Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? – Year 6 – the Number 1s.

Gosh, is it that time already? Whereas most previous Which Decades have, barring the initial head-rush of Year One, unfolded over a relatively leisurely three weeks or so, I haven’t half been banging them out this year.

(There’s a reason for that: namely four gigs on four consecutive nights next week, AND an interview to write up, AND a 1200-word article for… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. But if I don’t get this post up by tonight, there simply aren’t going to be enough hours in the day.)

In terms of the daily decade-by-decade league tables, this year has been almost entirely free of drama. The 1980s, 1990s and 2000s have been fixed in their respective positions, while the only real action has occurred at the top of the league, with the 1960s and 1970s frequently swapping places or else drawing level with each other.

Nevertheless, and with just one more round to go, the pole position is still very much up for grabs. There are some extremely close border skirmishes lower down the league, and the three closest (Lighthouse Family vs The Feeling, Usher vs Kelly Rowland, Robbie Williams vs Rihanna, none more than two points apart) are all battles between the same two decades. Add that to the current one-point gap between Nickelback and the Ofarims, and you can see that the 2000s are still capable of snatching victory, for the first year ever.

Have I got you all worked up again, then? Because after those last two rounds, our collective spirits could do with some reviving. Once more into the breach we go, brave soldiers! It’s Friday night, it’s Top Of The Pops… it’s the Number Ones!

1968: Mighty Quinn – Manfred Mann. (video)
1978: Take A Chance On Me – Abba. (video)
1988: I Should Be So Lucky – Kylie Minogue. (video)
1998: Doctor Jones – Aqua. (video)
2008: Mercy – Duffy. (video)
Listen to a short medley of all five songs.

wd08-01-68What is it with our insistence on reading non-existent “naughty” meanings into innocent cultural artifacts of forty years ago? There were no sexual double entendres in Captain Pugwash; Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds wasn’t about LSD; Bob Dylan’s Puff The Magic Dragon wasn’t about cannabis; and his 1967 composition Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn) weren’t about no coke dealer, neither. (The song actually drew its inspiration from Anthony Quinn’s portrayal of an eskimo called Inuk, in the 1960 movie The Savage Innocents. God, I love Wikipedia.)

“Yeah, but he’s an eskimo, right? And where do eskimos live? In igloos! And what are igloos made of? Snow! And what does snow look like, eh? Eh? Eh? You’re a man of the the world, squire! Say no more, say no more!

To which I say, look at the third verse, Tedious Throwback Drugs Bore: “Nobody can get no sleep, there’s someone on everyone’s toes, but when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everybody’s gonna wanna doze.

Must be pretty shite charlie, then. I rest my case.

Oh yes, the Manfred Mann version. (Stripped of its parentheses and its definite article, Fact Fans. These things matter.) The Manfreds had a bit of a “thing” for covering Dylan songs, having already scored Top Ten hits with versions of If You Gotta Go, Go Now and Just Like A Woman. Never having heard Dylan’s 1967 Basement Tapes original, I find myself quite unable to imagine what it might sound like – and indeed, I would never have guessed from the typically strident, straight-up, boom-thwack 1968 arrangement that this was even one of his compositions. Having subtracted its attendant – and considerable – nostalgic pull, I also find myself wondering how it ever came to top the charts. It’s pleasant, it’s curious… but, you know, what the f**k was going on here? He’s an eskimo! Who cares?

wd08-01-78It’s always a bit boring when Abba songs come up on Which Decade, because everyone just goes “yadda yadda yadda classic”, and they get maximum points all round, and where’s the thrill in that? But then again, what can you can do when they keep knocking out material of this quality, except salute their genius?

As a love-struck teen with the most massive, all-consuming, and needless to say unrequited boy-on-boy crush on a fellow school mate (who still hasn’t shown up on Friends Reunited, and yes, I do still check from time to time), I found a considerable personal resonance within Take A Chance On Me – as indeed I did with just about every song on the radio for the full three years that we were at school together, up to and including Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, and believe me, that takes some doing. Listening to it again this morning, I had to smirk at lines such as “If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown, honey I’m still free, take a chance on me“, which cast me as some sort of lovelorn Mr. Humphries Junior – but we didn’t have much in the way of role models in 1978.

