You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

Ohw you spin me round like a record by thebutterfly-d6yow37.jpg

Date Aired
December 20th, 2013
Running Time
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Todd plays "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" on the piano

A one-hit wonder retrospective

Todd: You know, believe it or not, there was 80s music that wasn't flamboyantly ridiculous. But...where would be the fun in that?

Video for "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"

Uh...spin it.

Dead or Alive: You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round

Todd: Welcome to One Hit Wonderland, where we cover British New Wave bands, and only British New Wave bands, or at the very least, we easily could.

Todd (VO): And today, we are getting as in-your-face 80s as we can get, as you can tell by the fact that our singer appears to be dressed as a geisha pirate. Yes, even in an era where everyone pretty much dressed ridiculous, we're going to look at a band that made everyone else look about as gawdy and colorful as the [picture of...] Dave Matthews Band.

Pete Burns: Watch out, here I come

Todd (VO): Yes, today we're looking at [cover art for Dead or Alive 5, which is immediately scribbled out] Dead or Alive. And in 1985, they spun us right round, baby. Right round.

Todd: Like a...thing that goes around in circles, like, uh... [images of...] helicopter blades or inside of a microwave. Actually, I want to point out that the full name of the song is [single cover] "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", not [clip of Flo Rida's...] "Right Round". Anyone who confuses it with the Flo Rida song will get punched.

Pete: I I I I I
I got to be...

Todd (VO): Of the many, many New Wave pop acts, "You Spin Me Round" stands out as one of the more memorable, especially the band themselves. They were one of the most campy and ostentatious acts ever to hit the Top 40, dead or alive. But "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" was their only record ever spun, at least in this country.

Pete: ...could take your private number, baby

Todd (VO): Well, it should come as no surprise that someone who dresses like that is not going to quietly shrink away from the spotlight. No, they had a long career after "You Spin Me Round", and, uh...

Todd: Yeah, it pretty much is all like you expect it to be, so let's get started. Watch out, here they come.

Pete: Lo-o-o-o-o-o-ove

Before the hit

Clip of performance of "It's Been Hours Now"
Host: And here are Dead and Alive. [sic]

Todd (VO): Dead or Alive is the main project of an absolutely fabulous man with the surprisingly unfabulous name of Pete Burns, and much like our [brief clip of "I Ran (So Far Away)" by...] last 80s band, A Flock of Seagulls, they came from the [clip from Rock Family Trees] fertile Liverpool New Wave scene, although they quickly moved past it, with all this moody, guitar-driver, post-punk. Not nearly over-the-top enough.

Todd: Burns's first band was a punk band called [album cover of Birth of a Nation] Nightmares in Wax, and he was also briefly a bandmate of [EP cover of Trampolene] Julian Cope, who was a big name if you're a total music geek like me, but you're probably not. Anyway...

Todd (VO): ...eventually, in 1980, he renamed the band Dead or Alive, and they released a few EPs that gained attention. He also started developing his own distinct, unique style, and, uh...if you'll notice, he does definitely look a bit like another 80s pop star.

Clip of Culture Club - "I'll Tumble 4 Ya"
Boy George: I'll tumble 4 ya
I'll tumble 4 ya

Todd (VO): Yeah, the comparison between Pete Burns and Boy George was pretty obvious and was made by the press a lot. So naturally, the two men dealt with it with all the...

Todd: ...down-to-earth, drama-free sensibility that you would expect. It got catty immediately.

Clip of Culture Club - "Karma Chameleon"

Todd (VO): Pete Burns accused Boy George every which way of ripping off his style; and in response, Boy George was quoted as saying: [quote appears] "It's not who did it first, it's who did it best."

Sound bit from Fergie - "London Bridge"
Backup: OH SNAP!


Todd: Pete Burns apparently dealt with it by dressing more and more ludicrously, which we will get to, trust me.

Clip of "I'd Do Anything"
Pete: I'd do anything

Todd (VO): They released their full-length album in 1984, [album cover of...] Sophisticated Boom Boom. (I SEE YOU) After building up an audience, [clip of...] they got their first Top 20 with a cover of KC and the Sunshine Band's "That's the Way (I Like It)", a song which [clip of Baha Men performance] keeps coming up in my episodes.

Clip from From Justin to Kelly
Cast: That's the way, uh-huh

Todd (VO): And, spoilers, will do so again in the future.

