513. ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, by Phil Collins

We embark on 1983, then. And we start off with a classic. Well, a version of a classic…

You Can’t Hurry Love, by Phil Collins (his 1st of three #1s)

2 weeks, 9th – 23rd January 1983

I’m a big fan of The Supremes. Who in their right minds isn’t? They only had one (1!) chart-topper in the UK – unlike the States, where they went toe-to-toe with The Beatles for the most #1s in the ‘60s – but they churned out pop gem after pop gem. ‘Baby Love’, ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’, ‘Where Did Our Love Go’, and this ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’. (They loved to ‘love’ in a title…)

All of which is my long-winded way of saying that this song is classic… And, actually, Phil Collins does a decent enough job of covering it. He doesn’t ruin it. He keeps all that makes it great – most notably that much-copied bass intro (which we last heard on the Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’.) He doesn’t go all ‘eighties’ on us, and he doesn’t strip it back. As a record, it stands out as ‘retro’ among the class of ’82-’83.

In recent months, we’ve seen Captain Sensible, and before him Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, take fifties and sixties classics and, well, re-invent them. Collins doesn’t do that. But the problem with sticking so close to the original is that it’s clear when it’s not in the same league. Phil Collins is not Diana Ross, in more ways than one. You do wonder why he bothered…? It sounds nothing like his stuff with Genesis, or his biggest previous solo hit: ‘In the Air Tonight’. But then again, it delivered him his first number one. So whatever he was going for worked.

Like The Supremes, Collins had much more (solo) chart success in the USA than in Britain (seven #1s to three). As someone who wasn’t around at the time, he’s always seemed such an unlikely figure for one of the decade’s biggest stars… Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Phil Collins… It just seems weird.

Then I grew up with him as half-laughing stock beloved by estate agents, half-reclaimed hip-hop icon. He’s never been an easy man to categorise, I suppose. And that’s not a bad thing. But, he will be back atop the UK charts again, so we don’t need to sum his career up just yet. This looks like it’s going to be quite a short post; but I don’t think a straight-forward cover such as this needs much more analysis…

Though if even that was too much, here’s my TL;DR: ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ is a great song, and Phil Collins neither ruins it, nor makes it his own.

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Cover Versions of #1s – The Fratellis and Weezer

Day Two of ‘cover versions’ week, and I’m being a bit self-indulgent. I’m including this pair not because I think they are amazing covers, but because they are by two of my favourite bands. Bands that will come nowhere near to featuring on my regular countdown, so here’s their moment…

The Fratellis – ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ (originally a #1 in 1977, for Baccara)

Like Miley Cyrus yesterday, this is another cover done for radio. Although a desire to cover ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ would be completely understandable by anyone, at any time, there is a little bit of context here. The Fratellis are Glaswegian, big football fans, and the Scottish national team had just qualified for the European Championships – their first tournament appearance in twenty-three years. ‘Yes Sir…’ was adopted as the team’s unofficial anthem, after a video of the players dancing to the song went viral. In the run-up to the tournament T-shirts were printed with the lyrics, the song title became a hashtag, and Baccara themselves put their full support behind the campaign. Scotland, as tradition demands, went out at the group stage… Away from this cover, The Fratellis are a band well worth discovering. Their biggest hit in the UK was glam-rock anthem ‘Chelsea Dagger’ – a #5 from 2006 that you all know, even if you don’t realise it.

Weezer – ‘Are Friends Electric’ (originally a #1 in 1979, for Tubeway Army)

I love Weezer. I love the Weezer that everybody loves (The Blue Album), and I love the Weezer that many people hate (everything they’ve released since The Blue Album). I even love ‘Raditude’. And I admired Gary Numan’s futuristic electro-chart topper, but I can’t help enjoying it a little bit more with Weezer’s trademark crunchy guitars. Crunchy Weezer guitars make everything better. This was released as the ‘B’-side to 2008 single ‘Pork and Beans’ (one of the band’s classics). Like The Fratellis, Weezer will never trouble the #1 slot – their biggest hit in the UK was 2005’s ‘Beverly Hills’, which made #9. They’re a bit better known than The Fratellis, but still worth discovering in more depth. Even ‘Raditude’.

