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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. 151
    Tommy Mack on 28 Aug 2012 #

    What an ignominous note to end on – surely not! He was just getting to my era too!

  2. 152
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 28 Aug 2012 #

    BLOBBY KILLED POP

  3. 153
    Tommy Mack on 28 Aug 2012 #

    “Pink spotty rubber tw*t” – Bob Mortimer

  4. 154
    Ed on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Given what’s been said here about Mr Blobby as the Raoul Vaneigem of the 1990s, it’s somehow appropriate.

    Fin du Blobby

    Fin du Popular

  5. 155
    Mark G on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Did we ever get to talk about “touch me touch me” ?

  6. 156
    Billy Hicks on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Wichita – I know far too much of this silly information :p First number 1 without ever getting a physical single release (in the UK at least, it got one overseas) was in 2008, a band who only have a one-word name so I’ll say the initals of the song – VLV. Of course for the last year or so that’s been the case for almost every single track in the top 40, let alone the #1s.

    So, erm…rumours of Popular’s death are greatly exaggerated, right? We are *just* on the cusp of entering into the beginning of ‘my era’ for pop music. Stopping just as I actually begin to have memories of these songs when new (stand up Blobby, Take That, 2 Unlimited etc) would be far too much of a shame. By 1999 I’d be writing massive entries for every #1…maybe perhaps in that case we should be grateful for small mercies, though, as the Steps/S Club 7 era of British pop was one I fell head over heels in love with as a nipper… :p

  7. 157
    tm on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Nothing wrong with Steps/s-club, Billy. At least you weren’t old enough to be into some of the dross that passed for credible music in the post-britpop era. Thank god post-university penuary saw most of my teenage record collection end up in MVE!

  8. 158
    wichita lineman on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Re 155: Go on, I dare you.

    Re 156: It’s not silly information and you know it, mister! Thanks for that. These are significant landmarks in popular culture.

    First hit single on 7″: Mario Lanza – Because You’re Mine (1952)
    First no.1 on 7″: Jo Stafford – You Belong To Me (1953)
    Last no.1 on 78 only: Frankie Laine – Woman In Love (1956)*
    Last no.1 on 78: Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1960)*
    First no.1 on 12″: ???
    First no.1 on cassette: ???
    First no.1 on 12″/CD only: Culture Beat – Mr Vain

    Can anyone fill those gaps?

    *I’m pretty sure on these, but I’m happy to be corrected.

  9. 159
    Mark G on 29 Aug 2012 #

    I own one of these: Last no.1 on 78: Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1960)*

    First number one on 12″, I’m thinking “I feel love”, although was it around at the time of the number oneing?

    Looking at the list, it’s quite possibly “Float On” the Floaters, that was certainly out ‘at-the-time’

    Cassette-wise, I’m looking at “Relax” Frankie..

  10. 160
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Aww, Tom. Don’t split up the family, Massa!!

  11. 161
    wichita lineman on 29 Aug 2012 #

    Re 159: I was thinking I Feel Love, but I don’t remember a 12″. There only appear to be American 1977 12″s around. So, Float On looks like the unlikely winner. Frankie… makes sense. And I remember you said you had the 78 of Cathy’s Clown, you lucky tyke.

    I’m sure Tom’s just working out what to say about the anodyne bleat he’s got coming up next…

  12. 162
    hardtogethits on 29 Aug 2012 #

    #141: self referential, I know, but whatever happened to cryptic prompting through use of lyrics?

    First cassette no 1. I’d set the bar at John Lennon’s “Woman” in 1981.

  13. 163
    swanstep on 29 Aug 2012 #

    @hardtogethits, 162. Well, I used to do the occasional lyric prompt but most of the chart entries in 1994-1995 are completely new to me (remember that Take That had very little success outside the UK) so that’s not an option.

  14. 164
    wichita lineman on 30 Aug 2012 #

    Re 162: Ah… right. I honestly can’t remember much about it, beyond an overwhelming sense of “weedy”.

    Woman? Wow. No memory of this either. I like the way they haven’t decided what to call the format yet.

  15. 165
    Lazarus on 30 Aug 2012 #

    ‘Cassingle’ was in use for a while wasn’t it?

    #162 – Owen to its short title (and, I would suggest, forgettable lyrics) there’s not too much we can do with the next one.

  16. 166
    weej on 31 Aug 2012 #

    Tom. We’re here again. I tell you, we’re here again.
    Where have you been? (Where have you been?)

