Popular

29
May 14

JAMIROQUAI – “Deeper Underground”

Popular73 comments • 2,925 views

#796, 25th July 1998

jamzilla Another early 90s press darling scores another late 90s number one – except the reaction isn’t “Wow” this time but “what kept you?”. Within a year or two of turning up, Jamiroquai had moved from The Face’s anointed to a bona fide UK best-seller. By 1996, they’d built a solid global audience and were briefly the toast of MTV for “Virtual Insanity”. They were big. But – plenty of airplay notwithstanding – their singles belied their size. That one tremendous video aside, Jamiroquai were a steady presence in pop, never a dominating one.

27
May 14

ANOTHER LEVEL – “Freak Me”

Popular43 comments • 1,788 views

#795, 18th July 1998

alevel It’s no “Boom Boom Boom”, but “Freak Me” is the frankest boyband track on Popular so far – a cover of Silk’s 1993 R&B hit, which gives Dane Bowers and company the opportunity to sound (and look) intensely earnest and moody while pitching to go down on you. (For some value of “you”). It goes as far as it can without needing a radio edit – and at the old school pre-Matthew Bannister Radio 1, “Freak Me” might still have picked up a ban. But behind the corny growling about whipped cream, this is a celebratory sex jam with consent and respect at its centre. “Let me lick you up and down, til you say stop… Let me do all the things you want me to do.”

23
May 14

BILLIE – “Because We Want To”

Popular55 comments • 3,024 views

#794, 11th July 1998

billie because Pop Between Realities, Home In Time For TOTP

I’ve talked about Dr Phil Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum blog before on Tumblr, but I’ve held off mentioning it here until this post, for hopefully obvious reasons. TARDIS Eruditorum is a critical Doctor Who blog which has been running since 2011 and will end this year. Its format – which Sandifer calls psychochronography – should be familiar to Popular readers: take a cultural object with a long history, and write about it in chronological order. Naturally, writing about the thing ends up meaning writing around the thing. My brother gave me the first three volumes of the book edition of Eruditorum for Christmas, and it was the kick in the arse I needed to really get moving on Popular again.

21
May 14

Popular ’60

Popular16 comments • 594 views

The next entry is turning out to be quite a big one, so I’m pushing it back a day or two and putting up the last of our 60s polls. It’ll find its way to its proper place in the blog in time.

I give a mark out of 10 to every song on Popular. In these polls, you tick any you would have given 6 or more to. 1960 was a slim year for Number Ones – only 16. My personal high point was “Shaking All Over” (8), and my low was Lonnie’s “Dustman” (1).

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 1960 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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Over to you! And discuss the year in general in the comments too.

19
May 14

BADDIEL, SKINNER AND THE LIGHTNING SEEDS – “Three Lions ’98″

Popular56 comments • 2,495 views

#793, 20th June 1998

lions98 The opening of “Three Lions ‘98” is a spot of justified bragging – the hopeful murmurs of the original replaced by a stadium in full cry: “It’s coming home, it’s coming home…”. In musical terms, Baddiel, Skinner and Broudie really had won the cup – a football song that had been taken up by fans as a genuine chant. It made a sequel – or rather, an update – understandably tempting.

16
May 14

B*WITCHED – “C’Est La Vie”

Popular41 comments • 2,149 views

#792, 6th June 1998

vie B*Witched have reformed, like most bands, and gave an interview last year where they “revealed” that “C’Est La Vie” was “about sex”. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” is, apparently, some kind of secret sexual code. Shocked, aren’t you?

Tabloid coverage is the killing ground of ambiguity. In the red-top world meaning in songs is either in-your-face obvious or smothered in apparently impenetrable code, to be copped to years later as an ‘exclusive’. And so it’s a news story that a phrase everyone knows is a bit naughty might indeed be a bit naughty. Except “C’Est La Vie” isn’t really ‘about sex’, even in this coy way. You can say, perhaps, that it’s imitating a sexual world, in the same way a game of kiss-chase is. But this isn’t “Barbie Girl”, let alone “2 Become 1”. It’s a pop record for kids – B*Witched played their first ever gig in a primary school – and so it plays at being about what pop records are about, like a game of house or doctors and nurses.

14
May 14

THE TAMPERER featuring MAYA – “Feel It”

Popular44 comments • 1,985 views

#791, 30th May 1998

tamperer An Italian chop-shop job, lashing together riffs and a bassline from The Jacksons’ bombastic “Can You Feel It?”, verses from an obscure club track (“Drop A House” by Urban Discharge), bludgeoning 4/4 beats, and even a bit of crude speed garage style vocal stretching. None of which it’s at all famous for: “Feel It” is remembered mainly, if not only, for Maya’s iron-voiced question on the chorus: “WHAT she gonna look like with a CHIMNEY ON HER?”

13
May 14

AQUA – “Turn Back Time”

Popular38 comments • 1,590 views

#790, 16th May 1998

aquaturn After proving the Aqua formula could work repeatedly, they drop it: “Turn Back Time” is a cryptic, self-hating ballad about choices and dire consequences. In mood it’s closer to Madonna’s “Live To Tell” than any of the band’s own other songs, though it sounds nothing like that. “Turn Back Time” rides a tense, honking Pet Shop Boys sample and is mainly a vehicle for Lena Nystrom’s thickly-accented singing. The boys of Aqua are banished to a strictly backing vocals role at the end of the song. The entertaining Rene gets a day off to growl at Copenhagen passers-by.

8
May 14

ALL SAINTS – “Lady Marmalade” / “Under The Bridge”

Popular49 comments • 2,331 views

#789, 9th May 1998

saintsbridge For the critic, cover versions present a seductively easy option, letting you frame the conversation and review with discussion of the original. This is a tempting choice because it’s something very obvious to talk about. But it also puts excessive scrutiny on any changes or new readings the cover artist makes, leading you away from thinking about the track as a whole.

On this single All Saints slashed apart both songs, taking liberties that might leave lovers of their originals fizzing and furious. Indeed, I have empirical evidence of that: when we played the All Saints album in the bookshop I worked in, a browsing skater dude came over when “Under The Bridge” was playing and angrily demanded we turn it off or he’d complain to the manager. The stated reason was that the original deserved more “respect”.

6
May 14

BOYZONE – “All That I Need”

FT + Popular39 comments • 1,542 views

#788, 2nd May 1998

boyzneed This is one of the two Boyzone records I couldn’t well remember. So, it’s not the slow cover version, or the fast cover version. It’s not the one by Andrew Lloyd Webber, or the one which pretends it has something to say. It’s just Boyzone being Boyzone, a third single from a third album, the Irish Model of boybands in smooth working order. There’s exactly one attractive touch on “All That I Need” – a kick of strings on the final chorus, which puts some late vim and momentum behind the record’s shop-worn devotion. That’s not nearly enough to salvage a doughy, laborious track, though. The lyrics? Love song fridge poetry – long winding roads, castles of sand, the air that I breathe, arranged without a first thought.