Saturday, August 29, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: 23 August 2009

It's David Guetta's year, apparently.

That's David Guetta featuring Akon, "Sexy Chick". This is Guetta's fifth top 40 hit and his second number one of the year, following "When Love Takes Over" featuring Kelly Rowland in June. He also produced the previous number one, "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. Having vastly disliked "I Gotta Feeling", I rather prefer this one. You couldn't call it subtle (and the video is thoroughly phoned in), but it's got a bit of swagger to it.

As for Akon, this is his fifteenth top 40 appearance, and his third number one. The previous two were the rather forgettable "Smack That" from November 2006, and the thoroughly ridiculous "Lonely" from May 2005. You know, the one with the speeded up chorus sampled from a Bobby Vinton single. For some reason, I've always kind of liked it - it's so brazenly absurd that it's actually rather likeable.

Interestingly, just like "When Love Takes Over", this single was rushed to market a few days ahead of schedule, when the record company realised that an independent cover version was picking up sales. This suggests that Guetta's record company either needs to get a better sense of how to time its release dates in the first place, or needs to learn how to hold its nerve.

The song is actually called "Sexy Bitch" - "Sexy Chick" is the radio edit - but for some reason, that's the title that's being used on the official chart listings. The edit is actually an interesting choice, because the word "bitch" isn't routinely cut in Britain. Perhaps they had more sensitive markets in mind (like parts of the US). But even in Britain, there's some inconsistency. There have been 12 previous top 40 singles with the word "Bitch" in the title. And they are these...

1. The Rolling Stones, "Bitch" (No 2, 1971). No video, obviously, but here's the song. This one didn't pose any problems for the radio, because it was a double A-side with "Brown Sugar."

2. Elton John, "The Bitch is Back" (No 15, 1974). Doesn't seem to have caused any problems.

3. Rod Stewart, "Ain't Love a Bitch" (No 11, 1979). Never heard of it, and the fact that there's only one video on the whole of the Internet tends to suggest it's not often called for these days. But it's a perfectly inoffensive ballad.

4. The Olympic Runners, "The Bitch" (No 37, 1979). This is the theme tune to the Joan Collins film of the same name, and frankly, the sexual politics have dated poorly. It's not a subtle record, and unlikely to be covered any time soon without heavy irony involved. Nonetheless, it clearly didn't cause any major problems at the time, because here they are doing it on Top of the Pops on primetime BBC.

5. Stevie Nicks, "Sometimes it's a Bitch" (No 40, 1991). Scraping the bottom of the charts for one week, this isn't so much long-forgotten as never-known-in-the-first-place. It's not available online - her record company is inexplicably vigilant about it.

6. Spinal Tap, "Bitch School" (No 35, 1992). I don't recall much airplay for this, but that's hardly surprising. Not only was it a comedy single, but the whole joke (as I recall) was that Spinal Tap had made this staggeringly offensive and misogynist record, which they claimed was actually about dog training and had been sadly misinterpreted. This might have worked better if anybody had bothered to include that explanation in the video. Maybe it's in the opening scene, which has obviously been cut from the YouTube version. It's not one of Spinal Tap's better efforts, to be honest. However, the same album has "The Majesty of Rock", which is brilliant.

7. The Inspiral Carpets, "Bitches Brew" (No 36, 1992). A reference to the classic Miles Davis album, of course. With hindsight, this is so much duller than I remembered. So again, I'll post something else entirely - their startling and unlikely appearance on Top of the Pops with Mark E Smith, haranguing the audience, while reading the lyric sheet.

8. Sister Bliss with Colette, "Cantgetaman, Cantgetajob (Life's a Bitch)" (No 31, 1994) I haven't heard this in years, and it's actually held up pretty well. I believe it's one of the many "New York drag queen ranting over dance beats" records made around that time (and if it isn't, it's certainly influenced by them). But it's a good one. If there was a video, I'd embed it, but clck on the link to hear it. And yes, this is the same Sister Bliss who went on to form Faithless the next year.

9. Meredith Brooks, "Bitch" (No 6, 1997). Well, obviously. This is a school-of-Alanis Morissette record which failed to generate a career for Brooks in the UK - she managed one follow-up hit, "I Need", before vanishing. In America, she was a one-hit wonder. But at least it's a memorable one hit.

10. The Prodigy, "Smack My Bitch Up" (No 8, 1997). Notorious controversy-baiting single from the Prodigy, which had a video intentionally designed to be untransmittable before the watershed. It does still get dusted off for late-night TV fairly frequently. The lyric is sampled from the Ultramagnetic MCs. Somewhat to my surprise, it's on DailyMotion, so you can see it here if you want. Caution: contains nudity and "makes-you-think-dunnit" twist ending. Emphatically not safe for work. The single was understandably banned from daytime radio, not so much for the language as the theme. (The top 40 show apparently played the B-side and didn't name the single at all.)

11. The DJ Aligator Project, "The Whistle Song (Blow My Whistle Bitch)" (No 5, 2002). It's a subtle metaphor, you see. DJ Aligator - yes, with one L - is Ali Movasat, and according to Wikipedia, he's Iranian. The radio edit changes the lyric to "Blow my whistle, baby." It's, er, energetic. Also, intensely annoying. Don't say I didn't warn you. It certainly seems to have had terrible effects on the sanity of the video director, who felt that the song would be appropriately accompanied by scenes of forced dentistry.

12. Jet, "Cold Hard Bitch" (No 34, 2004). Jet are Australian rock throwbacks who notched up a few international hits around this time before retreating back to their home country, where they're apparently still going. Their inclusion on the same list as Spinal Tap amuses me somewhat.