7
Jan 14

PETER ANDRE – “Flava”

Popular64 comments • 5,128 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. 1
    Mark G on 7 Jan 2014 #

    The only reason I remember this song is because Jonathan Ross did a ‘joke’ mime on his TV show to it.

    I know there are other Andre number ones but do I recall them? I don’t know.

  2. 2
    Jodie on 7 Jan 2014 #

    He came to my school and sang in assembly.

  3. 3
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #1 You’ll get the opportunity to find out! All part of the service, no need to thank me.

    #2 Was it good?

  4. 4
    Jodie on 7 Jan 2014 #

    No. He shouted ‘get up and dance!’
    No-one got up and danced.

  5. 5
    JLucas on 7 Jan 2014 #

    This is barely more memorable for me than Borelow’s snoozefest. Listening back it sounds like it was awkwardly stitched together from every mid-90s RnB cliche the songwriters could find. It veers dangerously close to outright plagiarising ‘This Is How We Do It’ to my ears.

    3 is fair. Mysterious Girl was a classic of sorts. This absolutely isn’t.

  6. 6
    EndlessWindow on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Even at the time, Peter Andre seemed something of a one-hit wonder – maybe the previous entry had blasted away all opposition in the playground, but I really have no memory of anything other than Mysterious Girl from this period (can’t recall if it would be bunnied or not, but his ‘comeback’ single much later still lingers unwanted in the grey matter.)

    It’s strange to think back, now that he’s a fixture of the ITV2 reality TV circuit, that he was first and foremost a musical act before finding a longer lasting career as a man so drearily placid and happy-go-lucky (whilst also somewhat slightly bemused by life). Giving this song a quick go on YouTube though, and it’s pretty evident why this one’s faded from the memory. Very boring song that whose cheap production must have sounded outdated even at the time, a truly woeful rap section – was it a legal requirement that one of these be included in all his singles at this point? – and, as pointed out quite accurately above, the boasting of the song is much too try-hard and just smothers the already flimsy track. To give him his due, Andre seems aware that nobody, least of all himself, is being fooled by the hard boy act.

    A 2 here, only because worse is to come this year…

  7. 7
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    (#6 Insania isn’t bunnied, but MG is because of it, so if you can bear to wait it fits better there…)

  8. 8
    thefatgit on 7 Jan 2014 #

    I had to remind myself how this one went. A quick YouTube confirmed my suspicions, that it was “Flava” that almost but not quite ripped off “This Is How We Do It”, before running off on a tangent of 90’s R&B mediocrity. What a handsome young lad he looks in the video.

    The Bunny prevents me from discussing the far superior single off “Natural” that peaked at #2 in May 1996 (thank you Chris Moyles).

  9. 9
    EndlessWindow on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #7

    That’s a reply that’s made it better and then worse again at commendable speed.

    Anyway, Insania. Still pretty insipid stuff, but at least the tortured pseudo-word play of the title gave it something to cling on to, so an improvement on this!

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 7 Jan 2014 #

    the video and the song remind me why I get so bored and irritable at the beach – but I suspect that the image of carefree sun soaked lifestyle sold this for some

  11. 11
    Chelovek na lune on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Excuse my language, but this is absolute shit (and still not his worst no 1).

    Obviously a fanbase-only (for which read excessively hormone-driven teenagers who frankly should have been introduced to Marky Mark’s catalogue, as it wasn’t entirely atrocious) buy, as barely any less abjectly forgettable than Mr Barlow’s recent snooze-fest. The odd case of someone putting out a half-decent record, getting a big hit (but not, on that occasion, getting a number one with it), and then cruising on a wave of a support by putting out utter dross. A coat-tails hit, so to speak.

    The first point, for me, about this record is how un-1996 it sounds: it seems to hark back (as a rather pale, but still authentic, imitation of) to what was known for a time as New Jack Swing, but which had relatively little success commercially in the UK (at least compared with Stateside). A kind of sub-Bell Biv Devoe, or, perhaps more so, sub-(Teddy Riley and) Guy track that I might have encountered through listening to the US charts, or watching Casey Kasem, in 1989 or 1990. A (sort of) testosterone fuelled, more narcissistic, watered down take on ‘Rhythm Nation’ by a man, with a horrible horrible voice.

    The second point of note, if what I read online (at Wiki….but elsewhere too) is correct, is that this atrocity of a record was the first UK number 1 (of far too many) co-written by a certain Wayne Hector, who went on to have a role in writing many more pieces of hideousness, albeit not generally in quite this style.

