1975: 13th March turns out to be a minor goldmine for notable performances, especially this year. You've got pre-country Rubettes in their flat-capped pomp, this time trying out a yellow jacket and Kill Bill trousers motif, and someone in the audience is trying to wear one of those caps with really long, frizzy hair and ending up with it nearly lost in there. Noel notes the title of Duane Eddy's hit and pulls an emergency stop on the first gag that comes to mind, though it wouldn't have been any less unendearing seeing as the song features Eddy playing second audio fiddle to an also-ran girl group. Noel then gets excited about the radical new direction (Slade, essentially) of Sweet - "they produced this number! They wrote it!" - while not noting they now look a lot older and heavier set for it, especially with Bay City Rollers. A solitary tartan scarf for the moment, plus Eric Lomgmuir in a Wombles costume without the padding. Meanwhile Pan's People are buggering about with thematic flags to Elton John, though I don't think those are standard issue army skirts. How out of place from all this Peter Shelley and his old English sheepdog seem from, well, anything. Which leaves one final question - does Noel deliberately get Gloria Gaynor's name wrong?
1980: Even compared against the image and success of the Nolans around this same time there's something decidedly earthy about The Dooleys, literally a family cabaret band hitched onto pop-disco who don't seem too different from Colleen and co, except they'd never have worn a canary yellow jacket. If that's a very earthy set Secret Affair's seems half built with that great big scaffolding construction in the middle. No wonder there don't seem to be any kids there. Maybe they were never let out. Siouxsie & The Banshees may have been granted a more open set but Siouxsie's still had to bring her own special effects. At least the Gibson Brothers are bringing the groove, not to mention the Mickey Mouse T-shirt. That logo lasted for so short a time it's not even mentioned in the show's official history.
1986: So let's prove Mike Smith wrong from yesterday, as here's Culture Club a day over a year before George's big return. And yes, that is still Mikey George on guitar, seemingly having fallen entirely for Dynasty-derived mid-80s fashion. Hipsway are something of a six point type footnote in cod-soul of the time, chiefly noted only as the band Johnny McElhone formed after forming Altered Images but before forming Texas, this time with a male singer but one with all the moves and the look out of the L'Oreal Studioline advert. You can always trust a frontman on the quality of his spin on the spot.
1998: Jayne Middlemiss, being wheeled on as only an overeager producer can manage, attempts to get us to believe the Cast From Casualty (snappy name, guys) being on Pops is akin to the outer reaches of sanity - "we've had some strange songs on the show, we've had the Wombles, we've had Teletubbies..." Yes, but this is a karaoke cover of the evergreen Everlasting Love, not Shaddap You Face. Also, that's clearly not the whole cast and what there is of it seem to not quite know who's buying this either. In a way on the level of expectations it's more jarring to hear Natalie Imbruglia, who can make all the doe eyes she wants at us... pause to consider that for a moment too long... but really shouldn't be trying to front out bombastic arena rock.