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Nov 12

DOOP – “Doop”

Popular69 comments • 7,947 views

#703, 19th March 1994

doop One of the divisive things about disco was the apparent will to discofy anything and everything: no style, era, film theme or rock classic was safe. To haters it was proof of disco’s stultifying lack of creativity – why make something new when you could slap strings and a beat under the old? But there’s something a little utopian about it too – a sense that disco was the philosopher’s stone of pop, the perfect unifying sound that could turn anything into dancefloor gold.

Something of that survived in commercial dance music. While club music continued mutating and innovating at bewildering pace, its leaps forward took it into the charts less often. The gap was often filled by novelties – raved-up TV themes, videogame music, cover versions, and finally stand-ins for whole genres with a 4/4 thump grafted on. Hence “Doop”, some Europeans building their money-making vehicle from a xerox of a memory of a decade that had happened somewhere else, souping its engines up and letting it loose.

Of course it’s a very good record. I’m writing this on the 60th anniversary of the charts – how could I let it go without an entry? – and novelty is something they’ve always smiled on. If the Internet has damaged pop in Britain then some of it is that the web is simply a more efficient delivery system for the transient grin or thrill of annoyance.

Nobody buying “Doop” expected to be playing it in one year, never mind 18. A month would have been a shock. But it fully commits to its one idea, owns it and crafts it. While it’s never anything more than “the Charleston with a donk on it”, it’s also far more generous with its hooks and energy than one-line descriptions suggest. It does enough with its squealing horns and showy, tumbling drum samples that the entry of the scoo-be-doo vocals feels like a delightful bonus.

And when the 1990s grafts take hold fully the track is harder than you’d expect: by choosing the rapid, aggressive kick and pump of hardcore over softer, more inclusive house beats “Doop” stays as true as a cash-in can to its source material. The 20s, after all – the 20s we had handed down to us – were a giddy, dangerous decade and Doop treats that image with more respect than you might remember.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    Pete on 15 Nov 2012 #

    If we’re talking songs which have the same name as X-Men, I’m loving Angel instead.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 15 Nov 2012 #

    when revisiting this in anticipation of this entry I was surprised how much I simultaneously enjoyed the tune while wishing never to hear it again soon (but then wanting to listen to it again after it had finished).

  3. 3
    hardtogethits on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Straight in at number three. That’s exactly where I want to be when writing about Doop. And it’s great to be able to give up on trying to think of cryptic lyrical references (to prompt the Popular entry), knowing that the next entry had no meaningful, discernible lyric.

    As with its predecessor, Doop marked out another “sliding doors” moment for me. Here in 2012, months can pass and it can feel like I am still engaged with precisely the same piece of work. In 1994, it would seem I was contemplating major career change on a monthly basis. This time around, a local “record” shop owner had decided to put his business up for sale. It was quite a pioneering enterprise, particularly quick to see the future of CDs and, laughably in many ways, cassette singles.

    My talks with the owner, selling the business, went well. He could see why I was interested, but I was less clear on why he was selling. So I asked him. “I’m just not into the music anymore”, he explained.* “I mean, how can bloody Doop be number one?”

  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Not quite the most (Intentionally) Annoying Eurodance #1 of the 90s…for me that comes soon. I do find this lesser than the sum of its parts though – that pumping beat is actually great and I’ve been known to like a shrill horn here and there…I think I just much prefer the Star Wars Cantina Band.

    Number 2 watch: Ace Of Base proving they were more than just one hit wonders with ‘The Sign’, and Bossy Bruce with ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’ possibly the glummest song to make the top 2 since ‘In The Year 2525’?

  5. 5
    hardtogethits on 15 Nov 2012 #

    * that trailing asterisk in #3. Yes, I was taking liberties in pretending to remember his exact words, but “Bloody Doop” was the two word phrase he used.

    Anyway, I didn’t share his disapproval or confusion. I thought it was alright, it’s meaningless meant it wasn’t contentious and crucially for me it wasn’t on an album. (Yeah, 7)

    To complete the record store story, I went to see a High Street bank about a business loan, armed with some facts, figures and forecasts. They gave me a clear line of their own – no matter how good your Business Plan, if you are not going to raise half the money you need on your own, we WOULD see the business as more ours than yours. And we just don’t do business on that basis. And for that reason I’m out. Again, might be misremembering the exact words.

