Saturday, 17 January 2009

It's Number One, It's...

OK, I confess, I used to be a serial watcher of Top Of The Pops. From its black and white inception in for-off 1964 to its recent demise in 2006, I very rarely missed an episode. You may almost say, I was an addict hanging on for a fix of the perfect pop single. Admittedly, in its latter incarnation it would drive me crazy virtually every episode by unerringly picking out every toe-curlingly awful song in that week’s chart and mixing them up with some half decent stuff, but that seemed to be part of the fun. I think.

By the time of its hideous death in July 2006, the singles chart didn’t really know what it was supposed to be, what with downloads and multiple-format issues, hence the TV format was driving me even more crazy than usual so I didn’t really think I’d miss it and didn’t really give it a second thought. For the most part this state of mind has prevailed and I thought I’d weaned myself off it forever. But that was before the Christmas holiday.

Over this holiday, I watched the Christmas special on Christmas day and then the New Year’s special on New Year’s Eve – and I’m hooked again. Damn! Nothing has changed. The mix of songs ranged from the dreadfully crass to the really rather good. I even enjoyed Take That and Girls Aloud but worst of all, I am finally warming to Fern Cotton. If truth be told, there were some decent performances. The Kaiser Chiefs were better than they had a right to be and last year’s X-Factor winner Leona Lewis’ interpretation of Snow Patrol’s ‘Run’ left me quite emotional. Others to be mentioned in despatches were the ever reliable Duffy and new-comer Sam Sparro. On the downside there was Peter Kay, who missed badly with this year’s comedy record and the cast of Mama Mia, who struggled through their karaoke Abba routines (no-one can sing Abba songs except Abba).

Worst of all was the number one record, a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ by this year’s X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke which was desperately disappointing. ‘Hallelujah’ is a bit of a sacred cow of a song and has been covered by artists too numerous to mention but hers was pretty awful, having neither the passion nor the delicacy that it deserves. I’ll go with John Cale’s world weary take and Allison Crowe’s powerhouse of intensity as my yardsticks. The music community got so indignant about a talent show winner taking it to number one that several other existing versions were released ensuring that the end of year chart was full of ‘Hallelujah’s.

But by the New Year’s Eve edition of TOTP (which wasn’t much different to the Christmas edition) I was left feeling that even with all the irritation and exasperation that come packaged with the rare gems, I’d quite like TOTP back again. But quite for how long is a moot point.


Jayne said...

I used to love TOTP, back in the days before it was left to die slowly on Friday nights and then shoehorned gasping for its last breath into some slot on Sunday, probably between Countryfile and Songs of Praise. I used to tape each Christmas special - just last night I was watching the show from 1995 - ah Blur v Oasis, happy days. It would be great if TOTP came back on Thursday evenings, but to do so the chart would have to become meaningful to people other than music execs. Do they still call these businesses 'Record' companies, by the way? Am curious!

musicobsessive said...

Not so much 'Record' as 'Rip-off' Haha! Looks like we need to start a 'bring back totp' campaign. But only if...

1. Records go UP the chart week by week instead of coming in at number 1 and then disappearing.
2. The equivalent of Pan's People make a return.
3. The presenters have an assistant who pretends to play the record before the band mime very badly to it.
4. They always play that dreadful novelty record week after week.
5. The studio audience is comprised entirely of fashion victims who can't dance.

Happy Days!