Oct 14

B*WITCHED – “Blame It On The Weatherman”

Popular51 comments • 4,981 views

#819, 27th March 1999

weatherman Arriving a few weeks after Britney, “Blame It On The Weatherman” could be a sad afterthought, forgotten jetsam from a swept-away moment like Frank Ifield’s “I’m Confessin’”, his last number one released into the teeth of Beatlemania. Instead it’s a delightful last hurrah for the tweenpop British and Irish bubblegum of ’98: not the most exciting or best-selling record of the time, but one of the sweetest.

“Weatherman” starts off sounding like a decent imitation of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” – searching, slightly introspective acoustic pop, already an interesting step away from the grinful sound of B*Witched’s first two singles. It has what turns out to be a false chorus – “Won’t blame it on myself…” – then a rather lovely passage rising up to the actual chorus, which is when things get more dramatic. The clouds burst – kettledrum claps, a downpour of pizzicato and an open-armed Edele Lynch welcoming the cinematic deluge. “The rain goes on!” – it’s a thrilling hook, throwing open the doors on a forgotten world of big-production light-entertanment pop. It’s the moment B*Witched lean into the Nolans comparisons. “Weatherman” could – in spirit if not quite in style – be from the 60s or mid-70s, or whenever you’d want to place a half-remembered childhood hit: for all the tempest, there’s something heartening about this record, cosy and familiar. An impression cemented by the break in the clouds on the “Maybe it won’t change….” middle-eight, with backing vocals that sound like contented mews.

“Weatherman”, a widescreen song humbly released as a fourth single in an album cycle, puts the enormous promotional machine behind a Britney into sharp contrast. Bubblegum has no long term game plan, no artist development – the likes of B*Witched try a thing or two, have hits until they don’t. and that’s that. That’s why seasons of bubblegum – like 1998 or 1969-70 – rarely produce lasting stars, but often produce records as charming as this.



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  1. 1
    Tom on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Footnotes: 1. Fuck me that’s a bad sleeve, it looks like concept art for a teenpop zombie horror videogame. 2. During this song’s brief “reign” the website YOU ARE READING NOW was launched. So we’re now within Freaky Trigger’s lifetime, though it doesn’t really intersect with Popular for another year or so.

  2. 2
    Andrew Farrell on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Hah, I was about to ask if there was a stork-ever-growing-pulsating-brain-that-rules-from-the-centre-of-the-ultraworld.

  3. 3
    punctum on 3 Oct 2014 #

    I don’t think that girl groups, or their writers and producers, deliberately set out to nullify any initial explosiveness with feebly trembling balladry, but the temptation to broaden their base – to prolong their lifespan – is never far away; it’s the equivalent of the notion, extinguished in the sixties but shortly due to make a comeback, of the all-round entertainer. The trouble is, once you check into the international hotel lobby of bland, it’s difficult to get back, or even out, as the long-forgotten 2007 Spice Girls comeback single “Headlines” sadly proved; isn’t one allowed to be both an adult and have fun?

    The fiddle was gone from “Blame It On The Weatherman” and all of the fun, too. Where “I Belong To You” worked as a Philippa Pearce variant on “2 Become 1,” “Weatherman” from its introductory rain effects onward is disappointingly prosaic – and sadly the girls’ voices prove that lower register was not their forte. Despite arranger Anne Dudley’s determined efforts to pump life into the song’s pink veins in the bridge with her tympani and drip-drop pizzicato strings it doesn’t amount to much more than an earnest teen ballad with too much adulthood filtering through its pores – he’s gone, it’s not my fault, or maybe it is; staring at the rain which now pours free of enticing metaphor, the song literally peters out halfway through, shrugging its shoulders, having exhausted its meagre stock of ideas and leaving its cast bewildered, wandering around the studio in the manner of a Spike Milligan sketch: “What are we gonna do now?” A shame, but it was their fourth chart topper as well as their last, and there were four of them, and 4 is about all I can find in me to give it.