(OK, Tom Robinson – but I never really thought of him as gay in a fancying-blokes sort of way, just in an abstracted fist-punching badge-wearing way. I’m rambling, aren’t I? It’s been a long day.)

Incidentally, those of you watching the video should pay close attention to Agnetha’s small but significant pout at around the 2:17 mark, as this was the moment that totally slaughtered the lads in the school TV room on Thursday nights, just after supper and just before prep. I can still remember the anticipation (“Wait for it, wait for it!”) and the almost post-coital sigh which followed (“She just looks so… easy, you know what I mean?”) Hey, they didn’t get out much. At least my source material was closer to hand. (And I mean that entirely metaphorically.)

By way of introducing our third Number One, I can do no better than to quote SwissToni‘s and Z‘s comments on When Will I Be Famous:

Have I really wasted 20 years of my life hating this record? Listening to it now, it all seems so…so… innocuous. How could I have expended so much passion loathing something that is ultimately this harmless?

I was too old for this back in 1988. Now, I’m not.

Because, you see, back in the days when Soap Starlet Kylie Minogue had yet to morph into SexKylie, DanceKylie, IndieKylie, PopKylie, SexKylie2.0 and BraveKylie, SnottyLittleHipsterMike was as yet allergic to her charms.

wd08-01-88OK, I f**king DETESTED I Should Be So Lucky, despite having bought it as a “just in case” standby for my club nights. I only ever played it the once, at another benefit night down the Old Vic (I did a lot of benefit nights), this time to raise funds for a Lesbian & Gay Community Centre which, with the wisdom of hindsight, never stood a ghost of a chance of being opened. (And what’s worse, I accidentally played the instrumental version on the B-side. Oh, the cheek-burning shame of it! Hateful, hateful, song!)

Well, look. If you’d told us at the time that Kylie’s pop career would still be going strong twenty years later, with the artist elevated to the position of Much Loved National Treasure, we’d never have believed you. Besides which – and I know she’s never claimed to be the world’s greatest singer, but still – this has to be one of the most lacklustre vocal performances on any UK Number One ever.

Sorry, Kylie. Luvyaloads, you know that. And I also love the good grace with which you’ve worn this particular albatross: reciting it straight-faced at a highbrow poetry festival in the 1990s, reworking it as Ibiza trance on your 2002 tour, and most recently, with that deliciously slinky Jessica Rabbit cocktail lounge version, on Jools Holland’s New Year’s Eve show. Never was a turd more ably polished, I’ll grant you that. But you know, and I know, that I Should Be So Lucky is still… well… a bit shit, really.

wd08-01-98No such taste-related problems befell me in 1998, as my extended Oh What A Big Fat Gay Cliché mid-life crisis reached its autumn years. By that time I’d have danced to any old rubbish, provided it was “gay” enough – as my Vengaboys collection alone would prove – but if truth be told, Aqua‘s Doctor Jones holds up rather well.

Oh, the new crop of snotty little hipsters hated it with a passion, of course. At the end of 1997, when Muzik magazine polled its best known DJs for their end of year round up, almost every single one of them named Aqua’s Barbie Girl as the worst single of the year – whereas, as I’m sure we’ve all come to realise, it was nothing less than Total Pop Genius. (I think the penny first dropped with the Goodness Gracious Me parody, Punjabi Girl.) And while Doctor Jones might not scale the same Olympian heights, it sure as hell comes close.

wd08-01-08And finally, it’s this week’s New Amy Winehouse! Move over Adele, you’re ancient history: Duffy‘s the new gal in town!

Actually, and before we go any further, shall we put all this New Amy Winehouse conspiracy theory nonsense to bed? For lest we forget, Amy only went stratospherically massive a few months ago, whereas Adele and Duffy have been in “artist development” for considerably longer than that. The time lines simply don’t fit. So let us hear no more about it.

