Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 27.

It is usually around this time that the football World Cup begins, only this year it’ll be held in November and December. It has reminded me though that there has been a long history of football-related singles entering the chart, as a wide variety of unlikely people not usually known for their singing talents wish to declare their support for England (or whatever country) to record.

Almost none of them beyond 1990’s “World In Motion” and 1996’s “Three Lions” are worth remembering in much detail really. But to pick another as an example, once some various hosts from radio station TalkSport decided to release a song, and Mike “Porky” Parry said “you are here for the launch of the next Number One single!”, and I thought “oh really?”, but it almost happened when their racket somehow managed to reach no. 2.

But this one has a rather interesting story. The actor Keith Allen (who was actually born in Swansea, which isn’t really in England), had contributed to “World In Motion”, and also 1996’s “England’s Irie”. By the time of the 1998 World Cup, he decided to form the group Fat Les, also featuring artist Damien Hirst, Alex James from Blur, and I think Joe Strummer from The Clash was involved too.

In June 1998, “Vindaloo” was released, and this was a rather rowdy song that celebrated English culture, along with a chant-along chorus that it was almost impossible not to join in with. Indeed, a university professor’s performance of this during his YouTube video explaining the etymology of the word “vindaloo” was very popular for a few minutes a long time ago.

And also among the vocalists was Keith’s daughter Lily, who would soon know a thing or two about chart-topping singles herself. The video is also notable, as it is a parody of “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve. The original was made at Hoxton High Street, which is not too far from where I live, and this version was made there too, with the Richard Ashcroft role being played by comedian Paul Kaye.

Soon he is joined by a huge amount of people, who also include David Walliams and Matt Lucas (during their “Mash And Peas” years). “Vindaloo” reached no. 2, staying there for three weeks, and there was also a memorably shambolic performance of this on Top Of The Pops. Well at least it’s not “Sweet Caroline”! This was something of a success, and later in 1998, Fat Les appeared on the cover of NME.

In December 1998, they decided to aim at the Christmas market, when “Naughty Christmas (Goblin In The Office)” was released, although this reached only no. 21, and lacked rather a lot of the spark and humour of the previous single. They returned in June 2000 (this time credited as “Fat Les 2000”), with a straight cover of “Jerusalem”, which is considered to be the unofficial national anthem of England.

This reached no. 10 (and Michael Barrymore was roped in as one of the vocalists too). Then in June 2002 they released “Who Invented Fish And Chips”, clearly another attempt at a lingering anthem, but this got nowhere near the chart surprisingly. Since then, “Vindaloo” has returned to chart in 2010, 2014, 2018, and last year, and probably will this year too when the World Cup finally comes around again.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2010s Part 2.

Here’s someone else who burst on to the pop music scene in the early-2010s. But despite this, there’s a chance that my favourite single of hers was actually released in the 2000s decade, before she was fairly well-known. Katy B (or Kathleen if you’re a relative I suppose) was born on 8 May, just like Elsie was, but I don’t know if her birthday has ever won for her.

In August 2008 “Tell Me” by DJ NG, and featuring Katy B and MC Versatile in another one of those rather crowded singles was released, but this failed to reach the Top 100, which was a disappointment. It does remind me once of when I was doing some channel hopping one evening, and this was being played on BBC Radio 2, which really was a surprise, for a moment I thought that my ears were deceiving me. vlcsnap-00381

It seems that this was being featured on a late-night urban music show, but for a brief moment they seemed to be trendier than BBC 1Xtra. This unexpected exposure didn’t help this become a hit though. Katy did finally have her first hit single though in September 2010 when “Katy On A Mission” reached no. 8. And there was also “Lights On”, which featured Ms Dynamite, who by this point hadn’t been on the scene for a while. vlcsnap-00383

“Broken Record” went on to be Katy’s third Top Ten hit. And then in April 2011, the debut album, also called “Katy On A Mission”, reached no. 2. In April 2014 second album “Little Red” was a chart-topper. It’s rather a surprise to discover that the final hit single that Katy has been involved in was also a chart-topper, which was “Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)” in October 2015. vlcsnap-00384

This one also featured many other contributors including Tinie Tempah, who had plenty of chart-toppers too, his aunt was so proud. In 2016 the third album “Honey” was released, but this missed the Top 20. Katy has now been absent from the singles chart for rather a long time (hopefully she isn’t still in the cloakroom), and just like Jessie J, who I featured in this series recently, I hope that we’ll hear from her again one day soon.

Great Moments In Pop – The 2010s Part 1.

Now this for me really is a great moment in pop music, and it’s also significant because it’s just about the last one that I remember, because this is one of the final pop stars that came on the scene that I took an interest in, before I felt that I was too old for all of this really. Jessie J is someone who launched a pop career in the early-2010s, and I became a fan right away.