Two more tomorrow…

500 Number Ones Down…

The last chart-topping record I featured was as average as you can get: ‘A Little Peace’. A nice acoustic pop song with nice sentiments sung by a nice girl… Except, it was actually quite a notable chart milestone – the UK’s 500th number one single.

Which means, in just over four earth years we have covered almost thirty chart years! From Al Martino belting out the very first chart-topper, ‘Here in My Heart’ in 1952, past the pre-rock years, rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis, Merseybeat, four lads from Liverpool, the Summer of Love, the come-down, glam, disco, post-punk and new wave… To the spring of 1982.

Which means, at the current pace, we’ll hit the 1990s early next year, and we’ll meet the 1000th UK number one (although, actually, that’s a song which has already featured in the first 500… don’t ask…) sometime in early 2026! But, really, it’s dangerous to look that far ahead in life. I’m in no rush.

The pleasure here is to be had from the slow stroll: the discovery of lost gems, the re-discovery of all-time classics, a shrug of the shoulders at the boring ones, and a crack of the knuckles before I dive in studs-up on an absolute shocker of a song. And, of course, the fact that I’ve picked up so many dedicated followers, readers and commenters, without whom this pursuit would be pointless…

To celebrate this minor achievement, I had a look at my stats, and can now reveal the most viewed posts from each decade I’ve covered. I may have my favourites, but these are apparently the #1s that the good followers of WordPress (and beyond) want to know about…

The 1950s:

‘She Wears Red Feathers’, by Guy Mitchell

The most viewed post from the decade of Elvis, Buddy and the Killer is a song from the days when barely anyone had heard the phrase rock ‘n roll. It was just the 6th song I covered, so I guess it has had a bit of a head start. Read my original post here. (I wasn’t kind…)

The 1960s:

‘House of the Rising Sun’, by The Animals

Probably not the first song you’d guess for the sixties, but an undeniable classic nonetheless. The longest, and possibly the most risqué, song to have topped the charts at that point. Read my original post here.

The 1970s:

‘Rivers of Babylon’ / ‘Brown Girl in the Ring’, by Boney M

Despite coming towards the end of the decade, this one gets all the hits. It’s actually my most viewed post… ever. It’s also one of the best-selling singles of all time. Underestimate Boney M at your peril would be the lesson! Read my original post here.

The 1980s (so far):

‘Green Door’, by Shakin’ Stevens

Despite publishing it barely a month ago, ‘Green Door’ is already my most viewed post from the 1980s. Interestingly, of the four songs, only ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is one that you could find much critical acclaim for. Guy Mitchell, Boney M and Shaky all had something much more elusive (and lucrative)… popular appeal. And apparently still do!

And finally, before I go, a bonus. My least viewed post and, by these metrics, the least popular of the first 500 #1s…

‘Dance On!’, by The Shadows

Yes, this one-week number one from early 1963 has had barely any views. That could be comment on the state of popular music in the months just before the Beatles went supersonic. Or a comment on my writing. But I quite like the tune. Give it some love here.

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting over the past four years. For the rest of the week, I’ll be posting some cover versions of classic #1s. Here’s to the next 500!

