Category Archives: synth-pop

Hip Replacement: The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood (ZTT)

OF COURSE, there were a lot better singles in the pop chart but what can you do? Beige will prevail.

A combination of guilt-tripping peer-pressure and a genuine if naïve and perhaps even misguided desire to make some kind of a difference to the world meant that banal, mindless, oblivious conformity won through in the end.

It wasn’t anything to do with music. It was all about marketing, hype and good, old-fashioned bullshit.

How could we have ever thought that it would be any different? It was a foregone conclusion. Shit floats. Always has, always will. And there are an awful lot of dullards and impressionable kids out there. Thinking about it now, it would have been surprising if the crappy charity protest record didn’t get to the top of the Christmas chart.

Then again, who really gives a fuck about the pop chart at any time of the year, up to and including Christmas? This is not the concern of adults. Teenage girls and people who work in the music industry, I can understand. Anyone else, not so much – and this was just as much the case a quarter of a century ago as it was earlier this week.

Twenty-five years ago to the day, Band Aid’s execrable response to the 1984 Ethiopian famine, Do They Know It’s Christmas? was the Christmas number one – even though everyone knew it should really have been The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

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Hip Replacement: Temptation by Heaven 17 (BEF/Virgin)

BREAKFAST television was a new and exciting concept. New kid on the telly block Channel 4 was showing the very creepy and disturbing Minipops. Everyone thought it was simply hilarious when some student asked if he could have a P please Bob on Blockbusters. One pound coins and wheelclamps appeared for the first time. Everything was changing.

It was the year that cruise missiles arrived at Greenham Common, prompting massive CND protest marches. David Niven and John Le Mesurier died. I remember it as a time of great fear and uncertainty. The top selling single of 1983 was Karma Chameleon. Terrifying.

In the aftermath of the Falklands war Margaret Thatcher won 42 per cent of the vote in the June general election, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, “over Michael Foot, who led a highly-divided and weakened Labour Party which earned only 28 per cent of the vote. Then Thatcher sucked off Hitler.”

Most of the history books omit this last detail. They are wrong. Thatcher sucked off Hitler. Fact. It says so on Wikipedia. That’s good enough for me.

Anyway, I was at sixth form and, although I didn’t know it (I could probably have taken a decent guess, to be honest) I was just about to fail my A levels. I was a bit distracted.

Me and this – by my standards – very posh girl named Nell had a bit of a flirty thing going on in the Wednesday afternoon general studies session and I eventually got the message and asked her out. We got  the college bus from town to my house and then my dad gave us a lift over to a village a few miles down the road where a guy called Hoss was having his 18th birthday party in a church hall.

Rocking a shabby, baggy black Oxfam suit with crepes, little round John Lennon glasses and spiderplant hair, I must’ve looked a right state. Suave. And I probably had a bit of a spring in my step. A lot of the kids at school thought I was a dork – they might have had a point – but I’d not seen some of them since we left. Turning up with this extraordinarily glamorous Laura Ashley blonde was a wonderful thing. Dreadfully superficial I know, but I’m that kind of guy.

I was knocking back the Bailey’s, trying to affect a veneer of rakish sophistication, but the effect was spoiled somewhat by the fact that I ended up spilling a glassful of the thick creamy liqueur all over the crotch of my trousers. Despite some frantic mopping with wet tissue in the toilet, it left a very large and noticeable oily splash stain, like the aftermath of the most premature case of premature ejaculation you’ve ever seen in your life. I can laugh about it now.

The DJ was playing the standard pop fare of the day, which – according to some bloke off the internet – would’ve included stuff like Let’s Dance by Bowie, Is There Something I Should Know by Duran Duran, Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics, Blue Monday by New Order, True by Spandau Ballet, Beat It by Michael Jackson, Speak Like A Child by the Style Council and, for the erection section, Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler.

Classic pop, some might say. Not me. I kinda hated pretty much all of it at the time and with a few obvious exceptions hate it now. But the DJ, I remember very clearly, also played Heaven 17’s big, brassy breakthrough single, Temptation.

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.