Popular

13
May 09

MEN AT WORK – “Down Under”

FT + Popular147 comments • 7,046 views

#514, 29th January 1983

A curious feature of Britain’s number ones is how they mirror the history of global travel: “Summer Holiday” in the 50s, Demis Roussos in the 70s, and now Men At Work’s paean to the Australian diaspora, spreading back along the old hippie trail and into Europe. “Down Under” is a song for anyone who’s ever felt the happy shock of familiarity in a strange place.

11
May 09

PHIL COLLINS – “You Can’t Hurry Love”

FT + Popular95 comments • 4,828 views

#513, 15th January 1983

The 80s, as a decade, split rather neatly. There’s the early eighties, when the arrival of video and the aftershock of punk and disco turn the charts into a colouring book. There’s the late eighties, when the combination of club music and cheap high street pop radicalises the landscape again. And in between there’s the mid eighties, when…. when….. when people like Phil Collins got very big indeed.

8
May 09

Popular ’82

FT + Popular/32 comments • 1,811 views

Now we have the peachy new VOTING SYSTEM on every track you might think we don’t need these polls, but they’re a nice way of summing up each year as we end it, so they stay. Every track on Popular gets a mark out of 10 from me – here’s where you tick any you’d have given 6 or more to (choose as many as you like).

No 1 Hits Of 1982: Which Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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My top mark this year went to “Come On Eileen” (10), and “Ebony And Ivory” and “Save Your Love” both got 1. Use the comments box to reflect on the year as a whole, if you like, and see you next week for 1983.

7
May 09

RENEE AND RENATO – “Save Your Love”

FT + Popular66 comments • 5,133 views

#512, 18th December 1982

It goes almost without saying that this is outrageous bilge, with a stripe of cynicism as wide as Renato’s spangly lapels. Renato who, of course, was allowed to appear as himself in the video, where his Pooh-Bearish charms win the heart of a replacement Renee – a forerunner of the Beijing Olympics pretty-voice-meet-cute-girl move, though the Chinese government are mere amateurs next to the steel-hearted nabobs of British Light Entertainment.

5
May 09

THE JAM – “Beat Surrender”

FT + Popular51 comments • 4,309 views

#511, 4th December 1982

Nothing became The Jam so much in their career as the manner of their leaving it. To quit when their cult – and Paul Weller’s icon status – was at its height? Unthinkable. With the benefit of hindsight, of course, it doesn’t seem quite that way – the limitations of the band’s format, the interpersonal stresses that chafed at Weller, the gradual shift in his taste and sense purpose; all clear enough in the band’s music. Their last few singles had been equal parts passion, pastiche and confusion, and the band’s termination was more a declaration of independence.

3
May 09

Spotify Done To Deserve This

FT + Popular7 comments • 967 views

Here’s another Spotify playlist for you: everything available that I’ve given 8 or more too. No Beatles, and some other annoying omissions (“Hot Love”! “Rhythm Stick”!) but at least Lord Rockingham and the Pigeon are there.

The playlist will be updated as my marking generosity dictates.

29
Apr 09

EDDY GRANT – “I Don’t Wanna Dance”

FT + Popular35 comments • 2,686 views

#510, 13th November 1982

Eddy Grant’s breakthrough with the Equals on “Baby Come Back” had come by upping reggae’s stomp quotient at the expense of its lilt. I don’t know a lot about his solo career but cuts like the slashing “Do You Feel My Love” suggest he kept an interest in how his music could be made heavier – the force of the riff on that song, and the Sweet-style bovver-boy shout-outs on “Electric Avenue”, point to a fusion of rock and reggae on very different terms from the ones Bob Marley had set.

24
Apr 09

CULTURE CLUB – “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?”

FT + Popular104 comments • 4,243 views

#509, 23rd October 1982

Another of pop’s remarkable acts of self-creation: in the video for “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”, Boy George presents himself less as star, more as a kind of pop spirit, a dancing force of nature swaying through time and place, singular and uncageable. The metaphor the visuals ask you to reach for is straight society’s repression of the queer – but “Hurt Me” is far from a defiant song. “Give me time to realise my crime”: it’s not really freedom George is pleading for, more space for him and his other to understand their situation.

22
Apr 09

MUSICAL YOUTH – “Pass The Dutchie”

FT + Popular64 comments • 4,416 views

#508, 2nd October 1982

I swear I never even knew what drugs were…UNTIL I HEARD MUSICAL YOUTH. The rumour swept round school sometime after their Blue Peter appearance: the song isn’t about a “cooking pot” at all, it’s about… the other kind of pot. Did this fill us with new-found respect for Musical Youth and their song? Absolutely not, we all hated it. So instead what we believed was that while we, posh white boys from Surrey, knew about the “real meaning” of “Pass The Dutchie”, Musical Youth themselves were such chumps that they’d recorded the song in all innocence.

20
Apr 09

SURVIVOR – “Eye Of The Tiger”

FT + Popular75 comments • 3,673 views

#507, 4th September 1982

Before I talk about Survivor I’m going to talk about me a little. Skip down a few paragraphs if you don’t care.

There. Now, I was lucky enough to have a happy childhood. And from mid ’82 to late ’84 it was at its happiest. Not dramatically joyful or anything, not eventful even – just the simple, hassle- and hormone-free happiness of the boy of 9 or 10 who knows what he enjoys and has the space and security to get on with it. Simple, nerdy stuff. Books. The BBC Micro. Camping trips. School projects. Youth theatre groups. Doctor Who. Dungeons & Dragons. The radio.