May 12


FT155 comments • 10,352 views

Huge weepy thanks to Bob, Pete and Sarah for immortalising us in song. And thanks to commenters past and present for making it worth immortalising.


  1. 1
    Alan not logged in on 21 May 2012 #

    Quite taken aback by this.

    Now how to hack http://freakytrigger.co.uk/populist/ to ignore this post ;-)

  2. 2
    Chewshabadoo on 21 May 2012 #

    Pretty cool I must say.

  3. 3
    Mike Atkinson on 21 May 2012 #

    Every scene needs its nabob! But what is this “touch me touch me” song? Sam Fox didn’t make Number One, and my memory banks are failing to provide a replacement.

    I’m seeing Saint Etienne in Sheffield tomorrow night, in the company of another occasional Popular commenter. This had better be in their set list! *hard stare*

  4. 4
    swanstep on 21 May 2012 #

    Cool. I hear LCD Soundsystem’s Get Innocuous percolating throughout this track, but maybe it’s a common cause that I’m detecting (LCD have so many influences/sources, not all of which I’m sensitive to).

  5. 5
    Tom on 21 May 2012 #

    #3 Mike – there’s a bunnyable candidate in 2001.

  6. 6
    Baztech on 21 May 2012 #

    I’m young and thick, can someone explain this post. I only know of Saint Etienne…*hangs his head in shame* This new song of theirs sounds good though!

  7. 7
    Tommy Mack on 21 May 2012 #

    That is a cool album sleeve! Hours of head-scratching pop-nerdism!

  8. 8
    Tom on 21 May 2012 #

    #6 – Saint Etienne are a top pop beat combo. This new song “Popular” is about the blog you’re reading. (And namechecks a few of its commenters!).

  9. 9
    Izzy on 21 May 2012 #

    That’s beautiful, I feel personally touched (not mentioned). That it’s them at their best is the loveliest thing.

  10. 10
    Mark G on 21 May 2012 #

    I think I’m mentioned! (blushing),

    but there are a few Marks. So, it’s all of us…

  11. 11
    Mark G on 21 May 2012 #

    Funny, I was just reading about how Sarah lived in Old Windsor, I did as well, back in 1968 or so. Was wondering if she went to Clewer St Stephens school. I’d have been long gone by the time she did, mind..

  12. 12
    The Clapton Pond Regeneration Project on 21 May 2012 #

    Mario’s Internet Café, innit.

  13. 13
    cis logged out on 21 May 2012 #

    He’s On The Internet (Motiv8 Extended Mix)

  14. 14
    lonepilgrim on 22 May 2012 #

    can we all be in the video?

  15. 15
    punctum on 22 May 2012 #


  16. 16
    ace inhibitor on 22 May 2012 #

    a ten, definitely. what do you mean its not got to no.1 yet?

  17. 17
    punctum on 22 May 2012 #

    I should clarify that by “no” I mean me; I’ve never been in a video and don’t intend to start now.

  18. 18
    Andrew F on 22 May 2012 #


    Also congratulations!

    Also crikey!

    … has St. Etienne done a List Song before?

  19. 19
    punctum on 22 May 2012 #

    “Girl VII” from Foxbase Alpha.

  20. 20
    pink champale on 22 May 2012 #

    hurrah for popular and hurrah for saint etienne!

  21. 21
    Mark G on 22 May 2012 #

    Another StEt list song: “fake 88”

  22. 22
    JimD on 22 May 2012 #

    The only thing that could make this more exciting would be the presence of a Tom Middleton mix of the same track on the bonus disc. HOLD ON! THAT’S HAPPENING TOO!

  23. 23
    Mike Atkinson on 22 May 2012 #

    Popular is indeed part of the current set list, sources have confirmed. So tonight, when the lights are going down, I will surrender to the sound…

  24. 24
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 22 May 2012 #

    Do they play in masks with our faces on?

  25. 25
    punctum on 22 May 2012 #

    Perhaps in some circumstances.

  26. 26
    Jimmy the Swede on 22 May 2012 #

    Would Sarah do a homage to Mucky Sue, do you think?

  27. 27
    lonepilgrim on 22 May 2012 #

    @26 – I think you might explode if she did

  28. 28
    Jimmy the Swede on 22 May 2012 #

    Oh God yes, Pillers!

  29. 29
    Tom on 22 May 2012 #

    Apologies for the lack of an actual Popular update by the way – discovered today my draft wasn’t saved (or autosaved) so a bunch of entries and notes have been atomised. My own fault alas – or else the CURSE OF THE TRIGGER*.

    I will redo them all of course but haven’t the heart to rewrite the TT/Lulu one right now.

    *Most notably, the first time we ever got a press mention – in Entertainment Weekly – the entire domain was hijacked by a porn site next day.

  30. 30
    Mike Atkinson on 23 May 2012 #

    Here’s a brief clip of tonight’s performance in Sheffield. I didn’t record the whole song, because a) I preferred to be In The Moment and b) ecch, who wants to be that guy? Sadly, this means that I missed Sarah totally cracking up in verse 2, when she got to “Pete Baran”. Heaven knows why! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeRnfS7eohk

  31. 31
    swanstep on 23 May 2012 #

    Has anyone got the lyrics to ‘Popular’ yet? I can’t make out the listy bits at all, and it sounds like Sarah C. sings ‘f***ed my heart in two’ at the beginning (which would be a good line!), but I may just be imagining things.

  32. 32
    Drew on 23 May 2012 #

    “Broke”. But I think I’ll imagine it your way too.

  33. 33
    Mark G on 23 May 2012 #

    #30b) as Abba sang, “Anybody could be That Guy”..

  34. 34
    Mike Atkinson on 23 May 2012 #

    Alas, no lyrics with the CD. I can work out most of them, but there are still a few areas of vagueness.

