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Mar 16

DJ OTZI – “Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh)”

Popular97 comments • 7,127 views

#909, 22nd September 2001

otzi So the cruddiest number one of 2001 lands at the top in a week when a lot of people were not caring about music. And certainly, spending £1.99 on “Hey Baby” is one of the more aggressive ways you could find to not care about music. The song is a mugging of a rather sweet #2 hit from 1962 by Bruce Channel: his “Hey Baby” was hayseed bubblegum, a bag of folksy candyfloss with a harmonica hook hot enough that people assumed the Beatles swiped his idea.

Channel’s song does nothing to deserve this monkey’s paw resurrection, except be catchy. Otzi preserves that property – “Hey Baby” became an instant terrace hit – and puts the song on steroids, before welding on any 90s sample he can locate. Even our old chum “Uno, Dos, Tres, QUATRO!” gets a turn. Otzi’s main innovation is significant enough to land in the title – “Hey Baby (Uhh, Ahh!)” – the two-note crowd participation hook he inserts. Anyone fortunate enough to have been on a bus or train when groups of men give lusty voice to the song will know how effective, and painful, this alteration is.

Crassness isn’t really the problem here though, it’s the marriage of crassness with a total severing of imagination. Add a touch of surreal invention to amped-up cover versions and you have the reliably entertaining Scooter, whose crossover audiences wouldn’t be as distinct from DJ Otzi’s as I’d like to believe. But there’s no invention in “Hey Baby”, just a brute force ramming of song into forebrain in the service of parties you wouldn’t want to be at. This kind of Eurostomp has a heritage (inevitably, Otzi turned in a cover of Opus’ deathless schlager-rocker “Live Is Life”) and a tenacity. People were buying it on the 10th of September. People were buying it on the 12th of September. Like the cockroaches set to survive armageddon, “Hey Baby” was resilient.

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Comments

  1. 1
    flahr on 8 Mar 2016 #

    HEEEEEEEEY!
    HEEEY TOTTENHAM!
    (HOT! SPUR!)
    I WANNA KNOOOOOW
    WHERE YOUR CAPTAIN’S GONE

    I have nothing further to add about this record. [2]

    EDIT: On further researching to make sure I had the last two lines right I discover the version Google remembers is, er, considerably more unpleasant. That’s not how the South London inner-city primary school I was at rendered it, though. I assume we were all just too young to be anti-Semetic. Or possibly it being firmly Millwall locality rendered the idea of getting vile at Tottenham pointless.

    *I know because I did a survey

  2. 2
    Tom on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Two extra, positive things I have to say about DJ Otzi:

    One is that his LP was called Never Stop The Alpenpop.

    The other is that I heard this record played just before the lights went down at a cinema showing of Moulin Rouge, and assumed it was part of the film’s soundtrack. Every time I’ve heard it since then I’ve been quietly pleased with my unintentional insult to Baz Luhrmann.

  3. 3
    23 Daves on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Oddly, I always thought it was the World Cup remix of this (“I wanna see-eee England score a goal!”) which reached number one, but I got my facts mixed up. That actually only reached number ten. The version of chart history I have in my head is bleaker than the reality for once.

    Suffice to say I wasn’t really paying much attention to the charts in this particular week. I went away on holiday to Berlin to celebrate my birthday – my first trip abroad in many years – and DJ Otzi wasn’t really on my agenda and was, quite happily, totally avoidable.

    Unfortunately for me, I’d eventually move to a horrible flat above a cafe in London which was a few doors down from an equally horrible pub – the kind that always sees its windows kicked in at least once a fortnight, and probably isn’t in business anymore – and DJ Otzi was a big jukebox hit with the locals there, so I’d hear this on most weekend evenings, just drifting into my bedroom on the summer breeze. Normally I’m quite happy with the moderate noise of people having a good time, but bloody hell, nobody needs to hear “Hey Baby (Uh, Ah)” every bloody weekend, possibly three or four times in the space of an evening.

    The flat was above a Spanish cafe which had an Eighties Eurohits compilation on a loop during weekend days as well, playing FR David’s “Words”, Ryan Paris’s “Dolce Vita” and Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy” straight through our ceiling. The flat had cockroaches for awhile and they almost wiggled their antenna in time to the rhythm of “Words”. Top that for an unwanted soundtrack to your life, readers (apart from “Tarzan Boy”. I actually really like that one, even after the hammering it got from the cafe). Suffice to say, we didn’t renew our rental contact once the year was up, and I don’t think I’ve heard DJ Otzi much since. Or FR David for that matter. But I’ll forever associate both of them with living in skanky accommodation.

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m happy to say I hadn’t heard this before and I’m sad to say that I now have. (1)

  5. 5
    CriticSez on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m not reviewing this yet, but this is the first 1 you’ve given for the 21st century #1s (2000 was actually in the 20th century, just to let you know).

    After the atrocity we’ve been discussing for the past two posts, people were turning to whatever they could find for comfort. But this? Nah! (This was made before the proliferation of bad music seen today was common.)

  6. 6
    Shiny Dave on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Maybe it’s because I’m a Scooter fan – a bit in spite of myself at times, but I am – but I don’t find this nearly as bad.

    I certainly think it’s at least the equal of most of the 1999 Eurodance tracks, and he’s picked a pretty impressive song to give the schlager treatment to. As a terrace chant, it’s terrific.

    Is it anything more than that? No. Is it high on irritation factor? Goodness yes. But frankly, I don’t even think it’s as bad as the other song that straddles the impending Kylie megabunny. And if this is going to be the first ever 1/10 combination, I think this is far less deserving of being on the wrong end of that pairing than the astoundingly nasty “Coward of the Country,” the closest we’ve come so far.

    I’m actually going to go as far as a 5, as I think it’s as good as or maybe better than “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” and I gave that a 4.

  7. 7
    flahr on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Incidentally, I went to the Tate this weekend and one of the artworks was constructed using, among other things, Scooter lyrics. Not a single Otzi School painting to be found, by contrast.

  8. 8
    katstevens on 8 Mar 2016 #

    No long after this song came out, I gave up drinking for 6 weeks, for a bet. Nothing at stake except pride in proving that I could do it. Unfortunately this six weeks coincided with most of the autumn term of my 2nd year at uni, so I had to endure this song 100% sober many, many times over. I remember one evening out ‘cheese’ clubbing, hearing first ‘Uptown Girl’ (a surefire [0]) and then this song, and deciding there and then to smoke as many cigarettes as I possibly could in order to hasten death’s swift relief. Do you still get cigarette vending machines in nightclubs these days? I was certainly glad of them then.

  9. 9
    Adam Puke on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Re. 2: “the kind that always sees its windows kicked in at least once a fortnight”

    Presumably kicked in with an Uhh! and an Ahh! in rapid succession. Many times I’ve heard this come on the jukebox in a crap pub and with depressing predictability the “two-note crowd participation hook” will be accompanied by rhythmically-appropriate stampings/slappings/gropings/sectarianish abuse. What could be a more appropriate 9/11 number one than a song that continues to enable violence 15 years on and shows no sign of abating? I’m amazed Laibach haven’t had a bash at it.

  10. 10
    cryptopian on 8 Mar 2016 #

    Usually, I’ve found myself with a lot of generosity towards the 2000-ish school disco staples, but this is one that never did anything for me. DJ Ötzi reminds me of that overenthusiastic kind of DJ, desperately begging the audience to dance, clap and “MAKE SOME NOISSSE!” That quiet seat in the corner suddenly looks very inviting. The original isn’t something I’d go crazy for, but I’ll take it over this [2]

  11. 11
    AMZ1981 on 8 Mar 2016 #

    I’m glad most people seem to agree that this is one of the most offensively bad chart toppers of all time; although the thing I find most unpleasant is the nasally tone of the vocal. To be fair the unfortunate timing of this song’s release wasn’t DJ Otzi’s fault but it’s worth noting that the second biggest selling song for this most terrible of weeks was Bob The Builder. One dreads to think what future generations will make of that.

    Still to quote Edmund Blackadder (not for the first time on here), `You can’t argue with the box office`. As noted on the Mambo No 5 thread it wound up the sixth biggest seller of the year overall with an initial 1-2-3-2-3-3-3 chart trajectory and even when it finally dropped to six the wretched thing lingered a few more weeks in the top ten. And now we come to the worst horror of all – when it finally sunk to number 11 it was only because DJ Otzi himself entered at 9 with the follow up; a cover of Do Wah Diddy that makes Hey Baby almost bearable by comparison.

