My Top 10 TOTP MomentsIt may have escaped your sheltered little alternative existence, but Top Of The Pops, the greatest music television programme ever, has reached the considerable milestone of 2000 episodes. The 'Pops has given us a massive selection of classic Music-on-TV moments over the past 38 years. Here are the 10 most memorable.
10.All About Eve. Silent.
Who?? I hear you wail. Late 80's folkie pop late night on Radio 2 types All About Eve had their one and only hit single, the ponderous 'Martha's Harbour' in 1988. As they made their way into the hallowed TOTP studio, the smoke machine was in full flow, and they were ready to win the nations heart by giving a powerful, if mimed, performance. But of course, it all goes somewhat pear shaped. Despite the audience being able to hear every note of the guitar picking lovelies hit, the band themselves couldn't hear a thing. Thus, they sat there, the steam billowing around their classic designer stools, looking like a couple of spare ones at a wedding. A wedding on national television, that is.
9.Chris Eubank and Suggs
In the mid 90's the Ric Blaxhill produced show had the ding dong idea of dumping dull early morning Radio 1 DJ's as the presenters, and going with top celebs of the time. In 1996, they plumped for top boxer Chris Eubank. Dear old Chrissie, as I'm sure you know, has trouble with his S's. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, the producers prayed. And it wouldn't have been. If Suggs hadn't been on. Doing 'Cecilia'. Which was at number 6. Heh. Heh.
8.Is It a Boy, George?
So went the conversation, one dark evening in 1983. Culture Club were doing debut hit 'Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?' to a bemused audience, who thought they'd seen it all during the spandex covered days of glam. Boy George would briefly become a national obsession, and then become a junkie and have six weeks to live. Apparently there's someone using the very same name whose a superstar DJ. Can't think who.
7.Pans People Rob Banks
In the days before the wondrous delights of MTV, an appearance on TOTP would be almost solely reliant on you actually turning up and doing your thang in the studio. Pan's People, a scrummy lot of lady dancers, provided entertainment for Dads everywhere, if the artist in question was indisposed. The Clash had vowed never to appear on British TV, so when the punk reggae charms of Bankrobber shot up the charts, Pan's did possibly the greatest piece of choreography ever conceived. Impossible to describe. Has to be seen to be believed.
6.John Goes Solo. With Yoko
It must've been strange to see John Lennon performing without his fellow Beatles in 1970. But he did, and his 'Instant Karma' performance is one of TOTP's best. Not just cos of John’s rip roaring live vocal, but cos chanteuse Yoko Ono is sitting on a stool near her hubby, with a sanitary towel sellotaped across her face, slowly showing makeshift sandwich boards with things like "Love" written on them.
5.Two For The Price Of One
I regret much in life. Never having the courage to ask out Helen Egan is one of them. Not being old enough to enjoy seeing two defining bands of their decade do their stuff on the same show is another. The Mondays chimed out "Kinky Afro" then minutes later, The Roses waltzed on and out postured everyone with a stunning 'Fools Gold'. A shame these moments in Pop History have both been buried beneath failing equipment on The Late Show ("Amateurs!") and sweary appearances on TFI Friday.
4.Just The Smiths Generally
Dear old Morrissey, for all his faults, was a fucking star. His appearances on TOTP are compelling. In particular, a Christmas performance of 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now'. Morrissey, gladioli spilling out of his jeans back pocket, National Health glasses awkwardly reflecting the studio lights, hearing aid looking like a bomb wired to his spindly chest, warbles the track's title and opening line. "We know you are!" one wag shouts. Oh, and Johnny Marr just looks like the coolest human man ever invented. Big Mirror like shades, leaning against his amp. Mmm.
3.Admit It. You Loved It.
It is the summer of 1996. British Pop is at it's most powerful point in the decade. And then they march in, caring little for what has gone before. Sneering, shouting, looking fantastic. The Spice Girls doing 'Wannabe' for the first time in the TOTP studio is a wondrous piece of Pop TV. So energetic, so shiny new, so naughty, that it makes much of today’s pop pap seem just that. A frightening 5 headed monster appeared for the first time that night. We've since nothing like it since.
2.The Britpop Wars
Britpop grabbed you by the fucking genitals. Suddenly, there were all these bands, who previously been struggling to fill the Monarch on a Wednesday night, on the telly. Sonja from Echobelly in a school uniform, Pulp messing about in trolleys, Supergrass all looking about 12, great times all. But it was Blur and Oasis that held the interest. Why? Cos they both made great music. And cos they both fucking despised each other. Blur doing a celebratory 'Country House' and Noel and Liam swapping roles for Roll With It aren't old enough to become legendary quite yet. But give them time, and you'll be seeing them dragged up again and again. Doesn't it all seem a million years ago, though?
1.Bowie. Of Course
It's just got all the right ingredients. 'Starman' is a barnstormingly great pop song. Bowie is at the peak of his powers. He looks fantastic. He's singing live. The bassist's got comedy furry sideburns on. Bowie putting his arm around guitarist Mick Ronson being a defining moment in gay culture. It's just got all the right ingredients.