24
May 10

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? Round 7: the Number 4s.

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops46 comments • 3,447 views

Looking at today’s cumulative scoreboard, we find the Teens – who led the pack for the first two rounds – continuing their gradual slide down the rankings. The Eighties are beginning to look unassailable, the Seventies could be irredeemable… but, as ever on Which Decade, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN.

Cumulative scores so far:
1(1) The Eighties – 24.19 points.
2(2) The Nineties – 22.54 points.
3(4) The Noughties – 20.54 points.
4(3) The Teens – 20.35 points.
5(5) The Sixties – 20.18 points.
6(6) The Seventies – 18.89 points.

Now let’s open the traps, and bid a cordial welcome to our plucky Number Fours.

1960: The King Brothers – Standing On The Corner (Spotify)
(video: same song, different group) (video: same group, different song)
1970: Frijid Pink – House Of The Rising Sun (video)
1980: Blondie – Call Me (video) (Tom’s post on Popular)
1990: Adamski – Killer (video)
2000: The Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch (video)
2010: Pendulum – Watercolour (video)


(Download the MP3)

For the first time this year, I regret to say that YouTube has let us down. For while there’s footage of Essex’s King Brothers (Michael! Denis! Tony!), and similarly arranged US TV footage of the 1956 Broadway show tune which they covered for the UK market, there are – WACK WACK OOPS – “no results” for the two combined. If you have Spotify, then you’re in luck – but otherwise, you’ll have to mentally conflate the two videos, and make what you can of the snippet on the MP3 medley.

I have a dim and distant memory of “Standing On The Corner”, which must have been staple fare on the Light Programme of my early childhood. Perhaps it was played at Sunday lunchtimes on Two-Way Family Favourites; perhaps the Cliff Adams Singers covered it on their nightmarish, never-ending, youth-sapping Sing Something Simple, while I was waiting for Alan Freeman’s Pick Of The Pops countdown; or perhaps it featured on TV light entertainment specials of the day (a Young Generation routine is already forming in my mind).

It could be a false memory, but I suspect that this song evoked some faint, formative homoerotic stirrings. A group of lusty lads in their nattiest gear – maybe with arms carelessly draped across each others’ shoulders – acknowledging their shared but unfulfilled desires? TOTALLY HOT. Hey, it didn’t take much.

These days, the dinky arrangement puts me more in mind of Jack Douglas and Bernard Bresslaw up a ladder, wolf-whistling at Barbara Windsor as she bats them away with a throaty giggle. NOT QUITE SO TOTALLY HOT. But packed with period charm, none the less. Your childhoods may vary. We can’t all be so kinky.

As regards Frijid Pink, whom I had assumed to be a dubious troupe of opportunistic pop approximators of “heavy” from Holland, it appears that I have been labouring under a long-held misapprehension. (I must have been confusing them with Shocking Blue, the original creators of “Venus”.) But as it transpires, their underground proto-punk garage rock credentials are impeccable. From Detroit! Hung out with the MC5 and The Stooges! Who knew!

Perhaps I’ve been blindsided by my acute allergy to “House Of The Rising Sun” – a song that brings me out in hives, in any version. I’m not going to venture a rational justification, but I’ll be interested to see whether my allergy is shared.

Almost all of you are bound to score it highly, but Blondie‘s fourth Number One has never been one of my favourites. For me, this was the point where they lost touch with a lot of what made them lovable – the ramshackle charity shop anti-glamour, the unforced sexiness – in favour of an icily efficient superstar remoteness, purged of wit and heart, signifying the peak of their imperial phase but also perhaps hastening its end.

Blondie and Moroder are an unsatisfying mix here (although Moroder redeemed himself over twenty years later with his addictive-at-the-time remix of “Good Boys”), but perhaps it’s Paul Schrader’s bleakly glossy American Gigolo – for which “Call Me” is perfectly suited as a theme tune, it has to be said – which should shoulder much of the blame, if only for heightening my sense of fearful alienation.

Fearful? Oh, yes indeed. At the age of eighteen, seeing him for the very first time in Schrader’s movie, I thought that Richard Gere was the most sensuously beautiful creature that ever walked the face of the earth – but impossibly, inaccessibly, unlovably, heartbreakingly so. I worshipped his flawless Armani-wrapped ultra-glamour, but feared the territory that went with it, naively taking Schrader’s cruel take on the high life at face value. To say nothing of the scenes shot in a gay club, whose patrons seemed terrifyingly sexualised – but also isolated, desperate, miserable, unable to connect. I had yet to visit a gay club. This put me right off trying.

