Apr 11

CHESNEY HAWKES – “The One And Only”

Popular80 comments • 7,944 views

#663, 30th March 1991

A treatise on individualism from Nik Kershaw, the pop philosopher who brought us “The Riddle”? Expectations raised! And “The One And Only” absolutely does not disappoint. “No one can be myself like I can / For this job I’m the best man / And while this may be true / You are the one and only you.”

The job of delivering this weighty message goes to Chesney Hawkes, a likeably harmless singer not destined for anything much, and so oddly appropriate for a song which thinks about declaring independence, dips a toe in the waters of freedom and then steps back in utter confusion. “I can’t wear this uniform without some compromises” – OK THEN, says The Man, happily changing said uniform’s fit. And what about the magnificently pouty “Don’t tell me I know best / I’m not the same as all the rest”? Not having seen source film Buddy’s Song, I can only guess that the “I know best” is meant to be reported speech, but that’s not how Chesney phrases it, and as it stands the lines capture the sheer incoherence of teenage frustration remarkably well.

Musically “The One And Only” is punchy without being interesting – it sounds like a dull 80s holdover until the goofily rockin’ guitar solo brings it to more vulgar life. But it’s Chesney’s incoherent self-assertion that makes this very much of its time. His affable, clean-cut slackness carries a hint of Bill And Ted, but this being 1991 I also find myself thinking of another song fuelled by impossible demands and compromises. Perhaps “The One And Only” is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the square majority: hurl your confusion at the world and be home in time for tea.



  1. 1
    Pete Baran on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Very good timing for this, as the song has an excellent starring role in Source Code.

  2. 2
    Mark G on 12 Apr 2011 #

    It’s one of those ‘songs from a film where the song is a big hit in the story’, which is always a hard one to pull off..

    Often, everyone is much more excited in the movie about the song(s) from the hit artist than they would actually be in real life. This one got to number one irl, so it clearly passes this test.

    More than that? Ches follows it up with the obligatory “I’m not a boy any more, I’m a man obviously” type song, which (oh blimey) Bros also did with more success.

    So, the lad Hawkes got to play at being a pop star for a bit, but as often happens when actors get to choose between more acting and maybe being a musician/pop star, the acting wins out.

    (obviously, exceptions like Kylie where the hits just keep coming make the decision easier than, say, Roland Gift from Fine Young Cannibals who gets a part offered in the next Frears/Kureishi film and is off..)

  3. 3
    flahr on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Having not been around at the time, there are two bits of pop culture that have created my relationship with this song: one, a skit in a Never Mind The Buzzcocks episode where Simon Amstell raises himself in a swivel chair in time with the intro, which has always made it seem slightly goofy (as it is). And Duncan Bannatyne’s Desert Island Discs appearance, in which this is one of the eight discs he picks.

    Obviously my first reaction was derision – really, Duncan? But then they played a bit and it was the first time I’d really heard it apart from the chorus, and by gosh he was right. It is strangely euphoric, endearing, and in general pretty great.

    There is a big lyrical clunker: And though this may be true, you are the one and only you. I feel the most common (and in a sense the ‘rightest’) reaction to this song is not that you are listening to some bloke bang on about how awesome he is, and then he throws you a bone by saying you’re awesome too for a line; surely you react to this song by singing it/inhabiting it, saying that YOU, the listener, are the one and only. In this context suddenly spooling out of character and being reminded you’re listening to a record not living it is quite a disappointment, and it kind of ruins the following gutiar solo for me as I flail about trying to work out whether I’m in the record or out of it.

    So not perfect, but I have a great deal of affection for this song. I reckon a 7.

    Number 2 watch: aside from the preceding and succeeding #1’s, three weeks of “Sit Down” by James. Which is also great in a similar way.

    Trivia watch: Chesney was the son of Len ‘Chip’ Hawkes of The Tremeloes, who we saw earlier with “Silence is Golden”.

  4. 4
    fivelongdays on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Had the business of creating internet memes been British, rather than American, one would have expected ‘Chesrolling’ to be an internet fad.

    Perhaps even more so that ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, this one carries a certain one-hit wonderness, a so called ‘guilty pleasure’ that has managed to be carried on, 20 years later. It’s certainly, for want of a better word, likeable.

    If I was trying to be clever, I’d say this was the last 80s smash. Five or six for me.

  5. 5
    Chelovek na lune on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I listened to this again the other day, and was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. (I seem to recall it grating on me somewhat at the time). The Nik Kershaw factor is evident (by no means a bad thing), but probably the inherent lightweightness of the song (certainly compared to much of Kershaw’s own singles) means it doesn’t really stand up to repeated listens, let alone constant radio airplay.

    Hey, can I admit I bought the much less successful follow-up “I’m A Man Not A Boy” (I think in a semi-ironic way: I was 17 and quite semi-ironic. ), and in some ways prefer that, and not totally (even if partially) in a “so bad it’s good way”. Hey, it’s way better than the similarly themed “Drop The Boy” by Bros a few years back, and surely the real teenage-dross pop singer of the year was Joey Lawrence (or was that 92? dunno.)

    It also makes me think, sound- and tone-wise of Take That’s (rather crap) 2nd major label single, from the following year, “Once You’ve Tasted Love”. I also bought that, but really am at a loss to understand why.

