservient. Which it is, deliberately, but the “Sir” in the song isn’t coming off too well either, the singer’s testy impatience effectively puncturing his illusions: no talking, no walking, do we have a deal or not…Sir?

The question goes unresolved: the track spirals out with mock-orgasmic coos, carried over from the intro, this time rather less pleasant. “Yes Sir” wouldn’t remotely be effective without its imperious strings, iconic chorus and chuckling bassline, and its those things that mean I’m writing about it now. But they’re vehicles for a calculating heartlessness that makes this record really stand out.



  1. 1
    Billy Smart on 13 Jul 2008 #

    Reading Tom makes me realise that whenever I’ve listened to this I’ve always imagined that I’m taking the part of the singer(s), never thought about how I would feel if it was sung to me! Approached this way, it becomes a glamorous counterpart to ‘I Love to Love’, very much more a song about wanting to get up and dance in preference to wasting time flirting with a likely partner.

    Heard as being sung to me, though, I’m not sure that I’d much like this tone of playful mockery, nor being addressed as “Sir” (though maybe that’s just how things were in Spain in the seventies)

    It’s an uneasy listen for me, because it was the favourite song of one of the great unrequited loves of my life (this one wins in terms of duration – over a decade). I once found a copy of the Baccara LP for £1 in a charity shop for her and she was never more pleased with me than when I presented her with it. I rather fear that – subconsciously – the implied hauteur and power of the flirtatious singer was what she would most have liked to identify with in the song. You live and learn – sometimes both are painful!

  2. 2
    rosie on 13 Jul 2008 #

    Maybe it’s a boy thing, this wanting the woman to be subservient, but I’m with Tom’s wife here; I’ve always loathed this song. It makes me cringe with it’s wheedling, simpering tone.

    Oddly enough I read a novel this week (“White” by Rosie Thomas, in which the “white” of the title refers – I think – to both the gritty world of mountaineering and the fluffy idea of the white wedding) which wouldn’t be my normal fare but I was laid low with an infection of the urinary tract and needed something undemanding and comforting. I found myself rooting for the protagonist, holding her own on the mountaing with the macho-men, but also wanting to scream at her for being taken in by a man who seemed to me to be a psychotic control-freak stalker. And I remembered that I never could get my head around that good girl/bad boy dynamic1 with which a friend of mine, who writes some of the racier Mills & Boon books, earns a fairly tidy crust. And I can’t be doing with male domination – I like a man who is intelligent and considerate but who nevertheless knows his place. So YSICB can’t be expected to push my buttons. Give me Venus in Furs! every time!

    1Mind you, one of my all-time favourite sexy films is Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, so there’s an exception to everything.

  3. 3
    Waldo on 13 Jul 2008 #

    Baccara comprised of one pretty girl and one absolute troll. Rather like Saturday night down the old Cat’s Whiskers in Streatham. Guess who always ended up with the troll? Actually, most nights I ended up with nothing.

    I think this peculiar little piece of Euro Pop can be chalked up as a comedy record if for no other reason than the superb (misheard?) line: “Yes, sir. Already told you in the first verse. And in the chorus. But I shall give you one more chance…” Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that the girls sung this song phonetically, like The Osmonds used to do in Japanese, or they would not have been aware of just how funny this was. They certainly looked far more serious than they should have done and therefore probably missed the point, which was that the song was actually shit but because it was inadvertently humorous, the UK took to it. That’s my take on it, nohow.

  4. 4
    wbswygart on 13 Jul 2008 #

    I remember when ILM did its Number Ones poll, this topped my ballot, ahead of “Johnny Remember Me”. Halcyon days.

  5. 5
    vinylscot on 13 Jul 2008 #

    Does the intro to this remind anyone else of “Don’t Leave Me This Way”?

    As with quite a few #1s around this point, there seems to be a real doubt as to how serious/sincere the performers are(Rod, Elton & Kiki, ManTran etc), and this is definitely another. Being a charitable sort, I would reckon that Maria and Mayte were being quite sincere and earnest, but I would put the blame firmly on the shoulders of their writers, a Dutch pair, who were probably more comfortable with the English language than their pleasant, if rather nondescript Spanish performers.

    I think this is borne out with a quick look at the follow-up – “Sorry I’m A Lady” which also had the double-meaning title which the somewhat crap lyrics are spun around – are they sorry that they are ladies, or sorry they don’t do that because they are ladies? Google the lyrics – they are truly terrible.

