5th place – The 1990s. (22 points)
2008: 4th place, 25 points.
2007: 5th place, 26 points.
2006: Equal 4th place, 21 points.
2005: 5th place, 26 points.
2004: 4th place, 27 points.
2003: 5th place, 25 points.
10. Westside – TQ. 1 point.
9. Changes – 2Pac. 3 points.
8. When You’re Gone – Bryan Adams featuring Melanie C. 2 points.
7. Heartbeat/Tragedy – Steps. 1 point, least popular.
6. Enjoy Yourself – A+. 1 point.
5. Boy You Knock Me Out – Tatyana Ali featuring Will Smith. 2 points.
4. Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) – The Offspring. 5 points, most popular.
3. Fly Away – Lenny Kravitz. 3 points.
2. You Don’t Know Me – Armand Van Helden featuring Duane Harden. 2 points.
1. Maria – Blondie. 2 points.
OK, this was pathetic. Right from Day One of this year’s “Which Decade” (if any of you can remember back that far), the miserable year of 1999 never placed higher than fifth in our cumulative scoring table. At its lowest ebb – just before The Offspring came along to restore a modicum of dignity – the year of the Millennium Bug, the Millennium Dome, the total solar eclipse and other assorted damp squibs was trailing the pack by a massive nine points. In the final reckoning, it finished seven points lower than any other decade, with the lowest marks reserved for Steps, A+ and (tragically and entirely wrong-headedly, I might add) TQ’s sublimly wistful “Westside”. (Tsk, what am I to DO with you all?)
There’s always the luck of the draw, of course. Against weaker competition on the day, I suspect that Armand Van Helden’s “You Don’t Know Me” and Blondie’s “Maria” might easily have scored more than two points apiece. Less fortunately still, pitching “Maria” against “Heart Of Glass” and the Steps cover against the Bee Gees original was never going to help 1999’s cause.
Nevertheless, them’s the breaks – and based on my own musical memories of the year in question, I’m certainly not about to quibble. Although 1999 saw the chart debuts of at least two future superstars – Eminem and Britney Spears – music didn’t seem in too healthy a state back then. Ricky Martin, The Vengaboys, Martine McCutcheon and Boyzone ruled the roost for pop, while various increasingly irksome ex-Spice Girls refused to surrender their crowns gracefully; ATB, Alice Deejay, Phats & Small and any number of endelessly recycled Ibiza Trance Anthems spelt the beginning of the end for the supremacy of Dance (as expedited by all those wretched Millennium Eve Superclub Rip-Off nights, which dealt a massive blow to the industry’s credibility); the timid triumvirate of Travis, Texas and The Stereophonics ushered in the beige age of Corporate Indie… oh, and the deathless Westlife also began their uniquely grim reign of terror, scoring their first of five million interchangeable Number One Smashes in May.
On a personal level, 1999 was the most miserable year of my adult life. Unaware of the extraordinary, life-changing joys that 2000 that was about to bestow, I floundered in a sea of narrowing options and diminishing returns: stuck in a rut, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, and feeling altogether disappointed by the meagre advances which the decade had ultimately brought. With this in mind, it delights me to witness the well-deserved kicking which you, the voting public, have seen fit to bestow up on it. Begone, you twelve-month of vileness, and take your manky pop mediocrity with you!