Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results: 4th place.

4th place – The 1980s. (29 points)

2008: 5th place, 23 points.
2007: 4th place, 27 points.
2006: 3rd place, 33 points.
2005: 1st place, 34 points.
2004: 3rd place, 30 points.
2003: 2nd place, 35 points.

10. Wait – Robert Howard & Kym Mazelle. 4 points.
9. Fine Time – Yazz. 2 points.
8. Last Of The Famous International Playboys – Morrissey. 4 points.
7. You Got It – Roy Orbison. 4 points, most popular.
6. My Prerogative – Bobby Brown. 3 points.
5. Love Train – Holly Johnson. 4 points.
4. The Living Years – Mike & The Mechanics. 3 points.
3. Love Changes Everything – Michael Ball. 1 point.
2. Belfast Child – Simple Minds. 1 point, least popular.
1. Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart – Marc Almond featuring Gene Pitney. 3 points.

wd09-1989With 1999 safely out of the way, this year’s competition gets a lot closer, with little to separate our remaining four decades. And having watched the Eighties slide ever lower down the rankings in recent years, I nursed high hopes that 1989 would reverse their fortunes.

For a while, things were looking promising. Howard/Mazelle, Morrissey, Roy Orbison and Holly Johnson all finished in second place, and 1989 even led the pack at the end of a couple of rounds. But then disaster followed, in the shape of a weak Top Four and two consecutive bottom placings for Michael Ball and Simple Minds.

Although Marc Almond and Gene Pitney drew favourable comments from most quarters, a tough draw left them stranded in third place. It was the final nail in 1989’s coffin – and a disappointing placing for a period which I have always held in high regard.

Maybe it’s just the distorting lens of nostalgia, but my memories of the 1989 charts are largely fond ones. From the UK pop/soul corner, we had Neneh Cherry, Soul II Soul, Fine Young Cannibals, Rebel MC… and yes, even Lisa Stansfield for a while, back when she still seemed like a good idea. From the US, we had quality house music from Adeva, Chanelle, Ten City, Inner City and Lil Louis, and ground-breaking hip hop from De La Soul. Madonna restored her artistic reputation with Like A Prayer, Bobby Brown and Alyson Williams brought a modern edge to R&B; the Pet Shop Boys collaborated with Dusty and Liza; there was some ace Euro-dance from Technotronic, Capella and the Italo-house brigade (led by Black Box’s “Ride On Time” and Starlight’s “Numero Uno”); “Voodoo Ray” and “Pacific State” put Manchester on the dance map, while the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays ushered in the Madchester/baggy boom… such riches, people! Such riches!

On a global level, 1989 marked a historical turning point, with the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War. And on a personal level, these were significant times. K started a job which involved extensive international travel, and I was promoted into a role with dramatically increased responsibilities. The travel seemed glamorous and exciting, the promotion felt like an honour… and ignorance was bliss, on both counts. The DJ-ing had gone weekly, the night was doing great, and the social life hadn’t been this busy since student days. If I were ranking these five years in terms of personal happiness, then 1989 would probably come out top. But never mind. Fourth position will have to do.

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