    So who the hell bought it? It seemed to have a particular appeal to the older generation and thus became a staple of work parties, mainly due to the call and response of the Uhh Aah. Thankfully it seems to have died a death in recent years but we shouldn’t let ourselves forget that this abomination would have dominated the September 2001 chart if not for a genuine pop smash.

  12. 12
    weej on 8 Mar 2016 #

    The backbeat is straight out of Jive Bunny, the synths are pure k-tel covers compilation, the band are from Michael Barrymore’s My Kind Of Music, DJ Otzi himself has no apparent character at all, and the whole thing is rancid, but it’s not actively grating enough to warrant a 1 – which is perhaps one more failure to add to the heap.

  13. 13
    weej on 8 Mar 2016 #

    And what is he supposed to be doing on the CD cover? Does his jacket not fit? Why does he look so serious?

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I might be mistaken, but I think the original shows up on the Dirty Dancing LP.

    This lager-drenched version, I have no patience for whatsoever. I’d rather listen to 5 hours of St. Winifred’s School Choir than put up with a single minute of this. Both might possibly send me completely batshit insane, but at least I’ll have some warm thoughts towards my late Grandmother to keep me on an even keel. DJ Otzi can kiss my fat arse. He looks how Guy Fieri would look if he was into bare knuckle boxing and bathtub vodka, rather than greasy diners. If FT had a Room 101, “Hey Baby (Uhh Ahh)” would be my nomination. I would call upon Cthulhu to lay waste to the entire world before listening to a single note of this sorry excuse for a plastic dog turd of a single. I loathe it.

    It’s definitely the worst single of the Noughties, in my very humble opinion. (1, but I sorely wish there was a zero score)

  15. 15
    Paulito on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @3: I can think of far worse life-soundtracks than that list of songs you mention. You’ve been particularly unkind to poor old FR David and “Words”, which is an amiably weedy Europop earwig (not cockroach!). It has a plaintive, unassuming feel that I really quite like. “La Dolce Vita” is almost as catchy and equally weedy, but again I actually rather enjoy that spindly synth sound.

    As for DJ Otzi, the passage of time has rendered this slightly less execrable to my ears than when it was inescapable (and it really was for a while). Its one small saving grace is that it affords the original some modicum of respect – and avoids being maddeningly repetitious – by preserving the verses and basic structure. 2

  16. 16
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Can’t add to this review at all. Utter charmless dross, as big and as fat a zero as could be, if such things existed in this realm.

  17. 17
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    It’s the second (and last?) of the big Euro-pop hits that evokes that moment when (presumably) work is done, dinner (malzeit?) has been taken and now.. “It’s Party Time”.

    But whereas Whigfield is right there at the start of it, this DJ only notices about two-thirds of the way through that it’s Party Time. Up till then, I dunno it might have still been sitting down and finishing your beer time.

  18. 18
    James BC on 9 Mar 2016 #

    The original is actually on “More Dirty Dancing”. Trainspotting wasn’t the first film to get a second soundtrack album.

    For better or worse, the DJ Otzi version is certainly enduringly popular and somewhat versatile. When WWE’s NXT brand came to the UK at the end of last year the women’s champ (and possible phenomenon in the making) Bayley was serenaded with “HEEEEEY, HEY BAYLEY….”

  19. 19
    23 Daves on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @15 – Let’s just say that I was probably mostly indifferent to “Words” when I moved in, but grew to loathe it by the time I moved out. It’s weediness became a source of extreme irritation. If you live above (or work in) a shop or restaurant that plays the same CD or tape on a loop, anything less than a very good track starts to grate on your nerves eventually.

    Besides, I prefer FR David’s earlier work myself, usually under the name “FR David Explosion”: https://youtu.be/2oAr0xcLSuw

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 9 Mar 2016 #

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this song was used on prisoners at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay. The worst jock jam of all time. It might well be the worst number 1 of all time. I think I’d rather hear St Winifred’s and Robson and Jerome, which is surprising to me, as I hated those records. I am shocked that there are people giving this above 2.

    Kylie is our saviour.

  21. 21
    glue_factory on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I have purely personal reasons for quite liking this. On the Tuesday of the week of the previous number one, I’d been on a plane flying to New York, for what was to be my first, much anticipated trip to that city. An hour before we were due to land, we were told there’d been a change and we were now landing in Boston. Naturally, we just assumed bad weather or a minor fault with the plane and that we’d have to face nothing more serious than the annoyance of having to make a further connection to complete
    our journey. Arriving in an utterly shutdown, deserted Logan airport suggested something else might be up and we started to hear rumours, along the queue, of planes crashing into buildings.

    Boston is a lovely city, and I can’t think of a better place in the US to have spent that time (waiting for Logan to re-open and seats home to become available) but it was an awful lot of hard-work for a holiday. So a stag-weekend in Amsterdam a month later ended up as my de-facto holiday. On the Saturday night myself and a couple of others had split from those seeking more hardcore sleeze and ended-up in a tiny, traditional Amsterdam bar. It was still contained a lot of visitors, but the solitary barman had no qualms about leaving us all in their alone with his stock while he went to change barrels. The main other bar-goers were a stag-party and a hen-party who bellowed along to Summer Loving (doing the respective male/female parts) and this. We sat, at the bar, between them, smiling indulgently.

    Compared to the rather ugy, frightened world I now seemed to live in and the seamier size of Amsterdam I’d seen earlier, Hey Baby was rather charming and inncoent. Was this part of it’s wider appeal that sent it to number one at this point? Probably not. How much of the innocence was DJ Otzi responsible for and obviously lots of that innocence comes from its early 60s origin. -And I can’t really claim it’s any better than Bombalurina or any number of other records I loathe, but for a while it made everything seem
    a bit better.

    Predictably, our next bunny was also a permanent soundtrack in Amsterdam.

    (6)

  22. 22
    Rory on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Another song I knew only from a kids’ album, and those Australian cover artists did a more appealing job than DJ Otzi. The Bruce Channel original is a harmless slice of early-’60s pop, but Ozti’s additions are all pretty awful. I own one or two Schlager CDs as souvenirs of travels in Germany and Switzerland, but can’t say that I ever listen to them, and I wouldn’t ever choose to listen to this again either. 2, if only to preserve the 1s for songs from my own personal ninth circle of Hell.

  23. 23
    Andrew on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I was in Austria in early 2002 and saw a DJ Otzi bobble-head musical doll on sale.

    I swear I’m not making this up: http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/d247825a6839498aa41dcc2423455268/dpa-dj-oetzi-austrian-pop-singer-presents-two-dj-oetzi-doll-versions-d3a15f.jpg

  24. 24
    enitharmon on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I was on the great march against the invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003. Walking up Haymarket a group of young women were singing “Hey Baby” with great gusto (at least they were singing the tune; the words were adapted to the occasion). Hearing it took me right back to my early awareness of pop with great pleasure. I guess that these young women were singing from the DJ Otzi songsheet, although I hope they got to hear the Bruce Channel original through it. I’d rather we’d had a chance to discuss that back in 1962.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Well, the first version of the song I heard was Ringo’s. This came some time after he co-wrote “Devil Woman” which was one of his b-sides and had a near identical first-verse. I did wonder if he did the cover version as payback.

  26. 26
    enitharmon on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Mark G @ 17: Was Whigfield at the start of it? This sort of dross has its roots in James Last in the late 1960s, surely?

  27. 27
    Phil on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @25 – you’re right about the first verse, but I was distracted by the chorus;

    “you’re like the devil with horns in your head,
    The only way i’ll get you is to get you in bed.”

    What, as they say, the actual.

  28. 28
    DietMondrian on 9 Mar 2016 #

    When preparing a playlist for our wedding disco my fiancee and I invited all guests to put forward a request; this was the only song we refused. It was requested by my mum.

  29. 29
    JLucas on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I have a real fascination with the European phenomenon of Schlager music, which in its purest form (such as this song) is rarely seen in the UK charts, but has a huge popular following on the continent.

    This was Otzi’s first and breakthrough solo hit all over Europe, and while his chart career was predictably brief here, he’s released a mind-boggling 15 albums since, still routinely charting in the upper reaches of the German and Austrian listings.

