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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Looking at an old copy of Smash Hits


I just came upon this edition of Smash Hits from 1990. Flicking through it I'm reminded of how difficult it is to keep any kind of perspective on pop, simultaneously the most ephemeral and also the most enduring branch of show business. The cover stars are Elton John and Adamski. Elton was doing one of his periodic blood transfusions in which he sidled up to whoever was the hot new thing and made a record with them. He's done it with George Michael, Eminem, Lady Gaga and probably lots of people, like Adamski, who could walk past you in the street today without being recognised. The intro to the feature feels the need to explain who Elton is. "He's been around for twenty years," it thralls. Well, since then he's been around another twenty, as has Kylie, who's the centrespread. As has Robert Smith who reviews the singles and Morrissey, Pet Shop Boys and George Michael, who all have full-page ads in the issue. There are a few, such as Twenty Four Seven, who were never heard of again, but then I'd probably find that one of them has been writing huge hits for some chartbuster of today. The back cover poster of MC Hammer looks a bit comical as does the New Kids On The Block poster special. But even the featured acts who don't have smash hits any more, such as Sean Ryder and A-ha, still loom large and could probably kick up a little dust if they put a new record out. Jason Donovan is still a big enough name to be starring in a West End musical. Whitney Houston, also featured, has been the centre of a storm quite recently, which proves that her name still means something long after her actual music has run its course. What's that line from Sunset Boulevard? "I'm still a big star. It was just the pictures got small."