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Apr 15

CRAIG DAVID – “7 Days”

Popular72 comments • 6,618 views

#868, 5th August 2000

craig david days When Craig David’s manager heard the chorus of “7 Days” for the first time, he knew at once the 17 year old would be a star. The song made him. It also doomed him. “7 Days” is the most immediate single of the year, and also the easiest to parody. A committed, self-serious lad, David chafed at the attention of comedians, particularly Bo Selecta!’s Leigh Francis, whose consistent, surreal use of the singer was blamed by David for sabotaging his career. But “7 Days” is so ridiculous – and so catchy – that it attracted piss-takers like piranha to steak. That doesn’t make David’s hurt and regret less real, or void his case – the relationship between pop music and the rest of British culture, comedy included, was on the turn. But it doesn’t make “7 Days” less funny.

Perhaps I’m taking too much for granted, here. Surely some people listen to “7 Days” and hear the soulful, seductive record Craig David intended it to be. I find that easy to believe, but also hard to imagine, so I’ll try and unpick why it doesn’t work as that for me, even though it feels like explaining a joke. The central problem is that the chorus – and the title – sets itself up as a classic days-of-the-week riff, and then blows it, folding the last few days into “making love”. That’s poetically unsatisfying, and also turns “chilled on Sunday” into a punchline. Worse, the rapid cadence of “and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday” concertinas the making love section, making it seem rushed. The image that comes to mind isn’t four days spent in the sensuous reverie implied by the delicate arrangement and David’s cooing voice, but four days of rapid, trousers-round-the-ankles banging. Accurate enough, no doubt – we’re talking about an 18 year old here – but sophisticated? Not really.

Things get worse when you listen to the verses (which, to be fair, I suspect almost nobody did). On “Fill Me In”, David’s eye for the specific turned the risky fumblings of teenage lust into something evocative and dramatic. On “7 Days”, the detail is weirdly misapplied. The woman Craig falls for is completely anonymous – “a beautiful honey with a beautiful body” – yet it’s important to note that they met at “quarter past three” and she gave him a “six digit number”. The clever touch of having the rest of the verse framed as David bragging to his friends sets up the tantalising idea that the narrator could just be making all this stuff up – but the song doesn’t follow up, instead detailing the date and seduction at length, but never in detail. In the end the mates’ incredulous question – “Was it for real?” is the most credible moment. The whole thing sounds like what it is – a wannabe Casanova’s juvenilia, a seduction narrative written by a barely experienced kid.

There’s no harm in that – teenage boys brag, and dream of having things to brag about. In its way, “7 Days” is as authentic as “Fill Me In”, except it’s a product of awkwardness, not a song about it. And whether intentionally or not, “7 Days” is as funny as it is immediate and prettily executed. Heard a song on Monday, sang it in the pub on Tuesday, made our own one up by Wednesday… and so on. But where do you go after it? Once “7 Days” is loose in the world, can Craig David be taken seriously? Or as seriously as he wants to be, at any rate.

Leigh Francis thought not, and saw in Craig David’s earnest but callow self-presentation the perfect star to serve as the bizarre centre of his show. Compared to some celebrities, David got off lightly from Bo Selecta! – he was ubiquitous, but Francis doesn’t seem as hostile to him as he was to people like Mel B or Jordan. Francis has dismissed David’s claims of career-wrecking, pointing out that the singer’s star was on the wane before Bo Selecta! launched. And the sheaf of top ten hits David did score across the rest of the 00s show a man with a very limited range – the delicate soul-pop of his first two solo hits seems the beginning and end of his abilities, and as the UK garage element ebbed out of the music, most of the interest went with it. Would he have shown more ambition without the mockery? It’s impossible to say.

Ultimately, the signficance of Bo Selecta! isn’t really in its effect on any individual career. It was the attitude to pop music and culture that was new. The rise of alternative comedy intertwined with the rise of post-punk and indie music. In the 80s, alternative comedians found allies in some areas of pop – Madness and Dexy’s showed up on the Young Ones – and largely ignored the rest. Spitting Image touched on the most obvious targets but mostly had loftier ambitions. In the 90s, comedians and Britpoppers shared a constituency, and often a stage – Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff, Keith Allen and Blur, Baddiel and Skinner and the Lightning Seeds. They mounted a cultural takeover together – and then, suddenly, the pop end of the deal collapsed. Leigh Francis’ generation of comedians found themselves in a pop landscape where the music they felt most affinity for had fallen from grace, replaced with something that seemed the most obvious of targets. “I’m sick of you little girl and boy groups, all you do is annoy me…”

And so the minutiae, and the personalities, of pop culture found themselves in the crosshairs of comedy in a way they hadn’t been in twenty years, if ever. Bo Selecta!, and other shows stuffed with cultural detail and references, work on familiarity with, as well as contempt for, pop culture – a student viewer knew who newly famous pop stars like Craig David were, in a way that the adult viewer of a 60s or 70s impressionist might not have done. And the interesting thing is that this easy superiority became a default tone of British music coverage itself: Miquita Oliver and Simon Amstell’s enjoyably world-weary approach as presenters on Channel 4’s Popworld was immensely influential, giving broadcast media a snide wit the UK music press had always employed.

Mockery was an inevitable development given a pop world where access to the truly global megastars was so tightly controlled, and local musicians were hardly likely to retain much mystique when they increasingly came from the same university or drama school backgrounds as presenters. Sometimes you got the feeling those presenters and comedians – and later, the bloggers and broadsheet columnists – loved pop, in all its foolishness. Sometimes you got the feeling they despised it, or felt it had lost some invisible legitimacy after Britpop failed. Whichever it was made little difference to the outcome – snark reigned.