    For a sense of how his sound has evolved over the past two decades, here is ‘Geboren um dich zu lieben’, which reached #6 in Austria and #11 in Germany just last month.

    https://youtu.be/kAABG09HNA4

    He’s no lone phenomenon either. It seems like every European country has an equivalent of DJ Otzi, if not several.

    Austria does seem particularly fond of them though. This song was in their singles chart for THREE YEARS

    https://youtu.be/US8mPmN-vro

  30. 30
    Mark G on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Enitharmon @17: I was meaning that Whigfield mentions “Party Time” early in the song, whereas DJO waits until the song is nearly over (It is nearly over, isn’t it?)

  31. 31
    Pink champale on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I can’t quite imagine ever choosing to listen to this, but I’ve got no problem with it existing and am surprised by how negative everyone’s reaction is.
    You all hate fun, etc.

  32. 32
    Rory on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @31: Maybe it’s the juxtaposition in the top banner of DJ Otzi’s mug and a young David Bowie which casts this in such a poor light. Speaking of which, what did you make of post-2000 Bowie, Tom?

  33. 33
    Pink champale on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Well, I am to Tom what DJ Otzi is to Bowie, but fwiw over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself starting to understand the claims people make for Heathen. Goodnight Uncle Floyd in particular has been on loop in my head.

  34. 34
    23 Daves on 9 Mar 2016 #

    #29 What’s also strange is how enthusiastically German audiences took to Sailor. Here they were just two-hit wonders, but their customes and songs about trips abroad and ladies made them perfect for the German Schlager scene (Here’s MKII Sailor performing happily to lots of Germans in the sun: https://youtu.be/COBIXAYczy4) And of course, Scooter copped the chorus for “Jumping All Over The World”.

    I have a German friend who constantly sends me Schlager YouTube clips, purely because she gets a kick out of my bemused reactions, I think. This is the one that stays with me most, Die Flippers “Ay Ay Herr Kapitän”: https://youtu.be/QKrzkwMCI-I

    It’s the way the drummer keeps gleefully ringing the bell, the Ted-and-Dougal-at-Eurovision suits, the sauntering ladies with telescopes – the whole thing is simultaneously hideous and fascinating. And horribly catchy.

    And every other Schlager song is about going on holiday as well, or going on a boating cruise. No wonder Sailor did so well.

  35. 35
    Tom on 9 Mar 2016 #

    I posted my “Bowie best to worst” list on FB and should replicate it here (well not HERE, but somewhere on the site). I really ought to go into more detail on the 90s and 00s stuff, I will try and make a last post on the thread if I have time (the next Popular entry is fairly big, not So Solid big, but big)

  36. 36
    Tom on 9 Mar 2016 #

    #29 That DJ Otzi clip is great – it makes him look like some kind of grizzled elder statesman of the scene, the Johnny Cash of Schlager.

  37. 37
    Phil on 9 Mar 2016 #

    Has Schlager changed its meaning over time? For me the word’s associated with those awful oompah Euro-hits from the 60s and 70s where the chorus invariably went BOMP, bomp, BOMP, bomp… What did the Casuals’ Jesamine (1968) have in common with Chiquitita (1979)? Listen to the chorus and sing along: BOMP, bomp, BOMP, bomp… I heard the Spanish-language release of Chiquitita on holiday in 1979, and had a (nightmarish? utopian?) vision of the whole of Europe united, millions of people across hundreds of miles singing along to a multi-lingual refrain. Which sounds like pretty much what happens with contemporary Schlager; one nation under a groove, indeed . Just a shame about the groove.

  38. 38
    lonepilgrim on 9 Mar 2016 #

    a song in this vein that I did get to hear at work parties soon after it came out was the Fast Food Song by the Fast Food Rockers (the one that goes “a Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut” etc.) which is even more soul destroying than this song – and which fortunately only got to number 2. Wiki informs me that DJ Otzi did a version which I can’t bring myself to check out. It also mentions the chorus was based on a Moroccan folk tune FWIW.

  39. 39
    katstevens on 9 Mar 2016 #

    ARGH of COURSE. Thanks to the comments above I have just realised that my utter revulsion towards this song actually stems not from Otzi (though he doesn’t help matters), but from it being linked to Dirty Dancing. My subconscious obviously remembered, even if my memory didn’t. I have age-old beef with that soundtrack.

  40. 40
    Sausagebrain on 9 Mar 2016 #

    @lonepilgrim

    Ah yes, I remember the Fast Food Rockers. When I were a lad I the early 90s, we used to do the ‘Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut’ song at Cub Scouts. Thinking back, it was mildly scandalous that our Akela was gently indoctrinating us to be junk food consumers.

    During those fateful days in early autumn 2001, I was on a family holiday on the Costa del Sol. My two main memories were hearing this wretched song five times a night in various bars, and the attacks in New York.

    I remember the afternoon of 9/11 so clearly. Whilst the horror was unfolding over the Atlantic, we all had a drive up to Valencia and were completely oblivious at first. It seemed bizarre that the streets were empty there – I thought ‘oh, it must be siesta time – fair enough!’ When we drove back to our base in Benidorm, the streets were dead quiet too – ‘man, people round these parts sure like their siesta!’

    It was only when we got back to our apartment block that I twigged something might be up – the pool area, which usually reverberated with the sound of excited Brits, high on freedom and geed up by sun and lager – was deserted.

    We turned into the apartment lobby – a sea of eyes were fixed upon the banner on CNN – ‘America Under Attack’. Watching the ticker tape recounting the world shaking events that had happened while we were out driving – Both World Trade Towers hit by planes and collapsed, a plane crashed into the Pentagon, another plane headed for Washington crashed, buildings evacuated all over the world – I was as incredulous as everyone else at first – ‘this must a movie – but why is everyone here so mesmerized’? Then when I saw the Towers disintegrate into dust, I knew it was much too real to be special effects.

    The world, an my world, would never be the same. Later that month I started University.

  41. 41
    Shiny Dave on 10 Mar 2016 #

    #29 The synth backing on that feels like a hilariously half-baked recreation of a future Guetta bunny…

    (My “where were you on 9/11?” memory, by the way; at school, and I was alerted to it by an English teacher who knew my interest in the stock market and mentioned that the New York Stock Exchange had closed, I think that was the first thing that stuck to me amongst the confused remarks. The visuals, of course, stuck far too easily.)

  42. 42
    Phil on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I was at home, working on my doctorate. My wife phoned and said she was hearing weird stories about planes crashing into buildings in New York and was there anything on the TV about it. I turned on the TV to see the first tower with a smoking hole in it; I was in time to see the second plane hit. Perhaps it was because I saw it happening, but my immediate thought was for the people on the plane – I couldn’t bear the thought that I’d just watched them all being killed, and kept telling myself it might not be like that (was there anyone on the plane, nobody’s actually telling us about that… maybe they hijacked an empty plane?). I watched while the buildings smoked and people jumped – funny how those images have disappeared from the media; they were pretty damned iconic at the time. I kept the TV on, switching between different channels, until I’d seen both the towers collapse; as the dust cloud from the second tower covered everything, I heard one commentator saying it looked like a bomb had gone off, then flicked over to another, more excitable, commentator saying it looked as if a bomb had gone off. By then I’d supped my fill of horrors. I switched the TV off and mailed a couple of friends on the East Coast to check they were OK; I knew they were nowhere near NYC and was pretty sure they were nowhere near the other two crash sites, but I wanted to do something. Bad times.

    Empty planes, explosives in the architecture – the seeds of Trutherism were there from day one. Probably because the actual truth was so f’in horrible. Here’s something genuinely weird, though, and it concerns Captain Scarlet. The first episode – “The Mysterons” – features an immensely tall building called the London Car-Vu; it’s basically a pillar with a spiral ramp around it and some viewing platforms right at the top, so that people could get a panoramic view of London while sitting in their cars, as you would. In the episode, the Mysterons destroy the London Car-Vu by forcing a mind-controlled helicopter pilot to fly into it. I watched the episode with my son when BBC Two repeated it and remember thinking how dark it was – and, specifically, what a terrible, unstoppable threat attackers who didn’t care about their own lives would be.

    “The Mysterons” was shown on BBC Two, on the evening of the 10th of September 2001. Gentlemen, start your conspiracy theories.

