12
Apr 15

CRAIG DAVID – “7 Days”

Popular59 comments • 3,924 views

#868, 5th August 2000

craig david days When Craig David’s manager heard the chorus of “7 Days” for the first time, he knew at once the 17 year old would be a star. The song made him. It also doomed him. “7 Days” is the most immediate single of the year, and also the easiest to parody. A committed, self-serious lad, David chafed at the attention of comedians, particularly Bo Selecta!’s Leigh Francis, whose consistent, surreal use of the singer was blamed by David for sabotaging his career. But “7 Days” is so ridiculous – and so catchy – that it attracted piss-takers like piranha to steak. That doesn’t make David’s hurt and regret less real, or void his case – the relationship between pop music and the rest of British culture, comedy included, was on the turn. But it doesn’t make “7 Days” less funny.

Perhaps I’m taking too much for granted, here. Surely some people listen to “7 Days” and hear the soulful, seductive record Craig David intended it to be. I find that easy to believe, but also hard to imagine, so I’ll try and unpick why it doesn’t work as that for me, even though it feels like explaining a joke. The central problem is that the chorus – and the title – sets itself up as a classic days-of-the-week riff, and then blows it, folding the last few days into “making love”. That’s poetically unsatisfying, and also turns “chilled on Sunday” into a punchline. Worse, the rapid cadence of “and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday” concertinas the making love section, making it seem rushed. The image that comes to mind isn’t four days spent in the sensuous reverie implied by the delicate arrangement and David’s cooing voice, but four days of rapid, trousers-round-the-ankles banging. Accurate enough, no doubt – we’re talking about an 18 year old here – but sophisticated? Not really.

Things get worse when you listen to the verses (which, to be fair, I suspect almost nobody did). On “Fill Me In”, David’s eye for the specific turned the risky fumblings of teenage lust into something evocative and dramatic. On “7 Days”, the detail is weirdly misapplied. The woman Craig falls for is completely anonymous – “a beautiful honey with a beautiful body” – yet it’s important to note that they met at “quarter past three” and she gave him a “six digit number”. The clever touch of having the rest of the verse framed as David bragging to his friends sets up the tantalising idea that the narrator could just be making all this stuff up – but the song doesn’t follow up, instead detailing the date and seduction at length, but never in detail. In the end the mates’ incredulous question – “Was it for real?” is the most credible moment. The whole thing sounds like what it is – a wannabe Casanova’s juvenilia, a seduction narrative written by a barely experienced kid.

There’s no harm in that – teenage boys brag, and dream of having things to brag about. In its way, “7 Days” is as authentic as “Fill Me In”, except it’s a product of awkwardness, not a song about it. And whether intentionally or not, “7 Days” is as funny as it is immediate and prettily executed. Heard a song on Monday, sang it in the pub on Tuesday, made our own one up by Wednesday… and so on. But where do you go after it? Once “7 Days” is loose in the world, can Craig David be taken seriously? Or as seriously as he wants to be, at any rate.

Leigh Francis thought not, and saw in Craig David’s earnest but callow self-presentation the perfect star to serve as the bizarre centre of his show. Compared to some celebrities, David got off lightly from Bo Selecta! – he was ubiquitous, but Francis doesn’t seem as hostile to him as he was to people like Mel B or Jordan. Francis has dismissed David’s claims of career-wrecking, pointing out that the singer’s star was on the wane before Bo Selecta! launched. And the sheaf of top ten hits David did score across the rest of the 00s show a man with a very limited range – the delicate soul-pop of his first two solo hits seems the beginning and end of his abilities, and as the UK garage element ebbed out of the music, most of the interest went with it. Would he have shown more ambition without the mockery? It’s impossible to say.

