Integrity of Top of the Pops

Decades on from its launch Top of the Pops remains a key cultural institution. It’s the pop music show of record, while everything else is as ephemeral as the most disposal examples from the genre. Other shows – The Tube, Old Grey Whistle Test or So it Goes – end and become great symbols of their time, but TOTP goes on forever. And now – while writing this – I’ve just discovered an excellent database where you can look up details of performances between 1964 and 2000. Wow!

So against this background, Katharine was rightly annoyed when presenter Tim Kash mistook Outkast’s Roses video – a TOTP exclusive – for a West Side Story pastiche when it’s so clearly based on Grease. The Pink Ladies now wear red.

But what bugs me is not so much Kash losing track of key cultural reference points, but Top of the Pops 2’s habit of finishing with a contemporary country music record. I’m at that crossover age where I get the nostalgia thing – all those memory inducing performances from the (late) 1970s, ’80s and ’90s – but still enjoy contemporary music. And I also remember other failed attempts to import country music. Jonnie Walker tried it in the 1980s, always playing something popular stateside and saying how it was going to be the next thing. It never happened and it never will; some nonsense about a ‘dirt road’ where some whinger ‘found my love… [and] found Jesus… lost virginity…[insert key life experience]’ will never sell here. And that’s a good thing.

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