    Verse 2:
    There’s Tim, ??? (sounds like “nascent tailor man”)
    Here’s Kat, Mark and Pete Baran
    And meet Tom, the nabob of the scene
    There’s Cis, down from Oxford way
    And here’s me, with such a lot to say
    Baby, jump into my dream

  35. 35
    Erithian on 23 May 2012 #

    If only we had somebody who posted on this site who might know… :)

  36. 36
    Tim on 23 May 2012 #

    I think this is a reference to my place of work, excitingly: http://www.masonandtaylor.co.uk/

  37. 37
    Erithian on 23 May 2012 #

    – and the final venue of last December’s pub crawl too!

  38. 38
    pink champale on 23 May 2012 #

    #34 I heard it as “Kat mocking Pete Baran”, which would also be good!

  39. 39
    Mark G on 23 May 2012 #

    No it wouldn’t.

  40. 40
    Chewshabadoo on 23 May 2012 #

    I’d forgotten you used to be at freakytrigger.com before it got nicked.

    Good to see it’s now “Blog with rich informations you needed.” ;D

  41. 41
    LondonLee on 23 May 2012 #

    Not been commenting lately because at this point in the Popular timeline I was living in Florida* and well out of the chart loop, but this is indeed a great honour. Can’t wait for the new album. The map on the sleeve, by the way, can be bought as a rather fine poster here. I have one and it’s luverly. Not sure what came first, the poster or the record.

    *Funnily enough, we’re close to the time that I bought my first copy of ‘So Tough’ on cassette at a shopping mall in Clearwater, FL.

  42. 42
    Mike Atkinson on 23 May 2012 #

    There are also tea towels! I bought one last night.

  43. 43
    Tom on 23 May 2012 #

    I heard it as “mocking Pete Baran” too – funny the tricks one’s subconscious plays.

  44. 44
    Mark G on 23 May 2012 #

    oh well. Never mind…

  45. 45
    Kat but logged out innit on 23 May 2012 #

    I would never mock Pete Baran.

  46. 46
    admin on 23 May 2012 #

    some here mocked him in his mocks

  47. 47
    punctum on 23 May 2012 #

    On close listening I’d say it was definitely: “Kat, Mark and Pete Baran,” and sadly for Grouty they might be thinking of Mr p*nk s S*nk*r.

    Then again I initially thought she was singing: “There’s Tom, who made the prophecy” so who can say?

  48. 48
    Crag on 23 May 2012 #

    Brilliant- you should be v v proud, Tom m’boy!

  49. 49
    Mark G on 23 May 2012 #

    I’m sure it’s more likely to be himself, but it’ close enough for me..

  50. 50
    swanstep on 24 May 2012 #

    Is ‘Nabob’ the ideal word in this context anyway? Without ever looking the word up specifically, I’d always gathered that a Nabob was a corrupt ruler of some kind, so that ‘Nabob”s more like ‘demagogue’ or ‘dictator’ than it is like, say, ‘Duke’ or ‘Sultan’ or ‘Governor’. I’ve mainly, in fact, heard the term used in the Spiro Agnew condemnatory phrase ‘Nattering Nabobs of Negativity’ from which it always seemed clear that nobody would describe him- or herself as a ‘Nabob’.

    Looking up the term now, wiki says (idiotically, ungrammatically – so very sic.):
    A Nabob is an Anglo-Indian term for an East India Company servant who had become wealthy through corrupt trade and other practices.

    But other on-line dictionary resources seem to plump for a more neutral, ‘Governor’-like meaning. At any rate, the term at least leaves room for ambiguity that’s unhelpful I would have thought (perhaps inviting the Alex Petridis’s of the world to miss or skew the song’s affectionate tone).

  51. 51
    Erithian on 24 May 2012 #

    The first context in which I heard the word (and there haven’t been many since) was in the part-work magazine “The Story of Pop” circa 1974, which refers to Johnnie Ray having been dubbed “the Nabob of Sob”. I know from previous discussions on here that Marcello collected “The Story of Pop”, and since Bob is only a few months younger than him, it’s reasonable to suppose Bob might have read it himself. Makes sense for a pop obsessive to have got the word from there, or from subsequent knowledge of Johnnie Ray’s career.

  52. 52

    Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?
    Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
    Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
    or SQUAT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
    Does he drink his soup and his coffe cold,
    or HOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
    And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
    or TROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
    Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,
    or COT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    When he writes a copy in round-hand size,
    Does he cross his T’s and finish his I’s
    with a DOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Can he write a letter concisely clear
    Without a speck or a smudge or smear
    or BLOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Do his people like him extremely well?
    Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,
    or PLOT,
    At the Akond of Swat?

    If he catches them then, either old or young,
    Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,
    or SHOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Do his people prig in the lanes or park?
    Or even at times, when days are dark,
    O the Akond of Swat!

    Does he study the wants of his own dominion?
    Or doesn’t he care for public opinion
    a JOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    To amuse his mind do his people show him
    Pictures, or anyone’s last new poem,
    or WHAT,
    For the Akond of Swat?

    At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,
    Do they bring him only a few small cakes,
    or a LOT,
    For the Akond of Swat?

    Does he live on turnips, tea, or tripe?
    Does he like his shawl to be marked with a stripe,
    or a DOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he like to lie on his back in a boat
    Like the lady who lived in that isle remote,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Is he quiet, or always making a fuss?
    Is his steward a Swiss or a Swede or Russ,
    or a SCOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does like to sit by the calm blue wave?
    Or to sleep and snore in a dark green cave,
    or a GROTT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he drink small beer from a silver jug?
    Or a bowl? or a glass? or a cup? or a mug?
    or a POT.
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he beat his wife with a gold-topped pipe,
    When she let the gooseberries grow too ripe,
    or ROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he wear a white tie when he dines with friends,
    And tie it neat in a bow with ends,
    or a KNOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he like new cream, and hate mince-pies?
    When he looks at the sun does he wink his eyes,
    or NOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Does he teach his subjects to roast and bake?
    Does he sail about on an inland lake
    in a YACHT,
    The Akond of Swat?

