The non-stop hits continue as we count towards the top 10!
20) The Associates – Party Fears Two
Subsequently the classic sound of acceptable radio satire, it’s easy to overlook given that grandiose keyboard hook’s ubiquity how peculiar a song this is from deliberately unpromising beginnings – “I’ll have a shower and then phone my brother up”. That’s because of Billy Mackenzie, dressing like an MI5 Frank Spencer and possessing a swooping, crooning voice ripe for mocking parental impersonation.
19) Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart
A great outpouring of joy through one fashionista and two DJs, lots of dayglo covers and some sharp funk samples. Again, it absolutely fits that Deee-Lite never had another hit. It couldn’t last, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to.
18) Black – Wonderful Life
Sadly we lost Colin Vearncombe, the man who was to all intents and purposes Black, in January 2016, the obituaries remembering a man with a dramatic smoky baritone and a feather light touch with luxurious, bittersweet, dolefully ironic jazz-pop.
17) Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Another split vote for the band we’re apparently obliged to mention are from Basildon. There’s a classic ‘play this riff on your keyboard at home’ one-fingered motif at work here, synthesisers being the music of the future.
16) Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
Never mind the Firm, we needed the special recounting machines for this one. Ivan Doroschuk can’t pronounce “imbecile”, and “your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance/Well they’re are no friends of mine” is a tad too forward of him. But listen to it! It’s joyful in all the right ways, the melody is basically folky but played on Korgs, and give it the pub jukebox test to see how the most cynical actually respond.
15) The RAH Band – The Crunch
That’s the studio version dubbed over the Pops performance, which is the best way round. That actually opened TOTP the week it entered the charts, and one can only imagine the reaction a nation of dads had to it. Prolific arranger Richard Anthony Hewson was our man here, using no actual synth for a joyfully weird hybrid of glam stomp, space disco and an indelible sound.
14) Kim Wilde – Kids In America
Maybe it’s just the perspective, but those really are tall cymbals. Lyrically guileless – east California? The Mojave desert? What are they going to do with the coming new wave there? – it wins out through the sense that it sounds just like the 1981 of heavy new synths and new wave jerkiness given the classic Mickie Most production sheen, but fronted by a pouting, slightly petulant teenager.
13) Soft Cell – Say Hello Wave Goodbye
Tainted Love has of course been dulled by overfamiliarity, something that will never fully overcome the melancholic torch song of the seedy underground club clientele. “That” Marc Almond urban myth is by the way applied to Rod Stewart in America, which says quite something about the Transatlantic cultural difference.
12) XTC – Senses Working Overtime
Kids could sing the chorus, but only someone embedded in a Beatles-influence purest essence of the English way of pop life like Andy Partridge could put it together like this, in perhaps the last period when record reviewers valued “catchiness” above everything else. And it’s got crows on it.
11) Squeeze – Cool For Cats
“So while the party’s raving I step in with some old chat/and let her share me pint of milk because it’s cool for cats…” Chris Difford must have had the bills through the day the <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tLbF2uecQY”>Milk Marketing Board</A> rang. Wild west comeuppance, Sweeney-based standup routine, man’s lack of self-confidence lets him down on a night out, flat estuary vocal, Jools right on it on the fade.
And there we have it. One more countdown to come, as we enter the final 10 next Thursday!