ABBA: Best of the Rest – Part 1

We’ve covered all nine of ABBA’s UK #1s, from ‘Waterloo’ to ‘Super Trouper’, but I’m not ready to bid them farewell just yet. Here then, are the rest of the band’s 17 non chart-topping UK Top 40 hits, ranked, and split over two days. Bear in mind that I do not actively dislike any of these songs, even the lowest placing. While the records at the top of this list do, I’d say, rank alongside the best of ABBA’s chart-topping hits. Here we go…

17. ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ – reached #38 in 1975

The worst of the rest (but still an earworm). This is ABBA at their schlager-iest: the saxophones, the wedding bells, the silly title. The band were struggling to follow up ‘Waterloo’, to score a hit away from Eurovision, and when this limped to #38 it looked as if the game might have been up. Luckily their next single did significantly better, and the rest is history…

16. ‘I Have a Dream’ – reached #2 in 1979

ABBA’s final single of the seventies was this Christmas Number Two. Sorry, that sounded a bit rude. It’s not that bad, but I’ve never connected with it. Listening to ‘ABBA Gold’ as a kid, this was the one song I wished would end sooner than it ever did, and then along came Westlife’s rotten cover version. I still feel the same way: it’s a bit plodding – the sitar doesn’t help – and children’s choirs in pop songs are, as St. Winifred’s showed us, dangerous things.

15. ‘Chiquitita’ – reached #2 in 1979

Another number two – again, not being rude – from 1979, and from the ‘Voulez-Vous’ album. I can see that this is a well-made piece of music: the baroque piano, the chorus that demands to be belted out, the terrifying snowman in the video; and a well-loved moment in the ABBA canon. But it still leaves me a little cold. ‘Chiquitita’ could well be the lover of ‘Fernando’, and I’d rank the two songs together: catchy choruses, but nowhere near peak-ABBA.

14. ‘Money, Money, Money’ – reached #3 in 1976

If it were down to the video alone, this’d be near the top. The close-ups, the strobe lights, the diamond encrusted kimonos… As a song though, it’s fine. It’s worth a sing-a-long if it comes on the radio. It sounds a bit like it’s been snatched from a musical that nobody has ever seen, and it has one hell of a key-change. Apart from that, the best bit is when Frida pouts the line I bet he wouldn’t fancy me… Um, I bet he probably would, love.

13. ‘Ring, Ring’ – reached #32 in 1974

The title hit from their first album in 1973, albeit only charting in a re-release after the success of ‘Waterloo’. This is such an early hit – their first Swedish #1 – that the band hadn’t yet assumed their iconic acronym (they released it as Bjorn and Benny, Agnetha and Frida). They had a few glam-rock stompers – ‘Waterloo’, ‘So Long’, this. In the video, Bjorn looks like he’s stumbled in after an audition for The Sweet. ‘Twas the style of the time.

12. ‘Thank You for the Music’ – reached #33 in 1983

Their signature hit? Until quite recently, this was ABBA’s chart swansong. Originally recorded in 1977 and included on ‘ABBA – The Album’ but not released as a single until after they’d officially split. A few years ago I’d have ranked this rock-bottom: I thought it tipped too far into camp theatricality. And it still does… But I’ve grown to like it. Who knows, in another decade this might be my favourite? I always imagine Freddie Mercury singing it with Agnetha – the little ‘mm-hmm’ in the second verse is pure Freddie. Can you imagine..?

11. ‘Summer Night City’ – reached #5 in 1978

The band’s first foray into disco, ahead of the ‘Voulez-Vous’ album. While I like the impetus and the drive of this one, I don’t think it’s quite in the same league as their later disco hits, which I’ve ranked higher up the list. And, just confirm, the lyric is: Walking in the moonlight… and not what you think you heard.

A little hors d’oeuvre then, before the main event. Still some classics mixed in there. Same time tomorrow: The Top 10…

429. ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’, by Rod Stewart

And so we come to one of the most misunderstood chart-toppers. This record has been parodied, mocked, hated…

Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?, by Rod Stewart (his 5th of six #1s)

1 week, from 26th November – 3rd December 1978

But more on that in a bit. For a moment, let’s just enjoy the disco drums, and that well-known synth riff. Let’s enjoy the bass line. Let’s enjoy the fact that Rod Stewart’s 5th number one single is not an acoustic ballad. She sits alone, Waiting for suggestions… He’s so nervous, Avoidin’ all the questions… It’s a song about two shy people hooking up in a bar. At least, wanting to hook up in a bar. What should they say to break the ice? Luckily, Rod has a not-so-subtle suggestion…

If you want my body, And you really need me, Come on sugar let me know… It works. She calls her mother, and they’re back off to his place for a night of passion. Problem is… nobody seems to realise that that’s what this song is about. People know the chorus, and think that Rod Stewart’s singing about himself. They think he’s full of it, he’s disappeared up himself, he’s ridiculous… And it would be ridiculous, to write a song like this, about yourself. But that’s not what’s happening.