    Someone, or nobody, knows, I wot,
    Who or which or why or what
    Is the Akond of Swat!

  53. 54
    punctum on 24 May 2012 #

    The first time I ever saw the term “Nabob” was in Frank Richards’ Greyfriars School books, as applied to Hurree Jamset Ram Singh, one of the many reasons why these books are difficult to find today (the Nabob of Bhanipur IIRC).

  54. 55

    In which we all discuss nabobs and nawabs and billy bunter (till the gunpowder ran out of the heels of our boots)!

  55. 56
    punctum on 24 May 2012 #

    Mostly we seem to have discussed Julian Cope there.

    It would be interesting to hear a Cope remix of “Over The Border.” “Roky Erickson. Roky Erickson from the 13th Floor Elevators.”

  56. 57
    Tom on 24 May 2012 #

    Yes when I hear “nabob” I think “the nabob of sob”!

  57. 59
    Mike Atkinson on 24 May 2012 #

  58. 60
    swanstep on 24 May 2012 #

    Heh. Thanks to everyone for setting me right about ‘nabob’. It seems like its neutral reading predominates, so SE are right on. (I’d have voted for ‘Sultan’ though in any band meeting on the topic! If only I’d been at all fastidious about lyrics in my wretched-pop-song-writing youth.)

  59. 61
    Erithian on 28 May 2012 #

    For anyone else who was going to the Palladium gig tonight, afraid it’s been postponed due to Sarah coming down with laryngitis. Get well soon Sarah.

  60. 62
    swanstep on 28 May 2012 #

    In other Popular news, the second track on Regina Spektor’s new album is ‘Oh, Marcello’. (I keed, I keed.)

  61. 63
    punctum on 28 May 2012 #

    Nice song, but alas nowt to do with me.

  62. 64
    byebyepride on 1 Jun 2012 #

    ” ‘Popular’ is apparently about a thirty-something getting over a relationship by visiting trendy wine bars – a relationship that, if the track’s character is anything to go by, must have been built solely upon a mutual enjoyment of Pilates to begin with.”

    unpleasantly hostile review at Fact.

  63. 65
    punctum on 1 Jun 2012 #

    Well it is “Fact” magazine – they probably didn’t like the fact (ho ho) that there are tunes on the album.

    Any thoughts on this morning’s Grauniad poll?


  64. 66
    swanstep on 1 Jun 2012 #

    That Fact reviewer needs to be to be told that Christgau is not an acceptable role model. Jesus.

    As for the the Guardian’s poll: so far, no Sinead for 1990, no Kate Bush for 1978, no Britney for 1998, no Gaga for 2009, are the obvious boneheaded calls by my lights.

  65. 67
    Tom on 1 Jun 2012 #

    They sent round a call for suggestions – I sent one per decade, and they almost all got commissioned (I went for Stand And Deliver for the 80s one, but they were never not going to pick Ghost Town).

    This was a bit of a surprise, since when I suggested “Swagger Jagger” it was in the sure – and as it turns out incorrect – knowledge that someone would pick “Someone Like You” so I wouldn’t actually have to write about it.

  66. 68
    Tom on 1 Jun 2012 #

    #66 (Britney is 99 in the UK btw – which would magnify yr anger given what is there!)

  67. 69
    punctum on 1 Jun 2012 #

    “boneheaded calls”

    what bit of the phrase “FAVOURITE number ones” do people not understand?

  68. 70
    punctum on 1 Jun 2012 #

    I note the Grauniad’s own heading says “best” – the curse of the (non) subs again *sigh*

  69. 71
    swanstep on 1 Jun 2012 #

    The Guardian’s list was officially called ‘Best No 1 singles’ and there was a claim of expertise made for the people that were asked to submit preferences, so it seems to me to be more than fair to talk about possible errors of omission and commission in this case, albeit appropriately qualified (‘by my lights’). Moreover, methodological choices played a big role in the poll (insisting on an evenly distributed one per year is a killer in Pop’s killer years, and no deduction of points, as it were, for reissues was another killer), so again plenty of room for someone to legitimately moan, or so I would have thought.

  70. 72
    Mark G on 1 Jun 2012 #

    plenty of room for someone to legitimately moan

  71. 73
    punctum on 1 Jun 2012 #

    Expressions like “possible errors of omission” and “appropriately qualified” have no place in pop writing. This is a list, not a GCSE Maths paper. “Methodological choices” and “Pop’s killer years” – well, I cannot argue with terms I do not understand. Don’t bother trying to explain them, you’ll only look silly.

    (btw “to legitimately moan” is a split infinitive)

  72. 74
    thefatgit on 1 Jun 2012 #

    It’s a “Daddy or chips” argument, innit?

  73. 75
    wichita lineman on 1 Jun 2012 #

    I didn’t know it was only going to be one song per year when I submitted my suggestions (hence they included Baby Jump, the only one that didn’t get commissioned). I wasn’t thinking of favourites, or bestest, just a bunch of no.1s I thought were interesting for one reason or another. I’d agree that it does seem one-off/novelty heavy – Toni Di Bart AND 3 of a Kind AND Lt Pidge etc. The little intro lines for each entry were written by subs (ie I DO understand why Here In My Heart was a no.1, just not why it hung around there for so long).

    As for the Fact review, it amusingly suggested Only Love Can Break Your Heart was a Saint Etienne original (I wish). This was later amended (not by the PRS, boo).

