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Apr 15

SPILLER – “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)”

Popular107 comments • 13,591 views

#871, 26th August 2000

spiller groovejet The revival of disco within pop put a spotlight on something that had gone missing over the 90s: a sense of music not just for dancing, but for dancing with someone. Disco was a music of mutual attraction: cruising, flirtation, negotiation. Its dancefloor is a space for immediate pleasure, but also for promises kept and otherwise. It’s a place where things start, but their resolution, let alone their meaning, is never clear. All of 2000’s great disco number ones explore how to play this hand. Madison Avenue look to impose their will upon it, to set terms and roles. Spiller is less rigid. “Groovejet” accepts the night’s changeability, happily sells out certainty for an amused smile and a few great one-liners. “Just for one lifetime I can be your pastime”, “In it together till I know you better.” Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s original chorus precisely caught the song’s resigned swoon: “And so it goes… how does it feel so good?”.

“Groovejet” – helped along by a whipped-up chart battle with Posh Spice – felt like the hit of the summer. Victoria Beckham’s song, “Out Of Your Mind”, was nowhere near as bad as some claimed – a surprisingly hard-headed, up to date, UK garage record, drenched in vocal effects. It was as modern and forthright as “Groovejet” was nostalgic and enigmatic. But its different parts grated where Spiller’s meshed. There’s a beautiful tension in “Groovejet”, an apt flirtation between Bextor’s languid, cut-glass vocals and the delightful indulgence of Spiller’s music. It’s not just any disco he’s reviving, after all. No Chic for Spiller, none of that poise or aspirational elegance. The sounds “Groovejet” loots are the syn-drums and ray-gun synths of disco’s overripe peak and decline, when it was corny, wonderful, mass-market pop music: you can hear hints of Kelly Marie or Amii Stewart in the song, before that sweetness falls back into the dreamy groove. “Groovejet” is a fond tour of disco when it ruled the world, and proof that it still could.

The music can be playful because the sophistication all comes from Ellis-Bextor. Her vocals were so appealing on this track she could ditch her indie-band baggage and spin them into a brief, well-loved career as a top ten presence, mixing instant hooks with finishing school froideur just as templated here. She offsets the track’s bubbly repetition, adds a bittersweet note without ever sounding like she’s above it. In fact she sounds carried along by it: Ellis-Bextor’s – and the song’s – most powerful moment is the breakdown – “Will you remember me, boy? Remember me – “ and her voice suddenly spirals up into the backing, the thought lost in the music. It’s blissful. And so it goes… but Rob Davis, who changed the chorus, made the right call, getting to an essence not just of the song, but of disco itself. Never mind absolutes, never mind reality, never mind the world outside the song and your body. Trust to pleasure, you’ll be alright. “If this ain’t love, why does it feel so good?”

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Comments

  1. 1
    JoeWiz on 22 Apr 2015 #

    A perfect, perfect pop song, glistening and shimmering amongst some pretty pedestrian competition. There’s genuine joy here, which puts the cold mechanics of Victoria’s rival single firmly in the shade.
    This was number 1 when I got my (just about good enough) GCSE results. It was a typically warm August afternoon and, not being good looking enough to appear in any of the local papers photos of people throwing sheets of paper into the air, I trotted home alone to an empty house and listened to this about 70 times consecutively. This very much got the popular 16 year old vote – at that nights not actually that raucous house party poor old Posh never got a look in and this was heavily spun.
    This is the only time we meet Sophie isn’t it? The first two singles from ‘Read My Lips’ are NEARLY as good as this…

  2. 2
    SpecialGirlAKA on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Salsoul became a bit of a ‘thing’ to sample over the next couple of years. I particularly like ‘Salsoul Nugget’ (a number 6 hit the following April), which featured some Loleatta Holloway (hope she got paid for it this time…).

    Did anyone else quite like theaudience, or was it just me who bought their singles? I loved A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed.

  3. 3
    StringBeanJohn82 on 22 Apr 2015 #

    The best number one of my lifetime. Sometimes things just are what they are and this is that. Unimprovable. (10)

  4. 4
    StringBeanJohn82 on 22 Apr 2015 #

    @ #2 Yeah I bought all their singles as like many a ‘straight in at no. 36’ indie act they could reliably be found in the Woolworths bargain bin for 99p or less. I Know Enough, a pessimist…, if you can’t do it when you’re young were all regulars on my bedroom hifi. SEB was also my teenage pin-up. Cor!

    I paid the full four quid for this one though!

  5. 5
    Auntie Beryl on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Borderline 9 or ten, this: I think it falls into being a nine. It *should* by now sound dated, maybe to some it does, but for me it encapsulates its time perfectly whilst also sounding somehow timeless.

    “I Got The Wherewithal” is my go-to Theaudience track.

  6. 6
    anto on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Great song, still sounds fresh – if only all collaborates could bring the best out of both participants the way this one does.

    Re: Out Of Your Mind – Compared to the effortless glide of Groovejet, this perfectly reasonable Beckham/Bowers track sounded as though it was trying a little too hard. What sticks in my mind about it is the talking bit before the end – ‘Ice cream, you’re out of your mind’ and then what appears to be ‘Tempelogue, you’re out of your mind’ – the first is weird enough, but Tempelogue is a middle-class area in South Dublin. I daresay it’s a mishearing, but I prefer not to check what she was actually saying.

  7. 7
    mapman132 on 22 Apr 2015 #

    One of the unfamiliar 2000 bunnies I was most looking forward to hearing for the first time. In this case the title alone was somewhat intriguing and I was not disappointed. My initial mark would be 7/10, but as this is exactly the type of track that grows on me, I could see it stretching to 8 or 9 with repeated listens. Too bad this sound was mostly missing from the US pop charts at the time (anti-disco prejudice as usual) although it appears to have reached #3 on Billboard’s dance chart.

    I also listened to “Out of Your Mind”. Not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but the vocals could’ve easily been generated by a computer program. Of course then you wouldn’t have a Spice Girl to promote your record, would you?

    Suffice it to say, British record buyers got this one right.

  8. 8
    flahr on 22 Apr 2015 #

    This is so obviously ‘perfect pop’ I am slightly baffled it wasn’t a 10. I mean, I don’t think it’s a ten, I think it’s probably an 8. But nonetheless.

  9. 9
    AMZ1981 on 22 Apr 2015 #

    The statistics; Groovejet ended up the eighth biggest selling single of the year but Out Of My Mind managed a very respectable twenty first – respectable give the rapid turnover at the top of the charts in 2000. It would have been number one in most normal weeks and was the second biggest selling Spice Girls related single of the year. It was perhaps Victoria Beckham’s misfortune to be denied by an exceptionally strong record but she did herself no favours by (if rumours were to be believed) fighting for Groovejet’s release date to be changed as the songs were on the same label. There was a perception by this time that the Spice Girls considered the number slot their personal property and it was always good to see one of their number get bloody nosed in a chart battle.

    So Groovejet. It had everything going for it and was a genuine crossover hit. And yet … I remember that it came eight in a Channel 4 `Best Number One Single Of All Time` poll (if I recall Imagine just edged out Bohemian Rhapsody by a narrow margin) far ahead of anything else that was contemporary at the time. I didn’t watch the programme myself but my Mum did and reported that Sophie Ellis Bexter was bigging this up as a song that would be played years from now (`it doesn’t even have a tune,` my Mum sniffed). And fifteen years on Sophie Ellis Bexter was wrong – I can’t remember the last time I heard this, even in venues where the playlists are friendly to songs like this.

  10. 10
    Tommy Mack on 22 Apr 2015 #

    At least a 9. Maybe a 10. This was a song that for ages, I thought I hadn’t heard because whenever I did, I assumed it was a bona fide disco classic from back int’ day. I like Posh ‘n Dane’s robo-step effort too though clearly the better record won.