I haven’t yet made my mind up about Duffy, whom I’ll be seeing at The Social in exactly a week’s time (and what’s she even doing playing such a tiny venue when she’s at Number One, anyway – so much for the carefully plotted Evil Masterplan). I heard a few selections from the new album earlier in the week and liked them – but having heard the full album this evening in a single sitting, I find that her voice grates badly after half a dozen numbers. Then again, as Tina said last to me last night, “She’s more Lulu than Dusty” (although Chig and I think she’s more Carmel than Lulu – follow these links and you’ll see what we mean) – and if you downgrade your expectations accordingly, then numbers like Mercy become a whole lot more palatable.

For when all’s said and done, and despite my increasing aversion to retro-ism in 2000s pop (hell, anyone would think they were chasing the Fifty Quid Bloke market!), I really like Mercy, even somewhat despite myself. I’ve been earworming it literally all day, and it hasn’t yet driven me bonkers, so that alone is a good sign – and hell, it’s just good plain, tongue-in-cheek, gently chiding, finger-wagging FUN. With the added bonus of some totally hot Mod boys dancing on their own in the video, which can only help…

My votes: Abba – 5 points. Duffy – 4 points. Aqua – 3 points. Manfred Mann – 2 points. Kylie – 1 point.

Over to you, for the last time. This is the Big One, folks. I’ll keep the voting open, for all selections, until midnight on Monday night. Have a great weekend! Sorry for rambling! I’m outta here!

Running totals so far – Number 1s.

1978: Take A Chance On Me – Abba (155)

Like an express train to the heart. Almost too perfect. (betty)

There isn’t a single phrase of praise about this group or song I can think of that hasn’t already been said. (asta)

There is no chance of objectivity or shocking revisionism when it comes to me and Abba. This record’s genius is so easy to love because its art seems so carefree – which is never to be confused with “careless.” The sudden explosion of frank emotionalism from the general subtly tantalising vocal delivery on Frida’s part (“‘cos you know I’ve GOT…”) are the difference between living and existing and the thought of Agnetha and Frida amiably and simultaneously winking with their “I ain’t gonna let ya” and “soon I’m gonna get ya” inspire thoughts in me which are inappropriate for a blog family audience. (Marcello Carlin)

The girls are singing the words that the boys want to hear, but it seems clear that these are boy’s words, of vulnerability and patience and longing, the pitiful cajoling of the spurned. When she finally realises she’s made a mistake, he’ll have moved on to an inferior version and he’ll be too polite to abandon her. I hear missed opportunities and unhappy relationships. With a disco beat. Probably the best song of the fifty. (imsodave)

I remember noting at the time that it was the best thing they’d ever done in my opinion, and although nowadays I’d give that palm to “Winner Takes It All”, this is still up there. (Remember a song called “I’m A Train” by Albert Hammond, father of one of The Strokes? – it sounds like Benny and Bjorn did.) The video shows that Agnetha is no great shakes as a dancer, but as I’ve said before in Another Place, was there ever a woman more beautiful than she was in the late 70s? (Easy? – who did your schoolmates think they were?!!) (Erithian)

Yadda yadda yadda classic. I was surprised how 2008 their clothes look! Of the fifty songs there are only ten I would wish to hear again, and only Abba would be in contention for my Top One Hundred (but even then it’s not my favourite Abba song!) (Gert)

Used to hate Abba, but there’s a great craftmanship behind its arrangement. (Simon)

Total closet Abba head. Will watch Muriel’s Wedding repeatedly for the soundtrack and to hear Toni Colette say ABBA in that twisted Australian way she has. (jo)

No searing critique from me (so what’s new). My very first musical memory is Abba winning the Eurovision song contest, and the first album that was bought for me was Abba’s Greatest Hits vol 1. I’ll always have a huge soft spot for them. Have they ever won a God-like genius award? (Sarah)

I played Take a Chance on Me two nights ago as I DJed for a friend’s 30th (this being the number one when he was born). And, as a peek at my last.fm profile implies, the Swedes can get five points from me without breaking a sweat. (Will)

Despite being the Abba song that always reminds me most of French and Saunders’ spoof it really is rather good. (NiC)

Despite rediscovering Abba slightly before the rest of the world in the early 90s, they’ve fallen from favour of late. I think it’s time for me to re-rediscover them. (Adrian)

3 pts. Seems unkind to rate it in midfield but, well crafted as the arrangement is, it’s by no means one of their better songs. (Z)