    This is apparently the first #1 by a wholly female duo, as if you didn’t know!

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 13 Jul 2008 #

    There’s a better one coming up very soon!

  7. 7
    vinylscot on 13 Jul 2008 #

    This is true!

  8. 8
    DJ Punctum on 14 Jul 2008 #

    The black loneliness at the heart of the international nightclub; they might be anywhere, those girls – they are Spanish and sound it, but they seem anything other than happy. They are trying to attract men, but it’s clear that they’re being paid to do so, and they approach the hopeful, probably already pissed client with loveless eyes:

    “Mister, your eyes are full of hesitation/Sure makes me wonder if you know what you’re looking for.”

    Everyone’s lost here. “I’m a sensation – you try me once, you’re back for more,” with no winking of hearts but in possession of the full horrible knowledge of what will probably happen to them if they don’t make enough money. Still, they sense that they are at a slight advantage, and can call the shots to a limited degree: “Oh, yes sir, I can boogie/But I need a certain song.” In other words, you measure up, sir, or you’re wasting your money and our time.

    “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” was 1977’s big Eurohit – along with La Belle Epoque’s aforementioned bizarre retailoring of “Black Is Black” which had settled at number two behind both “Silver Lady” and this – but it’s also one of the fundamentally saddest I know; the introduction is indeed suggestive of “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” and strings and harps cascade into instant view, surely giving Anne Dudley and Trevor Horn some ideas along the way, but the song is persistently in a minor key and its tone is defiantly low-key throughout; it’s as though Baccara are whispering the song as quietly as they can get away with in the darkest corner of the cloakroom. There is more than a hint of Abba-inspired ruined grandeur in the record’s orchestration, and the song’s second verse is about as cynical and take-it-or-leave-it dispassionate as any number one I know – “No sir,” they sing, quietly but firmly, “I don’t feel very much like talking/No neither walking (that Spanglish!),” and to demonstrate that the writers and producers had full awareness of what they were attempting, the girls sneer with barely disguised contempt, “Yes sir, already told you in the first verse/And in the chorus/But I will give you one more chance.”

    The song lopes along for a further couple of minutes, the girls’ sighs becoming ever more spacious and sensual, the strings becoming steadily more heartbreaking, the rhythm imperturbable. It is as if they can glimpse the escape to heaven above the strobe lights, but are too weak or indifferent to grasp the exit handle. “If you stay you can’t go wrong.” But is going away an option? It’s incredible that this has attained camp retrospective status; handbags in the centre of the dancefloor, dancing away to the strains of…blank bleakness? Is that the aim of camp, to run away as far from that blank bleakness as humanly possible?

  9. 9
    Erithian on 14 Jul 2008 #

    This one featured in my annual office Christmas quiz a few years back – “what links “Yes Sir I Can Boogie”, “Rocket” by Mud and “True” by Spandau Ballet? It was that year’s Answer No One Got, but I’m sure the Popular comments posse won’t have trouble with it…

    We’re approaching the time covered by the last “Which Decade” on Mike’s Troubled Diva site, and “Sorry I’m A Lady” was in that early ’78 top ten. It didn’t fare too well in Which Decade, being a retread of “Yes Sir…” without the leavening humour. Or so I thought before reading Marcello’s post which interprets YSICB as being voiced by, essentially, a couple of hookers. I’d seen it more as a Spanish package holiday equivalent of what the Dancing Queen would say to someone chatting her up but who didn’t quite match her standards. Not that I’ve studied the lyrics in depth, mind you.

  10. 10
    DJ Punctum on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Bizarrely, they represented Luxembourg in Eurovision 1978 with a song entitled “Parlez-Vous Francais?” It came seventh.

  11. 11
    Mark G on 14 Jul 2008 #

    They should have let the funky music do the talking.

    and so the circle goes around again.

  12. 12
    mike on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Once again, I am reminded of how much time and energy I spent loathing and despising the chart music of 1977. As with “Silver Lady”, so with “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” – and yes, maybe it was the unwitting bleakness that got to me in this instance. The song strives for light-hearted sassiness but achieves nothing more than joyless desperation, the grim mood further accentuated by that horrible, lifeless Eurodisco arrangement. Unlike many commercial disco hits of the day, this one has resisted all my attempts at posthumous re-contextualisation, and not even its camp factor can redeem it.