Ultimately, the signficance of Bo Selecta! isn’t really in its effect on any individual career. It was the attitude to pop music and culture that was new. The rise of alternative comedy intertwined with the rise of post-punk and indie music. In the 80s, alternative comedians found allies in some areas of pop – Madness and Dexy’s showed up on the Young Ones – and largely ignored the rest. Spitting Image touched on the most obvious targets but mostly had loftier ambitions. In the 90s, comedians and Britpoppers shared a constituency, and often a stage – Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff, Keith Allen and Blur, Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightning Seeds. They mounted a cultural takeover together – and then, suddenly, the pop end of the deal collapsed. Leigh Francis’ generation of comedians found themselves in a pop landscape where the music they felt most affinity for had fallen from grace, replaced with something that seemed the most obvious of targets. “I’m sick of you little girl and boy groups, all you do is annoy me…”

And so the minutiae, and the personalities, of pop culture found themselves in the crosshairs of comedy in a way they hadn’t been in twenty years, if ever. Bo Selecta!, and other shows stuffed with cultural detail and references, work on familiarity with, as well as contempt for, pop culture – a student viewer knew who newly famous pop stars like Craig David were, in a way that the adult viewer of a 60s or 70s impressionist might not have done. And the interesting thing is that this easy superiority became a default tone of British music coverage itself: Miquita Oliver and Simon Amstell’s enjoyably world-weary approach as presenters on Channel 4’s Popworld was immensely influential, giving broadcast media a snide wit the UK music press had always employed.

Mockery was an inevitable development given a pop world where access to the truly global megastars was so tightly controlled, and local musicians were hardly likely to retain much mystique when they increasingly came from the same university or drama school backgrounds as presenters. Sometimes you got the feeling those presenters and comedians – and later, the bloggers and broadsheet columnists – loved pop, in all its foolishness. Sometimes you got the feeling they despised it, or felt it had lost some invisible legitimacy after Britpop failed. Whichever it was made little difference to the outcome – snark reigned.

Was that a bad thing? It depended entirely on the targets. Reverence would have been the wrong reaction to the world of “7 Days” and Five + Queen. But the new atmosphere would suit some stars more than others, and Craig David – a serious young man who sung a silly song – choked in it.

4

Comments

1 2 All
  1. 26
    Ronnie on 13 Apr 2015 #

    Count me in as also someone who fails to see anything funny, intentionally or not, in this song. If you turn on pretty much any Jeremih or Jason DeRulo song you will hear three dozen funnier lines, and delivered with a far more evident (and hilarious) lack of charm, than anything Craig David could do.

    I don’t get it. This review just leaves me deeply confused.

  2. 27
    Matt DC on 13 Apr 2015 #

    Craig David is Jewish and apparently now very serious about it so technically he should be doing his chilling on Saturday.

  3. 28
    TFarm on 13 Apr 2015 #

    For my money, the video is entirely transformative to the likeability of the song – here its a narrative being reinvented, and perfected, in the retelling. Monday is run through several times while the right story is found; the awkward moment of not having a watch redeemed by an ostentatious one; David literally stepping out the frame to rewind a date-killing wine spill. And each narrative sticking plaster is an admission of messing up. The barber shop is a venue for David to hold court in front of a boy’s club that he’s obliged to impress, and to my eye the tale ends on a fantasy told for this audience. I came to the video expecting to be riled by having to watch David showing off, and left rather liking him for the same reason.

  4. 29
    Phil on 13 Apr 2015 #

    The joke of it is that it sounds like a surprisingly callow, immature brag for a smooth, sophisticated megastar, until you realise that the genuinely successful & sophisticated CD is playing the role of a callow, immature teenager bragging to his mates… by pretending to be the successful sophisticated smoothie that he actually is. That’s probably one layer of irony too many for a #1 single – particularly when CD’s age, and his own idea of sophistication, don’t look very different from the imaginary teenager’s – and it’s not surprising that satirists walked all over it. Shame that one of them was Leigh Francis, though.

  5. 30
    Tom on 13 Apr 2015 #

    I never saw the video, which I suspect would have made me like the song more, and I think #28 and others are right that it improves things. I’ve enjoyed the defenses here, but ultimately compared to “Fill Me In”‘s precision I still think this is charmless, and places its details in weird and annoying spots.

    #29 I like this very dense reading! But given that it was a very early song (if the manager story is true) I suspect there’s yet another layer, of successful CD performing a cover version of his own immaturity.

