Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by simes1970, Oct 3, 2019.
Who knew Nik Kershaw would be the one to bring us all together?
Us Nik fans are a loyal bunch.
A lot of good insight in the comments already. I bet Nobody Knows was one that MCA demanded, it tries to be commercial and hooky but like the automobilia in the song, it nowhere steers.
Interesting that it's mentioned as sounding like a possible soundtrack thing, as he was asked to write the Running Scared theme but in the end they turned his effort down and went with Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald. I think that wounded him a bit.
My scores do get better ...I promise.
Nik Kershaw is vastly underrated...I caught my nephew watching the video for my "12" scorer the other day - and even he said - "this song is actually really cool....."
Damn, I didn’t know that. I’m sure it stung as that really could’ve been a big break in America for him. The movie/soundtrack seemed everywhere for a while. I wasn’t a big fan of “Sweet Freedom” but “Man Size Love” was fabulously gay-o-riffic!
Nik found it difficult to break the US. The label messed about with the tracklistings for The Riddle album, taking off City Of Angels and putting Wouldn't It Be Good on there instead, and there may have been other changes to Human Racing. Then MCA rejected his Running Scared song (included on Radio Musicola anyway, and it's pretty good).
Impressive averages but Nik didn't really release anything shot in the 80s so none of the deserve really terrible scores. Still, looks like all the scores are going to be close.
Sort of off topic but related, do you know if the Blow Monkeys “Some Kind of Wonderful” was written for the movie “Some Kind of Wonderful”? I always wondered if it was or if that was just a coincidence. IIRC, Eddie Grant’s “Romancing the Stone” was written and rejected for that movie (though it became a hit in America anyway).
I'd have to check The Blow Monkeys one but I sort of remember thinking the same due to the timing.
Romancing The Stone was included on the closing credits of the film, and Eddy's single has artwork relating to it (mocked up film reels of scenes, and the film's logo etc).
Yeah I mean, I won’t say what my lowest score was but I just didn’t think anything really qualified as that bad. I thought about grading them more on a curve so some would be forced to get low scores but that doesn’t make sense unless everyone was doing it. I’ll die if I’m the high score on one of the songs I was only hearing for the first time though lol.
Ah, thank you for the correction. I must’ve gotten mixed up with some other songs. Plus it was a long, long time ago since I saw that movie haha.
I bought the 12" single, having heard it on Radio Luxembourg. Boots in Hounslow... (@Hairycub1969 might remember their huge music section upstairs!).
I genuinely don't think he put out anything less than stellar in the 80s, the singles chosen were usually pretty much on the money (I'd have liked City of Angels or Roses too, but MCA stopped at 3 singles from The Riddle for some reason).
The film is a real favourite of mine, owing to Kathleen Turner's presence.
So take all of this with a grain of salt as these don’t list verifiable references but I think there was some kind of issue during the American chart run at least. It may have been resolved or partially resolved by the time the movie and soundtrack went to international markets but these pages both mention some kind of trouble between Grant and the producers and I remember hearing something similar at the time. This was before I started reading music magazine so I’d probably have heard it on MTV or possibly Solid Gold? Time wise it was during Marilyn McCoo’s glamorous time as host and I was a religious weekly watcher.
“The Eddy Grant song "Romancing the Stone" did not feature prominently in the film (the guitar solo can be heard in the background of the scene where Joan and Jack enter the house of her "fan," Juan) and was not included on the soundtrack album. Although he was commisioned to write the song for the movie, the filmmakers chose not to use it. When the movie was released and proved to be a big hit, Eddy released the song on his own. One of the video clips produced for the song makes prominent use of footage from various scenes from the film.”
“Although the song reached #26 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart, an apparent dispute between the music artist and the movie’s producers left nearly all of the title song on the cutting room floor and completely off the soundtrack album. Only a remnant of the song — a guitar solo — can be heard in the scene when Douglas and Turner are in a small house in the jungle.
Grant’s original video for the song featured scenes from the film. Later, the video was re-edited with no Romancing the Stone clips.”
That all sounds very plausible. I did think it was odd at the time that the song wasn't in the actual film.
Time to reveal no10. This has had some of the most polarising scores across the board. For me strong track, the lyrics mean something for those that pay attention to them. (My Score 8)
So at number 10 it is Radio Musicola
Score 90.1 Average 8.19 Highest Score 12 (Eric Generic, Auntie Beryl) Lowest Score 4 (Unameable)
Your Thoughts on Radio Musicola
" Musically strong but compared to his other songs the chorus is a little watery. It needed to have a more interesting hook to be this repetitive (or be less repetitive to be more interesting)." (MixmasterRemix Score 7)
"I bet this sounded incredibly fresh back in 1986, but you can kinda feel the teen audience slipping away from him when listening to this. Me, however, am still a fan though and after relistening to Radio Musicola for this rate I realize it's actually a fantastic album. Shame it didn't do better..." (Remorque Score 8)
"There's not bnb enough of the magical middle - 8." (Untouchable Ace Score 9.1)
"Rather Mediocre. I like the "we're goin' up" parts though once the key change kicks in." (Ohnoitisnathan Score 6)
"dull by comparison to the rest of this rate" (Unameable Score 4)
"The great Nik Kershaw record that hardly anybody has heard. Percussively inventive, lyrically angry but incisive, and a whopping great anthemic chorus. And again, every word proved to be true. The future was in this song. The greatest #43 of all-time." (Eric Generic Score 12)
"This? This is the business. Another complaint single – this time about the radio stations who presumably hadn’t taken too kindly to When A Heart Beats – this plays with the formula to compelling effect, the synth bass burbling around in a rather pleasing manner and a rousing chorus which doesn’t overcook things. By the end you find yourself wanting to play it again, which given the subject matter of the song is a tasty and delicious irony. Top marks. A terrific last hurrah." (Auntie Beryl Score 12)
"There are some songs in life that you will remember because someone at School/Work/family were singing them badly around you at the time! Well, my work colleague Mark was a massive Nik Kershaw (St)fan and he used to sing this very badly around the office when he was doing his invoice filing (those were the days!) I remember he put it on at the 1986 Office Christmas Party and everyone was pulling a face “What the hell’s this? This isn’t Five Star/Pet Shop Boys/A-ha! Nik Kershaw? He’s so 1984!” of course I “borrowed” it so I could follow the lyrics from my issue of Smash Hits at the time! Catchy as hell and could almost be Level 42 circa “World Machine” period!" (Hairycub1969 Score 8)
" May not he an obvious single choice on the surface but it's such a brilliant track which was showcased in a slightly different style to the usual Nik sound." (Ragged Tiger Score 10)
Aw no! My 12 goes already.
