I was born in the early eighties but I consider myself a 90’s kid when it comes to popular music. I liked it back then, and listened to the Radio One Top 40 every Sunday like it was my own personal version of church – 4pm-7.
My family knew there was no getting me to turn it off. I’ll never forget the first time I heard ‘Lithium’ by Nirvana when it entered straight into the top 20. What were we doing? Having afternoon tea. Was I a sophisticated metalhead from nine years old? Probably before that, even. I was lying in the bath when Radio 1 gave me my first Iron Maiden song (Be Quick or Be Dead – highest new entry at number 2). With the volume ridiculously high because my mum wouldn’t let me take the radio in the bathroom by feeding the power cable under the door…just so I didn’t, y’know, accidentally put 240 volts up my spine when having the waterfight I always had with myself.
I don’t think they have the Top 40 countdown anymore. But you know what? I’m glad. Because by the time we got to the noughties, I was asking one question: what happened?
Even pop music was good in the 90s despite the fact that most of it was garbage. It was garbage done well. The X factor bands can’t even get that right. It’s all what Joni Mitchell once described as ‘stoking the star maker machinery behind the popular song.’ (Free Man in Paris, Court and Spark). Just my opinion though. I’m sure these dreck artists are laughing all the way to the bank anyway. And why worry anyway? The kind of music I like is still alive on retro CD compilations, Planet Rock, Spotify, and my CD and vinyl collection, just to name a few.
Besides, every now and again there’s a great moment in mainstream music. Like 2009’s Christmas number one. People power wins in music. Well, sometimes. Rage Against the Machine’s fans delivered it that year, getting ‘Killing in the Name’ to Christmas No. 1. Begs the question, doesn’t it: why has nobody repeated that idea since? A viral campaign to sway the Christmas top spot…what’s cooler than that?
I wonder if Sega have enough loyal fans to revive ‘Feeling Supersonic’ by HWA featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and get it viral. What a Christmas No.1 we’d have there! The sound effect when he looses his rings actually do sound a bit like Christmas bells. (Okay, so I got my first Sega console for Christmas in 1992.) Or Nintendo maybe, with Ambassadors of Funk MC doing the Super Mario song, just for balance.
Or better yet, why do more metal and rock bands not think of releasing a Christmas song? ‘Merry Christmas all ye metalheads’ by Metallica, ‘Krampus’s Killing Spree’ by Megadeth, ‘Santa’s Funeral’ by Type O’Negative (if the late legend Pete Steele were still alive, of course), ‘Speed Metal Christmas’ by Racer X…I’m sure there’s Christmas comedy gold in a story about a band who set out go one better than the RatM Number 1….too late to write and market it this year, but there’s always 2017.
Oh yeah, and I can’t resist this. Anyone from the UK remember ‘Mr Blobby’? Christmas Number 1 1993. Reader from abroad? Just check this song out. Video for extra effect. WARNING: you may find your nose, ears and brain bleeding profusely if you click on that. That’ll be haemorrhage kicking in.
Mr Blobby has to be, truly, one of the worst songs of all time. Don’t even ask what the story behind the character is. I will never, ever forgive Noel Edmunds for Noel’s House Party. Nor how some amusement company ruined a perfectly decent zoo in Dorset by turning it into a park themed on that show. One of the favourite places of my childhood, and no wonder it went bust about a year after that happened. I swear, it was all down to that fucking song.
Yet I still have an irrational soft spot for it. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you about a certain boy-band called Take That.
I’m not sure a British band took the world by such a storm since The Beatles. Chances are you’ve heard of them. (If you haven’t, listen to the 90’s stuff, NOT the new songs – Morrisons supermarkets use one of them as an advert song; THAT’s how bad it is now!) All the girls at my first school loved this band. My guilty secret: I kinda liked them too, and just played along with my friends who said every song they did was crap. Actually though, one of them was. Christmas 1993, Take That released ‘Babe.’
Don’t Google it. Don’t touch YouTube. Don’t even click on your Spotify app.
You took no notice, didn’t you? Oh well, at least now you know why I like the Mr Blobby song – it stopped Take That getting the 1993 Christmas Number 1. They released ‘Babe’ literally a week before the deciding Sunday in December. It went straight to No. 1, knocking Mr Blobby back down to 2. Here’s the best part then: Mr Blobby knocked it back off the top spot on the deciding Sunday. Hell YES!
I was 10 that year, and still carry the hideous memory of watching the perform it LIVE with no miming on Top of the Pops, with Gary Barlow wearing a Christmas jumper that looked like it had been knitted by Mrs Miggins in between her volunteer shifts at Oxfam, and singing ‘And I picked up the phone and diiiiiiiiialed your nuuuumbeeer’ with that pained, emo look on his face. If the woman he was calling was smart, she’d have told him to go back and write a better song because until he did she was hanging the hell up and he was still dumped for Christmas. Boom, you whiny little teenager in a man’s Christmas clothing. There was nothing I wanted for Christmas that year more than that song not making Number 1.
Maybe Noel Edmunds is forgiven after all.