Dead or Alive: That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh
I like it

Todd (VO): Naturally, their version is a more dark, gothier take on dance music, but Dead or Alive would stop resembling an actual rock band fairly soon after this.

Todd: Apparently they got tired of being The Cure or Siouxsie Sioux's fun sibling, and they instead went full-on, hi-NRG dance pop because that was when they met an up-and-coming production team known as Stock, Aitken and Waterman.

Clip of Rick Astley - "Never Gonna Give You Up"

Todd (VO): Ha! It's relevant! So it doesn't count! Ha!

Rick: Never gonna give you up

Todd (VO): Yes, you can blame [picture of Stock Aitken Waterman] these three guys for the Rick Roll. And if you think about it, the Rick Roll wouldn't exist if it didn't start with that sudden blast of fake drums and blaring synth, and it's a good indicator of their sound as a whole. [Clips of Bananarama - "Venus" and Kylie Minogue - "The Loco-Motion"] All synthesizers, bass way up, the keyboard's sub blaring everywhere. If you ever hear a big 80s hit that's way too loud and sounds like it has way too much going on in it, that's probably them.

Todd: [Rick Astley's "Together Forever" in background] The last half of the 80s basically belonged to them. [Autographed picture] They made the underground dance club sound the defining, mainstream music of the 80s. But in 1985, they were still looking for that first big hit, and with Dead or Alive, they found it.

The big hit

Todd: "You Spin Me Round" starts with a slow buildu...

Video for "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"

Heh, no, it doesn't.

Pete: If I, I get to know your name

Todd (VO): This was Stock Aitken Waterman's first hit; I'd say it's also their best. This is probably where the sound of New Wave became the sound of mainstream pop, which is also why it's their best, because instead of relying on doofy simps like Rick Astley, they had Pete Burns working for them. And Pete Burns was absolutely made for this kind of music.

Pete: Watch out, here I come

Todd (VO): You can't say that Pete Burns doesn't have the personality to pull this off. And, uh...

Dead or Alive: You spin me right round, baby
Right round...

Todd (VO): Oh...hi, guys that don't matter. It's probably not fair to the other guys, one of whom is the actual writer of the song, don't know who. But let's face it, this song is all Pete Burns. Matter of fact, I can tell you this listening to it—despite all the times the press compared the two, I'd say [picture of...] Culture Club and Dead or Alive...

Todd: ...actually have very little in common.

Clip of Culture Club - "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me"
Boy George: Do you really want to hurt me

Todd (VO): Boy George always presented himself as kind of a wilting flower, whereas...

Todd: ...Pete Burns was always full force, like a gay Tom Jones.

Pete: Would like to move in just a little bit closer! (Just a little bit closer!)

Todd (VO): He was definitely more on the RuPaul, glamazon end of the drag scale, though not sure "drag" is the right word. But yeah, nuance was not what Pete Burns was aiming for. He seems to only have one setting on his volume control, not that he had much competition from George, who was [brief clip from Behind the Music] basically swimming in pure heroin by 1985.

Todd: Also, Pete Burns was just better looking than Boy George, let's admit it.

Todd (VO): Actually, even more than Pete Burns's utter force of personality, what sells it is those glittering keyboard runs in the treble.

Pete: All I know is that, to me
You look like you're lots of fun

Todd (VO): "You Spin Me Round" is all fast motion; it sounds like you're being spun round, like a record.

Dead or Alive: You spin me right round

Todd (VO): Matter of fact, even though there's a lot to admire about it, that's why I can't say it's one of my favorites—it's just full blast at all times. It''s not a very pretty song, it can get kind of blaring and obnoxious if you listen to it for too long, you know.

Todd: Too much spinning makes you dizzy, you know.

Dead or Alive: [getting faster] You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby

Todd: [frame is spinning round and round] Whoa....whoa...whoa...

Dead or Alive: You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
[Back to normal] Right round round round

Todd: Yeah, not my favorite record in the world to spin. [Composes himself] But it did put Dead or Alive's forceful androgyny on the map. So how could a personality this large not stick around?

The failed follow-up

Video for "Lover Come Back (To Me)"
Dead or Alive: Lover come back to me
You don't have to knock on my door, no

Todd (VO): Dead or Alive released three more singles from that album. Much like any of the New Wave acts I cover, they did okay in the UK and nothing in the US.

Todd: Now musically, Dead or Alive's follow-ups were... [can't do it without laughing] I'm sorry, I can't even pretend I care about the music. So let's take a look at those ridiculous fashions.

