7
Jan 14

PETER ANDRE – “Flava”

Popular64 comments • 4,572 views

#744, 14th September 1996

flava Pudgy naïf that I was, I had never heard the term “six-pack” before I encountered Peter Andre splashing about under a waterfall. His granite abdomen was his main selling point. I huffily dismissed him as a chump. Often when you write an act off like that you’re proved wrong – not so here: I might not have had the purest of motives for disdaining Peter Andre but I reached the right conclusion.

Andre is a return to the New Kids or Marky Mark style of male pop star – get the looks right, then the style, then the moves, then the songs, and anything else is a bonus. Not that bonus is the word you’d use for Andre’s ratty, whinging voice. On “Flava” he aims for cool and ends up as petulant, with a nasal, entitled tone that makes partying all night sound like tidying his room. The rest of the song passes ineffectually but not horribly – it’s only the singing that pulls it down.

So he wasn’t a great singer – what about star power? In the same year as “Return Of The Mack”, what struck me about “Flava” was that Peter Andre was trying way too hard. Talent aside, he could have pulled it off – he makes a convincing R&B listener and he’s handsome, which sounds an easy combination to hit but neither Take That or East 17 managed both at once. “Flava”, though, strains so much to be a slick R&B jam that it lands squarely on pastiche. The song is desperate to tell us that Peter is a very cool guy who knows his way round a party – and no doubt he was, but “Flava” spends so much time telling that it never gets round to showing.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    MikeMCSG on 7 Jan 2014 #

    # 30 I think “Jealous Mind” and “The Sun Always Shines On TV” would also come into that category.

  2. 32
    mapman132 on 7 Jan 2014 #

    The most positive thing I can say about this is that I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. That said, it’s still pretty bad. A very generous 3/10.

    The most amusing thing for me was the St. Louis Blues jersey he’s wearing in the video. If you want to establish your North American street cred with a “Big Four” sports jersey, the NHL’s (and by extension the Big Four’s) least valuable franchise is about as uncool as you can get. The only exception being a certain 2000’s rapper who’s actually from St. Louis, and even he’s better off going with the Cardinals or the Rams.

  3. 33
    wichitalineman on 7 Jan 2014 #

    It’s interesting that there’s an air of one hit wonder around PA when a quick check of his track record reveals it to be roughly equivalent to that of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond or Jason Donovan. His recording career, MG aside, seems almost forgotten now.

    Affable but hapless, Andre seemed even less well presented than 50s beefcakes like Fabian and Johnny Restivo – at least their managers trained them to say little and retain an air of (ahem) mystery.

    Flava itself is dated and mildly embarrassing. The title was already an overused cliche in late ’96. You half expected a follow-up called Phat.

    Re 30: Also, from the olden days, Good Timing and With a Girl Like You.

  4. 34
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #33 I had a look around for contemporary print interviews – little or nothing survives online (unlike Geri et al, nobody cared about his views on Maastricht or the role of the state)

    “How many number ones did Peter Andre have?” would be a good tricky pop quiz question, you’re right.

  5. 35
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Jan 2014 #

    I’m not sure I’ve ever watched more than a moment or two of any of PA’s reality TV programmes* — i have a sense of him as a likeably dim but utterly hapless individual who wanders through life walking into doorframes and slopping water from the sink onto his trouser area etc etc

    *tho my amazon-pirate-feminist-academic pal Dr Vick became obsessed with him and jordan a couple of years back :)

  6. 36
    Erithian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    My friend Dave’s daughter, to whom I alluded in the Three Lions thread, had a brief relationship with Peter Andre (just checked, it’s a matter of record so no harm done) – and I can exclusively reveal that Dave told me that beneath that bodybuilder’s figure and six-pack there lurked … a really nice guy.

    As I’m reading some of these comments I’m reminded of the Doctor Who monsters called The Silence, whose unique scary point is that once you look away from them you immediately forget all about them – perhaps they were inspired by some 1996 number ones?

    Wichita – Fabian! Barely remembered here I guess, his name only rings a bell with me because of a Radio Luxembourg fan annual interview in which he said his unusual hobby was collecting two-minute tapes of himself in conversation with the really big stars, from Elvis on down. Just looked at his Wiki and chuckled at the phrase “Fabian testified before Congress that his recordings had been doctored electronically to “significantly improve his voice”. (He had a bit part in “The Longest Day” too.)

  7. 37
    Cumbrian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Obviously lots of scope for this to change but Flava is currently the 2nd least controversial #1 with only “…Grandma” generating greater scoring consensus. Is anyone going to stick up for this?

  8. 38
    Auntie Beryl on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Indie Record Shop Bloke’s view:

    This was an independently distributed number one (on Mushroom, an Australian label who also had Garbage on their books at the time).

