This time last year my Christmas based writing was limited to this article on The Office Christmas specials and the majesty and beauty of them.
Here’s a paragraph from the article, detailing a key scene in the second episode:
“A Christmas special would be nothing without a happy ending, and The Office didn’t disappoint in that regard. The darkness of the first episode and the start of the second really set the tone for what was to come. It was classic Office, Dawn had come back, said hello, and was about to leave again. Brent was lying in a hotel room, pissed and bitter, trying to maintain a crumb of dignity in the ever changing climate. Then, as Yazoo was playing on the jukebox, and as the wine had almost all been drunk, here comes Dawn, tears streaming down her face, with the most thoughtful Secret Santa gift of all time in hand, speaking with lips rather than words.”
The big part of the scene in question can be found here, in classic ‘someone filming the TV screen with their phone’ style.
In my opinion, the scene would have been nowhere near as powerful without the song that was playing in the background, which was a song called Only You by Yazoo.
Yazoo were an electronic duo who were popular in the eighties consisting of Vince Clarke who had found fame in Depeche Mode, along with Alison Moyet, who is probably the third most famous woman to have been born in Essex in the history of the world.
Only You was their debut single, and was a worldwide smash upon release in 1982, reaching number two in the UK charts, as well as charting in America.
Synth based music hit its commercial peak during this time period, when it seemed like all you needed was a Korg, a drum machine, and a big voice to make some hits. Only You was different though, Alison Moyet was not a typical pop star, she looked different, she acted differently and she sang with soul. The track had a simplistic musical backdrop, with a repetitive beat, teamed with Moyet’s understated yet still powerful vocals.
Despite being the first, and most iconic version of the song, it was another interpretation that hit the top of the Christmas charts a year later in 1983. The Flying Pickets were an a capella singing group, consisting of a bunch of socialist actors who thought that singing romantic songs without instruments would help out the suffering proper worked of the early eighties whose industries and careers were being torn down by a viscous and uncaring Conservative government.
At least that’s what I got from watching Billy Elliot for the first time.
A capella music is essentially vocals without instruments, and thanks to decent TV shows like Glee and terrible films like Pitch Perfect has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent time.
Here is an example of it being done well….
And being done badly…
Put simply, it can vary in terms of quality. For every Eminem in 8 Mile informing the audience “fuck the beat I go a capella”, there is, and I hate to go back to it, incredibly patronising and boring films like Pitch Perfect which set the whole musical style back decades by catering it to idiots.
I really hate that film. Anna Kendrick is the most overrated actress around today, she makes Keanu Reeves seem like Jack Nicholson in terms of charisma.
Anyway, The Flying Pickets release their version of Only You at Christmas in 1983 and it reached the number one spot where it stayed for five weeks, beating out Slade and their track ‘My Oh My’ thus preventing the band from achieving their second festive chart topper.
The video can be described in one incredibly descriptive and detailed way – BORING. A bunch of random blokes standing around a pub making weird noises? Try any Essex boozer during the day time and you will find exactly the same thing. I can’t be too harsh though, lead singer Brian Hibbard who sadly passed away last year was in the cult Welsh film Twin Town, which unlike Pitch Perfect isn’t a massive waste of cinema reel.
All this negativity I hear you saying, all this classic Hinesy negativity, and yet the track makes your top ten in your very own Christmas number one countdown? It has to. Firstly because I had no real idea just how many bad Christmas number ones there actually was – how could I? Secondly though, the original is so unbelievably good, and is played around Christmas time more than the Pickets version is.
In conclusion, Yazoo – excellent and the definitive version of Only You.
I prefer a flan.
Spotify playlist where you can listen to the countdown as it appears:
And read the rest of the countdown – just CLICK HERE