Editorials & Opinion

Xtra’s Pick of the 80s

Congratulations! You’ve reached the halfway point of the week. You may feel like your energy is dipping, so to give you a boost, here’s an upbeat 80s track to give you a boost, as chosen by Peter.

United Kingdom 1983: Sweet Dreams – Never Giving Up (6th place)

It was the early 80s – ABBA had won Eurovision and dominated the pop world for the best part of the previous decade. The United Kingdom had won the contest twice in a short space of time with chirpy male/female collectives with choreographed performances. Clearly somebody at the BBC (and the Great British Public) figured that this formula worked, and for a few years this tried and tested setup was the UK’s game plan. Of course, while the UK was still doing pretty well at the contest, long gone were the days of established stars throwing their hat into the ring, so it became a yearly tradition that a colourful pop combo would be hurriedly formed for the contest and split up again once their purpose had been served. My favourite of said combos has to be Sweet Dreams.
I can just tell that ‘Never Giving Up’ will have had a certain portion of fans squealing for joy and another portion of fans huffily rolling their eyes at them. It’s the unadulterated pop that many fans are bemoaning the decline of in the last couple of years – a catchy chorus, a gimmick, a brilliant (almost unexpected) key-change, and who knew you could do so much with stools?!
As much as this is an act that was very much “of a type” for the UK back in those days, this was the only time they went balls-to-the-wall schlager on us, and yet it’s not all that well remembered even by the demographic of fan you’d expect it to be treasured by. I suspect it’s because it shared the stage with fresh-faced breakthrough artists Ofra Haza and Carola, and even at home it’s only wheeled out to embarrass former member Carrie Grant when she appears on Eurovision-adjacent shows.
Still, for me this would be a guilty pleasure if I believed in such a concept. But I don’t, so I will squeal with joy and dance like it’s 1983 when this comes on in the Euroclub – just pray there aren’t any bar stools in the vicinity!

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