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Jul 12

MR BLOBBY – “Mr Blobby”

Popular218 comments • 12,299 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. 121
    Ben Cook on 10 Aug 2012 #

    This might be an awful song, but it’s a very well crafted. Just read the lyrics. They’re actually quite clever.

  2. 122
    punctum on 10 Aug 2012 #

    Had you actually read the comments section in full before posting your comment, you would have seen that the lyrics and their varying presumed meanings have been discussed fairly comprehensively.

    As for “a (sic) very well crafted,” pop music isn’t boat-building.

  3. 123
    New York, London, Paris, Munich... on 10 Aug 2012 #

    Long time lurker (adore Popular – great work Tom), first -and likely last – time poster who had to surface to thank Punctum for his latest posting. A great contribution, and just the kind of message which encourages others to raise their head over the parapet. Note to self…ensure you have studied previous entries meticulously before daring to dip your toe in the water.

    i guess poor old Ben is in detention this weekend for his poorly researched, sloppy piece of work.

    Really – what was the point?

    Lordy me.

    Back to the shadows…

  4. 124
    thefatgit on 10 Aug 2012 #

    Attention lurkers! There are no sharks in this pool.

    As someone who is an enthusiastic amateur on these comments threads, who is more than aware he is rubbing cyber-shoulders with esteemed professionals, I’ve never felt intimidated by the company on here. I would take it as a compliment if someone like Marcello nudged me in the right direction. The last thing anyone on here would like to see is for Popular to become some sort of elitist talking-shop. I think I speak for all when I say anyone’s opinion is welcome here.

  5. 125
    punctum on 12 Aug 2012 #

    Interesting that as soon as I “raise my head over the parapet” there pop up two “sharks” ready to take a shot at me.

    “anyone’s opinion is welcome here” – well tbh it’s not for you or me to say who or what is or isn’t welcome here since it’s not your or my blog but I would take it as read that “anyone’s opinion” includes mine. Is it really “elitist” to want anyone who comes on these comments boxes to have done their homework and pitch their comments accordingly? To have put a little bit of thought into their comment before posting it? Otherwise it becomes ProgTech pub chat; if that’s all you want, then fair enough, but it’s not my thing and I won’t hang around. I come here for higher quality chat than that.

    But of course I forget; “higher quality” implies elitism, but when you look at the bigger picture, life is “elitist” really; if it wasn’t, we’d all be getting paid the same salary. Sport and education are “elitist” because they are based on the premise that some people are better at things than others. Same with work; that’s why there are employers and employees.

    Circumstance is not the same thing as opportunity, of course, and the kind of elitism based on whether you were born to the right parents, went to the right school or college, made the right friends at university etc. is a terrible and vile thing. The thing about socialism is that its central aim OUGHT to be pulling everyone up into the “elite” rather than pushing everyone down to the bottom, and by “elite” I mean a certain level of wisdom and shared knowledge that everyone should have the opportunity to attain rather than be precluded from it because it’s “elitist” or “unfair” to others. My English education at school was ruined by putting everyone in a “mixed ability” class in our third year. What this meant in PRACTICE was that the “better” pupils mostly sat around bored, waiting for the “slower” ones to catch up, and so substandard work was produced as a result (the whole of my third year at school was the unfortunate result of an experiment with late seventies pseudo-socialism but I have more to say about that elsewhere). There are other ways of achieving it but it’s too much work for most people organising things to put into action.

  6. 126
    Men on 12 Aug 2012 #

    Pretentious gibberish is pretentious. You know nobody actively likes you punctum.

  7. 127
    enitharmon on 13 Aug 2012 #

    #126 Oi, mush, you leave my mate Marcello alone! Which midden did you crawl out of anyway?

  8. 128
    Mark G on 13 Aug 2012 #

    post reeks of public school, just sayin like…

  9. 129
    Matt DC on 13 Aug 2012 #

    Perhaps we could form the Freaky Trigger Free Academy where elite young minds will be able to take part in Advanced Mr Blobby Studies unencumbered by the rest?

  10. 130
    punctum on 13 Aug 2012 #

    #127 – hey thanks Rosie! :-) But the commenter shot himself anyway by making the elementary mistake of thinking “pretentious” is a pejorative (I’m guessing it was a “he”).

    #128 – I hope not; I went to grammar school, so I did.

    #129 – I’ll have to ask Lord Coe about the feasibility of that.

  11. 131
    Mark G on 13 Aug 2012 #

    — purely on the basis of 1) speaking for everybody in his own mind 2) perjorative use of ‘surname’ 3) haughty tone and an outlying 4) fakeLurkerNameUnknownPreviously

    (oh and assuming male is fair enough as he called himself “Men” which adds to my point 1 in fact.)

  12. 132
    Men on 13 Aug 2012 #

    #127. I’m usually found in Europe and Asia, feeding on insects and other small creatures.

    P.S I get confused with school terms in England, but I did not pay for my sub-standard education at my comprehensive. Hence why I’m making innane comments on music forums. Just to spice my life up a bit.

