Eurovision: Always terrible but at least it used to have a novelty value

Bucks Fizz in 1981.

Bucks Fizz in 1981.

Eurovision: A party political broadcast on behalf of Euro-sceptics if ever there was one.

Anyone wishing to persuade their compatriots that Britain really should leave the European Union as a matter of urgency simply has tell them to tune into BBC1 tonight for this annual cheese-fest.

Masquerading as a music contest, this bloated televisual nightmare is simply an excuse for all the other countries of Europe (especially France) to show just how much they dislike us.

Mind you, we don’t do ourselves any favours, do we?

I mean, Bonnie Tyler is this year’s United Kingdom Entry. Really?

Don’t get me wrong I’m as fond as the next man of her massive Eighties hit Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

The video alone – with its weird imagery taken at an all boys school where nudity and the consumption of drugs which make your eyeballs turn into small suns seems commonplace – is frankly unforgettable.

But if we are reduced to wheeling out stars from 30 years ago then surely we’d be better off opting for Duran Duran or asking Wham to reform.

I’ve nothing against the Welsh warbler selected to champion this Sceptered Isle in Malmö tonight, other than that she appears to be somewhat past her best.

I guess we’ll see when the block-voting by members of the former Soviet Union commences this evening.

Maybe it’s my age but I don’t remember it always being a foregone conclusion that the UK would receive fewer points than Lichtenstein.

Although, to be fair, during the 1980s the countries taking part in the competition were at least in Europe.

Nowadays they’ll take anyone – including Israel, Cyprus and various intercontinental countries such as Russia and Turkey.

My first memory of Eurovision is of the year when family-friendly Bucks Fizz were the toast of Europe.

The grinning four-piece, with their daring outfit change, won the contest in 1981 with Making Your Mind Up – a song so bad all the other countries in Europe voted for it so that we were forced to keep listening to it and seeing the group’s garish outfits on Top of the Pops.

These days, Eurovision has its own website and there’s even an app to download – should you run out of chores to do – which allows you to immerse yourself in competition trivia and learn all the words to Moldova’s entry.

Of course, 30 years ago – even though the contest was well-established there was still a huge novelty factor when countries most of us only knew from O-Level or GCSE geography came together on the same night via the wonder of the small screen in our living rooms.

Back then we laughed at the idiosyncrasies of Europe’s smaller nations – until, that is, they started beating us with songs which sounded like they’d been made up by a drunken medieval peasant.

We didn’t mind so much when Ireland’s Johnny Logan kicked off the decade by winning with What’s Another Year. At least we could understand what he was saying.

But did the Aussie-born singer really have to return in 1987 and win again with Hold Me Now? Surely there should be rules against that sort of thing.

I bet Terry Wogan agrees with me.

Of course, Eurovision in the Eighties also introduced the watching public to a little-known, Canadian-born singer by the name of Celine Dion whose Ne partez pas sans moi won first place for Switzerland in 1988.

She was 20 at the time, years before she hit full diva mode with her epic theme from the movie Titanic.

That victory launched Celine Dion on the path to global stardom. Yes, it’s Eurovision’s fault.

Oh well, at least we can thank it for the music of Abba.

Pick up a copy of The Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia.

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Now that’s what you call an 80s phenomenon…

The 80s was, of course, a decade of fads – shoulder pads, boomboxes and neon spandex included – but there’s one particular trend has never gone away.

In fact, the ‘Now That’s What I call Music!’ albums, usually boiled down to ‘Now!’ went on to become a staple of the music industry in the UK and worldwide.

Everyone remembers the first one they bought (or in my case the first one my mum bought me).

Moreover, most can even recall their favourite songs on it. Mine was the very first release in 1986 and there was a three-way tie between Too Shy by Kajagoogoo, Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler and Is There Something I Should Know? by Duran Duran for my most played track.

The idea for the Now! phenomenon was born in the Virgin Records offices of Richard Branson in London.

