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Jul 12

MR BLOBBY – “Mr Blobby”

Popular218 comments • 11,950 views

#698, 11th December 1993

“Mr Blobby” is something of a first. We’ve met terrible records before – worse than this, in many cases – but their terribleness has been down to incompetence or cynicism (or in Jive Bunny’s case both). Blobby is doing something different: his single is best understood an extension of the Blobby M.O., the gag which made him a star on Saturday night TV. Celebrity is given to understand Blobby is a harmless kids’ TV character; Blobby then deliberately annoys the sleb, destroys the set, etc.

In other words the awfulness of “Mr Blobby” was a given. More, it was an aim. By Christmas 1993 Blobby was a national figure so his effectiveness as a prankster was long over, but there was enough time for one last great prank – get to number one with a record designed to infuriate, but that people would buy anyway because it would be funny to see it at the top of the charts, especially at Christmas. Hardly anyone had heard of “trolling” but here it was.

If you were being melodramatic – or keen on a bit of trolling yourself – you might say that this is the moment when the British public give up on the charts, turn their back on the one-shot dance hits, the first-week price-fixing, the return of boybands, et al. “Sod this,” the public cry, and vote for a deliberately stupid single by a pink jelly monster. Except I don’t think there was any malice in it – this isn’t a “Killing In The Name” type of incident, where one species of pop was pitched against another with plenty of sneering on each side. Nobody stood to win or lose. It was – like Blobby in general – just slapstick, corporate Dada, highly merchandised nonsense. It’s true that Blobby struck an awful lot of nerves – he was a lodestone for a wider debate about “dumbing down”, the BBC’s shift to an internal market under John Birt, a lurid, shambling “why we can’t have nice things” symbol for a vaguer sense of cultural decline.

But he was also a man in a rubber suit who fell over a lot. And this is his single, coming on like a megamix of previous novelties – the tinny Casio rush of Bombalurina, a chorus of kids a la St Winifreds, three-line-whip jollity (not quite as gritted-teeth as The Stonk), and plenty of parping and farting because, er, Britain. And what do you know – it improves on its sources.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    Rory on 4 Jul 2012 #

    Not having heard the song or really known who Mr Blobby was before yesterday, this was a first-time listen for me, and I’ll be damned if there’s ever a second. I can see how it might appeal to five-year-olds, but please, please, may it never appeal to mine. “The Stonk” and Bombalurina are harmless fluff by comparison.

    Now that I’ve voted on it, seeing “You say: 1” feels like words are being put into my mouth, to the tune of 1.

  2. 32
    Rory on 4 Jul 2012 #

    Mind you, I’m taking a perverse pride in the fact that, on the day that the Higgs boson has been announced and the EU parliament has rejected ACTA by a landslide, I am here posting a comment about the awfulness of Mr Blobby. There are priorities.

  3. 33
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 4 Jul 2012 #

    mr blobby IS the higgs boson: they knew all along, they were just waiting for tom’s score

  4. 34
    Chelovek na lune on 4 Jul 2012 #

    This is terrible, unlistenable dross.

    However, unlike “Imagine” it doesn’t even come close to aspiring to pretending that it is anything more. It lacks even the suggestion than anyone involved in its production, presentation, conception has ever dreamed of holding messianic illusions. There is not even the tiniest whiff of self-righteousness or pretence (however misguided)of political insight.

    However, the photograph in post #8 above – the very notion of Mr Blobby as, somehow, a sexual character – the very very notion of a Mrs Blobby, or a Master (or Mistress Blobby) could ALMOST make me reconsider – and make me think that Lennonish drivel wasn’t so bad after all.

    But only almost.

    This is utterly dreadful, but no-one is going to portentiously sing it on Breakfast television, or on national occasions, finding in their foolishness profundiity in its adolescent blandishments and platitudes.

    There are worse semi-gimmicky number 1s ahead, alas.

  5. 35
    Tom on 4 Jul 2012 #

    #34 re Blobbysexuality: That isn’t a head. It’s a bud.

