Kim Wilde

“There’s a new wave coming, I warn ya” – Top of the Pops, 26 February 1981

Peter PowellNever let it be said that this site doesn’t get results. After carping on for weeks about how this new look Top of the Pops needs an opening sequence instead of just crashing straight into the grinning host over the opening bars of the first song, finally someone has retrospectively paid attention and come up with one! The show now starts with the classic TOTP logo in a spinning box, on top of four smaller TOTP logos in spinning boxes, each them on top of four smaller TOTP logos in… you get the picture. It probably cost a fortune and took someone a week to do in 1981, but it adds next to nothing to the actual show, staying on screen for a whole two seconds before our grinning host Peter Powell fades up through the middle of the screen over the opening bars of the first song. Still, it’s all part of a gradual process as the show becomes more recognisably ’80s week by week, with another of the decade’s biggest acts débuting on the show tonight.

Watch on iPlayer (UK only, available until 1 March 2016)
See the full top 75 for this week on the Official Charts Website.

STATUS QUO – Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like (#19)

Status QuoNot this one, obviously. Always a safe pair of hands with which to open the show, the Quo are back again with the first single from their new album, just four months after their previous LP. Don’t they work fast? Clumsily introduced by Powell as “Something That I Like About You Baby”, the song had originally been a top forty hit for Tom Jones back in 1974 when he was in his desperately unfashionable phase – something Quo wouldn’t know about, of course, having been consistently and reassuringly unfashionable since the mid-’70s except for ten seconds in 1988 when they tried using a sampler on one of their records, then got scared and put it back in its box. No such frivolity here, just driving the Quo bulldozer through an old tune with slightly dubious lyrics. Despite their acceptance that they’ll never be fashionable, most of the band have at least turned up in smart white shirts and clean jeans – except drummer John Coghlan, who’s still persevering with his ’70s moustache and olive green shirt and flares. Don’t worry, he’ll be gone soon.

ROXY MUSIC – Jealous Guy (#6)

Roxy MusicThe official mourning period for John Lennon may be coming to an end, with only Woman still hanging around in the top twenty, but enough time has passed for those affected by John’s death to decide what would be an appropriate tribute. Yoko Ono has rushed out Walking on Thin Ice, the song she and John had been recording on the night he died, and seen it struggle to number 50 (it will briefly reach the lower rungs of the top forty in the coming weeks) while the once innovative and challenging Roxy Music have put out a slickly produced, six-and-a-quarter minute long cover of Lennon’s Jealous Guy – the last three minutes of which are just Bryan Ferry whistling – and it’s on its way to number one. No sign of the band putting themselves out by coming to the studio for this one, just the video in which Bryan sits around in an expensive suit and pink tie looking sadly into the camera. Helpfully the sleeve of the single bears the legend “Jealous Guy – a Tribute” lest any of you cynical Tweeters out there should think Roxy were cashing in on Lennon’s death, or that the three minutes of whistling were anything other than a heartfelt eulogy for a great man.

BEGGAR & CO – Somebody Help Me Out (#22)

Beggar & CoTime for the BritFunk Moment™ now with another outing for Beggar & Co’s biggest hit. Powell has a moment of confusion as he introduces the band as Light of the World before correcting himself, although it’s an understandable error as, other than the costumes, it’s still not entirely clear where one band ends and the other begins. It’s another showing for the only TOTP performance of the song, still with the brilliant long shot of the audience where you can see the floor manager stand up into shot holding a copy of the script, then a cut back to the band, and back to the long shot where he can be seen to squat back down into the audience. Don’t worry mate, nobody noticed. The ragged trousered percussionists (and saxophonists and guitarists) would spend the next two weeks at number 15 with this; circumstances dictate that we’ll see this performance again in a couple of weeks, more out of desperation than anything, but I’m telling you the plot!

