Word: Enters the Greatest Pop Quiz Ever …

WORD Enters the Greatest Pop Quiz Ever … and Comes Second
January 5, 2005
Courtesy of Julia Grant

Now we know how Beckham, Stuart Pearce and Gareth Southgate feel. Destiny in our hands, only for us to balloon it over the bar. The Word team was one tie-breaker question away from certainly the greatest pub quiz we’d ever seen: an expenses-paid weak in Las Vegas for the team of six, plus two spouses and partners, all on The Beautiful South’s tab. Better, you’ll agree, than scampy for two upstairs at your local. We’d already bested thirty rival outfits from the music industry and gone toe-to-toe over five tie-breakers with the players who came joint top – a crack team of trainspotters and CD-alphabetisers from music retailer MVC.

The finale was an epic clash of meaningless trivia. “MVC, when was Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach a hit?” 1986? Pah, too easy. “Word, which country act covered Dr Dre’s Gin And Juice?” The Gourds! Oh, it was going so well. We could almost hear the rattle of the roulette wheel and smell the complimentary chicken wings. And then…

“Word Magazine, which British solo artist covered Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together on his debut album last year?”

We got it wrong.

Ah well, we reflected as we made the Walk of Shame back to our table, it had been a good night. The Beautiful South organised without doubt the most lavish pub quiz ever in support of their new album, Goldiggas, Head Noddaz And Pholk Songs. The venue, Porchester Hall in Paddington, resembled a swanked-up working men’s club – all dark wood and murals. There had been free beer and free gourmet Square Pies. The badn themselves competed, under the disarmingly honest name Will Suck Cock For Airplay, and at half time gave a short performance. Bon mot of the evening came from Paul Heaton. “It’s a nice change for us to be able to sing ‘Who ate all the pies?’ at the audience instead of vice versa.”

Our team – Word Up! – consisted of encyclopaedically-minded writer Dorian Lynskey, Art Director Keith Drummond, Jude and me plus two ringers, Word subscriber Kathryn Hudson and her chap Rupert Cook, who admitted they take the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles on holiday. Spirits rose when we saw the quizmaster was our own Stuart Maconie, who proved unbribable but accepted the commission for this issue’s Tom Wolfe feature by text message while onstage and actually reading a question. That’s multi-tasking.

It started well. We stormed the intros round, spotted that the writer of Girlfriend on The Beautiful South’s debut album was lost Prince protege Pebbles and nailed both the original and hit performers of Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts and The Isley Brothers. But as ever, it’s the schoolboy errors you remember. Who produced Lou Reed’s Transformer? David Bowie and Mick Ronson, not the Dame and Tony Visconti. Who had a recent hit with Stephen Stills’s Love The One You’re With? Damn you, Will Young! Days later you should have heard the scream of agony that went round the office when the original version of Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up came on. If we’d said Otis Clay, I’d be dictating this from a Jacuzzi in Caesar’s Palace now.

In the end, MVC whooped in triumph but we had our consolations. A night at a London Casino on the South’s dime, when we intend to win enough to buy MVC outright and fire everybody. the warm feeling of having beaten every other music mag in Britain. And we might not be going to Vegas, but we’re proud that we didn’t know who murdered Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together. It was Lemar from Fame Academy.

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