What do Alison Moyet, James Corden, Kylie Minogue and an A cappella group have in common?
The music scene in the early 1980s might always be a source of bewilderment. This period of intense experimentation is easily and lazily mocked, but beneath all that makeup and electronic burbling there were some truly great songs produced. You know this much is true.
You might remember Alison Moyet, a hugely talented performer whose less than anorexic figure would have made a successful career so much more difficult in these more superficial times. But do you remember what she did before her solo career?
She placed an advert for a musical partner in a UK music magazine and attracted the attention of former Depeche Mode musician Vince Clarke. He bought with him his keyboard and a song which his former band had rejected, and they recorded it together as short lived synth-pop duo Yazoo. It was an instant hit in early 1982, making an impact on both the the UK and US charts.
The extended version can be found here, which might try your patience but does perfectly encapsulate the studied nonchalance and terrifying asymmetrical haircuts of this bygone era.
Only you might seem familiar to you because you’ve most probably heard a version which reached the New Zealand charts in early 1984. Recorded by A cappella group The Flying Pickets, their rendition was a Christmas No1 in Britain before going on to influence other vocal groups like the House Martins. This video has to be seen to be believed. As wags on You Tube have observed, it appears to feature Wolverine from the X-Men, The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester and the Fourth Doctor Who serenading one another.
Once again, I’m left with the feeling that this is a very good song which is somehow still waiting for the right interpretation to fully realise it’s potential. Others have tried, including Spanish singer Julio Iglesias’s son Enrique, but this next one is a version which first made me recoil when I heard about it. Kylie Minogue and friend, comedian James Corden recorded this duet on her 2015 Christmas album. And believe it or not, it’s rather lovely and certainly the most beautiful way to learn the lyrics.
In closing, I’ll continue the theme of Christmas and comedy. The cringe humour of The Office is possibly long out-of-date, but we might be forgetting that it ended with a genuinely touching Christmas party resolution to the on-going Dawn and Tim ‘romance’. And the soundtrack to this happy ending? Have a listen…