Great Moments In Pop – The 2000s Part 8.

A while ago, I got into the 80s cartoon Jem, featuring the adventures of some animated pop stars, and very good it was too. I don’t think that any of the songs from this show were released as singles, although you could get some on a cassette that would be given away with the dolls that you could buy. So in 2005 I was very amused when a pop star called Jem made the singles chart for real. But was she truly outrageous? Let’s find out.

Jem was born Jemma Griffiths in Wales. In March 2005 her first single “They” was released, and this reached no. 6, to become her first and only Top Ten hit single in the UK. I was really pleased that this did well, I don’t have a huge CD singles collection, but this one does take prominence among them, because it’s one of my favourite hit singles of 2005. Well the good news for me is that there was another pop star I enjoyed on the scene. vlcsnap-00277

Also in March 2005 her debut album “Finally Woken” was released, and this made the Top Ten too, becoming by some distance her most successful album. I was very interested in what she would do next, and this included going on tour and appearing at several music festivals. In June 2005 her follow-up single “Just A Ride” was released, and this reached no. 16. And then in September 2005 there was “Wish I” which reached no. 24. vlcsnap-00278

This one became famous around this time for being the theme to Celebrity Love Island, the ITV1 dating show where some vaguely famous people were encouraged to get together, but instead they sat asleep on a beach for weeks, and nothing happened. And of course it was a huge ratings success, probably. It was rather disappointing that Jem had no further hit singles after this. vlcsnap-00281

It turned out that this was a situation where Jem’s pop career ended barely six months after it had started, and it never ceases to surprise me at just how quickly some singers come and go from the chart. She did continue in the music business though, and four years later she made a brief return with her second album “Down To Earth”, although this got nowhere near the Top 40. At that really was it.

The YouTube Files – 1980s American Children’s TV Adverts.

Recently on here I reviewed the 80s cartoon Jem, and I really enjoyed watching this show again. One thing that I noticed about the episodes on the DVD was that the breakbumpers had been left in. It made me wonder if there were any videos online featuring advert breaks that were recorded during Jem on American TV in the 1980s so I could see the bumpers in their original context, and also discover what kind of adverts were being shown for younger viewers in those years.

So I was very pleased when I went on YouTube and discovered a video that was about 28 minutes long featuring lots of advert breaks that were shown during various episodes of Jem recorded off a TV station called KTXH in Houston, Texas in early-1987. This was exactly what I wanted, so credit goes to the uploader “RetroCCN”. I have picked a few highlights from the adverts and trails that were shown, and I’ll add a few more facts that I have discovered about Jem since I completed the original piece. 


Jem will be right back after these messages…”

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of adverts for toys, such as My Little Pony, Pound Puppies and Sylvanian Families, along with bizarrely terrible local adverts for furniture stores and car dealers, and also a rather large amount for various rather horrible-looking breakfast cereals including Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Circus Fun, Golden Grahams, Crispy Wheats ‘N’ Raisins, and Cheerios. vlcsnap-00336

And then… oh no… it’s an advert for Rap’Tou, the rather ludicrous kitchen device that was seemingly advertised in every advert break on daytime ITV and Channel 4 in the late-80s/early-90s. I didn’t realise that this advert was being shown as long ago as this. I imagine that a lot of people had one, and they probably only used it about once. Call now. vlcsnap-00344

We also get some trails for some of the programming that is shown on KTXH. It seems that along with Jem they were rather fond of showing endless cartoons, and on weekday mornings you can watch MASK, He-Man, The Jetsons, Dennis The Menace (no connection to the British comic character of the same name), and Scooby-Doo one after the other. And on weekday afternoons you can enjoy even more with Heathcliff, The Jetsons, Ghostbusters, Rambo, and The Transformers cartoons. That’s a lot of fun. ktxh3

Then we have an advert for a toy of the rather hairy star of the sitcom ALF. This was a show that was very popular on American TV in the late-80s, and it was also shown for a short while in Britain (he even appeared on the cover of Lookin magazine). I only remember it vaguely, and it’s definitely a show that I’d like to rediscover and review on here one day. vlcsnap-00700

Now this is something that I thought was interesting, a trail for the Jem episode “Glitter And Gold” (which was the final episode of the first series), which is voiced by the woman herself. I wonder how many extra clips were specially recorded for use in adverts and trails? Also, I was surprised to discover recently Samantha Newark who was the actress that provided Jem’s speaking voice was actually born in Wimbledon, so it turns out that she was a Londoner just like me all along! vlcsnap-00701

Then we have a trail for some of KTXH’s evening programmes including Square Pegs, Fame, and Little House On The Prairie. Another thing that I discovered about Jem recently was that the only other place it seems that it was shown on British TV beyond TV-am’s The Wide Awake Club in the late-80s was on satellite channel UK Gold early on weekend mornings around 1993/1994. I don’t think it’s been shown on TV in this country since. vlcsnap-00703

This video was definitely an interesting insight into what was advertised on American TV back in the 80s. Of course, there were also a lot of adverts made promoting the range of Jem dolls and various other merchandise, and I might review those in a separate piece soon. Hopefully I will also be able to find some adverts for Jem shown on British TV too, that would be truly outrageous!