  74. 76
    swanstep on 1 Jun 2012 #

    @73, Punctum. How about you write how you wanna write, and I’ll write how I wanna write? I agree that ‘Pop’s Killer Years’ is a daft expression – I wish I hadn’t used it – but the idea that some years’ #1s are full of riches and some aren’t is uncontroversial surely.

    “Avoid splitting infinitives.” That’s the one rule that is likely to survive when all the rest of grammar has withered away. … Most of the best grammarians have recognized the split-infinitive rule for the flimflam that it is. H. W. Fowler described people who followed the rule as “bogey-haunted creatures … Whose aversion springs not from instinctive good taste, but from tame acceptance of the opinion of others.”
    —Geoffrey Nunberg, American linguist, The Way We Talk Now, 2001

  75. 77
    punctum on 5 Jun 2012 #

    #75: tbh I find people’s favourites, and the way they write about them, far more interesting than the usual dreary rote list some people seem to prefer where OF COURSE Sinead is the best #1 of 1990 (but WHY?) and OF COURSE Bo Rhap/Rising Sun/someone ring Ronan Keating to sing me out of my coma (had I not been persona non grata at the Guardian been asked to contribute I probably would have gone for “Life Is A Rollercoaster” for 2000 but can’t argue with “Bound 4 Da Reload”).

    I like the idea of “Space Oddity” and “The Model” sounding equally, or more, futuristic at the time of their reissue. Also Tim Jonze’s comparison of “We Are Young” to Arcade Fire is spot on and hadn’t occurred to me before. Lots to think about, which is the point.

    #76 – as my Moral Philosophy tutor told me, never say “surely”; it implies there is no alternative to your argument, furthermore suggests that argument is evidential fact rather than perspective. The “idea that some years’ #1s are full of riches and some aren’t” exists for political and demographic purposes; as demonstrated countless times here, the argument doesn’t stand up at all. The number one arena has always been a bazaar where tat jostles for space with art – and frequently one flows into the other – and doesn’t really have anything to do with year or age divisions.

    About split infinitives, (a) not all of us, or indeed any of us, are Gene Roddenberry, and (b) as Tony Oxley once told me, you have to learn the rules first so that you know how to break them.

  76. 78

    Commenting on the split infinitive will inevitably be tossing gasoline onto an electric heater, but my little bookshelf of professional styleguides basically confirms the line that wikipedia (currently) takes:

    i: that the habit is old
    ii: that if there is not strictly a rule per se there is EXTREMELY widespread belief in a rule
    iii: that the “rule” has little “logical” basis (insofar as this means anything) (essentially it means that english is not morphologically derived from latin, and it’s not logical to argue that it is)
    iv: that the “rule” was strongly enforced in the 19th century (with the effect that a practice from the middle ages that had declined was revived, and converted into an absolute)
    v: and that the best duty of the editor or sub-editor is to (a) avoid if possible; (b) deploy when unavoidable
    vi: hence pragmatism and tact are your guides, along with ears for rhythm and the subtleties of meaning-via-word-order

    Thus Fowler (writing in 1926); Partridge (writing in 1947); Gower (writing in 1948); the Cambridge Handbook to Copy-Editing (first pub.1975); and the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (1993).

    Gower probably explores the question best in the revised version of Plain Words: that he had formerly taken the pragmatic position (“best avoid by rewriting, though there is no actual rule: be careful you don’t distort the meaning if you do re-order,” in rough paraphrase), and a friend had pointed out he was being a massive coward. If the rebel position is “dispense with the rule”, and you choose to consider yourself a rebel, then DISPENSE WITH THE RULE.

    Given this exemplary line-up of big-name grammarians — and given the absence of of a genuine grammatical reason for its not being split — I’m tempted to suggest that the anti-splittists have always actually been the rebels, and that this prescription exists vox populi vox dei.

    In other words, I too am sat on the fence — and practically speaking I tend to rewrite, unless I really can’t see a way round it, or (much more unusually) the context is somehow enriched by the feel that comes with a split. (The poetic value of a rule being the effect of breaking it…)

  77. 79
    Alan not logged in on 5 Jun 2012 #

    my editorial rule was to go along with whatever causes the least friction, i.e. detract the least – where detraction would include “letters to the editor”. however applying such a nebulous rule on an internets would lead to a never-posting paralysis

  78. 80
    Ed on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #77 A thought: does the distinction between “favourite” and “best” even make any sense? How often do you find yourself saying: “This is not my favourite record, but it is the best”? If you do say that, what standard are you using to decide what is “best”? From that point of view, I can completely sympathise with the Guardian subs who used the two words interchangeably. And either way it’s a good list, as you say.

    #78 I always think wistfully about Raymond Chandler, who supposedly changed back an editor’s correction with the comment: “When I split an infinitive, goddamn it, I split it so it stays split.” Not many of us have the chops, or the nerve.

  79. 81
    Tom on 6 Jun 2012 #

    The distinction between “favourite” and “best” comes out in the reactions, I think. It’s fascinating how people read stuff about the process into the words – one tweet, for instance, was incredulous because “The Guardian has voted Cher Lloyd the best number one of 2011” – it’s hard to imagine the idea of a vote creeping in if “favourite” had been used, and actually it would be quite unusual to imagine a collective entity having a favourite.

    So there’s no distinction between F and B on an individual level maybe, but at a publication level differences start to emerge – a collective best need not be everyone’s favourite (or even ANYONE’S, though I think most publications would cheat to avoid that outcome)

  80. 82
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2012 #

    I dunno, an individual can objectively choose a ‘best’ and yet subjectively choose a ‘favourite’.

  81. 83
    Ed on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #81 Good point: put enough subjective opinions together, and they become objective.