  4. 4
    will on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Well, for me it’s easily the best of their salvo of Number Ones – old fashioned for sure, but beautifully arranged and full of yearning and soul, even. I found myself returning to it many times during the summers of 2007 and 2012, seasons when, in the UK at least, the rain really did seem to go on (and on again). 9

  5. 5
    JoeWiz on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Long time reader, but I thought I choose this record, a record which the 14 year old me bought the same day as I bought a ‘word processor’, as the time to join in.
    For me, this is a lovely, soaring beast of a song, which reminds me of a bunnied Irish sibling centred group that were in their pomp at the time. Maybe that had a little bit to do with it’s success?
    Anyway, a solid 7 from me. Considerably better than the Thunderbugs.

  6. 6
    Chelovek na lune on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Pleased, and surprised, to find myself in agreement with Tom and others here. This is kind of cute, timeless, pop, that doesn’t mean a great deal beyond sort-of articulating a vague sense of frustration that isn’t strong enough to be despair. I think it was a step forward – more adult, less potentially cringeworthy (well – except for the title and the general conceit of the song) than the earlier singles, and especially the first two, which were a bit too awkward and twee. But this, in its way, is quietly perfect. The rain falls down…. well, you’re in Ireland, so this is not entirely unexpected. But it’s still a pain.

    But. What came after this was dreadful. The follow-up “Jessie Hang On” barely bothered with a tune or anything approximating a completed song, and the one after that – in coordination with Lady Blacksmith Mambazo – was beyond dreadful; one wondered if they (or SOMEONE) had spent too long listening to Boyzone’s “A Different Beat” and thought, a-ha, we/they can go beyond this, take it further….without having the capability to do so.

    But for this: yes, 7 or 8

  7. 7
    Rory on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Popular has won me over to Kylie, the Spice Girls and now Britney, but it’s never gonna make me love B*Witched. This, though, sounds different enough from their previous offerings that I quite like it. The Natalie Imbruglia influence is there, and has smuggled into their sound one of her Antipodean influences, which is Crowded House.

    My diminishing B*Witched scores of 5, 5, and 4 have taken a dramatic upwards turn to… 6.

  8. 8
    Rory on 3 Oct 2014 #

    (Hmm, I see that I’m only the second reader to click on a score, and my 6 brings the average to 5. All you lovers of the track had better get clicking.)

  9. 9
    admin on 3 Oct 2014 #


  10. 10
    Rory on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Street’s like a jungle
    So call the police

  11. 11
    JLucas on 3 Oct 2014 #

    One of the many reasons pop music is the genre that I always feel the most affinity with is its ability to throw up delightful surprises like this. B*Witched kicked off with a great novelty-ish smash, then predictably followed it with a rather pale imitation and an (admittedly very sweet) Christmas ballad. Then, four singles deep into an album – when most pop acts of their ilk are casting around for the least filler-ish album track to squeeze a bit more milk out of a near-drained cash cow, they casually throw out the best song of their career.

    The Imbruglia comparison is apt, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the similarity was entirely intended. But it’s an interesting direction for a group whose styling and output prior to this was clearly identifiable as ‘strictly for kids’. With perhaps a couple of small lyrical tweaks this could actually have been a Natalie Imbruglia song. It might even have been the best Natalie Imbruglia song.

    Alas, it was the fourth single from a B*Witched album so despite the fact that momentum took it to number one, it’s all but forgotten now. They were perhaps the most striking victims of the changing of the guard that occured in 1999/2000. All four singles from their debut album went to #1. The lead single from their second – released just 7 months later – went in at #4. The next two missed the top ten, and that was the end of B*Witched. I can’t say they were done a terrible disservice, Jessie Hold On really was wafer thin fare, and the follow-up singles weren’t much better. But I’ll always have a huge amount of affection for this one, just for being such an unexpected gem.


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    AMZ1981 on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Blame It On The Weatherman was a fourth number one from four, making B*Witched only the second act to do so (after the Spice Girls). Perhaps proving that new records are there to be set they were the first act to have their first four singles ENTER at number one; Wannabe entered at 3 before climbing to the top. Of course that record wouldn’t last very long.

    #11 beat me to it but what followed was a fall from grace probably as spectacular as Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s fifteen years before but while eighteen months elapsed between Welcome To The Pleasuredome and Rage Hard, less than six elapsed between BIOTW and Jesse Hold On.