  43. 43
    Tom on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I was in Edinburgh visiting Dr T (who some of you know). We’d seen Moulin Rouge the night before, thought it was shit, and after a leisurely morning checking ILE we were planning on an afternoon record shopping and drinking. Stopped in at a newsagent, an American couple were talking, saying something about a bomb. I bought my crisps, Dr T’s phone alert went. His girlfriend texting him – “Get to a TV. New York is on fire.” There was a pub next door, we spent the next few hours there.

    Most of that week – from memory – was spent on ILE, deleting the occasional troll, maintaining the threads: we put a 100 post limit on each one because most people were still on dial-up. It was the first time I’d seen the net used to check people were safe, the first time I’d seen it used as a news aggregator too. Those threads are an amazing time capsule of people trying to piece together what’s happened and how the world is changing – just slow enough that you can follow them. It’s one of the times I was proudest of setting ILX up.

  44. 44
    IP on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I heard about it during a protest – there was an arms fair at the ExCeL centre in Docklands, and about 100 people were protesting outside, or as near as the police would let us, which was about half a mile away. CND’s Bruce Kent was giving a speech, mentioned the twin towers in passsing, and loads of people cheered. I think everyone thought it was some random agit-propper in a one-man biplane, making a doomed strike against a symbol of capitalism – not a jumbo jet with thousands killed. I went home quickly – all the office workers were clearing out of Canary Wharf at high speed – taking the Northern Line up to Edgware – the first image I saw of the towers exploding was on the cover of a commuters’ Evening Standard.

    The song? The song is possibly my least favourite song ever recorded. That summer I was living in Edinburgh just off the Cowgate, and every drunken pisshead used to sing it walking home after the clubs closed. Horrible.

  45. 45
    Andrew on 10 Mar 2016 #

    #43 I had never seen the footage of people jumping/falling before. There is a lot on YouTube. It’s distressing, but it’s odd that it appears to have been censored (presumably out of respect to the individuals, but the footage of the planes hitting the Towers is just as distressing when you think of the people inside)

  46. 46
    thefatgit on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I remember it being a hot day. I had a day off to do some groundwork in my front garden, in preparation for a new fence. My wife was at work and daughter at school, and I had help that day from my mum who was helping me clear away vegetation, digging up roots and suchlike. We had been outside all day, and oblivious to everything until a van drove past with the windows open, I could hear a snippet of a news report of a plane crash. I asked Mum to go inside and turn the TV on, and a couple of minutes later she called me in… “You’ve got to see this.”

    After that, we both stood open-mouthed as the full horror unfolded before us. When my wife and daughter came home, we all watched as the 2nd tower fell. We needed to get out of the house and get as far away from a TV screen as possible, so we drove around and found a café, ordered tea and cake and sat in relative silence, trying to process what horrors we had just witnessed, feeling utter bewilderment and a creeping sense of fear.

  47. 47
    Chelovek na lune on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I’d wandered off to “Tie Rack” in Liverpool Street station to buy a white bowtie for my Master’s graduation ceremony on the Thursday. (My degree had ended over a year earlier, I was already well into my first proper job.) Sushi lunch from the place that used to be next to Moorgate tube, eaten on the Barbican highwalk.

    Back at my desk, one of my flatmates phoned me to say a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre. I really thought nothing of it – little bi-plane, whatever. Not least as she’d phoned me the day before (from her desk at somewhere in the City) to express surprise/shock at a sudden drop in share prices – my response being, that happens, they go up and down, a few % in a few minutes is neither here not there,. As it wasn’t. Stop wasting my time being hysterical about trivia. As she had been on the Monday.

    Only when the 2nd plane hit, of course, did it start to make sense, of a sort. Remember checking through news-sites online to try and find explanations. The Russian media, in particular, was wide of the mark. Collective silence, shock, horror, disbelief. Journey home not helped by seeing someone suddenly run out of a church on the Finchley Road wearing a satanist t-shirt. We had a friend from the US (over for the graduation ceremony) staying with us (her stay was prolonged after the skies were shut down), and we made a point of saying we were “standing shoulder to shoulder” with her a la Blair and Bush. Another from New York, who lost a friend in the WTC, of course, couldn’t make it. Such an intensely shocking day.

  48. 48
    Cumbrian on 10 Mar 2016 #

    Some time after the fact, during a revision session for my finals, my Middle Eastern Politics tutor confided that, a few days after 9/11, he had been asked to go to Washington – travel still being difficult, he was flown out by private jet. He found himself talking to Bush 43 for an hour at The White House. He was then sent home again. My tutor was brilliant – a world leader in the field (at least as much as a white bloke from Britain can be on Middle Eastern Politics). Sometimes I wonder what would have been the outcome if he’d been given a few days instead of an hour.

    A large number of the books I was reading contained analyses that became essentially redundant. Not that that is in any way consequential given what actually happened. Still, it did throw accepted wisdom on its ear somewhat in a variety of sub sectors of the field, as I am sure you can imagine. In a lot of respects, western academia on the subject (what little of it I still keep my eye on) is still catching up.

  49. 49
    Billy Hicks on 10 Mar 2016 #

    I’ve mentioned before how, for most of 2001, I’d dreaded my forthcoming 13th birthday. Maybe because I’d spent most of my life wanting to be a “grown up” and now this new era of my life was about to begin I suddenly realised I was perfectly happy still being a child, thank you very much. I imagined turning into a ‘Kevin’ in the Harry Enfield style and had these awful future visions of long hair and swaying limbs, telling everyone how much I hated them. But I’d had an enjoyable summer and as September began I was a little more hopeful. It’s not like the world was going to change or anything.

    It happened thirteen days before my thirteenth birthday.

    I was off school, with nothing to do, watching a dull soap opera on ITV. Halfway through when the adbreak was supposed to begin, a still image of the station logo appeared on a black background – a calm, sombre announcement that they were interrupting the programme to go to the news studio. I remember finding the use of the words “We interrupt this programme” rather odd and old-fashioned even then, like a fake report in a TV show, and straight away I realised what must have happened – Queen Mother’s snuffed it, right? Newsreader fades in wearing black. Yep, definitely. And then announces that two planes have hit two towers.

    There’s a forum thread still online somewhere and everyone’s discussing the news seriously, only for me to ramble on about ‘The Simpsons’ and whether a forthcoming BBC2 repeat involving Sideshow Bob hijacking a plane was still going to be shown (it wasn’t). Chatrooms that night were full of teens swearing in capital letters and talking about the start of World War 3. Even CBBC’s ‘Newsround’ had the unlikely co-host of Huw Edwards, and links into the likes of Blue Peter and (on the other side) Art Attack were, while not mentioning the events, noticeably sombre than usual.

    My 13th birthday was fairly subdued. I got a free icecream from McDonalds. A couple months later, I find the CD single of this in the bargain bin at Tesco for less than a pound. I didn’t buy it, although my aunt’s 40th birthday three years later had all the 60+ grannies ooh-ahhing on the dancefloor with gusto.

    This childhood ‘era’ of pop music still has a few more bunnies left for me, but by Christmas, Steps had split up, Live & Kicking had finished and the summer of 2001 already felt like a lifetime ago.

    My childhood was over.

  50. 50
    flahr on 11 Mar 2016 #

    I was too young for it to really register. The main thing I remember of the day is being annoyed that whatever it was on CITV that I wanted to watch had been bumped.

  51. 51
    DanH on 11 Mar 2016 #

    Hmmm, I guess I ‘had to be there’ in regards to the revulsion against this cover. The song itself I loved threefold: first for the original Bruce Chanel version, second for the Ringo cover in the ’70s, that is one step closer to the crowd singalong the song eventually became, and third for my College band playing it for years They’d play the opening harmonica riff on the brass, then sing the ‘heeeeey baby!’ chorus. In place of the ‘ooh! ahh!’ they would shout ‘ohhhh baby!’* Never failed to make me smile. For that reason, I can’t be bothered by this version. I would not seek out this cover and it is indeed pointless, but as far as musical nadir goes, it ain’t no “Hollaback Girl” ;-) Will stretch to a 4.

    * I do wonder if the band got the extra notes on ‘I wanna knooooooow’ part from this cover. Far as I know, it didn’t do squat here in America. Right Mapman???? :-)

  52. 52
    DanH on 11 Mar 2016 #

    My 9/11 story….riding to school that day, traffic was backed up much more than usual…the towers were hit by the time I left, I was in the West so I was a few hours behind. Checking in to my 1st period class, my newspaper teacher was glued to the TV. He was usually jovial, but was solemn as a rock. I thought ‘geez, that’s a horrible mistake on the pilot’s part…but I had to go to my other classes (two choirs in a row, yes I was a choir dude), and we had normal rehearsal both times. Not until the break, and the rest of the day, did I find out the magnitude of what happened. Musically, the songs I associate with the aftermath are U2’s “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” (just released in the US) and Elton John’s “I Want Love.” And for some odd reason, another U2 track “Sweetest Thing.”

