Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results: 3rd place.

3rd place – The 2000s. (32 points)

2008: 3rd place, 31 points.
2007: 2nd place, 32 points.
2006: Equal 4th place, 21 points.
2005: 4th place, 27 points.
2004: 5th place, 26 points.
2003: 4th place, 27 points.

10. T-Shirt – Shontelle. 3 points.
9. Day ‘n’ Nite – Kid Cudi vs. Crookers. 4 points.
8. Omen – The Prodigy. 3 points.
7. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyonce. 2 points.
6. Broken Strings – James Morrison featuring Nelly Furtado. 2 points, least popular.
5. Take Me Back – Tinchy Stryder featuring Taio Cruz. 3 points.
4. Crack A Bottle – Eminem featuring Dr Dre & 50 Cent. 4 points.
3. Breathe Slow – Alesha Dixon. 4 points.
2. Just Dance – Lady GaGa featuring Colby O’Donis. 3 points.
1. The Fear – Lily Allen. 4 points, most popular.

Barack Obama takes the Oath of Office as the 44th President of the United States as he is sworn in by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts with his wife Michelle by his side during the inauguration ceremony in Washington...Barack Obama takes the Oath of Office as the 44th President of the United States as he is sworn in by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts with his wife Michelle by his side during the inauguration ceremony in Washington, January 20, 2009. Obama became the first African-American president in U.S. history. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES) So, it’s official then: you quite like 2009.

You don’t exactly love 2009: none of this year’s Top Ten polled higher than second place, although Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite” led the voting in the Number Nines for most of the way. And you certainly don’t loathe 2009: nothing polled in last place, although none of you had anything very nice to say about James Morrison’s “Broken Strings”. And again, the luck of the draw played its part: many of you expressed frustration at not being able to place Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” higher, and Lily Allen’s “The Fear” drew almost unanimous praise, despite being soundly trounced by Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass”.

It’s been heartening to see the once-reviled 2000s doing so well in recent years, compared to its dismal showing from 2003 to 2006. As regular readers will know, I’m strongly in favour of giving all due weight to the contemporary, despite its in-built disadvantage of being untested by posterity. And this was a good crop, from what has been a strong year for pop hits (but a slow year for equally strong albums, it has to be said).

As for my own personal experience of 2009: it’s been a busy, exciting and energising first three months, with plenty of challenging and satisfying projects already completed, and still more to come. A natural progression from the equally engaged optimism of 1989, with the mid-life misery of 1999 looking all the more like a distant blip of misfortune, poor judgement and self-defeating self-indulgence.

If I were ranking these five years in terms of personal achievement, then 2009 would definitely come out on top. But a closely fought third place on “Which Decade”? Well, that ain’t too shoddy.

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.

Which decade is Tops for Pops? – the results: 5th place.

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.

wd09-1999OK, 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!