I say this as someone who knew the chorus and little else before writing this post. I assumed that Rod had let himself be swept up in the hedonism of disco. I pictured him singing this to himself in a nightclub of mirrors, coked off his tits. But no. He’s telling a story, as he does in so many of his songs. The line about them waking up the next morning and being out of milk and coffee is an observation straight out of ‘Maggie May’. And the middle eight is glorious: Relax baby, Now we’re all alone…

Of course, it’s not hard to see why this is seen as something of a novelty. The title, for a start. Plus, Rod made the dubious decision to play the song’s male protagonist in the video, frolicking on a bed with a gorgeous blonde. (Well, why not?) Then there’s the album from which it’s the lead track: ‘Blondes Have More Fun’, and its cover featuring Rod in a clinch with a leopard-print wearing woman. And then there’s the B-side, ‘Dirty Weekend’ – a song I love but not one that could ever be described as ‘classy’…

There is one other reason why some don’t like this disc. It is, pretty unashamedly, disco. Rock stars shouldn’t do disco! Disco, as many would start to claim around the time this hit #1, sucks! (These people were idiots; but their opinions stuck. Disco is heading for one final, glorious swansong, before crashing and burning.) At least this song not boring, or earnest, or acoustic… It’s not perfect. The sax solo is extravagantly long. In fact, the whole song is extravagantly long, as the age of the disco 12” demanded.

In my mind, ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ exists first and foremost as a Eurodance remix, by N-Trance, which was a #7 hit when I was twelve or so (I had it on cassette…) And as a sketch by the late Kenny Everett, a good friend of Rod, in which he prances around as Rod to this song, with a ridiculously oversized arse. It has left a cultural legacy, this record, for better or worse. Which means it’s still a famous chart-topper and, underneath it all, a pretty darn good one!

418. ‘Figaro’, by Brotherhood of Man

Deep breath… here we go again. For their final chart-topping trick, the Brotherhood do Boney M!

Figaro, by Brotherhood of Man (their 3rd and final #1)

1 week, from 5th – 12th February 1978

Boney M, with a dash of oompah. To tell the tale of a Spanish love-rat. Every morning when the sun is dawning, You’ll see him down on the beach… He’s a lothario, a sleazeball, maybe even a gold-digger… He’s out to make a killing… And baby if you’re willing, He’s gonna ask for more! He sounds a bit like Mozart’s philandering ‘Figaro’, which gives us perhaps the most unlikely musical comparison ever.

This, in case my little taster there didn’t spell it out clearly enough, is tremendous trash. They’ve done it again, Brotherhood of Man: taken the poppiest sounds of the day, and made them even poppier. They did it with bubblegum (‘Save Your Kisses…’), they did it with ABBA (‘Angelo’), and now they’ve done it with disco. To think this knocked off Althea & Donna’s impossibly cool ‘Uptown Top Ranking’ off top spot! Mind you, ‘Angelo’ kicked ‘I Feel Love’ out the way, so they have form in that regard…

Does this mean, though, that I dislike this record? Well, um… no. It’s catchy, dumb, and a whole lot of fun. In fact, I think this is the best of the Brotherhood’s three #1s. And it’s all down to our inveterate shagger. Uh-ho Figaro… He’s got magic-o woah… Playing guitar at the disco bar, he has his pick of the girls. What I don’t understand is why the band are making out that this is a bad thing? Why else do you have a holiday in Majorca, if not for a no-strings roll around with a Figaro?