  6. 31
    Andrew Farrell on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #26 Bear in mind that at the point this was released, Derulo was 11, and Jerimih 13…

    No-one (unless I missed it) has actually enlightened me on my earlier question – are the vocal stylings in the verses garagey or more suitable for comparison with a line from Usher to Jerimih/Derulo? I can definitely imagine him getting some stick if it’s the latter – there’s likely to be some awkwardness about a face of black English Music anyway, more so if he’s seen as imitating US stars.

  7. 32
    Steve Williams on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #24 Aha! Lauren Laverne didn’t actually present Popworld, that was the previous T4 music show Planet Pop. That was axed at the end of 2000 to make way for Popworld, which massively pissed me off at the time because you went from Lauren Laverne being all cool and making loads of obscure references to what was, at the start, a pretty bog-standard series which seemed to be far more juvenile, was on every day of the week in the first few months of T4 and which I recall had Simon Fuller lurking in the background.

    As Simon and Miquita pointed out later, though, everyone on the production team resigned after about two minutes so they instantly became the senior members of the team and could do what they liked, and pretty soon everyone forgot about Planet Pop, and rightly so.

    As for Leigh Francis, I’d actually first encountered him when he presented the C4 teenage magazine Buzz as himself in 1998 and I then went around telling everyone that he was a great kids presenter and was going to be a big star. He was really engaging and likeable. But then he stopped being himself on the telly, which is a shame. I actually quite liked the early years of Bo Selecta as it was clearly done with no affection whatsoever and took the piss out of everything.

    Nice to hear mention of The O Zone too, which was an amazingly long-running series, lasting eleven years. There’s some great clips from it on YouTube of interviews with Radiohead and the Manics, and it was a great show because it would cover everyone from every genre. Course, it started as part of CBBC as a way of stringing pop videos together before becoming a show in its own right, but it was always made by the presentation department at the Beeb and I get the impression it ended in 2000 because the music department were wondering why they didn’t make it, replacing it with the far inferior Top of the Pops Plus.

  8. 33
    DanusJonus on 13 Apr 2015 #

    I just wanted to pick up on the final couple of sentences in Tom’s review (CD as a serious young man). Thinking back, his inability to engage in the mirth that later surrounded him did seal CD’s fate. It’s funny how looking back, you quickly associate him with Leigh Francis, but I have a feeling that was a bit later on. I think that by ‘Walking Away’ the consensus was still positive.

    I do remember the Fearne Cotton thing (astutely mentioned in a previous comment) as a turning point. In my head I can assimilate this trajectory with Daniel Bedingfield, who we’ll get to discuss quite soon. Bedingfield’s serious nature seemed to count against him in the same way CD’s did. Didn’t Chris Moyle’s in particular give him really a hard time?

    Though I’d count Moyles as one of the ones who felt the ‘invisible legitimacy’ of pop had been lost. Pop stars/sensations were still being presented to the public in 2000, it just seemed that on closer inspection they either didn’t live up to expectations or weren’t prepared to play the game in the way others desired.

  9. 34
    JoeWiz on 13 Apr 2015 #

    This is far inferior to both Fill Me In and Walking Away, but is, as has been observed, still with us in popular culture today. This is due to the comic/horrific chorus, which is never taken to be anything other than genuine until I read this thread. The half jokey vid strays mildly into Richard Blackwood territory, this was his high water make wasnt it? I seem to recall him be called a ‘British Will Smith’ around this time and maybe CD might’ve lasted longer if he wasn’t taking himself quite as seriously all the time, at least in the UK…
    And the less said about the Motown covers album, the better.

  10. 35
    Andrew on 13 Apr 2015 #

    “Six nominations, no BRITS for C.D.” :(

  11. 36
    Tom on 13 Apr 2015 #

    Re. Legitimacy and Moyles – one of the factors in play is the fallout from the restructuring of BBC Radio, where the “new” Radio 1 of the mid-90s was restaffed by presenters who were funny and ‘credible’ and actually liked music. This was an excellent principle as long as the music they liked was doing well: nobody seems to have given much thought to what might happen if the DJs didn’t like or care about prevailing trends. Reshuffles? A return to the grin and bear it attitude of the pre-Bannister years? Pushing ‘better’ music via the playlist? Or just snark? It felt like Radio 1 at least tried all of these at some point.