    It’s for sure better than Nirvana, purely on the grounds that it is less self-obsessed and lacks pretentions of being above its station. Shouldn’t we attack Nirvana for what they did to the Sub-Pop label and scene (never mind indie music, with a melody, more generally). I’d like to think that Sonic Youth, when they sing “It’s the song I hate” in “Youth Against Fascism” were referencing “…Teen Spirit”.

    But The One And Only is kind of cute. And worth listening to perhaps once every 10 or 20 years. Just to recall how reading The Catcher and the Rye loses much of its appeal once one is far from being in Holden Caulfield’s position.

  6. 6
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    This kept “Sit Down” from the top? Bah!

    Still, an interesting Wikipedia entry for a song I’d never heard. My burning question about the video: is that Chesney Hawkes’s twin on the drums, or just a doppelganger? Either way, it adds an ironic twist to it.

    Also a bit ironic that the video was based on the notion that Hawkes was a giant star being mobbed by fans at every turn. Was that filmed before his number one run, or during it? Because that can surely only have been true for five weeks of 1991.

  7. 7
    Mark G on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #6 I refer you to #2

  8. 8
    fivelongdays on 12 Apr 2011 #


    There will be a Popular entry, a few years from now, which should present an opportunity for a critique of Nirvana. Personally, I recommend we leave it until then!

  9. 9
    swanstep on 12 Apr 2011 #

    It’s also in Moon as Sam Rockwell’s alarm-clock. Evidently Duncan Jones finds the song’s lumpen-philosophizing irresistible as a target: this incredibly generic song used to assert the singer’s uniqueness, etc..

    Anyhow, I never heard TOAO at the time (indeed not until Moon as it happens), but it doesn’t sound much like a #1 record to me. 5 weeks at the top? Bizarre. I guess for basic competnece, it has to get:
    3 or 4.

  10. 10
    Pete Baran on 12 Apr 2011 #

    As a big Nik Kershaw fan his fingerprints are clear all over it. So much so that in The Riddle, the jukebox musical of Nik Kershaw’s work, this is the euphoric end to Act One.

    Buddy’s Song is a very odd film in gestation. It is a cinematic sequel to Buddy, a 1986 BBC2 teen drama – which may have even been part of the School strand Watch (based on a book we read at School, in Personal and Social Development classes). The only link between the two however is Roger Daltrey playing the Buddy Holly obsessed Dad, the rest of the cast is replaced – though the film is based on the sequel to the book. It always seemed very niche idea to me, but obviously the hit record promotion really helped.

  11. 11
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #7 Ah yes, I see. Thanks.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Re 2/7: It wasn’t that acting won out over singing – Ches’s long-term fame (ie beyond one major hit) was fatally damaged by his openness about “snogging” female fans. I dug out the Smash Hits interview that did for him recently – it isn’t as salacious as I remember but it was very foolish.

    Like Nik Kershaw’s own records, the delivery has an odd ‘backwards tape’ quality to it, noticeably on the “nnnnnnobody I’d rrrrrather be” line.

    Otherwise, I’ve always thought of this as pretty decent, late period Pepsi Generation pop – 4 seems a trifle harsh.

  13. 13
    Pete Baran on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #2 So, the lad Hawkes got to play at being a pop star for a bit, but as often happens when actors get to choose between more acting and maybe being a musician/pop star, the acting wins out.

    Not so sure about this, since his IMDB profile shows a turn in The Bill (1991), a brief cameo in clunker Prince Valiant in 1997 then nothing. What did Chesney do?

    (I;d like to think that he had cosmetic surgery to remove the giant mole, and then, much like Jennifer Grey post surgery, no-one wanted to employ him without his signature melanoma).

  14. 14
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Knowing nothing about the song beforehand, I hadn’t realised this would be an opportunity for Nik Kershaw discussion. Anyone else read Giles Smith’s Lost in Music? It’s the Fever Pitch of Kershaw fandom. I suspect many of our Popular crew would relate to it.

  15. 15
    Tom on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #8 baffled as to what this is! I anticipate it with interest :)

  16. 16
    flahr on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #15 suspect it might be a Levis tune three years hence

  17. 17
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    (Kershaw-related aside: back in the day, which was not only my pop music day but also my Dungeon Mastering day, I had my players discover a mysterious cloak that constantly changed colour and pattern… the precious Coat of Kershaw.

    A few years later, in my PKD phase, I would probably have called it a Coat of Arctor. But I was done with D&D by then.)

  18. 18
    punctum on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Son of Tremeloes lead singer Chip Hawkes, Chesney was the nearest thing Britain had to a teen idol in 1991, and the fact that “The One And Only” was his only major hit demonstrated that we weren’t quite ready for that sort of phenomenon to return.

