This is the series where I feature The Guardian’s idea of the 100 best UK #1s ever, and we see what I have to say about them.
There’ll be one along that I disagree with at some point, surely?
Not this week, there won’t.
Here’s what The Guardian had to say about the record at #95 on the list:
“It won’t be too much of a spoiler to reveal that this is the only No 1 single in this list that concerns how the brutally uncaring nature of new technology can paradoxically deepen nostalgia while rendering the past irrelevant. Trevor Horn and co turned this material into postmodern gold, building jingles, prog, orchestral pop and more into a screwball fantasy. That cold steady kick drum, meanwhile, is like techno kicking the door down to take over pop culture.”
They speak, of course, of this:
If I think back, this was probably one of the first singles I can properly remember seeing on Top of the Pops, although I was certainly aware of all of the singles from the Grease soundtrack a year earlier too, and there’s a vague awareness of Blondie and Sparks bubbling away back there, although for very different reasons (Debbie Harry would become my first pop star crush, whilst Ron Mael absolutely terrified the bejesus out of me).
However, I don’t necessarily remember it being performed on Top of the Pops, but I do remember seeing the video, which, given the subject matter of the song – how the rise in the popularity of videos being used to promote pop songs would ultimately make the radio an obsolete broadcast form – is a tad on the ironic side.
And the reason I remember the video? Well, it was shiny and silvery and a bit tacky and a bit space-agey, full of space-agey machines, just like the two TV shows which I was obsessed with back then: Dr Who and Blake’s 7.
And here are two of the space-agey machines from (Ton Baker-era) Doctor Who:
Absolutely terrifying….and from Blake’s 7:
Let’s see how impressive it looks when you switch it on:
Erm…it’s just a see through case with some tubes and wires and flashing lights in it, and a voice which sounds suspiciously like K9 from Doctor Who, that’s what that is.
But I digress. Video Killed…was also the first time that many of us encountered Trevor Horn; although Buggles would go on to have two further Top 40 hits in the UK (Living in the Plastic Age and Clean Clean), it was as a producer that Horn earned his star status, producing records by, in chronological order (pretty much) *deep breath*: Yes, ABC, Dollar, Spandau Ballet, Malcolm McLaren, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Band Aid, Grace Jones, Propaganda, Godley & Creme, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Paul “Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft” McCartney, Seal, Marc Almond, Tori Amos, Barry Manilow, Tom Jones, Cher, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner (he should hung up his headphones by now, in my book) and Charlotte Church, as well as forming the ZTT record label and being part of The Art of Noise.
Released in 1979, Video Killed… predicts the rise in the importance of video some two years before MTV was launched, and as such it’s prophetic, but inaccurate. Horn’s own career is evidence enough of this. But it can hardly be described as having killed radio; given it a bloody nose maybe, but killed? Nah. Had he also predicted the rise in popularity of the podcast, fit-bits, and podcasts about fit-bits (there’s bound to be one our there somewhere, isn’t there?) then maybe I’d have paid a bit more attention.
Since I mentioned the show earlier in this post, with the news that Jodie Whitaker is standing down as The Doctor in Dr Who, there will soon follow the usual media feeding-frenzy about who the next one will be.
I have a suggestion.
The best Doctors are the ones who manage to seem other-worldly, and I think there’s one actor who could pull this off at a stroke. I’m tempted to start an internet campaign to make them the next Dr Who. And that actor is…Matt King.
Matt, who? I hear you ask.
Matt King. This Matt King:
That’s right: Super Hans from Peep Show.
In a world where they can rehabilitate super-swearer Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It as Peter Capaldi’s incarnation, then I see no reason why they can’t do the same for drug-addled Super Hans.
And if he’s not quite other-worldly enough, just give him some more crack*. That should do the trick.
And this could be his show-reel:
Who’s with me? Anyone….?
*I am not really advocating this, although I am deadly serious about King’s suitability.