Monday, August 10, 2009

The Only Chart That Counts


Faced with a longish drive home yesterday afternoon, I got to wondering if Radio 1 still broadcast a Top 40 countdown on Sundays.

With that particular station not being among my presets, it took some finding. But one mockney accent and crashing R&B blandness later, there it was.

I came in at No.23. I'm afraid I can't remember what that was, because it quite simply melded into all the other songs. I'm sure it cannot be an age thing, but they all sounded more or less identical. Unremarkable voices, very loud and crashy and lots of reedy female vocals interspersed with big bass black voices and vice versa. When Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas came on, there was such an odd noise on the record I thought there was something wrong with the car. I had to turn it down to make sure a wheel was about to spin off.

The host, I think it was Reggie Yates, who's from the Fearne Cotton school of cluelessness, did his best make things exciting, but really, who gets worked up about the Top 40 these days? And all that texting nonsense. Does everything have to be interactive. Can we not cope unless we're asked to be involved? OMG, LOL, etc. When all songs sounds the same, how can you? But at things actually go up the chart now, though there's not a lot to recommend. I did pick out Sean Kingston's Fire Burning as being quite good, but I heard all the way from 23 to 10 and I couldn't tell them apart.

Even things that are meant to be the next big thing like Little Boots and La Roux all sounded like the others. Completely anonymous and really rather dull. Where was the musicianship or the songwriting? That's not music, it's like a madperson shrieking to be heard above a tumble drier full of stones. I was shocked.

Looking at a chart from say this time in 1982, and there was lots of variety. Perhaps my father might have thought they all sounded the same, but they really didn't. There were lots of musical styles. Oh look at that chart - so many memories.

Now that's a chart. Do you agree?

10 comments:

Cocktails said...

By some distressing coincidence I was listening to one of my many chart compilation LPs last night,'82 - the Hits' which featured quite a lot of these tunes. It was clearly released in August/September '82.

That Boystown Gang song is a shocker and the less said about Toto Coelo the better. The rest are pretty damn good though.

You're right about today's charts. Today's equivalent would feature nothing but bland rubbish by the likes of Boystown Gang, with no Haircut 100, Yazoo or Associates to make it all better.

Ishouldbeworking said...

You're quite right. It's an abysmal period for music, and I can't see any reasons for things to start getting better. It's the sound of a complacent, uncurious, overfed, unimaginative, creatively lazy generation. I chide myself for not listening to enough new stuff, and then I do and it all sounds exactly the same. Not everything in the charts was brilliant by any means when I was young - Toto Coelo have already been mentioned - but at least there were plenty of other options available.

Planet Mondo said...

Had the same experience on a drive home last year - almost all the acts were interchangable: pleading R and B, crashing over-polished pop or clanging Indie. The presenters (yes, Fearne and Reggie) were gibbering and jabbering like youth-clubbers on a sugar rush..and for all the fizz-bang production it may just as well have been broadcast in Esperanto with every song written by Mike Batt and recorded by the Smash robots. Never again.

Certainly not worth recording to tape, or recording chart positions in a Silvine notebook like we (alright I) used to..

Five-Centres said...

No, we all did. I meant to mention that, PM. Who would do that now?

I agree, ISBW. I worry about not hearing enough new stuff but am always disappointed when I do. I think I'll leave them to it.

I never like that Boystown Gang song, either Cocktails. And it was never off the bloody radio.

Chris Hughes said...

"The host, I think it was Reggie Yates, who's from the Fearne Cotton school of cluelessness"

Fearne Cotton is actually meant to co-present this, but apparently she doesn't turn up half the time.

And yes, I'm starting to get genuinely pissed off with any programme that solicits texts or emails. I wouldn't object to the idea in principle, but they are always lamentably boring and pointless.

Jez Kinsman said...

Wow, what a chart from 1982! Certainly an embarrassment of riches.

I don't understand the Toto Coelo baiters, though. Alright it was a novelty song with more than a whiff of cheesy stuff but the lyrics were clever and the overall "package" was memorable which is the "beef" about today's chart run down. There's nothing to love (or hate) with passion today is there?

Fantastic blog F-C! Always my first destination when I need cheering up.

Five-Centres said...

Hi Jez, and thanks for your kind words. Always good to have a new face. I have to agree with you about Toto Coelo. To my mind, one of the greatest intros of all time. And they wore bin bags.

Cocktails said...

I'm afraid that you are both mad. I've had my LP on again just now (I got the title wrong, it's actually The Hot Ones') and I can assure you that you need to skip 'I eat Cannibals'.

Tell you what is good though, and that's 'Shoop shoop diddy wap cumma cumma wang dang' by Monte Video and the Cassettes...

Five-Centres said...

Now that one definitely passed me by.

Thunderbird5 said...

Looking at the bottom of the chart, I'm wondering if that Junior is Giscombe - him of the not usually my cup of tea but infectiously rather excellent 'Mama Used To Say'. Hope so, because having cracked Top40 again, he can't officially have been a one-hit wonder. That would be an ignominious fate...

Yeah, and bring back Tom Browne, R1/2's mid-70s, Sunday teatime, James Mason-soundalike chart-talker. You never saw his pix on any annual/Roadshow tat or the like, so I always imagined he looked like the brylcreamed old bloke on the neck of the contemporary Daddies brown sauce bottle (the one saying "My Favourite!") He didn't, mind....

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