Jan 14


Popular63 comments • 4,107 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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  1. 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.

  2. 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. 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.

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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….

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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?

  12. 62
    Patrick Mexico on 11 Jan 2014 #

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


  13. 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.

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