    More than ‘Forever Love’, I’d say this is closer to being the ‘Baby Jump’ of the 1990s: Andre’s unwelcome return a decade later notwithstanding, it’s barely left a trace. But it’s not, as there’s a better contender to the title yet to come…

    Oh, just, yuk. Yukkety-yuk.
    A very generous 2

  12. 12
    swanstep on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Andre, hence this track in particular, is new to me. Terrible vocal, verses OK (though probably sonically dated as others have stressed), choruses a mess, feature rap completely stock, Miami-wannabe video embarrassing. So, 2 or 3. (Checking charts now, I’m surprised to learn that Andre had two previous #1s in NZ with ‘Mysterious Girl’ and ‘Get Down On It’. ‘Flava’, however, only got to #8.)

  13. 13
    Ed on 7 Jan 2014 #

    @4 The image of Peter Andre shouting “get up and dance” to a hall full of stolidly seated kids is much more entertaining than anything on this record.

  14. 14
    Billy Hicks on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Erm, I quite like it. It’s fun, and yeah, not a patch on Mysterious Bunny but a mildly entertaining few minutes all the same. It’s on my iPod and I’ll generally listen to at least the first minute of it before skipping. I’d go as far as five and a half markwise for this, *just* above average but I can’t bring myself to give it a 6.

    A friend of mine who went with me to see the [BUNNIED UNTIL 1999] Comeback Show at the O2 in 2012 suddenly randomly remembered this song on the way out, while searching her brain for other childhood nostalgia acts. The conversation went as follows:

    Her: “Peter Andre!”
    Me: “Oh yeah, Mysterious Girl?”
    Her: “No, the other one!”

    That’s about the only memory I have with this song.

  15. 15
    Mark G on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Hang on, can we get a bunnyruling? MG was the previous hit, so surely can be discussed in conjunction with this one…

    Whereas the PAndre ‘revival’ and the Insania probably should be under the warren..

  16. 16
    Andrew Farrell on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #11 I dunno, I was aware that there was a Peter Andre track called Flava, and having heard it recently I can just about imagine the way he sings Flava*. On the other hand I only recollected in the abstract that Gary Barlow tripped over his feet on his first single, and having heard it 2-3 times in the last week, I still forgot its name in the pub on Sunday.

    #15 I think this chart should probably help with the ruling. Of course it won’t be exactly the focus of attention when we get to entry #973.

    * Having listened to it again again I am amused at the idea that the rent-a-rapper was picked because of his ability (and willingness!) to refer to him in the appropriate accent as ‘Dre – records of how many rushed out to buy Straight Outta Compton are unfortunately unavailable at time of going to press.

  17. 17
    Brendan F on 7 Jan 2014 #

    I do vaguely recall that Gary Barlow had had a #1 in the wake of Take That’s split, though, seemingly like everyone else, I couldn’t recall a note of it now, but this was the first #1 since I first became aware of the charts that I have no memory of at all, believing he had just been a one-hit ‘wonder’. The comments, as with Barlow’s, don’t encourage me to rectify that so I shall have to leave the ratings for those hardy souls brave enough to waste 7 minutes or so of their lives.

  18. 18
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Mysterious Girl is technically bunnied but a) even at peak output rates we’re not going to reach it for a few years, and b) it is relevant to this one too – so mention away. If you’ve got that killer Bubbler Ranx anecdote that just won’t wait then who am I to stop you.

  19. 19
    James BC on 7 Jan 2014 #

    It must be the time of year: when he says “Hey everybody there’s a party over here… oh yes there is” I can’t help but hear “oh no there isn’t” in between.

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    I didn’t remember this, so went to Youtube. I didn’t exactly have an open mind, as I saw that the video was 4 mins long and my heart sank. If it had been 3:30, I’d have probably been OK with that – the fact that 30 seconds made that much difference to my opening impression doesn’t speak well for me I guess.

    As pointed out elsewhere, musically this seems a bit of a throwback to the early 90s US scene. This song might have been OK had it been married to a better singer. Seems like a missed opportunity as a result – 3 seems fair. It’s also, already, a bit of a throwback for who is doing it too though. The Spice Girls have come to wipe away pretty boys with inadequate voices (certainly as solo artists). Looking at the list for the rest of the decade, no male solo artist resting solely on his image (in my opinion) manages to get to #1 and it’s certainly my recollection that there were fewer of these sorts of acts in general post Spice than pre (though my memory may be faulty).

    #16: From that link, Peter Andre did a song featuring Warren G and Coolio? I know what I am going to be listening to soon (though I may regret it).

  21. 21
    punctum on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #11: Yet more misogyny, ageism and classism *sigh*.