  6. 36
    Special Girl AKA on 4 Jul 2012 #

    #8 – Baby Blobby is in the video, carried in by Mr Blobby in the final verse. He sings the backing vocals/obbligato ‘oh yeahhhhhh’ over the top, and is actually pretty cute with quite a gospel-y voice.

    I think some contributors to this thread are missing the point of Mr Blobby. Granted, NHP was a terrible shower of Saturday night shite and I felt too grown up for most of it (being a supercillious 12 year old at the time). However, Blobby was actually mildly amusing: watching Wayne Sleep, hoodwinked into co-presenting a fake kids’ tv programme with a fat pink puppet, become irate when the idiot pink thing couldn’t do ballet and fell over a lot made me laugh. A bit.

  7. 37
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 4 Jul 2012 #

    non obbligato sed blobbligato

  8. 38
    Izzy on 4 Jul 2012 #

    #16 – love it! Twelve-year-olds ime are still mostly kids, and certainly suckers for base humour of all kinds.

    Hats off for admitting it. I cringe when I hear folk claiming to have been into Crass or prog at that age, or something impossibly cool. There’s a guy in Peter Shapiro’s ‘Turn The Beat Around’ reminiscing about being down Studio 54 every night, aged eleven. I don’t think so, pal.

  9. 39
    Lazarus on 4 Jul 2012 #

    This thread is shaping up to be a latterday “No Charge” isn’t it? It’s a record that divides opinion to some extent – not, however, as to whether it’s good or bad, merely how bad. I’ve resisted the urge to listen to it again, but there is a proper female singer on it, isn’t there? Has she ever been identified?

  10. 40
    MikeMCSG on 4 Jul 2012 #

    # 5 His name was Barry Killerby and he gave his favourite film as “Straw Dogs” which did raise the question of whether he should be working around kids.

    No mention yet for Blobby’s most memorably unamused victim – Gary Davies. Is that because there’s other DJs here who didn’t appreciate Blobby’s assault on their art ?

    Very mixed feelings about this one as I was seeing a primary school teacher at the time and – quick check over the shoulder for lurking wife – it’s one of the few records that I associate with her. A guilty pleasure that can’t be indulged very often.

  11. 41
    El boludo on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Follow-up “Jack Your Blobby” failed to chart. Or exist :-(((((((

  12. 42
    Rory on 5 Jul 2012 #

    I’m not really convinced by the “it was supposed to be rubbish, so let’s be a shade more generous” argument. Plenty of extremely ordinary number ones were supposed to be good, but that doesn’t mean we give them all 8s or 9s. And what about Nick Berry’s “Every Loser Wins“? That was supposed to be a song from a fictional East End, so “real” scoring should surely not apply – yet that didn’t stop us hating it.

    If the people behind “Mr Blobby” intended to make a truly horrible record, all credit to them: they succeeded. I’m sure that tongues were firmly in cheek for “Star Trekkin'” and various other horrors as well.

    [A side note: what’s happened to the Freaky Trigger search box? It used to be a reliable shortcut to old Popular entries, but now it’s returning rubbish. Is it a “powered by Google” problem? That’s giving very odd results as well. Googling nick+berry+freakytrigger returns a page that links to an old tweet that links to the right page, but the right page itself is nowhere to be seen.]

  13. 43
    punctum on 5 Jul 2012 #

    I was interested to read the pro-Blobby comments (or as pro-Blobby as could be managed). Probably the liveliest of these was #17 to which I have to reply: if only! Sadly I don’t think such an argument holds any real water; although the writers may have tinkered with the record’s body in terms of mild subversion, I really do not think that there was any powering motive behind its existence other than the BBC trying to maximise income from a then highly profitable brand. It wasn’t the first time Noel had done it, either; remember “Brown Sauce” and their late 1981 Swap Shop tie-in single “I Wanna Be A Winner”? Has not been played at all on radio since it was a hit, probably because of the line “Go Nationwide with Frank Bough.”

    About the listening trends of 12-year-olds; well, of course there is a degree of revisionism at work in some cases but it’s unfair to those who were actually listening to something other than Blobby-type froth at that age. For what I was listening to at that age, see TPL in due course (I’m saying no more).

    Finally, careful with that “us” (#42) – I don’t like “Every Loser Wins” that much, but then nor do I hate it.