    He appeared in the film Buddy’s Song as an aspiring rocker and the son of a failed rocker (superbly played by Roger Daltrey) who goes through the usual pitfalls and setbacks to become a star, of sorts. “The One And Only,” however, succeeded by virtue of the song’s strength and Hawkes’ sincere delivery, including his marked Home Counties pronunciation of the words “can’t” and “rather” (he was born and grew up in Windsor). The song’s melodic and harmonic ingenuity, with its unexpected modulations and chord changes, sounded strangely familiar, and indeed it was written and co-produced by former snood-wearing eighties idol (of both teenagers and Miles Davis) Nik Kershaw, very much in evidence on backing vocals and lead guitar. Although the song is essentially homegrown soft metal AoR, it’s an ebullient record if not a profound one, and crucially Kershaw sounds far happier and more fulfilled than he did on his own quasi-miserabilist set of hits.

    The title was sadly rather prophetic for Hawkes the younger, although he has survived, both touring on the student disco/School Disco/Guilty Pleasures circuit (so redolent of the misguided Guilty Pleasures mindset is “The One And Only” that it could almost count as the last number one of the eighties) and writing hits for boybands (and even, on one bewildering occasion, for Tricky). The record itself, though, from its revving-up/white noise guitar intro to its decisive six-drumbeat ending, is surprisingly not bad at all.

  19. 19
    Cumbrian on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Here’s a question: when and why did this become a staple of the university student disco? By the time I went to uni in 1999, it appeared that this was a long standing favourite at student nights. I appreciate that this may have to do with the generic student’s perceived admiration for “cheesy music” but when this one came on, it seemed to me that people were air punching and bellowing along in a thoroughly unironic sort of way.

    As for the song, it’s OK. I suspect I like it rather more for the memories it evokes of being with my mates and various girlfriends during my student days rather than anything else though. I wouldn’t choose to put it on for instance, but wouldn’t turn the radio off if it happened along. 4 seems fair enough.

    I had no idea Nik Kershaw was involved in this. Seems obvious in retrospect.

  20. 20
    Kat but logged out innit on 12 Apr 2011 #

    We saw him at my mate’s college ball in Oxford (2001, I think?). He did a half hour set of covers (incl Supergrass’ “Alright”) then played this. Allegedly he was sh4gging one of the ball organising committee.

  21. 21
    Matt DC on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I also saw Chesney at a university ball in (I think) 2002. He did a full live set of covers and The One & Only, which for some reason he was forbidden from playing live and therefore had to mime.

  22. 22
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 12 Apr 2011 #

    “superbly played by Roger Daltrey” <— this is a phrase that has tricked me many a time!

  23. 23
    fivelongdays on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @19 It seems that we are roughly the same age (I started Uni in 2000). Therefore the appreciation of our generation for this song may well be something to do with it being a big hit during our childhoods.

    @16 Not saying but, erm, yes, erm, possibly.

  24. 24
    lonepilgrim on 12 Apr 2011 #

    this has a strong hook and is reasonably well crafted – I wouldn’t mind it in the background, but it goes on a bit too long to hold my complete attention.
    Apart from the Nik Kershaw connection it reminded me of Aha, although that may be because of the ‘girl interacts with image’ video

  25. 25
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @21 “which for some reason he was forbidden from playing live” – !!!

    Oh, the schadenfreude.

    The ending to Chesney: The Musical is going to be a bit flat.

  26. 26
    Russ L on 12 Apr 2011 #

    This song came up in conversation in real life (~!) a few days ago (co-incidentally), and I thought it was by Bryan Adams.

    After it was pointed out to me that it was by Chesney Hawkes, I remarked that we had a kid at school who was known as ‘Chesney’. This was supposedly because he looked liked the big Cee Aitch, but I was neither now nor then able to verify this on account of never having seen a picture or video of said Hawker. The picture at the top of this post was emailed to me not long after, and I was able to confirm that (aside from being slightly less pointy of feature) – yes! – the kid in question looked uncannily like that.

    Imagine my shock and surprise to see it here, now, only a few days subsequently. Fundamental interconnectedness of all things, or suchlike.

    I can only remember the chorus, anyway.

  27. 27
    Kat but logged out innit on 12 Apr 2011 #

    OMG I just remembered that we read ‘Buddy’ in school as well. I had no idea they were related.

  28. 28
    fivelongdays on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @27 So did I…although I’m absolutely buggered if I can remember what it was actually about.

  29. 29
    JLucas on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I wonder how many people who claim to like this song could hum a single bar of the verses? Having not heard the song in a long time I’m trying to think how they went now, but all I can recall is that chorus.

    Chesney’s had a funny old career. He wrote ‘Once Around The Sun’, which was a #24 hit for Caprice – genuinely a very nice song that deserved a more competent reading. Shortly after that he managed to sneak back into the top 75 on his own terms with ‘Stay Away Baby Jane’, which I remember hearing a lot about (with Cat Deeley even cheekily speculating as to whether it would make the top ten on CD:UK the week it charted) without ever actually hearing the song anywhere.

    He’s done the reality circuit since then, making good-natured capital out of his inherent naffness. Another single got to #48 in 2005. Maybe in 2013 he’ll finally get all the way to #37?

  30. 30
    MikeMCSG on 12 Apr 2011 #

    This is a real red letter number one for me as it was up there that week in April when Record Mirror (and Sounds too) bit the dust. My knowledge and awareness of the charts declines sharply from this point, went on life support from my marriage in 1997 until the end of TOTP and has been effectively zero since then. Now I buy LPs by the likes of Interpol and don’t even know which tracks were singles let alone where they charted.