    Anyone else see SEB covering Pulp ‘s Do You Remember The First Time on the BBCs Britpop farago a few months back? Nice job, when it could have been a John Lewis/Jools Holland nightmare.

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 22 Apr 2015 #

    my recent enjoyment of this single has prompted me to listen to a)the Salsoul sample source track b) the original instrumental version of this track and c) SEBs work with theaudience. What struck me was a) how small the sample was, although it does capture the syncopated latin percussion of the original; b)how much Spiller adds to that sample with Philly style strings and harp creating the retro feel but alongside that the glitchy manipulation of the digital signal to emphasise its contemporary quality; c) the particularly English grain and phrasing of SEBs voice (which put me in mind of Kirsty McColl) and again how its cooing quality is reminiscent of the original disco era as well as being distinctly different.
    The crowded Bangkok setting of the video and SEBs almost artificial porcelain beauty suggest Blade Runner remade as a cheery romcom.
    A 9 for me too.

  12. 12
    JLucas on 22 Apr 2015 #

    A welcome Popular appearence for Sophie Ellis-Bextor; for my money one of the most enjoyable British pop players of the 00s. Already a minor indie pin-up, this was a star-making performance that deservedly – if briefly – shot her into the big leagues, aided by her position on the winning side of an irresistible tabloid-fuelled chart battle (Posh vs Posher).

    While not exactly a Madonna-esque chameleon, over the years she’s demonstrated a genuine passion for pop and strong instincts that have helped her to maintain a presence without necessarily being a major hitmaker. She caught onto the 80s revivals and the spiky electro-pop boom with Mixed Up World and Catch You respectively – both just a couple of years before those sounds really caught hold here. I highly recommend her Trip The Light Fantastic album, which is excellent from start to finish. Last year she made an impressive left-turn into witchy baroque pop with the aid of Ed Harcourt, and was rewarded with her bestselling album in a decade. Such an interesting career, and one that I hope endures for many years yet.

    10 for this – the perfect marriage of song and singer.

  13. 13
    Mark M on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Unlike some people here, I had zero love for theaudience, from the super-annoying name on down. I saw them play live once – they were supporting someone (Alan Tyler’s Famous Times, possibly?) at Water Rats. They were v. poor. A friend of mine also had a slightly oblique story about how SEB had behaved badly towards him, but I never wholly bought it.

    In any case, Groovejet is terrific, for all the reasons discussed already. Also terrific, the video, which uses the pale blue/strong red palette of J-L Godard’s early colour films, and that’s a wonderful thing.

  14. 14
    Pink Champale on 22 Apr 2015 #

    TEN! My first since Into the Groove. While this may be built out of the bits and bobs of unclassy disco I think the key to its brilliance is that it’s joyousness is shaded with aching melancholy like you got with prime Chic (or Dancing Queen, though I’d argue that is about disco but not disco). Agree on the video too – which pulls off the rare trick of having impossibly beautiful people being glamourous in a lovely place and making it involving and inclusive rather than alienating. Eleven with the vid.

  15. 15
    Rory on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Australia was a little behind with this, taking it to number one for three weeks in late October/early November, but that seems only appropriate: it’s a perfect fit for warm spring nights. I remember it being everywhere when I got back to Oz after months of travel – along with “Teenage Dirtbag” and “Who Let the Dogs Out?”, it was one of the biggest hits of late 2000 there. Glorious for all the reasons mentioned, and an 8 or 9 for me.

    Because I wasn’t paying much attention, I never made the connection between the track and this Sophie Ellis-Bextor person who seemed to get mentioned a fair bit in early 2000s Britain. I only really knew her as an album cover, thanks to Read My Lips and ye olden-days pastime of frequenting actual record stores. Sounds like I should keep an eye out for it in charity shops, and check out the album within.

    One “Groovejet (ITAL)” factoid nobody has mentioned yet: according to tech writer Steven Levy, it was the first song ever played on an iPod.

    Another is that its parenthetical acronym is ITAL, which is some coincidenza, signor Spiller.

  16. 16
    thefatgit on 22 Apr 2015 #

    “Perfect pop” is at least subjective, and I nailed my colours to the “Dancing Queen” mast a good while back. As far as Disco was concerned, “I Feel Love” with its propulsive electronic groove, was far more appealing than the songy stuff I heard as a little kid, exciting as it all was back then. Nevertheless, “Groovejet” is a real thing of beauty, compared to the sausage machine trance anthems peppering the charts in 2000. See how the shift from the appeal of the machine-driven, propulsive music of my childhood (I’m including stuff like “Magic Fly” and YMO tracks as well as IFL) to a more emotionally nourishing, songy Disco revival, with “Salsoul Nugget” placing a foot each in both camps in 2000, is almost a complete reversal of what excited me as a kid. My tastes had changed. Still, “perfect pop” from my perspective was DQ and will probably remain so.

    I can fully understand why SEB and Spiller provide a compelling marker for a younger generation. There’s a tricky balancing act at work. I tend to hear aloofness in SEB’s voice. That’s just me, and in no way a slight against this or her solo debut (is that bunnied, btw?). There’s something else, though. The tension between the strings and syndrums, seems to complement her precise diction. Not a single syllable goes to waste, which is surprising, because in interviews on radio and TV, she seems to come across a little gushy in an enthusiastic way, with a wicked laugh. Again, that’s just my perception. Put her in the recording studio, and it’s a much more formal-sounding prospect. There’s some discipline there, perhaps a hangover from her famous mother’s RP? Anyway, I’ll give it an 8.

  17. 17
    Izzy on 22 Apr 2015 #

    Another ten! I first heard it earlier in the year as backing for a BBC looking-forward-to-the-summer ad – a fat guy dancing himself thin as I recall – and it was so good I genuinely couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard it before, a distinction it shares with maybe three other records in my life. Charly, Sinnerman …. maybe it’s not even as many as three. It’s even sort-of a JFK moment for me – I can remember where I was (Bermondsey), where I was sitting (I wasn’t, I was standing), what time of day it was (early evening), even my posture (open-mouthed). I remember asking all around at work the next day if they knew what this incredible record was. I was slightly disappointed that one of my friends was in fact already familiar.

    Anyway, it’s a perfect record and nine is too low. (10)

  18. 18
    23 Daves on 22 Apr 2015 #

    I remember having a conversation with friends in a pub about this single getting to number one, and we all took the position that it wasn’t nearly as good as everyone was claiming – that somewhere between SEB’s victory over Posh and people’s allegiances towards her as a former indie star, perspective was being lost. We all agreed, having one of those “But I thought I was the only person who felt that!” moments. And it still feels as if we were the only four people in Britain to hold that perspective.

    Listening again, it’s still not really my bag, though I do enjoy a lot of other SEB material. It’s too glossy, laid-back and looping for my liking, and not remotely on a par with (for example) Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You”. SEB’s detached style works wonderfully on a lot of records, but on this one it feels faintly out of place. The track feels as if it needs a bit of grit somewhere in the works to push it forward and take it to slightly different places, and that element certainly wouldn’t come from her.

    But… for all that, still quite good. But that’s as far as I’ll be pushed.

    As for Theaudience, I loved “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed” and “I Know Enough”. Their album was patchy, though, and their career seemingly nixed by the fact that they emerged just as the cleaners were knocking on the doors to mop up after the Britpop party. I’ve always had the impression that if they’d arrived two or three years earlier, they’d have had a more successful run (notwithstanding the fact that SEB really would have been far too young to pull it off at that point – we’re talking ‘parallel universe’ type scenarios here).