    This at a time where the definition of ‘indie’ was being stretched in multiple directions – Creation was half-owned by Sony by the time Oasis started their run of chart-toppers, and indeed the Mancunians were quietly signed to Sony direct then licensed back, I believe. XL had recently landed a number one single (and would do so again, not long from now on Popular).

    It was round about this point that there was an acceleration of label acquisitions – EMI had bought Virgin a couple of years prior, and PolyGram (as was) picked up Geffen, MCA and Island in short order.

    Whilst still a long way away from today’s near-duopoly – Universal and Sony, with Warner some way behind and the rest relatively tiny – the label structure was already contracting. There *will* be more indie number ones, one in particular around the turn of the decade which may come as a bit of a surprise – but that’s for another time.

    Oh, “Flava”? Shit sandwich. 2.

  9. 39
    Steve Mannion on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #33 re ‘Flava’ that said this does pre-date by a few years the Channel 4 show of the same name which went out late on Friday nights narrated by MC Neat and showcasing new R&B jams. A neat thing to have on a ‘terrestrial’ channel really.

  10. 40
    MikeMCSG on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Andre’s other obvious ancestor that no one’s mentioned yet ( apologies if I’ve missed it ) is Nick Kamen.

  11. 41
    thefatgit on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #38 Most of the Australasian artists signed to PWL here were signed to Mushroom. Also, I think Neighbours and Home & Away used incidental music with permission from Mushroom (although Wiki makes no comment re: Angry Anderson’s biggest solo hit). So quite a powerful player in Australia, this Michael Gudinski fella, one would guess. Wiki also states Mushroom is now defunct, subsumed into Warners.

  12. 42
    leveret on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Neighbours also used ‘Bury Me Deep In Love’ by the Triffids as incidental music in the episode of Harold and Madge’s wedding and my CD copies of Triffids albums bought in the 90s are labelled as ‘Mushroom Mid-Price Masters’ so I assume these two facts are connected (although the single was released by Island in the UK, according to Wiki). The end credits of Neighbours certainly used to credit Mushroom Recordings as suppliers of music.

    I can vaguely remember the hook of this Peter Andre single and the general plastic R&B feel of the backing track but little else. My memory of Tony Di Bart is positively vibrant compared to this one.

  13. 43
    Rory on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #41 You would guess correctly. Gudinski was/is the Australian David Geffen. Mushroom Records may be defunct, but his Mushroom Group is still a big player in Australia.

    I’ve managed to avoid Andre’s reality TV appearances, but he passed the Buzzcocks-host acid test by being able to laugh at himself, so Erithian’s friend’s verdict doesn’t sound surprising.

    Cumbrian @20, you’re so right about the difference that extra 30 seconds makes; 3:30 was where I gave up on my single viewing/hearing of “Flava”.

  14. 44
    Steve Williams on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Much like Tom discussed Swap Shop Pop as a genre when reviewing Kelly Marie ages and ages ago, most of the mid-nineties pop like this I only know because it appeared on Saturday morning TV, Radio 1 at that point barely touching this kind of stuff (though I remember Sean Maguire complaining at the time that not even Capital were playing his records because they were too lightweight and MOR).

    My abiding memory of this song, therefore, is of Andre’s appearance on short-lived ITV Saturday morning programme Wow because there was a power cut in the studio on the day he appeared. It was back on by the end of the show so he was able to perform but the first hour had to be presented from the studio car park and meant they had to show the video to it in full as well to fill a gap where a feature had to be abandoned, so it got particularly heavy exposure that morning.

  15. 45
    AMZ1981 on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Hats off to #31 who beat me to it with the exact two songs I was planning to mention. As a consolation prize number one after a better remembered single got blocked out this does have some sort of place. I’ll probably get shouted at for spoilers here but given that it was the Fugees who held off Mysterious Girl, for one week only Peter Andre had the deep satisfaction of getting one over on them. For one week only …

    It’s the next Peter Andre number one that is deeply superflous but we’ll get to that in due course.

    I never had a major problem with Peter Andre at the time; his music wasn’t up to much but he interviewed well and seemed a decent enough guy.

  16. 46
    Another Pete on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Perhaps the biggest revelation to most about Peter Andre in 1996 was the fact he wasn’t an Aussie soap-star from Neighbours or Home and Away trying their hand at pop.

    #32 I think the St. Louis Blues shirt is more to do with the winged-note logo than the actual team.

  17. 47
    Weej on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Peter Andre always struck me as somehow ‘wrong’ – he seemed like a pop-star character from a TV series where the middle-aged non-pop-loving writers had failed to do sufficient research. The pecs and the R’n’B stylings just didn’t match with the mild-mannered personality and lack of sexual charge, and the music sounded five years too late, and a poor facsimile at that.

