As you’ve probably noticed, the Popular archives are fairly extensive. I often think it would be nice to do something with them, so (among other slow-brewing schemes) I came up with this.
It’s a Tumblr, though you don’t have to be on that site to follow it, and its purpose is to
advertise Popular count down the entire Number Ones list of the 1970s, from worst to best. It might attract new readers from Tumblr, and for existing readers it’s a bit of double nostalgia, that has the added bonus of being extremely quick and not cluttering the site up.
How have I decided the order? I haven’t. YOU have, by voting in the year-end polls. So “best” means “got the highest proportion of ticks”. This means it’s very easy to work out what the #1 is, please don’t do so and mention it in the comments. It also means I disagree quite strongly with the order in some places, but there you go, and we’ll find that out as we go.
Popular itself will continue trying to hit its 3-times-a-week target, and if this works I’ll do the 80s, 60s, 90s etc in due course.
Welcome to the knockout stages of the Pop World Cup. At this point, the rules are very simple indeed. Two tracks, vote for the one you like best. Here we have Chris’ Cameroon, who topped Group A with 7.5 points, against lartsaegis’ Chile side, runners-up in Group B with 5.
Delightful as “Doctor Jones” is, probably the most interesting thing about this record is that I’m covering it at all. “Barbie Girl” – smart as it was – was also obviously a novelty record: for Aqua to return not once but twice shows that Europop enjoyed more commercial clout in Britain than it had in years.
The classic form of Europop is the holiday smash, which sets some ground rules for the genre: it has to be catchy enough for anyone to recognise it on a minimum of encounters, and it should be essentially a-lingual – simple and nonsensical enough to make the idea of a language barrier a mockery. Pop that the polyglot audiences of Europe could embrace, when brought together in a sangria haze. With European Union – and the rise of pan-European cable channels – big cross-continental audiences weren’t just for holidays any more, and the 90s were a boom decade for Europop.
Welcome to the final group stage game in the Pop World Cup! I’m sorry it’s been so delayed – the result is that we’ll have a truncated voting time: you have UNTIL FRIDAY AFTERNOON to get your votes in on this. So let’s see how things stand.
South Korea (managed by Iain Mew) are in pole position with 5 points. Anything short of last place in this game and they’re through. Below them it’s something of a dogfight. Algeria (Katherine St Asaph) maintain a slender advantage with 3 points to Belgium (Glynn)’s 2.5. Russia (Chelovek Na Lune) have 1.5. Russia need to go for the win, but all these sides really need to beat the other two.
Songs, votes, and a bumper results report below the cut.
Another piece of the present slots into place: if you leave out charity records, this is the first artist we’ve met to also have a Number One in the 2010s. Usher fits a model for pop stardom we’ll see more frequently as we get closer to now: a teenage prodigy with material good enough to stay the distance. He’s also – again, typically for his generation of stars – a highly adaptable performer. Every now and then he’ll put out something really startling, like 2012′s “Climax”, but it seems to me that more often an Usher record is smoothly and confidently on-trend.
When “All Around The World” came out, it wasn’t yet quite clear that Oasis had peaked. Yes, the album was a folly, but they were still colossal, with no sign they wouldn’t come back stronger next time. This record felt belligerent: the pointless length, the Pepperland video – a band being deliberately, grandly lazy. Think what you like about us, it said, we’re going nowhere.
Which turned out to be true. And with hindsight, I can hear a different, far less triumphant record hidden in this one’s rolls and folds of overdubbed flab. To get to it, though, I have to ask: how on Earth did this thing get so big, anyway? What were they feeding it?
USA (managed by The Lex), Portugal (managed by Weej) and Ghana (managed by Jonathan Bogart) all have 4 points, and the barest whisker of percentile difference between them. So it’s a straight knockout – the two sides doing best from those three go through.
Germany (managed by Tak), meanwhile, fell victim to the Group of Death and are on 0 points. They’ll be playing for pride only.
Poll and songs below the cut, and an ADMIN UPDATE for fans of those.
Pretty straightforwardly, as it happens, since both the earlier results in this group ran exactly the same way. Nigeria (managed by Cis) are through on 6 points, Bosnia-Herzegovina (managed by Scott) are eliminated with zero. Which leaves Iran (Wichita Lineman) in a strong position for the second qualifying place with 4 points, and Argentina (Chris) needing a win here on 2.
Songs and poll below the cut!
You’re in the car with the radio on and no expectations, and suddenly you hear it: a song that stops everything around it, breaking through the playlist and announcing itself as a hit. More than a hit, a classic, a song you’ll be hearing for the rest of your life. And the feeling when it happens is a kind of classic itself, one of the iconic freeze-frame moments of loving music. As a self-conscious pop fan it’s something I knew was meant to happen, and every time I was listening to the radio a part of me was willing it to.
So when it did happen – when, for instance, I was in my girlfriend’s car at the end of 1997 and I heard a song start with the chords from “Amazing Grace” and a hesitant woman tiptoeing across them, talking out of the radio, asking for help turning fragments back into a life that might make some kind of sense – how much could I believe my reaction? I’d spent the back half of the year getting my own head together, and the glue I’d used was 60s pop and soul. I’d listened – a lot – to Motown, Philly, Spector, girl groups. I was ready for “Never Ever”. I needed it. Right then, I loved it.
I give every entry a mark out of 10. Here’s your opportunity to tick the ones you’d have given 6 or more to.
My highest score of 1997 turns out to have been a solitary 8, for Hanson’s “MMMBop”. U2 and Elton both got 2s. Use the comments box to talk about the year in general!