The premise was to create a collection that would include original versions of hit tracks rather than the watered-down edits that were rife on their competitor albums.

Bizarrely the series took its name from a 1920s advertising poster for Danish bacon featuring a pig listening to a chicken sing “Now that’s what I call music.” The poster was purchased by Branson and was hung behind his cousin’s desk at the Virgin Records office.

The pig became the Now! series’ mascot for a while, making its last appearance on Now! 5.

Virgin teamed up with EMI and the first album in the original series was released in November, 1983.

Initial pressings were released on vinyl and audio cassette, with a re-release on CD in 2009, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the album and series.

Among its 30 songs, the excellent Now! 1 – the only album I had for my record player at the age of 11 – features 11 songs which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart: You Can’t Hurry Love by Phil Collins, Is There Something I Should Know? by Duran Duran, Red Red Wine by UB40, Give It Up by KC & The Sunshine Band, Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, Karma Chameleon by Culture Club, Too Shy by Kajagoogoo, Down Under by Men at Work, Baby Jane by Rod Stewart, Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) by Paul Young and Candy Girl by New Edition.

The Now! series became a reliable blockbuster around two to three times a year by sticking to a much-used music industry formula.

It took a collection of the biggest radio hits and packaged them together in a compilation – and bingo.

Now II, released in March, 1984 debuted at number three on the UK Albums Chart and then climbed to number one a week later, staying there for five weeks.

The first full-track edition to be released on CD, as well as on vinyl and cassette, was Now! 10 in November, 1987. I have this too…

It reached the top of the UK Albums Chart for six weeks and featured three songs that reached number one on the UK Singles Chart: Pump Up the Volume by MARRS, China in Your Hand by T’Pau and La Bamba by Los Lobos.

This release pretty much summed up the problem with buying a compilation CD/record – you often had the sublime (Fairytale of New York by The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl) as well as the ridiculous – My Pretty One by Cliff Richard).

Vinyls ended with Now! 35 and cassettes ended with Now! 63. Part of the series was also released on the MiniDisc format, starting with Now! 43 and ending with Now! 48.

These days the Now! releases seem predominately aimed at the young, especially ‘tween’, girls.

Eighty-two Now! albums have been released to date. The newest album in the series, Now! 83 was released last month.

Now! 83 features 12 songs which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart (most of which I confess I haven’t heard of).

Back in the 80s, before the days of digital downloading, if you were keen on the UK Singles Chart it made perfect sense to purchase a Now! album. It was music’s version of one-stop shopping.

And in our age of digital downloading, iTunes, Spotify and even YouTube, these compilations are still thriving. The series is the biggest selling compilation series… ever. It’s also the longest-selling branded compilation album in the UK.

“Now That’s What I Call Music! has always been a hit because every edition brilliantly distills each two or three months in pop,” says Mark Goodier, of Smooth Radio and the voice of Now! since Now! 21. “When a collector like me reviews the collection of Now! albums, it’s an accurate journey through the last two and half chart decades”.

Pick up a copy of the Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

The day Live Aid rocked our world

Thirteen was a pretty good age to be when the biggest concert in the history of the world was staged.

I had discovered music two years before when I was given my first record player for Christmas and got my first album (Status Quo – Twelve Gold Bars).

After that I had built up a collection of 30 or so singles ranging from Paul Young’s Love Of The Common People to King’s Love And Pride. Enough said.

As well as regular trips to Lotus Records up Hanley, like most people back then I relied on Radio One’s Sunday chart countdown and Top Of The Pops for my musical fix.

Then at 12 noon on July 13, 1985, a charitable phenomenon quite literally rocked the world.

Unless you were around at the time of Live Aid then it is difficult to appreciate the sheer scale and impact of the dual concert staged at Wembley Stadium and across The Pond at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia.

Indeed, in comparison the Live 8 concerts – staged some thirty years later – felt like Live Aid light. They were simply duller reinventions for a new audience.