  14. 44
    Rory on 5 Jul 2012 #

    @42 Fair enough. Many of us.

  15. 45
    Rory on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Erm, @43, that is. I shouldn’t have edited my original “people” to “us”, I suppose; an attempt not to be even-handed to a fault. “Hating” is an unhelpful word there, too. I meant it in the same loose way that many use “loving” (for “liking a great deal”), not as an expression of hatred equivalent in degree to the love people feel for their partners or children. I don’t hate Nick Berry himself (I barely know much about him), but I certainly dislike that song a great deal. Judging by its average score, so do many other Popular readers.

  16. 46
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 5 Jul 2012 #

    As the mums and dads (and uncles and etc) reading will probably attest, there’s a whole music industry geared to writing songs for tots, tinies, infants and upwards: I seriously doubt that its single professional rule is “any old rubbish will work” — this may not be a record crafted “to be rubbish” but it was surely a record meant “to be annoying in a way 12-yr-olds will love” — which means the question should probably be, was this fashioned with the tenets of that skewed kind of craftsmanship in mind, or was it just tossed together with no consideration at all.

    Music that Niche A embraces because it maddens Niche B actually has a pretty honourable place in the story of the charts. But some niches seem to have a lot more heft than others, when it comes to writing up the canons of “true” taste :)

  17. 47
    punctum on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Paul Haig’s tinned peaches to thread.

  18. 48
    Erithian on 5 Jul 2012 #

    I haven’t had a chance to listen to this one again yet (by which I mean I’m still steeling myself for the experience and wondering whether it’s better to do so with or without our 5-year-old in attendance) – but apropos of targeting a song at a niche market, this was possibly the youngest market at which a pop single had so far been targeted, and remained so until a bunnied record (indeed featuring bunnies in the video IIRC) which sold an awful lot in 1997 and actually included nursery rhymes. Come to think of it, though, the heartbeat effect in “Albatross” probably goes down well with newborn babies.

    Even so, I was quite tickled by the idea that a kiddies’ record would manage to cram five- and four-syllable words into consecutive lines (“Although he’s unconventional in hue / his philosophy of life will see him through / and despite the limitation / of his poor co-ordination…”). There’s a certain level of production values at work here, and I’ve definitely heard worse lyrics! I’m not saying it’s all that good or anything, but a 2 is about right.

    Five-or-more-syllable words in Number 1 lyrics, anybody? I think the champion is the seven-syllable “individuality” in another bunnied (and TV-promoted) hit from 1999. Unless of course, in the words of Cyril Fletcher, you know better…

    BTW Billy Hicks #20 is possibly the sweetest post in the history of Popular!

  19. 49
    punctum on 5 Jul 2012 #

    #48: A “bunnied” record featuring a recently departed comedy giant, I think.

  20. 50
    Steve Mannion on 5 Jul 2012 #

    ‘Fondest’ Blobby memory: I accidentally played the intro (and a few seconds after so not just the TSZ intro which would’ve been easier to pass off as intentional perhaps) to ‘Mr Blobby’ at the first (iirc) Club Popular. This was instead of a 1994 #1 requested by someone as it was his birthday. Pete branded me a ‘cop out’ for not playing the whole thing of course, but then he on at least one occasion played just the intro of a 1996 #1 which for many was always its most recognised and celebrated bit.

    Re the talk of ‘annoying pop for kids’ (or ‘pop for annoying kids’?), I’d agree that Mr B was no less crafty than other hits from the time – the WWF Superstars hits sprang to mind. I still enjoyed WWF at the time but ‘Slam Jam’ and ‘Wrestlemania’ were more painful than a Bret Hart Sharpshooter. The even more ‘Dated On Arrival’ Power Rangers Xmas hit the following year is another example (peaking at #3 mercifully), both being the cold crappy brainchildren of one Simon Cowell “ahead” of his time.

  21. 51
    Lazarus on 5 Jul 2012 #

    We are, as I’m sure many are aware, going to have more of the ‘music for kids’ debate four years down the line – and another eponymous number one much sooner! But that’s maybe enough bunny-baiting.