    Unlike most here I do actually remember this song (unlike the bunnied follow-up) and always found it pretty inoffensive, if in no way actually good. A 3 is just right then.

  18. 48
    wichitalineman on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Re 47: Totally agree. It feels like he must have come from somewhere else like a TV show, or an advert. Even as a “manufactured” pop star, he was put together pretty shoddily.

    But then, not so shoddily that it didn’t work – we are discussing Peter Andre here, and not Cleopatra (shame).

    With Flava hot on the heels of Forever Love, neither of which is really a song but merely gives the impression of sounding like a professional approximation of a genre, I think we’re in a new era.*

    I’m kind of looking forward to his next entry as I have NO MEMORY OF IT AT ALL which I think is a personal Popular first.

    *this sounds a little clunky, sorry. But I’m worried there are plenty more examples to follow.

  19. 49
    23 Daves on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Having just looked this up on YouTube to remind myself of how it went, I’m amazed by how unbelievably polite it sounds. Peter Andre’s polite exhortations to party are akin to Cliff Richard – you get the impression he means a dinner party rather than anything where wildness will ensue.

    Peter Andre was a major league hate-figure around this time. A friend of mine used to go into a prolonged rant whenever his name was mentioned, I seem to remember a particularly vicious attack on him on “The Girlie Show” (he got the much-coveted “Wanker of the Week” award) but I always found him utterly escapable and therefore not particularly irritating. Looking back at this now, it seems absurd that anyone could have been annoyed for any reason other than that this record just isn’t at all good.

    I’m sure another reason he annoyed people was for his vanity and bodybuilder physique, which seemed like a pretty absurd addition to pop at that time. When I passed through Airlie Beach in Australia one year and stayed in a hostel, though, the place was filled with Peter Andre-a-liked waxing their surfboards and blow-drying their hair in the communal toilets. The kind of thing you don’t think exists in any great quantity “in real life” but actually does in certain places.

  20. 50
    wichitalineman on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Re 49. Maybe Pete IS throwing a dinner party. Big flavas. Greg Wallace is gonna be there.

  21. 51
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #49 Yes! “Can’t bring myself to sleep / So I get the keys to my jeep” – at this point a quick go with the car vacuum seems as likely as partying.

  22. 52
    ciaran on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Christ that sleeve should have stopped people being buying the thing.

    I think I can recall Andre being interviewed by BBC or TCC/Trouble back in the summer of 1996 with all talk about how dishy he was and the unusual hairstyle (the ‘spider’ he called it)so this was a huge selling point and after missing the top spot in the summer a chart topper was imminent.Not that his was the sole audience for Flava but a majority I would guess.

    The tune is about the only thing going for ‘Flava’ and would work much better with another artist.

    Everything else is almost an epic fail.Like a cleaner cut Color Me Badd.

    Andre’s eager to impress attitude is desperate and his singing is perhaps the worst we’ve encountered here since the outhere brothers.

    Where it really falls apart is the video.Trying to prove his street cred and that he’s down with it. Like an abandoned scene shot in the Surf Club set of Home and Away – where nhl shirts are all the rage. Lots of wham style dancing in the tough grafitti soaked walls and they probably serve non-alcoholic beverages too.

    One of the tougher lads on my sports team used to sing along to this which amused me but by the start of 1997 it was clear how naff Andre was and with the exception of VH1’s worst videos in the early 2000s Flava has left no trace.

    The worst is yet to come though.

    3.

  23. 53
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    The sleeve sums it up, really – you have “Flava” written in this sort of sub Wu Tang font (with a shaded ‘graffiti’ style version behind it). Much street. So credibility. Wow. But then you get the hideous “PJA” doodle-me-on-your-biology-folder logo too.

  24. 54
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 Jan 2014 #

    In terms of Just Seventeen hunk posters – which were quite varied! – PA was definitely on the way out, along with most other muscle-bound studs. There were obviously still plenty of boybands but they tended to be either super-young/cute (little Mark, KAVANAGH!), older/hairy (Howard and his dreadlocks), quirky (Keith Flint!!!!), ‘boys smell of wee’ (Spicers obv), the odd Britpop band (though no-one more obscure than e.g. Sleeper/Bluetones), plus of course your Keanus and Johnny Depps. Greasy muscley dudes were just not cool, unless they were wearing a biker jacket as well. HOWEVER I think things were probably a bit different for older girls who actually had some decent hormones sloshing around (I had still not even snogged anyone properly at this point).

  25. 55
    mapman132 on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #46 Probably true, but still amusing for me as an American. Also fits with comments #47/48 – a vibe I definitely get myself.