Abba have pretty much always left me entirely cold, but as I’ve got older I’ve come to appreciate their clinical pop genius. It’s alright, but it still doesn’t get me up and dancing. And I loathe Dancing Queen too. Sorry. I must be missing the Abba gene. Even I can’t deny that this is clearly the classiest thing here though. (SwissToni)

Having moved from Bowie/Mott/Alice Cooper onto punk and metal, I was immune to Abba at the time and legally obliged to hate them. I think this gives the more mature me a far more objective view on them that most people who are viewing them through rosy nostalgia tinted spectacles, and I can recognise them for what they really were, which is a very average pop band with a few good tunes who lucked into capturing the zeitgeist of the times. This song is not unpleasant, but really a bit bland and dull, and that’s as much as I can say for it. (Alan)

2008: Mercy – Duffy (113)

I love her voice and I enjoyed the song. It’s a whole lot more classy than most chart-toppers are nowadays. (Z)

I think in time this will turn out to be a classic. My sort of music. (Tina)

Sorry. I. Love. Duffy. The voice, the retro vibe, the Dusty feel. The 60’s girl group sound. I. Can’t. Help. It. Tom Jones, Sterophonics, Shirley Bassey, Cerys Mathews, Bonnie Tyler…maybe I just like Welsh voices. (jo)

Damned original stuff, and one of the few modern number 1s we’re still going to remember in ten years time. (diamond geezer)

This one is simply the best Number 1 for a long while, and good luck to her. Incidentally, when the New Amys (or rather the Channelling Dustys) have big hits I get a bit indignant on behalf of Candie Payne, whose voice is up there with theirs and whose songs have the edge, but who hasn’t had quite the promotional push. (Mike, I saw Carmel live back in the 80s and she was terrific.) (Erithian)

I wasn’t sure about Duffy, but this track made me think that perhaps there is something in the hype. And whenever I’ve seen her perform live she’s been amazing. (Oliver R)

I definitely like this. Lulu vocals, yes, but then in the background it’s referencing Ben E King and The Doors, and putting all that together somehow it works fantastically well. (Alan)

This is a great song and given most other competition would be flying high at the top of my list. I’d never seen the video before though. What’s with the flame-grilled dancer? (Sarah)

No she’s not the next Amy. Amy’s a better lyricist, and sings from the core of the genre. This song is from the 60s song book of R&B catch phrases. It’s like somebody loaded up her Ipod with Ann Sexton, Peebles and Sharon Jones and said,” write me a song from that”. I see your Carmel and raise you a Marianne Rosenberg. But don’t think I don’t like this. I think it’s terrific, in it’s way. (asta)

I think she’s more straight retro and less original than Amy and the arrangement is indeed a bit tame (more Lulu?) but it’s still pretty good. (NiC)

It’s not quite the authentic, dusty fingered soul classic that it purports to be, and it’s not even as good as Rockferry, but it’s solid and catchy and danceably laid-back. I’m surprised how nasal she sounds on this though. She’s hardly Mahalia Jackson, is she? (imsodave)

Heard this on a radio in a doctor’s waiting room last week without knowing what it was and was surprised to find I didn’t mind it as much as I thought I did (or maybe that was because of all the Century 106 schlock around it). Straight up revision without progression, of course, but tellingly not produced by the terrible joy-sucking Bernard Butler but by someone who appears to have done nothing of note past album tracks for Natalie Imbruglia and Heather Small before this but appears to understand that instantaneousness was the key to great soul. (Simon)

Good, high quality work. Inventive, but I don’t think it carries it all the way to the finishing line. (Simon C)

Hmm. A large part of me wants to cry out that this is simply trying too hard; that the song is too retro and ultimately too repetitive…. but I simply can’t deny the power of that voice and the fact that this song has got hooks. I’m sure she’ll get better material than this in her career, but this will probably do for starters. The Social is going to be a great place to see her, that’s for sure. (SwissToni)

Looking forward to seeing her. The B side of the 7″ suggests that there is a genuine soul girl there (and she’s 22 for crissake – at 22 you think you’ve seen everything, and certainly have a right to sing the blues) I could listen to this more often than Kylie or Abba but it’s not that memorable. (Dymbel)

