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I must glumly report that my relationship with contemporary music seems to be broken. Not because I dislike it. The distillate of year-end lists I’ve been playing this week is full of wonders. But the part of me that knew where and how to find those things for myself has vanished. My desire to gatekeep went years before. And often once I do find new music, it’s like parts of a jigsaw where I’ve lost the box and half the pieces. What consequences this will ultimately have for Popular are uncertain. Still, the hits keep coming and they don’t stop coming, and some of them are better than others. Here are the records that reached Number 1 in the second half of 2015, arranged in order, from best to worst.
The intro: 00’00 – 00’39
In December 1987 the Pet Shop Boys released “Always On My Mind”, a cover of the song made famous by Elvis Presley and Willie Nelson. It became the Christmas Number One that year. Almost a year later, they released Introspective, their third album, whose fifth track is a nine-minute version of “Always On My Mind”, including an acid house inspired breakdown that features Neil Tennant rapping. Introspective marks, in Tennant’s words, the end of the band’s “imperial phase”, where virtually anything they tried came off and was commercially successful. It charted at number two, behind U2’s Rattle And Hum.
Sixteen years later, at the end of a Freaky Trigger pub crawl, someone said that “Always On My Mind/In My House” was the best record of all time, and around a dozen of us agreed, or at least did not disagree, and that installed it at number one on our list, a list, we promised, that we would write up for the website over the course of 2005. And so we all went home the merrier for it.
And ten years after that, here we are.
The Secret History Of Band Aid
Everybody remembers Band Aid. And – despite everything – most people remember Band Aid 2. And now we have Band Aid
20 30. Which rather begs the question – why does nobody ever talk about Band Aids 3 to 29? Take a trip down memory lane as we remind you of the charity singles we all forgot.
Band Aid 3: Recorded in a secret corner of the Hacienda, “Baggy Aid” in 1990 melded social conscience with a wah-wah break and found Shaun Ryder offering to feed the starving his melons. That Line was sung by Bobby Gillespie, but nobody heard his reedy mewlings and the single flopped.
Band Aid 4: Top One Nice One! Altern8, Shaft, The Prodigy and many more superstars got together to give the classic tune a new boshing 90s sound – though it was B-Side “E For Ethiopia” that found favour with the DJ community. But a secret orbital party for famine relief was busted and the marketing juggernaut found itself turned back at a police roadblock.
Club Action returns THIS SATURDAY!
Join DJ Chlorine & The Barnet Ape for a celebration of the best of German technobosh, Italo-disco, Russian girlpop, Swiss post-punk, Irish jigs, Serbian turbo-folk, Spanish holiday hits, Scandinavian hair metal, French house and of course UK Garage (and everything else that could possibly score douze points).
Special guest DJ duties fall to DJ MAXIMATOR who owns at least 7 different versions of Ça Plane Pour Moi and may well play them all at once.
WHEN: This Saturday! 4th May 2013, 8pm-1am
WHERE: New venue! Downstairs at The Hideaway Bar, 114 Junction Road, Archway (nearest tubes Archway/Tufnell Park, 390 & 134 buses both run all night)
WHO: 2 Unlimited, ABBA, Ace of Base, A-Ha, Alcazar, Alizée, Annie, Boney M, Björk, Black Box, Bucks Fizz, Cascada, Daft Punk, Europe, Falco, Giorgio Moroder, Girls Aloud, Infernal, Justice, Kraftwerk, Katy B, Lindstrøm, Lordi, Lulu, Margaret Berger, O-Zone, Plastic Bertrand, Praga Khan, Propaganda, Roxette, Röyksopp, Ruslana, Scooter, So Solid Crew, Stardust, tAtU, Teddybears STHLM, Todd Terje, Tomcraft and of course Yello.
PLUS: Early arrivals can expect a small amount of ORGAFUN (er, mp3s permitting…)
You may have noticed that things have been a little bit quiet on the Freaky Trigger dancing front lately. That’s because DJ Chlorine and The Barnet Ape have been hard at work in secret altitude training up Mount Poplympus, in readiness to bring you…
WHERE: Downstairs at Ryan’s Bar, Stoke Newington Church Street (by the 73/476 bus stop)
WHEN: Friday 14th September, 8pm-1am
WHAT: Pop music, dancing and highly drinkable real ale!
