POP-EYE: 20/1/02

Tom has said he never wants to do the first week of the year for Pop-Eye ever again. Last week had a blitzkrieg of new releases – many of them dance tunes which had finally chanced their way into the charts via the seasonal sales shortage. Me, I’ve got lucky, this week the pop world woke up and thought it might be a good idea to cry freedom and let loose some tunes (at least in the Top Five). That and dead people who seem to be awfully active for this time of year.

If it wasn’t for said dead people, a deserved number one by a country mile this week would have been Pink’s Get This Party Started. A great rallying call for the rest of the year, let’s get this year started with some good pop. A few commentators have said that Get The Party Started is the best getting ready for a night out tune since Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’. No-one appears to remember that ‘Saturday Night’ was not about getting ready at all, it was barely about anything but a kiddie friendly dance routine and sparky Scando-pop. Just goes to show how much people remember the video. While ‘Get The Party Started’ does share an infectious, positive vibe with Whiggy you get the feeling that Pink might be around a wee bit longer. Especially with super daft lyrics about cars and getting people to kiss her ass (or even dafter radio remix about people kissing her Benz).

Its all party tunes in the top five to be fair. Christina Milian’s AM to PM is an equally supple pop confection trading on the wonderful contrast between sweet and hard. She has a pretty voice laid over what sounds like the soundtrack to a John Carpenter horror film. This then goes to the gentle harp based break – its a perfect example of contrast at work. If Pink is about getting the party started the Milian is about making sure the party goes on as long as possible. The only problem I have with it is that she would probably be better off starting in the PM and working to the AM. That’s the secret of most successful parties I find. Still she’s only nineteen – she’s not even allowed to drink in the States.

Around this Aaaliyah plummets (ahem) to number five. The other dead person in the top ten is of course George Harrison. Almost the most superfluous record in the charts this week (more on that later) it was number one thirty years ago and re-releasing it now does not show any mark of respect for Mr Harrison. I like the Aaliyah record, I like My Sweet Lord – but My Sweet Lord has already been number one thanks very much. His beard on the TV has put me off at least two dinners. There is also something a bit distasteful about seeing him singing ‘I really want to see you Lord’ post death.

So back to the most superfluous record in the charts. Its some kind of staccato electro-pop version of a Bucks Fizz record. The marketing think behind this record completely baffles me. ‘We’ve had great success with Steps, a sort of Abba-esque band who did a cover of that much loved Bee Gees record ‘Tragedy’. Can we replicate this with one of our bands? Well we have that crap ITV S Club 7 copy band on our books. How about – oh I don’t know – Bucks Fizz’s most derided and worst single. That should be a smash.’ Jokes on us. The Allstars – a band named after a chocolate selection box – are number nine. Its as bad as the original and it even has the really embarrassing voice-over bit at the end.

Did we ever think the Chemical Brothers were cutting edge? I fear we may have. Star Guitar reminds me of nothing less that an ELO instrumental – the type without any of the amusing voices or lyrics. A pointless drugged photofit indie boy rambles some nonsense over a really tedious tune. It even lacks the comedy value of their Shooting Stars tie-in previous record – It Came From Ulrika-ka-ka. Just woeful.

P.Diddy & Neptunes at 18 marks the solid end of The Neptunes honeymoon period, from their excellent work way back with Kelis to this really, really annoying Sean Combs collaboration. Its all well and good Puffy changing his name to Diddy if he wants, but we don’t need a leaden spelling lesson in the bargain. Diddy for chrissake – Ken Dodd should sue. Unfortunately I’ve looked through the statute books and there does not appear to be anything we can officially arrest Mercury Rev for. The Dark Is Rising is a big release from the band at this dead time of year and they must be pretty disappointed with a number sixteen. This – and George Harrison – are officially the Radio 2 records of the week having the dubious distinction of having more plays on Radio 2 than Radio 1. Its lush orchestration and Jonathon’s falsetto should be warning enough – its not the dark that is rising, it is the ‘grey’ consumer.

Elton John’s ‘Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More’. That will be the ‘Chart Stop’ it no long serves then – lowly entry for Elton’s boring ballad. Elton was a chart contemporary of Harrison first time round of course (Your Song – oh the horror – was 1971). And I think if you compare the top five from when My Sweet Lord was number one last time to this weeks top five – this year compares very favourably. If you factor in the rather fun if comically laboured ‘Addicted to Base’ at number four, you do end up with a top five which is about as good a selection of pop singles we’ve seen for some time. Even if they do happen to be topped by a really old tune, with two dead people sandwich the rest. I just hope it does not mean that the record labels think the next big thing is dead people.

Mind you – can you really call the Hermes House Band truly alive?