Why is this? Well I know that image isn’t really the most important thing, but if I had to compile what I thought a great female pop star would look like, then Jessie would be rather close. I mean, that hairstyle and everything… well I better get on with sharing the story of some of her songs, because believe or not some of them are actually rather good too. vlcsnap-00383

The debut “Do It Like A Dude” was released in December 2010, and this reached no. 2. The opening lyric was “stomp stomp I’ve arrived“, which really is a great way to announce that you’ve come on the scene. Jessie’s next single was a chart-topper, which was really great. Because I was fan and wanted to discover more, I did something that I don’t usually do, and bought one of those unauthorised biographies put together in about five minutes. vlcsnap-00382

This featured lots of stories and pictures and cost… oh no, I forgot about the price tag. Also around this time, Jessie won a Brit Award. I started to feel that it was a shame that she wasn’t around when I was younger, it would’ve been great seeing her feature in magazines including Smash Hits and be asked very important questions including “is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit?”. vlcsnap-00384

In March 2011, Jessie released her debut album “Who You Are”, and of course I didn’t hesitate in buying this one. She finished off her most successful year on the chart with “Domino” which was her second chart-topper, and also made the Top Ten in America. After this, Jessie went on to have several more hits, including collaborations with various rappers, and her and second and third albums also made the Top Ten. vlcsnap-00385

I was rather surprised to discover that Jessie hasn’t featured on a big hit single since 2015 though. She did announce a new single recently, and as great as it is to welcome her return to the pop music scene, a lot has changed since her debut, I wonder if today’s current record buying (and streaming) generation will be interested in her work. Let’s hope so.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2010s Part 2.

This is a song that I remember enjoying at the time that received a lot of hype, that rather surprisingly didn’t deliver on the singles chart. When a song is played on the radio, it usually has to be edited down to three or four minutes. But there are plenty of songs that are much longer, and can usually take seven or eight minutes to feature everything, and remixes could be even longer.

Dennis Ferrer is an American dance DJ and producer, and when I heard the full-length version of his song “Hey Hey” for the first time, I enjoyed the female vocal (uncredited, but it seems that it’s Shingai Shoniwa who had a big hit single around the same time as frontwoman of The Noisettes), and the rather drawn-out ending, where it sounds like someone is banging a big piece of iron for about three minutes, although most of this was lost from the radio edit. vlcsnap-00250

If I was that way inclined, I would say that this was “a banger”, but I’m not really. There was also a video made. “Hey Hey” was released in June 2010, and I remember reading that this was played more than any other song on BBC Radio 1 Xtra around this time. Now this isn’t a radio station that I’ve ever listened too that much over the years, but I’m very pleased that they supported this and hopefully this would lead to some success.

So that’s a great song by a popular DJ that was barely off the radio. But, somehow, “Hey Hey” didn’t make the Top 40, and indeed didn’t get anywhere near, reaching only no. 55, and this is Ferrer’s only Top 75 hit in the UK. All that airplay didn’t really motivate that many people to buy this, which was a disappointment, as I would say that this is one of my favourite singles from this era.

I don’t know that much about what happened to Dennis Ferrer after this, but I presume that he went on to DJ at many more clubs around the world, and it’s a shame that the support for “Hey Hey” ended up being much out of proportion to how many people were actually interested. It would’ve been good if there were more songs on the singles chart like this, but it never really happened.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 2010s Part 1.

Let’s now jump into another pop decade. This series will be much shorter than the other decades because this was around the time that I lost interest in pop music. Although it’s a built-in thing to some extent, I was getting on for 30, and well it’s a young person’s game. And when I look through this decade’s Official Hits Book, the amount of biographies of singers that include something like “they first come to prominence by finishing 14th on The X Factor” is rather dispiriting.

And most successful singles stayed on the chart for so long that they had to accelerate them to get rid of them. But there were still a few interesting ones that I enjoyed where I didn’t think that it was too loud and you can’t hear the words. This is a dance song that is part of another genre that had a rather ridiculous idea. Maybe you could call it “jazz-dance”. vlcsnap-00246

This was where rather old songs were taken, starting off like the original, and then cut into pieces with a dance beat added. In March 2010 “Why Don’t You” was released (nothing to do with the long-running CBBC show of course) by Gramophonedzie, who was a Serbian DJ and producer, and almost certainly the only Serbian act who has had a hit single in the UK, unless you know better. vlcsnap-00247

“Why Don’t You” sampled Peggy Lee’s “Why Don’t You Do Right”, which is from as long ago as 1942. I was rather pleased that a song in this style made the chart, as it was one of those ideas that was just so strange yet somehow it all worked for me, it definitely stood out on the radio, although I can only wonder what singers from the 40s would make of it all. One critic said this sounded like someone had dropped the record on the floor, and then taped it back together all wrong so it jumped everywhere. vlcsnap-00248

“Why Don’t You” reached no. 12, and also got on to Now 75, but there would be no further hits for Mr Gramophonedzie. Not long after, “We Speak No Americano”, another song that had a similar idea of cutting a rather old song to pieces (and making it electro swing apparently) by Australian act Yolanda Be Cool, was a chart-topper, so maybe this genre was more popular than I realised, although of course it didn’t hang around for much longer.