  82. 84
    Weej on 6 Jun 2012 #

    From languagelog:
    “Every decent guide to grammar and usage on the market agrees that the split infinitive is grammatical and often preferably to all other alternatives. Look it up! Don’t take my word for it. Go to a library and take in your hand what appears to you to be a comprehensive, high-quality reference work on English usage. See what it says. There just aren’t any that insist the split infinitive is always ungrammatical and should never appear in writing.”

  83. 85
    Ed on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #82 So how do you step outside yourself to choose a best “objectively”? When people say that, don’t they usually mean “this is what other people like” or “this is what I think I ought to like”?

    I suppose one way to draw a distinction would be when a song has particular personal associations – happy memories, whatever – that make you feel differently about it from how you would if you were approaching it for the first time. I guess you might want to distinguish between favourite and best because your reactions are bound up with your specific emotions and history, which inevitably most other people are not going to share.

    IIRC, though, not many writers on that Guardian list reach for those kinds of personal justifications for their choices.

  84. 86
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Well, it’s like saying you like “SwagJag” more than “Nevermind I’ll find” while ‘recognising’ that the latter is the better ‘piece of work’.

  85. 87
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    “A while back I was very low
    When this guy said I had to go
    Up town to Constitution Hill

    “There I found some people having fun
    Cheering the UK’s number one
    Oh boy, I felt such a thrill

    “All I want to talk about is Brenda, Brenda
    All I want to hear about is Bless Her, Bless Her
    One crown, one time, and she’s come back again
    And again
    And again
    And again

    “All I want to talk about is Lizzie, Lizzie
    All I want to hear about is Queenie, Queenie
    One crown, one time, and she’s come back again
    And again
    And again
    And again

    “There’s Chaz
    Camilla Parker-Bowles
    Here’s Kate
    And William in their Rolls
    Harry, the question of the team

    “The old Greek
    Perhaps he is a Dane
    Has gone and pissed
    Himself again
    Leaving once more
    The Mighty Queen

    “All I want to talk about is Brenda, Brenda
    All I want to hear about is Bless Her, Bless Her
    One crown, one time, and she’s come back again
    And again
    And again
    And again

    “All I want to talk about is Lizzie, Lizzie
    All I want to hear about is Queenie, Queenie
    One crown, one time, and she’s come back again
    And again
    And again
    And again…”

  86. 88
    punctum on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Jimmy the Swede’s comment easily the most interesting and entertaining one of this bunch. Otherwise, apropos Raymond Chandler, not everyone had the education he had (Dulwich College) as well as the guts, and part of my long-term mission is to set the question: “does the presence of ‘favourite’ require the existence of ‘best'”?

  87. 89
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Well, we need a poll, someplace (can’t think where..)

    “Which one of these is best?”

    Raindrops on roses
    whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles
    warm woolen mittens
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings
    Cream colored ponies
    crisp apple strudels
    sleigh bells
    schnitzel with noodles
    Wild geese that fly with a moon on their wings
    Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
    Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
    Silver white winters that melt into springs
    (and, for the wilfully perverse:)
    Dog bites
    Bee stings
    Feeling sad

  88. 90
    Tom on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #86 I don’t think SLY is better though! I can see why people do but that’s not going to make me use the b-word about it.

  89. 91
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2012 #

    No, but then again you might think one of the other number-ones were ‘objectively better’.. Anyways, next oop:

  90. 92
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #89 – The Swede vote, not surprisingly, would go to… Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes!!

    At the very bottom would be the ridiculous schnitzel with noodles, simply because you don’t eat schnitzel with noodles, for heaven’s sake (well, certainly Austrians don’t). It’s another of your split infinitives..

  91. 93

    As I am sat at home waiting for a delivery of blue vinyl floor tiles, with plenty nothing better to do, I looked this up! Turns out that Germans and Austrians DO sometimes eat schnitzels with spätzle or spaetzle — which is indeed a kind of southern teutonic noodle (either as gnocchi or vermiform). There is much debate whether this practice predates the song however.

  92. 94
    Mark G on 6 Jun 2012 #

    What, they heard Julie Andrews and thought “that sounds like an idea worth trying” ? Naah…

  93. 95
    wichita lineman on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Re 92: I’ll second that, though if the choice had included chicken escalope with spaghetti (and bolognese sauce)* it might have won out. Schnitzel and noodles being an Austrian variation, I imagine.

    *Alpino on Chapel Market is the best/my favourite cafe for this winter warmer.

  94. 96
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    #93 – I am grateful to my Rt Hon friend. I certainly remember Oscar Hammerstein being mocked for this line by some haughty teutonic, who made the point I made, only in a much ruder tone. It is thus possible that Julie Andrews was responsible for the adoption of the black art of noshing noodles with schnitzel and that the Austrians and Bavarians have never forgiven her. Or perhaps the arrogant Oscar-baiter was simply talking shite.

  95. 97
    am i logged in or am i dancer on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Spatzle is crunchy deep fried noodles isn’t it? As such I have concluded that everything in Austria is deep fried apart from “buttery rolls” (as per all chalet school books).

    #95 the chicken escalope toasted sandwiches you can get at Cafe Uno on TCR are pretty darned great too, although apologies obv for sandwiches being OT.

  96. 98

    They don’t look very deep-fried in the google images I’ve found of jaeger schnitzel and spaetzle. In fact they look soggy.

  97. 99
    am i logged in or am i dancer on 6 Jun 2012 #

    The internet tells me that spatzle means “little sparrows” so stick THEM in your deep fryer and er tweet it.

  98. 100
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    I bloody love this site!