  6. 6
    flahr on 15 Nov 2012 #

    In a word: incredibly charming [5]

  7. 7
    weej on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Talking of record shops, I visited a friend in Archway in about 2004 who was managing one, and found to my delight that they had the gold disc for this song on display, albeit in the back where nobody could see it but the staff. Not that they were ashamed of it or anything, but obviously putting it up in the front would’ve made them look a little silly ten years after the fact.
    Anyway, reactions surely depend on what you make of “this sort of thing” – i.e. novelty dance records – but as far as they go this is absolutely one of the best. An 8.

  8. 8
    Asher on 15 Nov 2012 #

    This just makes me want to listen to the vastly superior “Da Bop” from last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k6K-9YYuiA)

  9. 9
    punctum on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Two big hits from the early spring of 1994 which might have made sense to a wandering West London resident who had just turned thirty spring to mind. Although Blur’s “Girls And Boys” didn’t quite break the 40-a-day record set by “It’s A Sin,” the number of plays I gave it in the first week of its release must have exceeded 100 – a caustic, but not cruel, examination of what leads to the assumed mindlessness of en masse Club 18-30 package holidays, how drunkenness or ecstasy, with or without a capital E, can cut through boundaries of gender and consciousness without the subjects having to do much work (“But we haven’t been INTRODUCED!”). But the genuine exultation of its musical delivery and Stephen Sweet’s production made for yet another direct line to, or from, New Pop; Duran Duran if they’d been as good as they thought they were, with the missing “I Am The Fly” ointment (where guitars on Duran records tick away politely at the rear of the mix as though scared they might get the spotless surface mucked up, Coxon’s angry post-punk thrash balances out the soaring synths, Compass Point (Fulham Broadway subdivision) rhythm tracks and that discreet phasing which proves that 1967 is never too far away (Dave Dee and Co. would have had a second number one with “Girls And Boys”).

    “Streets Of Philadelphia” was Springsteen’s biggest British hit single, and I think his best; I remember my late first wife and I listening to it one greyish April Sunday evening as a police helicopter buzzed over Oxford railway station; it was flying low, its drone was unusually penetrating, and the windows were open. The drone gave a bitonal spice to Springsteen’s agonising quiet withering away (think of OMD’s “Statues” as a useful comparison point). The song cut right through the stagey, mis-focused dysfunctionalism of its parent film (where, exactly, was the gay?) with its wretched dignity, Springsteen accompanied by nothing save a low synth and pattering drums and/or drum machine. The video was even more remarkable, with Springsteen wandering the deserted streets, singing live straight to camera, or at least in the presence of the camera, mumbling the words, hushed, hunched and not prepared to be beaten even when he’s practically been beaten into the ground.

    Both of these singles were kept off number one by a silly, largely instrumental Dutch novelty dance track which sought to fuse Charleston and House, twenties and nineties methodologies of dancing yourself into a trance – the joy of repetition really is in you, indeed – and while the record was cute, in the sense of “cunning” rather than “endearing” or “precious,” it doesn’t take long for it to drive itself into its own dead end, repeatedly. The irony is that this is what the Greek holidaymakers were probably dancing to, or something like it, as Mr Albarn scribbled in the corner, wondering if there was any point in waking up; or a vague reminder in the prematurely wizening corners of the decaying mind of the Philadelphia streetwalker of what good life might once have promised.

  10. 10
    punctum on 15 Nov 2012 #

    …and before anyone says “b-b-but Girls And Boys only got to #5” they’re missing The Point.

  11. 11
    swanstep on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I don’t understand the love (‘Of course it’s a very good record’) for this at all. Why on earth was Doop a hit in 1994 rather than Lucas with the Lid Off?

  12. 12
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2012 #

    The First (only?) eponymous number one?

  13. 13
    James BC on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Has any other Charleston-influenced music ever been a hit?

    Does Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full Of Lead count?

    Who makes the best use of the style, Doop or Nutini?

  14. 14
    Mark G on 15 Nov 2012 #

    22 Temperance Seven Charleston 1961

  15. 15
    punctum on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I wouldn’t have thought old Paolo’s tune was particularly Charleston-heavy. You could have heard stuff like this anywhere in fifties and sixties Glasgow (i.e. Alex Harvey would have known it well). Much prefer him to Doop, though.

