3rd place – The 1980s. (33 points)
2005: 1st place, 34 points.
2004: 3rd place, 30 points.
2003: 2nd place, 35 points.
9: Living In America – James Brown. 2nd place.
8: Burning Heart – Survivor. 5th place, least popular.
7: System Addict – Five Star. 4th place.
6: Borderline – Madonna. 1st place, most popular.
5: How Will I Know – Whitney Houston. 3rd place.
4: Chain Reaction – Diana Ross. 1st place.
3: Eloise – The Damned. 3rd place.
2: Starting Together – Su Pollard. 3rd place.
1: When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going – Billy Ocean. 3rd place.
In contrast with the hapless, harshly judged 1990s, the decade of Big Hair, upturned collars, rolled-up jacket sleeves and saxophone solos has lucked out big time this year. Is this decidedly motley Top 10 from February 1986 really worth 12 more points than its nearest rival for third position? Did Double’s weedy synth-pop and James Brown’s over-produced ersatz funk really deserve to come second? Did Whitney’s unexceptional dance/pop and The Damned’s slightly desperate, give-us-a-hit-at-all-costs cover version really deserve to come third? And as for Batty But Loveable Su Pollard finishing any higher than fifth… HELLO, what were you thinking?
So maybe the 1980s have benefitted from the luck of the draw this time. Nevertheless, in amongst all the dodgy (and remarkably similar) spray-on gloss effect production jobs lurked the odd gem or two. Madonna’s “Borderline”, Diana Ross’s “Chain Reaction”… and OK, maybe even Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough” is ripe for re-habilitation, Guilty Pleasures style.
Still, however you look at it, February 1986 really wasn’t one of pop’s finest hours. Little did we know that a whole clutch of era-defining moments were just around the corner: Prince’s “Kiss”, Cameo’s “Word Up”, Run DMC and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”, the renaissance of post-electro hip-hop as spearheaded by LL Cool J and Def Jam records, the dawn of DJ/sampling culture, and the emergence over the summer of Chicago house music. For me and for many other pissed-off music fans, 1986 was the year of The Rebirth Of The Groove. It’s just that, looking at this little list, you wouldn’t quite have known it yet.