The Singles Jukebox
October 1997

in honor of this week’s I Love 1997 episodes on Stylus, we thought it’d be a good chance to take a look at some of the chart toppers in October 1997 in the United Kingdom. Do they hold up? Are they as bad as we remember? Dom, Peter and Colin attempt to find out.

She’s A Good Girl

Colin Cooper: Ah yes, “She’s A Good Girl”, from their best (only?) album The It Girl. Sleeper were a band who had a girl with them, and not only that – the girl was the one who sang. Now there’s a gimmick. Of course, it all got too much for them, largely because the girl in the song was a “goddess”, and probably because they had a girl too, they covered Blondie’s “Atomic” for the Trainspotting soundtrack (only she was much better). Their faux Blondie/Blur stylings lasted the time it takes to learn this song, and I hear these days she writes bad novels about being in bands. Oh, the irony.

Dom Passantino: Sleeper, like Menswe@r and Babylon Zoo, now exist solely as a punchline, rather than an actual band. And deservedly so. Louise Wener did look kind of hot in her Esquire photoshoot from December 1996 though.

Peter Parrish: Halve the tempo, hire a dedicated team of elves to dance on some effects pedals, husk up the vocals even more ... instant shoegaze classic! Alas, it was not to be. Forgettable now, as then; this is the sound of furiously distilled platitudes.

Lighthouse Family

Colin Cooper: The Lighthouse Family were always a band you could take home and show off to your parents. Whether you’d want to or not is another matter, but Raincloud ambles along nicely enough and doesn’t offend, with some nice beats from a keyboard. I think what I like about this most is that whether he’s rhyming the word “there” with itself, or barely ever singing, he doesn’t appear to ever try very hard, which I suppose is why it sounds so easygoing.

Dom Passantino: Indefensible as the Lighthouse Family were, they weren’t actually “bad”, rather just a musical sorbet with no actual redeeming features at all, but also no negative traits. This is one of the most average of their tracks, which always reminds me of eating in a diner in London called “Adam’s Ribs” when we went to the capital as a family one Easter.

Peter Parrish: The idea of a whole family living in a lighthouse is quite ridiculous. There’s only one toilet and it’s at the top of four hundred stairs. Can you imagine the horrific levels of morning tension that would create? Before long there would be murder afoot and the potential for a jovial Sunday night ITV detective series. It would be harmless, bland and mostly a waste of time. So, yes, a worthy vehicle for this song.

Aphex Twin
Come To Daddy

Colin Cooper: This one completely passed me by, I’m afraid. It was 1997 and I was 11. I do remember seeing the front cover for “Windowlicker” in HMV though, which messed me up for a while. Thanks, Aphex Twin.

Dom Passantino: AH SHIT MY EARS HAVE JUST FALLEN OFF. Wasn’t the video for this permanently on Channel 4 at around 1 am in the late 90s?

Peter Parrish: Winamp is now refusing to play this without crashing. Coincidence? Almost certainly, but it’s a handy anecdote which helps me allude to the inherent sinisterness of the track and bring you, the reader, a little closer to my magical world of mundane software problems. So I can eat your soul. And ponder the creepy similarities of this to the unsettling public schoolboy antics of “Firestarter”. The knowledge that this made the upper reaches of the charts brings me joy.

Barbie Girl

Colin Cooper: This did anything but pass me by. Not like you’d think, though. See, I was quite a mature kid, I thought I’d invented the wheel because I liked Oasis, but on the plus side I did get Pulp’s Different Class for my 11th, which was certainly an eye-opener (not least for my parents). When “Barbie Girl” came out, I hated it, but my muso father told me I wasn’t allowed to buy it. Naturally, that young rebellious spirit was stirred, and I went and spent £2.99 on the CD single, which had the video on if you put it in your computer. I think I played it twice. I made my point.

Dom Passantino: This…isn’t… that bad. It was the fourth number one single after Princess Di croaked it, after “The Drugs Don’t Work”, “Candle In The Wind 97”, and “Spice Up Your Life”. You can see the nation getting either more cheerful, or more gay, as the weeks went on.

Peter Parrish: Imagine my multinational delight when I discovered that there are versions of this in a variety of languages. At last, one world united in pop appreciation! Now I know that I can pitch up in France, Spain or Japan, ask “Barbie Girl?” in my best patronising English imperialist tone and go home with a wonderful souvenir black eye. Bonus fact; the Japanese version quite clearly repeats the phrase ‘titty titty / bum bum’ in homage to the fetishising of small plastic dolls.

Jimmy Ray
Are You Jimmy Ray?

Colin Cooper: “Who wants to know, who wants to know about me-he-he?” Never before has a singer so eloquently captured the mood of a nation in so few syllables. But, for all it’s misguided poor-man’s-Elvis-impersonator kitsch, it was kind of catchy. I mean, I only heard it a couple of times, and I’m doing this from memory, and I remember every moment (“Are you Stingray?” – “Are you Slim Ray?” – “Are you Faye Wray?” – “What the fuck?”). No, no I’m convinced this was really good.

Dom Passantino: Go away. Oh, you did.

Peter Parrish: ‘Are you Stingray?’ Quite blatantly not, no. If he was, this would be a moving ballad recounting the tragic love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name between an aquatic government official and his mermaid mistress. For someone who claims to be so cool and daaain-jerr-uss, he sure needs a lot of self-validation. Sorry Jim, I still don’t want to know about you.

By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-10-13
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