Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results.

1st place – The 1960s. (36 points)

Most popular: Anyone Who Had A Heart – Cilla Black.
Least popular: Diane – The Bachelors.

Yes! It’s a middle-aged Mojo reader’s wet dream! With the 1960s winning by a decisive margin of 5 points, the final result sees our five decades neatly stacked up in reverse chronological order, thus adding weight to the theory that pop music really has got steadily worse over the past forty years. As Groc said in a recent comment:

Of course the 60s had to win. It’s when pop really hit its stride. Everything since has been a remix and remodelling of everything that was invented back then – hence that first rush of authenticity and joy and naivety and energy has been lost forever. Sad but true.

Or maybe we just hit a good week in a year of rapid change and growth, as the British beat boom revolutionised the way that pop music was made. Suddenly, everyone was in a group with a singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer (there are six in this particular selection) whereas even a year earlier, such a commodity was bordering on the non-existent. The notion of the pop group as a gang-like, creatively autonomous unit had arrived; it persists to this day.

Lyrically speaking, the focus here is overwhelmingly romantic in inclination, with nine songs in the Top Ten being more or less straightforward love songs. Or maybe not so straightforward; for as well as being the most romantic of the five decades, 1964 is also the most heartbroken, with exactly half of the top ten dealing with jilted, absent or cruel lovers. (Compare this with the lust-drenched chart of 2004, where only Jamelia’s Thank You addresses the pain which love can bring.) It is also somewhat disconcerting to note that while the intervening three decades brought a dramatic widening of lyrical scope (nostalgia, surrealism, social commentary…), this appears to have narrowed right down again in the last few years. Simply put: we have moved from love to lust, passing experimentation along the way.

Your two favourite Top Tens are also by far and away the most British: apart from Jim Reeves (USA) and The Bachelors (Ireland), all of 1964’s other acts come from the UK, with four of them hailing from Liverpool. In 1974, nine singles in the Top Ten are British. In both 1984 and 1994, there are just two, and in 2004 there are four. Is this mere coincidence, or does this reveal a sublimated nationalism in your voting patterns?

Or am I just extrapolating wildly from insufficient data samples, and drawing unsafe and even slightly insulting conclusions? Oh, quite probably. But – once again – what huge fun I have had in doing so.

Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to vote and leave comments; unless I’ve flounced off in another hiatus by then, you can rest assured that we will most certainly be doing this all over again next year.

Until then, I shall leave you with the combined decade scores for the past two years of the project. Just five more years to go, and then we shall truly know…
Which Decade is Tops for Pops!
(Cue end titles.)

Cumulative decade scores, after two years.
1. The 1970s (67 points)
2. The 1980s (65 points)
3. The 1960s (64 points)
4. The 2000s (53 points)
5. The 1990s (52 points)

(This has been another absurdly maximalist interactive stunt from Troubled Diva Productions – where more is always more. Much, much more.)

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