  19. 19
    Garry on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #15, definitely one of the sounds of spring summer that year in Austraia. At my student radio station we played it a lot despite the station having ignored pop for a couple of years. But this was an era when when disco and house and related music were not only popular but trendy for those who ensued pop,.

    For me this was when Indie and Pop merged. Men Are Not Nice Guys, Green Velvet the next year. Maybe it was the continual rise of the producer album, which had been going for a few years. They were now able to have the pick of singers from any background to guest. Genre-mashing was in. I’m still impressed X-Press 2 got David Byrne a could of years later.

  20. 20
    swanstep on 23 Apr 2015 #

    @12, JLucas. ‘Posh v. Posher’. LOL. Exactly. My sense (from the other side of the world) is that SEB’s warm presence (together with pretty good music) has allowed her to be largely unresented for her poshness whereas VB’s avid (and fairly successful) social-climbing (not to mention not-so-great music) has made her an object of ridicule and resentment for many.

    Anyhow, I ‘m with 18, 23 Faves in finding G(ITAL) both then and now somewhat overpraised. SEB’s vocal’s fine, but she kind of swallows the end of the middle 8 that Tom identifies as a highlight, and this is symptomatic of a record that was just good- and smooth- and inviting-enough to be a consensus smash (e.g., 7 weeks at #1 in NZ – that’s appealing to a range of audiences alright) but nowhere near the quality of a one-for-the-ages, epochal chart-topper like ‘I Feel Love’ or “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ or ‘Le Freak’. I concur with AMZ1981@9 that one never hears G(ITAL) out these days or at weddings and related mixed social events (whereas, e.g., ‘Spinning Around’ and ‘Sandstorm’ and Britney’s and Destiny’s Child’s singles from this period do get played in my experience).

    The vid’s not a sensation for me either (Godard? really?). It may, however, have been a subterranean influence on the vid. for Clean Bandit’s big bunny so there’s that.
    7 or 8 depending on mood.

  21. 21
    Eric on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Long time reader first time comment-er here. My main memory of this is how much my mother hated it and anything with SEB’s involvement (along with much of the disco revival that was happening at the time I might add). Personally I quite like Groovejet, although I’ve always had problems with SEB voice and I found a lot of her solo stuff somewhat grating. Maybe it’s how cold and aloof she sounds or it could just be something I picked up from my mum, either way to me this is a 7.

  22. 22
    Chelovek na lune on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Yeah, fabulous, perfect, polished pop, that succeeds in pulling off the trick of doing rather more than nodding to its influences and sources while sounding utterly contemporary, current, and relevant. (I think that repeated “alarm bell” sound is the single specific thing that drags the track, smoothly rather than by the scruff of its neck, from the mid-70s, by way of 1989, into the new millenium). Why does it feel so good? A surefire (9)

    All that said…I am open to direction about what else SEB has done that really warrants a mention. “Murder on the Dancefloor” apart, nothing else I’ve heard of hers has made much of an impression (least of all a positive one) on me, so I was under the impression that “Groovejet” was something of a fluke – the singer’s contribution is certainly as important and as smooth as the producers’. And I don’t know theaudience at all…

    Glad we are not obliged to discuss Impossibly Crass and Vulgar Spice’s record here – featureless, generic twaddle, not interesting. From the singles of her thankfully brief solo musical career, only “This Groove” really warrants much in the way of repeated listening IMO, although world class it is not.

  23. 23
    mrdiscopop on 23 Apr 2015 #

    As much as I enjoyed Sophie’s subsequent hits, nothing ever matched the effortless joy of this track. Her disengaged vocal style somehow conveys the bewilderment of the chorus – she’s in love but standing apart from it, wondering how on earth she got here.

    Unlike so many looped backing tracks, this one never goes stale. It’s the little touches – the Latin flourishes, the cheeky guitar lick at the end of every phrase and the occasional stutter of the sample being triggered.

    A great big smile of a song. 10/10.

  24. 24
    lmm on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I didn’t like this at the time and I don’t like it now. Too much looping, the backing too prominent when it never goes anywhere. Even that breakdown was just swallowed by that inexorable twang and clop.

  25. 25
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #18 At the time I felt something similar, to be quite honest – “Groovejet” was everywhere, it was obviously a likeable record, but compared to the American R&B and hip-hop I was occupying myself with it seemed pointlessly retro, diffident, polite. It felt like the UK was settling. (Outkast’s “B.O.B.” – which ended up as my single of the year – leaked at around this point, IIRC).

    (Ha – the fossil record of my reserve exists, in this NYLPM post! http://freakytrigger.co.uk/nylpm/2000/08/spiller-groovejet-if-this-aint-love/ )

    In the context of the year’s number ones, it stood out a bit more, obviously. And it’s aged well, and frankly I’m more receptive to its nostalgic elements than I was in my hardline mid-20s. I still reckon a lot of the stuff upthread about how modern and year 2000 it sounded is wishful thinking, though.

  26. 26
    Mark M on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re20/13: Just in terms of the colours, but I love the colours. (Last year’s Pixie Lott video that borrowed heavily from
    Le Mepris was, on the other hand, woeful).

  27. 27
    Weej on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I’m pleased to see some support for theaudience on here. They were an odd little group, too mainstream to be indie, not famous enough to be pop – you got the idea that they would be world famous or just break up, then their singles all flopped and yup, they broke up, after what seemed like half a year of existence. I have also heard that they were terrible live, but don’t really care, they exist for me as a short series of brilliant singles – and also b-sides. Can I share my love for The Beginning, The Middle and The End from the b-side of ‘If You Can’t Do It When You’re Young; When Can You Do It?’ (the only song I can think of with an (entirely justified) semicolon in the title).

    I also enjoyed Groovejet, but it was tarnished a bit by being on rotation at every high-street clothes shop well into 2001 – and I’ve already gone on a bit too much about the funky house bollocks this disco revival spawned, so a generous 8 seems about right. The video, BTW, is rubbish, just “let’s film it in Thailand” and that’s about it. The bit with the kids makes me go :-/ too. Why not film this in a night club, where it obviously belogs?

  28. 28
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    But a semi-colon is wrong for that structure! If it had been “You Can’t Do It When You’re Young; When Can You Do It?”, that would have worked (as well as being a more interesting sentiment).

    I never, ever, not for a second bought into the idea of SEB as ‘posh’ (she disclaimed it herself – not that that means a lot); her intonations are pure Estuary (listen to “Take Me Ome”). But I never really ‘got’ her as an artist – I loathe that over-made-up look & I’m not very keen on that flat “yeah, I’ll do the actual singing in a bit” sprachgesang delivery (although, listening to it again, she does time it very well, as per #16).

    Love this record, though!

  29. 29
    weej on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re:28 Respectively disagree that it’s “wrong” – it’s a creative use of punctuation, one that works better than a comma as it reflects the way she sings it, drawing focus to the second clause rather than the first.

  30. 30
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I think “Murder On The Dancefloor” is a fantastic pop record, FWIW, and am very sorry not to be writing about it here (it would also be a 9, though I like it more than Groovejet) – I was a little surprised it didn’t come up more on the Gregg Alexander thread. It makes a mockery of my objections at #25 as it’s even more spirit-of-79 than this is. But I needed it more than I needed this, too – I was living on my own, in a shitty flat in Oxford doing a job I realised I shouldn’t have taken, and “Murder” lit up that time. The actual records at No.1, on the other hand… well, we’ll get to those.

  31. 31
    Steve Mannion on 23 Apr 2015 #

    From last week’s (joint) low to the best #1 of the 00s so far. The last #1 and charting single I bought on 12″. Would’ve been happy for ‘Out Of Your Mind’ to have won the battle that week too but agree it’s an ambitious affair struggling with some heavy shopping whereas ‘Groovejet’ breezes through duty-free and flies home from a particularly satisfying holiday in the sun.

