Comic Relief. Mainstream TV to raise money for those causes that our government should be funding rather than tax cuts for their Millionaires friends. Yet this year there’s an interesting sub-plot. The official Comic Relief song is performed, if you can use the term, by One Direction and Syco have the exclusive rights to support a worthy cause. Yet, there’s a band from Manchester and a comedian from Bolton who are providing an alternative story.
Everyone knows James, yeah? The band that has one song. If you’re English, it’s “Oh Sit Down next to me”, if you’re American it’s the one off the American Pie soundtrack (Laid).
Yet, despite all the hype about Madchester, the fact remains that James outsold The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Multiple times over.
Sit Down was their big song. First released on Rough Trade in the summer of 1989, it didn’t trouble the top 50, yet on re-release in March 1991, it entered the charts at number 7 before rising to number 2 and being held off the top slot by Chesney Hawkes “The One And Only” and Cher’s “The Shoop Shoop Song”.
Peter Kay is a comedian, always true to his Northern roots, despite the success he’s achieved. Phoenix Nights is based around his love of those Northern working men’s clubs you don’t get if you venture south of Birmingham.
He’s always been a James fan too, there’s an amusing touch on their 2008 Live cd where he introduces the band and insists that they play Lullaby off the Laid album.
Last month, James and Peter Kay met up in Stockport and Bolton to film a new video for Sit Down to support Comic Relief. There was no re-recording of the song, just a video that reminds everyone just what a fantastic song it is once you take away the blanket radio play it got twenty years ago when it was cruelly robbed of that number one slot. And more importantly, it’s about what Comic Relief is about, far more than the latest career move of a manufactured pop band controlled by Cowell’s evil empire.
It would be an amazing turn of events if Sit Down outsold the official Comic Relief single. Licensing rules mean it can’t be advertised as an official song, although the video can be downloaded as part of an iTunes package containing a bigger Peter Kay sketch. Wouldn’t it have been fantastic if the two could have gone head to head, all in the name of charity? And the underdog won. Because at the end of the day, that’s what Comic Relief is all about, but Cowell and his cronies know all too well from the Rage Against The Machine debacle the power of public opinion in the face of a truly classic song.
You can donate to Comic Relief by following this link without adding to the Syco and One Direction machine or by buying the Peter Kay package. But if you went and spent 99 pence of your hard-earned money downloading Sit Down, then maybe, just maybe….