Yes, folks: after seven years of judicious voting and meticulous tabulation, which have seen us examine 362 different singles from 37 different singles charts (allowing for a couple of tie-break rounds), I can now reveal the ULTIMATE answer to the question which I first posed to my readers in February 2003.
In fifth place, with a cumulative score of 172 points, it’s The 1990s.
Never finishing higher than fourth place at the end of our seven annual “Which Decade” episodes, The 1990s have endured a rough ride. In 70 rounds of voting, our least popular decade has placed first on just eight occasions – a pitiful showing indeed. Let’s list them again, shall we?
1993: Sweet Harmony – The Beloved.
1993: Ordinary World – Duran Duran.
1994: Girls And Boys – Blur.
1995: Reach Up – Perfecto Allstarz.
1995: No More I Love You’s – Annie Lennox.
1996: Slight Return – The Bluetones.
1998: Never Ever – All Saints.
1999: Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) – The Offspring.
And in fourth place, with a cumulative score of 196 points, it’s The 2000s.
The Noughties stiffed badly between 2003 and 2006, before rallying towards the end of the decade, and peaking in second place for the chart of 2007. Here are those 2000s winners in full (and with the benefit of hindsight, some of them are strange choices indeed).
2003: Lose Yourself – Eminem.
2004: Amazing – George Michael.
2004: Red Blooded Woman – Kylie Minogue.
2004: Toxic – Britney Spears.
2006: You Got The Love (New Voyager mix) – The Source featuring Candi Staton.
2007: Same Jeans – The View.
2007: Grace Kelly – Mika.
2008: A&E – Goldfrapp.
Now, here’s a surprise: just like the 1990s, the 2000s only managed to notch up 8 winners out of 70. Instead, the mid-table was their natural stamping ground – placing them 24 points clear of fifth place, but a mere 15 points short of third place.
And in third place, with a cumulative score of 211 points, it’s The 1980s.
The Eighties finished on top in just one annual round, and in the most unlikely year of all: 1985, which I have long considered to be one of the worst years in singles chart history. Its least popular year – and again, this comes as a surprise – was the fifth placing for 1988 in last year’s contest. So, which Eighties records came out on top? Let’s list them…
1983: You Can’t Hurry Love – Phil Collins.
1983: Too Shy – Kajagoogoo.
1984: Jump – Van Halen.
1984: Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
1984: 99 Red Balloons – Nena.
1985: 1999/Little Red Corvette – Prince.
1985: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) – Dead Or Alive.
1985: Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen.
1986: Borderline – Madonna.
1986: Chain Reaction – Diana Ross.
1987: Male Stripper – Man 2 Man featuring Man Parrish.
1988: I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany.
Yes, that’s still just 12 winning songs out of 70 – meaning that our two most popular decades have notched up 42 winning songs between them. Decisive, or what?
There’s a big jump in the scoring between our third and second placed decades – but most nail-bitingly of all, a mere 4 points separate the winner from the runner-up.
So, who’s in second place? Why, it’s The 1970s, with a cumulative score of 235 points.
The Seventies won two annual rounds – but only 1976 enjoyed a clear, outright victory. On two other occasions, the Seventies were forced to go to a supplementary tie-break round. Last year, 1978 lost out to our winning decade on tie-break – but their luck was better in Year One, when they beat off a challenge from the 1980s. And the 19 winning songs were:
1973: Wishing Well – Free.
1973: Daniel – Elton John.
1973: You’re So Vain – Carly Simon.
1973: Blockbuster – The Sweet.
1975: Angie Baby – Helen Reddy.
1975: Shame Shame Shame – Shirley & Company.
1975: Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel.
1976: Dat – Pluto Shervington.
1976: Mamma Mia – Abba.
1977: Daddy Cool – Boney M.
1977: Don’t Leave Me This Way – Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes.
1977: Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – Julie Covington.
1978: Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra.