    That said, I did enjoy both the Goldfrapp and the Sophie Ellis-Bextor covers: the former accentuating the mechanised/de-humanised bleakness, and the latter… well, here’s a copy/paste from something I wrote elsewhere:

    “I love the way that [Sophie] effortlessly recontexualises the whole essence of the song, turning it right around from the dead-eyed, wilfully gormless, no speaka da lingo mista, port-and-lemon swilling Desperate Slapperhood of the original, and transforming it into a sly, knowing, effortlessly commanding, I-call-the-shots-round-here-Mister signal to arms. In this context, the lines “already told you in the first verse, and in the chorus, but I will give you one more chance” take on a gently chiding, finger-wagging, amusedly world-weary quality which I find utterly charming.”

  13. 13
    mike on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Incidentally, my dear departed Dad once turned down an invitation to have lunch with Baccara. It was the early 1990s, and times were hard, both for Baccara and for my father. He had been reduced to doing legal work for a chain of shit local discos, and they had been reduced to touring them…

  14. 14
    Tom on 14 Jul 2008 #

    On the dead-eyed disco tip, The Cheeky Girls’ “Have A Cheeky Christmas” is the office-party seasonal knees-up Baccara never wrote.

  15. 15
    Waldo on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Erithian #9 – Okay, I give up. What’s the answer? Will I kick myself? And by the way, you’ve bunnied yourself!

    I ought to mention that on “Gary and Mary’s UK No 1 Lyrics Site”, the comical line to which I and Marcello refer is listed as “Yes, sir, already told you in the first word. And in the cold. But I shall give you one more chance”. I don’t think this is right at all.

  16. 16
    Billy Smart on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Got it! All three songs refer to their own verse/ chorus structure!

  17. 17
    DJ Punctum on 14 Jul 2008 #

    By the nineties, weren’t there two Baccaras doing the rounds, Bucks Fizz-style?

  18. 18
    Erithian on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Spot on, well done Billy – you’d have won the office quiz hands down. The question was used in the quiz just before Natasha Bedingfield wrote some uninspired songs about being an uninspired songwriter. Yes, Baccara’s reference to the first verse and the chorus always made me smile – the main redeeming feature of a pretty mediocre record.

    And Waldo, I think SB only really gets involved once you start discussing the merits of an upcoming number one outside of the context of the track under discussion – so a connection between Baccara and the other SB, however tenuous, makes mention of them legit – m’lud.

    Funnily enough, Mike’s reference to “reduced to touring shit local discos” reminded me of the Cheeky Girls even before Tom chipped in there. Sadly there are rumours that Lembit and whichever-one-it-was have split, ending the most embarrassing episode for a major political party since David Icke told the Greens he’d have to step down because of an announcement he was about to make.

  19. 19
    jeff w on 14 Jul 2008 #

    They’re just on a break (according to Cheeky Girl’s mum today). She hasn’t broken off the engagement.

    Why am I admitting I know this?

  20. 20
    mike on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Needless to say, I preferred my “meta” done Punk Style:

    “Second verse, same as the first…”

    “Third verse, different from the first…”

  21. 21
    rosie on 14 Jul 2008 #

    But none of them do it as succinctly as Matching Mole’s Signed Curtain

  22. 22
    Billy Smart on 14 Jul 2008 #

    This song is responsible for one of my favourite music press punning headlines. For an Andrew Mueller article about the Palestinian music scene: “Yasser, I Can Boogie”

  23. 23
    Erithian on 14 Jul 2008 #

    “Second verse, same as the first” isn’t necessarily punk style – it was used in “I’m Henery The Eighth I Am” and quite possibly before that.

    Punning headlines – sadly we never saw the great French captain involved in internal strife for club or country yielding the headline “Zidane, You’re Rocking The Boat”.

  24. 24
    Waldo on 14 Jul 2008 #

    #16 and #18 – I must say that I am having difficulty in finding the link with Mud’s “Rocket”. Could someone enlighten me, please. I must be having a lost brain day.

    Marcello #18 – You’re right, of course. Unfortunately for poor Erithian, he was tangling with the Old Testiment Spoiler Bunny, who will have you over for fucking anything!

  25. 25
    Billy Smart on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Les Grey announces “Second verse!” in his trademark cod-Elvis style.

  26. 26
    Waldo on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Second verse same as first…

    “I’m in heaven when I see you smile!!!!…..”

