Friday, January 02, 2009

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #49 - Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant

Alyson: A recent very flimsy attempt by an Australian paper to claim the girl in the film clip to this very song looks like Sarah Palin (you remember her - and even more unlikely are certain Youtube clips trying to claim Goddard looks like Julian McMahon) sparked a minor re-interest around these parts in Adam Ant - well, they played the clip at 3am on VH1. Anyway, as it happens, it had been many years since I had heard this song, my most normal exposure to Adam Ant is the long forgotten "Young Parisians" on one of my compilation tapes that has long succumbed to the ravages of time (and who makes tapes in 2009 anyway?). Hearing this song again was like being re-united with a faithful old friend from school - along with the singles of Nik Kershaw and early Bananarama and now Strawberry Switchblade, this was always one of my favourite 80s songs, and it sort of got forgotten about in my mind. I still remembered the basics about the song (the chorus, what it was about, the English press thinking he was boring, the girl in it was a Bond Girl I think, and it was a solo song not Adam And The Ants cos he trampled on the Ants). But hearing it again, even at 3am, was amazing. Of course some tedious sub Toby Cresswell VJ had to ruin it by making a crack about "the 80s", and his clothes, missing the point that one day their label dictated surf fashion will look utterly ridiculous on a compilation tape sometime around eh?

So here's what I love about this song and why it's on the list. Firstly, it's absolutely amazing. Obviously. By any fair assessment it's a fantastic song surely? It's got so much downright swagger, it's just infectious. It contains some wonderful drum work, a B side called Crackpot History that is dying for someone to cover it, and somewhat against the run of play was knocked off #1 in the UK by Charleen (not from Neighbours). There aren't many songs that pack so much creativity, energy and enjoyment into themselves in a short space of time. There's more ideas in this song than some peoples careers. That's the really main thrust of it for me - there's technical excellence, yes, and it's a very clever song, yes, but like Katrina and The Waves it's just so astonishingly FUN, that an accurate summation of it's prowess isn't really required. All that is required is probably an ability to get up and dance to it, and yes, toothpaste across the nose is mandatory...

However, it's mainly on the list because...who makes this much EFFORT anymore for their songs? Seriously. The TOTP performance was ridiculously energetic, with no fewer than four sets of dancers roped in for Anty to jump around with. One of them whacks him in the stomach and still he ploughs on. Who can you imagine jumping over a bed in the film clip these days and absolutely caning themselves when they don't land on the mat? It seems watching on the invaluable Youtube (though not as invaluable as it once was) that every single time he was on a TV show doing this song, something completely different would happen, but it was always packed with commitment and energy. One performance features dancing furniture and Anty slapping his own hand for making the peace sign, another is just him dancing around a lit up stage like a maniac, another features a hip smashing dance routine with the solid gold dancers, and yet another has him sitting calmly (well calmly for him) in a room filling up with foam. You just can't imagine in this day and age of tightly managed public appearances someone being so willing to, yes, be ridiculed just to entertain.

For that alone, he'd be on the list...a room full of foam? I mean...who!

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1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #48 - Song #1 by Serebro

Claire: When sourpuss UK commentators bemoan the lack of potential for a British victory, they tend to overlook the paucity of their own song selections. After all, a pop gem in the form of "It's You!" by The Revelations was overlooked in favour of a tedious wine bar ballad everyone has already forgotten. It is from the east of Europe that most of the Eurovision drama comes from, and no co-incidentally, they mostly provide the best songs, and then they win. Sure, there's some dodgy block voting going on, but quality is quality. They don't send Gemini now do they? In 2007, Georgia sent an excellent OPUS III style ballad from Sopho, that had a film clip which suggested Georgia invented the light bulb. And then there was Serebro, runners up in a hideous travesty of nonsense. A wonderfully old fashioned in the lab pop group, they even had a svengali and some kind of wonderfully made up back story that just read like complete nonsense. That they came out of the traps with one of the 00s best pieces of out and out pop is, as seasoned observers of this kind of thing would guess, not a massive surprise. They had it all figured out before they started...they even have a logo. Britain sent Scooch. Not rigged at all then Wogan?

I must admit serious personal surprise that several "pop" websites who spent a lot of 2007 bemoaning the death of quality pop didn't get behind the Russians fully. After all, all the things bemoaned by said sites, namely that bands don't have a lot of glamour (Serebro had it in spades), songs with extended dance breaks (there's more or less two in Song #1s film clip), or don't really enjoy some serious lyrical trash (Song #1 has the best pie/sex interface since Noiseworks Hot Chilli Woman). They even went to the trouble to make no fewer than 13 remixes of the song, including a "black" version which was probably the second best song of last year. It is such a wonderful mix of fun and wonder and tongue in cheek camp without ever becoming disrespectful or parody, you wonder why everyone else struggles with it. They even went to the trouble of making about three or four versions of the film clip before settling on the one below, the dance mix version which revives the old pop tradition of dancing around in a car park for no apparent reason. And yet people still bought Rihanna albums...madness...absolute madness...

They don't seem to have followed it up with anything anywhere near as good - there is a song in which they stand amazed as a whale jumps over their head. Like Britney Spears, when you have such a wonderful debut single, it can be very hard to top. Unlike Britney Spears though, they didn't call Melissa Joan Hart, just the makers of Free Willy. On such delicate decisions can fates turn...this is amazing...lest we forget...

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