Monday, August 19, 2013

Bucks Fizz: If Only ABBA Had Been British, And Only From The '80s

You know, the original ABBA were great and everything, but there was just something ... missing. For years, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then finally, it hit me. You know what they needed? They needed to be British.

Like ABBA before them, Bucks Fizz rose to fame by winning the Eurovision contest. Unlike ABBA, they did it by incorporating a tacky skirt-ripping routine into their performance. Released in 1981, "Making Your Mind Up" sounds more like ABBA circa 1974 than ABBA circa 1981. I mean, they nailed the style to a T; they were just ... a little bit behind?

Their next #1 hit, 1982's "The Land of Make Believe," sounds more like ABBA circa 1978 (think "Take a Chance on Me" or "The Name of the Game"), but hey, at least they were working their way a little closer to the present, right? Maybe at this rate they would soon catch up to ABBA circa 1982. Amusingly, Bucks Fizz's lyrics might actually be more simplistic than ABBA's, which, given that Bucks Fizz didn't even write their own material, and that ABBA managed to do so despite their native language not even being English, is really saying something. Here the band extols the virtues of the world of imagination:
Stars in your eyes little one
Where do you go to dream?
To a place we all know
The land of make believe

Tapping at your window
Voices whisper, "Will you come and play?"
Not for all the tea in China
Or the corn in Carolina
Never, never ever
They're running after you babe

Run for the sun little one
You're an outlaw once again
Time to change, Superman
Will be with us while he can
In the land of make believe
This TopPop clip sadly cuts off the dopey spoken word portion at the end, where some child actress fresh from "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" tells us enchantingly, "I've got a friend who comes to tea/And no one else can see but me/He came today, but had to go/To visit you, you never know," but in its defense, it does include a shirtless black bodybuilder, a mysterious juggler, and a lifetime's supply of dry ice.

I'm not sure if "My Camera Never Lies" finally caught up to ABBA's contemporary sound, or was more of a prime slice of Aerobic Rock, sounding more like Olivia Newton-John or Sheena Easton. I'm also kind of getting a Styx/"Mr. Roboto" vibe.

True story: I downloaded a Bucks Fizz Greatest Hits album (why not?), and I have to confess, some of their smaller hits are actually pretty good slices of shitty, disposable pop. "If You Can't Stand The Heat" is the song that someone finally wrote in order to take advantage of the phrase "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen," and it also boasts a chorus that Roxette would have undergone an Ingmar Bergman marathon for. "Talking in Your Sleep" is a highly faithful and yet strangely effective cover of the Romantic's American hit.

In other words, you like your pop big, stupid, and catchy? Bucks Fizz may be your band.

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