So PJ & Duncan are on course to top the official UK singles chart with ‘Lets Get Ready To Rhumble’. On Saturday night Ant and Dec revived their Byker Grove characters for a one-off performance of the hit (it got to #9 in 1994) on ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’. Well, we imagine it will be a one-off judging by Ant’s reaction after a challenging dance routine.
WTF is going on? PJ & Duncan wrecked the mic on the weekend as part of a performance alongside bands from ‘The Big Reunion’, 5ive, Atomic Kitten and Blue. The ITV show has been incredibly popular: it’s the channel’s highest rated new show since 2008 and critics love it. Nostalgia for the 90s is becoming big business. Witness the resurrection of tie-dye, Global Hypercolour t-shirts, dungarees and crop tops on the high street. Hipsters may have been taking fashion tips from ‘Clarissa Explains It All’ and ‘Clueless’ for a few years but now 90s revivalism has hit the mainstream – and the same drill for the early 00s isn’t far behind.
After a Solange gig I went to earlier this year, a DJ at the venue played exclusively hits from the latter time period, artists such as Blu Cantrell, Tweet, Fatman Scoop, Missy Elliott. People were dancing and in a non-ironic way (Blue and Liberty X, reunited in ‘The Big Reunion’, also appeared in the early noughties). It’s just one of a growing number of 90s and 00s revival nights I’ve heard about, both here and stateside.
Sure, nostalgia for previous decades always comes along, but I think there’s something deeper going on here. Take ‘Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble’. It’s ridiculous. Just look at Dec’s curtains. Check out his face when he hollers the title out of one side of his mouth sitting on the bridge! What does “butt-whilin'” even mean? Or “AKA Lover”? ‘Psyche’? Jeez, it’s silly.
So silly it’s brilliant. Goofing out, gooneyness, wackiness, whatever you want to call it, is barely present in British – or American for that matter – pop music today. From One Direction’s heartfelt warbles or mundane salutations to Taylor Swift’s po-faced pronouncements (‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’), we’re faced with a grim and serious lot. The top tunes of 2012 have about as many LOLs as a book about drain repair, which is why music fans latched on to ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Harlem Shake’ so desperately. In 2012, we had Gotye’s whining cover of ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, Katy Perry’s ‘Part Of Me’ about being a poison in someone’s mouth and Coldplay’s paean to paradise. 2011 was, of course, the year of Adele, Rihanna’s totally intense sauciness and morons like Olly Murs, Nicole Scherzinger and LMFAO.
Musically, pop’s limited sonic horizons – using the same chords, drum machines and key signatures – is to blame. You just have to watch one of those clever videos where the top hits are mixed into each other to see how homogenised pop music has become. The themes are the same, and it’s all a bit damn earnest. An atrophied music industry, Simon Cowell’s evil grip and the recession probably have something to do with it.
The 90s were amusing to grow up in as a child. It was all gunging, slap wraps, Blobby’s Crinkly Bottom and the Live & Kicking big crisp competition. Pop music was a colourful, brash and deliciously naff alternative to indie and Britpop. In 1994’s top 40, we had Reel To Reel’s ‘I Like To Move It’ which sounds a little like the theme tune to Spongebob. Doop’s ‘Doop’, Corona’s ‘The Rhythm Of The Night’, Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Meet The Flintstones’ by The BC-52’s, Babylon Zoo, Right Said Fred, Shaggy, the Outhere Brothers: It was an era of glorious fun.
It’s good news the nation are rejecting The Saturdays (currently #1) for PJ & Duncan. Who wouldn’t rather “rhumble” than listen to “Oh why are we are waiting so long, I’m suffocating” from the girl-group’s ‘What About Us’ snorefest? Mumfords & Sons would definitely benefit from taking a leaf out of Snow’s book. Let the backlash begin.