  32. 32
    Izzy on 23 Apr 2015 #

    22: ‘something of a fluke’ feels right to me. As I understand things, it was Spiller’s original groove, somebody else wrote the chorus, and she provided the verses last. I heard her once slagging off the chorus as [simpering voice] ‘why does it feel so good?’, whereas what she did was add a bit of realism. Which isn’t wrong per se, but it does miss the point entirely – if this is a wonderful record, and it is, it’s not the verses that make it so. Chalk her up to the list of acts who have no idea what makes them great.

    All that said, the verses are good, the metre very skilled and restrained, her delivery flat but appropriate, and the contrast works so well. What they don’t display (in contrast to the chorus) is any melodic gift, which I feel is also largely true of any of her other records. I’d be interested to know whose the ‘Do you remember me, boy?’ is; I’d always assumed hers, but it is squarely in that sweet spot too.

  33. 33
    Steve Mannion on 23 Apr 2015 #

    As with Madison Avenue’s Pino D’Angio rip-off (and Stardust’s Chaka Khan rip-off, and so on and on), Spiller lifted the groove straight from Carol Williams & The Salsoul Orchestra’s ‘Love Is You’. No idea how much they made from it.

    Spiller’s own delayed follow-up to this ‘Cry Baby’ was quite a bizarre take on ‘French touch’ with twisted talkbox vocals – unsurprisingly not a hit but also worth at least one listen.

  34. 34
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #32 the story via Wikipedia is that Rob Davis, the someone else in question (who has a hand in a bunch of hits around this time, including one uber-bunny from 2001), changed Ellis-Bextor’s original chorus, rather than provided the chorus first. (This was the version of events I went with for the review, too, but I didn’t source it more widely than Wiki) Did he tweak/provide the melody? Quite possibly, I guess.

  35. 35
    DanusJonus on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Wow, I must admit to being a bit surprised about the almost unanimous response to this single. I think for me it suffered from being overplayed. It’s a well constructed and produced song, but I’d class it in the ‘accessible effortless’ pop category, which is strange as that’s something that would normally attract me to a song. Despite the lyrics, I always felt the delivery was somewhat ambivalent and too laid back. I can’t quite put my finger on why I never loved this song, I just felt it threatened to go somewhere exciting and never quite reaches that level. Perhaps it was the seeming lack of emotion in the record.

    When I think of singles around this time I can remember The Avalanche’s Frontier Psychiatrist coming out which completely blew me away and to an extent still does. I might be wrong but I’m sure that Soulwax’s Too Many DJ’s was also out, which again was a song I took to. This however, was everywhere and even the first few times I heard it, while I found it listenable and fairly slick, it didn’t appeal to me in the way others have described. One of the posts mentions Salsoul Nugget which is a song I did adore.

    I’d probably give it a 6 or 7.

  36. 36
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    After almost 20 years I finally knowingly heard a theaudience song – “A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed”. Woeful. No ambition or interest beyond a well-turned title. Would rather hear Gay Dad.

    Though SEB’s get-me-out-of-here looks in the video are funny.

  37. 37
    Andrew on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #34 I wasn’t aware until very recently that Rob Davis was a lyricist for Coco Starr’s ‘I Need a Miracle’ (and therefore a writer on Fragma’s ‘Toca’s Miracle’). 2000-02 really was a resurgence for him!

  38. 38
    Tommy Mack on 23 Apr 2015 #

    For all that the 2000 charts were anyone’s game, or maybe because of that, this feels like so far it was a pretty exciting time for pop. Even the duff records this year feel like noble failures, attempts to do something specific and often quite ambitious, compared to the Emergency Broadcast Signal vibe of the 1999 #1s.

    I’m aware that since I was 18-19 at the time, I’m no doubt biased even though I wasn’t following the charts at the time. In fact when this hit #1, I think I was on my way to my first ever festival, Reading 2000 (the Bunny and Celeste one!)

  39. 39
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re #32/#34 – I remember something similar; I recall SEB bigging herself up for transforming a mindless club banger into something witty and ironic with her clever lyrics for the verses. (Note correct use of semi-colon to introduce a grammatically unconnected sub-clause!) But actually what’s glorious about this song is just how mindless it is. The verses are clever, but they’re the sound of someone being sensible, keeping her feet on the ground, weighing up the options – someone thinking, in the middle of a song that’s about to sweep her away. And it does it over and over again. (A solid 8 from me, by the way; 9 if I’m in a good mood.) In this respect SEB’s biggest assets are the precision of her delivery and her tonal dullness, both of which help stop the verses standing out; if the delivery was at all spiky or emphatic it would run the risk of getting a bit “Parklife”.

  40. 40
    Idris on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like this song. I usually feel quite alienated by pop music so indebted to dance, because I’m a little dyspraxic and cannot move to a beat, but you don’t need to move to this to find it charming.

  41. 41
    wichitalineman on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I’m fairly sure Rob Davis wrote the top line and lyric over Spiller’s original instrumental – he was then rather miffed to discover the sample would take up a large chunk of the publishing (so Salsoul presumably did quite well out of it). Spiller had at least one other singer in mind before SEB got the gig so I imagine anything she contributed was a minor add-on to a fully realised hit.

    This single aside, I found her voice – and image – aloof and annoying. She made herself, and her music, easier to dislike than to love. She also received a lot of financial and promotional backing from the very top, as Lucien Grange had a massive thing for SEB. Did anyone else think it was odd when she was the star turn at a televised New Years Eve bash a few years back, when she already seemed like a star of the past? Did it even happen? Vague memory, for obvious reasons.

    OOYM I thought was most odd, excitingly metallic, and decidedly avant for a Spice single. The robo-tech vocals don’t sound as shocking now, having lived through years of extreme autotune, but they sure did at the time.

  42. 42
    MarkH on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re #41 – I heard that Cristiano Spiller wanted Sarah Cracknell to sing it, but she wasn’t available.

  43. 43
    wichitalineman on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Groovejet’s triumph over Out Of Your Mind seemed to me to be the first time people vocalised their discomfort with “chav” culture. It went beyond the Spice Girls thinking they owned the number one slot. People were happy (see upthread for continuing evidence) that the working-class-girl-made-good got a kicking from a born-and-bred middle class English rose. Groovejet WAS an instant classic though, so simple and easy that it sounded like it had always existed; I think this made it a handy smokescreen for shameful attitudes to be aired.

    Was this contemporaneous with Jade Goody being on Big Brother? Or was that a little later?

  44. 44
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Jade is 2002. As mentioned a few entries ago, this is still the ‘social experiment’ Big Brother – probably at peak respectability among the, er, chattering classes (if not at peak viewing/conversation). Nasty Nick is Groovejet’s contemporary.

  45. 45
    Izzy on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I would make clear that I really do rate Out Of Your Mind very highly – it’d’ve scored an 8 or 9 from me had it reached the summit. Certainly the best Spice solo single, though I’d concede that Look At Me, in all its absurdity, has a valid claim to that title.

    But if we are really to set up a SEB/VB dichotomy, leaking on from the last thread’s RW/MelC musings, is it not enough to say that Sophie and Robbie’s efforts are quite obviously better? And that there’s likely nothing more to it than that? The public clearly didn’t hold prejudices against the Spice Girls, or their imperial-phase-almost-without-peer would never’ve happened.

    And yet … imperial phasers falling on their arses will never not be enjoyed by that public. Ask Steven Gerrard. I seem to recall some especially stupid miming incident preceding OOYM’s release – Victoria failing to reach no.1 was almost inevitable after that.

