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Archive for the ‘Music – Songs’ Category

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Blancmange – Living on the Ceiling

Posted by Big Boo on October 14th, 2011

BlancmangeThis entry is about the Eighties band, not the dessert, so apologies to fans of milk based jelly-like puddings…

Whilst writing about the dessert Blancmange the other day I was reminded of the band Blancmange, and it occurred to me that whilst I remembered them being a band, I couldn’t actually remember any of the songs they did.

So a quick Internet search later and I bring to you Living On The Ceiling, a song I definitely remember and I hope you will too. If you’re not sure you do, then check out the video clip at the end of this post.

Blancmange themselves were a two piece outfit consisting of singer Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe, the synthesiser guy. They formed in 1979 and were fairly successful during the early Eighties, with them calling it a day in 1987. The pair did some solo work after that, but they recently reformed, and their fourth album, Blanc Burn, was released in March 2011.

Living on the Ceiling is a catchy song (probably why I remember it), with some interesting lyrics (I’m up the bloody wall!) and a mix of good old Eighties synthesiser and the sort of middle Eastern music you always associate with busy marketplaces and belly dancers. Oh, and surprise, surprise, the video itself contains a lot of middle Eastern style imagery to boot.

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The Vapors – Turning Japanese

Posted by Big Boo on July 8th, 2011

Turning Japanese - The VaporsBeing successful in the music world must be really tough, as the number of “one hit wonder” bands we can no doubt all think of testifies. Why is it that a group can come out with one song that somehow ticks all the right boxes and becomes incredibly popular, yet then fail to find that magic mix again?

The Vapors apparently thought themselves that they could become a one hit wonder after writing Turning Japanese, to the extent that they held the song back to be their second released single, in the hope that this damning fate wouldn’t happen to them. Sadly for them the strategy didn’t work, and so they will now forever be known to the masses just for this song.

However, it’s a good song to be remembered for, as its distinctive oriental sounding snatches make it instantly recognisable right from the start. The song is a very lively one with a catchy chorus that you only need to hear once to have it indelibly stamped into your brain (to be fair though the whole chorus does just consist of the following three lines repeated four times, so perhaps it’s no wonder)

I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so

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Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Posted by Big Boo on May 6th, 2011

Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be HappyIf you’re looking for a song to cheer you up then a good one to try is the classic Bobby McFerrin song Don’t Worry Be Happy. So popular was it that it has been used in so many films, TV programmes and adverts over the years you can’t fail to have heard it.

It was also used as one of the tracks on that rather dubious fad from the late Nineties, the Big Mouth Billy Bass. But let’s move swiftly on from that shall we…

The song was written and performed solely by McFerrin, and by perform I don’t just mean singing the vocals, but the entire music track. The music is an a cappella track, which if you don’t know means that no musical instruments were used to create it. Instead the entire tune is made up of different layers of Bobby McFerrin making musical sounds with his own voice (you know, dooooo-do-do-do-do, that sort of thing).

The song has a very laid back reggae style to it, with lyrics that illustrate several different problems that might (perhaps) crop up in your normal life, problems which you are then told to get over by just not worrying, and being happy.

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Men At Work – Down Under

Posted by Big Boo on February 28th, 2011

Men At Work Down UnderDepending on where in the world you live, there are some bands who appear to you to be one hit wonders, whilst in reality they may well have been very successful in their homeland. Dexys Midnight Runners are a good example of band that will be well remembered in the UK, but abroad may only have had a single hit.

Here in the UK, Men At Work are the opposite to Dexys. An Australian band who were pretty successful there, in Blighty they are really only remembered for one song, and that was Down Under (sometimes known as A Land Down Under, thanks to the chorus lyrics).

Down Under was originally recorded in 1981, but when it was reissued the following year it took the world by storm, hitting the number one spot in Australia, the UK and Ireland, the US, and a few more countries besides. I guess it was seen as a bit of a novelty record thanks to the funny lyrics and the catchy tune (but more on that in a bit) and that’s why it did so well.

The song tells the story of an Australian traveller touring the world, who meets various people on the way who befriend him because of his nationality. For a country brought up on Marmite it also introduced the UK to Vegemite, the Australian equivalent of the love-it-or-hate-it foodstuff. I’m sure it must have been because of Down Under that us Brits were even able to buy Vegemite in supermarkets for a while (not sure if you still can, but I don’t think so). For more on this food by product see the rather amusing Vegemite entry in the BBC’s h2g2 (An online attempt at creating a real Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, in a similar manner to Wikipedia).