  13. 133
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 14 Aug 2012 #

    Only yesterday was reading about Morrissey’s insistence that his fellow Smiths never use his first name, so perhaps this is a clue

  14. 134
    punctum on 14 Aug 2012 #

    Stanley Dance used to moan about Max Harrison sending him letters with the signature “Harrison,” implying that he had been elevated to the House of Lords.

  15. 135
    Jimmy the Swede on 14 Aug 2012 #

    “BOTH names, please!”

    “Er, I only use one.”

    “You don’t have a first name?”

    “No, I’m Lord Melbury so I simply sign myself Melbury…”

    #126 – Oh, and The Swede actively likes Marcello too, thank you kindly. Our occasional “Prisoner” jousting is a great joy, even if it bores everybody else daft. And just for the record, I also didn’t pay for my sub-standard comprehensive education, except with nearly my life on one or two occasions. It was the best finishing school in London. Once you were there, you were finished.

  16. 136
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 16 Aug 2012 #

    “BOTH names, please!”
    “They call me MISTER Blobby” (said in an angry Sidney Poitier voice)

    (sorry, this just popped into my head and amused me momentarily — I will now get my coat and PSYCHOLOGICAL HELP…)

  17. 137
    Billy Hicks on 22 Aug 2012 #

    As we await the entrance of 1994, some stats which may or may not be interesting around this time as to what was selling on what format, as gleamed from Music Week:

    Despite ‘Mr Vain’ setting a new record, the 7″ vinyl was still the dominant format for singles as we began 1994, with 39% of sales. A hefty 25% were on 12″ vinyl, with 19% on cassette tape and a mere 17″ for the new-fangled ‘compact disc’.

    For albums a different story, the CD flourishing with 65% of sales followed by the cassette with 32%. Vinyl accounted for just 4%…although this makes 101, so not sure what happened there. Perhaps it adds up fractionally.

  18. 138
    Billy Hicks on 22 Aug 2012 #

    That’s not a direct quote, by the way, just in case anyone thinks Music Week was genuinely calling the CD ‘new-fangled’…it’s just me being flippant and making a straight list more verbally interesting.

  19. 139
    wichita lineman on 22 Aug 2012 #

    Billy, I’m still trying to uncover which was the first digital only no.1 – no vinyl, no cassette. I was told it was R-bunny & J-bunny by an ‘authority’, then checked and saw 27,000 copies of the 7″ on gemm.

    Oh, and that is properly fascinating info for a stats-orientated ex public school boy* like me, thanks.

    *bursary

  20. 140
    Steve Mannion on 23 Aug 2012 #

    I would’ve thought the most likely candidate would be something neither remotely ‘clubby’ nor particularly ‘collectable’ (which rules out the pin-ups) nor representing some sort of throwback (as R&J were).

    Looking at the list, a #1 by some rumpled chancers six months from “now” strikes me as the most vinyl-unfriendly on those bases.

  21. 141
    hardtogethits on 23 Aug 2012 #

    Been away from this site for a while
    And another contibutor said “where have you been?” I was surprised anyone noticed
    But I’m here to say I’m back again
    Even if I don’t comment until the next number one.

  22. 142
    punctum on 23 Aug 2012 #

    To be honest, you may be in for a long wait.

  23. 143
    Billy Hicks on 23 Aug 2012 #

    Wichita – I know that the first #1 not available on vinyl in any form is a bunnied song in just over a year’s time from ‘now’ (eg Christmas ’93). The act’s initials, are, brilliantly, ‘CD’. But of course that would have a cassette version, as indeed would most singles for the next decade.

    The last number 1 to be available on cassette, again according to Music Week, is in August 2003 – from the artist ‘EJ’. So definitely from then onwards it’s digital all the way (CD and then download), but perhaps there’s a couple from before?

  24. 144
    Billy Hicks on 23 Aug 2012 #

    …not to be confused, of course, with the CD (and P) twisting and shouting very soon indeed. LOL OMG, etc.

  25. 145
    punctum on 24 Aug 2012 #

    To be honest, you may be in for a long wait..

  26. 146
    Lazarus on 26 Aug 2012 #

    We haven’t touched much on Blobby’s career since his split with Edmonds (did they cite ‘artistic differences?) such as his frequent but largely unwanted appearances as a guest on JIM DAVIDSON’S GENERATION GAME STARRING JIM DAVIDSON, but I was reminded recently that he had a minor role in a 2005 number one, I think it might even have been the year’s biggest hit.

  27. 147
    Mark G on 27 Aug 2012 #

    One of those “didn’t sell terribly well” items you find in a pound shop: “Mrs Blobby”

  28. 148
    wichita lineman on 28 Aug 2012 #

    Thanks Billy. 2003 eh? I knew about “CD” but not “EJ”. Any idea which was the first no.1 not to have ANY physical presence at all?

    By the way, OMG is also bunnied… but I think it’ll be a long old while before we get there.

  29. 149
    Mark G on 28 Aug 2012 #

    There was that Elvis’ reissue, which got to number one having sold out of all copies and was unavailable in shops. Does that count?

    (we’re not re-doing ‘re-entries’ are we? So them’s not bunnied, right?)

  30. 150
    punctum on 28 Aug 2012 #

    Dunno if Tom is doing any further entries on here (this one is eight weeks old), so it may be academic…

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