Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Friday Music: Up the Charts

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  • Grant McDougall,

    In 1979, Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ reached No.2. The following year, ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ entered at No.1. The Fall had their first Top 40 “hits” anywhere in the world, with ‘Totally Wired’ (No. 25) and ‘Lie Dream of a Casino Soul’ (No. 17).

    LWTUA a #1 and Atmosphere a #6, charted in 1981, according to Wikipedia, which quotes RIANZ or the like. (I know this, because I wrote had a letter published in the SST last year about ’em…in connection with David Cunliffe’s being a JD fan…).

    I’d be surprised if Transmission was a hit in ’79, either. As Prof. Graeme Downes has famously said “Ian Curtis was dead long before Joy Division records were available in New Zealand”.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Unknown Mortal Orchestra have topped the US charts (Facebook), and are second in the UK.

    On vinyl. I don’t know what that means in real terms, but it’s very nice to hear all the same. I presume they’re happy about it.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    LWTUA a #1 and Atmosphere a #6, charted in 1981,

    Oops. I did mean to say 1981.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    Oh, I see what I did: transcribed from the Wikipedia table excerpted here, which of course cites release dates, rather than chart dates. So they were all in 1981.

    But this says LWTUA and 'Atmosphere' were both number ones and Transmission reached No2.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Stewart,

    That Frank Lloyd Wright cover has been my earworm this week. Now I have pictures to go with the sound, I fear it will never leave me. And I can't quite fathom why, but it could only ever have been from Simon and Garfunkel.

    Pt Chev • Since Feb 2012 • 70 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Goody,

    LWTUA a #1 and Atmosphere a #6, charted in 1981, according to Wikipedia

    Atmosphere went to #1 on August 16, 1981, then dropped from there but stayed in the charts for 20 weeks. Transmission went into the charts Sept 1981, not 1979.

    As for the charts in this period, especially the singles charts, let's be clear that they were FAR from scientific. Record shops owners/staff jotting down sales on a sheet of paper each week, making sure their favourite bands got a little sales bump here or there. That, and the face there were relatively small amount of new singles hitting the shelves each week, made for a perfect situation for local labels like Flying Nun to opt for releasing EPs and 7"s over LPs (that and they were cheaper!).

    Alternatively, modern SoundScan in US grew increasingly unreliable as music sales moved online. Independent shops, not tied in with the SoundScan system, were shifting pretty solid units (especially vinyl) in the late '90s and throughout the '00s and much of this was never being reflected in the charts.

    They still play re-runs of the Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show every week on the Oldies radio station here. They're doing about 1976 right now, and let me tell you, most of it makes my ears burn.

    Toronto • Since Mar 2015 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Barnaby Nicholls,

    Iit's like the old chestnut about U2 - I don't know anyone who likes Six60, but apparently they're getting plenty of listens from somewhere. It's a mite depressing, but not half as depressing as that awful Charlie Puth song - I've never been so hopeful of a Gaye family lawsuit. "Let's Marvin Gaye and get it on" deserves to go down as the worst chorus lyric in history, it might be intended as wry or playful (although I wouldn't credit them with that level of self-awareness) but it makes no sense. There is something awful about current top-40 music, barring the odd exception. It's all paint-by-numbers and designed by committee, flashes of inspiration are hard to discover. Thank god for Jamie xx, then. The album is terrific, all melancholy and euphoria.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2013 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Barnaby Nicholls,

    It’s a mite depressing, but not half as depressing as that awful Charlie Puth song – I’ve never been so hopeful of a Gaye family lawsuit. “Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on” deserves to go down as the worst chorus lyric in history, it might be intended as wry or playful (although I wouldn’t credit them with that level of self-awareness) but it makes no sense.

    It’s hideous.

    There is something awful about current top-40 music, barring the odd exception. It’s all paint-by-numbers and designed by committee, flashes of inspiration are hard to discover.

    Yes, this. The terrible Taylor Swift song is somewhat redeemed by Kendrick, but even the remix is still a painfully obvious by-the-numbers affair.

    Thank god for Jamie xx, then. The album is terrific, all melancholy and euphoria.

    Yep, got that this week. The new Hot Chip is a return to form too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to Richard Stewart,

    These days, whenever I hear the word 'Garfunkel' I can't help thinking of this duo:

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • phil a,

    Dead Kennedys made the Top 10 with "Too Drunk To Fuck". Ready To Roll had to abbreviate the name (of course) to "Too Drunk" though...

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    Ah yes. In the long history of "disposable" pop music only The Beatles ever got any respect. These days I find myself in the curious position of enjoying pop music that my children think is beneath THEM. (The shit I get from my youngest over Gaga...)

