dimanche 7 novembre 2010

The Wonder of Waddle

I'd intended to provide analysis of last weekend's Clasico* (a term that seems a touch hyperbolic and is bound to provoke the ire of the Académie Française) but as I went about my research, the internet yielded something much more compelling:

This extraordinary pop romp features two Phocéen idols, Chris Waddle and Basile Boli. Of course, Waddle had form - his proto-Jedward duet with Glenn Hoddle, 'Diamond Lights' - but 'We've Got a Feeling' represents a dramatic shift in his artistic sensibility. If 'Diamond Lights' captures the stark, mulleted discomfort of Thatcherite London circa 1987, 'We've Got a Feeling' is evidence of a changed Waddle.

In 1989, Waddle left Spurs for Marseille. He flourished in his new Mediterranean habitat, rapidly establishing himself as a favourite among fans and teammates alike. No more fiddling with synths in Hoddle's bedroom, now Waddle was dancing to a more relaxed rhythm... the rhythm of bongo-infused Europop.

Demand for new material from the melodic midfield maestro climaxed when, in 1992, he helped Marseille to a fourth consecutive league title. By this time, Waddle's partner in crime, Hoddle, was plying his trade for Swindon. He too had enjoyed success in sunnier climes - with Arsène Wenger's Monaco - before swapping the Riviera for the Commuter Belt, no doubt on the advice of Eileen Drury.

Although a glittering solo career beckoned, Waddle was the consumate team player. He cast about the Marseille changing room for someone who could match Hoddle's charisma and vocal dexterity. Step forward "big and strong" centre-back, Basile Boli. As the video testifies, the French international brought to proceedings a whimsy which simply doesn't feature in Hoddle's repertoire. Spurs-Art-Rock purists and mullet enthusiasts objected. Hoddle was dismissive, telling the NME, "Basile Boli was clearly a sinner in a previous life."

For my money though, the result of Waddle's second creative union confirms that his fans at the Stade Vélodrome were spot on to award him the nickname, 'Magic'. 'We've got a feeling' is as fresh today as it was on its release. If the accompanying video seems dated, that's because it served as a blue print for most of those now seen on MTV.

Waddle was an excellent footballer (witness his backheeled goal in 1989's Clasico) but 'Diamond Lights' and, above all, 'We've Got a Feeling' are his real legacy. On the pitch, he was just a man: as a popstar, he bestrode a spectrum of genres like a giant.

*For the record PSG beat Marseille 2-1 at the Parc des Princes. The salient details of the match are as follows: maligned PSG strikers Erding and Hoarau scored a goal each and there was no reported violence between rival Ultras, largely because Marseille fans weren't allowed to attend.

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