May 13

Popular ’94

Popular59 comments • 2,689 views

I’m glad to see the back of this year. As usual, I give songs a mark out of 10, you can too, and here’s where it all gets added up. What gets 6 or more from you?

Which Of These 1994 Number Ones Would You Give 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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My bottom scorers this year were a brace of 2s for Man U and Wet Wet Wet, and my top scorer was Baby D, which got an 8. This is now the 4th year in a row where I’ve not given a 9 or 10. (Every year from 1971 to 1990 had at least one 9+.)


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  1. 31
    Patrick Mexico on 2 May 2013 #

    Re: #12

    “Bit crap, really, overall, that list of no 1s. Although if there is one thing to thank Wet Wet Wet for it for keeping the list relatively short, as most of what they kept off wasn’t markedly superior…”

    No way, no way! Well, if I’m being cynical, the no 2s of that summer were a cod-reggae/hippy snorefest, but as UK Top 40 singles during their 15-week reign of [beyond] terror go, I’d much rather be talking about these 15 on Popular – that if it wasn’t for Marti’s mob and had the right press coverage, coulda been contenders:

    1. The Grid – Swamp Thing – minimalist instrumental brilliance, like a modern Apache.

    2. Manic Street Preachers – Faster – one of the best songs ever written. “Like hearing [..] a band [..] with guns to their heads, forced to condense everything they believed into one final four-minute edict” – Simon Price, that’s definitely our price.

    3. Dawn Penn – You Don’t Love Me (No No No) – Hey UB40: *this* is reggae music!

    4. Warren G feat. Nate Dogg – Regulate – Slick, sleazy and sublime appropriation of Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgetting. One of the golden age of hip-hop’s last stands.

    5. Corona – The Rhythm of the Night – again, one of the best songs ever written. And according to Twitter, it cured Tom’s winter flu.

    6. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – Summertime – if you don’t find some charm in this, you don’t have a soul. Or you’re a massive racist. Or have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    7. DJ Miko – What’s Up – obviously terrible, but a funny-as-hell “trolling” of 4 Non Blondes and the histrionics of Seattle-centric alternative rock. It’s what Kurt would have wanted. No, really. Who mentioned He-Man?

    8. Maxx – No More (I Can’t Stand It) – one of Eurodance’s defining moments – synth line reminiscent of a distressed flute, garbled “ragga man” gibberish from a proto-Dappy, but despite itself, THAT strong female lead rave vocal in the chorus makes it kind of excellent.

    9. Seal – Kiss from a Rose – nowhere near as cool as Killer, but a thing of melodic, genuinely soulful beauty.

    10. Beastie Boys – Sabotage – The clue’s in the title, and had this been number 1, we wouldn’t be discussing a future baseball-capped, bearded bunny of disturbing origins.

    11. Neneh Cherry and Youssou N’Dour – 7 Seconds – obviously Massive Attack clones have now milked this sound for all it’s worth, but my word! What atmosphere! What tasteful use of African vocals without resorting to cringeworthy world music package tour cliches! (No, I mean this, seriously.) Almost as upset about this missing out on the no. 1 spot as Buffalo Stance.

    12. Blast – Crayzy Man – Chicago house, Detroit techno and Hacienda rave dynamics combine for an underrated club classic. A signpost to some of the more emotionally ambiguous club classics we’ll encounter on Popular very soon.

    13. Ace of Base – Don’t Turn Around – much better than Aswad’s take on it, suits strait-laced Nordic gloom much better than gonzo British reggae.

    14. Magic Affair – Omen III – more ridiculous Eurodance that’s difficult to take seriously and is less sonically inventive than Blink-182 but have you seen the size of that chorus? Have you seen its Mo Farah, blink and you’ll miss it pace? “Go where you want but don’t forget the old man” – should have been a Nirvana/Jesus Lizard-style division of labour with Pulp’s Help The Aged.

