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Edinburgh Festival 2007

The Ladies' Bras

You see that song over there? The one with the briefly-unsafe-for-work fan-made video attached? The one that's about 37 seconds long? The one that will never, ever leave your head after you've heard it once?

Well, there's a fair to middling chance that it might be number one in the UK singles chart in a fortnight, and I thought you might appreciate some sort of explanation as to why that could happen.

For the past few months, broadcaster Danny Baker has been conducting a wee experiment. Alongside his day job presenting the afternoon show on BBC London 94.9, he's also been producing a series of podcasts entitled The All Day Breakfast Show. It's full of the sort of thing you'd normally expect from Baker on radio - bantering with his co-hosts (a rotating selection from David Kuo, Amy Lame and Baylen Leonard), swapping stories with his listeners, and playing even fewer records than usual. These 40-minute shows have been available as free downloads from Wippit - as of August 10th there were 45 of them, just click on the show title and they'll be yours.

By all accounts (including those of Baker himself), the podcasts have been rather successful so far: several thousand people are downloading each show, and they've been able to experience his occasional flashes of broadcasting genius at any time of the day or night. (For some reason, the opening segue of the July 27th show strikes me as a rather magnificent example.) But at some point in the very near future, he's got to start making money out of the venture by charging people to listen.

Anyone who's listened to Baker on a regular basis will know that once in a while, an idea gets into his head and simply won't let go. And The Ladies' Bras is one of those. It started off with him playing a couple of tracks from the album Dirty Fan Male, released by cult label Trunk Records. The brainchild of label boss Jonny Trunk, the record consists of nothing more or less than dramatic readings of fan letters received by Page 3 girls. The letters, read by his mate Wisbey in a selection of celebrity voices, are surreal, scary, and sometimes just a little bit sad. (The opening minute of the July 17th show should give you some idea.) Baker played a few clips, and got Trunk and Wisbey in as guests on the show to talk about it.

It was about this time that he presumably picked up a copy of a new Trunk Records compilation album, Now We Are Ten. It's an excellent demonstration of the sheer demented breadth of Trunk's catalogue, from 1960s advertising jingles to the soundtrack from Bod. And in the middle of it all, as filler, appears a 37 second song sung by Wisbey to a familiar tune (familar to people who watch the end credits of things, anyway). And now Baker can't stop playing the bloody thing.

Here's the genius bit. At the time of writing, Baker has just gone on holiday, having released the last of the free podcasts on August 10th. When the show returns in September, you'll need to pay to hear it - £2 for a week's worth of shows. As a parting shot, Baker has left his listeners with a project to occupy them while he's away: we need to buy enough copies of The Ladies' Bras to get it into the charts. Ostensibly, this is being presented to us as a jovial prank: one that will embarrass everyone responsible for the current singles charts, when it becomes apparent that sales are so paltry nowadays that a few thousand people can get a 37 second song about underwear into the hit parade.

But here's the real genius bit which nobody seems to have picked up on yet. Is it really just a coincidence that the only way you can buy this single is as a digital download? And that the only way you can buy that download is by registering with Wippit, the people who will be selling us £2 packages of The All Day Breakfast Show from September? As a stealth method of converting a freeloading audience into one who might consider paying hard cash for the show, it's kind of brilliant.

In 2002, I took part in two separate chart-hyping campaigns. Billy Bragg asked his fans to buy Take Down The Union Jack so he could perform a song about British national identity on Top Of The Pops on the week of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. And John Otway asked his fans to buy Bunsen Burner so he could be on Top Of The Pops on his fiftieth birthday. Danny Baker's ambitions, even if you discount the promotional value to his podcasts, are much less honourable - he wants his fans to buy The Ladies' Bras purely to fuck up the charts. And I approve wholeheartedly. If you do too, preorder the song from here prior to its August 20th release (it'll cost you a mere 79p), then watch out for the charts on August 26th...


Sue, Lincolnshire

It's not actually correct that you have to subscribe to Wippit to get The Ladies' Bras as I got it from i-Tunes.


I stand corrected. Anyone seen the midweek charts yet?


Well, that didn't really work, did it? Entered the charts at number 71, with 1,644 sales. Maybe Baker should start getting worried about people paying for the podcasts... (And yes, I know the video doesn't work any more.)

Ben D

It appears to have worked well! It has charted at 70 (not 71) and has broken the record as the shortest song ever to chart.

And still no radio DJs have picked it up yet, so it could go higher as soon as its 'discovered'.


To be honest, I would imagine that Baker was hoping it would make the Top 40. It'd be nice if The Ladies' Bras climbed further up the charts from here, but my own suspicion is that the vast majority of its sales were pre-orders or first day of release, and it'll have dropped out of the Top 100 by tomorrow. I'd be happy to be proved wrong.


Apparently Scott Mills has started playing this on his Radio 1 show, so a big hello to all his listeners, who appear to be currently visiting this page at a rate of one every minute. Seriously. The song's only 79p from here, by the way:


The increased interest in this page shows no sign of abating, so I've managed to find a replacement YouTube video for the song (the one that was there originally was taken down a few weeks ago). This one may end up getting banned as well, so enjoy it while it lasts.


Just to sum up where we are: The Ladies' Bras appears to have peaked at number 27 in the charts.

Meanwhile, remember The All Day Breakfast Show, and how part of the idea of the single release was to drum up publicity for its new £2-per-week version? Well, that's taken an interesting turn. The paid podcast lasted for just one week, with endless complaints about the reliability of the Wippit servers. The podcast went into hiatus after that first week and has stayed that way for the past month, with no real information forthcoming as to why it's stopped or whether it will ever start up again. Follow the discussions on the unofficial Danny Baker discussion board at the Internet Treehouse (and look who's being linked to halfway down this page).

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