  12. 37
    Lazarus on 13 Apr 2015 #

    I remember this well, his later output less so. But as a big cricket fan (like Jimmy Swede, who posted recently in response to the news of Richie Benaud’s death) it strikes me that Craig David has an equivalent in the England team – a lad called Ravi Bopara. He always comes across as a bit daft, unsure of himself, very likeable, gets a lot of stick and probably takes it to heart. Rather intense and puts pressure on himself, but something of an underachiever. That’s who Craig David is, he’s pop’s Ravi Bopara. Or perhaps Ravi is cricket’s Craig David?

    And Solomon Grundy songs – ‘Diary of Horace Wimp’ by ELO, and another ‘Seven Days’ by David’s future collaborator Sting, a top 10 single from 1992.

  13. 38
    The Muppet on 13 Apr 2015 #

    I think a big part of the reason for the decline of Craig David around 2002-03 was down to the emergence of an American boyband member as a solo star and whose debut album came out around the same time as CD’s second. Also we were reaching the peak of American Hip-Hop/R&B’s chart dominance and the likes of Craig David were swept away by it. I kind off liked “What’s Your Flava?” at the time but I don’t think it suited him but if he had stuck to what he had been dong in 2000 it wouldn’t have done much better.

  14. 39
    Pink champale on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #37 Oh my god, Sting’s Seven Days really puts CD into perspective. It seemed to be on radio one every fifteen minutes during my first year at university and had the most objectionable lyrics and delivery you could possibly imagine – somehow Sting attempting self deprecating humour is even more pompous than him attempting great depth

  15. 40
    Jonathan on 13 Apr 2015 #

    The apotheosis of this genre has to be the new-day-new-ATL-strip-club catalogue that was Luda and Jermaine Dupri’s “Welcome to Atlanta,” right?

  16. 41
    chelovek na lune on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #38 – yes, exactly. And he did this (down to the spanish guitar sound) so much better, and with a much more self-assured sexy(back) strut. CD couldn’t compete – 1066 and all that. Top Nation had won this battle.

  17. 42
    Tommy Mack on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #19. What kind of curmudgeon doesn’t like Friday I’m In Love? Is this a Smiths vs Cure tribal thing?

    As for 7 Days’ shag-centric itinerary, I’m torn: on the one hand I love a good list so I was disappointed that he goes ‘er, mainly just shagging after that’ by day three but then that is exactly what a lad bragging to his mates would say. Was the video perhaps a deliberate attempt to show CD could make light of his own loverman image.

    The perpetual ribbing of CD seemed very school playground: he wasn’t the hated, bullied kid people wanted to see cry but he clearly thought he was cooler and sexier than the mob so he was going to get his new shoes stamped on until he admitted he wasn’t as cool as he made out. Not that I approve of that: when I think what we could have achieved if we’d used the effort we spent undermining each other on something more productive I can’t say I’m proud of my schooldays.

    Further CD thoughts, my bandmate at university explained his appeal as ‘women see him as a male sex kitten, they just want to dominate him’ which seems a bit extreme. My gruff, golfing accountant brother in law is a massive fan, I don’t imagine that’s his motivation!

    7 Days’ chorus memorably spoofed by Roots Manuva and Seannie T on Highest Grade: the blurring of four days into one particularly suiting the ‘too much will fuck you up’ subtext of an otherwise enthusiastic paen to tha herb.

  18. 43
    thefatgit on 13 Apr 2015 #

    “Friday I’m In Love” is one of those Solomon Grundy songs I’m really happy to listen to again and again. One of the most wonderful shuffle moments on my iPod was the time when I was rewarded with a back to back Cure pairing of “The Same Deep Water As You” followed by “Friday I’m In Love”. It felt like those moments when the storm breaks and shards of sunlight settle on the wet asphalt, everything seems bejewelled and beautiful. A real goosebumpy experience.

  19. 44
    wichitalineman on 13 Apr 2015 #

    I’m firmly in the camp that sees this as playful, ambiguous, bragging, naive teen pop. The mix of microscopic detail (Southampton area code!) and vague details of the girl (beautiful and, uh, beautiful!) sounds like a half-convincing bullshitter showing off to his mates. Straight off, it reminded me of the Shirelles’ I Met Him On A Sunday which concludes “I said bye-bye baby” after an especially intense week – again, a mixture of bragging and reality. Classic pop moves, story well told. The “and on thursdayfridayandsaturday… we chilled on Sunday” is surely meant to sound like horny teenagers going at it like rabbits – a bit daft, a bit rude, a bit of fibbing. It’s not as good as Fill Me In, but only one rung lower.