  99. 101

    To return to one of the many slightly less O/T discussions:

    A very well established British film monthly recently invited its critics and reviewers — as well as a large number of bigwigs across the industry — to participate in its newest ten-yearly poll of the “Ten Greatest Films of All Time”, a very long-running project. They are careful not to be dogmatic about the definition of “greatest” — as the guidelines put it:

    “As for what we mean by ‘Greatest’, we leave that open to your interpretation. You might choose the ten films you feel are most important to film history, or the ten that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the ten films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.”

    That encourages contributors to cut across and perhaps distinguish three different qualities, I think: is this important? is this good? does this mean a lot to me? The first looks at something’s place in a broader history — the second at the way something handles the tasks it has set itself — and the third begins to approach (but is not quite the same as) a purely personal response. As a rubric, this — to me — hints at the idea that they would love people to be perverse, without saying so out loud. Because if the poll ends up crowning the same set of films as it did last time, that’s a bit boring (and hence counter-productive for the magazine).

    On the whole, I tend to think “historically important” delivers the least interesting polls, because voters will end up second-guessing a result very largely outside their input, with much-too-potent reversion to mean, and worrying about “standing the test of time” (zzzz) and “influence” (grrrr) and other dreary factors. But a poll that strongly emphasises “unexpected private pleasures” risks having a vast pool of hundreds entries with a single vote, and runaway winners with just four votes, or whatever. So I think the unclarity of definition — the fact that some vote to this convention, others to that, and so on — does actually make for more thought-provoking polls, precisely because the wrinkles sometimes create more unplanned run-off than monolithic affirmation.

    From a magazine editor PoV, the purpose is in the end to deliver interesting writing and reading in coming months, rather than to sum up all culture and switch off the lights. An element of trolling is essential: too much from too many people cancels itself out.

  100. 102
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Well, it’s certainly no coincidence that “Citizen Kane” and “Bambi” were produced only a year apart. I keep forgetting which one Rosebud was in. It’s uncanny.

  101. 103
    thefatgit on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Is that the one where Walt Disney shot Orson Welles’s mother?

  102. 104

    It is the most important moment in cinema history.

  103. 105
    Alan not logged in on 6 Jun 2012 #

    until Hannibal Lecter ate Dougal’s daughter’s face

  104. 106
    punctum on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Bambi’s mother turns up at Xanadu at the end: “Don’t be too hard on the boy. He was most upset at my funeral.”

  105. 107
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Jun 2012 #

    Surely the most important moment in cinema history is when Orson is hunting a terrified and trapped Bambi through the sewers of post-war Vienna. I wonder if the Austrians eat noodles with venison?

    #106 – Cobb, Arrival.

  106. 108
    swanstep on 6 Jun 2012 #

    @101. Roger Ebert wrote about his 5th time participating in the Sight and Sound poll you describe here, if you’re interested. He felt a lot of wholly internal pressure to have changed at one film in his top-10 list since the last poll. Perhaps private existential terrors aren’t so different from those felt by the Magazine Editor.

  107. 109
    punctum on 6 Jun 2012 #

    2001 a “stand-along monument”? Standing alongside what?

  108. 110
    Mark G on 7 Jun 2012 #


  109. 111
    swanstep on 14 Jun 2012 #

    The Guardian has a vid. of a live session with Sarah Cracknell and co (but not Bob or Pete) doing a very nice, new song (temp-named) Jan Leeming. Highly recommended.

  110. 112
    Erithian on 26 Jun 2012 #

    Some suitably sublime digressions here on the thread that celebrates the song that celebrates the website that celebrates … etc.

    Anyway, just in case anybody involved might ever read this, hearty congratulations on a hugely enjoyable evening with St Etts at the Palladium last night. Sarah clearly loved every moment of it, even (especially?) when fluffing the lyrics. Never been to a gig that seemed so much like a party – marvellous to be there. And “Popular”, complete with TOTP chart rundowns from ’75 and ’76 on the backdrop, was obviously the highspot.

    And yes, Mike TD, I got the teatowel too.

  111. 113
    Pete on 26 Jun 2012 #

    So annoyed I couldn’t make it for the supremely rock’n’roll reason of a School Governors meeting.

  112. 114
    Erithian on 26 Jun 2012 #

    (left hand) The chance to hear YOUR NAME in a song performed on the stage of the London Palladium; (right hand) what to do next time Ofsted come calling. Couldn’t you have phoned in sick?

  113. 115
    Jimmy the Swede on 27 Jun 2012 #

    Tomorrow’s our day at Wimbledon. We’ve got tickets for Court One and the weather forecast is not good. Whilst Cliff will be breaking into song from the Royal Box on Centre as they roll the roof on, do you suppose St Etts might be persuaded into entertaining the folk over the border until the rain stops, since we ain’t got a roof?

  114. 116
    Pete Baran on 28 Jun 2012 #

    I was subbing for the chair who has cancer. His sicknote trumped mine.

  115. 117
    Erithian on 28 Jun 2012 #

    Sorry to hear that Pete – best wishes to him.

  116. 118
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Jul 2012 #

    The Swede had a great day at the tennis last Thursday. Whilst waiting for madam outside the loo under the big screen (Henman Hill), an oldish fellow in a club blazer approached. I leapt up immediately and offered my hand, which he took. I mumbled something about him being one of the great ones and he graciously thanked me before going on his way.

    It was John Newcombe.

  117. 119
    Ed on 6 Jul 2012 #

    @101 An excellent answer to the “what is the greatest?” problem: http://blogs.indiewire.com/pressplay/video-sight-sound-film-poll-ignatiy-vishnevetsky-on-how-to-make-a-random-top-ten-list#.T_Z0QnkXiSo

  118. 120
    El boludo on 6 Jul 2012 #

    I’ve been meaning to say, this lot were fvcking great at Primavera in Porto last month. It had been a miserable saturday up to that point due to huge downpours (I go to european festivals to get away from these wretched conditions ffs!), and they really turned it around & made everyone forget the weather & start having fun again.