    This record re-proves the old truism that you need youth to sell pure pop ( a few top quality acts like Abba and the Bee Gees are the exceptions ). If Nik Kershaw had released this himself it would have fizzled out in the 60s; with fresh-faced Chesney at the helm it soared to the top unlike the film it was supposed to be selling. “Buddy’s Song” must be the most obscure film ever to spawn a number one single, only notable for a topless appearance by Liza Walker (whatever happened to her ?)

    Chesney nowadays takes the reality TV shilling, looks exactly the same and comes across as a thoroughly nice bloke.

  31. 31
    Chelovek na lune on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @29 saying I like it would be pushing it a bit, but the melody of “No-one can be myself like I can, For this job I’m the best man…” or “Call me by my name or by my number”, or the bit about coming in different shapes and sizes, sticks in my head more than does the chorus (which burns itself out too soon)

  32. 32
    Mark G on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I very much doubt:

    “Buddy’s Song” must be the most obscure film ever to spawn a number one single

    But would the bunny prevent this discussion?

  33. 33
    MikeMCSG on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #32 I think you can hint at other candidates – perhaps a year in which to look ?:-)

  34. 34
    weej on 12 Apr 2011 #

    The last of my run of four contemporary purchases and I have to confess to being a little surprised at it getting the highest score. Re: #29 I could almost certainly sing the whole song if asked to. It’s probably this overfamiliarity that’s made me so sick of it. The production sounds like a bunch of bbc session musicians making a k-tel soundalike soft rock album, everything is so careful and safe that it ends up grating. The lyrics are worse though – especially the bit at the end about “though others may be true / you are the one and only you”. Is there a worse example of the ‘everyone is special / believe in your dreams / because you’re worth it’ 1990s self-help jargon seeping into popular culture out there? Whenever I hear it I just think ‘yeah, but so was Fred West, he really followed his dreams’.

    Re:#14 yes, I read Lost In Music several years ago, good book, probably fits most people’s experience of the rock world better than most memoirs.

  35. 35
    MikeMCSG on 12 Apr 2011 #

    #34 I think the entire works of Des’ree would be another good example of that trend.

    You are dead on the money with the Fred West example. I recall a C4 programme asking people to update the Ten Commandments and the number of airheads who came out with “Be True To Yourself” was frightening. Yeah, give every psychopath a licence to do whatever they want if it’s in their nature. I wonder what poor Meredith Kercher would make of that.

  36. 36
    LondonLee on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I wouldn’t go as far as most folks here to call this “likeable” as it seems way too generic for me to summon up even that level of mild enthusiasm but I suppose I don’t not like it.

    It sounds like the Platonic Ideal of an 80s pop record (especially of the American radio variety) so it’s strange that it came out in the following decade, even stranger that it got to number one.

  37. 37
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 12 Apr 2011 #

    For some* reason I had stuck in my head that “Lost in Music” was by Giles Coren, so I have studiously avoided it.

    *OK it’s quite an obvious reason

  38. 38
    wichita lineman on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Re 30: Unchained has spawned THREE number ones – anyone seen it? But I’ll agree on most obscure movie that spawned a number one and included a topless appearance by Liza Walker.

  39. 39
    Andy M on 12 Apr 2011 #

    The song has strong associations for me of braying boaties punching the air to it en masse at student discos. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that someone like Duncan Bannatyne put this in his Desert Island Discs (#3). 4 is about right for the song but personally I’d have to knock a couple of points off for its hellish ubiquity. At least you never hear ‘The Stonk’ anymore.

  40. 40
    Rory on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @37 Time to snap up a 1p copy on Amazon. A very entertaining read, as I remember (it’s a decade or more since I read it, though).

  41. 41
    MikeMCSG on 12 Apr 2011 #

    # 38 “Unchained” hasn’t stood the test of time but got an Oscar nomination so it didn’t pass un-noticed at the time.”Buddy’s Song” was on VHS before the end of the year.

  42. 42
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 12 Apr 2011 #

    “To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s dictum, said to his son Laertes, in Hamlet. As P is a pompous twerp who comes to a bad end, it may well not be Shakespeare’s own position. Laertes doesn’t exactly thrive either.

  43. 43
    23 Daves on 12 Apr 2011 #

    For a number of stupid and ridiculous reasons, I found it hard to get on with this single at the time, and in many ways still do. Firstly, in my own mind (and arguably nobody else’s) the lyrics remain tied to Nik Kershaw’s slightly naff eighties image. He was much ridiculed in Smash Hits for being a diminutive gentleman, so as soon as Chesney gets to the line “We all come in different shapes and sizes” I always find myself remembering all the old jokes at his expense (including the Kipper Williams cartoons). This then led me to suspect that the entire song was Kershaw’s statement of intent to the world, telling us he wouldn’t let such mockery drag him down – which is probably absolute rubbish, of course, but once the notion entered my brain it wouldn’t leave, and I started to find the song rather painful to listen to, like an Alan Partridge-esque cry against the people who killed the Kershaw’s career.

