Random Acts of Top of the Pops: #4 – February 24th, 1994

Episode Number: 1564
First Shown: 7.00pm on February 24th, 1994
Presenter(s): Bruno Brookes
Official Top 40: @The Official Charts
Studio: BBC Elstree Centre
iPlayer: Top of the Pops – February 24th, 1994
BBC Genome: Here!


And welcome back to another Random Acts of top of the Pops! After our last trip to the stormy days of January 1978, we’re jumping forward to February 24th, 1994.

Let the music begin!


Forever Now / Level 42 (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #22

There are SIX of Level 42 here – that’s enough for a five-a-side team even if one of them has to cancel!

We open tonights show with a fairly by-the-numbers piece of jazz-pop from Level 42. Forever Now – the eponymous first single from the album Forever Now – was the first wave of a supposed relaunch after a three year hiatus. The the music is fairly average and the lyrics follows that well-worn grove of complaining about the inevitability of death and how little time we all have in this life. And yet, in spite of the singers wish for more time, he fails to mention what he’d do with it; there’s no talk of the great search of knowledge or enlightenment, no yearning to spend more time with loved ones, no desire to master a noble art or craft, no wish to travel the world. In that way, Forever Now somehow manages to be more insubstantial than the narcissists prayer Fame! – because at least Irene Cara’s protagonist wanted to do something, even if was just to be famous and to be remembered…

One week from now Forever Now would peak at #19 and then rapidly slip down the charts. Level 42 would go on to break up later in 1994.

The Sign / Ace Of Base (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #7

It was impossibly difficult to get a short of the band where the lead signers didn’t look like they’d had a stonking row and were now ignoring each other.

And onto The Sign, a europop-with-a-hint-of-reggae piece from Ace of Base. A breakup song about how much better things are going to be without the singer’s former parter, The Sign is built on a reasonably catchy tune only to be let down by a set of somewhat stodgy lyrics. The band manage to look thoroughly miserable throughout, with the to lead vocalists giving every impression that they too have just finished having a major row. I’m not sure that they manage to make eye contact with each other at any point during the performance – which is certainly an oddity in what is functionally a duet. All of this together leaves The Sign as a firm miss.

One week from now The Sign would peak at number #2 where it would loiter for a month, never quite making that final leap to number #1.

All For Love / Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting (Via Music Video)
Chart Place: #6

While String and Bryan admire the rollers on a poll, Rod just thinks they should have got the decorators in.

It’s the dads-at-B-and-Q supergroup that we never know we needed! Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and String (in the first of tonights appearances) sing All For Love, a movie tie-in power ballad for the 1993 film The Three Musketeers. Having already peaked at #2 in the charts at the end of January before beginning the slow slide towards oblivion, this second airing of the All For Love video was only made possible by a small jump from #8 to #6.

All For Love ticks every box on the to-it-yourself power ballad construction kit – a slow soft-rock backing track accompanies powerful dedications of love, sacrifice, emotion, and protection to the unnamed recipient to the point where one may wonder if it was produced via machine. And, indeed, the music video feels somewhat similar – every tickbox ticked, every lined doled out to each of the performers as was contractually defined. Were I the studio that had ordered this piece for my film I would have been happy with the product I had received. And that is where the problem lies, every tick box may have been ticked, but the song feels as firmly manufactured as the supergroup who sings it. It fulfils the role it sets out to fill, but lacks the true hand-crafted joy that comes from a proper artisanal piece.

By mid April All For Love would exit the top 100.

Stay Together / Suede (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #3

The first of the big Britpop acts to grace Random Acts of Top of the Pops, Suede fails to deliver with Stay Together, a plodding dirge about nuclear death and high-rise bombs. The music is fairly nondescript and the lyrics as-performed have a general air of placeholder about them. Stay Together failed to make it onto an album and, after listening to it, it’s not hard to think that Stay Together shouldn’t have made it out as a single either.

Stay Together would enter the chart at number three and, over the next two months, slowly slip away.

Because Of You / Gabrielle (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #28

And onto Gabrielle, an artist that always seemed to both have a cheerful air about her person and, unlike some other artists, seemed to be genuinely pleased to be on TOTP. Though not as strong as June 1993’s Dreams, Because Of You puts in a good show as the fourth single from Gabrielle’s first album. Because Of You follows RnB’s well-worn path of the singer declaring her love for an unseen partner. In spite of treading that well-worn path the lyrics are strong and the tactical deployment of a string quartet helps to add depth to the backing music, bringing the entire piece together in a way that feels most satisfactory.

One week from now Because Of You would peak at number #24 before slipping away.

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart / Elton John With Rupaul (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: #13

A poor retread of a previous Elon piece, this cover of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is firmly from Elton’s auto-pastiche phase that preceded his move into the role of musical elder statesman some five or so years later. Almost karaoke-like in it’s execution, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart feels like a drunken weekend dare that went a little too far.

Next week Don’t Go Breaking My Heart would rise to number #7 before exiting the charts at the end of April.

Spoonman / Soundgarden (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: #20

And onto another short breakers clip; Spoonman, an early establishing hit for Soundgarden, originated as an acoustic piece from the soundtrack to the 1992 film Singles. Reworked as a heavy grunge piece, Soundgarden would then go onto release Spoonman in early 1994. The TOTP breakers clip is rather short, but provides enough of the piece to tease any sympathetic listener into seeking out a little more.

