Which decade is Tops for Pops? – THIS YEAR’S WINNER.

ist place – The 1960s. (34 points)

2008: 1st place, 36 points + 1 tiebreak point.
2007: 1st place, 34 points.
2006: 2nd place, 37 points.
2005: 2nd place, 33 points.
2004: 1st place, 36 points.
2003: 3rd place, 28 points.

10. For Once In My Life – Stevie Wonder. 5 points.
9. The Way It Used To Be – Engelbert Humperdinck. 1 point.
8. You Got Soul – Johnny Nash. 1 point.
7. Dancing In The Street – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. 5 points, most popular.
6. Albatross – Fleetwood Mac. 5 points.
5. Blackberry Way – The Move. 5 points.
4. Please Don’t Go – Donald Peers. 1 point.
3. I’m Gonna Make You Love Me – Diana Ross & The Supremes & The Temptations. 5 points.
2. Where Do You Go To My Lovely – Peter Sarstedt. 5 points.
1. (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice – Amen Corner. 1 point, least popular.

wd09-1969If you ask me, there’s something special about years ending in 9. In pop-historical terms, they’re habitually overlooked, most likely because they tend not to fit neatly into decade-based summaries. By the time that you get to them, the overall “sound” of each decade has already been identified – and it’s usually centred around the music from a quarter of the way through (Merseybeat, Glam, New Pop, Rave/Grunge), or the three-quarter point (Psychedelia, Punk/Disco, House/SAW, Britpop/the “superclub” Dance boom).

But in those years-with-a-nine-on-the-end, you’ll often find clear pointers to the music which will go on to define the decade to come. In 1979, we see the dawn of the more heavily image-based video era. In 1989, Madchester is the big story: placing indie guitar bands back into the equation, and setting in motion the chain of events which would lead to Britpop. Even in 1999, we can find the roots of pure pop’s resurgence: your Britneys, your Christinas, your S Clubs.

But what of 1969? Ah, I wish you hadn’t asked me that – for this is where my already shaky theory starts to fall apart. The Beatles, The Stones and The Who were still riding high; Marmalade, The Move, Amen Corner and Herman’s Hermits represented business as usual for home-grown pop; and while Motown provided many of the year’s most durable classics – three of which are represented here, although we’re stretching the term “classic” for one of them – the label’s success was largely founded on re-issues, and its new hits offered few clues to the direction that soul music would take in the 1970s.

None of which is to play down the many glories of the 1969 singles charts, which have been thoroughly and lovingly catalogued and celebrated by Marcello in this outstanding piece of writing (scroll down to April 07) – but I still can’t help feeling that the Sixties have fluked it this time round.

Look at those day-by-day scores, and you’ll see what I mean. For in 1969, there were no half measures where your voting was concerned. Six songs won outright, four songs placed last – and there was nothing – absolutely nothing – in between.

Yes, you loved your Motown – and rightly so. And there’s no arguing with the unique “Albatross”, or with the wonky psych-pop of “Blackberry Way”. But did the chart which contained the out-of-time Donald Peers, the perpetually irksome Engelbert Humperdinck, the utterly forgettable “You Got Soul” (bet you’d forgotten it already, right?) or the laboured ho-hummery of Amen Corner really deserve this year’s crown?

Or am I just pissed off because my beloved 1979 was pipped at the post, by one measly little point?

Ah, there’s the rub. 1969, I congratulate you – but this time, it’s through gritted teeth.

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