Monday, 15 July 2013

T’Pau: Star Trek meets pop music

Band names come from the strangest places. Sometimes they have some sort of story or history to them. Sometimes they refer to something common or cryptic.

When I first heard the song “Heart and Soul” was sung by a band called T’Pau, I really didn’t believe it. It couldn’t be, could it? I was stunned. Had someone cool actually named their band after a fairly obscure character from "Star Trek". After all T’Pau was the female leader of the Vulcans who helped Spock through the  pon farr in the episode “Amok Time”. It was also noted then that she was the only person who had been offered a seat on the Federation Council but refused.

It in fact was true. T’Pau, a band from Britain, had taken their name from Star Trek and their song which, near the end of Grade 12 (the spring of 1987), started playing on the radio and moving up the charts. According to the website'Pau, "In 1986, the name 'T'Pau' ended up being adopted by a music band led by Carol Decker, who took the inspiration from 'Amok Time' playing on a television she was watching while doing some ironing. Decker recalled, 'I just thought it was a really snappy onomatopoeic word and I ran it by the band'."

Their first single was "Heart and Soul" and it went all the way to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1987, and number one in Canada on August 22, 1987. That was by far their most popular song. Their next single was "China in Your Hand", which went to number one in the United Kingdom, but barely caught a sniff on the Billboard charts, and only rose as high as number 20 in Canada.

Still, I remember "China in Your Hand" on the radio. One day, Chris Vining, my best friend of the time, asked me if the lead singer was singing “China” or “Chinar” in your hand. After spending time around the English over the years, I am still no closer to telling the difference.

I never gave T'Pau a second thought after Grade 12. Until, just over two years later in my third year of university, I would hear them perform on the University of Alberta campus at the Butterdome at Bear Country. I recall my friend Kevan Farrell bringing me one of the posters after the concert was over.

It seemed like an eternity between Grade 12 and third year, but so much more happened every year then, than it does now.

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