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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. 61
    punctum on 6 Jul 2012 #

    b-b-but it’s a great album! I’ve still got it!

  2. 62
    weej on 6 Jul 2012 #

    It’s a fantastic album, I listen to it much more than I do either The Auteurs or μ-Ziq, i.e perhaps once a year.
    Really not sure how we’re talking about this, did El boludo post on the wrong thread?

  3. 63
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Probably worth distinguishing what McLaren at any given point told the press (or indeed the band) was his plan, and what his plan actually really was. He too is something of a “Funny Games” theorist/prankster.

    (I fear I can’t now stop picturing Haneke being interviewed about his latest film, all present very serious and head-waggy, until Mr B suddenly charges in and knocking the director flying. The art of the future will be the bouleversement of situations, or nothing. )

  4. 64
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    We’re talking about the value of the “creative intention to be terrible”, with Luke Haines trying to shoehorn himself into the McLaren role, in respect of a record of his own that he hates but others love. This in itself topsyturvies the issue of intention, of course (not to say “auteurism”). Controversial final sentence: Haines never needed the input of others to be terrible.

  5. 65
    punctum on 6 Jul 2012 #

    yeah but mingus sleevenote “throw all other records of mine away except this one.” used in more than one sleevenote.

  6. 66
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Ah. Um.

  7. 67
    Steve Mannion on 6 Jul 2012 #

    My first thought re this question (in this context) was The Firm and ‘Star Trekkin’ being intentionally terrible in obvious calculated ways (which I suppose makes it theoretically easier to ‘get’). I still disagree with Tom’s dismissal Of Jive Bunny as ‘incompetent’ (as in there’s a clear difference for me between that and being just naff).

  8. 68
    swanstep on 6 Jul 2012 #

    In case someone hasn’t heard it, the third track (‘Chinese Bakery’) on The Auteurs vs mu-ziq is a blast.

  9. 69
    Lazarus on 6 Jul 2012 #

    I’m just wondering if NHP was up against Blind Date, or whether Cilla & Co went out a little later, at 8. I hardly ever watched it except when we went to the in-laws for the weekend when we were forcefed stuff like that (and before that 3-2-1, The Price is Right etc). I have a feeling that BD was up against ‘Casualty’ – another programme which we’ll get to in the fullness of time. If so the proles could have a double helping of entertainment.

  10. 70
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    That’s my memory also, Lazarus: that they didn’t actually clash. But I never watched NHP and only very occasionally watched BD, so I might just be wrong here.

  11. 71
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    (I always watched casualty though)

  12. 72
    Cumbrian on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Unsurprisingly, it’s bloody difficult to find TV listings from 1993 online to see whether NHP and BD were on at the same time. My memory is that they were – but I could well be wrong (given I disliked both shows I was more than likely playing Tetris or Super Mario World on my old Gameboy or something similar). The best I could find at a short google was this:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/bbc-pulls-plug-on-noels-house-party-cancelled-1136432.html

    From The Independent in 1998. Seems to imply that they were on at similar times at least, though it doesn’t rule out BD being up against Casualty either.

    ETA: I also found this, which says that they were on against each other in 1999.

    http://www.broadcastnow.co.uk/war-zone-saturday-night-benchmark-battle/1215685.article

    And this implies they were on head to head in 1995.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/he-s-back-at-the-double-1.650522

    Suffice it to say, I work in TV research.

  13. 73
    punctum on 6 Jul 2012 #

    We watched Blind Date. Never watched Casualty; I work in the NHS, don’t need to see a fantasy version of it in my own time.

  14. 74
    Mark G on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Yeah, that’s why I never watched Grange Hill either. Or the IT Crowd, funnily enough as the few I did see were quite good.

    I think the very start of the IT Crowd started in an office set on the top floor of an office block with a view of London Bridge, and all young good looking staff, etc. “Hey! That’s my old office” I said. And then the setting changed to the basement, at which point the similarities ended.

  15. 75
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Oddly enough the only time the only time I was interviewed by the police — they were taking witness statements about some local incident, I wasn’t a suspect — I was watching The Bill when they knocked on the door. I apologised, and by way of something nervous to say, said that I’m sure they all thought it was very silly and unrealistic. “No,” said the young officer cheerfully: “It’s very good. We all love it!”

    No doubt this was the canny response of a highly trained crimecracker, playing with my mind.

  16. 76
    enitharmon on 6 Jul 2012 #

    It’s all very well saying that one shouldn’t dismiss this because it isn’t aimed at one’s demographic, but it would seem that 1992’s pre-teens were much more easily pleased than those of 1962.

    When I was 8, I and my classmates had the emerging Beatles and Stones, the whole Mersey scene (we were just over the water after all) and so on. Sure, we also had things like Right Said Fred (no, not that one) but even so Bernard Cribbins seems an order of magnitude more sophisticated than this pile of ordure. 2 is way too generous; you can’t really be suggesting that Vincent is even worse than this, can you Tom?

  17. 77
    Lazarus on 6 Jul 2012 #

    Tom thinks EVERYTHING is better than ‘Vincent.’

    I think he has some sort of deranged vendetta.

  18. 78
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 6 Jul 2012 #

    “this world was never meant for one as blobbiful as you”

  19. 79
    wichita lineman on 7 Jul 2012 #

    “Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
    Swirling clouds in violet haze
    Reflect in Blobby’s eyes of china blue”

  20. 80
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Jul 2012 #

    blobby was the VINCENT VAN GUNGE of 90s chartpop

  21. 82
    thefatgit on 7 Jul 2012 #

    #77 I can think of one possible candidate. We’re a long, long way from that, however.

  22. 83
    swanstep on 8 Jul 2012 #

    Could the Mr Blobby image (on the record sleeve as well in other material judging by lonepilgrim’s link) have influenced South Park’s ‘BP drills the moon’ image, e.g., here?

  23. 84
    wichita lineman on 9 Jul 2012 #

    I can’t get the ‘search’ function to work properly. I know I’m not the first person to mention this. If I type in, say, “The Kinks Sunny Afternoon” it seems to take me to every mention of the song on the site bar the actual Popular entry.

  24. 85
    Mark G on 10 Jul 2012 #

    Found the year of original posting via the wayback website..

    http://www.freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/2005/

    then to.
    http://www.freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/2005/10/the-kinks-sunny-afternoon/

  25. 86
    flahr on 10 Jul 2012 #

    If you’ve looking for individual entries it’s usually easiest just to open the Populist and Ctrl-F for the one you want.

  26. 87
    Mark G on 10 Jul 2012 #

    Need Populist link someplace.

  27. 88
    Steve Mannion on 10 Jul 2012 #

    Search seems OK for me – a search ‘kinks sunny afternoon’ showed the Popular entry as the fourth result tho. Alan may have fixed some issues recently.

    There are some things we could build in to make access to particular entries (plus polls) easier tho. IMO Ideally you could get to ANY entry on FT with just two or three clicks rather than actually having to use Search. Of course it’s a bit of work…but stay tuned :)

  28. 89
    Cumbrian on 10 Jul 2012 #

    Isn’t the Populist link the one that says “Index of scores and reviews so far” in the top of the sidebar?

  29. 90
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Jul 2012 #

    # 1 – “Congratulations. We shall need the Blobby for evidence. What do you desire?”

    “Number one.”

    “I’ll take you.”

    “Actually. Don’t bother. It will only be bloody Edmonds.”

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