    BIOTW set another unfortunate record when it collapsed to number nine the following week; the first number one to do so since Iron Maiden in 1991. It will be a while until we have an advance on this but given that Bring Your Daughter … was a two week runner BIOTW may be the least successful number of the nineties in chart terms. A shame because it’s a better record than both Rollercoaster and To You I Belong.

  13. 13
    weej on 3 Oct 2014 #

    I’d disconnected entirely with the charts somewhere around this time and so this seems to be the first time I’ve listened to BIOTW – and, what do you know, it’s up to the very high standard of their previous three. Well, the chorus is at least, I wasn’t that impressed by the (by this time cliched) Torn-style buildup, but when they get to “the rain goes on…” something pretty special happens. A 9 for the chorus, a 4 for the verses, can I say 6.5?

  14. 14
    Mark G on 3 Oct 2014 #

    It also has something of the “An Eternal Flame” about it, musically.

    Something else that sort of bugged me about this one, was the bit where they sing “the rains come DOWN!!!” and the dance move where they raise one hand up while covering their face with the other and turn away – shun the rain!..

    Then I see that they did no such dance move.

  15. 15
    James Silkstone on 3 Oct 2014 #

    We have the single of this somewhere in the house. It belongs to my father rather surprisingly, it took me years when I was a kid to put two and two together and realize that this was the same group who did cheese fests such as ‘C’est La Vie’ and ‘Rollercoaster’ because ‘Blame It’ was rather overplayed in those years. My dad adored this song, it was also on a tape he’d made for car journeys so we heard it a lot and it really did throw me quite a lot when I realized B*Witched sang this. I just never connected the dots. ‘Blame It’ is a very different affair from their other stuff thus far, I confess I’ve still only heard ‘To You I Belong’ no more than 3 or 4 times (and none of them recently) so I can’t really compare the two, this is more stripped back and sweet sounding. I wouldn’t say I like this record, I’ve probably heard it too many times, but it’s certainly not an offensive listen…in fact, that might be the problem here. You can only hear this so many times before it completely looses whatever sparkle and charm it had before


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    Tommy Mack on 3 Oct 2014 #

    I don’t remember this except the title: some day I’m going to work my way back thru Popular, listening to all the gaps in my (patchy)memory/(rock-centric)historical knowledge.

    This must have been #1 when Squid (hey, it was the 90s) played our first gig at the (sadly long since shut) Manchester Boardwalk: the most important event in the history of pop EVAH, as far as I was concerned. Hardly auspicious – if only it had been Britney but still, it could have been Boyzone!

  17. 17
    lonepilgrim on 3 Oct 2014 #

    there’s something quite ambient about this song that I really enjoy – when I’m immersed in listening to it I find it both soothing and mildly euphoric yet once it’s over I struggle to recall the melody. The video is almost Ballardian in its portrayal of the girls floating through a drowned world on an upturned truck. 7 from me

  18. 18
    swanstep on 3 Oct 2014 #

    New to me….and boy it’s dull. Remarkably short of interesting changes or hooky melodies, and full of wan vocals and lyrics, I’m shocked by the high Tom-score for this. (I mean The Verve’s ‘The Drug’s Don’t Work’ isn’t great but it’s got more going for it than this, yet it got a TomScore=4.) Anyhow, I never rated ‘Torn’ either so maybe I’m just not on the right wavelength here. Hmm…maybe Lonepilgrim@17 has the right idea: treat this as ambientish burbling (listens one more time). OK, can stretch to a:

  19. 19
    wichitalineman on 3 Oct 2014 #

    The Everly Brothers’ Crying In The Rain was presumably the lyrical model, and Torn the production prototype but, as Weej says “something pretty special happens” when it hits the unexpected chorus. “The rain goes on” feels like an extension of the Everlys’ misery, and the harmonies are as melancholic as those on the Spice Girls’ Goodbye.

    It could have been way slicker. The production is an MFP/Pickwick handling of Torn but, as with their previous singles, this rather DIY approach really adds to BIOTW’s – and B*witched’s – charm.*

    On a song full of odd turns, the bridge comes in slightly earlier than expected, and “why d’you say goodbye?” arcs up, pleadingly, and hangs there only to be answered by the downturn/downpour of the chorus. The ending, similarly, is unresolved, very much a counterpoint to Baby One More Time’s thudding finality. What a beautifully constructed record.