Back in 1985 the dual concert was all anyone was talking about.

Live Aid was a televisual first and one of the largest satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time.

Against all odds, a relatively minor punk rock artist managed to bring together a multitude of genuine superstars who performed at the same time in front of an estimated audience of 1.9 billion people in more than 150 countries.

Bob Geldof was that man – or Sir Bob, as he is now.

The scruffy and irreverent lead singer of Irish band The Boomtown Rats had been incredibly moved by BBC reporter Michael Buerk’s of the 1984 famine in Ethopia.

This led him to pick up the phone and call Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure and together they co-wrote the massive number one hit single Do They Know Its Christmas?

The Band Aid track, sung for free by a collection of British and Irish musicians, became the fastest-selling single ever in the UK and raised a staggering £8 million for the famine relief effort.

Overwhelmed by the public response, Geldof then set about organising a concert of epic proportions.

Although most of us were completely unaware of the logistics at the time, the Live Aid concert brought together TV networks ranging from the BBC in the UK to ABC and MTV in the U.S. as well as numerous channels on the continent.

It was also broadcast live on the radio in a technical accomplishment which, for its time, was quite remarkable.

The list of performers – with a few notable exceptions – read like a who’s who of the music world.

It’s like a snapshot of the mid-Eighties music scene and, looking at it, I defy anyone to tell me that the Nineties or Noughties were richer and possessed more talent.

At Wembley the Coldstream Guards band opened the show with a royal salute before veteran rockers Status Quo kicked us off with the very appropriate Rockin’ All Over The World.

Elvis Costello sang The Beatles’ All You Need Is Love and U2 established themselves as one of the great with an energetic set in which lead singer Bono leapt into the crowd to dance with a girl who he thought was being crushed by the throng.

Other artists included Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Alison Moyet, Dire Straits, Elton John, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, Adam Ant, The Style Council, Bryan Ferry, The Who, Nik Kershaw, Sting, Sade and Bob Geldof himself who sang I Don’t Like Mondays with The Rats.

Phil Collins was unique in that he preformed on both stages – using a Concorde to make it to the U.S. show in time.

But, for me, the stand-out performance of the show was Queen’s astonishing set.

Genius frontman Freddie Mercury held the entire crowd of 72,000 in the palm of his hand during Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are The Champions – while the rest of us sang along at home.

It’s little wonder to me that various artists, music industry executives and journalists voted it the greatest live performance in the history of rock music.

Artists on the stage in front of 100,000 people in Philadelphia included The Four Tops, Billy Ocean, Black Sabbath, Run D.M.C., Reo Speedwagon, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Judas Priest, Bryan Adams, The Beach Boys, Simple Minds, The Pretenders, Madonna, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, The Thompson Twins, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppellin, Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Lionel Richie.

All the while the music was playing 300 phone lines were being staffed by BBC personnel – allowing us to make donations to the Live Aid cause.

At one point, the yet-to-be Sir Bob, interrupted BBC presenter David Hepworth as he attempted to give out the address for potential donations.

Pumped up by Queen’s performance, Geldoff shouted: “F*ck the address, let’s get the (telephone) numbers!”

After his outburst the rate of donations rose to £300 per second.

It was estimated that Live Aid ultimately raised around £150 million for famine relief in Africa.

It was certainly the ‘Woodstock’ of my youth – even though I don’t even know anyone who was actually there!

