18
Mar 09

NICOLE – “A Little Peace”

FT + Popular71 comments • 5,667 views

#500, 15th May 1982

In the world of Marvel and DC Comics, the 100th, 200th (etc) issues of a title were considered real milestones. To maximise sales of these anniversary specials, the companies would often use them to launch particularly big storylines: deaths, marriages, epic battles. But often this meant that the run of issues immediately before the anniversary were especially poor – the title would be in a holding pattern, putting out meaningless and unmemorable issues to kill numbers before the big one, and following it would become a chore. If the long-awaited 500th issue also turned out to suck – well, you can imagine how frustrating that was.

Anyway, here’s Nicole, Eurovision winner, earnest German lass, 500th UK Number One. Singing a song about peace – who could object to that? Not the Eurovision juries, who must also have appreciated the absolutely thumping key change at two minutes and the flowery string arrangement throughout. I’ve never been able to shake off a basic cynicism whenever a Eurovision entrant plays the peace card – of course every Song Contest entry is calculated but this seems such a clumsy gambit. Judging by the way the tactic has withered since the introduction of Eurovision democracy I’m not alone in this.

The only thing that stops Nicole’s song being completely dreadful (in fact raising it all the way to quite dreadful) is the way she redeems the key change with the yearning counter-melody of “we are feathers on the breeze / sing with me my song of peace”. It doesn’t make sense, but nor does her apparent belief that a leaf falling from a tree will be better off if there is someone below. Otherwise this is feeble fare – a crass bid for campfire immortality at the youth outreach group.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    thevisitor on 18 Mar 2009 #

    I tell you who would have definitely given Nicole 1 out of 10 – Kojo. Representing Finland in the same year’s contest with Bomb Out, Kojo’s lyrics railed against the proliferation of “nuclear shit” on the global political agenda. I seem to remember that when Nicole won and Kojo didn’t, he called her a “stupid virgin.” Not to her face, thankfully.

    Re 29: It might be better if Eurovision vocals were mimed, but the Contest has really gone downhill since they did away with the orchestra. Even the crap songs used to have arrangements that made them sound as good as they could possibly be, and it was a nice throwback to the 60s when anyone making a pop record could whistle up an orchestra to play on it, presumably because in a post-Beatles age, there were still loads of bandleaders kicking around, gifted enough to bolt a big arrangement onto a tune at short notice.

    While I’m gassing, heartening to see so much love for Bardo out there. There really is nothing wrong with that song, is there? It’s a miniature pop masterclass, complete with weird not-quite-where-you’d-expect-it-to-go key change. You can tell that everyone who worked on that song felt really, really excited about it – enough for Neil Tennant, reviewing in Smash Hits, to exclaim, “That’s definitely not the last we’ve heard of Bardo.”
    Ahem…

  2. 32
    wichita lineman on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Re 31: Intrigued that you say “while I’m gassing…” I was reminded this afternoon that the “biz” used to – and maybe still do – refer to the Gas territories: Germany, Austria, Switzerland. I should add that this was a term dreamt up by German-speaking Europe, so don’t even think about a punchline… Peter Goodlaws and Malice Cooper, espesh.

  3. 33
    Malice Cooper on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Did somebody call ?

    I always liked this. It has the same rhythm as the goosestep

  4. 34
    Malice Cooper on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Bardo were not “gripped by nerves” . Their voices simply didn’t match. She tried to belt it out as if it was a west end show song and he sang as flat as a pancake. The recorded version is superb but live it was horrible.

    Nicole’s follow up single was actually very nice too “Give me more time” (Gib’ mir noch zeit) which struggled to one week at number 75. Song writer Ralf Siegel can no longer get into the German selection so he writes for other countries. This year’s Montenegrin song is his “doing”. I upset him badly at Eurovision a few years ago in Israel when he made a ridiculous ploy of wearing a yarmulke (cap)as he thought it would get more votes from the home nation. He proclaimed he would be “writing a song for Germany again next year” and I suggested it could be “Hooray Hooray it’s a holi holi caust”

    I just have such a way with words….

