Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Three of a Kind #103

"30,000 singles". So boasts the back cover of my copy of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. The 1995 edition mark you. So you can probably add, what, another eight or ten thousand to that tally now (especially given the remarkably short chart-life of a pop single nowadays).

So what, you might reasonably ask? Well, I mention all this because the music radio stations of the UK seem fixated on an absolutely miniscule percentage of these songs, some of which weren't exactly huge in the first place.

Take Waiting For a Star to Fall by US boy-girl duo, the imaginatively-named Boy Meets Girl. This song reached number 9 in the Gallup charts in early 1989 and was their only hit (in the UK at least). Yet, twenty-one years on, you're pretty much guaranteed to hear it at some point during the day if you tune in for long enough to Magic FM, Absolute Radio, Heart, Smooth Radio, or any of the numerous other identikit stations clogging up the FM frequencies. Or Steve Bloody Wright's Bastard Sunday Sodding Love Songs on Radio 2 for that matter. Anyway, yes. I think ubiquitous is the word.

Now, don't get me wrong. I've got nothing against Waiting For a Star to Fall as such. It's a harmless enough piece of quixotic pop fluff. I even have to confess to having bought it on 7" myself at the time of its release. (What can I say? I was quite the undiscriminating pop fan in my teens. And besides, the airwaves would have been even more awash with it when it was actually, like, you know, in the charts. So resistance would've been futile. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)

My point is: why this particular song (and one or two hundred like it)? I mean, taking what we already know about the sheer volume of singles that have charted over the years, there must have been thousands of other radio-friendly pop songs that would be ripe for a bit of nostalgia-based airplay, yet we only ever get to hear about, I dunno, 0.5% of them, or something. You know, stuff by the usual suspects: M People, Simply Red, Robbie Williams, George Michael, Boyzone, Elton John etc etc etc. It baffles me, readers, it really does. Baffles and vexes.

I won't even get started on the fact that the BBC are, in a well-documented move, planning to axe one of the only stations that actually offer a bit of variety for the discerning music fan in this country, 6 Music, at the end of next year, because, apparently, offering the listener a bit of actual choice isn't something that falls within the corporation's public-service remit. Gah!

Meanwhile, Radio 1 and 1Xtra are given carte blanche to carry on as they are despite the fact that the two stations are pretty much interchangeable, sharing many of the same presenters - and programmes even. Anyway, I wasn't going to even get started on that, was I? Crashing on...

Back to Boy Meets Girl and their ilk. To counteract the effect, even slightly, of all this same-old same-old radio valium that's foisted upon us time and again by the nation's music radio programmers, here are some equally deserving old chart hits that you perhaps don't hear quite as often on mainstream radio these days. Just like Waiting For a Star..., the following songs all reached number nine in the UK around two decades ago. Nine, danke!

Beats International - Won't Talk About It mp3

Morrissey - Every Day Is Like Sunday mp3*

Karel Fialka - Hey Matthew mp3

*In fairness, Absolute Radio do probably play this song from time to time, when they're feeling particularly edgy and it's, like, a Sunday.


Spike said...

Hey Matthew frightens me a bit. I can't remember why. It's probably a stupid reason like the reason I'm scared of Maxi Priest's Close To You.

I like Every Day Is Like Sunday though.
And I'm just about to listen to t'other.

Kippers said...

Hey Matthew is intentionally sinister I think, which might explain your fear of it! Lots of "WOOOOS!" and a very creepy refrain. It's quite unlike any other record I've ever heard actually!

I missed out on the chance of proferring a mildly interesting pop fact within this post BTW. Namely that there's a version of Won't Talk About It which has Billy Bragg on lead vocals. I think he wrote the song, or co-wrote it, in point of fact.

EuropeCrazy said...

"Hey Matthew" is pretty bonkers but it's a true original and that's what's missing from our dull and depressing music scene right now.

"Won't Talk About It" is pretty fab too.

I loved this post so much that I'm going to post a link to it on my own blog, because everything you said totally articulated what I'm feeling about music, and radio, right now. (And for what it's worth, I actually do like "Waiting For A Star To Fall", there are much worse songs being played to death on the radio!)

Kippers said...

Thanks, EC! I hope you realise I won't be able to get my head through the door after your kind words though! ;o)