It’s getting towards that time of year when the tuneless unlistenable sentimental charity singles that you aren’t allowed to criticise start to mass-singalonging their way out of the woodwork, so what better time to celebrate the most tuneless, unlistenable, sentimental and not-allowed-to-criticise-tastic (seriously – a previous long-forgotten blog post on this very subject drew some extremely stern rejoinders) of them all… Chicken Shed Theatre’s I Am In Love With The World.
Cast your mind back, if you will, to 1997, a year that brought us Blue Jam, Supergrass’ best album by far, and Phil Cool celebrating the eleventh anniversary of drinking some Citrus Spring. This was also the year, of course, of Princess Diana’s fateful flight from the paparazzi, yet weirdly, despite the unwelcome repercussions of the ridiculous outpourings of grief still being felt to this day, the effect of this defining historical moment on popular music was negligible to say the least. The weeks that immediately followed saw The Verve being stopped from being famous, Denim’s offensively upbeat Summer Smash being given a release date of ‘never’, Radio 1 briefly turning into wall-to-wall ’meaningful’ Oasis album tracks, and Elton John releasing poignant tribute Croco-Di Rock, though even that only topped the chart for about three minutes and then… what else?
Well, the answer would be ‘nothing’, if it wasn’t for a certain charitable organisation. Founded in the seventies, Chicken Shed Theatre is a long-running project with the laudable ambition of giving ‘mixed ability’ youngsters the opportunity to participate in the creative arts. This is all truly wonderful stuff, but even that cannot really excuse the woefulness of I Am In Love With The World, issued as a single in tribute to their former patron. This woefulness has nothing to do with the performance; oh no, you can only admire the gutsiness of the contributing youngsters, particularly that lead-singing girl who despite an endearing lack of technical ability has the guts to roar like an eighties ‘rawk’ power-balladeer without the slightest shred of self-awareness. It’s just the song itself, an utterly empty anthem-by-numbers with ridiculous phatic cliched lyrics. Worse still, or worse still for anyone who wasn’t particularly fond of hearing it, it was promoted as ‘Diana’s favourite song’ on account of the fact that she had heard it once, which in all fairness means that Georgie Fame could have re-released Wake Up Morph under a similar pretence. Still, as a cultural snapshot of that curious weekend in that curious late August, it’s right up there with the blase Fred Harris-remembering launch of TV Cream, and that local radio DJ who accidentally played Fall On Me by REM instead of Everybody Hurts when he was trying to be ‘reverential’. Though anyway, the version by The Curious Orange on This Morning With Richard Not Judy was better.
So, there, I’ve said it. Go on, kick off in the comments box. It’ll make a change from all the people shouting about Stewart Lee or Russell T Davies betraying the glorious legacy of Mission To Duh. And if you’d rather sing along at home, here’s those lyrics in full:
I am in love with the world, and its failure to commission a third series of The Tripods
I am in love with the world, and its blatant underuse of Maury Parkman and Adam Monroe on Heroes
I fell in love with the world, when it refused to release series 3 of KYTV on DVD
Let your heart fall in love with Tony Hart
And The White One Too