    Secondly, Chesney had very similar hair and a very similar attitude to a couple of wannabe actors and singers in my sixth form college, which made him seem familiar but unlikable at the same time. I’m sure both they and Chesney were all nice blokes really (even if all three of them did seem to favour soft rock) but I was an insecure teen and I reacted badly to people who were better looking and had more confidence than me. Sorry. It would pass eventually.

    Looking back now, this single isn’t really worthy of much of the ridicule it later picked up, but I can’t find it within my bones to praise it either. There is a certain self-satisfied smugness about a lot of Kershaw’s eighties output I’ve always found grating (“The Riddle” and “Wide Boy” both always seem exceptionally pleased with themselves to me). “The One and Only” is a lot more celebratory in its tone which makes it seem more bearable, but to this day I still can’t help but hear this as having an undercurrent of sadness. The lyrics always seem like the scribblings of a deluded sales rep who is about to get the shove from his or her job – the kind of ridiculously, overly-optimistic material most of us only write when we’re desperately trying to convince ourselves that we are indeed special and there is a way out of whatever mess we’ve found ourselves in. Unlike a lot of bouyant rock and pop tunes, it sounds too hollow to me to be convincing.

  44. 44
    Cumbrian on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @43: Interesting – I am now imagining David Brent doing this at a karaoke evening.

  45. 45
    Andy M on 12 Apr 2011 #

    @29: I always remember the verse for the ‘Lee & Herring’-esque opening line. Chesney Hawkes: CALL HIM BY HIS NAME.

  46. 46
    Alfred on 12 Apr 2011 #

    A #10 single in the U.S., although I don’t know if it ever got airplay.

  47. 47
    Special Girl AKA on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I was prime Chesney fodder, having just turned 10 (this also explains the ‘college ball’ phenomenon c.2000). He played a gig at the Hereford Leisure Centre and all the girls in my class went, apart from me. Interesting to note that Saffron from Republica was the love interest in the vid.

  48. 48
    thefatgit on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I absolutely despised this at the time. For me this was as bad as Every Loser Wins, and even now, the clunkiness of both lyrics still grate equally as much. I never saw Buddy’s Song, and never felt inclined to visit it later, just to confirm in my own mind how good or bad the film was, but I’ll blame my hatred towards the song for that.

    What I am willing to concede is that my attitude has softened somewhat now. Chesney’s only hit has an innocence about it, in a “Hey! I can’t help being me” kind of way, and I’m sure Chesney is a regular bloke, whose shot at fame didn’t damage him all that much.

  49. 49
    chelovek na lune on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Chesney’s number is more poppy, but nowhere near as good as this 1989 Nik Kershaw flop (not even on his greatest hits album!). Mechanical and melancholic works. David Brentesque stuff doesn’t, in short.

    The even more of a flop follow-up, much played on Essex Radio though, “Elisabeth’s Eyes” was alright, too.

  50. 50
    anto on 12 Apr 2011 #

    I found myself watching Buddys Song one of the few times it’s been shown on tv. One of those plodding low-budget homegrown efforts with productions values similar to a Milk Marketing Board advert and various faces familiar from tv including Sharon Duce (“ooh Jim aren’t Valeries implants lovely?”)and the under-rated Lee Ross aka Kenny from Press Gang/Owen from EastEnders who as a co-member of the band The Wild Ones completely upstages Chesneys rather wooden performance with a low-key humour. The disagreements between Chesney as Buddy and Roger Daltery as his teddy boy Dad conclude with the former dispensing dialogue of the “These songs mean nothing to you, but they mean a lot to us” type.
    I don’t think it’s difficult to figure out why The One And Only hit so big. That title hook was just made for daytime radio and it’s certainly a case of a limited singer finding the ideal song – even when he’s tested on the uniform bit there’s an endearing boyishness about it. Compared to some of the other dreary efforts at the top in the first quarter of ’91 this is at least bright and bouncy. The production is somewhat blaring but it’s bubblegum after a lot of oatmeal and blancmange. Chesneys initial career reminds me of the Saturday morning kids shows where he was a regular guest in particular Going Live and the 8:15 from Manchester (the one with the Inspiral Carpets theme song). Certainly one for the youngsters.

  51. 51
    Billy Smart on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Quite a few post-1991 TV appearances for Chesney;

    THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW: with Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Sandi
    Thorn, Chesney Hawkes (2008)

    HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME: with Chesney Hawkes, Kelly Marie, Nick Van Eede, Sybil, Cleopatra (2005)

    THE LITTLE AND LARGE SHOW: with Terry Wogan, Chesney Hawkes, Eli Woods (1991)

    THE O ZONE: with Chesney Hawkes, Little Angels (1993)

    THE O ZONE: with Luther Vandross, Roland Orzabel, Chesney Hawkes (1993)

    WOGAN: with Chesney Hawkes, Robbie Coltrane, Betty Marsden (1991)

    THE WORD: with Chesney Hawkes, Jellyfish, Lemmy, Tim Simenon (1991)

    THE WORD: with Lionel Blair, Rachel Wresc, Chesney Hawkes, Patra, Posies New Kingdom (1994)

    This list omits the one thing that I remember Hawkes for the most, his appearance – along with Des’ree – as Jarvis’ Cocker’s teammate on Pop Quiz in 1994, a performance of heroic drunkeness on Cocker’s part.