So, ahum, yeah, that’s why I don’t much care for “Call Me”. If The King Brothers gave me the horn, then perhaps all that Debbie and Richard had to offer was the harsh twang of (failed) aversion therapy.

As with “The Power” before it, we had better move swiftly past Adamski‘s “Killer”, as its time on Popular is not too far away. In the context of the tale I have just told, it works rather well as a successor to “Call Me” – casting Seal as a benevolent interventionist deity, coaxing lonely souls back towards the light. In this context, you could view the uplifting rush of the beepity-beep-introed toytown-piano/doggie-say-bow-wow section (yeah, that bit) as the track’s key transitonal point: its lift-up-thy-bed-and-rave moment, if you will.

Enough for now: it’s time to break with the cover-art pinkness (had you noticed?) and head for something altogether…

bluer, as we eagerly rub ourselves up against the Bloodhound Gang‘s defining work. Loathe as I am to confer too many critical bouquets upon a band whose songbook includes the likes of “Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny”, “I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks” (*) and “A Lap Dance Is So Much Better When the Stripper Is Crying”, taken from albums such as Use Your Fingers and Hooray For Boobies, I have to give them this much: “The Bad Touch” is, to every last devilish detail of its immaculate construction, bloody great.

For if frat boy culture has gifted us nothing else (and I’m struggling to come up with examples… Jackass? Limp Fucking Bizkit?), then let the faggoty-ass Kon Kan-ripping magnificence of “The Bad Touch” stand as its towering contribution to the sum of human happiness. From 1960’s “I’m the cat that got the cream” to 2000’s “Do it doggy style so we can both watch X-Files” … how far, how very far have we progressed.

(*) Actually, that one’s almost quite funny. Hyurk.

Aargh crap, it’s bloody Pendulum. I’ve been dreading this one.

OK, let’s start here. Essentially, I’m all in favour of bands who steadily accrue commercial success on the back of their live reputation, blindsiding the more shut-in elements of the critical consensus along the way. Muse and Kings Of Leon are two of the most prominent examples, and Pendulum aren’t so very far behind.

But having seen none of these acts live myself, I have to count myself amongst the blindsidees – and this has a lot to do with why I struggle to get a purchase of Pendulum, on the rare occasions where I’ve been forced to assume a position on them.

(Oh, don’t. Well, do if you like. It’s been that kind of round. Thank God for the F in Frijid, or we’d be here all night.)

Because while I can picture “Watercolour” being an absolute stormer in a live situation – look, I’ve seen Hadouken!, I have context for these things – in the comfort of my lovely home, its tinny emo-and-bass clatter deflects off me like… like… like debris from a pea-shooter, fired at a slumbering giant. (Too barmy? Ah, let it stand.)

“Watercolour” is also a late example of a once common phenomenon: the fan-fuelled high new entry, which sinks after the first week. (In this case, from 4 to 9 to 22.) A statistical blip, rather than a “real” hit. And that, my chickens, is just about all I can think to say about it. Shall we proceed to the scoring? Over to you, then.

Comments

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  1. 26
    Al Ewing on 26 May 2010 #

    6 points – Bloodhound Gang – One of the first songs I played on a loop, about 100 times while I played sims, because the chorus required it. Recently did it at karaoke with GF, to horror from all, and it still works. A genuinely sweet song – a conversation the singer is having with a lover who’s in on the joke and thinks it’s funny, or at least that’s how I read it.

    5 points – Adamski – Classic innit? The video hasn’t aged well, though. It’s like a deleted scene from Night Trap.

    4 points – Blondie – Another classic – rough, spiky, raw, dirrty before Christina came along, and still very glam for all that.

    3 points – Frijig Pink – Menacing, snarly, but still quite wholesome.

    2 points – King Brothers – the opening song from a musical about people with deep and abiding social problems. Or possibly serial killers. You can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking! (The difference between this and BG is that, while BG are speaking to at least a possible significant other, the KBs are self-proclaimed LONELY PERVERTS ogling women on street corners. I couldn’t listen to this without thinking of Everett True: http://www.barnaclepress.com/cmcvlt/OutburstsOfEverettTrue/oet018.jpg )

    1 point – Pendulum – This surprised me, but that wasn’t enough. “You got your techno in my emo!” “No, you got your emo in my techno!” Two great tastes that taste like someone’s trying to do a really difficult poo together.

