One Direction, ‘Gotta Be You’

Andrew Loog Oldham’s going to sue over that intro.

As sincere boyband ballads go, this isn’t dead before it begins. One Direction are being handled with care – just the right combination of harmless fun and puppy-shagging-your-legness – which makes them a nice fit in the teen market. It’s better than a bunch of miniature Cliff Richards sitting on stools and pretending adolescence is one big chaste wallow in romance. Yeah, ‘Gotta Be You’ is undying-love slush but at least the chaps are only declaring it so they can cop a feel.

Let’s not concern ourselves with the “mess” they made upon the poor girl’s innocence.

It’s just pleasant pop to the Juniors, who say they like it, as Cowell always knew they would. Junior 3 twirls about then raises her hands in the air for each yearning chorus – feeling that EMOTION coursing through. Junior herself is interested in the details: “Who’s singing?” Well, there’s Liam and Harry, they do the heavy lifting. Zayn’s a bit more freestyle, Louis chips in maybe. She points at Niall: “What does he do?”

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[4] The Horrors, ‘Sea Within A Sea’

This would have been a better Christmas No.1. It has droney vocals, seemingly endless monotony, a metronomic rhythm like the slow trundle around the Boxing Day M25, that pervading sense of doom – in all, it’s a real festive cockle-warmer. But of course it neither has *GASP* swearwords nor the relentless Cowell machine behind it, so there was never a snowball’s chance. And no one thought about it. Next year then.

The Horrors can comfort themselves with all the critical garlands they received for an impressive step forward. Only the gloom and occasional tough riff remained from their (pretty funny) goth-garage debut; otherwise, Primary Colours was a fug of glacial synths, Krautrock basslines and happy-go-lucky Joy Division ambience. ‘Sea Within A Sea’ was the astonishing curtain-raiser, galloping in on a Satanic groove, hanging around for five teasing minutes, then sailing away between banks of tinkling keyboards. It’s good.

“I like the singing,” came an atypical response, “but I don’t like the music.” She said that, but she performed a wafty indiegirl dance for the full seven minutes, with some slapstick falling-over thrown in. Slapstick. It’s what The Horrors are all about.

Wicked stone (man):

[9] Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks , ‘Sinful!’

Now we know it’s 23 years ago. You wouldn’t find a crazed-eyed maverick like Pete Wylie in the charts today, ranting his own agenda and making music so vast it thumbs its nose at categorisation (although I imagine iTunes will say ‘rock’). And that’s a bad thing, believe me (“I wish you’d believe me”). We don’t need Cowell-spawned dinky-Robbies and mini-Mariahs, we need lunatics, and not just slightly odd people like the Black Eyed Peas.

For all that, ‘Sinful!’ is fairly straight, just bold beyond its arrangement. It wasn’t a fluke either, as Wylie and Wah! flirted with modest chart placings for over a decade. Then Britpop came and everything interesting died.

That’s hyperbole. Pete would like hyperbole.

And there’s still room for him, if Junior’s a yardstick. She sang along with the closing “it’s sinful”s and when I asked her, “Is it sinful?” she said, “Yeah”.

So true, boo-hoo:

[20=] Wet Wet Wet, ‘Sweet Little Mystery’

I was 15, remember. But what mighty wordplay is to be found here: “My love has taken a tumble, but I’m still standing”. The speakers are shining with the medium-transcending glare of Marti’s grin. The boy had fangs, didn’t he, before they were eroded away by substance abuse. If you see him now, he has the smile of a hippopotamus.

This is equal 20 on our 1987 chart. Not through any exact science, I’m guessing. A betting man, I’d say that when I got to the nominal No.11 I found that I still had five minutes left on the first side of the C90, so something came in with a bullet and the rest got shunted back.

Say what you like, Wet Wet Wet appeal to the kids. Junior is beaming (not Pellow-style), and slapping her hands on her thighs. I have harrowing memories of singing along to this in my bedroom, to the unfettered delight of my sister and her friend in the room below. Apparently, I wasn’t yet fit to go before Simon Cowell.

Cloth-eared know-nowts.