    The new songs sounded great, too. Cheers guys!

  119. 121
    Rory on 28 Sep 2012 #

    Since this entry gives us a sneaky backdoor to talk about current music, and since the song in question isn’t bunny-bait quite yet… I thought I would note that last night, for the first time, I found myself buying a track on iTunes just to see what Tom writes about it here in a decade’s time.

  120. 122
    ace inhibitor on 28 Sep 2012 #

    re Ed in June @81 (tardy, moi?) – ‘put enough subjective opinions together they become objective’…..

    ‘The good does not exist, like that, in an atemporal sky. The good is defined by us, it is practised, it is invented. And this is a collective work.’ – Foucault (pretentious, moi?)

    Apart from anything else its a lovely bit of phrasing and rhythm, even in translation (OK, only in translation, I don’t know what it is in French)

  121. 123
    Ed on 6 Oct 2012 #

    @122 Great quote! Much subtler and deeper than what I was saying.

  122. 124
    punctum on 8 Oct 2012 #

    #119: the S&S video “essay” won’t play on my PC; just skips back to the main menu whenever you click on it. Write it down, Mr IV.

  123. 125
    Erithian on 12 Oct 2013 #

    I’m sure Bob wishes he’d done this… Saint Etienne buy up the old square goalposts from Hampden Park. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/24501627

  124. 127
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Nov 2013 #

    I am fond of Sukhdev, in print and in person, and this is an enthusiastic summary — but Bob’s decision to discuss a fixed and well defined slice of history (and not attempt to bring it right up to LAST NIGHT’S CHARTS) was extremely clearly explained. It’s odd (and telling?) how resolute reviewers seem to be in reading it as a comment on the quality (or lack of it) of music since that period ended.

    Also the idea that “exuberant and cross-generational linkages” have become the norm in writing about music is simply (and weirdly) false.

  125. 128
    Mark G on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Also, the bits where Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan get ignored in favour of Donovan and whoever.. Well, to be fair, I have not read up to the Donovan section, having only just got through the DYLAN CHAPTER! but Aretha f. gets plenty praise..

  126. 129
    Alan on 6 Nov 2013 #

    the last 2 paras are ‘HOW DO I END THIS THING? ER WILL THIS DO’, which is fine.

  127. 130
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Yes, but there SS is just acknowledging that orthodox rock history allows THIS AMOUNT OF SPACE for certain people, and bob on the whole gives them a lot less, into order to discuss at considerable length people generally omitted. A History of Modern Pop that actually omitted the Beatles would be a very bold project indeed.

  128. 131
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Orthodox rock history being a bit of a strawman there in terms of well-researched doorstep-shaped books meaning to cover EVERYTHING. Charlie Gillett’s The Sound of the City, which I actually really like, only gets up to the late 70s (because that’s when it was written) and its later stages inevitably now feel quite dated. Donald Clarke’s The Rise and Fall of Popular Music starts well but overreaches far into decades DC has no sympathy for or grasp of. The Rolling Stone book is as variable as the contributors, and anyway not really a history per se. What else is there?

  129. 132
    Mark M on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Re 130/131: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but my feeling has been that the orthodox rock position has always been stronger in ordinary punters than people who write about music. They have a greater stake in the notion that The Clash really, really matter and The Saturdays don’t. Apart from anything else, most sane people immersed in any subject will find themselves tinkering with unorthodox positions just to stop getting bored, even if they can’t bring themselves ideologically to swap sides (hence ‘guilty pleasures’).
    Whereas if you are either a) 15 and this all new and crucial to you or b) only get to listen to your old vinyl when the wife and kids are out of the bloody house, it’s easier to maintain a hard line.

  130. 133
    flahr on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Old people in ‘think things were better in their day’ shocka

  131. 134
    Ed on 6 Nov 2013 #

    Respect to Bob for joining in in the comments.

    I think poor old Rimbaud got a bad rap, though.

    This is amazing, and I would never have known about it but for Patti Smith:


    A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels
    Someday I’ll talk about your secret birth-cries,
    A, black velvet jacket of brilliant flies
    That buzz around the stenches of the cruel,

    Gulfs of shadow: E, candour of mists, of tents,
    Lances of proud glaciers, white kings, shivers of parsley:
    I, purples, bloody salivas, smiles of the lonely
    With lips of anger or drunk with penitence:

    U, waves, divine shudders of viridian seas,
    Peace of pastures, cattle-filled, peace of furrows
    Formed on broad studious brows by alchemy:

    O, supreme Clarion, full of strange stridencies,
    Silences crossed by worlds and by Angels:
    O, the Omega, violet ray of her Eyes!

  132. 135
    punctum on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but my feeling has been that the orthodox rock position has always been stronger in ordinary punters than people who write about music. They have a greater stake in the notion that The Clash really, really matter and The Saturdays don’t.

    Does anyone really feel this other than a few sad old men who look like Vince Vaughn and hang around used record shops? I think you’ll find that the majority of “ordinary punters,” e.g. my mum, are far more familiar with the Saturdays (always on TV, always turning up) than the Clash (whom the general public don’t know apart from that lot who did that Levi’s advert).

    Also it’s not “tinkering with unorthodox positions,” it’s “providing a different opinion or point of view.” Why does every piece of music writing have to retread the same old story, toe the party line? Is it down to the resentment of a select group of people who have suddenly been told that their world is only a small corner of a far larger and more complex world?

    even if they can’t bring themselves ideologically to swap sides

    I think you’re confusing music appreciation with Dungeons and Dragons.

  133. 136
    Mark M on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Re 135: I’m not saying the bulk of ordinary punters, I’m just saying those are attitudes often ascribed to (non-specified) critics (and academics) that I’ve more often encountered among, say, the readers of Mojo or Uncut rather than the staff of those magazines. It was a stance certainly held by a lot of teenage Sounds readers back in the day.