  46. 46
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I think Victoria was by this point the least liked of the Spice Girls, though, and that dislike dates roughly from her marriage (or at least her wedding) and subsequent ‘Beckenham Palace’ mockery – I reckon Lineman’s point has some merit, in other words. Though, yes, “Groovejet” is a better record. (OOYM is probably a 6).

  47. 47
    Rory on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #45 Funny to think of getting to number 2 in one of the largest music markets in the world as falling on your arse… all relative, I guess.

  48. 48
    Andrew on 23 Apr 2015 #

    There was a lot of unfair accusations of ‘desperation’ on Victoria Beckham’s part, because she had the temerity to (horror of horrors!) promote the single, doing roadshows and signings up and down the country, including a branch of Woolworths in Oldham.

    Victoria quite rightly pointed out in her autobiography that this was offensive to the people of Oldham (although part of the criticism that was quite fair was that she had, rather ridiculously, taken husband David along with her and he was signing copies of the single along with Victoria and Dane Bowers), and that all she’d been doing was hard work and old-fashioned promotion, which is all she’d ever known from the Spice days.

    VB also quite hilariously refers to ‘Groovejet’ as ‘Spiller’ throughout the chapter, and doesn’t mention SEB by name. In one of her documentaries from the era, she pointedly references “mur-dah on the darrrnce floor”.

    I’d say the public favouring ‘Groovejet’ was part Spice fatigue on the whole, part resentment for the Spices beginning to seem expecting of the number one slot, part classist resistance to VB’s success, part Posh & Becks fatigue and part ‘Groovejet’ being superior as a words-and-music song to ‘Out of Your Mind’.

    They’re both rather terrific songs, and records, to my ears. 9 for ‘Groovejet’; OOYM would get a solid 8 from me.

    The misheard lyric upthread was “10 Below, you’re out of your mind”, btw. 10 Below are credited as remixers on the track. I think Ice Cream was one of the labels/imprints the song was released on. Truesteppers and Dane are self-explanatory.

    “This tune’s gonna punish you” seems a rather bittersweet outro given the chart outcome; it could, in retrospect, have been referring to Spiller’s victory.

  49. 49
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #48 “she pointedly references “mur-dah on the darrrnce floor””

    Lightbulb moment – SEB was ‘posh’ b/c she sounded *English*! That explains a lot. (My musical roots are punk, folk and Canterbury, so I was never going to get that unaided.)

  50. 50
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    As for OOYM, does it feature the lines

    I want you crawling back to me
    Down on your knees, yeah
    Like an appendectomy
    Sans anesthesia

    If not, I’m not interested.

  51. 51
    Tom on 23 Apr 2015 #

    SE-B was seen as posh because i) singing voice, ii) background (she went to a top girls’ public school) and also weirdly iii) she was the daughter of a Blue Peter presenter, which might not cement you as posh but is as unshakeable a middle-class pedigree as you could want. I think this told against her a bit when she was fronting an indie band – there was a sense of nepotism at work somewhere* – but not so much as a pop star, where the overt RP of the vocals was something of a novelty.

    *having listened to theaudience, I think I’d have been on the doubters’ side.

  52. 52
    wichitalineman on 23 Apr 2015 #

    How many Popular acts have sung with southern English vowel sounds? Bolan was playing it for laughs on Get It On (“let’s dance, take a chance”) but otherwise I can only think of Pet Clark. It put me off her for years but then, unlike other Popular commenters, I’ve always been a bit allergic to that “into the woods I have to go” stage musical voice.

    I think I might warm to SE-B over time (though this might also be because I find her rhomboid* features a lot more appealing in her late thirties).

    *can’t believe no one has used the r word yet.

  53. 53
    anto on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #43 – Groovejet was concurrent with series 1 of Big Brother which ironically featured amiable scouse builder Craig outsmarting the game-manship of upper-middle schemer Nick Bateman in a reversal of the class rivalry you’re referring to here.

    The house psychologist actually referred to Bateman as a’ lanky, Machiavellian toff’ – it’s astounding what sticks in your mind from 15 years ago.

  54. 54
    Jonathan on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I’m curious as to why I find SEB so compelling, as I’m usually deeply allergic to especially British class privilege, but I do love her. Perhaps it’s the way she opens up her refinement so that it’s something aspirational — even if her presentation is old world, her performance has more in common with the new world mobility of at least Gossip Girl or Lily Bart or whatever. Or maybe I really enjoy a fully realized character, whatever problems there might be with her politics. In which case, it makes sense that though this is great, I like SEB best in her most concentrated form: “Mixed Up World” (which I called plucky in another thread, and I repeat that because it is); the poised “Murder on the Dancefloor”; and the steely hits “Catch You” and “I’ll Get Over You,” which transformed her reserve, Rihanna-like, into a vivid emotional display defined by absence rather than presence.

  55. 55
    Mark M on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re51 etc: The funny thing (as I’ve probably said here before) is that the British are supposedly obsessed with class, but nonetheless use class terms in an incredibly crude way. SE-B belongs to the upper-middle class, a small but very high-profile section of the population often confused with the middle class* and not to be mistaken for the either the fuck-off rich or the crumbling (and not so crumbling) aristocracy.

    SE-B’s parents were grammar-school kids (suggesting either middle class or u-mc) who got good jobs in TV, which puts them in tiny slice of the population. SE-B was then sent to private school (putting her in a group that takes in 7% of the population) and a well-respected one at that (putting her in an even smaller niche)**. Conclusion: SE-B is an awful lot posher than most of the people in this country.

    *Certain parts of the media deliberately spread confusion on this, not least in trying to make average voters feel that they can benefit from tax cuts aimed at those earning over £40,000 or from an inheritance tax threshold of £1m. At the same time, in the same circles, you still get criticism of the liberal ‘middle classes’ that mention places like Hampstead!!
    **David Mitchell (the comedian) makes an interesting case that despite belonging to the small slither of people who went to private school, he should count as less privileged than the Miliband bros, who went to comps but belonged to a hyper-wired-in family. He might have a point. But SE-B went to a posh school AND had connections.

  56. 56
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    She’s *not* posh (or ‘refined’), though – and her diction certainly isn’t RP; she’s closer to Damon Albarn than Alexander Armstrong. I retire baffled. (But #52? There’s more than one way to sing God Save the Queen…)

  57. 57
    wichitalineman on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re 56: You’ve lost me there.

  58. 58
    p^nk s lord sükråt of that ilk on 23 Apr 2015 #

    I’ve quoted both these before, when noting how confused the British have apparently always been about their own upper echelons.

    Oscar Wilde:
    “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. Who was your father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. Was he born in what the Radical papers call the purple of commerce, or did he rise from the ranks of the aristocracy?”

    G. K. Chesterton:
    “‘What happened was this. The old Duke really had a slight malformation of the ear, which really was more or less hereditary. He really was morbid about it; and it is likely enough that he did invoke it as a kind of curse in the violent scene (which undoubtedly happened) in which he struck Green with the decanter. But the contest ended very differently. Green pressed his claim and got the estates; the dispossessed nobleman shot himself and died without issue. After a decent interval the beautiful English Government revived the “extinct” peerage of Exmoor, and bestowed it, as is usual, on the most important person, the person who had got the property.’”

    Alexander Armstrong is by the way literally posher than the Queen. I saw it on telly and know it to be true.

  59. 59
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    The Sex Pistols were many things, but ‘American-sounding’ was not one of them.

  60. 60
    Mark M on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re56: I’ll grant you that her speaking voice is accent-wise not a million miles from Damon Albarn’s, although thankfully less mumbly. It’s clearly a generation on from her mum – as RP retreated, London/southeast um-cs had the choice of a hint of estuary or going for the full-posh drawl (the next generation of my family are leaning to estuary, but that might change with secondary school).