More TV Memories – Jem.

Jem (1985-1988)

This is a show that I have wanted to write about on here for a long time, but my memory of watching it is just too vague, so I was very pleased when I discovered that it had been released on DVD. In recent months I have written about various quirky female pop stars with strange hairstyles from the 1980s that I have enjoyed, when I remembered that there was yet another singer who perfectly fitted that description… and this time they’re animated!

Jem is a cartoon that was launched in 1985 and starred a young lady called Jerrica Benton. After the death of her parents, she inherited their music company Starlight, and also their foster home for orphaned girls. Jerrica has a special pair of earrings that are connected to a computer called Synergy (“the ultimate audio/visual entertainment synthesizer”), and when she says “showtime, Synergy!” into them (one of the show’s catchphrases), she is transformed into her pink-haired pop star alter-ego Jem (Jerrica’s mother Jacqui was also a successful singer in the 70s)vlcsnap-00493

Jem is the frontwoman of a pop group called The Holograms and only her bandmates are aware that she is both Jerrica and Jem. They are Jerrica’s younger sister Kimber (who also has the show’s other famous catchphrase “truly outrageous!”), along with Aja and Shana (who are later joined by a fifth member Raya). Jerrica also has a boyfriend called Rio who isn’t aware of her double life, and he soon falls for both Jerrica and Jem, not realising that they are the same person, meaning that he is in a love triangle featuring only two people. And you thought Gary Sparrow had it bad. vlcsnap-00490

Also featuring are a band called The Misfits, who have slightly more of an edge to their sound and they often compete with The Holograms to be the most successful. They also have a very distinctive look and are a trio consisting of Pizzazz, Roxy and Stormer (who are later joined by a fourth member, the English-born Jetta, and in a terrific piece of useless TV trivia, Jetta was voiced by the daughter of crooner Engelbert Humperdinck), and along with their boss Eric Raymond they are convinced that they are the best band around. vlcsnap-00499

As the episodes progress we see what life is like for Jem (who had a different actress provide her speaking voice and her singing voice), and it is rather glamorous, as we see her do things like work on her songs, appear on TV shows and radio stations, star on the cover of magazines, attend award ceremonies, make music videos, and perform at concerts and festivals around the world. You really could say that she’s lived the life of an international pop star. vlcsnap-00500

We also meet a few other characters along the way including The Misfits’ biggest fan Clash who is always trying to become a member herself, Jerrica’s friend Danse, the TV presenter Lindsey, and many others. And of course, there is always a big cliffhanger conveniently placed just before the advert break (the breakbumpers have been left in on the DVD), but Synergy usually comes to the rescue just in time. vlcsnap-00503

A lot of songs are also performed, and about 150 of them (all about a minute long) were specially written for the show, accompanied by a stylish music video. By the third series a third group was added to the show. They were The Stingers, who featured a male lead singer called Riot, accompanied by the German-born Minx and Rapture, and Riot would also fall for Jem, but he was more in love with himself than anyone else seemingly. vlcsnap-00506

I couldn’t remember if Jem was shown on CBBC or CITV in this country, but it must have been shown on some children’s TV show, and doing a little more research it seems that it was actually shown on TV-am’s Saturday Morning show The Wide Awake Club that was hosted by Tommy Boyd for a while around the 1987/1988 mark, so if I did see it anywhere on TV, it must have been there. vlcsnap-00494

Jem was popular enough for there to be a lot of merchandise released, including dolls of all the main characters that were usually accompanied by an audio cassette of some of their songs from the show, and various episodes were released on VHS. It seems that there was also a short-lived comic of Jem published in this country around 1986/1987, featuring strips along with features about the big pop groups around at the time including Five Star! jem1

Jem was cancelled in 1988 after three series and I was pleased to discover that all 65 episodes have been released in a DVD boxset over ten discs. There are no extras as such (it seems that the American DVD release did come with an 11th disc of special features) but a small amount of episodes end with the equivalent of a Public Information Film so make sure you always do as Jem says. vlcsnap-00510

In more recent years, there was a brief revival in the popularity of Jem when in 2015 a live-action film was made to try and bring the show to a new generation. I haven’t seen it myself but just about all the reviews have said that it was terrible and not like the 80s cartoon version at all, and it is best forgotten, being an unsatisfactory addition to the story. However, it was great to finally see all the episodes of this show, there’s no doubt that Jem really is a chart-topping star.