There are hints of Motown in this. If I didn’t know they were in order, I’d suspect it was the 60s track. It’s reasonable enough, but not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. (Adrian)

I was feeling rather pleased about the fact that I’d realised that she was the new Carmel, and was going to drop that into the comment in a very smug and self satisfied way, only to find out that other people have got there instead. Harumph. Perhaps they should do a duet, compare bleached hair and black shift dresses, that sort of thing. This single isn’t quite as bad as I would have expected after her appearance on Later last year. At least she didn’t go to the Brits School. (betty)

The introductory Stand By Me meets Human Behaviour bedrock motif promises little and yes it sounds moderately enhancing, if not enchanting, but it sounds spliced together by committee and Duffy really needs to do some more living before we can begin to believe (in) her. That is, if her management will allow her to live. (Actually, the Duffy riff is “Time Of The Season” innit? Paging Mr Argent…) (Marcello Carlin)

The Duffy album is such a mixed bag. I first heard a 5 track sampler, which sounded pretty decent – but it now seems as though all the best songs were on it. “Warwick Avenue” is an attractive piece of work, which might make a good follow-up single, but then we have tedious non-songs like the one where tells us, over and over and over again, that she doesn’t want to be a stepping stone. And bearing in mind his asset-stripping reductio ad tedium job on the third Sons & Daughters album, having Bernard Butler as your closest collaborator is nothing to shout about, either. (mike)

The Lambrettas to Amy Winehouse’s Jam. (Nottingham’sMr Sex‘)

This is getting more and more play on Heart. It’ll soon be played more than Valerie. Duffy will replace Sam Brown when she’s kicked out of Jools Holland’s big band in a few years. (Geoff)

Her voice really grates after half a dozen seconds. I ought to like this a helluva lot more, considering the classy support of inter alia McAlmont and Butler. I’d just rather it was David McAlmont on vocals. (Gert)

1968: The Mighty Quinn – Manfred Mann (100)

Possibly the second ever Number 1 I can remember from the time (the first being “Bonnie and Clyde”) and an instant time-travel back to growing up in Stretford, just down the road from an older lad called Stephen Morrissey. As Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, they were the first band I went to see live several years later. Of course drug references – “everybody’s gonna want a dose” and Anthony Quinn went right over my head, it was just a fun song and still is. (Erithian)

I’ve never understood what the lyrics are about for this, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this song. I’ll give it the nod over Abba because I’d be less likely to skip it if iTunes chose it on party shuffle. (Adrian)

Slightly odd and silly but no sillier than singing about Yellow Submarines or Bullfrogs with names. (asta)

The slight oddity of it adds to its attraction. (Z)

The Mannfreds were always a blues rock outfit that had been shoehorned into a pop role. Their live performances were purportedly bizarre because they played in a much harder, rockier style that half the audience, who had only heard the singles, hated. They wanted to be like the Stones, but they were hamstrung by their record company who wanted a more commercial sound, and it’s the reason Paul Jones couldn’t take it any more and quit. This one, from the Mike D’Abo era, was one time that the rockier sound started edging its way into the singles, if only a little, and was deservedly their biggest hit. It’s a stepping stone between singles chart fodder and the more innovative music that was being created elsewhere at the time, and any band who could take an obscure Dylan song and make the public think it was pop magic are always going to get the thumbs up from me. (Alan)

I will always say yes to MM, they are one of my faves. When husband first moved over and I was touring him around the states we spent a lot of time with Roaring Silence in the CD player. (jo)

It reminds me a little of a rotund footballer with a big moustache, but it’s a great song isn’t it? The production has dated a bit, but the song stands up okay I reckon. One point seems very harsh when this would have topped most of the other day’s selections for me. Them’s the breaks though, eh? (SwissToni)

Remarkable how these jazzbo rep reliables managed three number ones in the sixties when the Small Faces managed only one and the Who none at all, and even more remarkably this was the first Dylan-related (as composer) UK chart topper; all very affable and the “Eskimo” angle ensured some Junior Choice play even if the producers chose to turn their back on the subtext (if there be any, depending on whose memories you trust).

