Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results.

5th place – The 1990s. (26 points)

Last year: 4th place, 27 points.
Two years ago: 5th place, 25 points.

10: Don’t Give Me Your Life – Alex Party. 4th place, 2 points.
9: Reach Up – Perfecto Allstarz. 1st place, 5 points.
8: Total Eclipse Of The Heart – Nicki French. 4th place, 2 points.
7: Run Away – MC Sar & The Real McCoy. 4th place, 2 points.
6: Here Comes The Hotstepper – Ini Kamoze. 3rd place, 3 points.
5: I’ve Got A Little Something For You – MN8. 4th place, 2 points.
4: Cotton Eye Joe – Rednex. 5th place, 1 point.
3: Set You Free – N-Trance. 3rd place, 3 points.
2: No More I Love You’s – Annie Lennox. 1st place, 5 points, most popular.
1: Think Twice – Celine Dion. 5th place, 1 point, least popular.

I never was much good at making predictions. Witness this piece of misplaced optimism, from last year’s results:

The glories of the Britpop years were just about to begin. Had our sample been taken from the Top 10s of 1995, 1996 or 1997, I suspect that the 1990s would have placed a lot higher than fourth.

How wrong can you be? In a year which is chiefly remembered for the twin mass movements of Britpop and Dance, 1995 is instead represented by a rag-bag of cheesy commercial dance hits which bear little relationship to what was being “dropped” in “credible” clubs of the time. Some (N-Trance, Perfecto Allstarz) have worn well. Others (Alex Party, The Real McCoy) less so. Most feature that essential accessory of the era, the wailing disco diva – as ubiquitous then as Mariah-esque cadenza trills and Enrique-style potty-strain grunts are now.

This isn’t just a freak result from an atypical week, either. In the recent 1000 UK Number Ones poll which I hosted at I Love Music, no hits between 1992 and 1996 charted in the Top 100. By contrast, at least one hit charted from every other year between 1962 and 2004. There’s no denying it any longer: something went very wrong with chart pop in the early-to-middle 1990s.

Or maybe we’re all just trapped in the traditional cycle of popular taste, where thirty years ago equals classic, twenty years ago equals cool, and ten years ago equals stale/boring/hideous. Whilst it’s difficult to imagine MN8 ever being elevated to “cool”, or Nicki French being elevated to “classic”, perhaps we should let the perspective of another ten years settle before making our final damning judgement.

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