  2. 27
    JonnyB on 26 May 2010 #

    Echoing the above about Blondie – was my favourite when I was a kid, but now down the list for me. But ‘down the list’ for Blondie is still pretty good so:

    6 – Blondie
    5 – Adamski
    4 – Frijig. I was torn on this one. Do you mark something down because there’s no real point to it, or do you accept it for what it is, which is a nice noise? I chose the latter.
    3 – Bloodhound
    2 – Pendulum
    1 – King Bros. I’d feel bad, but the sixties will get loadsa votes as the years go on.

  3. 28
    Mike Atkinson on 26 May 2010 #

    A genuinely sweet song – a conversation the singer is having with a lover who’s in on the joke and thinks it’s funny, or at least that’s how I read it.

    Yes, that’s how I read it as well. It’s “let’s do this together” rather than “I want to do this to you”. So I don’t find this particular song misogynistic at all.

  4. 29
    pink champale on 26 May 2010 #

    adamski – desolate but chunky. swanstep’s parallel universe reading is instructive though.
    blondie – “appelle moi” had never registered with me before. tres bon.
    bloodhound gang – 26&28, you’re probably right actually, but there’s something v v v offputting about them fratboys. best enjoyed through gritted ears
    pendulum – can imagine their good stuff is quite good
    frijid pink – i’ll make my music BORING, i’ll play my music SLOW
    king brothers – wot no ironic 90s revival?

  5. 30
    wichita lineman on 26 May 2010 #

    6 Adamski – spooky and spooked, beautiful chords
    5 Blondie – more like an average Kim Wilde song than the real thing, but still better than…
    4 King Brothers – Jonathan, Ben E, and Marlon
    3 Pendulum – Snow Patrol with a Ray Keith sample
    2 Frijid Pink – ruined World Of Hits Vol.4
    1 Bloodhound Gang – intriguing that Thong Song was in the same Top 10. Compare and contrast.

  6. 31
    Mike Atkinson on 26 May 2010 #

    ADMIN: “Which Decade” is having to slow down a bit this week, for various real-life-getting-in-the-way reasons. The Number Threes should be with you on Friday.

  7. 32
    Z on 28 May 2010 #

    Crumbs- I’m busy for a few weeks and now I find what I’ve been missing. I’ll have to start from No. 10, with my well-known orderly way of doing things – but not tonight, I’m afraid, I’m listening to Mozart and it won’t go. Tomorrow.

  8. 33
    Z on 30 May 2010 #

    Nothing for me to say here that hasn’t been better said already.

    6 points – Adamski
    5 points – Blondie
    4 points – Frijid Pink
    3 points – Bloodhound Gang
    2 points – Pendulum
    1 point – The King Brothers

  9. 34
    grange85 on 31 May 2010 #

    The King Brothers just awful and so very very old sounding. Frijid Pink just tired – I ought to love something with fuzzy guitars like that but no… Call Me is great – although the middle section shows its age. Adamski/Seal ‘s OK I guess but can’t really figure the love. Don’t like clever/funny although I do sometimes try – this made me smile although that may have been a bit more video than anything else. My son and his mates have been getting into Pendulum but I’m a little baffled as to why – this is pretty dull…

    6 points – Blondie
    5 points – Adamski
    4 points – Bloodhound Gang
    3 points – Pendulum
    2 points – Frijid Pink
    1 point – The King Brothers

  10. 35
    Amanda S on 1 Jun 2010 #

    6 Points: The Bloodhound Gang
    5 Points: Blondie
    4 Points: Adamski
    3 Points: Frijid Pink
    2 Points: The King Brothers
    1 Points: Pendulum

  11. 36
    jeff w on 1 Jun 2010 #

    I was disappointed by “Call Me” at the time but I have grown to love it in more recent times. I was listening to the ‘instrumental’ mix (B-side of the Spanish language version) released by Salsoul yesterday – you can get it on this fantastic Suss’d compilation – which actually has some vocals on it, and I think gives the lie to the ‘Moroder and Blondie are an uneasy partnership’ argument. This just pips “Killer” for me.

    I’ve not much to say about the rest, save that I’m far from convinced of the cleverness of the Bloodhound Gang.