Oh, and if anyone wants to know where Spiritualized copped it all from, check out the two extremely scarce albums released by “Manfred Mann Chapter Three” after the pop Manfreds split in two; maybe if Jason Pierce had been doing the vocals instead of the rather wobbly Mike Hugg, these records would get proper props. (Marcello Carlin)

Very minor Dylan. I’m humungously fond of the Basement Tapes,which I have in every incaranation and play from time to time but not especially this version, though, yeah, full marks for making such a throwaway a pop hit. (Dymbel)

I didn’t know any of the meta stuff. This exercise is quite interesting because if this song came on in the pub, I would be like, yeah, I know this, great song. But actually, it isn’t, really. (Gert)

Just sounds a bit generic 60s novelty song to me. Can’t summon up an opinion on this one. (Sarah)

People like songs they can hum and whistle, I suppose. Quite why they would then want to buy it in such numbers I have no idea. (imsodave)

Erm, it’s the Generation Game theme tune, isn’t it? Life, is the name of the game, and I want to play the game with you. The Eskimo version, obviously. (diamond geezer)

I’m sure they were mouthing “Mighty Quim” on TOTP the other week. (Geoff)

1988: I Should Be So Lucky – Kylie Minogue (90)

I hate to disagree with you, but this is bloody brilliant. It may be cheesy, it may be over-bubbly, but it’s still perfect pop. And I’m not ashamed to replay it, over and over… (diamond geezer)

Ahhh…London ’88, sparkling and new, Kylie in the original video (not the more famous and infinitely naffer second one) streaking through Melbourne in her open-topped car (the same one in which Morley takes his journey?) as if the world’s opening up just for her, the Australian sun recreated in a gloomy studio in Warrington, the light, the hope, the promise, and no it wasn’t Rick Astley sped up. Elegantly loving even if a little too aware of the pressures of mortality. (Marcello Carlin)

Love it. Classic. What’s to be ashamed of? And how many costume changes? (NiC)

I Should Be So Lucky was a big hit when I was at primary school (for which I apologise), and I remember it being quite popular in the playground. The boys who liked it all ended up gay, of course – she had that effect even then… (Will)

When this was out I was just that bit too old for this to be anything other than terribly uncool. Now it’s got a kind of quaint charm. (Adrian)

I dismissed this at the time, but I think it’s held up pretty well. (Z)

Really hated this at the time. Repetitive, squeaky nonsense – but with the maturing of Kylie (and myself) I guess I’ve forgiven her a lot over the years. It’s nowhere near as bad as my sneery teenage self believed 20 years ago. I was probably just hacked off that she had left Neighbours. (Sarah)

If your birthday had been a week later we’d have had the odd outcome (has it happened in Which Decade before?) of the same artist featuring in different decades, 20 years apart – as “Wow” entered the top ten last week. 20 years of hits, who’d’a thunk it? That first single wasn’t for me back in the day – wasn’t pitched at the likes of me in any case – but now both her and Jason’s opening singles exude all the healthy escapism of the soap that spawned them, along with SAW’s sense of just how to create a massive hit. (Mind you, listening to Kylie and Jason’s duet can actually rot your teeth.) (Erithian)

Now, it’s a bit of a dog this song, but… I get the feeling they knew, and didn’t care. There’s a happiness and carelessness that is really endearing. (Simon C)

This is chirpy Kylie. I much prefer the more mature pouty, vampy Kylie. (asta)

I’m not a fan. Only like a handful of her songs. This has a certain yearning quality. No doubt it’s a result of Pete Waterman deciding that the teenage demographic has to empathise with the words if they’re going to buy the single. (betty)

It feels somewhat harsh to only give this a mere two points. I remember this affectionately for some reason, but I think that’s bound up in how I feel about “Our” “Brave” Kylie than about the quality of the music. We’ve grown up with her, haven’t we? Pretty generic SA&W nonsense really, isn’t it? I’m not sure I can forgive the whole “Hair Hat” thing on the album cover, to be honest. (SwissToni)

I’m supposed to like NeighboursKylie, I know, but this hasn’t got any better in the twenty years since we all stood smugly folding our arms and glowering. (Simon)

