Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Back To The Future: The Bachelors: "I Believe"

This song represents the growing chasm in the listening experience of, say, an eager 13-year-old listening to the BBC. S/he wants the Dave Clark Five or Manfred Mann or Rolling Stones, but they are only broadcast on just a couple of shows - Brian Matthew's Saturday Club or on Alan Freeman's show, or perhaps wedged into an otherwise uninteresting and not at all funny 'comedy' programme - but this is what the poor teenager gets. It is totally representative of the music that is broadcast by government-approved-and-funded radio, in that the grannies in Arbroath are happy to hear it and buy it.

Who are these grannies? Well, apart from any literal ones, they are anyone who likes good, clean-cut songs sung by good, clean-cut bands and singers; music that is solid and earnest and four-square, music which would make a fine background to a church picnic or family outing. If you think, dear readers, that we are being sucked back into the 50s here, you would be right. The stentorian delivery; the sudden and unwelcome reappearance of the awed choir in the background; the fact that this song in its original version was a huge hit (thebiggest, in fact) from the 50s in the first place - all this hit the grannies quite hard, whether they were young or old. I can imagine young Louis Walsh (proof you don't have to be an actual granny to be one) loving this and even using it as a template of sorts for later Irish boy bands he would manage to come; fellow granny Simon Cowell was too young at the time, but The Bachelors were a big group (they did have that boy band appeal) and even he must have noticed them as a boy.

There is one segment of the audience I have not accounted for yet, however - the large Irish population in Liverpool and Manchester, to whom The Bachelors would appeal on a whole other level - good solid men, to be sure, but Irish and therefore loved, right alongside Jim Reeves. This north-south split will manifest itself in several ways as the decades pass, but let us return to the bored teenager, stuck listening to, in effect, their parents' radio, if not their grandparents'. In the US, s/he thinks, there are stations that play pop music all day! Why can't there be anything like that here?

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