  53. 53
    mapman132 on 11 Mar 2016 #

    On morning of September 11, I was working at a federal government building in Charleston, South Carolina, about halfway through what turned out to be a five month travel assignment. The first sign something was amiss was when I took a break and tried to access cnn.com to check the morning news. It didn’t come up. Neither did a couple of other news sites I tried. No matter, maybe the building’s internet was down or something. So I decided to get some coffee instead. I walked past a group of my co-workers looking distressed and speaking in hushed tones, and that’s how I found out what was happening in New York. Not quite believing it, I attempted to call my sister who was working in Manhattan at the time. When I got the “all circuits are busy” message on the phone, that’s when I knew it was real. For the next 20 minutes or so, I frantically tried to call my sister over and over again. Making things worse was believing that her office had just moved to someplace near the WTC. Fortunately this was not true – her office was supposed to move from Midtown to Lower Manhattan, but in some last minute change had moved within Midtown instead. Finally around 9:30, I connected with her, and she was the one who told me about the Pentagon. At first, I thought this was just ugly rumor too, but a co-worker in my office quickly confirmed the same “rumor”. It was at this point I started to get really scared wondering what could possibly be coming next. And there were reports of other attacks in Washington, including the headquarters of the department I was currently working in. Fortunately these turned out to be false. People were also saying one of the WTC towers had collapsed. That of course was true.

    About mid-morning our building was evacuated and I drove “home” (actually a corporate apartment). Turning on the TV, I saw footage of the second WTC tower collapsing (it had actually occurred a few minutes before). Eventually myself and all of my co-workers regrouped in one of the apartments to watch the rest of the day’s events. The following day we all went to work as normal, although there was a lot more security evident. And the day after that myself and a co-worker drove the 500 miles to get back to our real homes in Virginia as our flight had of course been canceled.

    One of the moments I most remember from the actual day was saying to my parents, “Nothing’s ever going to be the same again, is it?” While everyday life would eventually continue and the day itself has very slowly receded into history, my observation has sadly proven true in ways subtle and not so subtle. There’s a lot more I could say, but I think I’ll leave it here for now.

  54. 54
    mapman132 on 11 Mar 2016 #

    #51 You’re correct. DJ Otzi didn’t have any US impact that I’m aware of. Heard this for the first time a few nights ago. I don’t hate it nearly as much as the consensus here either, but then I’ve only heard it once, have no plans to hear it again, and thinking about it segues right into the more respectable Bruce Channel version in my brain. A highly incongruous #1 for the time, but there’s always been a certain number of people who cope with tragedy and fear by partying as hard or behaving as silly as possible, so who am I to judge?

    A few songs I personally associate with the immediate aftermath of 9/11:

    – “Stuck in a Moment” of course, and also from U2, “Peace On Earth”, an album track that was called into radio service

    – “Only Time” by Enya, which I’ve already mentioned as being used for a newsclip remix on various radio stations

    – “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley, the first time I ever remember hearing it in fact – it was used by VH-1 in a montage of scenes from New York from the previous few days

    – “Overcome” by Live – also used by VH-1 IIRC

    – “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” by Five For Fighting, a personal favorite that seemed to fit with the mood at the time

  55. 55
    AMZ1981 on 11 Mar 2016 #

    On the 11th of September I was marking my first week with a company I’ll have been with fifteen years this September. My fumbly socially awkward self was being thrust into the world of work for the first time and I was training at another store for a new department. I remember picking up from snatches of conversation that there was something on the news but it wasn’t until I was waiting for the taxi back to Harrogate with another colleague that I was made aware just how big a story it was. We asked the taxi driver to put the radio on for the journey back at which point I heard for the first time how the day had unfolded. The canteen at my home store had a television and it was on there that I saw the images of ground zero for the first time and I spent most of that night watching the news.

    I read an interesting novel many years later called Love Is The Higher Law by David Levithan, primarily aimed at young adults which describes the day of the attack and the immediate aftermath as seen through the interlocking lives of three protagonists. What interested me was the number of references to artists/ bands and records I remember – one character even starts out at Tower Records buying Love And Theft, not something a college student would be as likely to do now. In that respect it captures a generation.

  56. 56
    Tom on 11 Mar 2016 #

    It’s an odd coincidence that two of the most acclaimed albums of the decade were released on September 11 – almost three, though Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is, in my carefully considered opinion, a bunch of arse so I’m glad it wasn’t. “Love And Theft” and The Blueprint were a lot of what I was listening to in the month or so after 9/11 and both of them felt like they had some distant resonance, or at least fitted aspects of the mood. The gutbucket steamroller aggression of “The Takeover” on the one hand, Dylan’s mordant old man’s apocalypse on “High Water (For Charley Patton)” on the other. The other record I associate with the weeks after is the next number one – more of that soon, of course.

  57. 57
    StringBeanJohn82 on 11 Mar 2016 #

    I first kissed who I thought was the woman of my dreams at the Halls of Residence Christmas Party (2001) while this song was playing very loudly having had a massive and all-consuming crush on her for the first term of my first year at university. It was without a doubt the best moment of my 18 year life up to that point. So every time I hear it I think of the elation and general intensity of emotions I felt at the time.

    Can any of your readers beat this for the shittiest song that reminds them of the best moment of their lives?

  58. 58
    enitharmon on 11 Mar 2016 #

    mapman @ 51: I can think of a lot of Cohen songs that fit with the mood of that event (Stories of the Street seems particularly apposite to me) but Hallelujah isn’t one of them, not in any version. Seems a bit flippant to me I’m afraid, given that it’s one of Lennie’s songs about sex.

  59. 59
    Phil on 11 Mar 2016 #

    Oddly enough, Jesamine by the Casuals – mentioned upthread in the context of Schlager and other Euro-puddings – soundtracked my youthful infatuation with a girl called Jacqueline (it was close enough). But we’re talking really youthful (we moved away shortly after my eighth birthday), so not really a lifetime high-point.

  60. 60
    mapman132 on 11 Mar 2016 #

    #58 Well, “Hallelujah” can be interpreted in many ways, and it’s been used in many tragic montages over the years. It doesn’t always have to be “about sex”.

  61. 61
    Tom on 11 Mar 2016 #

    It gets used in tragic montages because it’s a shorthand for ‘seriousness’ for lazy music programmers (and because the guy who made it most famous died). I think it’s more interesting – no, only interesting – as a song about sex (or about something other than its own solemnity at least!). But more of that when we get to it.

  62. 62
    JoeWiz on 11 Mar 2016 #

    Bit late to this thread, but anyways…
    I was sat in my History lesson, I was just starting my final year of college, a few months away from being 18. Someone got a text message in the class ‘Arabs have bombed America’ they said. Another teacher came in from across the hall with a radio and we spent the last ten mins or so listening. I remember them saying 6 people were confirmed to have died – not all that bad I told myself. The horror was only revealed when I got home and turned on the TV. Before bed I looked out of bedroom window and heard a plane flying low over the house. Christ, I was scared. Scared of what was going to happen next.
    The next day our common room was strewn with newspapers half opened, half read, almost on display.
    Anyone seen that clip on YouTube from about half an hour before the attacks where the news guy is giving the weather for the day ahead and he says ‘Everything is fine today in America. Nice and quiet. We like quiet.’ Very eerie.

  63. 63
    Andrew Farrell on 12 Mar 2016 #

    This happened during six months when I was off work, becoming a little bit of a hermit, and the first I knew about it was when I went down to my local bank office and the TV they had, which was generally only showing financial news, was showing BBC instead. I went back to my flat and followed the rest of it through a FT-adjacent message board.

    There were the usual tenuous connections – my ex-company had an (safely evacuated) office in the third building to fall, my sister had been due to travel to New York on that day but stayed in Philadelphia – but I don’t think I ever really *got* the impact the same way everyone else did.

    This is probably a little affected by being still in Dublin at the time, but a frequent traveler to London, aware that the reason the latter didn’t have bins at train stations was people who claimed to represent me.