  26. 56
    Chelovek na lune on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #21 Marcello/Punctum,

    I must say that I do (and if I may put it in such terms, without intending to cause offense) genuinely appreciate the almost headmasterly role that you sometimes play here: in terms of encouraging (not least by example). Almost as much as I appreciate your responses to the music here and at TPL, etc.

    However…while I do grant that my comment as #11 was not something profoundly thought-through, or that I took a great amount of time or consideration over, I must say that I think your interpretation of it as constituting “misogyny, ageism and classism” is rather wide of the mark. Or at least of my intentions,..And I quite agree with you on the need to dynamite such attitudes where they occur (including in myself), for the very reason you state.

    First, I made nor intended no reference to class or sex. To state the blatantly obvious, “class” and sex have little to do with affinity for good or bad taste: rather good and bad taste transcend and are unrelated to such divides – even if they may materialise in different ways in different contexts. I’m not convinced (based on the music and lyrics) that there is a “class element” to the appeal of this record at all.

    As for the sex of those buying/enjoying this record…I presumed both female and male: this kind of track (like better examples of things in this style, a few years earlier, by New Kids on the Block – at their best – or Bros – at their best, or, as I said, Marky Mark) reaches out to both males and females. Possibly the swagger – here the “leading the way to the party” thing – is the key element in that appeal, much as I fail to find this particular instance of it remotely appealing…

    As for the question of “age” (and I was just out of my teens in 1996): yes, I stand by my description of this as a record aimed at youth. That in itself is a neutral factor : I can immediately think of an act, a few years after Andre, that were very much (primarily) aimed at young people, but who released records (including at least some of their no 1s in 1999-2001) that, by virtue of their talent and performance, transcended that narrow audience, at least to my ears. Equally one can easily locate acts that do so with rather less pleasant results…

    If “Flava” had greater musical appeal, one could perhaps have taken the trouble to construct a narrative about this song serving, in part, as an expression of social insecurity/unease/seeking approval – which certainly ties up with adolescence. But frankly I couldn’t bare to listen to it over and over again in order to do so. And this song would break on being expected to bear such analysis.

    Anyway, that’s my explanation. I hope that it might come some way to satisfying you anyway.

    Dominic/Chelovek na lune

    Also, why has no-one taken up my point that this record was, seemingly, co-written by Westlife’s scribe….

  27. 57
    Andrew Farrell on 8 Jan 2014 #

    Speak not the name!

    I don’t (as I said above) see much classism, but I’d put it to you that if your reference to “hormone-driven teenagers”* wasn’t meant sound like the usual dismissal that this was for Stupid Girls Because They’re Stupid, that you might’ve chosen your words a little more carefully.

    *along with the suggesting that they’d just need to be “introduced” to Marky Mark’s catalogue to switch to a superior brand.

  28. 58
    Chelovek na lune on 8 Jan 2014 #

    #57 Probably fair comment. A peril of writing comments at bedtime, and perhaps not explicitly referencing no less hormone-driven – and very conventionally masculine – male teenagers (as I say, thinking of relatives and friends of mine as a teenager, moderately ‘hard lads’ who really were sincere Bros fans – grolsch bottle-tops on their trainers and all that ) keen to impress some of their female companions by being like PA in the vid. Nothing pejorative about the reference to Marky Mark: the track of his based around a Loleatta Holloway sample (while clearly not the best record to be so based) was, as such things go, a reasonably fine thing…or seemed as much at the time

  29. 59
    Tom on 8 Jan 2014 #

    With 13 (is it 13?) No.1s to cover by W___l___ there is no way I’m letting even a crumb of potential commentary get into anyone else’s comment thread, alas.

  30. 60
    Erithian on 8 Jan 2014 #

    14 I think, Tom, and I shouldn’t worry – just set your comments up as a macro and paste the same entry for the bloody lot!

  31. 61
    Erithian on 9 Jan 2014 #

    I think this is the first time on Popular we’ve encountered the cliché of a video that starts off with the party going on in daylight, features a couple of shots at sunset then shows all the young beautiful people partying at night-time as well. Was this already a cliché?

  32. 62
    Patrick Mexico on 11 Jan 2014 #

    #47: Funny you should say that.. this sounds like an extract from Flava.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHOMIL_6x7k

  33. 63
    Patrick Mexico on 12 Jan 2014 #

    His most famous song, bunnied eight years from now, is one of the most vile noises to ever penetrate (and perforate) my eardrums, but I honestly don’t mind this that much, probably because I find a lot of warmth and positivity in New Jack Swing. Still, he really can’t sing.. if it’s “New Jack Swing” it’s the sort done by someone whose day job was hanging around Butlins dressed up as Teddy Ruxpin. 4.

  34. 64
    Aj on 6 Apr 2019 #

    anybody knows what shirt is the other one he’s wearing in the video ?
    not the St.Louis, the other one the Blue with red and white stripes.

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