  17. 167
    punctum on 31 Aug 2012 #

    When he started Popular, Tom made it pretty clear that he was only going to keep doing it for as long as he could be bothered to do it. Myself, I like the idea of pop music ending with Mr Blobby, which in a lot of senses it did. Given the vast amount of junk coming after it, with only the odd gem scattered hither and thither, I really cannot blame him for not wanting to carry on (if indeed that is how he feels, but I am not Tom so can only guess).

  18. 168
    hardtogethits on 31 Aug 2012 #

    #166 vs #141.

    #167. Fair enough. It would be nice to know, though, if your guess is right, and I too think it would be an appropriate cut-off point. More importantly, for those of us who don’t know Tom,, it would be reassuring to know that Tom is ok and that ill-health or personal circumstances or whatever else have not brought it all to a halt. After a while, you begin to wonder.

  19. 169
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 31 Aug 2012 #

    Tom’s in France with his family. I imagine he will return refreshed and excited at what’s to come. ¡Blobi no pasarán!”

  20. 170
    flahr on 1 Sep 2012 #

    liberté, égalité, blobbé

  21. 171
    flahr on 1 Sep 2012 #

    p.s. “vast amount of junk” PSHAW PSHAW OLD MAN

    we still haven’t reached the best song ever yet, among other things

  22. 172
    Tommy Mack on 1 Sep 2012 #

    That said, I can’t remember if many of the singles I liked actually made it to #1.

  23. 173
    Jimmy the Swede on 1 Sep 2012 #

    From a latterday great entertainer (Blobby), we must now say goodbye to one of yesteryear. Max Bygraves alas ain’t wot he used to be. RIP.

  24. 174
    thefatgit on 1 Sep 2012 #

    Blobbyblobbyblobbyblobbyblobbyblobbyblobby…by the sea.

  25. 175
    lonepilgrim on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Blobbito ergo sum

  26. 176
    Jimmy the Swede on 2 Sep 2012 #

    #175 – You certainly couldn’t apply that maxim to Bygraves now!

    God, I’m good!

  27. 177
    punctum on 2 Sep 2012 #

    #171: not “OLD MAN” but “HONEST MAN.”

  28. 178
    punctum on 2 Sep 2012 #

    and if not faking passion for a bunch of overhyped crap based on record company marketing strategies rather than genuine popularity, or alleged talent show side-projects, makes me old then I’m happy to be such. Also I mentioned “the odd gem,” so don’t presume that I’m excluding “the best song ever yet” whatever that is or means.

  29. 179
    speedwell54 on 2 Sep 2012 #

    Re Wichita lineman, Mark G, hardtogethits. The first No1 cassette single; I think ‘Woman” is a good call. I had no recollection of this. I was aware of Bowie releasing “Scary Monsters” on c-s (a matter of weeks before “Woman” as it happens) and I thought he was pretty much leading the way. Although this was nowhere near making number one my second guess for this feat was “Let’s Dance”.

    My first guess was Tubeway Army “Are ‘Friends” Electric?” I cannot find evidence of the release date (hence I’ll go with “Woman”) It was around at the latest in 1981, it has a flip top cigarette type box, a bit like the Bow Wow Wow c-s. Music Master Catalogue 1988 doesn’t list “Woman” or “AFE” but does note Bowie. The Great Rock Discography- Martin C Strong, does list “Woman” – and “Watching the Wheels”! – and gives the c-s for “AFE” to the US release only. I’m wondering if this is the version that found it’s way over here?

    The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles – 8th Edition, notes in the introduction; over the period 1989-1990, single format sales percentages have changed significantly. 7″ falls from 67% to 49%, 12″ increases from 29% to 31%, cds 4% to 10% and c-s from 0.2% to over 10%. From my memory and collection it was mid to late 1987 when they were becoming common, a good SIX years after “Woman”. Respectable, Who’s That Girl?, Always On My Mind to name but a few. Obviously not too many people actually bought them until a couple of years later.

    Last No1 cassette single- I’ll go “Bring Me To Life”- Evanescence. Anyone?

  30. 180
    wichita lineman on 5 Sep 2012 #

    Speedwell – great stuff, cheers. Evanescence as the last bastion of non-digital formats, how about that. It was a weird record that felt like either a throwback or the start of some goth revival at the time. I still don’t really know what it was – Capital Radio-friendly Emo? But that’s a conversation for another time, maybe in 2024.

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