yes, it's true
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got a new boy who loves me
I love him, too
and our love is Heavenly
Heavenly was a critically-acclaimed indiepop band that formed in Oxford, England, in late 1988 and broke up at the height of their popularity in 1996. Heavenly was formed by four of the principal members of the successful Talulah Gosh upon that band's breakup in early 1988. Like many of the best bands of the twee/indiepop movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Heavenly was signed to Sarah Records.
Initially consisting of the adorable Amelia Fletcher on lead vocals and guitar, her brother Mathew Fletcher on drums, Peter Momtchiloff on guitar and Rob Pursey on bass guitar, they were joined prior to the release of their second album (1992's brilliant Le Jardin de Heavenly) by future television presenter Cathy Rogers, who played keyboards and provided backing/harmony vocals.
The best words to describe Heavenly's music are probably "fun", "upbeat", "bubbly" and, occasionally, "sad" or "sarcastic". They were perhaps the most twee of all the twee bands of the time—the music exuded cuteness—but they could also be melancholy, ironic or serious, depending mostly on the speed of the music and not so much on the lyrics. A really good example of Heavenly's twee qualifications would be the song "C is the Heavenly Option", which is a completely silly but well-written trade-off duet with Amelia and Calvin Johnson, founder of the American record label K Records, which distributed Heavenly's releases in America. On the other hand, there's the song "Hearts and Crosses", which, despite being about date rape, maintains an upbeat melody. Then there's songs like "Wish Me Gone", which is genuinely mournful and lovelorn, and the defiant and feminist "Atta Girl".
Towards the end of Heavenly's existence, they were riding the wave of Britpop, and tailored what turned out to be their final album to appeal to listeners of the nascent genre. Shortly before its release, however, drummer Mathew Fletcher committed suicide, and the band ceased to exist, at least under the Heavenly moniker. Mathew had suffered from depression for some time beforehand, and was taking antidepressants, but evidently they failed to keep him from self-harm. After some time off, the surviving members reformed as Marine Research to release a single album (1999's "Sounds from the Gulf Stream") before dissolving and reforming again, in 2002, as Tender Trap, which exists to this day and is still releasing new material with relative frequency.
During the rise and fall of Heavenly and its successor bands, Doctor Amelia Fletcher CBE has maintained a career as an economist. She earned a D.Phil in economics from the University of Oxford in 1993 and is, at the time of writing, Chief Economist and Head of Mergers at the UK's Office of Fair Trading. Her thesis was titled "Theories of Self-regulation". She's a full-time economist, with her substantial and successful musical endeavors as merely something to do when she's not making important business decisions and affecting the lives of millions! She's also taken a post at the University of East Anglia as a Professor of Competition Policy. She and Rob Pursey have two children together and have been partners for many years.
The 2014 Queen's New Years Honours list included Amelia, for services to Competition and Consumer Economics. "The OBE was a big surprise. Not my most punk-rock achievement, but I'm pleased anyway. Not least because my Dad would have been beyond proud." This honour was upgraded to the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's 2020 New Years' Honours List.
Amelia has also made guest appearances on recordings by The Wedding Present, Hefner, The Pooh Sticks (she also toured with them), The 6ths, The Hit Parade, The Brilliant Corners and The Relationships. She plays keyboards for Sportique, which is a side-project of hers and Rob's.
Amelia and Rob formed a new band at a Sarah Records exhibition in Bristol in early May 2014. They played mostly new songs and a few Heavenly classics. The band's name is apparently The Catenary Wires.
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Some of my favourite Heavenly songs include "Our Love is Heavenly" (quoted at the top of this writeup), "Tool", "Starshy", "Smile", "Trophy Girlfriend", "Nous Ne Sommes Pas Des Anges" (a delightful, French-language cover of the Serge Gainsbourg-penned France Gall yé-yé track from the 1960s), "Me and My Madness" (melodrama!) and of course, the lovely "So Little Deserve".
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Right. Here's the discography:
- Singles and EPs:
- I Fell In Love Last Night (1990, SARAH030, 7")
- Our Love is Heavenly (1990, SARAH041, 7")
- So Little Deserve (1991, SARAH051, 7")
- She Says (1991, IPU25, 7")
- P.U.N.K. Girl (1993, SARAH081, CD/7")
- Atta Girl (1993, SARAH082, CD/7")
- Space Manatee (1996, WIJ058/IPU73, 7")
The Heavenly page on last.fm can be one of the most entertaining things on the internet, depending on one's frame of mind while reading it. It seems there's also a rather ridiculous-looking "power metal" band called Heavenly, and last.fm does not split pages for bands with the same name, so you have an equal number of fans of the twee Heavenly and of the metal Heavenly all in the same space, complaining about each other. Watching them argue is funny. Even more amusing are those who attempt to create twee metal crossovers by combining the two bands' music or pictures. When that happens, and it does, frequently, you end up with stuff like this mash-up called "Twee Metal is the Heavenly Option!" by Heavenly²! By the way, metal Heavenly are a bunch of name-thieving bastards. Twee Heavenly formed in 1988 and metal Heavenly formed in 1994, long after Heavenly had become established as one of the preeminent twee bands. Thus, metal Heavenly is deservedly scorned for choosing not only what is taken by many in the metal camp to be a non-metal band name, but also of nicking the name of one of the most feminine bands to come before them. Power metal is, after all, about penis size, isn't it? Ugh!
Amelia Fletcher interview part 1 part 2 part 3
Heavenly on TweeNet
Wikipedia (band article)
Wikipedia (Amelia Fletcher article)
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