Top of the Pops 14 June 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Peter Powell: "Hello! Welcome to another edition of Top of the Pops!" Mike Read: "And we have a group who [indecipherable] their very first appearance on British television. They have been number one in Holland and now they're.. doing... pretty well over here. This is Art Company and Susanna."
[20] The Art Company: Susanna. The Top of the Pops audience are really into this song. I don't think I've ever heard such an enthusiastic response. There are whoops and cheers on almost every line and the crowd go crazy for the accordion solo. It's not healthy for them to get this excited. The crowd know all the call and response bits. They really love whatever the lead singer does when he walks out of shot to do something hilarious with the accordion player. (This is why we have camera rehearsals, people. There is no point in doing funny business if the camera operators don't know it's going to happen). Frankly it's all rather odd. My memories of 1984 can be hazy but surely I should remember The Art Company? They're huge, and this feels like not remembering Ghostbusters or Fingal the Hampster (for those of you old enough to remember 1984 and the way the whole country seemed to go mad for Fingal's catchphrase, and constantly doing the happy banana dance). (John- Weirdly I can't recall this song either and I knew everything in the charts in 1984)
The mystery is solved by listening to the original song on Youtube. It's not my first guess, which was that The Art Company paid someone to stand off camera and provoke the crowd with gestures. It's also fortunately not my second guess, which is that my memory has fractured and all of reality is up for grabs. No, The Art Company have just added the  audience reaction as part of the single. Which is cheating.

[8] Elton John: Sad Songs (Say So Much). On video. In the long-ago 1984, TVS used to make sure it's schedule kept to time by occasionally dropping in videos to pad out under-running programmes. Sad Songs is one I remember being used a lot. I quite liked the song, this and Crocodile Rock (on one of my parents few LPs) were the only two Elton John songs I could name.
Sad Songs remains a very easy song to listen to, and the video is interesting. It must be the first attempt to produce a black and white picture with spots of colour. The effect works but it's patchy. It's charming watching this video take the first baby steps towards an effect that would become easy to do, and it's interesting to see the technical limitations of the time. Coloured areas have a halo around them, as if there's a minimum size to the areas that can be picked out and coloured. When the camera moves the coloured areas seem to drift. It's almost as if someone was having to manually add the coloured area to the video and adjust the position in real time, and perhaps they were. It's delightfully analogue.

Lastly, one oddity not related to the colour effect. The background jiggles during the split screen shot of multiple Elton Johns. This is not something you would see on rock solid video. Was this music video shot on film, and then transferred to video for the colour effect?
[10] The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. The Smiths give me the fear. I'm your man if you want someone to waffle on about about the video for Sad Songs and it's ground breaking use of the Quantel Paintbox. The problem with The Smiths is they're proper music and I'm out of my depth. People have written scholarly books about The Smiths. Melvin Bragg has discussed them on In Our Time (probably). No one's written a book about The Art Company.
(Incidentally, to go off on a real tangent, I went searching for absolute confirmation that the Quantel Paintbox was used to make the Sad Songs video and Google took me to a website of magazine scans. The font of an article called Video Made the Radio Stars seemed weirdly familiar. It's the TV Times I thought, and checked, and yes this was indeed a scan of the Christmas 1984 TV Times double issue. Apparently I can still recognise the font used by the TV Times despite not having seen an issue since the deregulation of TV listings in 1991. Now that's a warning sign of a wasted childhood).
Sorry, where was I? I'm your man if you want someone to waffle on about Quantel, or the TV Times font, apparently.
So, The Smiths, this is the one where Morrissey has a hearing aid and a bush in his back pocket.
[27] Rod Stewart: Infatuation. On video and considerably less interesting than Sad Songs.
[33] Scritti Politti: Absolute. "Green," (the lead singer of Scritti Politti is called Green) "is going to be on Pop Quiz this Saturday," says Mike Read plugging his other franchise. Who else is on? Paul Young, he's left The Fabulous Wealthy Tarts at home for some reason, Toyah (taking a break between films according to the Radio Times), Drummie Zeb from Aswad and they're playing against -oh dear- G*r* Gl*tt*r, Annabel Lamb, and Green. Hmm, it's a bit of a thin night for entertainment on BBC1. What's on BBC2? Highlights of Trooping the Colour. Pop Quiz it is.
[21] Ozzy Osbourne: So Tired. On film. Yes, that's right real film. Go on, look impressed.
[31] Nick Heyward: Love All Day. "The best single of the summer," according to Peter Powell. No wonder Nick Heyward gives him a grateful thumbs up during the introduction. I don't like Nick Heyward's jacket. It looks like a duvet cover.

[18] Nik Kershaw: I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Nik Kershaw (Kershaw, not Heyward, don't get them mixed up) is on the podium used brilliantly by Evelyn Thomas last week. Nik doesn't do such a good job. He's dragged his synthesiser onto the podium and he's also weighed down with a guitar around his neck. Hey Nick, I mean Nik, are you going to be dancing or playing the guitar or playing the synthesiser, or are you going to try and shift awkwardly between all three?
[1] Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Two Tribes. Mike Read is forced to introduce Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I'm sure it's all water under the bridge.

People can be seen wearing "FRANKIE SAYS" t-shirts all through this edition of Top of the Pops. Frankie says "RELAX" on some of them, and "WAR" on the others. Make up your mind. Now, for the finale, everyone has been given a flag bearing the Frankie Goes to Hollywood logo. It's just a heaving mass of flags.
Holly Johnson has come dressed as Norman Wisdom in a grey coat and flat cap. It's a bad choice for a TV studio in high summer and soon the sweat is pouring down his face.
[15] Michael Jackson: Farewell My Summer Love. Crowd dancing and roll credits. New "FRANKIE SAYS" t-shirt spotted "FRANKIE SAYS ARM THE UNEMPLOYED".  That's a bit controversial.
Performance of the Week: The Smiths, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.

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