    Re 18: “remarkably short of interesting changes”? Gosh! That’s the one thing I thought you couldn’t say about BIOTW, beyond the unchanging loop.

  20. 20
    Tom on 3 Oct 2014 #

    I completely misquoted the chorus! Gosh. I must have been subconsciously thinking of Jane Morgan.

  21. 21
    Mark G on 3 Oct 2014 #

    ach, and I quoted you, despite knowing it went “and on again” never mind…

  22. 22
    iconoclast on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Sorry if you see this twice; my internet access is flaky right now.

    This record has the potential to achieve greatness: there’s very little wrong with the melody and chord changes, and the production is detailed enough to show that somebody, at least, was really trying. That it ultimately falls short is down to a rather clunky four-square stiffness in the arrangement – most notably towards the end of the introduction, when the strummed acoustic guitar can’t find anything better to do – and in part to the singing, especially the chorus, which strives hard for poignancy but can’t quite get there. Nonetheless, at the time it was a welcome reminder that thoughtful and intelligent songcraft had not yet completely died, and it remains one of the few genuinely memorable chart-toppers of the era. It should have been two scores higher, but its missteps bring it down to a high SEVEN.

  23. 23
    mapman132 on 3 Oct 2014 #

    A momentous occasion as for the first time since I started posting on this site last year, I am writing from within the UK itself. A week’s vacation in London – Woo Hoo!

    With that I don’t actually have much to say. A pleasant but unexciting ballad. Never charted in America but it did get slight exposure from a TV show. Won’t say how I know that….5/10.

  24. 24
    Shiny Dave on 3 Oct 2014 #

    On that sleeve (which, yes, is shoddy)…

    We were discussing the curious case of the differing responses to Britney and Billie’s bare midriffs in their videos – now we get them from three-quarters of a girl group clearly aimed at a younger audience than either. Which leaves me with two questions to which I don’t have answers: were B*Witched’s members of comparable ages to the above? And was that sleeve at all controversial at the time, given how it instantly followed on from the Britney video?

  25. 25
    thefatgit on 3 Oct 2014 #

    Right up to the point I witnessed more than 2 axles on the upturned truck, I thought they were floating on the upturned SpiceBus. Hey-ho.

    This is better than I was expecting. Melancholy bubblegum? Sour Hubba Bubba? (Is sour Hubba Bubba a thing? If not, it should be?) If you say so. I can’t go as far as an 8, but 6 seems about right.

  26. 26
    swanstep on 4 Oct 2014 #

    @wichita, 19. I perhaps miswrote: BIOTW *has* plenty of changes but none of them really grab me (things that got 4s around here like ‘Love Won’t Wait’ are much grabbier I find), and when everything from the vocals to the pizzicato strings kind of beds in alongside those changes, the whole just strikes me as more an abandoned demo than anything else (e.g., Madonna’s demo for LWW; I don’t deny that there’s something here that a talented song-writer could quickly tweak to create more movement within and make a convincing hit). I almost added in my original post that I don’t think that BIOTW would make it onto a St Et’s or a Sundays album, but maybe you disagree! I dunno about the ending of the track that you like so much either: it reminds me of better stuff by Mansun, esp. ‘The Chad who loved me’ and so takes me right out of the track rather than cinching anything. Lastly, ‘Rain’ songs are an important sub-genre within pop. I therefore find it natural to make numerous invidious comparisons with BIOTW so that it simply has to be pressed down in the resulting ranking.

  27. 27
    Patrick Mexico on 5 Oct 2014 #

    Here’s a Top 10 at 10 of “rain” songs better than this:

    10. Billie Myers – Kiss the Rain
    9. Slayer – Raining Blood
    8. Guns N’ Roses – November Rain
    7. Blue Pearl – Naked in the Rain
    6. Rainbow – Since You’ve Been Gone
    5. Garbage – I’m Only Happy When It Rains
    4. Culture Beat – Crying in the Rain (sadly, not an Everly Brothers cover, but I would be very grateful if anyone could link me to any music that brings these two genres together in holy matrimony)
    3. Cascades – Rhythm of the Rain
    2. Randy Crawford – Rainy Night In Georgia
    1. (by some distance) Prince and the Revolution – Purple Rain

    (Also had to scrap an angry, Going Underground-esque “state of the nation” punk song I wrote aged 18 as I somehow ended up cribbing from the Rainbow theme tune.)