    The heavy Leigh Francis-referencing here, seeing as no one has yet said they find him funny, feels a bit like Tom has written an extensive essay on Heartbreak Hotel which consistently references Stan Freberg.* CD’s career may have been anti-climactic, but – fifteen years on – fuck the playground bullies.

    *Struggling to think of a more contemporary reference. Maybe if Steve Wright’s eighties Radio 1 show had been on TV he’d have done something similar to Morrissey.

  20. 45
    mrdiscopop on 13 Apr 2015 #

    RE #39 “Sting attempting self deprecating humour is even more pompous than him attempting great depth.”

    The song is written in 5/4, which he probably thought was a brilliant jape (but shouldn’t it have been in 7/4 for extra ‘clever bastard’ points?)

    Vinnie Colaiuta’s drumming is superb on it, though.

  21. 46
    Tommy Mack on 14 Apr 2015 #

    I Hung My Head’s 9/8 is even more annoyingly pointless. He sings each line comfortably within 4 beats then makes a self-conscious pause before the next line. Johnny Cash played the whole thing in 4/4 and the song worked a lot better for it.

    Also (I will never tire of hating on Sting) he came across as a massive arse in the 20 Feet From Stardom docu.

  22. 47
    will on 14 Apr 2015 #

    I still struggle to understand the opprobrium and ridicule that was showered upon CD. Never felt the need to investigate his albums further but I loved the run of singles up to What’s Your Flava. Pleasant undemanding pop r n’ b. 7 Days itself made me smile. There really are worse things in life.

  23. 48
    Tommy Mack on 14 Apr 2015 #

    #47: I never got the impression many people hated him or his music, just that they thought he was a bit silly and pompous with it and, being English*, thought him ripe for mickey-taking.

    A salutory lesson: what’s meant as unmalicious banter can be systematic abuse if you’re on the receiving end of it.

    *Am I right in thinking CD-mockery was mainly an English rather than UK-wide or global thing?

  24. 49
    Phil on 14 Apr 2015 #

    #47: the simple answer is that Leigh Francis is a horrible person (or, to be fair, makes a living acting like a horrible person – although he’s very good at it, not to mention persistent). There was mockery of CD before Bo Selecta – ‘7 Days’ is clever & catchy enough to be memorable and memorable enough to parody, plus the ‘sophisticated teenage pop star sings about being a teenager who wishes he was a sophisticated pop star’ shtick has ‘Achilles heel’ written all over it. But I think before BS it mostly was unmalicious banter, rather than mass-media playground bullying.

  25. 50
    Izzy on 14 Apr 2015 #

    48: I don’t think it was England-only, no. On the Fill Me In thread I’ve recounted being mocked myself for having seen him live, and that was in Glasgow. I’m sure he was a much less significant figure there, as evidenced by that thread’s weird excursion through Hanger 13 and The Time Frequency, but one of the beautiful things about bullying is the way it can transcend mere cultures and boundaries.

  26. 51
    Iain Mew on 14 Apr 2015 #

    Another Solomon Grundy song which charted a couple of years before this – The Bluetones’ “Solomon Bites the Worm”. They also squashed together some days, though only Thursday and Friday.

  27. 52
    Rory on 14 Apr 2015 #

    Iain @51, I’d never made the connection before, but “Solomon Bites the Worm” is the closest of them all : it’s a direct rewrite of the nursery rhyme! Born on Monday, christened on Tuesday, etc. Nicely spotted.

  28. 53
    flahr on 14 Apr 2015 #

    In fairness to the (recently reunited) Bluetones, Solomon Grundy itself shrugs its shoulders with a will-this-do? “got worse on Friday”.