KIM WILDE – Kids in America (#43)

Kim Wilde“And now, first time on Top of the Pops, she’s twenty years of age, her name is Kim Wilde and her song is called Kids in America!” A pretty comprehensive introduction to one of the decade’s biggest pop stars; it misses out the fact that she’s the daughter of ’50s Cliff Richard botherer Marty Wilde, but within a couple of weeks he would become “Kim Wilde’s dad” in the popular consciousness rather than Kim being “Marty Wilde’s daughter”, so never mind. Written, as all her best songs were, by Marty and her brother Ricky, Kids in America is so obviously a classic hit single in waiting it’s hard to believe it’s still only at number 43. With microphones now apparently only being issued to those who had reserved them in advance, like Status Quo, Kim (to be referred to in the pop weeklies exclusively as “luscious, pouting Kim Wilde” from now on) uses the lack of a prop to her advantage, cultivating a slightly aloof, cool image while still remembering to look at the camera in a way that was about to become responsible for a generation of young boys starting to feel “a bit funny”.

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THE PASSIONS – I’m In Love With a German Film Star (#25)

The Passions“Right, it’s the Passions next,” gushes Powell, grabbing the unfortunate girl on his right and being unnecessarily passionate towards her. A repeat from three weeks ago, I’m In Love With a German Film Star had been on its way down the chart but went back up this week to reach its peak position of 25, so here it is. Yes, I know it seems like some kind of clerical error but it only got as high as number 25 and the Passions never had another hit so this is the last we’ll see of them. The German film star in question turns out to be former Clash and Sex Pistols roadie Steve Connelly, who somehow found himself with minor roles in several German films in the late ’70s – a star of German films, rather than a film star who was German. Although it was the Passions’ only hit – and not a particularly big one at that – the song has proved to be an enduring one, having been covered variously by acts as diverse as Dubstar, Sam Taylor-Wood (with very obvious production by the Pet Shop Boys) and, er, the Foo Fighters.

MADNESS – The Return of the Los Palmas 7 (#7)

MadnessIt’s a packed show tonight and no mistake. “Flush from their success at the British Rock & Pop Awards where they had a right old time,” here are Madness with a very strange performance of a very strange single. Thanks to the new TOTP set which has a stage barely separated from the audience, it’s hard to tell who’s part of the act and who’s just standing around watching it; indeed, Lee Thompson starts off in the crowd before coming on stage to take the role of Waiter and proceeding to perform the most aggressive solo you’ve ever seen played on a toy saxophone, no doubt getting them banned from the show for another week. Having little else to do but lip synch the word “Waiter”, Suggs takes on the role of conductor and directs the others – Mike Barson on xylophone, Bedders and Chrissy Boy on acoustic guitars, Chas Smash on trumpet – through this rather pointless, though undeniably nutty, instrumental. Appropriately enough, 7 was the peak position for this one; anything else would just be wrong.

KELLY MARIE – Hot Love (#31)

Kelly MarieNext time Status Quo boast about how many hundreds of times they were on Top of the Pops, bear in mind that this is the seventh visit to the TOTP studio for Kelly Marie – that’s more than Madonna. Not only that, but Powell is keen to point out that Kelly’s been “voted Female Vocalist of the Year in Scotland.” No clue as to who voted for her or in what context, but Sheena Easton must have been livid. Anyway, here she is again, demonstrating her commitment to Scottish culture by having her two ever-present flunkies in full Highland dress this week, proving that black men could wear the kilt long before fat racist Nick Griffin decided that this would be a bad thing. Just as long as they don’t dance the Highland Fling over disco bagpipes, because then it’s racist. As it turned out this was the last visit to the TOTP studio for Kelly and her assistants, but we will see them again in a couple of weeks because there’s another strike on and we’re desperate.

COAST TO COAST – (Do) The Hucklebuck (#8)

Coast To Coast“If you’ve got the energy, we’ve got the music,” threatens Pete, and judging by the responses on Twitter this is one of the biggest earworms ever heard on the show, with dozens of people complaining that they’ve woken up singing it or just can’t get it out of their head, even though nobody will admit to actually liking it. Having charted at number 39 just two weeks ago it’s already shot up to number 8 and would go on to spend six weeks in the top ten. If you think there’s something not quite right about lead singer Sandy Fontaine’s performance, it’s probably due to the fact that he didn’t actually sing on the record; the vocals were provided by Alan Mills, the band’s former singer who quit just before the single was released, necessitating a hasty recruitment drive for a replacement. Fontaine also sometimes used the name Sandy Richardson, which would have sparked all sorts of confusion with the wheelchair-using Crossroads character of the same name, although in a bizarre twist of fate Roger Tonge who played the Crossroads character died of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on the day this edition of TOTP was first broadcast. More bizarre Sandy Fontaine revelations next time in a continued attempt to distract you from getting (Do) The Hucklebuck stuck in your head again.