Spoonman would enter the chart at number #20 before rapidly falling away.

Two Tribes (remix) / Frankie Goes To Hollywood (A Breakers Clip)
Chart Place: #16

1994 was, if not the warmest point of the post-cold war détente, was pretty damned close. Which is why this remix and reissue of Two Tribes – a song born in the coldest of the cold days of the 80s – feels so odd. Two Tribes was very much a song of it’s time, it’s lyrics anchored in the inherent nihilism of nuclear fire, it’s music video coping by presenting the leaders of the opposing sides as fat old men, ineffectually smacking and flailing at each other in a wrestling ring. But by 1994 those leaders were gone – Chernenko dead, killed by his lifestyle and the stress of governing a dying Soviet Union, and post-presidency Reagan was enfeeble, his mind increasingly consumed Alzheimer’s – and neither China or Islamism had risen up far enough up in the public conscious to recast them as a viable opponent of then-President Clinton. Thus the sting of the 1984 original was lost.

And so this re-mix flails, the beat is slightly stepped up and the lyrics undergo some minor shuffling, shots of the cold war leaders fighting are lost, as are the many moments of Holly Johnson as the ringside commentator. All of this is replaced with some fairly cheap and deeply unsatisfying animation that leaves me with the view that Two Tribes should have remained a piece of it’s time – untampered, cold, and nihilistic.

Unlike it’s original 1984 run of nine consecutive weeks at number #1, this remix of Two Tribes entered the charts at #16 and quickly sank without a trace.

Nothing ‘bout Me / Sting (Via Satellite)
Chart Place: #32

And onto our second Sting visit of the evening – a satellite performance of Nothing ‘bout Me beamed directly from a very grey Sydney to our still winter-ish British living rooms.

A light jazz-poppy piece, Nothing ‘bout Me examines the idea that you can know a lot about someone and yet still not understand them as a person – a position that would strike me as very familiar to a someone in Sting’s position. Production-wise, Nothing ‘bout Me looks to be rather bloated – as the camera moves around the stage there appears to be around a dozen or so people acting as various backing sax, dancers, guitarists and similar. And, I have to confess, I really can’t hear what they are all doing, or even if they are doing anything at all.

Does the satellite performance add much to the show? In it’s self it’s no better than String performing Nothing ‘bout Me in the studio, however, given he appears to be in Australia – and thus unable to easily reach the studio – this satellite performance is certainly preferable to a music video.

This week’s initial number #32 position marks the high water mark for Nothing ‘bout Me. Over the next four weeks Nothing ‘bout Me would slip slowly down the charts, exiting the charts by the end of March 1994.

Loser / Beck (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #NEW

And onto a fresh-faced Beck and his then-uncharted Loser. A soggy, stoner-ish piece of laid-back rap/indie/rock, the music and sung chorus remain far catchier than the somewhat nonsensical rapped verse. Is it good? Well that would be a very questionable position to hold however there are certain elements – the beat, the chorus – that remain with you long after hearing it and, I’m almost afraid to admit, I am something of a long term fan.

Next week Loser would enter the chart at number #16, rise to 15th place the week after, before slipping down the charts to exit mid April.

Without You / Mariah Carey (In the Studio)
Chart Place: #1

Next Mariah Carey presents Without You. Performed the Top of the Pops Elstree studios and rounded out with both a more than competent backing group and the entire BBC stock of candles, this soulful about loss piece seems more than perfectly designed to showcase Carey’s vocal talents and she more than does so here. Without You is not my kind of song – but that doesn’t preclude recognising competence and talent wherever it my occur.

This was Without You’s second of four weeks at number #1. Without You would exit the chart towards the end of May 1994.

Doop / Doop (Over the Credits)
Chart Place: #NEW

And tonights final piece is a ragtime inspired Eurodance track shown over the credits and thus stripped of it’s faux flappers-and-Charleston themed music video. As it is presented, Doop feels like unwanted filler shown over footage of far better groups producing far better music.

Two weeks from now Doop would enter the charts at number #3 before commencing a three week run at number #1, eventually leaving the top 100 early in June.


And now onto the Random Acts of Top of the Pops top 10 12 for the week of February 24th, 1994!

  1. Loser / Beck
  2. Because Of You / Gabrielle
  3. Without You / Mariah Carey
  4. All For Love / Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting
  5. Spoonman / Soundgarden
  6. Nothing ‘bout Me / Sting
  7. Two Tribes (remix) / Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  8. Stay Together / Suede
  9. The Sign / Ace Of Base
  10. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart / Elton John With RuPaul
  11. Forever Now / Level 42
  12. Doop / Doop


February 24th, 1994 turned out to be a reasonable week with no particular horrors (cough – Mull of Kintyre – cough) and a few reasonable tracks. Looser and Because of You both stood out as highlights with Doop and Forever Now both dragging down the average. February 24th, 1994 was also as 12 artist show but, unlike the January 26th, 1978, it didn’t feel anywhere near as rushed.

Next Time: Join me as we jump back to February 25th, 1988!


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