May 11

JASON DONOVAN – “Any Dream Will Do”

Popular59 comments • 4,525 views

#666, 29th June 1991

Like – I suspect – an awful lot of kids born in the 70s or 80s, I have taken part in a production of Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. I did not play the lead – the Hamlet of pre-teen stage roles – instead I was Potiphar, the Egyptian merchant who catches Joe in the clutches of his lustful wife. He gets one line in the show, as follows:

“Joseph, I’ll see you ROT IN JAIL.
The things you have done are BEYOND THE PALE.”

I had to put on a tea-towel Arabian get-up and a deep voice, and then fidget around backstage for the entire rest of the performance. It was great!

The result of this is that Joseph done by grown-ups feels wrong and foolish to me; it would be like seeing Ernie’s Incredible Illucinations in the BBC Autumn drama line-up. “Any Dream Will Do” isn’t meant to be a thoughtful meditation on how with self-belief one can achieve any goal, it’s a final show-off number for the lead kid actor while the whole rest of the cast cram on stage and try and upstage him (or just pick their noses). And – importantly – it ends not with a mumbled “any dream, any any dream” routine but with a lung-busting “GIVE MEEEE MY COLOURED COAT!”. Cue bows, applause, sighs of relief from Dads.

So even if he was born to be Joseph, Jason Donovan is Doing It Wrong. And in any case, he’s wooden: never a singer to whom gusto comes naturally, he turns “Any Dream Will Do” into a wet fish of a thing. It’s not a brilliant song to begin with, though in Joseph’s pot-pourri of eager, smart-alec pastiche numbers it’s about the only thing you can extract and run with as a stand-alone. At least in one area the single has the authentic school hall tang to it: the cheapo production, all gross marimba overload and splashy synth chords, sounding like it’s coming out of a drama teacher’s tape deck. It adds up to a baffling, and unwelcome, number one.



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  1. 31
    Rory on 3 May 2011 #

    The very first recorded music I bought with my own pocket-money, at the relatively advanced age of 14 or just-turned 15, was the 1973 RSO LP of Joseph, in the second-hand racks of the upstairs record shop that used to be part of Ellison Hawker (small nugget of detail for 40-something Tasmanian readers there, if there are any apart from me). What can I say – all my pop music epiphanies were still months or years away. So although we never performed the show at school, the thought of it still gives me a twinge of nostalgia, even if it’s at least 20 years since I deliberately listened to any Lloyd-Webber.

    Watching the video of Donovan’s performance for the first time, the memories of that vinyl purchase come flooding back, and I’m afraid Jase’s effort can’t compare (which is not to say that the 1973 recording was much chop either). To give him his due, it’s a competent vocal from an artist I generally can’t stand; but the rhythm track is awful, and the kiddie chorus too sickly by half (but then, aren’t most kiddie chorii?).

    What’s most striking, though, is the sudden thought that Jase here seems to be modelling himself on the veteran star who had cornered the UK market in biblical-inspired pop. Go on, have a look at those close-ups from 0:50 to 1:20 and tell me they don’t remind you of Cliff.

    Pharaoh sez: You shall be my number… 2.

  2. 32

    Boiled down lyrics:

    I close my eyes, drew back the curtain
    To see for certain, what I thought I knew
    Far far away, someone was weeping
    But the world was sleeping
    Any dream will do

    I wore my coat, with golden lining
    Bright colors shining, wonderful and new
    And in the east, the dawn was breaking
    And the world was waking
    Any dream will do

    A crash of drums, a flash of light
    My golden coat flew out of sight
    The colors faded into darkness
    I was left alone

    May I return to the beginning
    The light is dimming, and the dream is too
    The world and I, we are still waiting
    Still hesitating
    Any dream will do

    I found some of this quite evocative when I was little, but I’m not surprised the properly actually religious are wary: “Any dream will do” is ecumenicalism gone mad (and plus it’s surely not correct to call a “coat with golden lining” a “golden coat”).

  3. 33
    katstevens on 3 May 2011 #

    Oh God I’ve just remembered doing this at karaoke a while back, changing the lyrics to ‘drew back meat curtains’ and ‘any dream is poo’, possibly to exorcise ghosts of #6. I’m so sorry, everyone.