    Grand drinking song, that. Lordy!

  27. 27
    Waldo on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Thank you, Billy. That reminds me of my great hero, Hendrix muttering “Listen to this bit…” before embarking on a second verse of (I think, from memory) “Gypsy Eyes”.

  28. 28
    Erithian on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Waldo #24 – yes, beware the fundamentalist Spoiler Bunny.

    I also wonder if the local paper in Norfolk ever covered a behind-the-scenes row at the local Ridgeons League club with the headline “Diss Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us”…

  29. 29
    mike on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Erithian #9 – here’s that Troubled Diva Which Decade Is Tops For Pops “Sorry I’m A Lady” discussion in full (scroll down for reader comments).

  30. 30
    Waldo on 14 Jul 2008 #

    Erithian – That “Diss town…” reference puts me in mind of an incident when Crystal Palace played Wolves in the early 1970s at Selhurst and a massive punch-up took place, the main contributor being the home team’s large but entirely donkey-like centre forward, Gerry Queen. This, of course, resulted in the headline: “QUEEN IN BRAWL AT PALACE!”

    I can just imagine an enraged mid-forty-something Brenda in tweedy togs and headscarf piling into Sir Alan Fitztightly and his staff for leaving the crusts on the cucumber sarnies.

  31. 31
    wichita lineman on 14 Jul 2008 #

    From the solid efforts of previous Dutch songwriters of UK hits, I’m guessing there was an element of irony in the lyric. Gawdelpus. Is this the very first Popular instance of the ‘I’ word? Did Punk kickstart pop post-modernism that quickly?

  32. 32
    LondonLee on 15 Jul 2008 #

    I don’t hate this but it’s one of those records that gave Disco a bad name, hard to avoid the whiff of cheese, Cinzano commercials, Peter Sarstedt, Omar Sharif and Y Viva Espana.

    I don’t know what all that means but it’s what came to mind thinking about this record.

  33. 33
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    #31 – well I ask you! But I feel fine.

  34. 34
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    I Love You, All I Have To Do Is Dream…

  35. 35
    Erithian on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Marcello, I think the “I” word Lineman means is Irony…?

  36. 36
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Aargh! Guess I got stung…

  37. 37
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Anyway, the correct answer is probably “Michelle” (“I need you, I need you, I need you – I think you know by now”).

  38. 38
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Irony’s a dangerous thing in pop. It laughs at you when you say you care for it.

  39. 39
    Drucius on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Dreadful europap that made me want to firebomb Top Of The Pops at the time. Hard to get worked up about now, of course.

  40. 40
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    The charts were actually in excellent shape at around this time. It’s hardly TOTP‘s fault that the public got it so wrong with the number ones, as will occur in other future key years.

  41. 41
    Tom on 15 Jul 2008 #

    The 1977 No.1s are pretty solid IMO, though no doubt there were better things lurking in the Top Ten – there usually are. (2008 is going to be frustrating from this perspective too. not that I’d characterise this as one of the “key years” in any sense).

  42. 42
    mike on 15 Jul 2008 #

    The charts were actually in excellent shape at around this time.

    Looking at the everyhit.com Retro Chart for late October 1977, and excluding any future Number Ones (and the three songs that I can’t remember), I’d give thumbs-ups to:

    8. Ram Jam – Black Betty (much as I hated it at the time)
    10. Sex Pistols – Holidays In The Sun (my favourite Pistols single)
    11. The Stranglers – No More Heroes (played to introduce the sermon at our school’s Rememberance Day service of that year; we had a trendy chaplain)
    12. The Emotions – Best Of My Love (immaculate)
    14. The Carpenters – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (a cover of a song by Klaatu, who were briefly rumoured to be a reformed Beatles working incognito)
    15. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway (in which the Gay Liberation Front and the lads from the First XV find common cause)
    16. Donna Summer – I Remember Yesterday
    17. Yes – Wonderous Stories
    20. Giorgio – From Here To Eternity
    21. Patsy Gallant – From New York To LA
    24. David Bowie – Heroes
    33. The Commodores – Brickhouse
    34. Leo Sayer – Thunder In My Heart
    35. Space – Magic Fly
    36. The Bee Gees – How Deep Is Your Love

    16 out 40 = pretty good really, and a better strike rate than I remember.