Video for "My Heart Goes Band (Get Me to the Doctor)"
Pete: Get me to the doctor
My heart goes bang, bang, bang, bang

Todd (VO): Ha, ha, nice. I'm pretty sure I've seen Cher wear that same outfit, but I know what you're thinking.

Todd: Isn't there a video where he's twirling a parasol while riding a clam?

'Video for "In Too Deep"
Pete: I could take a plane and I could fly away

Todd: Ah yes, there we go.

Pete: But I'm in too deep

Todd (VO): I suppose I really should say something about the music, but I'm not sure what there is to say about it. If you've heard one Dead or Alive song, I find that, really, you've heard them all. Pete Burns was a great pop star, a great image, but Dead or Alive really just...

Todd: ...didn't have the songs to back it up.

Todd shrugs

Did they ever do anything else?

Video for "I'll Save You All My Kisses"

Todd (VO): Yeah, they kept going for a long time, but I've listened to their [album cover of...] greatest hits album, Evolution, and I can tell you that, even though they persisted for decades and were releasing new albums as recently as ten years ago,...

Todd: ...Evolution is a pretty wrong description of them.

Video for "Turn Around and Count 2 Ten"
Pete: Turn around and count 2 ten

Todd (VO): They...they never evolved. Even though Pete Burns rotated out band members left and right, after their big hit, Dead or Alive did pretty much the same thing throughout their entire career—they made big, loud, screaming synthesizer club tracks that were always, always, always about being on the prowl for sex.

Todd: This is what they sounded like in 1986.

Clip of "Brand New Lover"
Pete: What I really need to do
Is find myself a brand new lover
Somebody real nice to me
Who doesn't notice all the others

Todd: This is what they sounded like in 1996.

Performance of "Sex Drive" at MCM Concert in Paris, 1997
Pete: Sex drive, aw you know how it feels
Get out of my car and under my wheels
Sex drive

Todd (VO): As someone who thinks they can be a little difficult to listen to for even one song, let me tell you, I really don't recommend going through their albums.

Clip of live performance of "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"

They were sorta successful on the dance charts, they notched in the Top 40 once or twice in the UK, but for the most part, they faded from the public eye. No one out of the country thought about them again.

Todd: Until 2003.

Opening of Celebrity Big Brother

Todd (VO): You've heard of Celebrity Big Brother, right? Well, um, Pete Burns was on the UK version. And...ho boy.

Cut to Pete Burns in the Big Brother diary room, looking extensively different from what he looked like 20 years before, while Fall Out Boy's "I Don't Care" plays in the background.

Pete: Not in my hands, and I want that coat back in the next two hours. I'm furious, I don't give a fuck about...

Todd (VO): Holy Christ, what is that? [Various clips of Pete] Uh, in case you can't tell, Pete Burns has had some work done. And, uh...holy God, he looks like a cross between a Psychlo from Battlefield Earth and a squashed tomato. Christ, why couldn't he just age like Boy George and just get [picture of Boy George] dumpy and old.

But apparently, he was so delightfully bitchy on that show that it launched him back in the spotlight, [clip of remix of "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)"] and even got "You Spin Me Round" to re-chart, which led him to undergo even more plastic surgery. This included apparently one surgery that went so badly that he blew his life savings trying to fix it. What does he look like now? [Present-day picture of Pete] Yeesh. Lady Gaga in 30 years?

Todd: For what it's worth, Pete Burns has found steady work hosting British reality TV up to the present day, which I guess is not really that surprising.

Did they deserve better?

Todd: God, what makes a person think that much plastic surgery's a good idea? That's just grotesque. Sorry, what was the question? Uh, no. No, they didn't.

Dead or Alive: You spin me right round, baby
Right round...

Todd (VO): They seemed to have all the ingredients for a longer career in the glamtastic 80s, but the songs just weren't there. Just weren't. No, this is a band that really only put it together for one song, and everything else they released seemed like a lesser variation on the same thing. They never released anything I thought was bad or a waste of time, but they're definitely a minor entry in their genre.

Todd: But I guess the name of their song was "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", not multiple records. Dead or Alive—proof that you can't sustain a music career on attitude alone. Good night.

Pete: Need your love
I want your love...

Closing tag song: Dope - "You Spin Me Round"

"You Spin Me Round" is owned by Song BMG Music
This video is owned by me

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