  4. 34
    flahr on 3 May 2011 #

    #32: but WHERE ARE THE ‘aah aah’S?!?!?!?

  5. 35
    weej on 3 May 2011 #

    This isn’t great, not by any stretch of the imagination – the plinkity-plonk keyboard loop that goes through the whole song just really isn’t good enough for a finished pop product for example – but to give credit to Jason it’s clear that he’s been working on his singing since his previous #1s, and while he’s still not great he’s at least competent by this point.

  6. 36
    Mark G on 3 May 2011 #

    This was definitely a “pop single” version of the song, rather than an ‘excerpt from a stage performance’.

  7. 37
    thefatgit on 3 May 2011 #

    #23… Origins of Drum & Bass. There are some in the Rebel MC camp and and some in the Lennie De Ice camp. I’m not sure which was released 1st tbh, but Rebel MC’s track must have charted way higher. I remember taping “We Are I.E.” off the radio around the latter half of ’91 or early ’92. Can’t honestly say when though.

  8. 38
    Mark G on 3 May 2011 #

    Double Trouble & Rebel MC “Just keep rockin” was May 1989

  9. 39
    enitharmon on 3 May 2011 #


    And here’s me thinking it was Jet Harris and Tony Meehan…

  10. 40
    Steve Mannion on 3 May 2011 #

    #23/37 other camps: Shut Up And Dance/Ragga Twins, Smith & Mighty (specifically ‘Killa’), Genaside II (the earth-shaking ‘Narra Mine’) and A Guy Called Gerald who also moved from house to breakbeats around late ’91.

  11. 41
    katstevens on 3 May 2011 #

    @39 Amen to that (do you see etc) (except wasn’t it some other dude?)

  12. 42
    will on 3 May 2011 #

    Call me a soft old wanker but….I quite liked this at the time.

    Not for that awful plinky plonky percussion, nor the cringeworthy ‘any dream any any dream’ backing vocals. No, I just found it unbearably poignant to hear a fading teen pop star sing lines like ‘the light is dimming and the dream is too’. It was all a bit too meta for comfort.

  13. 43
    AndyPandy on 3 May 2011 #

    First breakbeat/hardcore chart entry (albeit very low down) was 4hero “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare” in November 1990.

    I remember being at a rave night (quite unusual in itself as I stopped raving at the end of 1989 until about 1994)in Lancashire (it was in the only rave I ever went to in Northern England (or actually outside the South-East) before I moved up here)and wondering if the track that I’d just started hearing on the pirates and Kiss FM down in London would be played.

    I thought this new sound was maybe just a London/Home Counties thing (and I suppose in some ways it was at first)as it was like nothing else I’d ever heard before.
    This was at the very tail end of the post-acid dance scene still being vaguely unified when you never knew what you’d hear (still a bit like 1988/89 when you could hear anything from Roberta Flack “Uh-Oh” to hiphouse to Bang the Party to Barry Blue and his “Afrodiziact”)so I didn’t think it was beyond the bounds of possibility.

    It wasn’t played and I was a bit disappointed – even now the breaks/samples sound fierce. And as I missed the next 3 or 4 years that was the nearest I ever got to hearing a hardcore track in a rave setting when it was still contemporary.

  14. 44
    Pete on 3 May 2011 #

    I was a scene shifter in my middle school’s production of Joseph circa 1988/9. I appeared briefly at the end making sure the brother that supposedly stole the item had the right bag.

    Here’s a thing, the fact it was a major West End show at the time but still sounded like it was knocked up on a Casio keyboard surely was part of its appeal for it to re-enacted at various schools around the UK. I’m beginning to think this was actually an unwritten part of the school syllabus in as much as it was cashing in on singing the songs that every pre-teen kid was forced to learn. Jason Donovan might of scored another number 1 if he’d of covered the theme to “Think about Science”
    As a footnote don’t forget who replaced Jason Donovan in his role as Joseph none other than Philip Schofield. It could easily of been him scoring this number one hit.

  15. 45
    anto on 3 May 2011 #

    A plodding bland effort flattered to number one by the shows success.

  16. 46
    Billy Smart on 4 May 2011 #

    #13 Jude Law came to my birthday party! This was my fourth birthday party in 1977, admittedly. We were at nursery school together. I can remember him saying that when he grew up he wanted to be the strong man in a circus.