  5. 35
    Malice Cooper on 19 Mar 2009 #

    An interesting comment happened during the voting that year when Austria proceeded to vote. Up to that point Germany had got a least 8 from every country except Luxembourg who gave them nothing. Austria started with “Germany 1 point” and Wogan remarked “They’ll invade Austria tomorrow”

  6. 36
    Doctor Casino on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Bravo on the milestone, Tom! I think you wear it much better than Nicole. This blog has been a great entertainment and source of musical discoveries over the last few years; I couldn’t today compare this song unfavorably to “Lily The Pink” (which I also didn’t like) if not for this. That seems like pretty weak praise, so sometime I’ll have to go back over the list and figure out exactly how many songs I love today that I’d never heard of except through this exercise.

    Aside from just bringing the songs up, of course, you’ve discussed them in a consistently entertaining manner and often a very thought-provoking one. It’s a good run so far…here’s to the remaining lot!

  7. 37
    lonepilgrim on 19 Mar 2009 #

    here’s the link to that Can TOTP performance
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0nfjguTclg
    and no, they don’t look like ‘a bunch of professors moonlighting as second-hand car salesmen’ – I don’t know where that idea came from

    the song sounds peculiarly timeless – I can imagine it fiiting in with todays charts and not sounding like a 70s tune – it sounds ripe for use in a movie soundtrack Tarantino style

  8. 38
    vinylscot on 19 Mar 2009 #

    #14 & #26 Roger Kitter = also Captain Alberto Bertorelli out of “Allo Allo”

    Well done Tom, an amazing feat… which is more than this record is. A cynical, but obvious Euro-winner. I don’t agree that it is no worse than “All Kinds of Everything”, as at least Shane and Sinead managed to redeem that one!

  9. 39
    peter goodlaws on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Bat in the air, Tom. Well done.

    I have to admit to have had a crush on Fraulein Nicole, although I think in retrospect that she certainly had not yet indulged in the activities enjoyed on a maiden voyage by Popular’s very own Kentish Manc during the night of her triumph. This seemed to have been confirmed by her follow-up, “Give Me More Time”, although this might, of course, referred to a lad who was a little too quick off the mark for her liking. She looked like the girl next door, but they’re usually the worst (or the best, depending on how you look at it!)

  10. 40
    peter goodlaws on 19 Mar 2009 #

    I’ve just seen a pic of Nicole from last year. She is now 44 and looks very nice.

    Tom – One of my chaps once harked on about Fischer Z and played me a track called “The Worker”, which I think charted here. I was expecting a punkish political rant but it was soft and melodious with a rather sad litle story behind the lyric. He also gave me a blast of “Prime Time” by The Tubes, which for me really hit the spot.

  11. 41
    rosie on 19 Mar 2009 #

    I have to say that, for what it’s worth, the Nicole on this sleeve looks quite a stunner to me and what’s more, the stunningness isn’t liable to be washed off.

  12. 42
    lonepilgrim on 19 Mar 2009 #

    she now looks very glam and slightly scary on her website, like a teutonic Celine Dion:
    http://www.nicole-4-u.de/

  13. 43
    Conrad on 19 Mar 2009 #

    She looks like she’s lived and loved. A touch of the Bonnie Tylers as well as Celine

  14. 44
    peter goodlaws on 19 Mar 2009 #

    # 43 – I think you’re right. She’s clearly had more than a little piece now…(see what I did there?)

  15. 45
    DV on 19 Mar 2009 #

    My recollection is that this was the last Eurovision winner to be a big UK hit.

  16. 46
    crag on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Well done on the half century, Tom! Great work!

    We’re really getting into real Proustian rush territory for me by now- i have various TOTP based recollections here- Nicole recieving a plaque or somesuch from Paul Gambicinni(?) for her achievement, the Fun Boy Three performance mentioned by Billy above which was when 9 year-old me realised for the first time that TOTP was mimed and weirdest of all a “hilarious” skit on the edition before Eurovision showing a video of the “French Euro Entry” ( In reality, France declined to take part in ’82) which consisted basically of a French rewrite of Making your Mind Up by a Fizz lookalike group- oh how we all laughed(or rather i would have if i understood it at the time…)
    Did this REALLY happen or did i just dream it??

    Btw i’d give this a 4- i cant decide if its sweet in a nothingy kind of way or nothingy in a sweet kind of way…

  17. 47
    Erithian on 20 Mar 2009 #

    DV #45 – I was just thinking about that this morning – no subsequent Eurovision winner has reached number 1, and the only UK Eurovision entry to do so was [muffled by bunny] who was Australian anyway.

