This Is Pop #11

Question: At what age does it become unacceptable to still have crushes on pop stars?

I mean, perfectly harmless crushes, of course. Not the sort that develop into going through their bins, appearances in Court and restraining orders being issued.

I ask this because a pop singer’s name came up in conversation with Kay at work (I’m not sure how, I suspect that, as with so many conversations we have, she misheard something I said and asked me why I’d just mentioned this particular pop singer) and on the bus on the way home, the stomping ground of many an obsessed pervert over the years, I realised I’d had quite a thing about this popstress back in the day.

The first time I heard her, back in 1989, just like Vienna she meant nothing to me, for she was what I assumed to be “just” a session singer on a record by an R&B act with a terrible pun for a name. This record, in fact:

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D Mob Introducing Cathy Dennis – C’Mon And Get My Love

D Mob knew something we didn’t at that point, of course. Did you spot it? That’s right: not D Mob featuring Cathy Dennis, but D Mob Introducing Cathy Dennis. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow D Mob to introduce you to Miss Cathy Dennis.”

Those crazy D Mob boys knew what they were unleashing on the world alrighty.

My ignoramus belief that she was nothing more than a session vocalist (who, I realise now, are generally incredible singers) seemed to be vindicated when the first three singles she released in her own right stalled at numbers 93, 48 (so close!!!!) and 95 respectively.

And then, in 1991, two years after that inauspicious debut, came the biggest hit of her recording career:

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Cathy Dennis – Touch Me (All Night Long)

I was 21 years old when that came out in 1991, and yet I still recall looking up over the pages of the NME when it came on The Chart Show one Saturday lunchtime, and feeling my little heart beat so hard that I hoped my girlfriend didn’t wander into the room or else I’d have to explain the copious amount of drool on my chin.

Remember I mentioned those three flop singles? Well, actually it was just two, for the one that reached #93 and #95 was actually the same record released twice. Still, third time’s a charm, and so it was that in July 1991 it got released again, and this time: bingo! #13:

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Cathy Dennis – Just Another Dream

Two hits into a career and we all know what record labels want an artist to do next to cash in on them cement their reputation: release a ballad…

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Cathy Dennis – Too Many Walls

…and then follow that up with one last single from her “available in all good record stores now” album:

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Cathy Dennis – Everybody Move

And then, suddenly it was all over. Yes, there were a couple more minor hits, and a brief flirtation with the UK Top 20 again in 1997 with a cover of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” which I’m not going to trouble you with here, and there was the time when she quit Club MTV’s first tour amid claims that she had been sexually harassed by one of Milli Vanilli, who presumably wasn’t lip-syncing on that occasion.

But it seemed to me that just as quickly as she had breezed into my life, so she was gone again.

Or so I thought.

For unbeknownst to me, Dennis had merely gone off to reinvent herself, and boy oh boy did she ever did that, writing or co-writing three of the biggest selling and – let’s be honest – best pop records of the 21st Century, namely this…

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Britney Spears – Toxic

(I think that’s the third time I’ve found an excuse to post that record here)

…and this…

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Kylie Minogue – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

(Kylie’s Harry Houdini tribute act needed some work)

…and this…

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Katy Perry – I Kissed a Boy

I watched Katy Perry’s Glastonbury performance a few weeks ago, and as I sat there watching it I found myself thinking: No really, at what age does it become unacceptable to still have crushes on pop stars?

More soon.

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This Is Pop #2

I’ve never really been all that bothered about Katy Perry.

Didn’t really care that she’d kissed a girl, much less whether or not she liked it. I  yawned with indifference when she duetted with Snoop Dogg on “California Gurls” (and probably would have moaned about the spelling of “Gurls” too, had it not been for Big Star’s “September Gurls”), or with Kanye West on “E.T.”. I shrugged with disinterest when she married Russell Brand, turned over the page of the celebrity gossip column when I learned they had split.

Then one day, I read that Miss Perry had brought forward the release date of her single “Roar” to September 1st 2013, which just so happened to mean it was coming out in the same week as Lady Gaga’s “Applause” (I swear I remember reading this, although everywhere I have looked when fact-checking this article contradicts my memory; “Applause” first charted in the UK on 24th August 2013). Anyway, I remember thinking this might be the latest instalment in those famous pop rivalries that crop up every now and then, a la Beatles v Stones, Blur v Oasis.

I’d briefly quite liked Lady Gaga when I heard her first album, which I’d stumbled across long in advance of her becoming the international icon she is now, courtesy of a blog that has long since perished, and which to my eternal shame I’ve forgotten the name of. But like the shallow idiot I can be sometimes, I’d quickly gone off Lady Gaga when she got famous, not because she got famous, more because I was just sick of hearing about her and her bloody meat dress.

But the article piqued my interest; I mean, what if I liked Katy Perry’s “Roar”, but I also liked Lady Gaga’s “Applause”, how would I know which was best? There was only one way to find out…

Listen to them both and make an informed decision, of course.

Secretly, I had already decided that Gaga would undoubtedly triumph, she was the undisputed (current) Queen of Pop, right?

Wrong!

“Roar” is an absolutely monster of a record, a perfect piece of pop, full of pomp, positivity, determination and defiance in equal measures. So there:

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Katy Perry – Roar

Ah, you may as well hear the Lady Gaga tune too:

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Lady Gaga – Applause

I mean, s’alright but it’s no “Poker Face”, is it?

“Applause” peaked at Number 5 in the UK chart; “Roar” made Number One and stayed in the Top 100 for 49 weeks. It was the first time in years I’d liked, or even knew, a record that got to Number One.

More soon (and there’s a clue somewhere in all of that as to where we’re going next week).