Before doing this countdown, I of course knew Brotherhood of Man for their Eurovision-winning, million selling ‘Save Your Kisses…’, which still gets a fair bit of play today. I had no knowledge of their two follow-up number ones. I’m amazed they got two more number-ones, to be honest, and suspect that they sneaked these two one-weekers when sales were low. Still, you can only beat what’s in front of you. They remind me of Bucks Fizz, another poptastic Eurovision act who are remembered for their winning single, despite having big follow-up hits. They’ll be along soon enough…

As for Brotherhood of Man, they are still a going concern, despite a brief hiatus in the eighties. All four of the original members are there, in ‘great demand on the nostalgia and the gay circuits’… (Wikipedia’s words, not mine) Add to this the fact that there was a completely different version of the band floating around in the early ‘70s, that had scored a #10 hit in 1970, and there you go. They’re indestructible! Nothing breaks the Brotherhood…’

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/3sSYyPEUCTyMjMlN55z8SX

394. ‘Dancing Queen’, by ABBA

As a kid my first exposure to ABBA was through ‘ABBA Gold’, the band’s early-nineties greatest hits, track 1 on which is ‘Dancing Queen’. The CD would slide in, there would be that second of scanning, the little whirr… and then bam!

Dancing Queen, by ABBA (their 4th of nine #1s)

6 weeks, from 29th August – 10th October 1976

It’s not the first song you’d think of if asked to name ‘Great Intros’, but it should be. It is a record that strides into the room – the glissando is the door slamming open – with complete confidence. ‘ABBA’s here!’, it announces, ‘With their biggest hit!’ Then the vocals come in, and it’s not just the chorus, but the middle of the chorus, the main hook, thrown out within the first twenty seconds: You can dance, You can ji-ive, Having the time of your life…

I know nothing about musical terms – I can barely tell a pre-chorus from a bridge – but whatever it is that ABBA do in the verses, at the end of every second line, when the key slips lower: Lookin’ out for a place to go… and You’ve come to look for a King… It’s gold. Then they do the opposite, swooping up on the Night is young and the music’s hi-igh… And it’s even better. It’s pure ABBA, in that most other songwriters might think it a bit obvious, going higher on the word ‘high’, while Benny and Bjorn simply shrug and say ‘nope, that’ll be catchy!’

‘Dancing Queen’ doesn’t need me to sell it. It also probably doesn’t need to be written about any more, but hey, I gotta cover them all. Throughout this blog, I’ve referred to ‘Perfect Pop’ when writing about #1s like ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Cathy’s Clown’, and ‘See My Baby Jive’. Up until this point, I would have had ‘She Loves You’ as the most perfect pop moment so far. But ‘Dancing Queen’ usurps The Beatles to take, if you’ll pardon the pun, the crown. A crown I’m not sure it’ll ever relinquish.

Why is that? What makes this the ultimate pop song? I think it’s the nugget of sadness beating away at the heart of the record. The main character is a seventeen-year-old girl who seems to be running away from something. She doesn’t know where she’s going, or who she’s going to be dancing with… It doesn’t sound as if she’s got any friends with her. She flirts with one guy, she leaves them burning and then she’s gone… Or maybe not. Maybe I’m misreading it completely! Maybe she’s really just having the time of her life. Maybe she doesn’t need a boy, or a friend. Maybe she just needs to dance. To dance for the sheer joy of it!

Either way, the song has layers, ones that you’re still noticing even after hearing it for the three hundredth time. I could complain about ‘Dancing Queen’ being overplayed, and it is, but when a DJ sticks this on at a party nobody sits down, even though they’re hearing it for the three hundredth and first time. Last time I was a tourist in London, watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the band played the chorus of ‘Dancing Queen’ as the soldiers marched past.