ULTRAVOX – Vienna (#2)

UltravoxA straight and rather subdued cut from the end of Coast To Coast to the beginning of the Ultravox video again, almost as if someone had died (apart from Roger Tonge, obviously). A fourth outing for Vienna on the show and, as it just couldn’t muster the energy for that final push to the summit, this is the last we’ll see of it until Christmas Day, which probably won’t be on BBC Four because it’ll be far too much effort to cut Travis and Savile’s brief appearances out of it even though they hack the regular 40 minute shows down to half an hour every single week. Although Vienna didn’t get to number one, when the NME celebrated their fortieth birthday (and, by association, the fortieth birthday of the UK singles chart) in 1992 by commissioning Ruby Trax, an album of covers of number 1 hits by contemporary artists, Vic Reeves was given special dispensation to cover this instead. It’s a bit unusual, especially as Vic seems to think that Vienna is in Belgium, but perhaps not as unusual as EMF’s foul-mouthed cover of Shaddap You Face from the same album.

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FREEEZ – Southern Freeez (#9)

Freeez“So Top of the Pops is about charts, charts of the best selling records of the week…” Alright, Pete, I think we’ve all been watching long enough now to know what the charts are. On with the bottom ten countup then, paying as little attention as possible to The Jam’s That’s Entertainment at 21 because it’s not an actual UK single release, but a track from their latest album Sound Affects which was released on 7″ in Germany and sold enough copies on import to reach the charts in Britain. We can’t endorse such unorthodox behaviour of course, so let’s carry on up to number 9 for another BritFunk Moment™. I have to shamefully admit that it’s taken me 35 years to understand the thinking behind the band name Freeez, spelt with three “e”s – say it out loud in a Cockney accent. “Free e’s, innit?” Freeez would have other hits in various configurations but this was the only one to feature guest singer Ingrid Mansfield-Allman, who released three excellent solo singles after this – Stop Wasting Your Time and The Jam Jar Song both written by Ian Dury and Chas Jankel, and The Hunt co-produced by Blockhead Norman Watt-Roy – without success.

KIKI DEE – Star (#40)

Kiki DeeOn with “the bottom ten of the top twenty, if you’re following me,” before the return of Kiki Dee who hasn’t been on TOTP since 1977 when she performed her flop single Night Hours. Despite having scored half a dozen hits since Elton John took her under his wing in 1973, including their chart-topping duet Don’t Go Breaking My Heart of course, this was Kiki’s first hit since 1977 so, just in case you’ve forgotten who she is, she has her name written ten feet high in lights on the stage behind her. Star was written by Doreen Chanter of the Chanter Sisters, who long term viewers may vaguely remember performing their massive number 43 hit Side Show on a “Diddy” David Hamilton-hosted TOTP five years ago (prompting all sorts of Twitter comments along the lines of “My God, ABBA have let themselves go”). Star went on to reach number 13 before gaining a new lease of life as the theme to Bob Says Opportunity Knocks! in 1987 and was Kiki’s last top forty entry until she teamed up with Sir Elton again in 1993 for a cover of True Love.

JOE DOLCE – Shaddap You Face (#1)

Joe DolceIt still seems weird for the host of TOTP to say goodnight before starting the top ten countup, but that’s the world we live in nowadays and Pete does exactly that before linking to a photo of Fred Wedlock at number 10 without so much as a reassuring “Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well.” We’ve seen enough of Joe Dolce in the studio for now, so here’s the video which is pretty much the same thing but recorded in a theatre – perhaps his Music Theatre, perhaps not – but even this is deemed to be too much so the second verse is ingloriously chopped out to spare us half a minute or so. The lyrics are still up there on the blackboard for us to sing along to, but we can’t see them because the credits start rolling over the final choruses and nobody joins in with anything but the word “Hey!” anyway so there’s really little point. Eventually Dolce is hit in the face by a pizza thrown by a Mike Barson lookalike in the crowd and we’re done for another week. Next week we’re into March and Mike Read is back from wherever he’s been, so mind your language.

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