    15. Veruca Salt – Seether – delighted to see the love for this on the many readers’ polls. OK, it didn’t break the top 40 but if you can get a crowd going like this at Glastonbury, you’ve got something right. Would have mentioned Black Hole Sun but find what inspired Nirvana – the Pixies, Husker Du, Sonic Youth sugar rush – much more exciting than Soundgarden, Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam who I once described as “The Calling with power chords.” But more on that later. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPsQcB52V18

  2. 32
    Billy Hicks on 3 May 2013 #

    Yes at Omen III :D One of those Eurodance tracks that should have been huge (and was elsewhere in Europe) but criminally underperformed here, in this case peaking at #17. See also La Bouche’s ‘Be My Lover’ the following year…

  3. 33
    Chelovek na lune on 3 May 2013 #

    #31 well…I’d agree that Dawn Penn, Warren G and Corona were all superior bits of pop music, if no more and no less…and “7 Seconds” is indeed a classic (but Hush! We’ll have a chance to discuss the amazing Ms Cherry before too long)…but the Grid, IMO, did better earlier on (“Floatation”, even the more pure pop “A Beat Called Love”); and while the MSPs were indeed on top form at this time…it was all about THAT album, and the totality of the severity, the suffering, the extreme harshness of it all, which, balaclavas or no, didn’t really, really, translate to the 3-4 minute form demanded of the single (in which they really did excel at other stages of their career, both earlier and later)

    …although, curiously, from your list, it’s “The Omen III” that really sticks out. Quite wonderful, as well as ridiculous. Euro-disco meets the Clockwork Orange. Manic, such an inventive and powerful use of the main riff…and a purposeful and genuinely creative use of stock elements of this type of music (the “winding down” of the drum machine at the end, e.g.) – the nearest soulmates (though the autocorrect to “schoolmates” almost does the job, too) this record had was “Feel What You Want” by Kristina W, which was gloriously severe; and some of the work of the Tyrrel Corporation, who’d done a decent job of exploring menace, despair and mild degradation over keyboards and a drum machine a couple of years earlier. Part 90s Euro disco-pop; part quasi-totalitarian menace: had Poyushchye Vmeste followed this model a decade later (best known in the English-speaking world for “You Must Be Like Putin”, but with a whole album of tacky, over-the-top, inappropriately poppy tracks with bouncy tunes, and driving beats and lyrics sung cheerily about topics like alcoholism (“If Not For Beer”) , abortion (“Little Wonder (Inside You)”, parliamentary democracy (“My Deputy”), civic pride (“My City”) family relationships..and so on accessible to Russophones) perhaps they might have gone on to bigger things, and to have become genuinely scary, rather than merely tacky, and cast aside as such.The Magic Affair track was really rather extraordinary: horror-show cartoon horror, perhaps.

    But this is by no means the only year where no 1s are less interesting than that which bubbles away beneath the surface…

  4. 34
    wichita lineman on 3 May 2013 #

    Re “this is by no means the only year where no 1s are less interesting than that which bubbles away beneath the surface”.

    You could say that of almost every year on Popular, with the possible exceptions of 1966 and 1973. But, hey, that’s why I’m here, so we get to talk about Matchstalk Men rather than Death Disco, and E17 rather than Pulp, again, again, again.

    Having said that, I’d be delighted if someone started a blog that dissected things like Omen III :)

  5. 35
    Tom on 3 May 2013 #

    You’d expect it to be true every year! Since we’re talking 1 record vs 39 (or 29 in earlier days).

    I wonder how often the #1 is the best record in the Top 40. At one point I thought of adding a “Best record in the Top 40” field on Popular, in fact, but decided it would be a distraction.

  6. 36
    wichita lineman on 3 May 2013 #

    Oh go on.

  7. 37
    Chelovek na lune on 3 May 2013 #

    But it WOULD be a distraction! Tho the basic point is valid…

  8. 38
    swanstep on 3 May 2013 #

    Just one (Prince) for me. I’m predicting at least three in 1995 (thank god, I’m dyin’ here).

  9. 39
    Chelovek na lune on 3 May 2013 #

    Ah, there’s one in 1995 that I consider a serious contender for the title of “worst (and most unworthy) number 1…EVER” . Which given the competition is saying something.