Of course this record got to number one. ‘Dancing Queen’ is the dictionary definition of a number one hit. If you’re ever on ‘Pointless’ and the category is ‘#1 Singles of the 1970s’, don’t give ‘Dancing Queen’ as an answer. In the US it was ABBA’s one and only chart-topper (shame on you, America!) My only surprise stems from the fact that, in the UK, it took two weeks to climb to the top. If ever a song was going to enter in pole position, I’d have thought it would have been this. Click. Glissando. Bam.

378. ‘Hold Me Close’, by David Essex

Back for another pop at the top, the teen idol of the mid-seventies, and as far as I’m aware the only chart-topping star named after an English county… David Essex!

Hold Me Close, by David Essex (his 2nd and final #1)

3 weeks, from 28th September – 19th October 1975

When I wrote about his first #1, ‘Gonna Make You a Star’, I mentioned that he wasn’t very comfortable with the teeny-bopper tag. In fact, it’s what that whole song was about. A year on, however, I’m tempted to think he’s rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders, given in and hopped on the pure pop bandwagon.

Hold me close, Don’t let me go, Oh no… I, Yes I love you and I fink that you know… He’s kept the cockney accent; in fact he might be playing it up here more than ever. Wiv your love loight, shi-nin’… It kind of reminds me of Dick Van Dyke in ‘Mary Poppins’, even though David Essex was genuinely from east London, and I can imagine him gurning in the corny, deliberate pauses between words. It also reminds me, somehow, of Sid Vicious’s poppy covers, ‘My Way’ and the like, though a much more PG rated version.

It’s a fun pop song, and catchy as hell. If it were an animal it would be a huge, slobbering St. Bernard, just looking for a cuddle. The perky riff flirts with becoming irritating, but just about gets away with it, while the song could have a good minute shaved off its runtime and nobody would notice. It was a deliberate choice to make a single as commercial as this to be the follow up to #5 hit ‘Rolling Stone’, which was a bit more out there.

I don’t really have much more to say about this one. It’s catchy, and simple. A solid pop single. In time, David Essex would move more into acting, although he was scoring the odd Top 10 hit well into the eighties. He has starred in various West End productions, including ‘Evita’ and ‘Tommy’, and featured heavily on Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ concept album (Wayne also produced both of Essex’s chart-toppers.) He still performs, and acts, and has confirmed his place in cockney legend by appearing in ‘EastEnders’, and by having a model of himself in the West Ham United museum.

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375. ‘Barbados’, by Typically Tropical

Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome aboard Coconut Airlines… It’s August ’75, and we’re spending the summer in the Caribbean.

Barbados, by Typically Tropical (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 3rd – 10th August 1975

‘Captain Tobias Wilcock’ delivers a pretty convincing pre-flight welcome, detailing our cruising altitude and speed, sounding just like what you might hear if you stepped on a plane today. Until he reminds us to refrain from smoking until the aircraft is airborne… that is. Ah, the seventies.

Woah, I’m going to Barbados, Woah, Back to the palm trees… Let’s address the elephant in the room before going any further. We’ve got two white guys, one of whom is giving us a heavy Caribbean accent (ah, the seventies…) I’m going to see my girlfriend, In the sunny Caribbean sea…

London’s rainy, Brixton’s a mess: it’s time to go home. ‘Barbados’ is one of the first ‘summer holiday’ hits – not a song about summer (we’ve had plenty of them); more a song that sums up the summer holiday feeling – the escape from the daily grind to a world of sun and cocktails. A song that wouldn’t hit #1 at any other time of year. (The ‘90s will be the peak of this phenomenon, when record buyers will send one cheesy Europop record after another to the top of the charts.)

However, the singer doesn’t seem to have much intention of coming back from Barbados. Maybe he’s there to stay. Maybe this isn’t a holiday hit at all! The fact his girlfriend is called ‘Mary Jane’ adds another layer to it… Maybe he’s just high as a kite? Layers upon layers… The song itself is catchy – I like the twiddly synth riff – but very disposable. By the end, the cabin crew have taken over again, preparing us for landing: The weather is fine, with a maximum temperature of ninety degrees Fahrenheit… Sounds lovely!

