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Nov 08

KELLY MARIE – “Feels Like I’m In Love”

FT + Popular100 comments • 6,614 views

#466, 13th September 1980

One of the things that gives 1980’s number ones a queer, lopsided aspect is the way there’s not much of a middleground between hits which emerged more or less direct from youth subcultures and those shepherded into popularity by the likes of Noel Edmonds. In particular the pre-teen and tween market seems pretty dead at this point. This void would soon be filled with sound and light and ribbons and stripey noses but meanwhile pop was the stamping ground of young adults and not-so-young ones, a world in which hormone rushes had been replaced by messily consequential relationships.

The curious child – a seven-year-old like me – might have found this grown-up pop scary, mysterious and compelling. But (and this is what I did in fact do) they might also opt out entirely. My parents weren’t interested, and any influence I had over the TV ended with the closing Blue Peter theme. In Autumn 1980 I changed schools, and started getting more homework, so bedtime was rolled back: this is where I start remembering news stories (Mount St Helens, the Moscow Olympics), and could watch Top Of The Pops regularly. Not because I wanted to, just because it was there. If I’d grown up now, in a multi-channel world where I could have watched cartoons and sci-fi shows and dinosaur documentaries all afternoon, I might never have cared much about pop at all.

Kelly Marie falls just before this cut-off point, so what has this got to do with her? Just that there actually was still a version of pop made available to kids, a kind of light ent junior centered around Swap Shop and TISWAS on a Saturday morning. The watchword here wasn’t kid appeal but cheapness – low cost alternatives to chart staples with presumably low booking fees: Budgens singer-songwriters and Woolworths disco. This half-remembered take on pop culture isn’t much represented on Popular, unsurprisingly given that the major star was the omnipresent and quite useless B.A. Robertson. But Kelly Marie was totally part of it, of pop as I actually experienced it in 1980 – which perhaps explains why I’m fond of what is by any reasonable standard a shoddy bit of work.

“Feels Like” is a grotty, grubby, British version of disco, the syndrum hits from “Ring My Bell” relocated to the Maplins Hawaiian Ballroom, busybodying you onto the dancefloor. If the fantasy of disco – decadent, sexual, aspirational – has a Playboy style appeal, Kelly Marie was more readers’ wivesy. That’s not really because of her mildly saucy performances, it’s more to do with her vowelly vocal line – “fee-uhls like ah’m in lu-huv!” (DOO DOO). It gives the record an enthusiastically amateurish air, like it’s a karaoke version of itself. For listeners with a stake in club music, Kelly was no doubt a horror show, but in a year low on bubblegum I find it hard to judge too harshly.

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Comments

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  1. 91
    Caledonianne on 29 Nov 2008 #

    Oi! I think I can claim, without fear of contradiction, that I have spent more Saturday nights in Paisley than any other citizen of this bailiwick (seeing as how, though a Glaswegian by birth, I am a Buddy by accretion, schooling and – dare I say – by choice).

    I don’t hear anything particularly redolent of the town by the Cart (was tempted to say, “anything particularly Cartesian” about this record). In fact, having now spent as much of my life away from Paisley, as in it, I’d have to say that if this had originated in Banbury, I’d have seen it as a much better fit.

    Anyway – this dissing of Paisley must cease. Cease and desist! Has it not brought you Stealer’s Wheel? Gerry Rafferty? The aforementioned David Sneddon? And Paolo Nutini? It should be recognised as the apogee of aural approbation, and not remembered simply as the exponent of a whizz-bang textile design classic, and the locus of the most important case in the law of tort for (those poor benighted jurists in) the common law world.

    Nowhere in Edinburgh is Awfully Nice during the Festival…;-)

  2. 92
    Conrad on 29 Nov 2008 #

    Re 85, my favourite ever tribute band name is “Below Average White Band”. I guess the audience were unlikely to be disappointed

    (Second favourite, of course, Bi Jovi!)

  3. 93
    Conrad on 29 Nov 2008 #

    91, snail in ginger beer bottle?

  4. 94
    lonepilgrim on 29 Nov 2008 #

    since we seem to have wandered into stream of consciousness territory I always remember an interview with Linx where they asked the bass player, known as Sketch, what his name was short for. Quick as a flash he replied: ‘Preliminary drawing’

  5. 95
    Caledonianne on 29 Nov 2008 #

    #93, Conrad.

    The very same – Donoghue v Stevenson.

    And “Below Average White Band” is genius!

  6. 96
    lonepilgrim on 30 Nov 2008 #

    another thought on the shortcomings of uk disco – I seem to remember a familiar criticism in the 70s and early 80s that there were no good horn sections in the uk – possibly until beggar & co worked with Spandau Ballet on Chant No 1.

  7. 97
    Erithian on 1 Dec 2008 #

    SteveM #70 – “British version of disco” – reminds me a little of the line spoken by, is it Billy Fury’s character in “That’ll Be The Day”? – “Only Americans can write songs.” Assuming you count it as disco and not pop (a blurry line for sure), the aforementioned “You To Me Are Everything” doesn’t have to bend the knee to any US import as far as I’m concerned. Heard it again at a birthday do on Saturday night and loved it as much as ever.

    Did we ever come to a conclusion as to who Marshmallow actually was? (and it wasn’t me, before you ask)

  8. 98
    Tom on 1 Dec 2008 #

    I’m fairly sure I know but I’m letting sleeping dogs lie.

  9. 99
    Gareth Parker on 11 May 2021 #

    Like some of the other commenters have mentioned, I would have preferred Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away to reach the top spot. 3/10 for Kelly.

  10. 100
    23 Daves on 7 Sep 2021 #

    For various reasons this one has been played regularly by me over the last few weeks and I’ve found myself appreciating it hugely, so I thought I’d nip back to this entry to see what everyone thought and eesh… oh dear. I wasn’t expecting it to be greeted with such a mixture of indifference and hostility.

    I definitely agree that whether you enjoy this or not depends hugely on your tolerance for the Town High Street end of Disco (for want of a better phrase) during this era. I genuinely liked that kind of music as a child and have retained that fondness into adulthood, though it’s impossible to know how much of it is tied up with its actual value or memories of childhood wedding discos and family parties and people who are no longer with us. These records were my only exposure to loud music in public places as a kid, the first sights I had of flashing lights and slightly gruff cockney mobile DJs, so Liquid Gold, Kelly Marie, Ottawan and all their fellow travellers seemed unbelievably exotic at the time – music for when you’re allowed to stay up late and somebody offered you a cheeky sip of Cherry Brandy.

    I don’t think that’s all there is to it for me, though. I think the low budget, low production of some of this stuff feels thrilling because it’s not actually trying to be clever, it only wants to be adrenalised and joyous, and I enjoy it in the same way that I enjoy cheapo cash-in rave hits from the early nineties – all those records sound powered by enthusiasm and a pile-up of half-inched hooks.

    There are some slightly personal comments about Kelly Marie on this thread as well, which surprised me. She’s not a stereotypical “pop princess” and I’d say she’s almost out of time for pop in 1980 despite her somewhat trad Opportunity Knocks beginnings. Her TOTP performances feel like the Spice Girls by way of Sonia – very confident and forceful, enjoying the moment, and not really giving two shits what anyone else thinks. There would be other examples of that from other female pop stars up ahead in the eighties, but not until somewhat later on. Her TOTP performances make it feel as if she’s going to reach out of the TV screen and forcefully pull you on to the dancefloor, which is exactly what a track like this needs (and while I’d have been slightly nervous to have an encounter like that with her IRL, I’d have been thrilled as well).

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