Friday, January 02, 2004

WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE WORST WHILE WE CAN STILL SAY "THIS IS THE WORST": Last night, Channel 4 - having used up its supply of Wife Swaps the previous evening - filled the airtime with the 100 Worst Pop Records of all time and so on. As ever with these popularity/unpopularity polls, it was a bit of a double A-side - some bits were splendid, some were just frightening. We think the possible highlight of the three hours was the splendid James Masterson patiently explaining that Vanilla's 'No Way No Way' thing was the result of a jokey bet between two record producers (although, of course, scientology was also created thanks to a bet, so it doesn't make it right.) We've said before that we have a bit of a soft spot for Vanilla - their obvious ineptness was kind of endearing, and their sudden reinvention as the only Marxist girlband in history makes Busted's insistence that they be allowed to actually plug their guitars in look a little bit lame - and we find it extraordinary that Natalie Cassey felt comfortable criticising the band's looks while sitting under the worst perm since Brian May said "what happens if you use double the amount of that liquid?"

Because there's no real criteria suggested for what counts as a rubbish record, the chart has no real coherence to it - so you get things that were abominations rubbing shoulders with tracks that are great but happen to have been made by people who've fallen out of fashion. You know how No Rock feels about Victoria Beckham and - especially - Geri Halliwell, but that doesn't mean that Wannabe has somehow turned from being a Great Pop Song to the 27th worst - less merit, it's alleged, than Catherine Zeta-Jone's single. At least Michael Jackson is represented by something from his bad smell days (Earth Song), we suppose.

The "experts" were pretty much rubbish, most of their contributions being of a "watch this video and then pretend you're recalling it from when it was in the charts" nature - and, frankly, anyone who didn't know that Andrew Lloyd Webber was the producer of Timmy Mallett's Bombalurina track has no right appearing on my television set pretending to be knowledgeable enough about pop music to offer opinions. It's like Match of the Day inviting pundits aboard who've never heard of Pele.

Amongst the best bits were Harvey from So Solid Crew talking about Michael Jackson. It seems that we shouldn't criticise Jackson, because you can't see God. No, hold on, go with Harvey here - so, because we can't actually see God, "there are people sent down to represent God - and he's one of them." (Which, taken with Jackson's claim that he sees the face of God in children must mean they're a reflection of himself - the cops are wrong: he's not wanking kids, he's polishing up a mirror). Harvey gets even madder when asked about Jarvis Cocker's stage invasion during jackson's Brits performance. Like, seriously, do-some-harm mad: having offended against St Michael, "Jarvis is lucky he didn't get kidnapped." What Harvey's outburst did remind us, though, was that at the time the Jackson PR team put out a (false) story that Jarvis had trampled on children while on the platform - which we think may be the first recorded instance of Michael Jackson lying about child abuse.

Toyah was astonishing - her anger at Mariah Carey is unsurpassed only by her anger at starving asylum seekers trying to find a bed for a night; and then she proceeded to have a pop at the girl from St Winnifreds School Choir for having a speech impediment - thorry, Toyah, you're thaying what? (That girl has grown from baby-voiced frizzy haired irritant to a sexy goth, by the way.) Equally unbelievable was Sonia, who criticised Chas and Dave for being little more than a steroetyped portrayal of what cockneys are like. Whereas, of course, Sonia's cheeky scouse charm is pure mint.

A pair of country dancers were invited to comment on Rednex's Cotton Eyed Joe and Steps' 5-6-7-8, and revealed that country dancers are even more precious than indie kids: "we don't need to be taught how to count" they spat, before suggesting that things like pop and fun have no place in the square dancing circle.

Oddest thing of the night was the credit on Middle of the Road's Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep video - apparently, this vital piece of rock history had been filmed by the Central Office of Information, which makes us wonder if the government publicity department has got any more lost pop gems stored in its archive, although not as much as it makes us wonder why the hell the COI was filming this in the first place.

The top 15 (bottom 15?) were:

1.The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) - The Cheeky Girls
2.The Millennium Prayer - Cliff Richard
3.Agadoo - Black Lace
4.Candle In The Wind 1997 - Elton John
5.Fast Food Song - The Fast Food Rockers
6.Mr Blobby - Mr Blobby
7.Because We Want To - Billie
8.Barbie Girl - Aqua
9.Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus
10.Jenny From The Block - Jennifer Lopez
11.Orville's Song - Keith Harris and Orville
12.Look At Me - Gerri Halliwell
13.Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
- Bombalurina feat. Timmy Mallett
14.(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams
15.Sacred Trust - One True Voice

Which we think is a little unfair on the Cheeky Girls, who might be rubbish (and have certainly worn out their welcome) but aren't on the same level of rubbishness as Cliff's Lords' Prayer to Auld Lang Syne with concentration camp footage in the background effort was. But it's not like we're going to go to war to fight for the cheeky girl's honour.

Hero of the whole affair was Renee, out of Renee and Renato - back, now, serving up Italian Food (which, to be honest, is a far greater good for mankind than anything achieved by 98% of the music industry) who basically said "I had an opportunity, people bought it, you'd do the same thing, so do you want black pepper and cheese on my ass when you bite me?"; biggest waste of space was Jono Coleman, the world's least funny man who came to share his insights. 2 Unlimited's No Limits was "a mindless thing", apparently. Er... yes, it was a dance single. For dancing to. In a mindless way. It's always puzzled us why anyone is bothered that the words of No Limits were so scanty when it never pretended to be a song that would benefit from having an acoustic reworking by Kurt for Nirvana Unplugged. It set out to be a stupid track to bounce around waving your arms to, and succeeded in everything it set out to do. You might as well complain that Chi Mai was rubbish because it didn't have any words at all.

While Jono might have been a waste of space, the most disgraceful shame was Channel 4 inviting Jimmy Carr to anchor the rundown. With some pisspoor gags which substituted smut for punchlines, he added nothing at all to the proceedings apart from his face. Which we could do without. It's obvious that the network is desperately trying to find a vehicle fit for his talents - we'd suggest a 1974 Ford Cortina with dodgy brakes at the top of Snake Pass on a moonless night when it's below freezing.

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