    My punky, new wavy generation was taught to resent pop as false and contrived but I just can't. I love melody, I love the human voice, especially when it's stating something coherent, and I have a shit attention span that only Miles Davis can defeat. Most of the charts are rubbish - as ever - but I still maintain you're more likely to find a great song there than on anything Pitchfork graded in the last week. (To be fair, they're much more catholic these days.)

    If you want funny, smart, argumentative writing on contemporary pop I can highly recommend The Singles Jukebox.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Cubey,

    I used to do that same American Top 40 recording thing with a mono cassette player microphone held up to the AM radio. And people say MP3 quality sucks...
    It's all about the songs.
    And I have to disagree about "Bad Blood" - the "hey!"s get me every time. Most of that _1989_ album is perfect pop ("Wonderland" is genius). You're right about that "Marvin Gaye" abomination though.
    Also, the Jewel School New Zealand Music Mix 2015 is a good listen.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double, in reply to Mark Cubey,

    Like a lot of shitty analog gear, cassettes have a weird mastering effect on a digital source. The sound is objectively worse yet there's something about the warmth of the crude tape compression that does a brittle mp3 a world of good emotionally.

    As for "Bad Blood" and 1989, I concur.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Cubey,

    It was a particular education that ranged from things I can hardly believe I listened to (Kansas’s ‘Dust in the Wind’, anyone?) to the odd tune that changed my life.

    This ‘Dust in the Wind’, however, is truly something special.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 65 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    I just looked up (evil) "Dust in the Wind" on YouTube - 44 MILLION views! Hardly any comments in English though. Something's happening here etc.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison,

    Taylor couldn't write this.This is when lyrics counted.

    Close my eyes,only for a moment and the moment's gone
    All my dreams,pass before my eyes with curiosity
    Dust in the wind,all we are is dust in the wind
    Same old song,just a drop of water in an endless sea
    All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see
    Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind
    Oh, ho, ho,Now don't hang on
    Nothin' lasts forever but the earth and sky
    It slips away and all your money won't another minute buy
    Dust in the wind,All we are is dust in the wind
    (All we are is dust in the wind)

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    11/20 in NZ Top20 for Six60 today. Had to look...

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    Perhaps more notably, the same conditions also saw the Screaming Mee Mees, a band we’d seen at the pub, vault to the top of the singles chart with ‘See Me Go’, in its first week of release.

    As great and deserving a song as it is, I've heard several times from various reliable sources, that it was a fair bit due to one or two of the band members and their friends working in some of the record shops that kept sales figures and being quite *cough* generous with their statistics.

    Maybe Simon Grigg can shed light on this ?

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Grant McDougall,

    The SMM were huge in my neighbourhood. Everyone had a copy.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mark Cubey,

    And I have to disagree about "Bad Blood" - the "hey!"s get me every time. Most of that _1989_ album is perfect pop ("Wonderland" is genius).

    We'll have to disagree there. I listened to the original version via a YouTube lyrics clip. It really was cringe-inducing. And in general, Taylor's stuff just sounds really ordinary to me.

    Also, the Jewel School New Zealand Music Mix 2015 is a good listen.

    That's very cool – thanks for the heads-up. A track listing would've been handy though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Barnaby Nicholls,

    Iit’s like the old chestnut about U2 – I don’t know anyone who likes Six60, but apparently they’re getting plenty of listens from somewhere.

    I’ve examined my conscience on this, and I’m convinced I’m not just being a hater:

    1. At the NZ Music Awards. I was interested to hear this band everyone was talking about and they came on and about a minute in, I thought “Ohhhh … I really don’t like this …”

    2. The last Big Day Out at Mt Smart. Slightly confused, we wandered into the Boiler Room area expecting to hear something else and I stood there for a minute thinking, what the hell is this shit? . It was Six60, playing to most of the people in the stadium.

    3. Hearing ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ every fucking time a plane landed in Auckland made me want to become a terrorist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Apart from the keewee in the pop ring most of this stuff is very lite. Although to be fair we never will hear the end of when Martin Phillips stole Snappers back up dancers. That shit is still in court.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Goody,

    They still play re-runs of the Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show every week on the Oldies radio station here. They're doing about 1976 right now, and let me tell you, most of it makes my ears burn.

    That would be an interesting listening experience. For a short time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • Jack Harrison, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Still a tribute to the kids who listened down through 40 songs back in the time. That was our playstation.

    wellington • Since Aug 2014 • 296 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And Six60 did fire T, the manager who got them up there. Which was a bit shit.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

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