Sometimes you hear two or three songs in succession that include the same word, not an obvious one like “love” or “baby”, but something unexpected. The first four songs in an episode of “Top of the Pops” shown on BBC4 last weekend all featured the word “fight”. The episode first aired on 6 November 1986, not an especially violent time as I recall, but the first four songs all mentioned some kind of conflict.
First up was “Living on a Prayer”, with Bon Jovi performing in the studio: “Oh, we’ve got to hold on, ready or not / You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got”. This was followed by the video for “Don’t give up” (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush): “In this proud land we grew up strong / We were wanted all along / I was taught to fight, taught to win / I never thought I could fail”. Third were Red Box, back in the studio, with “For America”: “One hundred years from now / Title fights and human rights”. And fourth, also in the studio, were Swing Out Sister with “Breakout”: “You’re fighting with lost confidence”.
I hadn’t been giving the show my full attention up to this point. It was Saturday morning, I was playing back the recording from the previous night and simultaneously trying to solve a Sudoku. (The Guardian Weekend edition now contains four of them.) After Swing Out Sister I listened more attentively for further examples of “fight songs” but there were none. The next musical offerings were brief video clips from three “Breakers” (songs breaking into the chart), by Bob Geldof, Shakin’ Stevens and Spandau Ballet. The chorus of “This is the world calling” (Bob Geldof) offers a different mood, but we didn’t hear that bit: “All is calm and all is quiet / Close your eyes, sleep tonight”. There’s no conflict in “Because I love you” (Shakin’ Stevens), but the lyrics to “Through the Barricades” (Spandau Ballet) refer to some historic fighting: “Father made my history / He fought for what he thought would set us somehow free”. Again, those words were not included in the brief video clip we saw.
The three remaining songs were “Notorious” (Duran Duran), “Take my breath away” (Berlin, at #1) and “Don’t get me wrong” (Pretenders), which played out as the credits rolled. The word “fight” did not appear in any of these songs, but the video for “Take my breath away” features a fighter plane in a desert location, with the band in close proximity. The song is subtitled “Love Theme from ‘Top Gun’” so the video also includes scenes from the movie, as you’d expect.
After all of this (and almost inevitably, considering how often my mind is occupied by pop trivia), I tried to work out how many UK #1 songs have featured the word “fight” in the title. There are four. If you want to test yourself and see how many you can think of, look away now and come back when you’re ready.
The titles of the four songs appear at the end of this piece.
If you want to check out the episode of “Top of the Pops” that has prompted all of this, it’s available here on the BBC iPlayer for another 28 days.
When you’re ready to see the answers, scroll past the next heading.
The four UK #1 songs that include the word “fight” in the title
Here are the four UK #1 songs (up to December 2018) that include the word “fight” somewhere in the title.
“Kung Fu Fighting” (Carl Douglas, 1974)
“Can’t Fight the Moonlight” (Leann Rimes, 2000)
“Fight for This love” (Cheryl Cole, 2009)
“Fight Song” (Rachel Platten, 2015)
A final piece of pop trivia: according to this page from CapitalFM.com Cheryl Cole says (or sings) the word “fight” 71 times in her chart-topper. I’ll take their word for it.