If time and space permitted, I might make more of social commentary on the growing accessibility of foreign travel in the 1970s, and the growing impact of the Windrush generation on British culture. Plus, there’s this decade’s clear and undying love for a novelty single. All of which culminate in a week at the top for Typically Tropical, who were two Trojan Records engineers, Jeff Calvert and Max West, stepping out from behind their mixing desks to record this single. It is a 100% certified one-hit wonder: none of their later singles charted at all.

I knew this song as a teen, as ‘We’re Going to Eat Pizza’… sorry… ‘We’re Going to Ibiza’, in which it was neither sampled nor covered, more reimagined, by one of those Euro-cheese acts I mentioned earlier: The Vengaboys. I’m not linking to it, though, as we’ll be meeting it atop the charts in twenty-four years.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that yet again this is a record completely absent from Spotify. It’s interesting to observe that it wasn’t until 1972 that I encountered this problem. All those pre-rock ‘n’ roll #1s that nobody has listened to in decades were all present and correct, but several big hits from the mid-seventies aren’t. Not sure what point I want to make, but it’s definitely something to note.

365. ‘January’, by Pilot

(Isn’t this the perfect song for my first post of January 2021?) Back in 1975, making it to the top just in time, with five days to spare: ‘January’, by Pilot. (And don’t think I didn’t notice the perfect coincidence of our first month-themed #1 also being chart-topper #365.)

January, by Pilot (their 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 26th January – 16th February 1975

For the first time in what feels like an age, we have some glam rock in the top spot. I make this the first glam #1 since Gary Glitter’s ‘Always Yours’ in June last year. (Was David Essex’s ‘Gonna Make You a Star’ glam…? A question for the ages, but I’m going to err on the ‘no’ side.) Not that ‘January’ is all that glam. We’re not suddenly back in mid-1972, alas. But there are handclaps, for a start. And some flamboyant guitar flourishes.

It also qualifies as glam, for me, because of its nonsensical lyrics. January, Sick and tired you’ve been hanging on me… (Respect to Pilot here, for having the audacity to rhyme ‘January’ with ‘hanging on me’) You make me sad with your eyes, You’re telling me lies… Anyone who’s lived through a British January – and Pilot were Scottish, which means they’d have known some truly miserable Januarys – can sympathise.

 I think the singer just wants the summer to hurry up and arrive: Sun, Like a fire, Carry on, Don’t be gone… But then there are ways he humanises this calendar month – January, Don’t be cold, Don’t be angry with me… – that make me think ‘January’ might be a lover. Then there are lines like: You’ll be facin’ the world…! You’ll be chasin’ the world… that don’t fit either narrative.

What we have here, probably, is nothing more than a catchy pop song with some lyrics arranged semi-coherently. The Noel Gallagher method of songwriting, you might call it… Pop at its disposable best. There’s a hook, a beat to tap your feet to, and a chorus that’ll stay in your head for a while. And sometimes that’s enough.

Pilot were from Edinburgh, and ‘January’ was the follow-up to the (much better, and definitely 100% glam) ‘Magic’. That, amazingly, had only made #11 late in ’74, but I’d suggest that this chart-topper was riding the wave created by that earlier hit. They had a few other, smaller hits, and lasted three albums, before splitting. The members of Pilot, though, have quite the legacy, having been involved with The Alan Parsons Project, produced for Kate Bush, and written for Westlife.

I’m pretty sure that this is the first and only time that a record has reached the top of the charts during the month it’s named after. ‘November Rain’ was not a #1 (and was released in March…), ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’ should have been a #1, as it is a stone-cold classic, but no… In fact, I’ve just checked and bonus points shall be awarded if you can name the only other #1 record with a month in the title… (Hint: it’s coming up pretty soon…)