“Do you remember the guy who played that guy in that thing? His song was good wasn’t it?”
The above is an example of a conversation regularly heard in our house. The only variants are that sometimes it was ‘that girl from that thing’, and a lot of the time the song was far from good.
Well sod it – I think we as a nation need to have more discussions about Craig McLachlan and Stefan Dennis. It’s the only way our society will grow. So here are 12 songs from Soapland that weren’t done by Kylie, Jason, or Kylie and Jason.
1. Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts) – Bulldog Nation
Here we see Coronation Street‘s finest and supermarket manager extraordinaire with an indie effort from 2000. DID YOU KNOW – Kennedy was in a band with Johnny Marr? Imagine if Curly had been in The Smiths instead of Morrissey.
I’m so sorry this video is introduced by Vernon Kay. What can you do. I must say though, all those kids in the audience probably have no idea who Kevin Kennedy is, or don’t care because only their mum watched ‘the soaps’ of an evening. Seriously, 8 year olds are the worst possible audience for this, especially given the class war overtones and the line “life is a bitch”.
If I were being serious, I’d say he has a bit of Crowded House about him. Since I’m not being serious, I’ll call him a Manchester Bryan Adams, and no one wants that. 10/10 for the fake ‘brass section’ keyboard solo though.
(Nb – Since writing the above I’ve discovered that Kennedy actually went on to be Bryan Adams on Stars In Their Eyes in 2002. I am good.)
2. Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts) and Paul Medford (Kevin Carpenter) – Something Outta Nothing
An EastEnders double act, one of whom I remember, thanks to her still being in it. This video from 1986 is notable for the two of them doing exactly the same moves at exactly the same time, and dressing the same. I think they had the following conversation:
Letitia: “I have these amazing leopard outfits innit.”Paul: “No you’re okay, I think I’ll just wear a suit.”Letitia: “I’ll set Grant on you. I know I haven’t met Grant yet, but as soon as I do I’ll tell him to come after you…”Paul: “What?”Letitia: “And Phil. I’ll set Phil on you too. I’m shagging both of them.”Paul: “Fine I’ll wear your clothes.”
Also of note is the announcement of the ‘Pet Watch’ winners along the bottom of the screen, which has little to do with Eastenders.
3. Sid Owen (Ricky Butcher) – Good Thing Going
Another EastEnders veteran, this time the hen-pecked and dopey Ricky Butcher. Sadly, this single does not feature Bianca shouting at him on a loop; it’s just some reggae stuff. I’m surprised Peter Andre didn’t get to this song first. He would definitely have had Bianca shouting at him on a loop.
The video is clearly an homage to Foster and Allen, since it shows Ricky with a lady, strolling on the beach, sitting on a hill, and having dinner, all of which Foster and Allen do in their seminal DVD Around The World With Foster And Allen. There’s also a rap bit, which isn’t done by Ricky or Bianca, or Foster and Allen. The song also seems to consist of one chord, so it’s great if you’re not very good at playing an instrument yet.
4. Craig McLachlan (Henry Ramsey) – Mona
Let’s move Down Under for a bit, and have a look at that chap who was in both Neighbours and Home And Away (his H&A character was called Grant Mitchell, which might have prompted some awesome Grant-themed dance off for supremacy in an alternate soap universe).
Mona was a no.2 hit in the UK, while in Australia it reached the dizzying heights of no.3. Australians don’t know quality when they see it.
The problem with McLachlan singing about Mona is that he went on to sing about Amanda the following year, the dirty two-timing git. Or maybe Mona dumped him, I’m not sure. I think Mona probably did dump him for claiming he wanted to build a house next door to her, just so he could hang around her a bit. That’s not a normal thing to do Craig.
5. Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) – Don’t It Make You Feel Good
Staying in Abroad, here we have Neighbours villain Paul Robinson, weirdly reminding me of David Bowie doing a Castrol GTX advert.
In this 1989 video they’ve clearly stuck with the ‘bad boy’ image, doing things like putting him in half-shadow, making him walk round a gritty, urban location, and including the lyric “Lassiters is MINE! I’ll see to it you never interfere again Jim!”
This song got to no. 16 in the UK charts. It would have got higher had Paul Robinson not been evil. His follow up single, This Love Affair, only reached no. 67. God knows how evil he’d become by then.
6. Adam Rickitt (Nick Tilsley) – I Breathe Again
Back to the cobbles now, for one of the 17 Nick Tilsleys and his lovely 1999 song. In this video, I think he’s taking part in a celebrity edition of The Cube. He’s not very good at it, because he can’t get out of the Cube and he’s naked.
The song is typical crap-pop, the sort of music you hear when you’re on the Limbo Dancer at the fair. It’s going too fast for me to keep up with it, but what I can make out is that he needs his inhaler. Rickitt had some mildly successful follow-up singles, none of which I’m going to listen to.