  61. 61
    JLucas on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #54, why do you assume that because she’s a bit posh and public school educated Sophie Ellis-Bextor would have ‘problematic’ politics? Has she ever come out one way or another in terms of how she votes/handles her taxes etc?

  62. 62
    thefatgit on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Looking back to Nasty Nick Bateman, I feel he was treating BB as a game to be tested, almost to destruction. He would be valued as a video game designer, finding weak points within the structure of BB and exploiting them to his advantage, like discovering cheat codes or hidden levels. His contribution changed the BB dynamic from BB2 onwards. And when everyman Craig confronted him, then the viewer’s “gotcha” reflex kicked in and Nick’s motives were buried under an avalanche of class war rhetoric.

  63. 63
    Kinitawowi on 23 Apr 2015 #

    The amount of headlines Nasty Nick generated pretty much defined Big Brother for the rest of its existence – “how can we artificially create a situation like that again?”. With increasing desperation and diminishing success, evidently.

    Oh, there’s a song here too? I fell asleep halfway through because that backing track does the sum total of sod all for the entire thing. Vocal’s interesting, though. 6. (I’d rather be discussing the Big Brother theme, which peaked at No. 4.)

  64. 64
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    #55 – some red herrings there. I know it’s a myth that grammar schools were engines of social mobility, but equally they weren’t entirely closed to the working class; you did just have to pass the 11+. Those who made their careers in TV in the 1960s were certainly a privileged (or lucky) minority, but an upper-class minority? Jimmy Savile? Eamonn Andrews? John Noakes? Not seeing it.

    What you’re left with, I think, is that Ms Ellis and Mr Bextor were middle-class and well-off, & paid for private education as a lot of well-off middle-class people do. They also gave their daughter both their names – a complete accident as far as SEB was concerned, but something which I suspect did a lot to give the ‘posh’ story legs.

    In any case, while you might read about SEB and think her background was posh, & you could look at her and think she looked posh in a china-doll sort of way, I still can’t see how you could listen to the record and think she sounded posh – unless ‘posh’ is your only available alternative to ‘mid-Atlantic’, in which case I’ve got a much posher record collection than I thought!

  65. 65
    wichitalineman on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re 59: Ah, THAT God Save The Queen, I see what you mean (I’d forgotten it was on Popular as it’s kind of a sidebar). Yes. I meant Southern English as in Godalming rather than Finsbury Park.

    I was also forgetting Neil Tennant (who no one ever calls ‘posh’).

    SEB’s combination of vowel sounds is pretty unique, I’ll give her that. There’s a mix of mid-Atlantic, Essex estuary, what sounds a little like Irish, and those Pet Clark RP vowels on “on”, “up”, and – of course – “darnce”.

  66. 66
    katstevens on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Penultimate Popular Entry for my Tenerife Dancefloor Hits 2000 – this was by far my favourite one to dance to at the time, though I totally didn’t twig that it was Her From Theaudience – I finally picked up their album for cheap at a record fair a few months later and bloody loved it (amazingly, coinciding with me becoming a pretentious student! Who knew etc). I remember having to pack up all my CDs at the end of that year at uni and leaving out 1) theaudience album 2) the BELLATRIX album (!) to listen to while I was packing. NONE MORE TWEE.

    Trip The Light Fantastic is a cracker though – I reviewed it on poptimists back in the day! China Heart is def still a banger. I wish I’d followed up properly on the compare/contrast with TashBed though – perhaps once Popular gets to 2004 :)

    NB that review is mostly me thinking up video ideas for SEB that don’t involve her having to dance too much – I’m sure she can bosh it up as good as anyone down Regals of a Friday night but her choreographed videos made her look like a baby giraffe.

  67. 67
    Izzy on 23 Apr 2015 #

    65: of course Neil Tennant is from Newcastle – which acts as a kind of Get Out of Posh Free card, no matter how one might speak.

  68. 68
    Mark M on 23 Apr 2015 #

    Re64: Hang on, I never said she was upper class, I said she was upper middle class. Repeatedly. You say ‘well-off middle class’ – I suspect we mean the same thing, but I dislike using the unqualified ‘middle class’ to describe a fairly small, privileged minority. And I didn’t say she sounded posh, although I guess others did.

  69. 69
    Phil on 23 Apr 2015 #

    You’re right to stress that anyone who went to a school like Godolphin Latymer is by definition in a tiny minority – and a privileged one, at least in terms of parental income – but I think there is a distinction to be drawn between the privileged minority that went to St Paul’s and Cheltenham Ladies’, and now sends its children there, and the larger privileged minority comprising “everyone who pays for private education”. The former’s uc and um-c (and posh); the latter’s mostly just m-c with a bit of money (and mostly not posh), and it’s in that group that I’d place SEB & her parents. It may be pedantic, but it’s a distinction that seems meaningful to me – in part because I am myself a product of a fee-paying school (in Croydon), and I’m two generations away from coal miners and domestic servants. (Nor, indeed, am I posh.)

    Anyway, never mind SEB – where on earth did they get the idea of Victoria Adams being posh?

  70. 70
    JoeWiz on 23 Apr 2015 #

    The first series of Big Brother was the about the best in my view. Funnily enough, the whole time I was watching it, it never occurred to me they would ever do another one.

  71. 71
    swanstep on 24 Apr 2015 #

    @wichita, 52, 65. You’ve probably heard and seen this mashup of SEB (‘Murder’) and Petula Clark (‘Downtown’), but just in case you haven’t… I think it makes the case for SEB’s accentual amphibiousness/eccentricity – her vowels are right with Clark in the choruses but there’s all sorts of stuff going on elsewhere (notably in the breakdown/spoken bit).

  72. 72
    Auntie Beryl on 24 Apr 2015 #

    The concept of Victoria Adams being ‘posh’ was amusing straight off the bat with Wannabe way back in Popular’s past. Conflating ‘anywhere in Hertfordshire’ with ‘posh’ is an easy and lazy mistake to make.

    Moving on from that, this is my excuse to talk about the first Bextor album. Fast forward 18 months and I am working for a Huge Company for the first time, and one of their Rules is that the Bextor album is played several times a day.

    We’ll trip over their bunnied Rules later, but one of my fondest memories of working for Now Deceased Record Chain at the time was that SEB album. Anyone even vaguely curious, splash out that 99p plus postage. It’s ace.

  73. 73
    swanstep on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Thinking about this track some more, the querulous title line from the chorus (If this ain’t Love/Why does it feel so good?) is a classic. Is there some line from a prior dance standard (or near-standard) with the same form and theme? I’ve been searching round for something like: ‘If blah-de-blah…. then what do we do now’ but haven’t been able to find anything. Can anyone identify what I’m half-thinking of that’s G(ITAL)’s antecedent and possible inspiration in dancefloor indecision and bargaining?

  74. 74
    Jonathan on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Re 61: I don’t know anything about SE-B’s politics; my discomfort comes from the idea that I might consider her “poshness” to be something intrinsically valuable — that I enjoy her specifically because she sounds so money.

  75. 75
    Cumbrian on 24 Apr 2015 #

    73: Are you thinking of “now that we’ve found love/what are we gonna do with it?”?

  76. 76
    Mark G on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Good call, but I would also add “It’s got what it takes, so tell me why can’t this be love?” Van Halen …

  77. 77
    Ed on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Or maybe:

    “If a picture paints a thousand words,
    Then why can’t I paint you?”

  78. 78
    Ed on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Possibly getting ahead of things here, but am I right in thinking that Davis and Cathy Dennis were asked to write “something like Groovejet”, and came up with Can’t Get You Out Of My Bunny?

    It’s one of those factoids I was sure I knew, but I can’t find any source for it now.