Pick up a copy of the Weekly Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

The perfect man to tell us why the Eighties remains so popular

Few names scream the Eighties like Mike Read. The evergreen DJ and presenter became a household name during the decade of decadence – long before the uncomfortable viewing of his time in the jungle during the 2004 version of I’m A celebrity (Get Me Out Of Here!).
It is, therefore, no surprise to discover him fronting a stage show called 80s Mania which is touring the UK.
Mike is the video host of the show – appearing on the big screen surrounded by girls (Top Of The Pops style) and introducing the various chart acts from back in the day.
He also slips in impersonations of former colleagues such as David ‘Kid’ Jensen and late greats such as John Peel OBE.
I caught up with Mike when the 80s Mania show called in at Hanley’s Victoria Hall.
His CV is extraordinary and spans more than 30 years in the entertainment industry as a DJ, TV presenter, songwriter, author, actor and writer of no less than eight stage musicals.
Through his time hosting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and as a presenter of the station’s legendary Roadshow Mike rubbed shoulders with everyone who was anyone in music and regularly drew 17 million listeners.
As the host of Saturday Superstore he was a household name to youngsters while his Saturday night Pop Quiz – featuring many of his showbiz friends – attracted more than 10 million viewers at the peak of its powers.
To my mind, this breadth of knowledge and experience should make Mike Read the perfect man to explain why the Eighties enjoys such an enduring popularity in the UK.
“It’s actually a really difficult question to answer,” said the 64-year-old. “However, what I would say is that the Eighties is to many people what the Sixties was and is to many others.
“You have to understand I am biased but I would say the Eighties was stronger musically than the Seventies, the Nineties or the Noughties.
“It also coincided with the advent of music videos which were hugely important and innovative and basically changed the face of the industry overnight.
“Back then the top acts could afford to jet off two Mauritius for a couple of weeks to work on a wacky video to accompany their song.
“They had the money to do it. There was plenty of cash around at the time and we all thought it would last forever.”
Mike’s time at Radio 1 coincided with a golden era in pop music and he helped launch some of the biggest names – as well as famously taking the decision on-air in 1984 not to play the Frankie Goes To Hollywood single Relax because of its ‘obscene’ lyrics.
Mike said: “It’s hard to choose a favourite artist from the period. There were so many quality acts like Duran Duran, the Spandaus (Spandau Ballet), Paul Young, Adam And The Ants – the list is endless.
“I was privileged to be a part of this scene and it is something that, at the time, I’m not sure we all appreciated.
“Simply being able to work on a show like Top Of The Pops was a dream and so much fun.
“At the same time the Radio 1 roadshow was a juggernaut – just so popular all over the country.”
Of course, even the bespectacled, always smiley advocate of the Eighties has to admit that some of the fashions from the time were somewhat regrettable.
He said: “I distinctly remember thinking at the time that, compared to the Sixties and Seventies the clothes we we wearing weren’t in any way unusual.
“I thought that people would look back at the Eighties and think ‘blimey, they wore normal clothes back then’.
“However, nowadays I see how wrong I was because some of the fashions were absolutely horrendous!”’

Remember me? Pudgy lad with the bowl-head hair…

Cast your mind back to 1983. The comedy genius of Blackadder has just been unleashed on the nation.

The novelty of people asking Bob Holness for a P on the gameshow Blockbusters hasn’t yet worn off.

As we munch on our toast, we’ve gone from having no telly in the morning to being able to choose between BBC’s Breakfast Time and ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Either way, chunky sweaters are in.

Yours truly, however, has more important things on his mind.

I’m part of the guinea pig year – the first group of students to attend high school at the age of 11 rather than 12 in order that we can eventually take the new GCSE exams which are to be introduced in 1987.

Gone are the O-levels and CSEs in favour of a new system which uses coursework as well as one-off exams to assess a pupil’s academic ability.

Holden Lane High School is one of the biggest schools in the Potteries and boasts five, brand new mobile classrooms to cope with the additional influx of children.
One of them is to become my home for five years.

I’m a nervous, overweight lad from Sneyd Green for whom the first few months at Holden Lane High would be a real trial for all sorts of reasons.

There’s none of this school-run nonsense. We all walk to school and I even go home at lunchtime to play Dungeons & Dragons with my mate Glyn.

To be honest, I’d have ridden there and back on my metallic blue Raleigh Grifter if I didn’t have to go down and back up Abbotts Drive – the Potteries equivalent of Kilimanjaro.

