Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Hot 100 #17

I have to admit that when Jim in Dubai suggested a band called Seventeen to illustrate this week's edition of the Hot 100, I did wonder if he meant the Indonesian boy band.

Fortunately, he has a much better memory than me for bands long lost in the search engines of google...

Seventeen - Bank Holiday Weekend

Seventeen would, it turns out, grow up to become a little more famous as The Alarm.

Jim also suggested two other 17 bands, the first being an actual boy band... who were "alright" as boy bands go... although they did wear some ridiculous outfits.

East 17 - It's Alright

There was, however, only one band in the running this week...

Heaven 17 - Temptation

But what about 17 songs? Over to The Swede to start us off this week...

The Sex Pistols - Seventeen

I don't know if I should say this in a public forum frequented occasionally by those of the muso persuasion, but while I always appreciated the Sex Pistols for their comedy value... less so for their musical contributions, I'm afraid.

The Swede's next suggestion will definitely throw you down a hole in google if you start trying to find out more about them as I just did...

The Beattles-Ettes - Only Seventeen

...but it's worth saying that this link also caused me to temporarily break the Lime Green Rule for one of my favourite songs from this bunch...

The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There

The Swede also offered...

Four Tet - Two Thousand & Seventeen

Heron Oblivion - Seventeen Landscapes

That latter one is pretty atmospheric, thanks, Swede.

The Swede was also the first to suggest a couple of serious contenders this week, which I'll save for later. But here's something he didn't suggest...

Winger - Seventeen

...can't understand why.

Martin turned up next with "a right old mixed bag this week"...

The Regents - 7-Teen

That one would have fallen outside my search criteria, so thank you.

Stephen Duffy - 17

That one hadn't. Great song.

Tracey Ullman - You Broke My Heart In 17 Places

That one deserves respect, for being a Kirsty MacColl composition. And also because it was next to this on youtube.

And then came Brian with the first of two suggestions... the other one is saved till later...

Stray Cats - (She's) Sexy + 17

Brian wins prizes for the video. They wouldn't allow that these days. Although, to be honest, the woman in the video looks (thankfully) much older than 17, as most "teen" movie stars of the 80s actually were. Michael J. Fox was 24 in Back To The Future.

C seconded a couple of earlier suggestions, then offered up two fine ones of her own...

Ladytron - Seventeen

Saint Etienne - When I Was Seventeen

When I was seventeen
My heart and head was full of brilliant dreams
Assembled in the light of the day
That seems so far away, away
Space and light and dreams
That's all people need and a place to sleep
The music and the songs that you play
Sound so far away, away

Jim in Dubai returned then with some more excellent offerings...

Momus - A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24) 

(Already used 7 weeks ago I believe.)


My Life Story - 17 Reason Why I Love You 

(Extended version of 12 Reasons.....)

...come back in five weeks time!

Bis - Seventeen Hours

Rigid Digit was next to arrive, complaining that "Most of mine have gone again (my first vote is for Sex Pistols - Seventeen. The Regents in second place.)

So what have I got left on me list?"

The Eurythmics - 17 Again

Jet - 17

The Crystals - What A Nice Way To Turn 17 

Top marks for that last one, though I really had you down for seconding The Swede's (non-)suggestion of...

Winger - Seventeen

...just saying.

All of which leaves us with a Top Three Suggestions for this week, which we'll come back to after this message from my hard-drive...

Jim Bob - Seventeen

Superman Revenge Squad - Been A Private Detective For Seventeen Months

Prince - 17 Days

The Supremes - He's Seventeen

Black Box Recorder - Seventeen & Deadly

The Cure - Seventeen Seconds

(Surprised nobody suggested that.)

Foreigner - Seventeen

Courteeners - The 17th

Marina & The Diamonds - Seventeen

Banarama - Seventeen

Kaiser Chiefs - Seventeen Cups

Jens Lekman - Postcard #17

Paul Revere & The Raiders - Just Seventeen

Avi Buffalo - She Is Seventeen

Lady Antebellum - Damn You, Seventeen

Henry Lee Summer - Still Bein' Seventeen

(Yes, it's him again.)

Silver Sun - 17 Times

The Decemberists - 12/17/12

Gil Scott Heron & Brian Jackson - 17th Street

Rick James - 17

David Bowie - 1917

Thomas Dolby - 17 Hills

Strangelove - Extract From A Journal: Nov 17th 1997

Will Hoge - 17

Clint Boon - 17 & Over

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - Opus 17

(Somebody really ought to have remembered that one!)

And finally, before we get onto the heavyweights, a special mention for this old favourite...

Billy Joel - Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)

OK, then, the Top Three... with additional commentary from you guys...

3. Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen

Swiss Adam says...

