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Apr 15

CRAIG DAVID – “7 Days”

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#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.

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Comments

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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”.

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 58
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  9. 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.

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