1978: Uptown Top Ranking – Althea & Donna.
1978: Wishing On A Star – Rose Royce.
1978: Take A Chance On Me – Abba.
1979: Milk & Alcohol – Dr. Feelgood.
1979: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick – Ian Dury & the Blockheads.
1979: Heart Of Glass – Blondie.
And so to the decade which you, the readers of Troubled Diva, have judged to be the BEST! DECADE! EVAH! for pop music. Four points ahead of the 1970s, with a cumulative score of 239, it’s…
THE SWINGING, THE FABULOUS, THE TOPPER-MOST, POPPER-MOST… NINETEEN SIXTIES!
The 1960s were the first-placed decade in four of our seven annual rounds, with three consecutive victories in the last three years. 1963 might have scored a comparatively low third place in Year One – but since then, it’s been Top Two all the way. Over and over again, your votes have confirmed the increasingly inevitable: that the music of forty years ago will always be dearest to your pop-loving hearts.
Looking at the final scores once again, there’s another clear conclusion to be drawn: that the quality of chart pop music steadily deteriorated from the Sixties to the Nineties, before rallying slightly in the Noughties. Can this be true? Is popular culture forever destined to be on a downward slide – or are there glory days yet to come?
There’s only one way to find out – but it might take us another ten years to draw our next set of conclusions. So the question is this: have I got in me to reset the counters to zero, and to start the exercise all over again next year, with six decades instead of five to evaluate?
And the answer is this: maybe. Let’s see how I feel in a year’s time, eh? And if “Which Decade” is indeed to be reborn, then I’ll have to move from my birthday week in mid-February to another month. Maybe I’ll pick K’s birthday week, in late May?
We shall see, readers. We shall see. But for now, let’s sign off by thanking all of this year’s voters: Adrian, Alan, Amanda, Andy, An Unreliable Witness, asta, betty, Billy Smart, bob, Chig, Clare, diamond geezer, Dymbel, Erithian, Geoff Mild Peril, Geoff Itinerant Londoner, Gert, Hedgie, Hg, jo, John, JonnyB, LB, Lena, Lizzy, LKSN, Marcello Carlin, Matthew, NiC, Nottingham’s ‘Mr Sex’, Oliver, Raw P, Richard, Sarah, Simon, Simon C, Stereoboard, Sue Bailey, suz, SwissToni, The Lurker, Tina, Tom, Will and Z. Special thanks go to Gert, who has provided mini-reviews of all 356 songs over the years, and also to Marcello for his truly exceptional and magnificently interesting contributions in the comments box.
We conclude “Which Decade” with a lap of honour for our winner, whose 23 winning songs are listed below.
1963: Please Please Me – The Beatles.
1964: Needles And Pins – The Searchers.
1964: Not Fade Away – The Rolling Stones.
1964: Anyone Who Had A Heart – Cilla Black.
1965: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – The Animals.
1965: You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling – The Righteous Brothers.
1966: Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group.
1966: You Were On My Mind – Crispian St Peters.
1966: 19th Nervous Breakdown – Rolling Stones.
1966: These Boots Are Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra.
1967: Mellow Yellow – Donovan.
1967: Let’s Spend The Night Together – Rolling Stones.
1967: Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane – The Beatles.
1967: I’m A Believer – The Monkees.
1968: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) – John Fred & His Playboy Band.
1968: Bend Me Shape Me – Amen Corner.
1968: Everlasting Love – The Love Affair.
1969: For Once In My Life – Stevie Wonder.
1969: Dancing In The Street – Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.
1969: Albatross – Fleetwood Mac.
1969: Blackberry Way – The Move.
1969: I’m Gonna Make You Love Me – Diana Ross & The Supremes & The Temptations.
1969: Where Do You Go To My Lovely – Peter Sarstedt.
Update: Listen to the winning songs on Spotify (UK readers only).
People, it’s been an honour. Thank you once again! I love you all! XXX