Sunday, July 17, 2005


Sometimes, people relocate and find they're starting a whole new life, and they feel like a new person. Others, they travel thousands of miles and can't shake off the miserys and disappointments they hoped they were leaving behind.

TOTP on BBC 2, it's safe to say, would be sat in the hotel restaurant playing with its mobile phone, moaning about the food, and looking dark as thunder.

They've drafted in the concept of the guest presenter, abandoned a few years back as being like opening a portal to a world where autocues are feared; although to be fair, tonight's guest, Phill Jupitus looked like he'd been created in a back room to present the show - it's supposed full-time girl Fearne Cotton who acted as if she'd never seen a camera before. Even the production team seem less than impressed with her, leaving in her fluffs as, presumably, it's just not worth the effort of asking her to retake.

They've got TOTP2 style captions to introduce the bands, for those unfamiliar with Paul Weller and, in an attempt to pretend the show holds an air of glamour and promise, the bands due to play that evening are shown stood on a stage, all coralled together. They look more as if they're expecting to be shot one by one than perform, but even so, it's a massive improvement on the starbar.

The new slot means the charts are hot off the computer printer, which you'd think would at least give some sort of air of excitement to the programme, but for some reason they've got an I Speak Your Weight machine in to do the rundowns. Considering for the first time in years there's a possibility that the audience won't have heard the news when TOTP gives it out, you'd have thought they could have found someone with the ability to at least give the Top Tens some lift - maybe Darren Betts could be drafted in to do them; an air of menace and impermanence would beat the current dull ticking off the records.

What of the music chosen for this not-actually-historic occasion?

First song up is Inaya Day's Nasty Day - ticking a couple of Jarvis Cocker's great pop TV boxes, she's got some sexy dancers backing up. They strip off their tiny tops at one point to reveal equally tiny tshirts - but since they're still showing the same portions of skin as before, this is much more tease than strip. It's at least half an attempt to create an event; but the problem is the tune is rubbish.

Next, 'Exclusive' performance from Paul Weller. Poor Paul - nobody told him the show went out four days later and it looks like he's been sleeping in TV Centre waiting for his chance to go on. His new stuff doesn't get any better, does it?

Take That appear, from the archive. This could be an indication of what they intend to do in the future - choosing the great bands from TOTP past, and then picking one of their more shit performances. So we get It Only Takes A Minute, one of the most Gary Barlow-heavy That songs. And, for some reason, they've superimposed a Pops logo, too, so that's two useless lumps dominating the screen which could have been used for giving time to Mark Owen.

Anastacia-meets-Halliwell follows, with Charlotte Church doing Crazy Chick (a single that, um, is going down the charts). Church is wearing a cummerbund - why, we're not sure - but this doesn't detract attention from Churches' big problem. The song not being that great isn't unfixable; and she can certainly sing. But she's not a pop performer - she can't put across the song through anything more than a slightly desperate bum waggle. She still looks like she's an opera singer doing rock for Faking It - and not fooling anyone.

There's then a really long interview with the stars of the Fantastic Four. Why? If there was any real point to this, surely they'd have got someone who can carry an interview to do it rather than Fearne? Our gut feeling is that TOTP should puff films when Film 2005 starts to invite Elton John to do a song or two. As if to try and prove there is a musical justification for this movie advert, they play Ben Moody and Anastacia's video from the OST. It's the sort of song that would have had Moody laughed out of Evanessence if he was still in them; Anastacia tries to spin something out of her backing vocal invite by doing a scary impression of Jennifer Lopez from back when she was liked.

Driving In My Car from Madness repeats the good band/crap song choice shown in the Take That segment - made worse by the demonstration of what a band trying to put on a show for the TV audience looks like. Their slightly-over literal interpretation of the song makes Weller's performance from earlier look like its got the passion of a mid-morning Woolworths instore.

Before Hayseed Dixie comes on, the two presenters are employed to give us an explanation of what it is the band do - like this was Tomorrows World and we were about to be introduced to chess-playing coffee machine or something. They use bluegrass instruments to play pop - we get it. It's not rocket science. They don't quite force Phil to use a powerpoint demonstration, but they might as well. Oddly, though, they don't find time to explain why something so horrible is being played on TOTP at all.

Bananarama at least are always worth watching - they've not been on the show for thirteen years, so haven't heard that you're not meant to be that arsed about it any more. We're not sure, but if we've interpreted their hankies correctly, one likes to be a dildo fuckee and the other enjoys being on top during 69. Either that, or their costumes had a terrible double meaning.

Due to be a staple of those It's Love valentine albums for years to come, James Blunt's Your Beautiful has someone managed to get to be number one. At least he's slimmed down the rate of overstaffing shown by most Coldplayesque bands.

In the next week slot, there's a threat of what appears to be a scary man on a bus. Oh, and they waste the closing minutes by playing the theme song again instead of something better (i.e. anything else).

All in all, it's a bit directionless - in a bid to have something for everyone they seem to have just trotted out a conservative selection of mid-market gush. Perhaps it's just feeling jetlagged, and it might wake up in the coming weeks. But for now, TOTP on 2 is staring whimsically at pictures of its old home, knowing it can't go back, and not sure it's able to go forward.


Anonymous said...

Apart from Fearne's mistakes (could they be left in because it was actually live and not on a delay?), they messed up on their

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I was trying to work out if it was live - it didn't feel especially live...

Anonymous said...

There was meant to be a link at the end of the comment above - This is what I was trying to post..

First song, first mistake, Inaya Day is actually #9 .. which made me think it might be on a delay "as live" - and the captions were made as soon as the chart came in in the early afternoon so no-one noticed the mistake because they were too busy rushing.

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