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Post Info TOPIC: Songs that should have been bigger


200% and Bloody Thirsty

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I think you need to be properly massive for a double-A to work. Mis-Shapes / Sorted did well because they were almost the biggest band in the country at that point and there was enough exposure to go around for both songs. Trees/Sunrise, not so much!

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200% and Bloody Thirsty

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Eamonn wrote:

I don't think they felt like playing the (pop) game anymore and that seeped into the writing. And just as well. Who wanted an album of songs trying to capture some of Different Class' razzmatazz like You Are The One or Street Operator? They're pretty reductive and diminishing returns sets in quickly based on their examples.

Unlike Radiohead or The Verve, Pulp had boxed themselves in as a witty pop band with hooks and a funny-looking front man with quips and soundbites that were lapped-up by light-entertainment media.
Jarvis was never going to be taken seriously as a "proper" rock star like Yorke or Ashcroft despite This Is Hardcore (the song) being as good and as challenging as anything on OK Computer or Urban Hymns.

I'm not surprised Island struggled managing Pulp commercially in the last five years of their relationship together. Bloody hard to pin down. I saw the new Sparks doc in the cinema last week (highly recommended) and I got a similar vibe. Quirky popsters will quickly outlive that tag if they have brains and ambition. It makes them hit and miss when it comes to labels getting a return on them. In the end you belligerently go your own way like Sparks (easier for them as there are only two in the 'group') or you get disenchanted by the whole thing and give-up (like Pulp, unfortunately for us).


This. All of this. Very well put indeed.

They were hard to pin down post-DC because, in part, I don't think they were quite sure what they wanted to be themselves. The only band who really nailed what Pulp should've been able to achieve (although I don't like them as much) was Blur. They somehow managed to go wherever they wanted on their albums from 1997 onwards, including much more out-there stuff than Pulp ever did, but still sell by the bucketload and get all over the radio. I guess they cracked that formula of having one or two absolutely massive hits per album, somehow without selling out, which meant no one could complaint about the rest of the record!



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Ian


The Boss

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Re double A-sides, there was an article on the old Bar Italia site that said: "Mis-Shapes, on the other hand, was/is an unequivocal declaration of war. "We're taking it now...put your hands up, it's a raid". Double A-side with Sorted for E's & Wizz was even better; the single got all the press and prestige of Ban This Sick Stunt while still having an alternate track to get the airplay. Perfect...". I guess they got in really lucky because "Sorted" may have gotten less airplay if it were the sole A-side. I agree with what Sturdy said about how big the band were at the time, they could have released pretty much anything they wanted to at that time, in whatever format they wanted to and it would have been a hit.

I think "The Trees"/"Sunrise" failed due to a couple of factors: firstly, Pulp's popularity had dropped by that time and the choice of songs didn't help, both great songs but neither immediately catchy. Also, the lack of video for "Sunrise" didn't help; people were seeing "The Trees" (with that awful video) on the TV and hearing "Sunrise" on Radio 1's C list whilst in 1995, both songs were on TV and radio all the time.

I also agree about Blur, the self-titled album and "13" were considerably darker than their predecessors but still sold well. I think that the choice of singles had a lot to do with this, particularly the ones released after the albums. For example, "On Your Own", "MOR" and "Coffee and TV" were instantly radio friendly whilst pretty much everything Pulp released from 1997 onwards with the exception of "Party Hard" and "Bad Cover Version" was fairly slow-burning.

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The Only Way is Down

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Jarvis in 2009, looking back:



We were never millionaires. We did very well with Pulp, but the money was (and very rarely so) split between all six members of the band. We were all friends that was always how we were going to split it.

At the height of Pulp, we were about to go out on a big tour and Island Records sent me along to a doctor because they wanted to get me insured in case I died of a drugs overdose or something. I asked if I was also insured as me and they said no, this insurance was them protecting their investment.

I had become a commodity, a cash cow for the label. When it got to that stage, I just thought fuck it. Pulp had been completely tied up with who I was as a person. I hated the idea that something I had invented and nurtured along with my friends this little thing I had which was precious to me that it had become a product.

I took a perverse enjoyment in fucking it up, in spending close to a million pounds on a record ( This Is Hardcore) which was very unpopular and a further quarter of a million pounds on a video for a song which was seven minutes long and never got played on the radio.



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Thanks for sharing that, I don't think I've seen it before. That's quite interesting about the cost of "This is Hardcore", I knew the video cost 250k but if anything, I thought "We Love Life" would have cost more. I remember Suede saying that they had used 7 different studios and spent 1million on recording "A New Morning". I don't think that the same would apply to "This is Hardcore"

I also wouldn't describe "This is Hardcore" as "very unpopular". Granted, it was not as popular as "Different Class" but whilst most reviewers pointed out Pulp's "darker direction", they remained very positive about the album. Also, the chart positions of the singles are probably the best anyone could have realistically hoped for. "Help the Aged" was released on 1 CD with very little promotion but still reached the top 10, the title track was never going to be a chart topping hit, "A Little Soul" was too insignificant to make any impact and by the time "Party Hard" was released, the album had already been out 6 months. I'd say 8, 12, 22 and 29 was pretty good to be honest.

-- Edited by Ian on Sunday 15th of August 2021 10:57:49 AM

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