Make no bones about it, high school in the Eighties was a totally different beast to modern-day state secondary education.

Most of our classrooms still had blackboards rather than those new-fangled whiteboards.

The library was just that – a place filled with books – and there were no such things as learning resource centres boasting smart screens and laptops.

In fact, computer studies was a brand new GCSE with the emphasis very much on dull-as-dishwater programming. Frankly, we’d have learned more playing PacMan.

The school’s pride and joy was actually its ‘language lab’ – rows of sets of headphones with microphones which allowed us to listen to French and German and attempt to speak a little without our mates taking the mickey.

In the classrooms we sat at decades-old old wooden desks, complete with redundant inkwells and etched with graffiti which carried the names of naughty pupils who were long gone.

Discipline was strict. We all stood up when teachers entered the room and didn’t sit down again until we were told too.

We walked on the left in corridors and woe-betide anyone who didn’t.

They risked an ear-bashing from ‘Doc’ Whieldon or detention/lines from history supremo Geoff Ball.

My form tutor Mr Jones still dished out the cane for bad behaviour – or smacked pupils’ hands with ‘Edge-On the Chinese ruler’.

There was no internet to distract us, no social networking and no mobile phones to be confiscated. Break times consisted of the lads playing football on the Tarmac and the girls standing around discussing Pods shoes, Duran Duran’s latest single and Michael J. Fox.

Whereas previously it hadn’t mattered what you wore at school, suddenly my generation became brand aware.

Suddenly it mattered that you had Nike Air Trainers, that your bag was by Head or Adidas, and that your jacket wasn’t from Vale market.

Yours truly scraped into the top class at Christmas thanks to the re-assessment of all new arrivals to make sure they had been put in the right boxes.

Rubbish at sport, nowt to look at and of average ability academically, my school days could have been grim.

But they were made bearable by Richard Murphy and Rob Freemen – two lads who became mates for life – and the fact that I developed a massive crush on a girl who sat at the back of our class.

I eventually became a prefect (or defect as most people called them) which was both a blessing and a curse.

It meant you got to spend some lunchtimes and breaktimes staffing various doors and ensuring pupils weren’t running riot.

This enabled me to let my mates into places where they shouldn’t have been but I missed out on a lot of footie.

Given that I was a hopeless asthmatic maybe that was no bad thing.

Looking back, I think I actually enjoyed school far more than I ought to have done.

I came to love some subjects – English and history in particular – and admire the teachers who inspired me through them.

Indeed, school couldn’t have been that bad because I helped to organise a couple of reunions for my lot a few years ago which I enjoyed enormously.

Half a lifetime had actually elapsed before I visited Holden Lane High again and, in truth, much of it was how I remembered it.

Gone were those mobile classrooms and the corridors I had traversed so many times seemed a lot smaller.

But the main part of the school was exactly the same as it had been when I left back in 1988.

Somewhere in there the ghost of a pudgy lad with bowl-head hair and a love of writing is still trying desperately to fit in.

And the memory of it makes me smile.

Pick up a copy of the Weekend Sentinel every Saturday for 12 pages of nostalgia

Heaven knows what my top 10 says about me…

They reckon you can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to. That being the case, heaven knows what my vinyl says about me.

This week’s eagerly anticipated reunion of The Stone Roses had me fondly trawling through my record collection looking for their debut album.

The Stone Roses, released in 1989, is widely regarded as a seminal album and is my personal favourite of all time.

Many bands who enjoyed their halcyon days are now back together but, for many people my age – if you’ll pardon the pun – This Is The One (we’ve waited for).

Thus the Stone Roses are number one in my top 10 of Eighties bands – listed here in no particular order.

In truth, I could have gone for any of a number of other indie outfits whose tunes were heard at my beloved Ritzy nightclub in Newcastle from 1988 onwards.

