In 1988, The KLF, a British Duo, released a single named “Doctorin’ The Tardis,” an homage to the Dr. Who TV series (for a detailed history of the song, click here).
According to the Wikipedia:
“Doctorin’ the Tardis” is a 1988 electronic novelty pop single by The Timelords (“Time Boy” and “Lord Rock”, aliases of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, better known as The KLF). The song is predominantly a mash-up of the Doctor Who theme music, Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (Part Two)” with sections from “Blockbuster!” by Sweet and “Let’s Get Together Tonite” by Steve Walsh. The single was panned by critics but became a commercial success, reaching number 1 in the UK Singles Chart and in New Zealand, and charting in the Top 10 in Australia and Norway.
After achieving the pop pinnacle of a number one hit, Drummond and Cauty, a very interesting pair in my book, decided to write the definitive guide on how to get a number one hit. It is the most hilarious and insightful takedown of the music business I have ever read.
Download the pdf of the book here. And here is a tiny scattering of excerpts. I highly recommend you read the whole book. I couldn’t put it down, ten years ago or today.
So how do you go about achieving a U.K. Number One? Follow this simple step by step guide:
Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote to see it through. Also, being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run. If you are already a musician stop playing your instrument.
The myth of a band being gang of lads out “against” the world (read as “to change”, “to shag” or “to save the world”) is pure wishful thinking to keep us all buying the records and reading the journals. Mind you, it’s a myth that many band members want to believe themselves. So if in a band, quit. Get out. Now.
The best place to find the groove that 7” single buyers will want to be tapping their toes to in three months time is to get down to the hippest club in your part of the country that is playing import American black dance records. The unknown track the DJ plays that gets both the biggest response on the floor and has you joining the throng will have the groove you are looking for.
As we have already mentioned, the Golden Rule for a classic Number One single is intro, verse one, chorus one, verse two, chorus two, breakdown section, double chorus, outro.
Singers – good or bad – are invariably a problem. They not only make incredibly bad time keepers which can lead to disasterous consequences when you are facing a jam-packed schedule during the period when your record has entered the Top 30 but not yet made Number One, they also tend to confuse their role as singer of songs with that of would-be world leaders.
Videos are the disease of our time; adverts pretending to be art, made by arseholes pretending to be artists. Of course, the lovers of kitch in the next century will adore them, social historians dissect them. Shoot the lot we say.
Sunday evening. Five minutes to seven. You are now at Number One. This is forever. It is now totally out of your hands. Your body still looks the same but everything inside it is a million miles apart. Sunday evening. Twenty past seven. Rockman opens another bottle of Champagne. King Boy watches lapwings fly past the setting Sun.
You do what you need to do. There was nothing behind the green door but an old piano. So why? What have you learnt? If you can have a Number One, anything is possible. Don’t forget to sign on.*
*Sign on: for dole benefits.