  43. 43
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Um, Mike, there’s a Spoiler Bunny alert in there…

    (also Rockin’ All Over The World and the uncannily timely reissue of Virginia Plain)

  44. 44
    mike on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Well, arguably there are two SBAs. But then again, not really…

  45. 45
    SteveM on 15 Jul 2008 #

    they’re only spoilers if you say they’re spoilers

  46. 46
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    I don’t say, the Spoiler Bunny says. You know what happens if the Spoiler Bunny gets upset; you’ve seen Donnie Darko (whoops, there goes another one)…

  47. 47
    LondonLee on 15 Jul 2008 #

    “15. Tom Robinson Band – 2-4-6-8 Motorway (in which the Gay Liberation Front and the lads from the First XV find common cause)”

    But he destroyed that bond with his next single. I had a mate at school who claimed he threw away his copy of ‘Motorway’ when ‘Glad To Be Gay’ came out.

  48. 48
    mike on 15 Jul 2008 #

    To give them credit, the Rugby Lads at our school were pretty enthusiastic about “Glad To Be Gay”. (And there was always the lead track “Don’t Take No For An Answer” to keep ’em happy.) For all their lyrical agitprop, TRB enjoyed a surprising across-the-board popularity round our way…

  49. 49
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    The lead track which radio preferred and still prefers to play.

    Then again, at the time, were we not all bashful children, beginning to grow?

  50. 50
    Lena on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Meanwhile, America fell in love with “You Light Up My Life” and it was #1 for nine weeks…(sound of head hitting desk)…

  51. 51
    Waldo on 15 Jul 2008 #

    DJP #37 – There was quite a bit of “I…I…I…” going on in “Fall Out”, of course. From my own standpoint, I have Dave Barker beating The Overlanders on anyone’s tariff.

    Lena # 50 – “Actually, Homer, I think she’s singing it to God!” Precious wonder it was number one for nine weeks!

  52. 52
    DJ Punctum on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Complete with verbal and visual Carmen Miranda puns…

  53. 53
    Erithian on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Mike #48 – as an exercise in allowing those who aren’t gay to understand and identify with the viewpoint and anger of those who are, “Glad to be Gay” has surely never been bettered. Tom Robinson was a hero of mine – the only bloke who could have got something like that into the top 20 in 1978! – even as a support track on an EP.

  54. 54
    fivelongdays on 15 Jul 2008 #

    41 – I’d argue that the thing about pop, or at least when approached from this angle, is that, as Supermac used to say, we’ve never had it so good. But, of course, we’ve never had it so bad, either!

  55. 55
    wichita lineman on 15 Jul 2008 #

    Re 33: For a short while there, I thought DJP was positing that Eden Kane’s Well I Ask You was the first example of an ironic number one. And after Tom’s Gordon Burn-esque summary I thought it was a pretty decent shout. But Baccara, surely, or at least their puppet-masters, had tongues firmly in cheeks. For my dosh, the lyric smells more of blonde Russian teens and moneyed gremlins than Benidorm naivety.

    Re 42: From New York To LA? Haven’t heard that in a very long while, but it does remind me of the anti-rockist argument for the pop continuum; with r ‘n’ r as an important blip, but a blip nonetheless; with the Brill Building as an extension of Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael etcet, and room for neo-musical numbers like From New York To LA 20 years after All Shook Up. Punk schmunk!

  56. 56
    lonepilgrim on 16 Jul 2008 #

    re #43-46 – We’ve had experience of the spoiler bunny here in Northampton, details here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/northamptonshire/7505911.stm

    my memory of YSICB is that it has a fairly tinny sound for a dance record but that may be because I only heard it on cheap transistor radios. There were few night clubs or discos where I grew up so I rarely had chance to hear pop music on anything like a ‘sound system’. One of the few occasions when I would hear music at a volume that would grab your attention was on the waltzers when the funfair rolled into town

  57. 57
    Mark G on 16 Jul 2008 #

    The last time I heard “Yes sir, I can boogie” was when Danielle Dax was using it as ‘exit’ music after her gig at Underworld (the Westway)

  58. 58
    Billy Smart on 16 Jul 2008 #

    In ‘Revolution In The Head’, Ian MacDonald makes quite a convincing case for ‘Paperback Writer’ as being the point where pop goes ‘meta’, in being as much a pop song about being a pop song as it is a song about an author, showing the way forward to 10cc, etc.

    MacDonald saw this as being an almost entirely bad thing. When executed with the Beatles’ sense of playfulness and wit, I really don’t share this view.