    And similarly I admit my eyebrow twitched a bit at the ‘would’ in Phil’s “what a terrible, unstoppable threat attackers who didn’t care about their own lives would be” – this wasn’t the beginning or the end of that.

    There was a lot in the weeks after that I found annoying, but I felt it was a bad idea for my personal safety to object to – in that, I suppose, DJ Otzi is a decent representation.

  64. 64
    Andrew Farrell on 12 Mar 2016 #

    I did get the impression initially, like many of us, that it was a light plane, and I thought there had been some recent news that put that in mind, but I can’t find it – Frank Corder crashing a Cessna on the White House lawn was back in ’94, and of course Mathias Rust landing in Red Square was ’87.

  65. 65
    Phil on 12 Mar 2016 #

    #63 – what can I say, those were the thoughts that went through my mind, the night before 9/11. I was 41 at the time and had spent most of my life in Manchester and greater London, and I don’t think I was particularly naive about terrorism; if anything I was rather blase. But suicide attacks were more or less unknown before the 1990s, and in that decade they were rare and almost entirely confined to a couple of near-war zones. As a rule you expected bombers to be deterred by overwhelming force – just as you expected hijackers to want to take the plane somewhere and land it. That was about to change.

  66. 66
    Izzy on 13 Mar 2016 #

    64: I’m pretty sure there had been a light aircraft crash into a building in the US within the preceding twelve months – but I’m more sure the same thing happened in New York in the twelve months subsequent. Both may have happened, or I may be projecting the second incident backwards.

    Anyway it was my assumption too. I’d actually been up the South Tower about a fortnight previously on my first visit to New York, which also involved climbing the Empire State Building where there is/was a display about a military plane which crashed there in 1944, so I had a small plane in mind.

    I saw the news about the first plane through glass, on a telly in a shop window. There were two older women watching as well and I remember one saying ‘ugh, they suicide bombers’ so they at least saw the nature of it immediately. I didn’t and filed it away until I got in my car 45 minutes later and heard the bewildered commentary on the by-now rolling news. I remember that the collapse of the first tower actually broke as an aside (“Did I mention that …?”).

    Nothing made sense.

  67. 67
    Adam Puke on 13 Mar 2016 #

    #66: You may be thinking of the light aircraft that crashed into the Pirelli tower in Milan only a few months after 9/11. Despite being (presumably) accidental, initial reports pointed towards terrorism. As became the norm for this kind of incident from then on.

  68. 68
    mapman132 on 14 Mar 2016 #

    You may also be thinking of a small plane that crashed into an NYC apartment building in 2006.

  69. 69
    Andrew Farrell on 14 Mar 2016 #

    #65 – sorry about that, not trying to scold at all, just trying to give an impression of where my head was at, at the time.

  70. 70
    Ronnie on 15 Mar 2016 #

    I initially would have given this song a [4]. Then I saw the video, and then the hatred for it all made sense. [1]

    Check it out if you dare. Utterly insufferable. “Pants,” as you folk say on your side of the ocean. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YFtlvDOVVE

  71. 71
    Paulito on 16 Mar 2016 #

    @19: Thanks for the link – never knew FR did anything like this. C’est vraiment “groovy”, non?

  72. 72
    Andrew Farrell on 19 Mar 2016 #

    Topicality which I had forgotten: among the many things which were pushed back when the attacks became the day’s news, were the results of the election of the new Tory party leader – Iain Duncan Smith.

  73. 73
    Girl with Curious Hair on 26 Mar 2016 #

    Apropos of nothing, DJ Otzi really looks like the sort of guy who’d slither up to you in a Picadilly Circus nightclub and offer you cocaine. There’s something of the night about him.

  74. 74
    Paulito on 27 Mar 2016 #

    @73: True dat. I also think he looks like a sleazier version of Paul Hollywood.

  75. 75
    Tommy Mack on 28 Mar 2016 #

    So…10th September 2001, a violent storm grounds my flight from JFK back to Manchester and I take a taxi back to my uncle’s Brooklyn brownstone in order to repeat the whole tedious journey the following day. (I remember the taxi driver asking me what tip I wanted to give him rather than just give me my change and me being awkward and English and letting him keep the full $8 on a $12 fare)

    September 11th, I wake up late (my rescheduled flight wasn’t until the afternoon and my bags were all packed up from the previous day) and my aunt (actually, she was my uncle’s common-law wife) tells me that I won’t be flying today or probably for the foreseeable future because ‘a plane flew into one of the twin towers and it collapsed and then a another plane flew into the other tower and it collapsed too’. It’s more than I can comprehend and I think I just said ‘uh-huh’ and got in the shower.

    So I was there when it happened but I slept through it.

    I end up grounded in NYC for another three weeks or so. The mood is defiant, both against ‘the terrorists’ and among my uncle and his family’s liberal NYC-arts set, against the Bush/Cheney war-agenda. My uncle tells us of being out at his boathouse and seeing a mushroom cloud over NYC and fearing the worst (like many people, he initially assumed Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks). His younger son tells us incredulously how his football coach insisted that he was still holding football practise on the day of the attacks.

    Miraculously no-one they knew was involved. A few friends worked in the WTC and must be pondering to this day their good fortune in working off-site that particular day.

    My uncle’s friend, for whom I’ve worked over the summer, has a catering business and in a small way we get involved in the rescue effort, feeding emergency workers and troops in the days and weeks after 9/11, initially in an operations centre set up in a local school and later, driving the catering truck down to ground zero. I’ll never forget seeing the twisted wreckage of the building’s framework sticking up out of the ground, heaps of rubble everywhere.

    For the most part, it was an extension to my holiday. I’m not saying, even at 19, I was foolish enough to overlook the enormity of the events taking place, more that it was too much to fully comprehend. Later I’d cry profusely for the bravery of the rescue workers who’d lost their lives saving others but at the time there was nothing to do but carry on. If anything, I felt a little embarrassed: a literal tourist in other people’s tragedy. I settled into a bit-part in a real-life Hollywood disaster movie, volunteered when I could, hung out with my [common-law step-] cousins, had a welcome couple of weeks extra with Teresa, leading up to a another tearful goodbye.

    My uncle finally shipped me hope a few weeks later (I think his lady had finally got sick of my extended stay) and a couple of connections later (I remember buying and reading The Hobbit during a six-hour stopover in Toronto airport) I arrived back to my very relieved parents.

    I think I’ll share my thoughts on DJ Otzi some other time.

  76. 76
    Neil C on 31 Mar 2016 #

    [Reposted from the Populist page – to make it more relevant, I’d give DJ Otzi a 4, bumped up due to warm memories of a communal singsong at chucking-out time at Strathclyde Uni roundabout my 21st birthday…]

    Hello all – I’ve been reading Popular for the last 3 years (came in around the time of Earth Song) and it has fast become my favourite music site, particularly after reading Mr Lineman’s wonderful history of pop, Yeah Yeah Yeah.

    I was really taken aback by my own anticipation levels for an upcoming bunny this Easter (one that I Find Hard To Expunge From My Mind), and it got me thinking about the whole Popular enterprise, and how much it’s enriched my appreciation of music.

    Over the years I’ve generally relied on my memory of these songs while reading Popular, playing them back in my mind rather than actually listening to them. That changed recently when I discovered the option to list the entries by score – I put all the 9s and 10s on a playlist, LOVED it, added the 8s and 7s, in quick succession, and suddenly I had 10 hours of wonderful pop music spanning 50 years!

    As someone who listens mainly to albums, hearing these hits back-to-back has been a revelation. No filler tracks to grimly push through – every song sparkles with vitality, and the range of styles is astonishing, even in a single year. I’ve rediscovered many songs I thought my Uni disco had ruined forever (ABBA, The Buggles) and songs that my teenage indie self would have dismissed out of hand (Backstreet Boys and, unbelievably, Livin’ Joy), as well as digging some old favourites out for the first time in far too long.

    I’ve now cut the list down even further to my own selection of the 100 best, and it’s just terrific. I’m going to get so much fun out of these songs – soundtracks to exercise, making my siblings mix CDs that they’ll actually play, and (most importantly) introducing my baby daughter to the wonder of pop music.

    So thank you Tom and all you marvellous comments people – you’ve reminded me how amazing pop music can be!

  77. 77
    Rory on 1 Apr 2016 #

    Very good to have you with us, Neil C and Girl With Curious Hair. One of the nice things about the project is how it has an in-built way of attracting new blood, as Tom reaches each successive era of hits.

