Everything I Do, pt. 16: Sixteen weeks [October 20, 1991]
Plus: 2 Unlimited, Enya, Queen, and Kingmaker
This week’s Number 1: ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ — Bryan Adams
Friends, we did it.
Sixteen weeks of Bryan Adams. Sixteen weeks of ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’. Sixteen weeks of these essays, which have only tangentially related to the song at the best of times.
Sixteen weeks. The same amount of time that ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ was Number One. I was 13 when it peaked, 14 when it was dethroned. Back then, those sixteen weeks seemed to last for a geological age.
Now, as an old fart in my 40s, sixteen weeks feels like the blink of an eye.
But how much can the world really change in sixteen weeks?
To help get an objective measure of this, I wrote a note at the start of the project:
I’m writing this shortly after sending out episode 2 of the Bryan Adams thread. By the time you read this, I’ll be speaking to you from 15 weeks in the past. Hello, and I hope you’re well.
It’s remarkably warm today, although not as warm as the heatwave that’s burning up the west coast of North America (we’re also glad to have missed on the remarkable floods ripping through Germany.) Euro 2020 ended a week ago and English people still haven’t quite let go of the pain of losing and/or witnessing systemic racism. Boris is due to declare an end to the pandemic on Monday, which everyone thinks is insane.
Here in Ireland, we’re opening more cautiously, with a hope that we’ll see indoor dining by the end of the month. There are lots of concerns about the Delta variant - over 1000 cases yesterday!
The Olympics are also currently under threat, with an outbreak in the athlete’s village. Seems very unlikely that the IOC will agree to a cancellation though.
Ed Sheeran is currently Number One. Some things never change.
In the time since I wrote that, the following events have occurred:
Jeff Bezos went to space
Greece almost burned to the ground
Catherine Zappone’s career actually burned to the ground and almost took the Irish government with it
America left Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war
The Taliban almost immediately regained Afghanistan
The Olympics went ahead and were a big success
Ronaldo returned to Manchester United
The heatwave turned to sludgy, shite autumn weather
Britain started running out of food and petrol because of Brexit
Britain is now considering reintroducing Covid measures because 300 people are dying each day, and rising
Tories are still polling at over 40%
Ireland has introduced confusing new rules which mean that you won’t be able to stand at the bar but you will be able to shift a stranger on a nightclub dancefloor
Ed Sheeran is Number 2 (in the charts)
Those are just the headline news events. For many people, these past sixteen weeks have been the climactic moment of their lives. I personally know of one death, one birth, one divorce and a couple of new jobs that all occurred within those sixteen weeks.
Our ancestors broke the year up into four periods of thirteen weeks. These divisions are not arbitrary. Even if you lived in the wilderness with no access to a calendar, you would sense that Summer is different from Spring, that Autumn is different from Summer, and that Winter is different from all of them.
Thirteen weeks, or roughly 90 days, is the natural cycle of life. Strangely, pop music reflects this. The average pop song lasts in the chart for 45 days, which means that each season of your life lasts for exactly two songs.
That’s the ephemeral nature of pop music. Pop is not about the past or the future, it is about the eternally changing now. The charts refresh every week. So do we.
Perhaps this is what was so beguiling about Bryan Adams’ run at the top. It outlived the summer, and almost lasted into winter. It slightly changed the way we feel about time.
But the run ended, as everything does. This is the final week at the top for ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’. It’s okay though. Other songs will take its place. Time will always renew us.
Elsewhere in the charts
Number 2 (↑ from 6): ‘Get Ready For This’ — 2 Unlimited
‘Get Ready For This’ is the techno ‘We Will Rock You’.
Sometimes, young people are surprised to discover the ‘We Will Rock You’ has verse with lyrics other than “we will, we will rock you”. They’ve only ever heard the chorus (usually played at a sporting event) and never heard the full song.
I feel the same way about ‘Get Ready For This’. For example, there is a slightly slower bridge in the song that features a female rapper singing about “feeling kinda free”. I have no memory of ever hearing this section before. It is giving me Mandela Effect vibes.
And it’s not even in the outro, it’s less than 90 seconds into the song.
Number 11 (↑ from 26): ‘Go’ — Moby
I used to think Moby was pretty cool until two things happened:
Play became one of the biggest records of 1999 and almost every song on it was licensed for a commercial
The whole Natalie Portman debacle
Listening to ‘Go’ again, it honestly sounds a bit noodly now. I don’t know why it was such an anthem, and neither does Moby. He says he thought it was a bad record and DJs only played it because they felt sorry for him.
Number 15 (↑ from 27): ‘Caribbean Blue’ — Enya
One of the wildest things about this century has been the Enya revival.
Back in the 90s, Enya was elevator music. She was as edgy as a rice cracker dipped in water. She was what Patrick Bateman listened to when Huey Lewis wasn’t strong enough to get him in a murderin’ mood.
As kids, we used to joke about listening to Enya. The idea that one of our cohort might listen to Enya seemed as ridiculous as a pensioner listening to Metallica.
But over the years, very quietly, Enya has been championed by a new generation. Nicki Minaj loves her. Her songs are among the TikTok canon. Cottagecore girls are obsessed by Enya’s castle. And Enya herself is now one of the richest woman in showbiz, with a fortune of around $150 million.
Honestly, good for her. Her music is a lot more imaginative and sophisticated than I understood when I was a 14-year old Metallica fan, and she seems like someone who’s truly dedicated her life to her art. Also, she is a witch who lives in a castle, which is extremely cool.
Number 19 (New Entry): ‘The Show Must Go On’ — Queen
What did we know and when did we know it?
When this song appeared, did we know that Freddie was dying? I’m not sure. The official announcement came on November 22nd, just two days before he died, but I think there was a lot of speculation in the weeks before that.
It’s hard to imagine what it would feel like to listen to this song without knowing what lies ahead. Would you still shiver when he sings, “I’ll soon be turning round the corner now”? Would some part of you sense that this is a goodbye?
Queen will dominate the latter weeks of 1991. But, for now, we can pretend that this is just a big melancholy ballad about showbiz.
Number 40 (New Entry): ‘This House’ — Alison Moyet
In this house, we respect Alison Moyet.
Album of the Week
Eat Yourself Whole — Kingmaker
Talk about nominative determinism.
Kingmaker are mostly famous these days for the bands that supported them on tour, namely Suede (before Suede) and Radiohead (before Pablo Honey).
It’s almost comical to think that people in 1991 might have stood at the bar, having a pint while they ignored Brett Anderson or Thom Yorke, patently waiting for the moment when they get to dance to Kingmaker.
But that almost certainly happened in 1991. By all accounts, Kingmaker are a smashing live band that always put on a great show, which is why they had* a devoted live following.
(*have, because 90s bands never break up. Kingmaker are currently on the Eat Yourself Whole 30th anniversary tour. They were due to play The 100 Club tonight but it was cancelled because their bassist broke his thumb.)
Eat Yourself Whole is a fun record that will make you think, “yup, that’s definitely some early 90s indie alright.” It sounds a bit like The Levellers, if The Levellers washed more.
Confusingly, there is a Kingmaker song called ‘Eat Yourself Whole’ that does not appear on this album. Which is a shame because it’s probably their most catchy track. They’ve sensibly included it on the deluxe edition of Eat Yourself Whole available on Spotify.
Jesus, who’s to say?
The epic Bryan Adams journey has been a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who read, commented, and shared. To those who sent me DMs begging me to stop, I appreciate your concern for my wellbeing.
And now… I guess we talk about other songs?