    I don’t know that I can do anything useful here if Popular is going to be reduced to the equivalent of leery middle-aged men in the pub having a laugh at those poor proles, women and kids. This is a huge, deadening weight and this type of thinking needs to be dynamited and a new road of thought constructed, because it’s turning people off.

  22. 22
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #20 that’s an interesting angle on it – though it’s worth noting I think that “pretty” is a slightly misleading description of PA. Not that he wasn’t, but he was being sold as beefcake too – the abs were a main talking point. I don’t quite buy the idea that the Spice Girls were aiming to wipe out “pretty boys with inadequate voices”. I dunno how much crossover there was between “Wannabe”‘s buyers and “Flava”‘s, but if anything the Spicers are sex-positive and desire-positive, and one of very many possible answers to “What you want, what you really really want” certainly might be “Peter Andre with his top off, thankyou very much”.

  23. 23
    Andrew Farrell on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #21 I like to think of myself as with fairly decent radar for EG classism, and I confess I have no idea what you’re seeing there. Care to elaborate?

  24. 24
    Cumbrian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Two more thoughts after having done some research:

    Blimey Marcello. I try not to spoil TPL but I wound up at the wiki page for the parent album for this. It knocked K by Kula Shaker off #1 in the album chart. Those are going to be two interesting entries back to back.

    “All Night, All Right” is actually OK but more because of what it leaves out than what it puts in, I think. It’s 3:30 long and Peter Andre doesn’t sing at all on the opening nor final 30 seconds of the track. He doesn’t sing the chorus (which is a stronger hook than anything on Flava – which I have forgotten already having listened to it only at breakfast this morning) only providing interjections over his backing singers. Warren G takes over the middle of the record for about 30-40 seconds. It very efficiently minimises its weaker elements – i.e. Peter Andre and his voice – to probably less than half the run time of an already reasonably short record. I can only imagine the high fives being doled out behind the mixing desk by the producers once this one had gone into the can. About the only thing I can’t detect is any Coolio, so I don’t know how he got a credit. Further investigation of Wiki reveals that the parent album of this song had other tracks featuring Montell Jordan and The Refugee Camp All Stars – they clearly wanted to give him a push in the USA, which obviously must have failed. A mildly diverting start to the day.

  25. 25
    Cumbrian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #20: Hmm – a fair point that, in that it probably was not an explicit aim to wipe away this sort of artist. I guess I have bought into my own memory of what I thought “Girl Power” was about at the time, which seemed to me, in a narrow sense, about a more gender balanced pop scene. Definitely agree with your final sentence.

  26. 26
    Tom on 7 Jan 2014 #

    Also it’s not like there was a pile-up of image-only solo himbos for the Spice Girls to wash away – you have to go back to Jason Donovan’s “Sealed With A Kiss” for the last #1 that really feels equivalent (you could make a case for Chesney, I guess, but even that is 5 years earlier.) The group model was absolutely dominant for packaging boys in the 90s – Peter Andre is actually a more unusual case than he initially seems!

  27. 27
    James BC on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #24 As I remember it there were two versions of All Night All Right, one with the Warren G rap and one with Coolio instead. I never heard the Coolio one, though, and I don’t know where it was released, if anywhere.

  28. 28
    Cumbrian on 7 Jan 2014 #

    26: I don’t know about that – at the top of the charts maybe but the industry in the mid-90s did seem to be trying to get some of these sorts of guys off the ground. You’ve got people like Kavana and Adam Rickitt as well as Peter Andre (though some of these might be later 90s at a guess). They even tried to get the actor John Alford a singing career at one point. Peter Andre was definitely the most successful of these blokes but I remember them all being in my sister’s Bliss/Sugar magazines and the ilk.

  29. 29
    MikeMCSG on 7 Jan 2014 #

    #17 Snap! The first since “Clair” in 72 which means my run is bookended by a bloke’s ding-a-ling and girls enjoying a bit of zig a zig -ah which at least has a nice smutty symmetry to it.
    Diary check reveals that I was embroiled in the break-up of the Manchester Christian Social Group at the time which probably accounts for this one slipping by
    So hold on four minutes while I check it out … yes it is terrible. Did he ever perform live or was it just brief PAs ?

  30. 30
    Matt DC on 7 Jan 2014 #

    This is an unusual one in that the #1 isn’t actually the song most people remember, and in fact I totally forgot about this song during the years I had mentally filed him away under One Hit Wonder.

    In my mind this is a kind of proto-Backstreet Boys or 5ive track but I honestly don’t think I’ve heard it in at least 15 years.

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