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Vanessa Paradis – Joe Le Taxi

Posted by Big Boo on August 20th, 2010

Joe Le Taxi Vanessa ParadisI was driving in the car the other day when Joe Le Taxi by Vanessa Paradis suddenly came on the radio. I had forgotten all about this song until then, and hearing it again instantly took me back to my childhood, with memories of looking up the lyrics in my sisters copy of Smash Hits.

Joe Le Taxi hit number 3 in the UK charts when it was released at the beginning of 1988, but what is most surprising about this fact is that the song (as the title suggests) was sung in French, meaning most of us in the UK didn’t really have much of a clue as to what the song was saying, other than it was presumably about a taxi driver named Joe who liked the saxophone.

However, it was a very catchy song that you ended up humming or singing along with, despite not knowing what the words meant, so it was nice to see a song do well in the charts because people presumably must have really liked it.

Another surprising fact is that the singer, Vanessa Paradis, was only fourteen at the time, and this wasn’t even her first released song – that honour went to La Magie des surprises-parties (my French is not great but I’m guessing that’s The Magic of Surprise Parties) which was released in 1983, so she must have been just ten for that song!

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You’ll Never Get To Heaven…

Posted by Big Boo on August 6th, 2010

baked bean tinSchool trips were always fun for several reasons. First, it always seemed like a day off school. Secondly, you sometimes got to go to some interesting places. Thirdly, the coach trip often descended into what can only be described as mayhem! Fun mayhem that is!

The teachers would first try to keep everyone amused by playing something like I-Spy, but we soon all bored of that and somebody would try and liven the journey with a group song. I’m not talking something sensible like Kumbaya though, no, it would be something in the Ten Green Bottles vein to start off with.

The kids would get down to about 4 or 5 bottles remaining on the wall, whereupon one of the teachers wouldn’t be able to take it any more and would request a change of song. That’s when You’ll Never Get To Heaven started up. This was usually sung by having one person leading, and everyone else repeating the lines to start with, then everyone would join in for a recap of the verse. Here’s an example verse:-

Oh, you’ll never get to heaven,
In a baked bean tin,
‘cos a baked bean tin’s,
Got baked beans in.

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99 Red Balloons

Posted by Big Boo on July 7th, 2010

99 Red Balloons99 Red Balloons was a number one hit for Nena, which was both the name of the female singer of the song and her band too, in February 1984. This was the English translation of the original German version, which was called 99 Luftballons, and between the two versions Nena managed to achieve the number one slot in the charts in at least ten countries, including the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and home country Germany.

Surprisingly enough, though it only managed to reach number 2 in the US, this was with the original German language version of the song, which was quite an achievement.

The song was a very poppy, bouncy (fitting for a song about balloons) yet still a bit rocky affair, but the story it tells had a rather darker over tone. The two versions tell broadly the same tale, although the English version isn’t actually a direct translation of the words. It goes something like this…

Some friends buy a packet of balloons (perhaps a packet of 100 but one popped during inflation? Who knows?) and decide to blow them all up and let them loose into the sky. Off they merrily bob, only to be picked up on radar and mistaken as a possible UFO or maybe an enemy attack, which leads to fighter jets being scrambled and the brink of war! Ouch!

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Anita Dobson – Anyone Can Fall In Love

Posted by Big Boo on March 12th, 2010

anyone-can-fall-in-loveIt was the mid eighties when the BBC launched their soap opera EastEnders with much fanfare, causing my Mum and mothers across the land to tune in eagerly for a dose of market trading folk from a small London suburb. Such was the popularity of the show back then that the characters who made up the original cast are still fondly remembered today.

The programme has a very memorable theme tune, but it came as quite a surprise to most people when Anita Dobson, aka Angie Watts, the Queen Vic landlady, released a record which put lyrics to the theme song.

The lyrics may well be considered cheesey now (and probably was back in 1986 when it was released) but it has to be said that Anita Dobson didn’t actually have a bad singing voice, so whilst it was most likely the popularity of EastEnders that saw the record reach number 4 in the UK charts, at least there was some talent involved in the production of the record.

The EastEnders theme tune was originally composed by Simon May, with the lyrics added afterwards by Don Black. It was produced by Dobson’s husband Brian May. That’s right, the big haired Brian May from Queen! Well, it’s nice that he supported his wife, isn’t it?

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