  59. 59
    Dan R on 16 Jul 2008 #

    To bring together two topics in this thread, I’ve often thought that Patsy Gallant’s ‘From New York to L.A.’ is the gayest single in history. There are songs more evidently (or cynically) aimed at the gay audience, like the recent ‘From Paris to Berlin’, or indeed the various Village People songs, but this seems to me to capture something of a post-liberation sensibility, the splendeurs and miseres of the emerging gay scene, and it does so in heterosexual disguise which is of course very gay, though of its time. It’s a pretty wonderful song only marred by that strange sausage-hitting-an-upturned-bucket sound that passed for a bass drum in the mid-seventies.

    I knew someone from Newcastle who used to sing ‘Yes sir, I’m a geordie’ to Baccara’s finest. It was funny the first time. I must say I don’t see much real evidence of submission in this song’s use of ‘sir’, except in that intriguingly insolent way that, say, Bruce Springsteen uses it all the way through Nebraska (the album, not the state).

    And there’s another artist who won’t be troubling us on these boards.

  60. 60
    Erithian on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Except for about two seconds in 1985…

  61. 61
    Erithian on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Patsy Gallant was a featured guest on Swap Shop one Saturday and featured in one of its most bizarre moments. The on-location swap meets with Cheggers tended to be wherever the BBC had sports outside broadcast cameras, and on that particular Saturday they must have been covering rugby league in Barrow – because I seem to remember Patsy Gallant being there on location and offering her album as a swap for a Barrow RLFC shirt – which she duly got. Rosie, can you confirm this by any chance?

  62. 62
    Dan R on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Irony, a generation later, was a dead hand over culture that responded perhaps to a generalised fear of making any judgments about anything (politics, art, morality, taste, etc.) but at this stage it still seems fairly benign, doesn’t it? The self-referential pop song undergoes a curious mutation on its way from ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ to various Oasis singles which the bunny forbids me from mentioning. Not wholly a bad mutation, but not a wholly good one either.

  63. 63
    Dan R on 16 Jul 2008 #

    # 60

    Oh yes! Along with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and other chart-dodging acts.

  64. 64
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Dylan’s already had one number one as a composer and will have another one (some say another two).

  65. 65
    Dan M. on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Whew, that is one silly song. The pronunciation of “booogie” — not to mention “booogie vooogie” is worth the price of the p2p download I got it with. It really makes you marvel that that word was ever considered cool. As for the song-structure-self-referential-lyrics search how about the line, “Take it to the bridge, she sighs,” (from Pidgin English on Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello), which leads right into… the instrumental bridge.

  66. 66
    DJ Punctum on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Anyway, the correct answer is “Anything Goes” by Frank Sinatra – “as this record spins to a close”…

  67. 67
    rosie on 16 Jul 2008 #

    Erithian @ 61: I’m afraid not. For one thing, I don’t think I ever watched Swapshop more than a couple of times, not least because I found Chegwin one of the most irritating people on the telly. For another, although I know the song “New York to LA”, if you’d asked me who did it I’d be scratching my head. For a third, in those days I kept very quiet about my Barrow origins!

  68. 68
    Dan R on 16 Jul 2008 #

    ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (1904)

    ‘This story has no moral
    This story has no end
    This story only goes to show
    That there ain’t no good in men’

  69. 69
    Lena on 16 Jul 2008 #

    I can’t let the Patsy Gallant song go by without commenting that the melody comes from a Canadian all-time classic:


  70. 70
    LondonLee on 16 Jul 2008 #

    I was going to say earlier that there must be plenty of Cole Porter songs with meta, self-referential lyrics (he just seemed like the sort of smartypants swish who would do that) but I couldn’t think of one at the time.

    The one old chestnut that did come to mind was all the versions of ‘Mack The Knife’ (Ella, Bobby Darin) that mention the other people who have sung the song before.

  71. 71
    Venga on 16 Jul 2008 #


    He’s had two already hasn’t he? Tambourine Man and Mighty Quinn.

  72. 72
    wichita lineman on 16 Jul 2008 #

    I suppose I see the whole of YSICB as an exercise in irony (did the writers involved dabble regularly in disco? Anyone know?) rather than just the ‘meta’ lines – which maybe makes it a first. I’d rather think of Anything Goes as witty and Frankie And Johnny as a fable. YSICB surely ain’t either.