    #40 – Barry could have just been a Susan George fan of course.

  22. 52
    weej on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Re: #50 I always sing “Wrestlemania” by the WWF when I’m trying to crack macadamia nuts – “Woooah macadamia, the battle to survive” etc.

  23. 53
    MikeMCSG on 5 Jul 2012 #

    # 43 There are many other reasons not to play Brown Sauce -the President Reagan/ Kevin Keegan rhyme for one and all the other 30-year old pop culture references.
    Come to think of it what does still get played from the oeuvre of BA Robertson ? I’m quite partial to “Knocked It Off” and “Kool In The Kaftan” but haven’t heard either in years. Lena of course will have to get to grips with the execrable “Bang Bang”.

  24. 54
    thefatgit on 5 Jul 2012 #

    #46 P^nk S. Yes, I responded well to Bubblegum as a little ‘un. “Yummy, yummy, yummy I got love in my tummy” is perhaps one of the earliest lyrics I can recall. Bubblegum wasn’t necessarily aiming at tots, but a sense of innocence. The Yummy/Tummy couplet works as tots, I believe would respond positively to how those words are shaped when repeated. (My parents actively avoided my exposure to Bill & Ben, because they thought it might be detrimental to my speech development. Who knows if it would? But there you go…). Nursery-rhyme-style pop is aural crack for pre-schoolers. Mr Blobby only works because the word “blobby” is repeated over and over. Fine up to a point, but nothing to stimulate a developing toddler-brain, in my humble opinion.

    As a pre-teen, I remember a lot of the angrier post-punk/new-wave didn’t necessarily speak to me, but Streetband’s “Toast” amused me greatly. I would repeat huge chunks of that song word for word with the correct inflections and everything. I have absolutely no idea why I would respond to a record like that, but I did.

  25. 55
    thefatgit on 5 Jul 2012 #

    Come to think of it, “blobby”/”flobbadob”…curse you Mum & Dad!!! You’ve skewed my thinking.

  26. 56
    Ed on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Some great comments. I particularly like the ones from people who are dismayed by how lenient Tom has been with his score. I haven’t seen that much outraged disappointment since Chief Justice Roberts’ ruling on ObamaCare.

    It’s a feeling I share (about Blobby, not ObamaCare). Lonepilgrim @12 nails it: that was exactly the image that sprang into my mind. There’s something about the barely concealed aggression behind “IT’S A JOKE, SEE? DON’T YOU GET THE JOKE?” that also reminds me of Michael Haneke’s ‘Funny Games’.

    And like Rory @42, I don’t think the intent is an escape clause. In fact, I think it makes it worse. Better to try to have some harmless fun and end up with ‘The Stonk’ as a result of your overwhelming and irremediable lack of talent, than to try to be crap and hit the nail right on its pointless head.*

    I’m with Bob Mortimer – whose humour is infinitely more good-natured – here, at 1.45: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBUaUy8XDGQ&feature=related

    *Question: has any music that tried to be terrible ever been worth hearing? That was McLaren’s plan for the Sex Pistols, of course, but Lydon, Cook, Jones, Matlock and, crucially, Chris Thomas had other ideas.

  27. 57
    MikeMCSG on 6 Jul 2012 #

    # 56 Nick Lowe’s contract-busting “Tribute To The Rollers” is worth a listen especially in conjunction with reading the comments on youtube from Rollers fans who don’t know the story.

  28. 58
    punctum on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Nope, Talcy’s plan for the Pistols was for them to be the new Bay City Rollers.

    Since when did bubblegum have anything to do with “innocence”?

  29. 59
    El boludo on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Haha mr blobby is like funny games! Not a comparison I’d considered before. Someone should put that to haneke!

    Mind you, it’s all funny games until someone ah never mind

    I was 11 when this song came out & hated it. But then, we never watched noel. We watched cilla on the other side.

  30. 60
    El boludo on 6 Jul 2012 #

    I seem to recall Luke Haines saying somewhere that he only commissioned the μ-Ziq remix album because he knew it would be terrible. But again, μ-Ziq apparently didn’t get the memo, & Haines was probably just trolling IDM nerds anyway.

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