TOTP 03 MAY 1984

After missing a couple of episodes in April we are on a run of 3 consecutive repeats and are now into May 1984. Be careful that your sides don’t split with this show as the presenters are Mike “King of Comedy” Read and Steve” I’m hilarious me” Wright. The latter still looks like he’s spent far too long in pre-show hospitality – he’s all over the place.

First on tonight are OMD with “Locomotion” and it’s another studio performance. As TOTP’s content was Top 40 hit singles based, it was easy at the time to believe that the albums said singles came from must have been similarly successful. Well it was for me. So in the case of OMD, I thought that 1984 was a good year for them as they had three Top 40 singles (including one Top 10 ) and a Top 10 Album (“Junk Culture”). However, Wikipedia tells me that although the album debuted at No 9, it gradually slipped down the charts after that despite small sales spikes around the release of subsequent singles  and it slipped out of the Top 40 charts altogether in August. So maybe not quite as successful a year as I first thought. Indeed they ended the year with the release of a 4th single from the album (“Never Turn Away” ) that only made No 70 in the charts. I suppose it’s all relative though. The previous year had seen the release of the “Dazzle Ships” album that had not been well received critically or commercially so 1984 was an improvement on that for the band.

Another synth pop duo again next (weren’t these two acts on the same show together the other week as well?)  – it’s the video of “Don’t Tell Me” by Blancmange. Like OMD, Neil and Stephen had made it into the Top 10 this week but also like OMD, their year would rather peter out after this success. Whilst “Don’t Tell Me” was/is a great pop tune, I’ve never understood the band’s decision to follow it up with a rather morose cover of ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came”. That single would stall at No 22 and effectively bought down the curtain on Blancmange’s 80s success ( a further album – “Believe You Me” – released the following year didn’t even make the Top 40). But for now, the boys are riding high in the charts and lapping it up by the looks of the video.

Despite a chaotic “live” version of “Blue Monday” the previous year, New Order have decided to give the whole playing live thing a go again with latest single “Thieves Like Us”. I’m not convinced that it goes any better this time to be honest. Peter Hook’s bass sounds distorted (unless maybe it was meant to?) and although Bernard Sumner’s vocals just about stand up, it’s hardly a dynamic performance. Certainly it didn’t help the single’s progress up the charts as it didn’t get any higher than No 18 which is the position we find them at for this outing. Were New Order bothered about chart placings? Certainly Factory Records will have been as the band were virtually propping up the label at one point. As for me, it didn’t really capture my attention at the time although I would learn to appreciate New Order later in life.

FOOTLOOSE KLAXON! Yes its that irresistible toe-tapper from Kenny Loggins with the theme tune from the film “Footloose”. Its one of those songs that you want to hate but you just can’t help but smile/sing/dance along to. I’d never heard of Kenny Loggins at the time and I didn’t go to see the film when it was out so for a long time my mental image of Footloose was the picture of the soundtrack front cover that appeared in the pop press. In later life I would get around to watching the film and it’s not half bad. OK – its no Citizen Kane but its good fun with a message in the plot (something about dancing is better than religion – no that can’t be right surely?) and a likeable turn from lead actor Kevin Bacon. The ultimate legacy of this song for me though is the childish way my wife and I still laugh at Kenny Loggins’ surname – you can’t beat a bit of toilet humour can you?

This next song inspires an enormous amount of love in some people  – it’s Jocelyn Brown with “Somebody Else’s Guy”. This soul /dance number has become something of a classic in certain circles despite only making No 13 in the UK charts. I was completely non-plussed by it back then but I can appreciate its qualities much more now. What I hadn’t realised until now is the amount of acts she has worked with from Bette Midler to Culture Club to..err…Right Said Fred! And…that line “I’ve got the power” in Snap’s No 1 hit “The Power”? That’s her as well. So now you know… if it ever comes up on the trivia machine down your local.

Ooh now this will have been quite an event back in 1984 – the return of Human League! This song – “The Lebanon” – was the lead single from the album “Hysteria” the long awaited and painfully gestated follow up to the era-defining “Dare”. Inevitably after such a level of success, the band’s second coming was an anti -climax. Despite maintaining their profile between albums with a pair of No 2 hits in “Mirror Man” and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”, this single only made it to No 11. Much was made at the time of the heavily featured guitar sound throughout which the band had publicly decried previously as something they would never use. However for me, it wasn’t guitars that broke the band’s spell of success, it was Phil Oakey’s decision to go with the regulation mullet haircut that was prevalent at the time rather than his outrageous lop-sided wedge of ’81-’82. The Sampson effect anyone? I didn’t mind the single to be fair although I enjoyed the follow ups “Life On Your Own” and “Louise” more. If a week is a long time in politics, two years away from the world of pop proved too much a gap for the band to bridge and the album was nowhere near the success that “Dare” had been.

No 1 time now and Lionel Richie is no more. Phew! Those Duran boys have done us all a favour by deposing “Hello” and for that reason alone we should all cherish “The Reflex”. After last weeks studio outing, we get the video this time and this would have been a big deal back then when the band’s videos were akin to mini movies. Although it is essentially a straight concert performance, this being Duran Duran there were some special effects thrown into the mix such as white noise, split screens and of course the waterfall where the audience get soaked by a computer graphic shower,. This looks hideously dated now but back then it was a true gasp outloud moment. There are also some audience close ups showing besotted females in tears and one girl who visibly mouths “Wow!” at one point. I wonder if she dines out on that story now or is eternally embarrassed by it? And yes I so wanted my hair to look like Simon’s at this point…


After a cringeworthy Kid Jensen impression by Mike Read, the play out music this week is Nik Kershaw’s “Dancing Girls” which is a perfect excuse for the TOTP camera man to show us some..err..dancing girls!


OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below only works for about another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to be amazed at the comedy chemistry that exits between Mike Read and Steve Wright  as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I Buy it?


OMD Locomotion No but it’s a tune none the less


Blancmange Don’t Tell Me Ditto OMD


New Order Thieves Like Us No but it’s on my copy of retrospective “Substance”


Kenny Loggins Footloose Nah


Jocelyn Brown Somebody Else’s Guy Not my thing in 1984


Human League The Lebanon No


Duran Duran


The Reflex Not the single but I had the album “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”


Nik Kershaw Dancing Girls No but I had the LP – look I was a pop kid OK?

Some bed time reading?










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