Tuesday Tunes 88: Fat

Today’s theme is prompted by its number in the series. This may need a little explanation. In the UK, bingo is played with a set of ninety numbered balls, unlike in the US, where they can only count up to seventy five. This deprives them of one of the bingo caller’s favourite attributions: “two fat ladies, 88.” I thought I’d take this and see what it might produce, particularly if it gave me some songs which had a positive feel to them. After a bit of thought, and a few prompts from Apple Music, I have come up with a set that has surprised me, in a good way.

For someone of my vintage there could only be one place to start:

Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls was a track on their November 1978 album, Jazz. I bought this one for the music, but it came with a bonus: inside the sleeve was a pull out, double album size photo poster which combined this song with another track on the album, Bicycle Race. A memorable inclusion, which has no doubt been long consigned to the bin of history. The album was a #2 hit in the UK, and reached #6 in the US. The two tracks were released in October 1978 as a double A-sided single, peaking at #11 in the UK and at #18 in the US. A bicycle race with nude women was held to promote the album and this single, and a photo at the start of the race became the poster I mentioned. The American release did not include the poster, but did offer an order form for it, presumably so as not to offend their delicate sensibilities. So, for any American readers who didn’t mail in for it, this is what you missed:

All done in the best possible taste, to quote Kenny Everett! Listening to this song again what really strikes me, apart from its body positive message, is how good a drummer Roger Taylor is: he didn’t get as much recognition as the more upfront band members, which I think is a shame.

Making a rapid return appearance, after being here last week too, is the brilliant Weird Al Yankovic:

As before, the official video is not permitted for sharing, so I’ve had to ‘borrow’ this from another YouTube site. It has been up since 2017 so I’m hoping it will still be visible for you. If not, you can find it by searching for Fat, Weird Al’s parody version of another Michael Jackson song – in this case, Bad. This lyric video might help, but I really hope you can see the proper video, as it is so very good. This was a track on his fifth album, Even Worse, released in April 1988, which reached #28 in the US but didn’t chart here in the UK – only one of his albums has ever been in our album charts. This track was released as the lead single for the album, but only got as far as #99 in the US. It did, however, make the UK singles chart, at #80.

I really never expected ever to be sharing a song by this next guy – Mika – as I’ve always thought of him as an opinionated twat given to criticising musicians who have far more talent than him. But when this one fell out of my Apple Music search I was pleasantly surprised, and thought I’d play it for you:

This was a track on his debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, which benefitted from a huge amount of hype and a #1 single – Grace Kelly – to become a #1 album in the UK, also reaching #29 in the US. This was the fourth (of six) singles released from the album: it got to #9 in the UK but didn’t make the US chart. It was inspired by, and written for, the Butterfly Lounge, the first ‘Size Acceptance’ nightclub, which is located in Orange County, California. The club is mentioned specifically in the lyrics: “Get yourself to the Butterfly Lounge. Find yourself a big lady”, and is now their theme song. I have to say that I think the song’s message is great, and the video is fabulous in the joy it shows. I still think he’s a twat, though…

Another ‘big and proud of it’ song is this one, again by an artist I didn’t expect ever to be playing here:

It was hard to avoid Meghan Trainor and her song All About That Bass when it was released in June 2014: it was everywhere! It was her debut record, and made #1 in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland. It also featured on her first album, Title, which was released in January 2015 and was #1 in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It isn’t my usual style of music but it is just so damn catchy! The video is cute, and a great way to get across the song’s image about body positivity. And that male dancer makes me smile when he busts his moves!

This next one also starts from a statement about not worrying if you aren’t slim, though it does expand into a more general message about taking pride in who you are. I’ve featured Colbie Caillat before, during her time in the short-lived band Gone West, so this one was always likely to feature in this set:

Try was released as a single in June 2014, and became the lead track for Colbie’s album Gypsy Heart, released in September of that year. The album reached #17 in the US, while the single got to #55. Neither made the UK charts, in common with all of her records. I can’t help feeling that the UK record-buying public has missed out. To promote this song a lyric video was released in June, including female fans and artists, such as Sheryl Crow, Sara Bareilles, Christina Perri and others, without any makeup on, to emphasise the song’s message, This official music video followed in July, and features Colbie alongside several women with makeup and wigs which are removed throughout the video, so they end up being natural. It went viral over the internet, accumulating over 27m views in almost two months – it now stands at over 91m. From those figures I think its message was received loud and clear!

This next one was just an album track, so I’m afraid it’s the usual record company audio-only job:

As the video shows, Fat Boys And Ugly Girls was a track on Elton John’s album The One, which was released in June 1992, and reached #2 in the UK and #8 in the US. To be strictly accurate, this wasn’t on the original record but was one of two bonus tracks added for a deluxe version re-release in 1998. I like the song for its ‘who cares’ message:

Who needs the worries of a perfect world
Hear the early birds make that spring time come
When a fat boy falls in love with an ugly girl

If you’re ever in need of a good ‘up yours’ song it’s a fair bet that there will be a country song for it. Just like this one:

You really do get the impression that Ashley McBryde had a particular person in mind when she wrote that, don’t you? Moral of the story: never piss off a songwriter! This was a track on her debut release, an EP called Jalopies & Expensive Guitars, which came out in March 2016, but didn’t trouble the charts. At that point she didn’t have a record company but the EP led to her being contracted to Warner Music, for whom she has since made two albums which were moderate US hits, at #49 and #54 in the main albums chart. Both are good, and feature more of this kind of song – she leaves it out there and says what she thinks!

Those of you who read these posts on a regular basis – yes, there are some who do that! – will probably know that I’m a big AC/DC fan. If you were thinking I might play their homage to a large lady, who am I to let you down:

AC/DC have to date released seventeen studio albums, and this was a track on the fourth of those, Let There Be Rock, released in March 1977, and charting at #17 in the UK and #154 in the US. As you can see from the video, Whole Lotta Rosie has since become a staple part of their live shows, complete with the giant inflatable figure who adorns the stage. This track was released as a single: it only charted in two countries, though, Belgium at #12 and The Netherlands at #5. A live version made #36 in the UK singles chart in 1979, and a re-release of the studio version did finally make the UK chart in 2012, at #68. This performance is from the band’s concerts in River Plate in December 2009, which became the DVD Live At River Plate in May 2011. I have the DVD, which is incredible – that sea of seething humanity rocking along to the songs must be an amazing sight when you’re in a band playing to such a huge audience.

I wasn’t sure if this theme would work when I set out on it, but it has given me an opportunity to share a number of body positive songs and I feel uplifted by that. I’m on the large side myself, and I’ve enjoyed hearing the various messages of support that have been given out here. Even the last one is, in its own way, a positive message – I just need to find myself a ‘Rosie’ now 😉

See you again soon. Have a good week and take good care of yourself and those who matter to you 👍