entertainment

Five pop flops that deserved to be smash hits

'Unflopped' podcast host Sean Vickers pays the lost classics their dues.

2018-03-14

I have a confession to make. It's serious. An addiction actually. And I don't know if I'm ready to accept help, because the thing is... I love Kylie. And Dua. And Mariah. Whitney too. But I love none of them more than Britney. 

Seriously, Britney is like effing DNA - she gives me LIFE. (She's also about as spinny as a double helix, but that's another story). I could go on and on about Ms. Spears 'til the cows come home, make a soya latte and have an oxygen facial. But that's because I'm also absolutely bonkers about pop music. 

Earlier this year I got to finally live my pop-dream truth by launching a music podcast called Unflopped with my pals Stuart and Joe. In the words of Queer Eye’s Jonathan van Ness – who gave us permission?!

In each episode fellow pop fanatic Stuart and I choose a flop single that we think should have been a hit. Then all-round classically-trained music-whizz Judge Joe offers his expert musical analysis of each song (It's like Beethoven meets Sister Wendy Beckett).

At the end of the show Joe delivers his ultimate verdict, declaring one of the songs officially "unflopped"!

We all have those songs we love that, for some reason, failed to set the charts alight. Now there’s a place where they can have their rightful moment of glory! 

On a personal level recording Unflopped is possibly my favourite time of the week. I get to discover a whole bunch of pop gems hidden away in Stuart’s subconscious (what else exists in there? Answers on an Instagram story please), hang out with two of my favourite queer pals and chew the fat about pop music – yaaas!

People often ask me what my favourite flops are, so I’ve taken the plunge and compiled my all-star list of shoulda-been-bangers below. I hope you love them as much as I do…

Belinda Carlisle - 'Runaway Horses' (1989)

This is a pop gem that only reached #40 in the UK charts way back in 1990. Madness! It’s co-written and produced by Rick Nowels, a pop legend who's delivered chart successes for everyone from Lana Del Rey to Celine Dion.

It’s a belter, structured to fully maximise the euphoria of that amazing chorus. Oh, and it has a bonkers video where Belinda appears to be stuck to a wall. A lost classic!

Robyn - 'Call Your Girlfriend' (2011)

This 2010 track was a shock entrant for many of our listeners because it was ubiquitous on gay dancefloors. But, unbelievably, it only reached #50 on the UK Singles Chart – the children don't even know!

It's a stonking song that draws you in right from the opening bars and holds you there for 3 minutes and 46 seconds of pop-dance heaven. Swoon!

Donna Summer - 'Work That Magic' (1991)

Oh, so you want an earworm? Bam! Off the back of her chart success with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, Donna released 'Work That Magic' in November 1991.

Thing is, it "peaked" (wilted?) at #74 in the UK Charts, perhaps not helped by a video that's got more weirdness going on than Britney's Instagram (love you Britney).

However, the world was wrong! This track's a stellar demonstration of Donna’s dance-pop evolution and 100% showcases what an incredible vocalist she was.

Sydney Youngblood - 'Sit And Wait' (1989)

Poor old Sydney Youngblood. ‘If Only I Could’ was a massive banger that set the charts alight. But this (arguably superior) follow-up only reached #16 in 1989, loitering around the charts for around 8 weeks.

Although it was a dud in the UK and in the USA (where it didn’t even chart), it fared much better elsewhere in Europe. 'Sit And Wait' has an incredible piano riff and one hell of a hooky chorus – seriously, it needs a government health warning.

My Unflopped co-host Stuart thinks some of the video ideas were "borrowed" from Kylie’s masterpiece ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ What do you think...?

Britney Spears - 'Radar' (2009)

Wait. Did someone say Britney?! Released from what some super-fans (i.e. me) believe to be her best album ever, 'Blackout', this track is an auto-tuned, synthed-up, dance-groove masterpiece.

The single reached an outrageous #46 in the UK Singles Charts in 2009 (sob), which many fans blame on the track's delayed release, coupled with a wonky polo-themed video treatment more fitting to her follow-up album, ‘Circus’. (Side bar: bad videos and flops – is anyone else seeing a trend here?).

I can forgive the video, just as I forgive all her sins. After all... IT'S BRITNEY BITCH.

Sean Vickers is the co-host of Unflopped, available on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts. Follow them on Twitter @UnfloppedPop