  52. 52
    23 Daves on 12 Apr 2011 #

    Actually, if we’re heading in that direction I may as well say that I hugely enjoyed both the “Buddy” and “Buddy’s Song” novels as a teen – both managed to nail teenage neuroses, class snobbery, and in the latter’s case, why music and being in a band is such an important outlet for so many young people. I haven’t read them since as a grown man, and I doubt if I did that they’d still have any resonance at all for me – they’re kid’s books, silly – but for a brief while back there they were a good world to get lost in, containing enough drama to be escapist and enough gritty realism for a confused young pup to relate to.

    I never did see the film, mind you, perhaps because by the time it was out I was too busy following rather more pretentious literary obsessions to care about Buddy, and also because this song and Chesney Hawkes probably put me off.

  53. 53
    swanstep on 13 Apr 2011 #

    @35, MikeMCSG. To be fair, twisted-enough psychopaths (not to mention the incredibly selfish) don’t get the allegedly right outputs from basic golden rule or what if everyone did that? reasoning either. (‘I want to be able to smack people in the head, and drive drunk, etc., and I’m happy for everyone else to have the same liberties. Seee you in the funny pages. Rock and roll.’)

    Thinking a little more about TOAO. To be With You by Mr Big was from around this time and had a similar flashback/’several years past its sell-by date’ feel to it. Listening to both again now, though, I appreciate TOAO’s good points a little more than I did earlier (so 4 or 5 is my official score for it now). Youtube confirms that TOAO was used in August 1991 for the opening credits of a Michael J. Fox flick Doc Hollywood (the one that Pixar strip-mined for Cars). This song was and is a nice little earner for Mr Kershaw.

  54. 54
    Conrad on 13 Apr 2011 #

    51, You can shortly add “Sing If You Can” to that list Billy

  55. 55
    pink champale on 13 Apr 2011 #

    anto is right above on the “but this is *our* music” aspect of buddy– there’s a lot of roger daltrey looking suspiciously at synthesizers and saying ‘how d’you strum that then?’ while chesney roles his eyes and says ‘oh *dad*. But, iirc, in the film ‘the one and only’ is actually what happens when chesney goes back to basics to pay tribute to his dad (who has a heart attach or something?) and unleashes his inner polite rocker. see also the extraordinary ‘hearts of fire’ with Dylan as daltrey and rupert everett as chesney/bowie

  56. 56
    thefatgit on 13 Apr 2011 #

    The inevitable advert revival kept TOAO in our consciences last year, with the Renault Clio one, where Our Hero (same chap who’s currently telling us all that O2 spend lots of time thinking about it’s customers, while dressed as a cricket jumper-wearing goat) drives his Clio up to the lights belting out “The One And only” with his windows open, alongside a slightly bemused and annoyed older driver in the next lane who…TURNS OUT TO BE HIS GIRLFRIEND’S DAD! Guffaws all round. Needless to say I found that particular ad quite annoying, not only for TOAO, but for it’s attempt to edit out Chesney-Lover’s girlfriend’s mum.

  57. 57
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 13 Apr 2011 #

    Why oh why is GIRLFRIEND’S DAD not also played by Roger Daltrey?

    Or IGGY POP? <— best idea evah

  58. 58
    Billy Smart on 13 Apr 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: Chesney Hawkes performed ‘The One & Only’ on Top Of The Pops on four occasions. Details of the Christmas Show at the end of 1991;

    14 March 1991. Also in the studio that week were; Ride and Happy Mondays. Simon Mayo was the host.

    28 March 1991. Also in the studio that week were; The Gary Clail On-U-Sound System, James and Definition Of Sound. Bruno Brookes was the host.

    25 April 1991. Also in the studio that jam-packed week were; EMF, Vic Reeves & The Roman Numerals, Electronic, Blur and Gloria Estefan. Nicky Campbell was the host.

  59. 59
    Alex on 13 Apr 2011 #


  60. 60
    hardtogethits on 13 Apr 2011 #

    #30. You’re not the only one. My chart awareness nosedived with the disappearance of Record Mirror. Music Week have had me as a subscriber for twenty years now, but as that’s business-biased it’s difficult to regard the Top 75 Singles Chart as anything other than a list of self-generating, self-parodying titles and acts. The garden of my dreams is full of weeds. Seven days can easily pass before I’ve had sufficient inclination to even look beyond the new entries. When RM disappeared, without forewarning, I took to Number One for the charts for 4 weeks. And it delivered this nugget…

    #6 – in response to the doppelganger question – “JODIE HAWKES, CHESNEY’S younger brother [is] the drummer with his band!” Their capitals made sense in the context of the magazine, I suppose.

    The record’s appeal was a mystery. Melody by numbers, a la Crash, Somewhere In My Heart, dull production – nothing happens. As so many others have pointed out, the lyric is banal. To speculate that it might have anything to say of any real meaning is absurd. I looked back at “On Marks Out Of Ten” and found this was the definition by example of a 1.

    It’s a shame, because Nik Kershaw’s work has plenty to like in it, and Chesney Hawkes seems like a lovely man.

  61. 61
    MikeMCSG on 14 Apr 2011 #

    #60 Yeah, I had 6 months of a subscription to RM to run so emap sent me Music Week as a substitute for the remainder. I just ripped out the charts section and junked the rest.