Indeed, I feel duty bound to give honourable mentions (in no particular order) to: The Happy Mondays: The Charlatans: Carter USM; Ned’s Atomic Dustbin; Northside; The Wedding Present: Thousand Yard Stare: The Farm: The Mock Turtles; The La’s and James.

But in at number 2 are Oldham’s finest – The Inspiral Carpets. Formed in 1983, they also got back together earlier this year and are working on new material and planning a tour.

Infamous for their squiggly-eyed cow T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Cool as ****’, the band’s hit This Is How It Feels has to be their best track.

If ever a tune summed up how so many people must be feeling in the current economic climate, this has to be it. As relevant today as it was 21 years ago.

Third in my list is a Black Country band formed in 1986 which went on to record numerous catchy tunes.

I had the pleasure of watching The Wonder Stuff perform in the open air in Nottingham and again at Keele University a couple of years ago.

It’s 20 years since what was arguably the band’s finest moment – the album Never Loved Elvis – but I’m happy to say they are still touring with the irrepressible Miles Hunt as their frontman.

My musical tastes are nothing if not eclectic and so I’m going to veer from UK garage, baggy and indie music to perennially unfashionable rock.

Mentions in despatches here for Sheffield boys Def Leppard and U.S. giants Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Poison and Mötley Crüe.

However, fourth in my list is something of a no-brainer.

They are an American rock band, formed in 1983, who take up roughly a quarter of my entire vinyl collection.

I first saw the mighty Bon Jovi perform in front of 65,000 people at the Milton Keynes Bowl on August 19, 1989.

After witnessing that sea of leather, denim and ripped T-shirts and soaking up the smell of hot dogs, burgers, warm beer and sweat nothing would ever be the same for me again.

I have now seen the New Joisey syndicate 35 times and was fortunate enough to have tea backstage with guitarist Richie Sambora when they played the Britannia Stadium in 2000. Wanted Dead Or Alive is my favourite track and my Jovi collection includes autographs and limited picture discs from all over the world.

They are still touring and selling out stadiums across the globe. Enough said.

In at number five are another U.S. rock band which I adored – partly because of their tenuous connection to the Potteries.

Founded in the Sunshine State in 1985, Guns ’N Roses took the world by storm with their major label debut album Appetite For Destruction.

So vital that even non-rock fans loved them, the ‘Most dangerous band in the world’ fell apart after years of heavy drinking and drug-taking.

Being one of the fortunate few who witnessed Stoke-on-Trent’s prodigal son Slash wring the life out of his Gibson Les Paul guitar at Hanley’s Victoria Hall earlier this year reminded me just why I loved this band so much.

G ’N R are still touring but are a poor reflection of their former selves – despite what Axl Rose would have us believe.

At number six is an American icon and proper working class hero who I had the pleasure of watching in the most English of surroundings.

Bruce Springsteen had been performing for 20 years before he really made an impression on the UK consciousness with his 1984 album Born In The USA.

I saw The Boss and the E Street Band perform at Old Trafford Cricket Ground a couple of years and can honestly say that he remains the consummate showman.

Straddling that ground between rock and pop and with another astonishingly-charismatic frontman are my seventh choice – Queen.

My favourite UK band of the Eighties, their performance at Live Aid in 1985 cemented their place as one of the best live acts in the world.

In terms of Eighties pop, I have to give honourable mentions to a number of bands which feature in my record collection including: The Pet Shop Boys; Erasure: Spandau Ballet and The Human League.

But at number eight I offer up an Australian band which gained worldwide popularity thanks to their 1987 album Kick.

In July 1993 INXS were up ’Anley and played to a sell-out audience at the Vicki Hall. Sadly, yours truly was working that night.

The tragic death of lead singer Michael Hutchence robbed the band of their heart but with tracks like Never Tear Us Apart and Need You Tonight their legacy is assured.

From the sublime to the ridiculous now, novelty band Adam And The Ants have sneaked in at number nine thanks to two memorable songs and their madcap videos.

