2003   SEPTEMBER 24   #267

Mini Pops - Abba Medley

The UK-based Mini Pops recorded several albums in the 80s, the first of which to be released in the U.S. was 'Mini Pops' (K-Tel NU 5580). On this volume, the tuneless tots tackle everything from "Video Killed the Radio Star" to "In the Navy," but they achieve maximum shrillness on this medley of Abba hits ("Gimme Gimme Gimme" / "Knowing Me, Knowing You" / "Super Trouper" / "Money, Money, Money" / "Mama Mia" / "S.O.S." / "Waterloo" / "Dancing Queen"). I'm no prude, but I can't help wondering about the motives of a record producer who thinks it's a good thing to have a group of small children sing "Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight..." There's no producer's credit on the LP, so we can't rule out Gary Glitter's involvement.

- Perry Amberson

TT-4:19 / 5MB / 160kbps 44.1khz
from "Mini Pops" (1982)

(Image courtesy of Perry Amberson)

'MiniPops' started life here in the UK as a TV show on Channel 4 in 1982. The channel had literally just started broadcasting that year (November 4th if I recall) and was immediately seen as a cool, open, intelligent and 'right-on!' liberal channel. So when 'MiniPops' began, regular viewers of the new 4th channel were somewhat shocked at its sheer lack of taste or common sense in the politically correct 1980s.

In your descrpition of the 'Abba Medley' you rightly point out 'I'm no prude, but I can't help wondering about the motives of a record producer who thinks it's a good thing to have a group of small children sing "Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight..."'. If you think that's bad, Sir, you are very lucky never to have seen the program that spawned the phenomenon. Kids sang current pop songs of the day without blinking an eye over the slightly-less-than-innocent lyrics IN FULL MAKE-UP! Can't remember what the boys were wearing when they sang their thoroughly unsuitable songs but the girls when they did the same wore very revealing outfits with heavy eye shadow et al.

Up until that point singing kids were normally seen in either family variety shows at night or on things like 'Junior Showtime' - a safe, innocent tea-time show that was pretty awful & most people have forgotten about now. But 'MiniPops' was a different beast and at the time it caused a HUGE furore during its 1st series. The media went overboard in its headlines suggesting it was tantamout to peodophile softcore. Channel 4 itself received hundreds of complaints, especially from major children's charities such as the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Of course, in its defence the producers claimed it was all innocent fun and nothing else but in reality they were fighting a losing battle with its public image in the eyes of concerned parents & watchdogs.

On the other hand, it WAS popular with young kids who obviously didn't know any better about the risque lyrics (which would explain the hit singles and albums released here in the UK) and so, probably on this basis only, a second series was filmed. But, a major re-think from 'the powers that be' had forced the show to tone down its controversial image and not long after it pretty much was allowed to die in Channel 4's changing schedules (perhaps to spare the channel's blushes despite its 'popularity' with young'uns). Not sure if a 3rd series was ever made but I can't recall anything after 1983-1984.

So, it was no suprise a few years back that when the Great British Viewing Public was asked to vote on Channel 4's '100 TV Moments From Hell' (yes, the very same channel that 1st broadcast it) it finished somewhere around the early 20s. And simulataneously we all shook our heads on how something like this ever got made as - post-King & Glitter - it most certainly would never be made now!

- Sean O'Kane