    Some pleasant acoustic chops – and it could have been worse, B*Witched could have bowed out on Popular with a bad cover version, but God, it’s a mistake when boy/girl bands try to act all “grown up” and surrender their sense of innate lovable ridiculousness*. 4.

    * This will be quite the theme as we go through this year.

  28. 28
    Kinitawowi on 5 Oct 2014 #

    #27: 10 more –

    10. Berri: The Sunshine After The Rain
    9. James Gang: Ashes, The Rain And I
    8. *bunny*: Rain On Your Parade
    7. Zoe: Sunshine On A Rainy Day
    6. Phil Collins: I Wish It Would Rain Down (possibly the best thing he ever did)
    5. Carpenters: Rainy Days And Mondays
    4. *bunny*: I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
    3. Belinda Carlisle: Summer Rain
    2. Madonna: Rain
    1. REM: I’ll Take The Rain (their Drive You Home by Garbage – the song that made me stop the album and bawl my eyes out for half an hour before I could finish)

    Cross-multiply with your list, of course; Purple Rain and Only Happy When It Rains are both absolute beasts.

    This is not. This is their Frozen – the song that all my mates thought it was okay to like when I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. And I still prefer To You I Belong. 4 is about right.

  29. 29
    swanstep on 5 Oct 2014 #

    Some ‘rain’ songs I more or less love and use to calibrate:
    ‘I can’t stand the rain’ (Ann Peebles, Eruption, Lowell George, etc.)
    ‘Come rain or Come Shine’ (songbook)
    ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’, ‘Who’ll stop the rain?’ (Credence)
    ‘It never rains in South California’ (Albert Hammond)
    ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ (Carpenters)
    Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (Bacharach)
    ‘A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall’ (Dylan, Ferry)
    ‘It’s Raining Again’ (Supertramp)
    ‘Fool In the Rain’, ‘The Rain Song’ (Led Zep)
    ‘Rain’ (Beatles)
    ‘Walking In The Rain’ (Ronettes)
    ‘Walking in The Rain’ (Grace Jones)
    ‘You are the Sun, You are the Rain’ (Lionel Ritchie)
    ‘The Sun and the Rainfall’ (Depeche)
    and for cred.
    ‘A Little Bit of Rain’ (Fred Neil)

  30. 30
    Chelovek na lune on 5 Oct 2014 #

    “Spring Rain” by the Go-Betweens strikes me as superior to this, and their “The Sound of Rain” even more so (also, from their number in their solo years: “Riddle In The Rain” by GW McLennan and “If It Rains” by Robert Forster): I’d concede that several of those mentioned by PM, Kinitawowi and Swanstep may well be too.

    Also “Jocelyn Square” by Love and Money (“I still think about you, but only sometimes when it rains”. As the sleeve notes added “In Glasgow, that’s quite frequently”).

    Maybe even “How Come It Never Rains” by Dogs D’Amour. Maybe.

    Perhaps “The Trip To Bountiful (When The Rain Comes Down)” by the Adventures (more so than their several other songs with a rain theme…),

    “Ravel In The Rain” by Black,

    “Burning Rain” by Crazy House (truly a lost classic, later re-released as “Perfect Crime” by Shrine of 8, in an identical recording on a different label),

    and everything on “Raintown” by Deacon Blue.

    Oh, and for an instrumental interlude “The Rain Falls Deepest On The Shortest Haircut” by The Lilac Time.

    Sticking narrowly by genre of “slightly melancholy mainstream pop”, I do think “Blame It On The Weatherman” is the equal of Roxette’s “Queen of Rain” and (OK cheesy, but there’s a place for that, and possibly oversung, but there’s maybe a place for that too) Wendy Moten’s “Come In Out Of The Rain”.

    Looking the other way, a list of “rain” songs inferior to this one would certainly feature “Blame It On The Rain” by Milli Vanilli, and “Spit In The Rain” by Del Amitri, Jason Donovan’s atrocious cover of “Rhythm of The Rain”, and loads of other tracks I only half-remember so don’t feel confident to damn out loud here in public…

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