Henning (HE FIXED MY BLOG TEMPLATE!!!) has occasionally loaned me some rare and wonderful CDs by KLF. While their overblown and strangely beautiful "stadium house" sound is fun to listen to, and their collaboration with Tammy Wynette ("Stand By the Jams") is outrageously funny and odd, I reserve most of my affection for one-off KLF side-project The Timelords. They produced one mega-hit single, and then -- in typical quirky style -- produced "The Manual."
Subtitled "How to Have a Number One the Easy Way," it's their tongue-in-cheek guide to constructing the ideal hit single. Amazingly, many people have read The Manual and then produced number one hits, usually before fading away into obscurity. Close to my heart were Edelweiss, who in 1988 combined ABBA and yodelling to create one of my all-time favourite "fun" songs. They credit The Manual. So does (shiver) Chumbawamba for (shiver) "Tubthumping."
Now I find out that "The Pipettes" ALSO give The Manual credit for their success.
So what the heck is IN this manual? I'd love to read it, but until I can find a copy I can only guess, based on the examples provided above. All of these songs have simple repetative beats. Excluding The Pipettes, the songs also juxtapose different song segments that are surprising and seem slightly bizarre. Most importantly, they all have a sarcastic/base/simple/ironic tone reflecting elements of popular culture: The Timelords rip off (among other things) Gary Glitter and Doctor Who, Edelweiss rips off ABBA and German ski resorts, Chumbawamba combines a drinking anthem with "Danny Boy."
From what I hear, the original Manual focused more on electronically sampling other sources, but later groups show that simply referencing those sources is enough to score a hit.