After Coronation Street, Rickitt became a regular on New Zealand soap Shortland Street. During his time there he was arrested for shoplifting a bottle of brown sauce. I can’t think of anything more northern to steal.
7. Tracy Shaw (Maxine Peacock) – Happenin’ All Over Again
I can’t think of Tracy Shaw without being reminded of Kwik Save. I miss Kwik Save and its flaps.
Anyway, while her alter ego Maxine was busy sleeping with Steve McDonald and Curly Watts, and then marrying squeaky butcher Ashley, Shaw released two singles, neither of which I can find the video for. The first was a cover of Lonnie Gordon’s Happenin’ All Over Again, which was a sort of dance pop thing. The second was Ridin’ High, which was a sort of dance pop thing. Shaw really likes apostrophes. The singles reached 46 and 78 in the charts respectively, and then Shaw stopped doing that in order to be murdered by Richard Hillman.
Happenin’ All Over Again might be her better known single; if memory serves me correctly, the video featured her whizzing round on fairground rides. Who knows, maybe she went on the Limbo Dancer while Adam Rickitt’s song was playing? That probably never happened.
8. Michelle Gayle (Hattie Tavernier) – Sweetness
Michelle Gayle’s post-EastEnders career has actually been pretty respectable; she scored two top 10 hits following her departure from Walford – 1994’s Sweetness, and 1997’s Do You Know. In recent years she’s turned her hand to writing novels, and to being a Loose Woman.
There is, however, this related gem from her Wikipedia page:
“Gayle also appeared on the Childliners charity record The Gift Of Christmas in 1995, alongside acts such as Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, E.Y.C., Sean Maguire, Deuce, Ultimate Kaos, Let Loose, East 17, Peter Andre, MN8, Dannii Minogue and many more.”
If anyone has even thought about Let Loose, Ultimate Kaos or Deuce in the last 15 years, I’ll give them a fiver (I won’t).
9. Matthew Marsden (Chris Collins) – The Heart’s Lone Desire
Fun fact: Coronation Street‘s Matthew Marsden was born in my local hospital. I mean, not that I delivered him or anything, but still…
Following his departure from Wetherfield in 1998, Collins released The Heart’s Lone Desire. All together now –
“The heart’s lone desire,is to something la la laaaa,My pants are on fire,Tra la la la la…”
At the time of writing the above, I hadn’t watched the video. Now I have, and I’ve discovered that the lyrics are even better than my effort. They include the gems “Snake has to crawl”, “Brain needs to think”, and “Winter has to chill”. That last one makes me think Winter’s getting all stroppy about something. The lyrics are performed over a backing track that sounds like Enya did it.
Marsden somehow managed to team up with Destiny’s Child for his follow up single, a cover of Hall & Oates’ She’s Gone, before going on to star in some actually really good films. And the sequel to Anaconda.
10. Sean Maguire (Aiden Brosnan) – loads of stuff
Sean Maguire was a proper pop star with two albums and a Greatest Hits compilation. After being a teenage heartthrob on EastEnders (having previously served time in Grange Hill), Maguire left the show in 1994 and released about a billion singles. Since I don’t remember any of these, I’ve included the highest charting one – 1996’s Good Day, which reached no. 12.
I have no idea what he’s saying in the verses (something about Russians?), but this is an up-tempo jaunty number in the manner of Wake Up Boo or that one Boyzone did with Mr Bean.
This is the anti-Kevin Kennedy, in that 8 year old girls are exactly the right audience for this. Some of them are genuinely screaming at Maguire, and will presumably have to be given a glass of water by the St. John Ambulance in a minute. There’s probably a massive fight going on in the front row over who will get to touch Maguire’s satin suit.
11. Gayle and Gillian Blakeney (the Alessi twins) – All Mixed Up
Christina and Caroline Alessi’s time on Neighbours is best remembered for them getting it on with Paul Robinson, Jim Robinson, Paul Robinson again, some doctor no one cared about, and probably Alf Stewart as well.
The song is Kylie Minogue in stereo, which is understandable, except that it appears to be about an incestuous threesome. This is helped (or not, depending on your viewpoint) by the video, in which the twins rub up against each other suggestively while implying that the guy could just do both of them at the same time, and their mother. And probably Alf Stewart would be in there somewhere again.
12. Nick Berry (Simon Wicks) – Every Loser Wins
I was debating over whether or not to include EastEnders‘ Nick Berry on this list, given that everyone knows him and his song. But then I saw that this video had been included in music channel TMF’s “Ultimate 100 Really Bad Songs”, and I felt honour bound to defend Nick Berry.
Every Loser Wins is a cracking song, and it was a massive hit at the time, so shut up TMF, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The song spent three weeks at the top of the charts, and the writers won an Ivor Novello award.
However, in the war between Nick Berry and TMF that I’ve just invented in my head, it would appear that Berry has emerged the winner, as TMF was closed down in 2009. Nick Berry hasn’t been closed down yet. Presumably TMF were shut down for not playing enough Nick Berry.