  16. 16
    Tom on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Lucas With The Lid Off bored me at the time (and I just checked – it still does) – the mildly diverting 20s samples completely swamped by mediocre nasal rapping.

    Re. “Girls And Boys”, it’s still my favourite Blur single, one of those times you hear a track by a band you thought you had nailed down and it completely changes your ideas about them. I then thoroughly hated the rest of Parklife.

  17. 17
    thefatgit on 15 Nov 2012 #

    By the time Doop gets its fleeting moment in the spotlight, the M25 Raves of dubious legend are almost extinct. The rise of the Super Club (Ministry Of Sound, Cream, Gatecrasher), lifted from the Ibiza club scene, with their aggressive door policies and their £5-for-water is almost upon us. So Doop acts as a direct link between illicit alcohol consumption of the 1920’s, and shameless pill consumption of the 1990’s. The activity of organised criminals in flooding the black economies of both eras with dangerously sub-standard product (highly toxic amounts of unregulated home-made ethyl-alcohol in the 20’s, and MDMA cut down to less than 5% per pill, with who-knows-what used instead in the 90’s) casts a shadow over both social-lubricants which were largely perceived as “harmless” by their respective champions and users, but proved to be deadly by “The Authorities”. If only the people behind this piece of dancefloor frippery had spelled it “Dupe”, it could have been the greatest example of abstract social satire since possibly ever. Oh, well!

  18. 18
    Kat but logged out innit on 15 Nov 2012 #

    HEAR THIS and many more UK #1s at Poptimism presents Club Action presents POPULAR SPECIAL, Friday 30th November 8pm-1am downstairs at Ryan’s Bar, Stoke Newington Church St FREE ENTRY.

    Doop is so good I might play it twice.

  19. 19
    Steve Mannion on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Lucas With The Lid Off was exactly the size of hit it should’ve been (#37) – this is not an insult by any means (vaguely fond of it but not as much as of the Gondry video…Gondry still just under the radar profile-wise at this point but doing some of his most radical and challenging work for a random bunch of major cred-reseeking acts – Don Fagen, Sinead O Connor, TT D’erby – alongside Bjork) and by the end of the year he’d direct probably my favourite video of his – Massive Attack’s ‘Protection’.

  20. 20
    Moira Stewart on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Re comment #12

    The second eponymous number one. Mr Blobby beat Doop to it a couple of months earlier.

  21. 21
    swanstep on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I then thoroughly hated the rest of Parklife.
    Blimey.

  22. 22
    MikeMCSG on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I had a sneaking fondness for this especially once all the “worst number one ever” hype got going.

    I’m with Tom on Parklife.

  23. 23
    Steve Mannion on 15 Nov 2012 #

    re #1 ah but which ‘Angel’ is best – MA’s?

    Ah go on then. A few good X-Men trax imo:

    Dean Martin ‘Sway’
    World Of Twist ‘Storm’
    DJ Shadow ‘Changeling’
    Zero 7 ‘Polaris’
    Thomas Bangalter ‘Colossus’ (my kind of Doop)
    Blur ‘Jubilee’
    Breeders ‘Cannonball’
    St. Vincent ‘Marrow’
    Last Shadow Puppets ‘Chamber’
    Ellen Allien ‘Magma’
    Jean-Jacques Perrey ‘E.V.A.’

  24. 24
    Tom on 15 Nov 2012 #

    #21/22 – I should have appended an ‘at the time’ really. I’ve softened to Parklife a bit since, or at least individual tracks from it sound way better now (“To The End” is a lovely tune tho Damon is a woeful singer for it; “End Of A Century” is good; “This Is A Low” is terrific)

    – title track aside it was never really the music that put me off, just the image, and the sudden gear shift between proto-Britpop and ACTUAL BRITPOP. But we’ll have plenty of time to talk about all that later.

  25. 25
    DietMondrian on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I remember hearing that toytown keyboard intro to Girls and Boys for the first time and becoming a Blur fan in an instant. It also cut through all the grunge landfill I was listening to at the time and awoke the dormant Kraftwerk/Human League/Pet Shop Boys fan within me.

    Strangely, these days I don’t care for the Parklife album much (apart from Girls and Boys and Badhead) and prefer their later, grungier stuff.

    Philadelphia is my favourite Springsteen song by a long chalk, though I’ll admit I know nothing else of his music beyond the big neck-bulging, histrionic hits.