FREE ENTRY plus a free pint if you show your recently-won Olympic/Paralympic gold medal to one of the DJs. (Half a pint for silver, a lime and soda for bronze.)
It feels a bit wrong, me being the one to write about Dexy’s. I have friends who are much much bigger fans, I have already written about the other Dexy’s track on this list – Come On Eileen. And for a very long time, until I picked up a cheap reissue CD of Searching For The Young Soul Rebels in 2002, Come On Eileen was one of the three things I knew about Dexy’s. The other two being Jocky Wilson Said and the Theme From Brush Strokes. Which for any band would be enough for at least a page in any half decent history of pop.
You see Robin, I’m just searching for the young soul rebels, and I cant find them anywhere. Where have you hidden them?
– attitude of complete indifference to all events
– inside-out knowledge of everything that happened on telly last night, especially Friends
– Rimmel Black Cherry lipstick
– copy of Sugar magazine (RIP :`()
– some trendy jeans
It is serendipitous (in the non Cusack / Beckinsale way) that U Can’t Touch This has turned up in the dying throes of Narnia week. Because MC Hammer’s most well known hit has a surprisingly large number of parallels with the Narnia sequence. Whilst people have seen religious metaphors all over CS Lewis’s fantasy kidlit, well the same it true of this 1990 reworking of Rick James’s Super Freak. Indeed you could say the relationship between the Bible, made of the Old and New Testament is similar to the addition of Hammer’s rap to James’s iconic riff to make You Can’t Touch This. Consider the Old Testament sex and temptation in Super Freak, to the New Testament pacifism and turning the other cheek of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. Indeed the Gospel According To Hammer is all about not hurting anyone, but just good baggy panted fun.
This really is the last NYLPM post.
If you’ve enjoyed NYLPM, you might also enjoy:
– the NYLPM archives, which will be staying up.
– the rest of Freaky Trigger, which will sail on unaffected, though with fewer overall hits most likely.
– Popular, which restarts tomorrow with Chris Farlowe and will continue chronologically through the UK’s #1 hits.
So I will be spending 2006 on holiday in the late 60s and early 70s, but will still write a bit about music on various LiveJournal communities, and hopefully one or two things for the Stylus webzine. (If you have a music zine and you’d like me to write something, ask me.)
Meanwhile there are lots of other music blogs. When we started NYLPM in March 2000 there were about three, now there are thousands! Millions! Naturally I don’t actually read any of them but if I find a good one I might update this post with the links. Poke around on the sidebar in the meantime.
Happy 2006, 2007 and ever after. Bye!
This is the last NYLPM post*.
After five and a half years, 3,500 posts and something like forty contributors I’m pulling the plug on this blog. Once upon a time it was the best music blog in the world, more recently it was just something nice to have around, and even if its best days are some years behind us, a hunt through most of its 70 archived months will turn up something worth reading – a review, a snippet of information, an idea or two ready to be picked up on. I may well hunt through myself sometime, and point you to the best bits.
I’m ending NYLPM because – as should be pretty obvious – I’ve no use for it anymore. Readership has been declining, and it’s been declining because the blog has been neglected, and the blog has been neglected because ultimately I’m bored with writing about music in this format. I dabbled in MP3 blogging to spice things up but my heart was never really in it. When I got back from the EMP conference earlier this year I’d had three days of really stimulating conversation about music, I’d heard some fascinating papers, and I realised I no will or desire to write it all up here. So this cancellation is overdue, but I’m still very proud of NYLPM, in its heyday and after.
This blog was never just a solo effort, and my decision to kill it off is a rather selfish one. Apologies and thankyous to Mark, Pete, Martin and Anthony, who were the most regular current contributors. And mighty thanks to Mike Daddino, Ned Raggett, Dan Perry, Maura Johnston, Fred Solinger, Tim Finney, Sarah C, Tim Hopkins, Dave Raposa, Sundar Subramanian, Jess Harvell, Stevie Nixed, Carsmile Steve, Jel, Marcello Carlin, Dr Alex T, Alan Trewartha, Robin Carmody, Greg Scarth, Tracer Hand, Steve Mannion, Stevie T, Jim Cassius, Peter Miller, Mike G, Ronan Fitzgerald, Andy Kellman, Mitch, William Bloody Swygart, and anyone else who contributed and who I shamefully forgot. And thanks to the linkers, commenters and readers too. It’s been a real pleasure and I hope you remember us fondly.