@Auntie Beryl - I love you. We recognise genius.
I was hoping I wouldn't need to post this until later on in the countdown, but Radio Musicola is the more recent #1 on my personal charts to get a write-up on the blog...
"Pop is cruel. Pop is unfair. Pop is sometimes so cruel and so unfair that the screaming injustice of it all defies rational explanation. Exhibit A: the career trajectory of Nik Kershaw, 1984-1986.
We can blame Live Aid, like I usually do, for the shift in tone of the music scene and the tastes and expectations of its audiences. Nik was not the only artist who was serenely churning out the Top 20 hits in the time before July 13th 1985, but who then could barely buy a chart entry by the end of the following year. Pop is also cyclical, and it’s true that the particular cycle that I’d come on board with in the Autumn of 1983 had simply peaked by mid-1985 and was almost completely out of favour by December 1986.
Even so, the brutality with which the record-buying public shunned Nik Kershaw’s music, after a winning run of 7 consecutive hits and two platinum albums, was harsh. The respective flop third albums by Howard Jones and Paul Young at least made the Top 10 before they hastily disappeared. Radio Musicola, issued just a week after Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Liverpool limped to #5, arrived on the UK Top 75 at #47. Number forty seven.
Where did it go wrong? Maybe the choice of Nobody Knows as its lead single didn’t help the cause; a decent enough track, it nevertheless sounded a bit too similar to his previous 45, When A Heart Beats, which itself sounded a bit too similar to Wide Boy. That’s three singles out of four which trod almost identical ground, lyrically clever as they all were and – speaking as a fan – still pretty top-notch. However, once your opening salvo falls on deaf ears, it’s a long road back. The media, the radio stations, the whole machine begins to lose confidence; is this artist a busted flush? Have they, in Smash Hits parlance, gone down the dumper?
Radio Musicola was dubbed an “angry little album” in the same pop magazine, on release, and in late 1986 – with the rise of aspirational pop, be it the plastic escapism of Stock Aitken Waterman, the wine-bar stylings of a fashionable new breed ready to take over (Swing Out Sister, Curiosity Killed The Cat), or the suddenly popular hair-metal of Bon Jovi and Europe – the general public didn’t seem overly keen on listening to what Nik Kershaw had to say. I was.
The title track was easily the best thing on the album, a towering ode to the machinations of the industry and the lack of integrity shown towards the very people providing the music they sought to commercialise. “I’ve got political inclinations to announce…no way if it doesn’t scan with your accounts”…..”why don’t you let us do it like Joni (Mitchell) does it?”…..”there isn’t any other way, more’s the pity!”. Scathing, indeed.
“We’re growing up to Radio Musicola”….a world where music becomes a disposable brand like fast-food or a fizzy drink, emanating from “little boxes on the wall”, and it’ll “soon be coming in tin cans”. Something to passively consume, that gives instant gratification but not a lot else. You can see how a troubled teenager, struggling with their health and getting their first sense that all was not right with the world, could identify with such a perspective and, not liking what they saw at the top of the charts so much anymore, feel an affinity for what Nik Kershaw was doing. The track became my most-played of the entire year, despite only being released at the very end of October.
Had my charts allowed for album tracks to be eligible, then Radio Musicola would have dominated throughout November, rather than only when eventually unleashed as a single in the first week of December. Its 3 weeks at the top barely reflects the impact it had on me, and the hammering my poor cassette of the album took over that period from October 1986 to about March 1987.
The single debuted at #43 in the UK, but ventured no further. That did mean it fared better than the singles by Paul Young, The Human League and O.M.D. around at the same time, and equalled the peak of Howard Jones’ You Know I Love You…Don’t You?, although that would have been of little consolation.
If MCA had been less conservative and opted for Radio Musicola instead of Nobody Knows first up, might the campaign have turned out differently? Acts suffering a dip in popularity, whether temporary or terminal, are rarely rewarded by going for the safe option; Madness rued their label’s decision to put out The Sweetest Girl as the final single from Mad Not Mad, when their own instinct was to take a risk with something like the powerful (but very un-Madness) Coldest Day. What too of Duran Duran, had they put Skin Trade out as the big comeback single in 1986 rather than Notorious? Pop is littered with these Sliding Doors moments.
In my world, at least, Radio Musicola had its brilliance recognised.
Great Blog Eric. That I suppose is the problem with smaller rates the scores are tighter at the bottom than the top.
Oh no I didn't read properly, I don't have a 12 but I have an 11.
Well do e everyone else.
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