    Doop is just a blank to me.

  26. 26
    Billy Hicks on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Absolutely fantastic!! I was utterly convinced this would get a 1, maybe 2 at best and I’d be the lone supporter in a field of “Ugh, this song’s dire” comments – but 7 is brilliant, nice to see it get such a good score :D

    I have no memories of this as a five year old, but oh my god the fifteen year old me of 2004 absolutely fell in love with this after a chance viewing of the video on VH1. After tracking down an mp3 I played it absolutely endlessly for – yep – about a month, the same time it was #1 originally, before the initial novelty wore off. It still has a lot of fun attached though and still raises a smile whenever it plays on my iPod. A January 2010 memory of it absolutely blasting out the speakers on a car trip to Newbury with my mate Matt (along with the rest of Now 27) is also a good one.

    It’s also a song that exists in different forms depending on the radio or video edit – the radio ‘Urge 2 Merge’ mix which appears on all the compilations and the main track on the CD single is almost two songs in one, starting off one way and a sudden drum solo bridging the gap for the part 2. The video edit uses the ‘Sidney Berlin Ragtime’ mix which is just the first part repeated over and over for the entire three minutes, making it even more repetitive. Both are wonderful fun, and ‘The Sign’ is a fantastic #2 as well – Ace of Base’s best song.

    Not that big a fan of Girls & Boys or Parklife, although a bunnied #1 next year I loved at the time. It’s not until we get to ‘The Universal’ for me that Blur go from a nice bit of nostalgia to something quite brilliant.

  27. 27
    tm on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I found Girls and Boys fascinating when it came out. It was nicely between the novelty-dance tracks that had caught my ear over the past couple of years and the racketty guitar music I was starting to get into. I didn’t have reference points like ‘art-school’, ‘indie’ or for that matter ‘blur’, but I had a sense that these guys were somewhere between nerds and yobs. I’ve heard lots of people hold it up as an example of Albarn and Blur sneering at the working classes, but it always sounds like the mini-bio of (that era of) Blur to me: they’ve clocked the yobs at play, they like it and they reckon they’re savvy enough to know how to join in and play the game to their advantage. And it worked. Until some more authentic yobs turned up to piss on their chips. But much more of that later.

    I found Doop really annoying at the time, probably on principle: I must have caught some serious teenage image-conciousness since genuinely enjoying Blobby just a few months previous. I will have to listen to it again…

  28. 28
    Steve Mannion on 15 Nov 2012 #

    I’ll give Doop a bit more credit for not being as naff as Dorothy’s ‘Blind Date’ theme sampling ‘What’s That Tune (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo)’ which charted in Dec ’95. Don’t suppose that one made it to the continent?

    But moving a little further in time and era theme I do still love Apollo Four Forty’s only ever so slightly similar tribute to Gene Krupa from ’96.

    Then in ’97 German techno pillar Sven Väth managed to create a naffer still ‘Fusion’ of that and ‘Doop’ in turn. I expect it was his biggest hit tho.

  29. 29
    Cumbrian on 15 Nov 2012 #

    My initial thought on listening to this was “blimey, those drums are amazing” and really getting on well with the track whilst the horns and clarinet were in evidence at the beginning. Then the house beat stomps all over the bits I like best for most of the rest of the run time. Then I went further into Youtube and listened to a load of big band stuff that I’d never heard before and followed my nose to clips of Gene Krupa in various 40s films showing off his loose limbs and entertaining style, clips of Benny Goodman’s Jazz Band with guys using bowler hats as mutes for their trumpets and basically giving really good “show”, meandering over a load of swing stuff, culminating in stumbling over the video of Animal having a drum battle against Buddy Rich and finding it all very amusing, after having had quite a good time listening to all this big band stuff that I’d never really given a go. Maybe I’ll try and give some of this a proper listen.

    I’d have never have done this without Doop. So it scores points for that (and the opening 30 odd seconds) at least. It’s also fuckloads better than Scatman John. For me though, the source seems more fun than the #1 at hand.

  30. 30
    thefatgit on 15 Nov 2012 #

    Donna Summer took the idea of plundering the past (albeit stylised with Moroder sheen) with “I Remember Yesterday”, the title track from her ’77 LP. It’s even got a few “doops” on it.

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