There was something very strange going on with Top of the Pops last Sunday (04/07/06). Admittedly I can’t say I’ve actually been watching the show that closely for the past few years, especially since it became relegated to BBC Two, although I’d be a bit of a fibber if I claimed to have been more than the most casual of viewers when it was propping up the Friday night schedule on BBC One. But now that the great pop panaethon is finally coming to an end, I thought I’d drop in on the show just one more time.
Okay, I admit it. The only reason I was watching was to see the Lilly Allen performance of ‘Smile’. For Lilly Allen, read possibly the next big thing and Keith Allen’s daughter. She has also been described in some quarters as the female equivalent of The Streets. Fusing witty lyrics and a hilarious video with a reggae beat, ‘Smile’ tells the story of a vengeful Allen paying a couple of yobbos to go round a beat up her ex-boyfriend, trash his flat, and scratch all his records, while the poor fool goes looking for Allen just get some sympathy, causing Allen to piss herself with laughter.
Lilly Allen, was first spied on the debut edition of Transmission, Channel 4’s latest 21st Century answer to the Word, only this time without the forever irritating Terry Christian. Hosted by Lauren Laverne (no stranger herself to axed pop shows – CD-UK on ITV last year, and the aptly titled Pop on five) and the Welsh one off T4 (still, could’ve been worse, could’ve been Vernon Kay). Because this is late night Channel 4, they can get away with the odd bout of swearing, Lilly Allen could use the original sweary lyrics from her song, and Steve Jones could compare the band Feeder to the sexually perverse act of feeding women food until they burst. And it’s all highly entertaining, save for the strange habit of having the vocalist on some kind of revolving platform while the rest of the band try an perform in the background. I didn’t notice this in the second programme, so I’m assuming that the director saw sense and decided to drop this ‘quirky’ (read ‘unsettling’) element of the show.
But, anyway I digress. As it appeared from last Sunday’s showing of the Pops (forgotten them already), they’ve suddenly decided to go all trendy and book mostly the types of bands you’d normally only see on a programme like Transmission, or hear on Radio 1 after 7pm, perhaps in a “well we’ve been axed anyway, so f### it, lets do out own thing and stop peddling to the Sam & Mark teeny-bopper audience” type outlook. And who can blame them
First up were The Kooks, not a band I’m overly familiar with, but I believe that they may fall into that category of might be appearing on an edition of Transmission in the near future, followed by the aforementioned Lilly Allen, and then old indie starlets Belle and Sebastian. This was then followed by some archive footage of trendy indie dance band Moloko, and then back in the studio for a live performance by Muse – a band once heralded (by me) as the New ‘Old’ Radiohead.
Unfortunately they then went and ruined it all by playing the new Christina Aguleria video. As worbbley and unlistenable as all her other pop records, I’m afraid. And then things went very strange, as they brought on some Spanish bloke called Paola Nunn. Didn’t have a clue what he was singing about.
You could tell that the director must’ve been panicking at this point, so they hastily cut to a performance by Ace of Bass from 1993, when it appeared that the overuse of the smoke machine was still very much in fashion.
Then, phew! Back to the present day, and a performance of Indie Cool from Razorlight, a band who well be most fondly remembered for having a drummer who was the second cousin’s, sister’s husband’s nephew of my ex-housemate Tom.
And then the Top 10, and oh no, they’ve gone and ruined it all by having Shakira and Wycliffe (of whom, I am reliably informed is not the ITV detective of the same name) at No. 1.
I myself am no stranger to the hallowed halls of the Top of the Pops studios, having attended the recording of an edition back in 2001. Back when it was filmed at the Riverside Studios (late of Chris Evans ego-a-phon TFI Friday). Unfortunately, this was a slow week and as a result they had only booked two guests. One being Oxide and Nutrino, part of the So Solid Crew collective, and so probably now behind bars. The other being Jamiroquai, who I managed to insult once filming had wrapped and we were having a few Tequila Slammers and Scotch Eggs outside. Well when I say insult, it was more along the lines of saying rather sarcastically how great going to the Top of the Pops recording had been, and how absolutely thrilled I was to have been within spitting distance of the mighty Jay Kay.
Didn’t realise he’d been sat behind me the whole time, smoking a fag.