    Nicole did a French version of this which was a big hit in, well, France (“La paix sur terre, c’est ma prière…” see http://en.lyrics-copy.com/nicole/la-paix-sur-terre.htm ) – although she wasn’t anything to do with the Nicole in the Renault Clio ads… the one who bizarrely finished up with Bob Mortimer.

  18. 48
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 20 Mar 2009 #

    bob mortimer is dapper and cute

  19. 49
    Patrick on 20 Mar 2009 #

    The French version was a huge hit in Quebec. I remember my 5th grade teacher praising it. I had no idea until now that there was an English-language version, much less that it had hit #1 in the UK.

  20. 50
    peter goodlaws on 20 Mar 2009 #

    # 47 – That stuff with Nicole and Papa was more than a little worrying but at least he didn’t lock her up in the spare room for twenty odd years.

    Renault Clio Nicole and BOB MORTIMORE?!! Christ, that sounds less likely than Kylie Minogue and Nicholas Witchell!

  21. 51
    Erithian on 20 Mar 2009 #

    I enjoyed the letter in When Saturday Comes in the early 90s, at the time when Jean-Pierre Papin was at his peak for Marseille, where the writer said that whenever the commentator shouted “Papin!” his dad replied “Nicole!”

  22. 52
    Alan on 20 Mar 2009 #

    Tom’s progress report (i know how much he wants this)

    #1 Al Martino – 16 September 2003

    #50 Anne Shelton – 24 October 2003 (1 month)
    #100 Anthony Newley – 20 May 2004 (7 months)
    #150 Gerry & Pacemakers – 19 November 2004 (6 months)
    #200 Beatles band – 14 March 2005 (4 months)
    #250 Garry Puckett – 17 August 2006 (17 months)
    #300 Tony Orlando et Dawn – 20 November 2006 (3 months)
    #350 Ray Stevens – 23 October 2007 (11 months)
    #400 Julie Covingtons – 28 May 2008 (7 months)
    #450 Specials – 20 October 2008 (5 months)
    #500 nicole – 18 March 2009 (5 months)

    overall averaging 2 reviews a week

  23. 53
    Erithian on 20 Mar 2009 #

    Or to put it another way (cut & pasted from Christmas)
    2003: No 66, Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls of Fire (Jan 58) – 66 reviewed from Sep-Dec
    2004: No 167, Peter and Gordon – A World Without Love (Apr 64) – 101 in the year
    2005: No 222, The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine (Aug 66) – 55
    2006: No 302, T Rex – Get It On (Jul 71) – 80
    2007: No 362, Mud – Lonely This Christmas (Dec 74) – 60
    2008: No 477, Shakin’ Stevens – This Ole House (Mar 81) – 115

  24. 54
    peter goodlaws on 21 Mar 2009 #

    Tom…you’ve created a MONSTER!!!!!!

  25. 55
    Tom on 21 Mar 2009 #

    I’m aiming for 150 this year, by the way. But with a baby arriving in May that might go awry.

  26. 56
    LondonLee on 21 Mar 2009 #

    As the father of a two year old I can tell you it will.

  27. 57
    плoxaя on 20 May 2009 #

    Эх… :) Вы бы знали что про Вас пишут в других блогах :)

  28. 58
    mike on 21 May 2009 #

    My recollection is that this was the last Eurovision winner to be a big UK hit.

    Not so; Johnny Logan’s “Hold Me Now” reached #2 in 1987, Katrina & the Waves “Love Shine A Light” reached #3 in 1997, Dana International’s “Diva” reached #11 in 1998, Charlotte Nilsson’s “Take Me To Your Heaven” reached #20 in 1999, XTM & DJ Chucky’s Eurobosh cover of The Olsen Brothers’ “Fly On The Wings Of Love” reached #8 in 2003… and this year’s winner “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak is at #3 in the midweeks.

  29. 59
    DietMondrian on 13 May 2010 #

    I recall my parents were indignant at this winning, as they thought it was a deliberate rebuke from the rest of Europe to the UK for our waging the Falklands War, which was about a month old at the time.

  30. 60
    Billy Smart on 9 Jan 2011 #

    Actually, on reflection, I think that ‘One Step Further’ by Bardo is one of the best pop things ever. Just look at the joyous and imaginative routine that they devised for it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCxIEP21gZM

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