Stand And Deliver is a great tune but Prince Charming has to be my favourite. Go on – tell me you don’t do the arms-crossed-in-front-of-your-face routine every time you hear it.

Last, but by no means least, I am not embarrassed to say that Princess Diana’s favourite band are also in my list of Eighties music icons.

Duran Duran earned their spot with some cracking tunes including The Reflex and The Wild Boys which, alongside Aha’s Take On Me remains one of my favourite videos.

I never saw them live but I’m certainly not ruling it out…

Forget downloads: I remember when music still mattered

The government has announced a major shake-up of copyright laws.
Finally, the Digital Econony Act will make it legal to copy music and films to a computer, iPod or similar device.
It won’t affect me one bit, of course, and I dare say I’m not alone.
I have never downloaded a tune or a movie and I wouldn’t know where to begin.
I am a complete techno-phobe. I resisted email like an absolute Luddite. I don’t have an iPod or an iPad for that matter. My mobile telephone is basic, to say the least.
I can barely set the video (sorry) DVD recorder – which is just the way I like it, to be honest.
Back in July 2006 I said goodbye to an old friend – someone many of us grew up with.
After 42 years Top Of The Pops (TOTP) disappeared from our TV screens with little more than a whimper.
Ratings had been on the slide for some time and what killed TOTP wasn’t the advent of the compact disc.
It wasn’t even the sparklingly charismatic presenting duo of Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates. No, honestly, it wasn’t.
What did for TOTP in the end was the internet which meant that people were finding new ways to access the music they liked.
Suddenly, the charts didn’t matter anymore.
Not only could people download albums and singles by their favourite artists but websites which gave new acts the chance to shine were springing up all over the place.
Performers whose music had only ever been heard via the internet became overnight sensations.
Without such websites like MySpace then artists like the Arctic Monkey and Lily Allen would perhaps never have been discovered.
Even so, I reckon the internet has actually done more damage than good to the music industry.
Apart from anything else, I can never forgive it for putting the final nail in the coffin of the charts.
I can’t be the only one who misses their weekly fix of movers and new entries.
Surely I’m not alone in wishing that the old-fashioned way of monitoring the music scene was still available.
In its halcyon days TOTP had more than 15 million viewers on a Thursday night.
We got to watch our favourite bands perform (sometimes they weren’t even miming) and experience the cultural melting pot of musical tastes.
Where else could you get Duran Duran, the Pet Shop Boys, Bananarama, Cliff Richard and Bon Jovi in half an hour?
Back in the day we all knew what was number one in the singles chart. How many of us can say the same now?
Not many, because the truth is no-one cares anymore.
If you ask me there is something desperately sad about the fact that there are now generations who have only ever known music via downloads.
Getting your music from the ether strikes me as a pretty soulless affair.
Never mind social networking: How can it possibly compare to the shared experience of watching TOTP then nipping up Hanley with your mates at the weekend to scour through the racks for the tracks you wanted?
I have friends with tens of thousands of songs on their iPod but I would never swap their hi-tech for my vinyl collection.
Just think of all the fantastic album covers you’ve got tucked away in a cupboard somewhere.
Each one is a work of art – complete with sleeve notes, photographs and lyrics.
The other night I watched a TOTP2 Eighties special.
It included such gems as a live performance of I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston, poodle-haired Scandinavians Europe rockin’ out to The Final Countdown and T’Pau’s China In Your Hands.
But it was the last song which took me back to a time and a place which is special to me.
The track, from 1988, was The Only Way Is Up by Yazz and The Plastic Population.
Having watched that original episode of TOTP I then recalled dancing to the song with my Port Vale fan mates in Regime’s nightclub – with the chorus doctored to ‘the Vale are going up, baby, Division Two now’.
Not that original, granted, but the memory has stuck with me all the same.
Yes, downloads may be the present and the future, but I think I’ll stick with my vinyl and the occasional trip down memory lane with TOTP2 to a time when music still mattered.