  29. 54
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Apr 2015 #

    #50 saving a complete list of differences between Scottish & UK no 1s for the end-of-year round-up, but neither of CD’s UK no 1s reached the top in the Scottish charts, and “Fill Me In” didn’t really even come close

  30. 55
    anto on 16 Apr 2015 #

    Regardless of parodies, 7 Days seemed funny at the time due to it’s fundamentally naff, teenage idea of sophistication captured in the line about ‘a bottle of Moet for two’ (as opposed to one of those bumper packs of Moet that can serve up to 12, presumably) – It would be churlish to overlook what a feat of singing it actually is, but perhaps a bit more could have been made of the narrator clearly being a bit of a bullshitter. The idea of making love from Wednesday to Saturday could be the cause of a sore willy, it also makes me think of the kind of people who crow about the holiday where they attended a local festival that went on for 4 days, always confuses me, who the heck would want to do the same thing 4 days in a row?

  31. 56
    Andrew on 17 Apr 2015 #

    #55 good point – perhaps the ‘chilling’ on Sunday comprised Beautiful-Honey-with-a-Beautiful-Body holding a cold compress to Craig’s, er, selecta.

  32. 57
    swanstep on 29 Apr 2015 #

    @wichata, 44. Thanks for the reference to the Shirelles’ ‘I Met Him On A Sunday’. Listening now its influence on ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ seems very clear. And happily *that* brings us back to David. Apparently writers Barry and Greenwich originally had their song begin Shirelles-like with ‘I met him on a Sunday’ thinking that that would be a more likely day to be out meeting people, but the alliterative ‘Met her on a Monday’ sang better, so rock and roll’s attachment to the working/school week got its cornerstone. Anyhow, David follows both the Crystals with starting on Monday and the Shirelles with having a slight twist by the end of the week.

  33. 58
    ray ban australia cheap on 23 Jun 2015 #

    ray ban sunglasses

  34. 59
    ciaran on 23 Jun 2015 #

    A 3rd Craig David single was bound to be popular but I think people were caught a bit unaware that it was going to be a slowie. It didn’t come to attentIon as immediately as Rewind or Fill Me In did. IIRC my first encounter with it was on some summer holiday show on Channel 4 that year where he spoke the lyrics but didnt play the tune.

    When I heard it in full it began to grow on me and even though it reads like a cleaner version of Jay from the Inbetweeners exaggerated encounters with the ladies I wouldn’t have picked out holes in it like others may have done.

    There was something distinctly urban, young and UK (even a bit clumsy) about it that was different from the US scene and that works in its favour. It’s a solid production and even the spanish guitar sound doesnt harm it too much. 6

    The ending almost gives the impression of David cruising into the sunset with the woman on his arm and Walking Away was another strong single.Of course a big problem became apparent in that he had shot his bolt after the first album and by 2006 when he could have been in his prime he was already something of a has-been and his US equivalents were raising the game.One Trick pony might be unfair but a Two-Trick one might not be.

    As regards the David V Merrion argument I don’t think for a second that Merrion was fully to blame. Ridicule is inevitable if your a pop star and CD wasn’t the first or last to be made fun of. Oasis are held up as dinosaurs and their image was ripe for parody but you never heard Noel Gallagher complain about Soccer AM taking off Liam for instance. If David became a consistent R and B megastar with something as strong as 2000’s 4 singles the Bo Selecta would have been passed by. The second album was where it all started to unravel.David also might forget that Ali G was getting in on the act early on and the lad mags were ripping into him over the 7 days thing and his name being mentioned on every song by the time Born To Do It came out.

    I didn’t watch Bo Selecta all that much but it just seemed typical of the low hanging fruit approach to sketch shows from 2000 onwards. Every new show seemed like a hammer blow to the genre.(Save for Mitchell and Webb which was ace).Not long after 7 days Harry Enfield’s disastrous series on Sky was about to air doubled up with Al Murrays Time Gentlemen Please(Not a sketch show admittedly) in Autumn 2000 which sounded exciting but the same jokes got irritating very fast and the second series of Time Gentlemen Please was one of the worst you could ever imagine.TV Go Home was another awful show that only lasted a series before the success of Little Britain and Catherine Tate which I couldn’t stand.It was quite a comedown from the 1990s which had a number of top notch shows.

1 2 All

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


If this was number 1 when you were born paste [stork-boy] or [stork-girl] into the start of your comment :)

Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page