Annotations: 'Pop, What Is It Good For?'

Music TV Lately, BBC Four has been broadcasting a luxurious collection of documentaries and concerts about pop music and one of, if not the highlight is an essay by journalist Paul Morley in which he describes his own history with the genre called Pop, What Is It Good For? You might actually still be able to watch it the programme via the BBC’s iplayer or during one of the dozens of repeats there are bound to be over the coming months.

The show has a pleasantly rough and ready style in which filming mistakes are included, interviews begin whilst the director is explaining what it's going to be about to the guest and overall it's as though it’s deconstructing the documentary form whilst its reconstructing the pop song. It has what is already one of my favourite tv moments of the year in which Morley tries to have a serious conversation with the Sugababes during the noise and distractions back stage at last year’s Children In Need, mayhem surrounding them.

There is a website to accompany the programme and although there are profiles (borrowed from the Wikipedia) of some of the artists whose music is mentioned and played, it doesn’t actually offer what you’d really want – a playlist. So I’ve decided to create one of my own for you. Here are all but one of the tracks which can be heard in the programme in order of appearance, plus the songs which appear as captions (either as a title of lyrics) and just musicians who are mentioned by Morley and the contributors. And a list of the contributors.

The only ommissions are when the musicians are seen but not heard and the names of all those who appear in the dream like montage in the middle written in marker pen. There were what seem like hundreds and I think most of them are mentioned somewhere else on the list anyway, apart from Eminem. I've also linked to the relevant page at the Wikipedia which has the story of how the majority of these songs were made. If I was you I’d ignore this annotation until you've seen the programme – like a great mixtape or club night, it works best when you don't know which song is going to be played next, which is why I've left the primary list until the end.

Pop, What Is It Good For? -- The Playlist


‘Tiger Feet’ – Mud
‘I Feel Love’ – Donna Summer
‘Ice Cream’ -- New Young Pony Club
‘Like A Prayer’ – Madonna
‘Pull Up To The Bumper’ -- Grace Jones
‘Only You’ – The Flying Pickets
‘Waterloo Sunset’ – The Kinks
‘Lola’ – Nicky Thomas
‘Lola’ – Madness
‘My Girl’ – Madness
‘How Soon Is Now?’ – The Smiths
‘Virginia Plain’ – Roxy Music
‘Bye Bye Love’ – The Everly Brothers
‘Poor Me’ – Adam Faith
‘Are Friends Electric?’ – Gary Numan
‘Freak Like Me’ -- Adina Howard
‘Close (To the Edit)’ – The Art of Noise
‘We All Stand Together’ – Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus
‘Close To The Edge’ – Yes
‘Loves Gotta Hold on Me’ – Dollar
‘In The Air Tonight’ – Phil Collins

[Sorry, I don’t know the title of the Cristina track -- it wasn't caption. Does anyone who has seen the programme have any ideas?]


‘War’ – Edwin Starr
‘Knees Up Mother Brown’ (Folk Traditional)
‘My Old Man’s A Dustman’ -- Lonnie Donegan
‘Push The Button’ – Sugababes
‘About You Now’ – Sugababes
‘Overload’ -- Sugababes


‘Pinball Wizard’ – The Who
‘Karma Chameleon’ – Culture Club
‘Under My Thumb’ – The Rolling Stones
‘Virginia Plain’ – Roxy Music
‘Brimful of Asha’ -- Cornershop
‘Blue Suede Shoes’ – Elvis Presley
‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ – The Sex Pistols
‘White Riot’ – The Clash
‘All Along The Watchtower’ – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ – The Who
'Fire' -- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
‘Rebel Rebel’ – David Bowie
‘Virginia Plain’– Roxy Music
‘Days’ – Kirsty Maccoll
‘I Saw Her Standing There’ – The Beatles
‘Heroin’ – The Velvet Underground
‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ – The Righteous Brothers
‘Maggie May’ – Rod Stewart
‘Don’t You Want Me’ – Human League
‘Brass In My Pocket’ – The Pretenders
‘The Guns of Brixton’ – The Clash
‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ – The Carpenters
‘Back To Life’ – Soul II Soul
‘Do You Know The Way To San Jose’ – Dionne Warwick
'Tears of a Clown' -- Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
‘I Am The Walrus’ – The Beatles
‘What Difference Does It Make?’ – The Smiths
‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ – The Smiths
‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ – The Smiths
‘Hand in glove’ – The Smiths
‘William, It Was Really Nothing’ – The Smiths
‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ – The Smiths
‘I Started Something I Couldn't Finish’ – The Smiths

Top of the Pops 70s

The New Seekers
Dandy Livingston
The Electric Light Orchestra
Donny Osmond
Chuck Berry
The Moody Blues
Roy “C”

Top of the Pops 80s

The Look
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Captain Sensible
New Order
Shakin’ Stevens

Hit Parade, December 1959

‘What Do You Want?’ -- Adam Faith
‘What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?’ – Emile Ford
‘Oh! Carol’ – Neil Sedaka
‘Travellin’ Light’ Cliff Richard
‘Seven Little Girls (Sitting in the Back Seat)’ – The Avons
‘Red River Rock’ – Johnny & The Hurricanes
‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ – Paul Anka
‘Snow Coach’ – Russ Conway
‘Rawhide’ – Frankie Lane
‘More and More Party Pops’ – Russ Conway
‘Mack The Knife’ – Bobby Darin

UK 1960 clipping

Cliff Richard & The Shadows
Frankie Avalon
Freddy Cannon
Bobby Rydell
Elvis Presley
Adam Faith

Also name-checked:

Iggy Pop & The Stooges
Steve Reich
Philip Glass
Sophie Ellis-Bextor
Donna Summer
The Beatles
The Who
The Rolling Stones
The Zombies
Ian Drury & The Blockheads
The Birds
Siouxsie & the Banshees
The Marvelettes
John Barry
Béla Bartók
Igor Stravinsky
Charlie Parker
Cecil Taylor
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ludwig van Beethoven
Johannes Brahms
The Mothers of Invention
Il Divo


Rob Davis, songwriter
Dawn Shadforth, Pop Promo Director
Tahita Bulmer, Pop Singer
Mike Joyce, Drummer, The Smiths
Simon Armitage, Poet
Peter Blake, artist
John Worth, songwriter
Robert Wyatt, singer/songwriter
Richard X, Record Producer
Anne Dudley, Art of Noise
Paul Morley, Art of Noise
Heidi Range, Sugababes
Keisha Buchanan, Sugababes
Amelle Berrabah, Sugababes

Lastly ...

Paul Morley’s half dozen:

‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ – Kylie Minogue
‘Ride A White Swan’ – T.Rex
‘Lola’ – The Kinks
‘This Charming Man’ – The Smiths
‘What Do You Want?’ -- Adam Faith
‘Freak Like Me’ -- Sugababes

And when he left Stockport, after hearing T.Rex, Paul discovered Bowie, Hendrix, The Velvets, Iggy, Ballard, Burroughs, Rimbaud, Puchant(?), Duchamp and Elvis.

[It sounds like Puchant although I'd welcome a second opinion. Couldn't find anything substantial online about John Worth either. If anyone notices any errors or omissions, please do let me know.]


Anonymous said...

Rimbaud (as in Arthur Rimbaud, the 19th Century French Symbolist poet) surely, rather than Rambo (Sly Stallone)?

Stuart Ian Burns said...

Thank you! That does make more sense. I'll go and fix that.