For a brief period in 1991 I actually paid attention to what was happening in the charts. This coincided with a school trip to that most exotic of locations: the Isle of Wight.
While travelling backwards and forwards between our hotel in Shanklin and whichever destination we ended up at (Alum Bay, Black Gang Chine or Carisbrooke Castle) there seemed to be only one of two things playing on the radio: Cher’s ‘Shoop Shoop Song’ and OMD’s ‘Sailing on the Seven Seas’.
So I place this at somewhere around the beginning of May, 1991 – a time at which the nation was generally recovering from Chesney Hawkes having spent rather too long at the top of the charts with ‘This Is My One And Only’ – or some such.
‘Sailing on the Seven Seas’ peaked at number three in the charts. It’s chart position seemed to get mentioned every time it was played on the radio. And with every play, I hoped that it would have nudged its way a little further up – as if that could possible happen at twenty past one on a Thursday afternoon.
I dutifully did my bit. Upon my return to the mainland I went into Woolworths with my Dad and bought the single on cassette. To be more precise, I got my Dad to buy it on cassette because I was incredibly nervous about engaging in such an unnerving and alien transaction as buying a single.
Who knows what it was about this song that made me so attracted to it. Maybe it was just that it wasn’t the ‘Shoop Shoop Song’. Maybe it was the distinctive drumbeat. Maybe my future – more musically aware – self had come back from the future and pointed out the references to both The Velvet Underground and The Who that appear in the song.
Whatever it was, ‘Sailing on the Seven Seas’ was the first single I bought. And I’m still quite pleased with myself over this choice.
While others will cringe with embarrassment at the thought of their first single being something like ‘The Birdie Song’ or something by David Hasselhoff, I think I can keep my head held up fairly high – even if my future music tastes have kept a fair old way from synth pop in general.
Well done me.