  62. 62
    Erithian on 14 Apr 2011 #

    I’d stopped getting Record Mirror by this point, but I do remember seeing something about its demise in the Sun’s Bizarre column, which adopted a horribly gleeful tone about the paper’s being axed. If I’m not mistaken the column was at that time written by Andy Coulson and/or Piers Morgan.

  63. 63
    23 Daves on 14 Apr 2011 #

    #62 – I seem to remember that in the last edition of “Record Mirror” there was a letter of complaint from a reader about the magazine’s new-found dedication to focussing most of its coverage on “Dance music”. The editor’s reply was “You may not like it, but it’s the way we plan to continue for some time”. Obviously that was not to be!

    Whilst the magazine was a fantastic source of information about the charts, I think it had been in a bit of a decline for awhile before it shut up shop, unfortunately. I used to really enjoy the fact that they’d cover a wide range of musical genres and artists without adopting the same pious tones as MM and NME, but towards the end it did seem to dumb down considerably (or perhaps I grew up?) Also, as much as I loved a lot of the club music they covered, the interviews with the DJs and artists were seldom revealing or interesting, the KLF being the exception that proved the rule. That Guru Josh was ever considered a “character” and a spectre of controversy by the magazine says it all…

  64. 64
    MikeMCSG on 14 Apr 2011 #

    # 63 It was in RM that Guru Josh declared his support for the poll tax – smart career move.

    I think they struggled after 1986 when they pinned their colours to the C86 mast putting bands like the Soup Dragons and Talulah Gosh on the cover. When you actually heard them and realised how mediocre they were it didn’t reflect well on the mag.

    Eleanor Levy and Andy Strickland resurrected themselves with “90 Minutes” a year or so later until that went belly up in similar fashion in March 1997. That was sad but not nearly so much as RM disappearing.

  65. 65
    Mark G on 14 Apr 2011 #

    as Paul Mac sang once, “Read the Record Mirror, Let it be”

  66. 66
    Tim Byron on 17 Apr 2011 #

    I know of this record solely because I happened to go to the UK in mid-1991 with my (Northern Irish) mother, and was very curious about the music people listened to there (even as a 9 year old I had picked up some sense of Australia’s cultural cringe). I remember watching this on Top of the Pops and seeing some sort of profile in an issue of Smash Hits I bought.

    I also clearly remember thinking that Chesney was totally naff. But I think watching him on TV made me realise that our ideas of cool or trendy or whatever are a little random and a little geocentric – it occurred to me that UK kids who really dug Chesney would probably have the same reaction to Ratcat or Deborah Conway that I had to Chesney.

  67. 67
    Wizi on 18 Apr 2011 #

    My little sister and I went to see Chesney play live in 1991. Sis fell for Jodie Hawkes, Chesney’s brother and drummer, and asked if I could arrange for them to meet. Not likely I thought.

    Then we went to see Prince over a year later and I left sis to go to the loo before it started. What did I see, but Chesney and Jodie arrive for the concert too, so I ran back and grabbed sis to meet them. They were lovely and generous with kisses and autographs. I did it and made sis a very happy thirteen year-old!

    We went to see Chesney play Aladdin in panto in December last year and had a fun afternoon. I couldn’t resist buying a signed CD and found that Curt Smith from Tears for Fears appeared on it. It turns out that Chesney had written for him.

    The latest I have seen of Chesney was his entry for the Comic Relief dance thing where he got through to the finals with Toyah, Clare Grogan and Limahl as the eighties supergroup. I had to vote for them, and I have to give this one a nine.

  68. 68
    Kit on 19 Apr 2011 #

    @66: Ratcat would have fitted nicely in the NWONW a few years later in the UK, probably being shiny and polished enough – against the likes of S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men – to have the moderate chart success while still retaining “indie” as a genre as they did here. Or even at the time, maybe – it’s not that far to Bandwagonesque…

  69. 69
    Steve Williams on 20 Apr 2011 #

    This is perhaps not the most exciting song to make my first comment on but Chesney’s career was rather baffling, as he failed to have another substantial hit, with the follow-up getting to number 27 and the third single missing the Top 40 by miles. Yet Number One magazine went absolutely nuts about him, he was on the cover virtually every other week for three months.

    I think it might have something to do with the lack of teen idols at the time, as New Kids On The Block were careering down the dumper (it was during their awful “NKOTB Get Hard” period where they released turgid records with lots of Donnie shouting, and I remember a shambolic appearance on Top of the Pops) and there was nobody else, hence why bog standard hair metal band Extreme won at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party that year, as the guitarist was quite pretty and More Than Words had been quite catchy, because there was just nobody else, and perhaps why Bryan Adams was at number one for so long. Same reason why Number One also enthusiastically leapt on the return of Bros the same year who released a snoozesome album of ballads. Also, Number One wasn’t a very good magazine.

    One of the umpteen Number One covers was the unveiling of his band, including his brother, because on his first TV appearances he was accompanied by his “band” from Buddy’s Song who were actors miming.