I don’t like anything she’s ever done, especially this. (Geoff)

It is really irritating isn’t it. I can’t say I cared for very much of the Stock Aiken Waterman stuff. This was amongst the best. NiC mentions French and Saunders spoof of Abba, but they also spoofed this. (Gert)

I don’t get Kylie. At. All. Cute? Sure. Hot? Maybe. But all in all, useless. (jo)

No amount of redressing can disguise the fact that this is a turkey of the highest order. (imsodave)

Another artist I have never had any feel for in any of her various incarnations. She always seems to me like she spends her career playing catch up and being a cut-price version of whoever was popular six months ago. But worse still, I saw Pete Waterman interviewed on a show recently and he described himself and cohorts Stock and Aitken as “we were the real punks” which had the effect of making me loathe their collective output even more than I already did, which was quite a considerable amount to begin with. Engineered tripe of the worst kind, it’s become a laughing stock of a song since and rightly so. (Alan)

1998: Doctor Jones – Aqua (67)

I do like aqua, it’s what ‘pop’ is supposed to be, completely silly and with a “it’s got a beat and you can dance to it” vibe. (Clair)

Surprisingly fresh ten years on considering how played to death it was at the time. (NiC)

I read an unbelievably po-faced review of “Barbie Girl” not so long ago, I think on the captions of one of those music channels that tried to take the piss out of the silly scandinavians…. apparently completely missing the point that they were taking the piss out of themselves far more effectively, and as they were at number one, the joke was on us. I actually like this. Harmless pop fun, and nothing wrong with that, eh? eh? (SwissToni)

Huge in Denmark. When Love with Arthur Lee were touring the UK, they had Danish roadies and a sound man who had worked on Aqua tours and were very positive about their professionalism and musicianship (I kid you not). (Tina)

AquaFact 1: I once saw the hunky guy, Rene I think, come out of a dry cleaner’s in Copenhagen and jump into a black Ferrari with a big load of clean clothes. I never see celebrities, so found this pretty cool. AquaFact 2: A year or two later, some friends and I thought it would be a really great idea to go and see Aqua live (this was the era of irony, and we were its children). As I ordered (standing) tickets, everyone thought it very hilarious when I had to confirm to the ticket agent on the phone “yes, we are all over five feet tall”. (Simon C)

3 pts. Now I have to confess something here, this isn’t purely a musical decision. But I don’t think it is possible to be. Aqua were a band who understood that in the modern era, the visual was equally important. Take away the video and there’s nothing much here. With the video, however, it’s brilliant kitschy fun and makes you grin from ear to ear. (Alan)

You could win a pub bet on this – the biggest selling single in the UK by a Scandinavian act was “Barbie Girl” and not anything by Abba. In the sales boom of late ’97 there were two huge hits with possibly the youngest target audience of any Number 1 ever – this and the Teletubbies – and although the follow-up was more listenable, it’s still out of its depth in ths company. (Erithian)

I prefer this one to Barbie Girl, which isn’t saying much. The Bloke Out Of Aqua was the ’90’s Bloke Out Of The Sugarcubes. (betty)

Fun like bubble gum. Is bubble gum really fun though, or just annoying? (Geoff)

This is the 90s novelty group with surprise, surprise- novelty songs. Dr. (Indianna) Jones, isn’t even as good as Barbie Girl, which at least could be thought of as biting social comment.

Not a patch on “Barbie Girl”; a rather hackneyed variant on the old Goodness Gracious Me/Dr Kiss Kiss/Doctor Love sex-as-medicine template, naff rather than “ironically great.” (Marcello Carlin)

No fond memories of anything by Aqua. Were this later in the year, I’d assume it was the hangover from our yearly exodus to dodgy Mediterranean resorts…ugh! (Sarah)

The power of the tweenie market in full effect. Well and truly on the crest of the Barbie Girl wave here. Presumably they suffered a painful crushing death on the descent. Shame. (imsodave)

Music for shop mannequins to smile to. (diamond geezer)

Decade scores so far (after 9 days).
1 (2) The 1960s (32)
2 (1) The 1970s (30)
3 (3) The 2000s (27)
4 (4) The 1990s (25)
5 (5) The 1980s (21)

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