You're listening to atlantic 252
Tweet Back in the days when my mother used to cover my schoolbooks in pattern-embossed beige wallpaper with my name on a sticker, and my music collection consisted of C60s with titles like Maximum Rave, I couldn't get enough of the charts on Atlantic 252. They tended to have a lot of poppy hardcore and rave in them back then. 'Twas 1991, ye see. I remember fuck all else about that year except spending a lot of the Summer up one particular ash tree, daring myself to climb one branch higher every day. By the time the August days were drawing in, I was hanging precariously from some bendy new growth at a height of about 25 foot when I copped the couple living in the neighbouring house. They were both standing full-frontal, and staring me out of it at eye-level. During my aborted scramble from this apocalypse of real life wrinkly-bits, I knocked the wind out of myself by falling into what botanists call the tree's crotch. My twin brother and I had an old skool '70s Hi Fi in our room those days. This abomination of a yoke consisted of two gigantic silver cuboids; one was covered in chunky dials and a tuner, and the other was a double tape deck and record player. To this, add a pair of crusty speakers that were blown to shite way back when by my Dad and his hippy brother. God knows what sort of an unholy mixture got played through them. Most likely rebel songs and Irish showband swingers. And definitely the odd Incredible String Band or Donovan tune to freak things out if it all went a bit too Declan Nerney - on my uncle, like. Actually, come to think of it, maybe I fucked the speakers? My bro might correct me if this is not true, but I distinctly remember water falling on to one in horrifying slow motion as we spazzed maniacally around the room with our one-inch-thick step haircuts bouncing disastrously out of tempo to this... and this... Sunken-faced Mancs with vicks vaporub up their bums weren't the only beneficiaries of UK Hardcore. The funny voice imploring "it's time for Trumpton" during said tune, spoke to me. It more or less filled me with an overwhelming desire to spaz around my bedroom and throw shit at my brother, like pillows. Mind you, I was ten at the time. Although, I suppose that probably put me on an equal mental wavelength to some of the monged nuttahs who featured in the tabloids every morning. Indeed, I remember us being ten and our Mam cornering us, clutching a paper, to ask if the music on our tapes was "rave". My point, and there is a point here I hope, is that chart music hasn't figured as explicitly in my life since shortly after those days. I suppose I got into in a scene (Green Day punk in my case, followed by Britpop) and suddenly the charts melted from being the central soundtrack to my life to being snippets of incidental music in my life. Yet, as I grew older and began to rediscover that pop is brilliant, I also found that the charts had turned to anonymous shite. Nobody bar Rain Man could realistically follow the quick-fire confusion of the charts any more. They were pumped with over-hyped, burnt-out earworms that pissed everyone off before they even hit the top-spot, and nothing climbed any more. In at the top, in for the drop. Things had the hyper-accelerated turnover of staff in an Eircom call centre. This, crucially, removed the whole sport of chart watching, a pleasure deeply ingrained in the heart of many pop fans I know. Moreover, it reduced the shelf-life of genuinely quality singles, thus keeping them at arm's length from the collective consciousness. But it is acknowledged that things are changing chart-wise, and changing for the better. The charts are once again a byword for quality pop. I'm no Jim Carroll, but I suspect the relatively new system of including downloads is making for a strong chart where the cream slowly rises. And best of all, where songs linger long enough to have the luxury of playing yearningly out of chippers at 4am for a few weeks, and to float on tarmac heat while youngsters' cars with rolled down windows hover impatiently at traffic lights. You might hear it from the flat downstairs. From your radio. Out of the shit radio at work. Or even from the Rover's Return jukebox in Coronation Street. But you'll hear it enough to remember it. Great chart music is everywhere this Summer, and I suspect it's great because the charts are once again on its side. I can't post MP3 chart music here for obvious reasons. But here are two youtubes of stuff I like right now. BONKERS!! Dizzee Rascal This makes me nostalgic for prime Basement Jaxx. When you throw everything PLUS the kitchen sink into a mix, it's likely to be a right proper mess. Van Helden and Rascal deserve a big prize here. Why? Because they threw the fridge and microwave in too! Yet, from such mental eclecticism, they managed to make one of the songs of the year. Paparazzi: Lady Gaga. In this promo Gaga drinks from the same oversized teacup she whupped out during the weird Jonathan Ross interview. I like how because it is the 'lesser' single from her overplayed album, Gaga appear to be messing around a lot more with her image and all her gloriously pretentious Warholian affectations during the overblown narrative. It's nearly 8 minutes long! She jerks around like an injured stick insect in a steel S&M costume for half of it! On crutches! HEYYY.... I like the song too, OK? 'Cos often-times, the later singles of loaded pop albums may lack the whizz-bang appeal of the previous releases. Yet there can be a languid insistence about them which gets revealed gradually and makes them the perfect soundtrack to a sweltering July night (see Kylie's 'Come into my World'). Or even better, can you taste that last chip from the chipper van in a town gone so still on a Summer's Sunday morning that you can hear a cow mooing somewhere as you savour it? The more relaxed pop songs drip and trickle through Summers like that. Paparazzi might be one of them.