  78. 78
    Patrick Mexico on 3 Apr 2016 #

    God, this is pish.

    But we’ll get back to more important issues for now.

    I was exactly a week into my first year at Clitheroe Grammar Sixth Form, when I followed my parents’ separation a year before with a desperate but successful Alamo salvage job to get me back into education round my way, and I was generally very happy really; just appreciating having a normal, suburban/semi rural English teenage life, with girls, football, MTV2, The Box, the weekend, and very occasional exams and coursework to think about… the world was at my feet (or so I thought). Ten days before I’d watched England stick five past Germany in the house on my own (an hour later, watching the highlights roll in to the tune of Buck Rogers by Feeder in the Chinese takeaway, is an unglamorous, but fantastic memory that’s always stuck with me.) Nine days before I was at Valley Parade, watching a ramshackle Burnley side roar to the top of the Championship (then Nationwide Divison 1) table with a last-minute screamer by veteran striker Tony Ellis (unfortunately marred by our fans making racist chants about the city of Bradford – more – much more – unfortunately on those issues later :( ) Seven days before it had been my first day back at school in the Ribble Valley for nearly three years, after I’d been persona non grata at Bowland High aged 12/13, sometimes because Aspergers + adolescence = hell, but mostly because I was a charmless dweeb who had no idea how to make friends or show any passion or individuality in life. I somewhat smashed that when I named all the hip bands I was into (I was 16, hey!) and friends from my old school said “God, I can’t believe how much you’d changed.” I also thought I had a chance with the girl of my dreams.. who shall obviously remain nameless but who was the spit of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen in the Kelly from Saved by the Bell years.. with a sprinkling of Zooey Deschanel.. but that chance fizzled out as my mind was warped, sickened and howled, streaked and spurned by much more important issues.. as we will find out now..

    September 11, 2001, was a glorious, unseasonably hot day, and I think I finished early with a free period and just went home to Whalley*. I remember the skinny Goth builder’s radio next door talking about a plane crash in New York, but like others have commented, thought it was a minor thing with a light aircraft and no serious casualties so… that all changed when I switched the TV on. There have been plenty of horrible events I’ve stood open-mouthed at when they have been introduced on television, but this was a real-life horror and disaster movie it was difficult to believe it was real, and my eternal naive optimist kept telling me the towers or even planes must have been empty, it was just a political statement or even publicity stunt for some company, utterly, utterly naive and stupid thinking, but I was 16 and high on Prozac (that didn’t help me at other times in my life, but it did help in 2001.) Gradually, the horror began to drip-feed in, as the BBC said “The death toll could reach tens of thousands.” That night I think I went to sleep about 7.30 as everything was just too much to take in, as if I’d had a bang on the head. I had heard of Osama Bin Laden, and was aware of America’s precarious role in the Middle East, plus suicide bombing in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but never thought there would be an attack on US soil this dramatically evil. At first I thought it was by some screwed up far-right white supremacist or Christian fundamentalist group (too detailed to explain here, but much of nu-metal and even pop punk reminded me of that side of America – a country I have love and affection in so many other ways – and that put me off such genres for many years..)

    I was deeply, deeply upset about the idiocy, hatred, and complete disregard for innocent people who the attackers never even knew personally – and sadly it would happen again, and again, and again, worse some incidents less reported on and cared about by the casual Western observer than others… god that was a bleak time last December when friends wrote to my local MP’s Facebook page re. Syria air strikes saying “Hope you can cope with the innocent blood on your hands Nigel (Evans)”…

    I definitely felt “things will never be the same again” and though at least until the October half term I was in the form of my life and did brilliantly both academically and socially at CRGS Sixth Form, a numb, end-of-the-world, “the world is a piece of crap, and however hard I try I can’t do much to change it as I’m just an insignificant crappy dot on the map” feeling hung over me like a dark cloud for some months. But so did 12/10/02 in Bali, 7/7/05 in London, 15/4/03 in Boston, 22/7/11 in Norway, 7/1 and 13/11/15 in Paris, 22/3/16 in Brussels, 27/3/16 in Lahore, to name but a few atrocious and pointless incidents.. it’s been a vicious circle of misery that sometimes just seems to be getting worse and worse what with the various ISIS conflicts and God knows what will happen come November if America elects an even more right-wing, reactionary version of Bush Jr… and the rise of social media has given rise to even more depressing Islamophobia and nationalism nonsense plus what about this country’s tragedy “grief hipsterdom” that depresses me no end.. thank the good Lord I quit Facebook on 28 December last year, have no real plan to go back.. and I haven’t even started on the Afghan and Iraq conflicts that followed… I clearly remember Damon Albarn yelling “bombing one of the world’s poorest countries is wrong.. IT’S WRONG” at the 2001 MTV VMAs… and though, especially in light of the tragedies in Belgium and France, I strongly believe we need to distance the fucked up, inhuman activities of ISIS etc. from ordinary Muslims just living everyday, decent lives like you and me, and nip these people in the bud, at the root – wherever hate is preached, fucked up messages are spread online – it’s beyond scary knowing ISIS supporters could be living in the same town as you, and a deeply sad irony having close friends from many different backgrounds, several who are practising, and proudly, Muslim, in a region where cultural relations are shall we say, questionable – those words have left a lasting legacy. I strongly doubt fighting fire with fire is a good idea, especially if it’s from right-wing America. Having said that, it was an awful event and I had been to the World Trade Center two years previous, and even though I was a depressed, socially inept 14-year-old, New York left a charm, a romance and a character as a city that will always be with me and I must visit again someday. My sister has a photograph of the Twin Towers from that holiday – just like 9/11, a clear, sunny autumn day – with a quote carefully glued to it – “People can take everything away from you except memories.” I think, on the day of the incident itself, it’s difficult to express the multitude of feelings any better.

    The reaction at CRGS Sixth Form was awkward and strange. There were certainly a few sick jokes going around from the students, even on September 12, though I remember one of my most happy-go-lucky Jack-the-Lad type friends, punching and giving the Vs to a newspaper picture of Osama Bin Laden, with a sense of genuine pain and fury. We held a three minute silence during English Language class though I think at least one of the pupils sat down, who was a friend of mine due to his fanatical love of the Manics but sometimes expressed extreme left politics in a very cold manner (i.e. “You don’t give a shit about famine in Africa, you only get upset when rich white Westerners die, capitalist mofos!”) and though the silence was impeccably observed, I remember tensions flaring up in a History class when people put their hand up and said “It’s not a war on terror, it’s a war on Islam.” There were also rumours a year later of an Asian Muslim girl queuing up for a class saying “I hope Bin Laden can come around and kill all the white people” but that might have just been some of my idiotic LAD Bible type, pseudo-Jeremy Clarkson friends at the time making up ridiculous stories for effect… but East Lancashire at the turn of the century was a messed up place. Still is in parts, but from recent evidence, less bigoted and more integrated than it once was (my college wasn’t too bad but fecked up things still went on.. more on them when we get there though.) Sometimes, as has been the case at the darkest times in history, we resorted to gallows humour to get us through. I remember sitting in a pub in Birmingham a week later after we’d beaten them 3-2 with a Glen Little wondergoal with my dad’s mates saying “OK, I’ll be Bush, you be Bin Laden, you be Blair, you be Saddam, and we’ll try and sort this whole bloody mess out!” And though the risk of terror wasn’t exactly non-existent – the IRA did terrible things in the 1990s – I was in Warrington today, the bombing in 1993 the second story which deeply upset my naive childhood self on the news (the James Bulger murder being the first) but of course, I wish none of this tragedy had happened in the first place. You can repeat that through history though… I have nothing else to say other than that it was horrific and may the 2,977 rest in peace.

    * * * * *

    It seems incredibly facetious to return to a record like this after such serious discussion, but Tom can only review what history puts in front of him, so here’s my two penn ‘orth on Hey Baby.

    It’s charmless, lowest-common-denominator drivel, I don’t mind the original as it’s likeable pre-Beatles bubblegum and I’m sure the chorus has a great hook, but so does Agadoo. It’s meaningless, forcing-you-to-have-a-good-time, veiny cocktail sausage and cucumber sandwich naffness in the same way The Chicken Song parodied, but it is actually funny in its crapness conflicting with Otzi’s ridiculous “look at me! I want you to love me! Wunderbar” court jester idiocy, so for making me laugh rather than want to drown myself, it’s a 2/10 to a tee. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever want to hear it again, and I was distressed beyond words when a woman down the pub at the Mark Duckworth album launch (more, much more on him later) in Clitheroe started singing it in a throaty Catherine Cawood style.