    Then again, Mighty Quinn (like Glass Onion) is a snidey self-referential song, poking fun at obsessive fans who’d be searching for meaning in a song about an Anthony Quinn movie. Is that ironic? Best ask Alanis M.

    One other thing which i don’t think has been mentioned. “Boogie voogie”? Since when are Spaniards unable to pronounce “w”??

  73. 73
    Dan M. on 17 Jul 2008 #

    On the Cole Porter question, (#70): I have heard “At Long Last Love” include the lyric, “Will it be Bach that I hear, or just a Cole Porter song?” Bobby Short sings it that way, I’m fairly certain. I looked up the lyrics on Google, and it seems that most version don’t have that line. But I assume that Porter wrote it that way– can’t see Bobby Short adding it in himself.

  74. 74
    Dan M. on 17 Jul 2008 #

    But speaking of irony in popular song lyrics — well, this is the old-fashioned version of irony, saying something while meaining the opposite: “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” a Hoagy Carmichael song, sung by Billie Holliday among many others. These are beautiful, sadly ironic lyrics — look ’em up! (There’s also quite a story behind the writing of the lyrics … “ironic,” itself in the news copy/Alanis Morisette sense — look it up!) But “I Get Along Without You Very Well” isn’t ironic in the “post-modern,” Warholian sense — a work that somehow conveys a distancing effect, or an attitude of being above the whole endeavor of meaning, while employing the conventions of narrative (or pictorial or lyrical) “meaning” — an attitude of looking down on everything, including one’s self, that the clued-in viewer/listener/reader/observer is invited to share in. Which is being ascribed to “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie,” because — well, God! They CAN’T be serious! (but the song is a lot funnier if it’s NOT intentionally ironic — it allows us sophisticates to provide our own irony in the act of LISTENING to it!)

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    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 17 Jul 2008 #

    spanish = they are ostrogoths, taking shots at lame old w-challenged wizigoths

    it is intra-nomad beef

  76. 76
    Malice Cooper on 16 Aug 2008 #

    “mister, your eyes are full of vegetation”

    Well it sounds like that to me.

    Mayte Mateus had a solo career as did maria Mendiola. the former had a magical single called “Souvenirs of Paradise” where she uttered the immortal line “The day that I told you a lie that I love Andy Warhol”

  77. 77
    Lena on 31 Aug 2008 #

    I just heard this for the first time today and thought for the first 10 seconds or so that it was “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

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    Mark G on 1 Sep 2008 #

    Very similar intros, yes.

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    Brooksie on 10 Feb 2010 #

    “Subservient”? I always took the “Yes sirs” to be a reinforcement, as in; “Can I boogie? You better believe it. Yes sir I can boogie.” It is worth noting that the song and the singers are operating in a non-native language, so there might be something lost in translation.

  80. 80
    Brendan on 23 Sep 2012 #

    Following on from Silver Lady, ANOTHER annoyingly catchy chorus that had little me crying ‘make it stop!’. However, around 25 years later I heard it on Radio 2 and I thought ‘wow! – this is actually pretty good’. I did develop more of a taste for cheesy disco as I grew up and so I guess it finally caught up with me (or I with it). Now I will agree with Tom and give it a 7

  81. 81
    mapman132 on 24 Jul 2014 #

    #50 Actually it was TEN weeks – can’t blame you if you hit your head on the desk so hard that you didn’t have to experience the final week ;) One good thing: I doubt many Americans under the age of 30 (or even 35?) have ever experienced the full horror of YLUML – has any other such massive hit been so thoroughly wiped from pop history?

    As for YSICB, I never heard it before now. I can’t describe the imagery it’s conjuring in my mind for fear of political incorrectness. Amusingly, Wiki claims it’s the 7th biggest selling single worldwide of all time. Don’t think many of those copies were in the US though.

  82. 82
    Neil C on 18 Sep 2016 #

    Louis Theroux’s falsetto rendition of this song on the latest Adam Buxton podcast is really quite something, and oddly addictive:

    (from 1:00:49)

  83. 83
    ผลบอล on 8 May 2017 #

    it’s nice topic good post

  84. 84
    Bryson on 17 Nov 2020 #

    Scotland qualifying for Euro 2020 seems as good an excuse as any to ponder whether Baccara had any real chance of joining the list of acts to have topped the charts twice with the same song (with the same recording no less). Probably not but still.

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