Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Girls and Boys: Sex and British Pop - Tainted Love

In the early eighties, I had a gentlemen's bet with a friend as to who would be the more successful of two fledgling pop bands: ABC or Haircut 100. I nailed my colours to the jumpers round the shoulders wearing boys from Beckenham. He championed the slim Sheffield lads in their cycling chic. Who won? We didn't really know and we didn't really mind. They both made good pop records and that was all that counted.

And there was a lot of good pop in the eighties. The Human League's Dare should have been the biggest pop album in history. It should have appealed to everybody. It didn't. What's wrong with people?

But the eighties were blighted. Alice Nutter of Chumbawamba blames Thatcher and materialism. She says WHAM's Club Tropicana is typical of those greedy times. It would be no use arguing with her and saying that George Michael is one of the good guys and that the song was taking the piss out of a certain lifestyle. Because Alice knows her mind. Anyway, who the blazes is Alice?

Midge Ure says, "It wasn't just the guys on tv or on stage who were making money. Everybody seemed to be doing quite well." Stick to feeding the world, Midge.

But away with politics, what about the sex? Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran says, "We thought we were going to get an art school audience. Suddenly all these girls were screaming at us." Of course, they were. They'd rather hear themselves screaming than have to listen to Duran Duran. But enough about Duran Duran. What about the sex?

The Blitz Club

The New Romantics had lots of sex. Boys and girls, boys and boys, girls and girls. Naughty Steve Strange would tease the delicious young hetero Martin Kemp. Boy George would rather have sex with his drummer than a cup of tea. Oh, the glamour! The make up! The nookie! All to the soundtrack of ridiculous white funk band, Spandau Ballet.


Even more sex, except this time the participants are all men. Shocking, I know. And the music is hi-energy, not British pop. Which must have been a blessing.

The Suburban Nite Club

Not mentioned on the programme but massively popular. Oops Upside your Head, the song which inspired a million long trains of simple people sitting on the floor and swaying from side to side in an idiot longboat. Plenty of dancing to Luther Vandross and Alexander O'Neal. And the climax of the night, the erection section (the slowies) where a male and a female get it on to the sound of Fat Larry's Zoom. No "Do you come here, often?" I'm afraid.

The Indie Nightclub

The only indie person mentioned on the programme is Morrissey. He's seen as an outlet for frustrated young outsiders. But we couldn't get our rocks off to Morrissey, of course. We had to try the indie nightclub where people stalk around the room to The Cure's Love Cats, pretending to be cats, pretending not to take themselves too seriously, pretending that members of the opposite sex aren't in the room, wishing there was a band onstage to take them away from the brutal fact that nobody's ever going to find them attractive.

But sex and British pop would never be the same after the eighties. For a spectre loomed and it stopped sex in its tracks. A spectre that haunts me even to this day when my mind drifts during quiet moments, day or night. I have to keep myself busy or the terrifying memories come flooding back...



  1. Oooh, that bit at the end. Here's my advice - go over to www.otterscoffer.blgospot.com and tell him you hate Eurythmics. Oh, and say your hobby is caravaning and your admiration for George Galloway knows no bounds.

    You'll make loads of new mates!