    Has there ever been a great Austrian act who’ve done well on the UK singles or albums charts? Live is Life can feck reyt off, and as he’s a fully paid up Governor of California we can’t exactly count the Terminator soundtracks :) I like it as tinned peaches-standard 80s pop, but I’m sure there’s better out there than Unique II’s Break My Stride. However, I will always be an ally of neighbouring Switzerland for Double – The Captain of Her Heart. Smooth as melting Toblerone, that one.

    * You’ll probably recognise that street – http://bit.ly/1qojyjc – as it was on worldwide news last Boxing Day, chest-deep in water (the floods receded and things have slowly got better since, but God, going there that day was a desperate time)

  79. 79
    Girl with Curious Hair on 5 Apr 2016 #

    I don’t remember much about 9/11 at all. I was 10, and my biggest memory is of being in school and there being a rumour going around that America was being bombed by aliens. So my recollections of that day probably aren’t worth all that much.

    I do remember it affecting my dad though. We’re from Sarajevo, and I’m sure you all know what happened there in the 1990s. As I say, I never really made the connection at the time (kids are resilient I suppose), but I think the footage of NYC under attack was uncomfortable viewing for my dad.

    My dad was, and I am, Muslim too – something else I didn’t really make the connection with until much later is the surge in anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11 (by this point we were living in London). As far as I know we weren’t personally on the receiving end of any trouble – we didn’t look the part, shall we say – but again this must have been very uncomfortable for my old man. Especially considering what happened back home a few years earlier. Poor fella couldn’t catch a break. (Especially since he was saddled with me lolz etc.)

    But hey, at least there were some great tunes at the top of the charts to take his mind off of all of this… argh…

  80. 80
    Erithian on 6 Apr 2016 #

    Patrick #78 – yes you referred to Opus, but – and I’m not saying the word “great” applies here – the biggest Austrian pop hit in the UK would be “Rock Me Amadeus”, Falco being a Viennese lad.

    I was at work on 9/11, and at a time when the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and I wasn’t in the part of the building with TV news feeds, the news seeped through. My wife, in common with many, was watching the news and saw the second plane live – that moment when all doubt about the nature of what was going on was removed. At the time there were rumours that our department was about to be relocated to Canary Wharf, so that was one of the main thoughts on our minds. There was a stunned atmosphere among my fellow home-bound commuters, and we spent the evening watching the news coverage as our twins, two years and two days old, buzzed around us oblivious to our dread.

    As for the record, briefly, it’s pretty horrible.

    GWCH #79 – I fear this might sound patronising but please don’t take it as such – women are severely under-represented on here, and Muslims, as far as I’m aware, not at all. So although everyone is welcome, you are particularly so!

  81. 81
    Girl with Curious Hair on 8 Apr 2016 #

    Erithian (and also Rory) – thanks for having me!

  82. 82
    Lazarus on 10 Apr 2016 #

    Amidst all the talk of 9/11 I don’t think we’ve had a #2 watch on this – in the week that ‘Hey Baby’ ‘graced’ the number one spot it held off another new entry, ‘Starlight’ by Supermen Lovers – a song still, I suspect, best remembered for its video. If you don’t recall it, ‘potato man and rat’ might jog your memory. I don’t know the first thing about Supermen Lovers – the song came and went very quickly, I suspect that nowadays it would be hanging around like ‘Get Lucky’ or ‘Happy’ – but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the people behind Stardust and Modjo were involved somewhere.

  83. 83
    AMZ1981 on 10 Apr 2016 #

    #82 Starlight by Superman Lovers was a week earlier and was beaten by Bob The Builder (I mentioned this on the Mambo No 5 thread).

  84. 84
    Lazarus on 10 Apr 2016 #

    Hmmm, yes, so it was – and Bob was runner-up to Otzi I see. Do I get a consolation point for mentioning Hey Baby’s leap from 45 to 1, or have I missed mention of that too? That beat Captain Sensible’s record I assume – does it still stand?

  85. 85
    AMZ1981 on 10 Apr 2016 #

    #84 A bit of googling turned up the excellent everyhit.com which gives a definitive answer. Hey Baby did indeed set a record at the time; albeit on a technicality. The record managed to enter the lower reaches on import as a few other chart toppers around this time did (Lou Bega, Eiffel 65, Shaggy with It Wasn’t Me) but normally they changed catalogue number when officially released and were classed as a new entry. DJ Otzi kept his catalogue number and managed a bigger jump than the others had but Captain Sensible still held the record for an officially released single.

    The record would eventually fall in 2009 when Pixie Lott’s Girls And Boys (I know I’m bunnying but we’ll have forgotten this discussion by the time we get there) climbed 73-1. However given that Captain Sensible, DJ Otzi and Pixie Lott achieved their climbs in very different marketing climates I think it would be unfair to directly compare them.

    A 2005 chart topper did sneak into the very bottom of the industry top 200 when a tiny amount of copies were sold ahead of embargo and top the chart the next week.

  86. 86
    Billy Hicks on 11 Apr 2016 #

    We’re not too far away from Puretone’s ‘Addicted to Bass’ having one of the most unfortunate misses of #1 in chart history, up there with Dee-Lite. A few thousand sales were leaked the week before official release, meaning it debuted at #68 and then shot up to #2 a week later. Adding the leaked #68 sales to its #2 sales, it would have beaten a forthcoming – posthumous – bunny.

  87. 87
    Monkey on 14 Apr 2016 #

    THX that’s a great anwres!

  88. 88
    Patrick Mexico on 14 Apr 2016 #

    87: It was around this time you bankrupted my football club, you ITV Digital bastard.

  89. 89
    sbahnhof on 25 May 2016 #

    It’s surely essential to add that Ötzi’s name contains a rock ‘n’ roll umlaut like Motörhead.

    Nowadays I associate this with its alphabet neighbour, “Hey Boy Hey Girl”
    https://youtu.be/Bp0rQIHWFWI
    I know it’s irrational (I used to love it), but all of those “here we go”-s can become gratingly Ötziesque.

  90. 90
    Izzy on 25 May 2016 #

    Great, now I have this earworm:

    ♫♪♫ We’ve got Ötzi
    DJ Ötzi
    I just don’t think you understand
    ♫♪♫

  91. 91
    Mark G on 25 May 2016 #

    As in “Wildcat” Gene Vincent?

  92. 92
    Izzy on 25 May 2016 #

    I wish. Actually it’s as in Achy Breaky Heart, the Sloop John B of 2015/16.

  93. 93
    Mark G on 26 May 2016 #

    I did think I was missing something blatantly obvious.

  94. 94
    Izzy on 26 May 2016 #

    It’s weirdly easy to miss. I’ve been in crowds, enjoying a sing-song of it, yet didn’t place it myself until I heard Spurs fans being slated recently for having their own version.

    Thinking about it, I’m not sure I’d’ve placed Sloop John B either. And no doubt ‘by far the greatest team … the world has ever seen’ has a proud lineage too, but if it does I’m none the wiser?

  95. 95
    Erithian on 26 May 2016 #

    It’s The Wild Rover: “And it’s no, nay never / No nay never, no more / Will I play the wild rover / no never no more.”

  96. 96
    Patrick Mexico on 27 May 2016 #

    That “Will Grigg’s on fire / Your defence is terrified” Wigan Athletic/Freed from Desire chant is terrific – not heard as good a football chant since 1995 and “Toon Toon Toon, let me hear you say Geordie.”

    Was convinced it would be based on Kings of Leon’s rather cringeworthy bunny in seven Popular years’ time…

    Also, are we still alive here? I am still very much alive, I wrote a passionate, intense TOTP 81 blog last Thursday that seemed to be mistaken as spam! And TPL is very much resurrected. Can’t wait to read this, been listening to all the Top 100 singles of 1990 and just up to the bit when Thatcher did one.

    Not sure if people share as much love as me for Ways of Love by Claytown Troupe, A Man Called Adam – Barefoot in the Head and Bakerman by Laid Back, mind…

  97. 97
    Izzy on 27 May 2016 #

    That Will Grigg number is tremendous, thank you indeed for bringing it to my attention.

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