    6pts – Blondie
    5pts – Adamski
    4pts – King Bros.
    3pts – Frijid P
    2pts – Bloodhounds
    1pt – Penduzzzzzzzzzz

  12. 37
    Rachiesparrow on 3 Jun 2010 #

    6pts – Blondie.
    5pts Bloodhound Gang
    4pts – Frijid P – I quite like this version of the song. It’s a bit strange.
    3pts – Adamski
    2pts – King Bros
    1pt – Pendulum

  13. 38
    Ben on 4 Jun 2010 #

    6 – Blondie
    5 – Pendulum
    4 – Adamski
    3 – King Brothers
    2 – Bloodhound Gang
    1 – Frijid Pink

  14. 39
    Tom on 4 Jun 2010 #

    6 – ADAMSKI F/KILLER – Too close for commentary – I like this less than some but still my top choice.
    5 – BLONDIE – Call Me is minor Blondie I still reckon, but yes of course, it’s pretty good.
    4 – PENDULUM – For all that I think Pendulum are stoopid a track at a time is alright: one thing that’s good about this track is how dinkily poptastic the synths are. Terrible voice though.
    3 – FRIJID PINK – This is enjoyably idiotic actually, but I hate the song anyway. I love those kind of late-60s WHOA MAN HEAVY SHIT guitars.
    2 – BLOODHOUND – I always wanted to like this more than I did. :(
    1 – KING BROS – Don’t backing vox me bro! The smoothies at the front might actually do more than watch the girls if it wasn’t for Idiot King Brother whoopin’ it up behind.

  15. 40
    Nick P on 4 Jun 2010 #

    Heigh-ho.

    6 points – Bloodhound Gang
    5 points – King Brothers
    4 points – Frijid Pink
    3 points – Pendulum
    2 points – Adamski
    1 point – Blondie

  16. 41
    RobMiles on 6 Jun 2010 #

    6 – Blondie. Love the band and love Giorgio Moroder
    5 – Adamski
    4 – Pendulum
    3 – Frijid Pink
    2 – The Bloodhound Gang
    1 – The King Brothers

  17. 42
    Mike Atkinson on 6 Jun 2010 #

    Another neck-and-neck nail-biter, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor. “Call Me” is currently leading “Killer” by a single point.

  18. 43
    asta on 6 Jun 2010 #

    6 pts- Adamski- Almost entirely because of Seal. Until Seal came along, all my reference points for black singers were based on R&B, Soul, Motown and jazz. It was a kick to my clichéd thinking.

    5 pts- Blondie- I can’t add much more to what’s already been said. Call Me is not a favourite, but still it’s better than the rest.

    4 pts – Frijid Pink- House of the Rising Sun has been covered, messed with, messed up and ruined by more singers and bands than I can count. This singer’s vibrato is like squeaky styrofoam and he can’t pronounce New Orleans– and yet. The guitars are just rough and fuzzy enough for me to give it a bare pass.

    3 pts Pendulum- Nickleback with electronica

    2 pts- The King Brothers- It took some doing, but I managed to find a snippet of these fellows performing this song, and I’m glad I did because it affected my decision on points. The Four Lads were better. I have a soft spot for show tunes and this one is absolutely of it’s time. Its misogyny is the misogyny of Mad Men; if you called them on it, they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

    1 pt- the Bloodhound Gang- Whereas these frat thugs are wrapping up a truck load of hostility in clever phrases and not very funny imagery. I don’t buy the conversation the singer is having with a lover who’s in on the joke for a single second.

  19. 44
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Jun 2010 #

    Six for Adamski – Killer
    Five for Frijid Pink – House Of The Rising Sun
    Four for Blondie – Call Me
    Three for The Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch
    Two for Pendulum – Watercolour
    One for The King Brothers – Standing On The Corner

    Pink: somehow this feels like a nice birthday present, I don’t know, a fond memory of a type of music that barely now exists omnipresent when I was a teen.
    Gang: Healthier as anthropology than declaration — it catches the tone of a nasty attitude very exactly, and the nastiness doesn’t diminish the precision.

  20. 45
    Tom Lawrence on 9 Jun 2010 #

    6 points BLONDIE (it’s BLONDIE)
    5 ADAMSKI (classic housey thang)
    4 Pendulum (but only because I hope this leads to all whiny grunge bands adding TURBO BOSH TO EVERYTHING THEY DO)
    3 Bloodhound Gang
    2 points King Brothers
    1 point FRIJID PINK (wtf why did this need a psychedlia take – CLUE- IT DIDN’T)

  21. 46
    sarlitchin on 10 Jun 2010 #

    Sincerely wishing I’d joined in a lot earlier…the conversations about these tracks are so interesting, but time does not permit me to take part.)

    6 points – Adamski
    5 points – Blondie
    4 points – Pendulum
    3 points – The King Brothers
    2 point – Frijid Pink
    1 point – Bloodhound Gang

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