Was that a bad thing? It depended entirely on the targets. Reverence would have been the wrong reaction to the world of “7 Days” and Five + Queen. But the new atmosphere would suit some stars more than others, and Craig David – a serious young man who sung a silly song – choked in it.

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Comments

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  1. 62
    Marshy on 1 Mar 2019 #

    New reader here! Discovered the blog a couple of days ago and absolutely loving going through all the posts randomly.
    I was taken aback a bit by this one though. Where’s the evidence that CD intended this track to be taken seriously? I was always under the impression that the whole thing was supposed to be a bit of a joke, but maybe I’m giving him too much credit.
    Like Tom, I’m worried about sounding like I’m explaining a joke here (which I am), but surely the point of the chorus is that it’s a deconstruction of better paced days-of-the-week refrains? It’s a laddy gag about how quickly Craig David moves to lovemaking and how much it dominates the rest of his week. Then “chilled on Sunday” is deliberately a punchline.
    I see the quotidian detail of Fill Me In in a similar vein to be honest.

  2. 63
    DaveW on 5 Feb 2021 #

    Not sure if any FT readers also listen to the podcast ‘Chart Music’ (I’d be surprised if not…) but a couple of years back there was an episode where Neil Kulkarni and Sarah Bee talk about the nastiness at the Melody Maker towards Craig David and garage music in general, in comparison to ‘real’ music, and with the infamous front cover of CD sitting on the loo. Pretty nasty stuff.

    I was a callow teen when this came out, and whilst not a reader of music magazines, I disliked this on principal, probably out of jealousy. But reading about CD’s treatment has made me much more sympathetic to this track, and him in general – taking it as a bit of fun I can really enjoy it. And fair play to him for the comeback he’s had in recent years.

  3. 64
    Ben Wainless on 8 Feb 2021 #

    #63

    I certainly do listen to Chart Music. That was easily one of the best episodes they’ve ever done. I wish they would visit the 90s and 00s more often, even though I understand the appeal of the 70s and 80s and accept Al’s reluctance to venture beyond Live Aid.

  4. 65
    Davew on 9 Feb 2021 #

    #64
    Yeah, I think certainly late 90s/early 00s are far enough away from Live Aid that its malign influence (Discuss) is felt less (at least, that was when I was coming of age, and I had no concept of Live Aid beyond something vague), so more episodes from that time would be interesting I think!

  5. 66
    Ben Wainless on 11 Feb 2021 #

    #65

    I sometimes think it suffers from the least frequent/only female contributor being at least 6 years younger than everyone else. A breakdown of CM episodes shows 40 from 1973-1985, but only 13 after ’85 and only 7 after ’89. (Sarah has been on all bar four of the post-85 episodes)

    I’m closest in age to Taylor/Neil, but I’d rather they tackled Spice Girls/Britney/All Saints than Shaky or Depeche Mode *again*. It’s two years this month since the Craig David episode went out, while Shaky was in both of the recent Christmas episodes. Also I know that, for example, Simon Price was a big fan of electroclash and some of the 00s pop it clearly influenced. So there is mileage there.

  6. 67
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    Not for me at all. I find it all a bit flat and a tad cringeworthy. I would go with 2/10.

  7. 68
    songtitleasusername on 30 Jun 2021 #

    As wonderful as Chart Music is – and yes I stuff dollars down their G-String every month- I also wish they would branch out just a little more. I hope it’s a long time until we hear about the young Al going round to his mate Tony Bones’ house to watch TOTP again.

    At time of writing they haven’t visited 1990, 1992, 1993, or anything post-1997 other than the rightly-venerated 2000 episode. I understand why, but still.

  8. 69

    I’m one of the fellow proud G-string stuffers (ahem) and understand the late 70s and early 80s being its “heartland” but there’s plenty of mileage in the 90s or even 00s. Bizarre to think they haven’t covered Eminem or the Spice Girls yet to name but a few huge artists. C’mon, I wanna hear David Stubbs’ take on nu-metal, Sarah Bees’ on trance, Al Needham’s on pop-punk, etc. And they needn’t worry even if their peak Melody Maker iconoclast twenties/thirties setting means they despise every act on the show as Taylor Parkes has turned ire into the world’s dominant art form! I think we just need to make sure Simon Price and Neil Kulkarni never again encounter Oasis, as during their coverage on the 21.3.96 episode – for (no spoilers but) totally understandable reasons – they sounded like they were going to be physically sick. Plus my enjoyment of Euro 2020 has been slightly tempered by the kind of “lads lads lads” not even born in 1996 who think they were the only band that decade who ever existed*

    * Apart from, obviously, Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds

  9. 70

    Meanwhile, Chart Music x Popular fans, Al Needham is the first celebrity guest on this podcast by one of my great friends, in which among other things he muses the rum number 1s of 1988:

    https://open.spotify.com/episode/0liPSOImitCkzZulTKSINo?si=f5cf2e33c71c48b9

    Sorry on his behalf for the sound quality – since then we’ve had a whip-round to improve the quality of the microphone massively :)

  10. 71
    songtitleasusername on 9 Jul 2021 #

    Another 1983 Chart Music episode it is then…

  11. 72

    Yes :-/ It was a strong one though, Kulk and Pricey (just married, sending my congratulations and I’m sure there’s a few FTers who’ll join me who’ve crossed paths with the Barry Barnstormer :) ) were in their element. I’m going to put good money on the next 90s or even – god almighty! – second one from this century coming as soon as Sarah returns.

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