A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very short post – too short, so I’m told – in my “Which Reminds Me…” thread, about Kaiser Chiefs’ “Na Na Na Na Naa”.
That in turn has made me think about how songs with nonsensical titles have played quite a big part in the history of rock and pop, so I thought we’d have a look at some of them tonight.
But just like cafe’s feel obliged to write the words “Warning: Contents May Be Hot”, here’s an advance warning for you: this post contains songs of wildly varying quality. But that’s why you’re here, right? Right….?
So, let’s start with one of the greatest records ever:
Unfortunately, people of a certain age, i.e. me, can’t hear that record without being reminded of this pair:
Not got any funnier with age that, has it?
What is there to say about Little Richard that hasn’t already been said? Well, very little that isn’t defamatory, so we’ll go straight to one of his tunes:
Bears more than a passing similarity to his own “Tutti Frutti”, that is it…?
In 1986, presumably spurred on by his former Generation X frontman Billy Idol’s solo success, guitarist Bob “Derwood” Andrews formed Westworld. Named after the Yul Brinner movie, the band had two hit singles in 1987: a great one, “Sonic Boom Boy” which made Number 11 in the UK charts, and this not so great one, which made Number 37:
The follow-up single, “Where The Action Is” tanked even more, not even making the Top 40, and when their debut album met with a similarly indifferent response from the UK record buying public, the writing was on the wall for the band.
A few years ago, there was a rather wonderful sitcom on BBC3 called “Him and Her”. Starring Russell Tovey as Steve (the “Him”) and Sarah Solemani as Becky (the “Her”), a young couple living together in a flat where all of the action in the first three series’ took place. With able support from the likes of Joe Wilkinson, Camille Coduri and Kerry sister-of-Russell-Howard Howard, it’s a wonderfully understated show, with no laughter track or studio audience, full of awkward silences and knowing looks. If you haven’t ever seen, I would urge you to check out.
Here’s a clip:
I mention this now because the end credits had this playing over them:
“Him and Her” was written by Stefan Golaszewski, who some of you will know for being part of the comedy sketch group “Cowards”, along with the likes of Tim Key and Tom Basden. He also wrote the equally great “Mum” which is currently showing on BBC2 at 10:00pm on Friday nights, but you wouldn’t know that because you’re here reading this on a Friday night, right? Watch it, it’s great.
More TV related shenanigans now, and a tune which again is guaranteed to bring back some happy memories for those of us “of a certain age”:
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, when I was a kid in the 1970s, no Saturday morning was complete without watching The Banana Split Show, which would always be on at about 8am, whetting the appetite for the three and a bit hour feast of middle of the road, middle class niceness that was The Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.
The Banana Splits were a fictional rock band comprised of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper (I wonder how he got his name….?) and Snorky, who were in essence, and sorry to shatter the illusion, four blokes in weird costumes.
Probably easier if I just show you them, I think:
I so wanted a buggy like that when I was a kid.
Wait – did I just say “Middle of the Road”…?
Let’s not dwell to much on that one, eh? Instead, let me direct you this, a song which was just a bit too far ahead of the pack. Released in 1992, had it been three of four years later it would have been one of the great records of the Britpop era, by one of the most underrated acts, led by one of the most underrated musicians ever – Lawrence, formally of Felt, now of Go-Kart Mozart (unless he’s moved on again), then of Denim. As it was, it was largely, criminally, ignored by the majority of the Great British record buying public, the fools:
I’d hoped to be able to find their appearance on “Later…”, and it’s there on YouTube, but with even worse sound/video quality than that clip. It is rather amusing to read all the “This sounds like something from the 70s” slams in the Comments under that, written by people who really didn’t understand that that was the whole point.
Time for some more puppet-based fun now, but ignore what it says on the sleeve, and give credit where credit’s due:
Nope, you’re right. I can’t resist posting the video clip of that:
What’s not to love about that?
To some early 1980s German electro now, and a record which when I saw them perform it on Top of The Pops, the lead singer scared me like nothing else on that show had since Ron Mael had glowered down the camera lens in the 1970s:
Next to one of my favourite bands when I was a kid, cementing a place in my affections just after I’d grown bored of Shakin’ Stevens but before I’d discovered the joys of Status Quo, and, crucially, before I’d realised what a pretentious prick Sting was, and, even more crucially, before I’d ever seen him act.
From their 1980 album “Zenyatta Mondatta”, here’s:
I say I hadn’t worked out how pretentious Sting was, but the clues are on that album. Who else could write a lyric like this with a straight face:
“It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabokov” (from “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”)
Really, Sting? Are we supposed to believe you couldn’t think of something to rhyme with “Lolita”??
Time to round things off for this week, with two stone cold classics.
And finally, you will have done very well to avoid knowing that the Euro 2016 tournament started tonight, with England’s first game on tomorrow. Now, there seems little point in me posting any football related songs – though I have loads – when you can go and pay Football and Music a visit, and find everything you ever wanted to hear, and quite a lot that you don’t (said with affection, I promise – the first comment I ever posted was on this website).
No, instead, I’m going to leave you with this song, because it mentions “Tottenham Hotspur, when they couldn’t get one in” in the lyrics.
It’s looking like there will be five Spurs players in England’s starting eleven tomorrow night. Some of them might even be lucky enough to get played in their preferred position.
I’ll be hoping that one of them, at least, manages to get one in.
You know where I’m going with this, right?
Oh, and good luck to all the Home Nations: Wales (except against us, of course), Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and…oh, that seems to be the end of the list.