    I like G(ITAL), but I love OOYM. I was one of the few who bought the True Steppers album, which is also recommended. Much more like the sound of the year 2000 than Spiller or S E-B

  79. 79
    Andrew on 24 Apr 2015 #

    #65 Neil Tennant isn’t often thought of as posh, but maybe he should be!

    e.g. ‘The Theatre’ – when he says “years” it sounds quite like “yarrrs”. (I love PSB but this is occasionally jarring)

  80. 80
    Andrew on 24 Apr 2015 #

    #73 is it the Doobie Brothers’ ‘Long Train Runnin”?

    “without love…where would you be right now?”

  81. 81
    StringBeanJohn82 on 24 Apr 2015 #

    I often wonder why you don’t hear this much anymore, when similar disco-y hit from a year earlier Sing it Back by Moloko seems to be more played now on radio and in bars etc than ever. I honestly think I’ve heard that song more than any other song while out and about than anything else in the last 5 years. Which probably says something about my age and the places I hang out.

  82. 82
    StringBeanJohn82 on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Speaking of British teenage indie-pop stars collaborating with dance acts, can I recommend Mint Royale and Lauren Laverne’s ‘Don’t Falter’? from earlier in 2000? You need a bit of a sweet tooth to love it, but lord knows I do. I made a mix tape featuring that song for a girlfriend entitled ‘When you’re with me it’s always summer’. Needless to say the relationship didn’t last!

  83. 83
    Rory on 24 Apr 2015 #

    #82 You certainly can! My favourite single of 2000. Made me a firm fan of Mint Royale; a shame they fizzled out after their bunnied hit (reasonably recent EP notwithstanding). But more about that in due course, I expect.

  84. 84
    Steve Mannion on 24 Apr 2015 #

    I bought the SEB album for my Mum because it is MumPop what Mums like.

  85. 85
    Tommy Mack on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Is Syd Barret’s singing voice posh? He’s fairly RP and I think public school?

  86. 86
    Paulito on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Maybe everyone knows this already but, seeing as no-one has mentioned it, I think it’s worth noting that this is the second #1 this year to have been co-written by Rob Davis – who of course had topped the chart several times in the 70s as a member of Mud.

    And it’s a corker – exquisitely put together and crowned by SEB’s wonderfully haughty vocal. The instrumental section with the excessively cut-up beats is the only bit that hasn’t worn well.

  87. 87
    Mark M on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Re85: No, grammar school. Father pathologist. Often described as (indeed) ‘upper middle class’.

    Was his singing voice RP? I feel not – it’s a very ’60s kind of hyper-English that feels intended to evoke frolicking in medieval fields. Proper RP is clipped – you don’t draw out words (‘go’ is stretched out, lifts at the end with a slight ‘wuh’ ending). He did, and his voice was fairly droney. Related to the accent that social shapeshifter Mick Jagger uses on the Stones’ ultra-English excursions circa ’66. I’m sure someone has done some more serious thinking about all this.

  88. 88
    lockedintheattic on 24 Apr 2015 #

    OOYM was a bit unlucky to be up against something as good as this -in most weeks it would have hit number one (it outsold 5 of the solo Spice no.1s we’ve already visited here). A friend of mine worked for for Posh’s label and accompanied her on much of that famous signing tour was on; he came away incredibly impressed with her focus, vision and work ethic, and great fun to hang around as well (the opposite was true for Dane Bowers). I love the record too, probably and 8 from me.

    ITAL is better still; and probably the only time I actually liked SEB, her detached vocal style irritated me enormously on everything still to come. A solid 9.

  89. 89
    swanstep on 24 Apr 2015 #

    @80, Andrew. Thanks so much! That’s evidently what I was thinking of. The Salsoul sample’s interlocking guitar and clavinet figures is somewhat reminiscent of the Doobies’ interlocking guitar figures, but it’s only Spiller’s looping of the bars question and the chosen vocal rhythm that allows us to make that connection and that finally creates a track with somewhat similar overall feel (‘Love is You’ itself sounds and feels nothing like ‘Long Train Running’). Interesting.

    Thanks again.

    And while I’m in the business of thanking people, a round of applause for the behind-the-scenes IT folks at Freaky Trigger: I’m finding on the one hand that my login is being remembered properly these days, and on the other hand I’m not getting any of those ‘You are posting too soon’ errors anymore either. Well done you.

  90. 90
    Paulito on 24 Apr 2015 #

    @87: Certainly all of Floyd spoke and sang with refined, upper middle class accents. But the only example that comes to mind of a Floyd vocal that could truly be described as RP is that of Roger Waters on ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’.

    Nick Drake is an excellent example of someone from the rock era whose singing accent is very much RP. Another factor in his ‘outsider’ status, I suppose.

  91. 91
    Fivelongdays on 24 Apr 2015 #

    @82/83. Was going to mention ‘Don’t Falter’ myself. Really, really, really should have come out in the summer, deserved to have been the soundtrack to Summer 2000.

    I wonder what the heck the record company were doing releasing it in January, FFS.

    As for this – it’s good, but it’s no ‘Don’t Falter’. I’m going to be the only person in the world who compares it to ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ by Sepultura – a really good two minute song dragged out to four minutes, thus making what was enjoyable about it exasperating. It’d be on the 5/6 boundary, while ‘Don’t Falter’ would easily score a 9. Where’s the justice?

  92. 92
    Tom on 24 Apr 2015 #

    “Don’t Falter” is one of those tracks I’m glad never got to number one, because I detested it and am pleased I don’t have to justify my inchoate and mean dislike. :)

  93. 93
    Phil on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Now Nick Drake’s voice was posh. Exhibit A. Also, Neil Tennant is pure RP – I get the impression that he got his foot on the social ladder at a time when losing your accent & going RP instead was still de rigueur. Or I may be getting Smash Hits mixed up with the Cliveden set, I’m not sure.

    Thinking about it some more, I’m retreating a bit from my “SEB not posh in the slightest” position – I guess that combination of precise consonants & drawled vowels is a bit of a class marker, even if the actual vowel sounds are pure suburban (the diphthongs are where you can really hear this – the ‘ow’ of ‘tomorrow’/’borrow’, the ‘ay’ of ‘say’ (or, even more clearly, the ‘ay’ of ‘DJ’ in MOTDF)). Elegant slumming, I guess you’d call it.

    The Barrett sound is an interesting one. I remember when I was quite small suddenly deciding that talking proper was boring, and I’d rather be a cheery cockernee. It must have been excruciating; apart from anything else I had a lousy ear for accents at that age (one of my ‘cockney’ role models was John Noakes). I wonder if something like that was going on with Barrett, and indeed Jagger – an artistic decision to sing in the role of the artless CHILD that does frolick hapily in the MEDDOW poo gosh I say Tarquin mind wot you are frolicking IN hem hem… sorry, where was I? Taking on a kind of vagabond brat persona, the better to rebel against the Man, and finding an accent to match it… sort of. See also Robert Wyatt & Richard Sinclair on one (much less extreme & theatrical) hand, and the young Bowie’s dream of being “a rock Anthony Newley” on the other.

  94. 94
    lonepilgrim on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Alison Goldfrapp sings with a southern accent although her bio suggests she’s a posh girl who went off the rails/earned street cred. As I said earlier SEBs vocals with theaudience remind me of Kirsty McColl.

  95. 95
    Rory on 24 Apr 2015 #

    #92: Ah, but that was then, Tom. You’ve already suggested that G(ITAL) was nothing like a 9 for you in 2000; maybe “Don’t Falter” deserves revisiting too? (I just did, and still love it, but then I played that single and album to death…)

  96. 96
    Ed on 24 Apr 2015 #

    Britain is surely the only country in the world where we could be having this debate! I am never sure whether it is worse to be as class-conscious as we are, or to be like the Americans who deny they have a class system, even though it is probably every bit as rigid as ours.