    ‘I think you’re confusing music appreciation with Dungeons and Dragons.’

    There’s a difference?

  134. 137
    Tim on 7 Nov 2013 #

    I think Mark M’s point is not so much about the current relative public profiles of The Clash and The Sundays, it’s more about where one is most likely to find the orthodox rock position.

    I feel like I’m much more likely to hear “don’t even play their instruments” / “don’t even write their own songs” etc from people randomly chatting about music in the office than I am to encounter them in rowckwrite these days. That might reflect more on my chosen rockread, of course.

  135. 138
    punctum on 7 Nov 2013 #

    I think that if we have reached the stage where there are things like “the orthodox rock position” then rock music has been for nothing.

  136. 139
    Tom on 7 Nov 2013 #

    This was always Dave Q’s point – rockism is the populist music fan position, it’s not something imposed from above. The arguments deplored by pop writers – authenticity, test-of-time, who’s faking it – are the ones most easily reached for in any office and pub.

    Now, the good news for “pop” is that easily reached for arguments tend to have very little to do with actual behaviour, and the rockist arguments are so flexible they can be applied to almost ANYTHING – pretty much any record over 10 years old on YouTube gets ‘why don’t they make them like this anymore? modern music is plastic crap’ commentary no matter how woeful it seemed at the time.

  137. 140
    punctum on 7 Nov 2013 #

    As somebody (p*nk s?f Andy Gill? Biba Kopf?) once said in the NME, music is never as good as it was while you’re living through it.

  138. 141
    Mark G on 7 Nov 2013 #

    And as somebody said in some book or other, the best year of Pop was the one where you first discovered pop. e.g. I always rated 1983, but that was more a re-discovery. I refuse to back my pick by going back and looking..

  139. 142
    Erithian on 7 Nov 2013 #

    How about the current relative public profiles of the Saturdays, the Sundays and the Mondays?

  140. 143
    Mark G on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Sundays are a ‘day’ of rest.

  141. 144
    punctum on 7 Nov 2013 #

    With my TPL hat on, I’m currently in the process of rediscovering the pop of 1983. It’s not a pretty picture, I can tell you.

  142. 145
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Scandal – The Warrior. Now I wish that hit Popular. Maybe not for the right reasons, however..

  143. 146
    punctum on 7 Nov 2013 #

    And indeed, here is the first of TPL’s twenty-one entries to deal with 1983: http://nobilliards.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/various-artists-raiders-of-pop-charts.html

  144. 147
    Patrick Mexico on 7 Nov 2013 #

    Sounds excellent, Marcello.. shared the link on Facebook to one of the creators of “200 Worst Songs”.. a very good blog full of classic British cynicism (though it lays on SU bar politics a bit too thickly), but no point linking it here as it would be bunny armageddon.

  145. 148
    swanstep on 8 Nov 2013 #

    The History Boys is set in 1983 and, at least in its movie version, makes it seem like a Smiths/Echo/New Order/Cure wonderland.

  146. 149
    tm on 8 Nov 2013 #

    I’ve always though that if there’s a lazy critical consensus, it’s towards what Tom called The Big Cultural Stiffy For Other People’s Misery owtte, for self conscious ‘intelligence’ and for unglamorous white, male, middle-class people who look like the majority of the writers (cf Dave Lee Roth’s comment about Elvis Costello), rather than Rock per se.

  147. 150
    iconoclast on 8 Nov 2013 #

    @146: one of your best pieces; I always look forward to reading them.

    In general: but isn’t it part of the fun of discussing popular music to get riled up when you hear or read somebody heaping unstinting praise on something which is quite obviously garbage, or the reverse?

  148. 151
    punctum on 8 Nov 2013 #

    No, because either way you’re still dealing with subjectivity. I find persuading people a better method these days, coupled with trying to find the good points in what looks like unpromising material (i.e. most of 1983’s number one albums). Rather than just say “hyuk hyuk what were people thinking” I endeavour to find out why people were thinking what they thought, and what the findings say about me and/or those times and/or the present day.

  149. 152
    anto on 8 Nov 2013 #

    re148: Apart from the music on the soundtrack there’s curiously little in the film* to suggest what year it’s meant to be. If there is any significance to the date it might be because Irwin’s rather cynical but effective teaching methods are clearly about to usurp Hector’s learning-for-the-love-of-learning approach.
    One of the most shocking moments in ‘The History Boys’ is when the Headmaster ferociously turns on Hector and his methods (‘Screw the renaissance, and literature and Plato and Michaelangelo and Oscar Wilde and all the other shrunken violets you people line up’) thus making his bias perfectly clear.

    * The play quotes ‘It’s A Sin’ by the Pet Shop Boys so is presumably set a few years later.

  150. 153
    Erithian on 26 Jan 2016 #

    Tom, by all means remove this comment if he wants to play it down, but did I spot something on Twitter yesterday to the effect that Wichita has become a dad? Warmest congratulations to Mr and Mrs Lino and rockin’ Len.

  151. 154
    Jimmy the Swede on 5 Oct 2017 #

    A contestant on today’s Pop-Master, Paul from Stockton-On-Tees, told the convivial Ken Bruce that he had recently seen St Etts and not only loved it but had been invited backstage “by their keyboard player” and thought what pleasant people they all were. Ken agreed and told Paul and the nation that he, Ken, appeared on St Etts new album. He too mentioned what nice folk they were. Neither went the obvious extra mile by singling out the divine Sarah for extra praise. Paul won but didn’t get the three in ten.

  152. 155
    Gareth Parker on 23 Sep 2021 #

    Great record imho. and a marvellous tribute! 8/10 for me.

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