Seventeen has a proper emotional heft, capable of giving you a bit of bump and stopping you in your tracks (you meaning me I guess), there's something about the rising chords and Sharon's voice that goes hits the bullseye. The 80s production is what must have sounded familiar to me. I never thought that a song that seems to reference mid- 80s Springsteen would appeal to me so much. In the song Sharon addresses her seventeen year old self and her freedom/ naivety, wanting to warn her about what lies ahead and the poor decisions she'll make but still knowing that she has to go through it all. She also gets pissed off with her younger self who she thinks wouldn't fully like her as she is now, would think she's lost it or sold out or something similar. One of the lines goes 'I used to be free/ I used to be seventeen' and judging by the comments on Youtube it seems that the line and the sentiment affects those much older than that and those around that age equally. I'm eleven years older than Sharon, turn fifty in a few months, and this song definitely nails a feeling, a sense of the loss of youth and the pain of looking back. That's the literal definition of nostalgia isn't it? Nostalgia usually evokes a sentimental looking back, feelings of wistfulness, the rosy glow of the past. But it's literal translation involves looking back with feelings of sadness, of something lost and gone. I don't want to be a person who's nostalgic for being seventeen- there are other 'better' ages to be nostalgic about, it's an age where you're still not fully sure of yourself in a lot of ways, I certainly wasn't, and an age where you know so little despite being so sure you know so much- but this song really does push all those buttons.

2. Stevie Nicks - Edge of Seventeen

Brian suggested this one, and for a while now I thought it would be my front-runner... but only because my memory is shot and I'd neglected to consider this week's winner. That said, I do think this is Ms. Nicks' finest moment... and not just as a solo artist.

1.  Janis Ian - At Seventeen

But yes, this had to be number one. As suggested by The Swede, Lynchie (who encouraged us to check out Tina Fey's karaoke cover of the song in an episode of "30 Rock"), and Alyson, who gave us chapter and verse...

The song was a big hit for Janis in the US in 1975, and although it never appeared in the UK charts, it soon became a staple of the airwaves. The song is about a girl who is somewhat of a social outcast in high school, and so it became a kind of anthem. She was inspired to write the single after reading a newspaper article about a young woman who believed her life would improve after a debutante ball, and her subsequent disappointment when it did not.

All these years later nothing has changed, and with social media to muddy the waters, if anything, things have got worse. I remember the year my daughter and her friends turned 17 and were experiencing the kind of anxieties as recounted in the song. I got them to listen to this song, as I think it summed up how they were feeling. Many nights were spent bemoaning the fact they were not one of The Populars, that group of girls with “clear skinned smiles” who always seem to get the boy.

Not much I can add to that, except... this is a heartbreaker.

Sweet little sixteen next week... I shudder at the prospect.


  1. I've put 16 Tons first cos the other 2 are a bit dodgy - older men singing about mid-teen girls.

    Tennessee Ernie Ford - "16 Tons"

    Chuck Berry - "Sweet Little Sixteen"

    B.B. King - "Sweet Sixteen"

  2. Almost forgot - 16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six by Tom Waits

  3. I've got your picture sorted
    I have an album by a band called 16 Horesepower

  4. It has to be Buzzcocks: Sixteen Again. So good, in so many ways, and no dodgy lyrics about young girls! First heard when I was still 14 and sixtten sounded old...

    1. Ooh and let us not forget The Sweet: The Sixteens (or is it The Six Teens?!). I think John will like that one.

  5. 'Sixteen' - Buzzcocks
    'Sixteen' - Iggy Pop
    'Sixteen Again' - The Catenary Wires
    'Sixteen Ways' - Green on Red
    'Sixteen Ways' - Anomoanon
    'Sixteen Years' - Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3
    'Lend Me the Sixteen' - Johnny Osbourne

  6. Swede is on today. He has just about all of my favorites. I want to give a particular push to Sixteen Again by the Cantenary Wires. It was No. 15 on my Festive 50 for 2019, and indie couple Amelia and Rob deserve a moment on top of the heap.

    Best album would be 16 Lovers Lane by the Go-Betweens.

    I will also add 16 Years by Josef K to the songs list, but it isn't going to touch Buzzcocks or Iggy Pop. I'll also add Johnny Burnette's classic You're Sixteen. Ringo's version was a hit too. For the third week in a row, let's give Stray Cats a shot with Sixteen Candles. It was used during the closing credits of the movie.

  7. Ooh, just remembered 16 Military Wives by the Decemberists (two weeks in a row!).

  8. Got the following this week:

    Sixteen Reasons - The Jazzateers
    You're Sixteen - Ringo Starr
    16 Hours - The Passage

  9. The Jazzateers is a great catch, Jim.
    One more. Sixteen Years by the Brilliant Corners

  10. One from the man who started Madchester by recording at Strawberry Studios:
    Neil Sedaka - Happy Birthday Sweet 16
    Roy Orbison - You'll Never Be 16 Again
    Kiss - Christine Sixteen
    The Crests - Sixteen Candles
    Dictators - Sixteen Forever

  11. Me again - just a thought.
    Rodgers and Hammerstein haven't been mentioned much in these pages. Well, now that changes:
    Sixteen, Going on Seventeen
    (which I should've tried last week)

  12. Loads of 16s above I would have nominated, Iggy, Buzzcocks and Erie Ford among them. Sixteen Blue by the Replacements hasn't been mentioned though and should be.

    Thanks for posting my words about Sharon too.

    1. For a second, I worried I was infringing your copyright, so I'm glad you took it the right way. It was a great piece of writing, and I like that this kind of thing (and Alyson's) helps make this feature feel like a collaborative effort... even though I have final say!

  13. The Jayhawks - Sixteen Down
    The Flatlanders - Number Sixteen


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