    The other odd thing about Ches is that his album was re-released twice, because it originally came out as the soundtrack album, with the same image of Ches as the poster, with “BUDDY’S SONG” in big letters at the top and “Music from the film by Chesney Hawkes” at the bottom, then it was almost immediately re-released with the same picture, but now with “CHESNEY HAWKES” at the top and “Buddy’s Song” at the bottom to make it look more like his album. Then it was immediately re-released again, with a completely different picture of Ches and the words “Buddy’s Song” in the tiniest type imaginable and no other reference to the film at all, to make it look like a proper album. All very strange.

  70. 70
    Tim Byron on 20 Apr 2011 #

    @68: To me the best comparison to Ratcat is Ash – same cartoony aesthetic, same fuzzy guitars, similar vocal tone, etc. I was always puzzled that Ratcat tanked commercially after “Blind Love” – did they move away from straight pop and try and appeal to JJJ types who wouldn’t have a bar of it because of how popular they’d been? I often see the follow-up in second-hand cheapo bins and wonder whether I should pick it up.

  71. 71
    Rory on 20 Apr 2011 #

    @70 Tim: not so much a case of “moving away”, I suspect, as the definition of “straight pop” changing in the interim. I picked up Insideout back in the day, and found it pretty much the same as Blind Love: patchy, but with catchy singles (“Holiday” was fun). Worth picking up for a couple of bucks. The narrative always seemed to be that Ratcat were indie darlings taken by surprise by their popular success, which then lost them their indie cred; I don’t think their music changed that much from album to album.

    Your Ash comparison is inspired, although I think Ash had the better tunes. I still listen to 1977 and buy their latest stuff, but haven’t listened to Ratcat in years.

  72. 72
    wichita lineman on 20 Apr 2011 #

    Re 64: I still have the “Clap hands here comes cutie” edition of Record Mirror, with the Soup Dragons on the cover and style tips inside. All Andy Strickland’s doing, I imagine. He was in The Caretaker Race who were regulars at C86 strongholds the Black Horse and the Falcon in Camden. Pretty sure Tallulah Gosh were never on the cover though; pretty sure I’d have framed it.

  73. 73
    Ed on 21 Apr 2011 #

    @18 Chesney Hawkes wrote for Tricky?! That is a fantastic fact.

    Actually, “I’ve been a player in the crowd scene, a flicker on the big screen” is quite a Tricky lyric.

    Imagine Martina Topley-Bird singing it…

  74. 74
    Erithian on 21 Apr 2011 #

    Strange, if there was such a gap in the market for a teen idol type, that Chesney didn’t stick around for longer. The follow-up singles weren’t that bad either, certainly no worse than others which have made up a teen-idol career. Maybe that’s why this one big hit has made such a mark on people’s memories of the era and this year in particular. Like the melodic line in the verses and the grand built-up chorus – it has the self-confidence to declare I AM A HIT that Tom has spoken about before now.

    A tad harsh to make allusions to Fred West, although I can see where weej is coming from at #34 – to me it’s a nice message about being yourself as opposed to modelling yourself on someone else. It was running through my mind as I watched (and I suppose I should be ashamed for remembering this) Chanelle, the housemate in Big Brother whose entire self-esteem depended on how much she could resemble Posh Spice.

  75. 75
    Ben on 22 Apr 2011 #

    For many many years, my cousin used to get asked if he was Chesney Hawkes. The similarities were really remarkable.

  76. 76
    Wizi on 26 Apr 2011 #

    @69, As a former Number One reader, I agree, especially as I found that other artists became big in the 90s due to vacuums caused by a lack of properly interesting big stars with an image, such as David Bowie in the 70s or Boy George in the 80s. There are not that many artists from the 90s that you would recognise in the street, IMHO.

    The mistake for Chesney was over-exposure and that messed up people’s appetite for him to the extent that they tend to only want him now in bite-sized pieces. The shirtless photos were probably unnecessary too.

  77. 77
    Kinitawowi on 9 Feb 2013 #

    *shakes head*

    Sit Down, man. Apparently Chesney actually rang James to apologise.

  78. 78
    daveworkman on 22 May 2014 #

    Recent Popular reader, going backwards slowly…
    …the only fact I can add to this is that in my ‘moved back home need to find a proper job’ after Uni, I was ushering in our local ‘touring musicals’ theatre, and had the pleasure of having to watch the Barry Manilow musical ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ starring la Hawkes and a host of people who’d come third on reality TV shows, five times in as many days.
    From what I recall the plot revolved around some sort of singer (played by our Ches) trying to break big and going on some TV talent show and winning – the most hilarious part was the characters’ weekend trip to Brazil, to shoehorn in ‘Copacabana’.
    For the suffering it put me through, I have to deduct points.

  79. 79
    benson_79 on 24 Nov 2020 #

    I had no idea he was singing about wearing a uniform in the middle eight until twenty minutes ago! But then, at the time, I didn’t care a jot what the exact lyrics were, and after dancing and singing along to TOAO on hundreds of occasions I find it impossible to review objectively. It’s not even a guilty pleasure, much like Ice Ice Baby it wedged itself in my brain at an impressionable age, and my love for it remains undimmed.

  80. 80
    Gareth Parker on 29 Apr 2021 #

    Breezy and likeable, but not too much else to add here. 5/10

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