    Anyway, all of these examples so far are eclipsed for me by the greatest posh* accent in pop: Martina Topley-Bird on Tricky’s fantastic version of Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, where her voice is deployed with intent to destabilise our ideas of culture and gender.

    (*Is she really posh? Her voice sounds like that private school estuary / RP blend that seems to be the lingua franca of middle and upper-class young people these days. It’s very, very English, anyway, and southern English, too. Her stepfather is Drayton Bird, a very successful marketing consultant – I learn from Wikipedia – so I think that makes her at least as posh as Ellis-Bextor.)

    @93 “I may be getting Smash Hits mixed up with the Cliveden set, I’m not sure.” Haha I have exactly the same problem, derived I think mainly from the Being Boring video.

    That plus the reference to the cricket pavilion in Can You Forgive Her, is what persuaded me that Tennant was at the very least posh-ish.

  97. 97
    Phil on 24 Apr 2015 #

    I keep misremembering that Neil Tennant was related to Stephen Tennant, then misremembering that actually he changed his name to Tennant, and then remembering (correctly this time) that he was born Tennant, & it was David Tennant who borrowed the name (from him). So no, not posh; his father was a sales rep. He did go to a boys’ Catholic grammar school, though, which may explain some of the references.

    Extraordinary to think that he was 31 when West End Girls was released over here; the thought was quite consoling when I was an unrich and unfamous 27-year-old. No consolation at all when you’re past 50, sadly.

    Hadn’t heard Black Steel before. That was extraordinary – ta! I can’t hear MTB as posh, though – too many glo’al stops. At least, her voice doesn’t sound uc or umc, except in the sense that it’s pretty much how young umc people talk these days (this is where it gets confusing!). Her voice sounds South London West Indian to me, albeit a very RPised version of same.

    Did Tony Blackburn ever say “and she really is a topley bird!”, or am I just remembering the collective resonance of everybody wishing he would?

  98. 98
    Billy Hicks on 25 Apr 2015 #

    …nah. Didn’t hit me age 11. Didn’t hit me as a teenager. Doesn’t hit me now. There’s another supposed dance “anthem” hitting #1 on Popular extremely soon which I have exactly the same feelings for, another looped-disco bore which is slightly more fun for the occasional listen but way, way too overhyped and overplayed to give it any more than a 5. Groovejet I’d go for one place lower.

    2000 continues to prove frustrating time after time in that the best dance records *aren’t* the ones getting to the top, sometimes falling painfully short (Sandstorm, Silence, Airwave) and generally nowhere near a good a representive list of everything as 1999 was.

  99. 99
    Shiny Dave on 25 Apr 2015 #

    Favourite memory of this song – being promoted on a TV advert that played part of the song and then had the curt voiceover “no hype, just a great record.”

    This chart battle might well have been at least halfway in spirit to the (also intra-label) RATM/McElderry one…

  100. 100
    lockedintheattic on 25 Apr 2015 #

    Surely the best posh accent in pop is the wonderful Deborah Evans-Stickland, of Flying Lizards’ Money fame? (and more recently on Richard X’s Lemon/Lime)

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    BT on 27 Apr 2015 #

    Surely RP is how the Queen spoke in the 50s or 60s (e.g. pronouncing “get off” as “git awf”); I don’t think anyone really speaks it now. Brian Sewell, perhaps? Certainly not Neil Tennant.

  102. 102
    Phil on 27 Apr 2015 #

    Maybe, but if so we want another name for the standardised pronunciation that’s no longer enforced across the BBC – the way that (say) Richard Baker, Michael Aspel and Angela Rippon all spoke. Come to think of it, it’s still pretty common on broadcast media, for all the attention that the odd audibly Scottish or West Indian broadcaster gets – listen to Natasha Kaplinsky, say, and I think you’re basically hearing contemporary RP. It’s a sort of toned-down version of a ‘posh’ accent.

  103. 103

    I think it’s a mistake to assume RP is the Queen’s accent: BBC English (as formerly insisted on) is where I’d start also; Royal Speech is an outlier. Possibly sounds silly now, but I can still remember how exciting it was when Channel 4 began, that it (deliberately) picked out ppl with regional accents as presenters and links-persons. (There was a guy with a gorgeous West Indian accent who used to talk over the loooong gaps that they didn’t yet have advertising to fill, just a stretchy animation of the C4 logo and the full version of its brand-theme on loop.)

    My dad — who had an excellent ear for accent variation — used to talk about what he called the “second Great Vowel Shift”*, citing the distance that upper and middle class accents had travelled since his youth in 1930s Cambridge and 1940s London. (The first shift, an officially recognised fact of the history of pronunciation that I guess he’d read about somewhere, had taken place, as that link says, across 350 years, 1350-1770: Dad was talking about maybe 30-40 years). He would say, “Listen to a recording of Bertrand Russell: no one talks like this any more!” And it’s true that this accent — Russell (born 1872) was of course from the actual real aristocracy — would be very hard to find indeed now, outside a Harry Enfield sketch.

    At a more ephemeral level (unless it’s actually the driver of the phenom Dad had in mind), there was a shift in fashions in the accents you heard on UK films and TV and theatre from around the mid-50s, when sexy and exciting actor stars from (in particular) “the North” were encouraged not to disguise the dialects they grew up with, but sometimes even to amplify them. And not long after this trend — which coincided with the ‘Angry Young Man’ movement in the arts — UK pop added its own energy. The protocols of code-shifting had switched polarities for a season or three: now it helped middle class kids with certain kinds of aspiration on stage or screen to sound as if they came from more deprived backgrounds than less.

    (John Peel used to say that his own curious placeless rumble had begun in the US in the mid-60s, when everyone was hot hot hot for a Scouser, and he — from Liverpool but hardly the back-to-backs — tried to supply what he remembered of one from memory, far away: since hardly anyone had heard one on a regular basis, a handful of televised Moptop press conferences aside, he entirely got away with this. Listen to the very twee (yet toneless) fairytale he tells on Unicorn, one of the earliest Tyrannosaurus Rex LPs; recorded around 1968 I think. He’s halfway to Bertrand Russell! Well, OK, he’s not, but he’s not how he sounded two decades later.)

    *I notice googling it that this phrase is also used — albeit somewhat tentatively — by scholars looking at trends in present-day accents, so whether or not Dad came up with the idea himself (I have no clue) he isn’t the only person ever to think it.

  104. 104

    Actually come to think of it, Ali G’s comedy was jokes about code-shifting — the weirdness of the up and the down of it, and how those less attuned respond — even tho (based on not listening that much to AG and, as I said on the Madonna thread, anyway disliking ambush comedy) I’m not sure it’s smart or insightful enough to count as satire. He basically thinks it’s ridiculous: that he’s the only one with an ear. But I have black Londoner friends whose games with the various ways of speaking they know — and sometime need to flit between — are endlessly artful and hilarious.

  105. 105
    flahr on 27 Apr 2015 #

    Games like “Cockney Translation”, I suppose!

  106. 106

    yes but also involving different class layers (and in once case, different islands in the caribbean)

  107. 107
    Inanimate Carbon God on 3 Jun 2015 #

    This deserves the praise it’s getting – great timing, great rhythm and Sophie’s voice is the cherry on top of the cake. I do worry about how she’d be perceived if she started out as an artist today, though… I’d fear social media users going all “j’accuse” on her apparent ‘priviliged’ background whilst somewhat contradicting their good right on beliefs by indulging in casual misogyny they’d deride the below use of Groovejet for..
    (YMMV on whether it’s harmless saucy British humour or dodgy sexist laddism but it’s ever so slightly NSFW) :-/

    https://youtu.be/lGJoxOcvayQ

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