  17. 47
    Billy Smart on 4 May 2011 #

    My reaction to this soppy but not disagreeable melody has always been to start singing the lyrics of ‘Crystal Days’ by Echo & The Bunnymen over the tune.

  18. 48
    Billy Smart on 4 May 2011 #

    I see that six months later, Donovan’s bid for the Christmas number one, ‘The Joseph Mega-Remix’ could climb no higher than 13.
    Thereafter, his greatest chart success was a version of ‘As Time Goes By’ that peaked at number 26 in 1992 – classy!

    1993 brought a would-be controversial comeback ‘All Around The World’. Despite featuring the memorable couplet “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight/ as long as you can masturbate” (and who could argue with that) it could do no better than get to number 41.

    I’d imagine that a comeback is always a possibility, though. Has he been on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ yet?

  19. 49
    Rory on 4 May 2011 #

    He was on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

  20. 50
    Billy Smart on 4 May 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Jason Donovan performed ‘Any Dream Will Do’ on the Top of the Pops broadcast on 27 June 1991. Also in the studio that week were; Cubic 22, Erasure, Omar, Lenny Kravitz and Divinyls. Simon Mayo was the host.

  21. 51
    Tom Lawrence on 4 May 2011 #

    I actually was Joseph in my school’s production of Joseph!

    This isn’t the good number for Joseph, though – that’s “Close Every Door To Me”.

  22. 52
    Jimmy the Swede on 5 May 2011 #

    We did “Daniel Jazz” at school and had a whale of a time.

    There was also something at primary school featuring Tufty, the road safety squirrel. The villian here was Willy Weasel, who refused to obey the “curb drill” and thus got twatted by a double glazing van whilst dashing across the road to get an ice cream. He was then given an additional well-deserved toeing by the copper who was a badger. Just so there was no confusion as to the good Tufty and the naughty Willy, Willy wore a stripey t-shirt. He had to be a wrong-un dressed like that.

  23. 53

    Bite him bite him bite him bite him bite him!

    Those are the two bits I remember from Daniel Jazz.

    Tufty was a RED squirrel, which is odd, as they’ve been an endangered species since the 1920s. Although I guess that is when traffic safety began to be an issue for school-children.

  24. 54
    Jimmy the Swede on 5 May 2011 #

    I remember when “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” first came out in the 60s and Marty Hopkirk’s demise. My main reaction as a seven or eight year-old was that Marty should have been drummed out of the Tufty Club for that shockingly casual piece of road crossing.

    The infant Swede was coming along nicely…

  25. 55
    punctum on 6 May 2011 #

    Run down by Frank Windsor, no less. Talk about softly softly.

  26. 56
    Jimmy the Swede on 8 May 2011 #

    Slight correction, if I may, MC. Marty was certainly bowled o’er on the orders of Frank but not actually by him. He dialled a number to get a goon to do it. Windsor was acually a rather good baddie. He tried to destroy an important computer called George in an episode of The Avengers too, whilst pretending to care for it.

    As Steve Jones was later to say: “What a rotter!”

  27. 57
    Deannix on 24 Jan 2012 #

    UK people didn’t like other songs except dance or what? Kylie kept getting upper chart position, but not him. His 3rd album is the best album from him, yet it was not successful like his cheesy songs. There are some good songs from the album that were not released at all as single like Give a Good Heart or ballad Once in My Life. Now Once in My Life, Angel, Shout About and Mission of Love are like the soundtracks of his real story.

  28. 58
    Auntie Beryl on 12 Jan 2013 #

    He’s still out there plugging away – last year’s album Sign Of Your Love is down to £2.24 new from Amazon. Whether his voice is strong enough to carry off Every Time We Say Goodbye is debatable:


    The album didn’t sell at all well, any halo effect from Strictly 2011 didn’t translate.

  29. 59
    DJBobHoskins on 4 Mar 2015 #

    This was Donovan’s last hurrah really. A couple more ill-advised covers and other poor quality singles later, his pop career was over. Can’t help admiring the guy though, he made the best of his talent and seemed like a genuinely nice bloke.

    But yes, this is Sunny Delight vocals and production at its worst.

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