And we got nothing to be guilty of… (Part 2)

Pants!

Pants!

It’s 1985. Everyone is in C&A jumpers and shell suits. Let’s be honest, we look a bit shit. I think it’s fair to say we’ve hit a fashion low. Even the popstars have stopped making a New Romantic effort and don’t know what to do with themselves…

Some thrusting young ad exec thinks the 60s were probably a bit cool. (If only he’d thought of “Mad Men”, eh? We might have been spared “Moonlighting”.) He is in charge of rebranding Levi’s 501s and decides the answer is some anonymous hunk stripping to his boxer shorts to the strains of Marvin Gaye. Sales of Levi’s go through the roof. Sales of boxers do too. Marvin Gaye’s estate probably doesn’t do too badly out of it either. Yay Adman!

Some bright spark (OK, OK, it was Madonna) takes note: hunk, music, huge sales… How’s about we turn him into a popstar? Ker-ching. She writes him a song, gets her producer to record it, sings the backing vocals herself and, well, it’s a bit rubbish. Our hunk may look good in pants but his singing is more of a whine. And what he makes up for in abs, he lacks in charisma. But the record sells. Yay Adman! Yay Madonna!

An equally limp follow-up is released. It is less of a hit. Marketing only works for so long if the product doesn’t cut the mustard. Take heed, Adman! Take heed, Madonna! Yay the great British public!

That’s that, I think, watching from my suburban Essex bedroom. A year passes, two years, three… But wait, what’s this? A new single from said (almost anonymous again) hunk? I am intrigued. And it’s self-penned, you say? Ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Well, the laugh is on me (or my dubious taste in music), dear reader, because the record’s a corker. The voice is still pretty weak, the lyrics at times downright suspect (“Like sister and brother, you know I’m in love with you”), but the song itself is an uplifting pop triumph. It goes to number one in Austria, number one in Sweden… number, er, 50 in the UK. Boo the fickle British public!

Covered several times since – by the likes of Dead or Alive, Basshunter and the A*Teens – the original has yet to be bettered. Here he is, Nick Kamen, with “I Promised Myself”.



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12 thoughts on “And we got nothing to be guilty of… (Part 2)

  1. I did not know Nick Kamen, but now I do!!!

    I love pop and this is a really classic pop song that will have everyone dancing at aunty wedding anniversary party…….and really that is the purpose of a pop song I think so!

    I really enjoyed it!

    Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Who’d’ve thunk it? I missed that one at the time. I remember the Levi’s ads (heck, they were seriously iconic) and I remember the debut Nick Kamen single (well, I remember it being released, and bing in the charts, and not being much cop – fortunately I don’t quite remember how it went) . But that was surprisingly good. I think Severin is right – he’s been listening to the Pet Shop Boys.

  3. know the song well, but maybe not the original, was there some kind of mid-90’s ‘club anthem banging tune’ made out of it? either way it’s a great tune, Bish!

    That’s 2 out of 2 for the “..guilty..” series for me!

    • Wikipedia sez:

      “I Promised Myself” [...] was later covered by Dead or Alive (1999), A-Teens (2004) and Basshunter (2009).

      Maybe you recall one of those? (I can’t say that I do…)

  4. I thought at first this was going to be about Marky Mark. That was Calvin Klein, though, wasn’t it? I liked the song, but I’m not sure it would stick with me very long.

    I want to write a poppy poptastic pop hit. With synthesized drums and keyboard and everything! How fun would that be?

    • Steen: that would be both fun and rewarding (in all senses)!!

      If there’s anything you think I can contribute, just ask.

  5. Um, consider me “fickle British public”, bish.

    I (dubiously) pride myself on having a pretty good recall of all things pop and rock over the period between about 1970 and 2000, but I have absolutely NO recollection of anyone’s version of this.

    It was a nice diversion to hear Billy Ocean again: this feels like four minutes of my life I just gave away! :( Sorry, mate.

  6. It occurs to me that Bish’s reference to the Levi’s ad might be lost on people who are too young or who were too far away from the the UK in 1985.

    So I dug it out of the YouTube vault:

  7. I remember the ad. I remember my cousin having a crush on Nick Kamen (I think – or maybe it was Kershaw). I don’t remember this, and to be honest I’m not sure I will tomorrow, though I did like the Pet Shop Boysiness of it.

    Loved the post though – keep ‘em coming!

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