Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results.

2nd place – The 1970s. (31 points)

Most popular: The Air That I Breathe – The Hollies.
Least popular: Remember (Sha La La La) – Bay City Rollers.

Last year’s winner fought back hard this time around, pulling itself up from fifth place to second place in the last four days of the poll. Like 1984, this was a transitional year, which saw the glam-rockers of 1973 peaking and then quickly distancing themselves from the genre, with Slade, Gary Glitter and T.Rex all releasing uncharacteristic ballads within a few weeks of each other. By the end of the year, glam would have yielded to early disco (George McCrae, Three Degrees, Hues Corporation), The Osmonds would have yielded to the Bay City Rollers, and a new breed of slightly artier, more self-consciously literate pop acts (Sparks, Queen, Cockney Rebel, 10cc) would have gained ground.

The overriding theme of this particular Top 10 was, however, nostalgia. The New Seekers and the Bay City Rollers waxed wistfully about the songs of the “old days”, Ringo Starr covered one of them, and both Suzi Quatro and Alvin Stardust referenced the styles of classic rock and roll. Meanwhile, The Hollies and Charlie Rich delivered what for me were the two most pleasant surprises of this year’s selection: stately, well-crafted ballads, sensitively arranged, and performed with genuine feeling. As with Van Halen in 1984, sometimes it’s the uncool, unfashionable material which ends up sounding the most timeless and enduring (and in the case of The Air That I Breathe, directly influencing a classic of 20 years later, Radiohead’s Creep).

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