HAIRCUT 100: Day 89, No. 89: The Freds. A double-header tonight, celebrating Fred and Richard Fairbrass, the brothers behind iconic British band Right Said Fred – because when standing on the brink of an apocalypse, it’s always good to think about something that makes you happy, and also because it’s really satisfying to keep writing ‘Fred.’ Fred and Richard formed Right Said Fred in 1989, taking the name from the quintessentially British novelty song by Bernard Cribbins (1962), which tells the story of three labourers attempting to move a cumbersome object (which is never actually identified) between regular tea breaks. This is a brilliant bit of symbolic signification, giving the band a kind of working class cultural identity that was always hip, sharp, and funny, while never taking itself or anything else too seriously; a style GScene recently characterised as their ‘signature mix of tongue-in-cheek observational pop.’
Their first single, ‘I’m Too Sexy’ (1991), was an instant classic: an accessible synergy of emergent indie dance music and wry humour, being a catchy dramatic monologue in which a narcissistic model enumerates those things he is ‘too sexy’ for, while singer Richard Fairbrass was every bit as sultry and gorgeous as the voice he was notionally satirising in performance. This was a stunning debut, as they say: a club classic, a great pop song, and a real, feel-good, earworm of a single, subsequently voted one of the ‘100 best songs of the 90s’ by VH1, earning the Freds an Ivor Novello award in 1992 and topping the charts in over 30 countries, being kept off the top spot in the UK only by the interminable run of ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’ by Bryan Adams. This was followed by ‘Don’t Talk Just Kiss,’ ‘Deeply Dippy’ (which did get to No. 1 in the UK charts and picked up another Ivor Novello Award), and the multi-platinum debut album Up.
And they’ve never stopped. Line-ups have changed over the years – which have produced eight very different albums (with another one, Exactly, due for release next year) and a continued international following – while the core of the band remains the brothers; with Richard in particular becoming something of a national treasure, notably presenting on Gaytime TV on BBC 2 in the 90s (the first show on the BBC intended for a LGBT audience) and memorably debating Kippers, Catholics and Republicans on Gay Adoption at the Oxford Union. The Freds are charitably active, supporting The Stroke Association, The Alzheimer’s Society, Hep C Positive, and St. Mungo’s (‘Ending Homelessness, Rebuilding Lives’). They are not backwards about expressing their political and cultural opinions, and actively engage with their fans on social media. Despite unfounded rumours to the contrary, they are still too sexy for their shirts. ‘The minute we stop enjoying it we’ll stop.’