  10. 40
    glue_factory on 3 May 2013 #

    Three for me. This is the first time I’ve felt a serious disconnect between the number ones and the records that I was listening to. Maybe it’s simply a function of getting older and one’s musical tastes becoming more less mainstream, but it was only when I read the chart from Select magazine that I thought “Ahhh, that was 1994”

  11. 41
    Rory on 3 May 2013 #

    I’ve been cooling my heels here lately too, because not many of these number ones do much for me. I’ve even rejected my earlier score of 6 for Chaka Demus & Pliers so I could go for a curmudgeonly “None of Them”: take that, 1994!

    Meanwhile, it was a year chock full of Blur’s finest, Radiohead’s new lease of life, top-notch Suede and Pulp and other things I love still. Not to mention a very fine album (in its US incarnation for me, especially) by a band dear to our hearts. So, come back, 1994, all is forgiven.

  12. 42
    sid on 3 May 2013 #

    *first time comment*

    I’ve started reading Popular during the 1994 entries, unfortunately also the year when I stopped listening to and taping the best bits of the Top 40, aged 17. If that seems a very advanced age to still be doing that sort of thing I don’t remember listening to the charts at all until sometime around my 14th birthday (not sure what the trigger was, certainly not Chesney or Cher). I bought my first Melody Maker not long afterwards, so for two or three years ‘chart’ and ‘indie’ music were concurrent and almost entirely separate interests, with my (guilty) enjoyment of the former strictly confined to the home, while attempting to maintain a cooler image amongst my peers. Didn’t work mind, I can vividly recall my proto-Britpop tastes being sneered at by both the ‘lads’, who were generally into dance or rap, as well as more alternative types who favoured grunge and were also discovering Hendrix, the Doors, Dylan etc. Sadly by the time my bands ‘won’ the argument (couple of bunnies approaching in 95) there was no opportunity to feel vindicated, as we had finished school and my tastes had moved on as well.

    Anyway I don’t remember any of these 1994 number ones doing much to stem my dwindling interest in the charts, and any enjoyment at the time was probably drained away by their heavy rotation on Capital FM, which we were subjected to every day on a very long journey to and from school on the sixth form bus. Baby D and possibly Tony Di Bart would have been my (secret) favourites then, and definitely are now – both in their different ways had that exquisite uplifting yet wistful/nostalgic feel which is only amplified at 19 years distance. Whigfield and East 17 I found unbearable (loved the first two East 17 singles though) but get a vote now for having a certain ‘those were the days’ charm about them.

  13. 43
    Patrick Mexico on 3 May 2013 #

    Re #32: Thanks Billy! Be My Lover is indeed a classic of its genre. Sometimes I’ll listen to Eurodance compilations that walk the line between genius and stab-yourself-in-the-ears horror, but that cuts through all the junk (perhaps including the worrying next number 1) like a knife through butter. Just don’t imagine it in the Bristolian accent, in turn it makes me imagine Ian Holloway in eyeliner. I’d been drinking so I was scraping the barrel a tiny bit for great summer 1994 records, but anything’s better than Wet Wet Wet for 15 weeks. By around August, weren’t people consciously buying it as a troll? Surely nobody in their right mind can love Four Weddings and a Funeral THAT much.

  14. 44
    Tom on 3 May 2013 #

    #39 There are two number ones next year where my liking for them may well drive some of my readers off. I wonder if one of them is the same!

  15. 45
    Chelovek na lune on 3 May 2013 #

    #44 Moderately (but only moderately) astonished by your VICIOUS SLATING of “Vincent” as I was (and noting a certain hint of grade inflation of late…), but…if the record I have in mind is one you can bring yourself to like, I would be most surprised, but should it be so, then I greatly look forward to reading your justification (and also Marcello’s take on it, should that be forthcoming)….

    (For my part…there are at least two, possibly to some extent three, 1995 no 1s I may be prepared to conjure up a defence for in the anticipated thrust of negative opinion, too)

  16. 46
    punctum on 3 May 2013 #

    *peeks at 1995 number one list*

    word that springs to mind is “ennui” :-(

  17. 47
    Tom on 3 May 2013 #

    What about the ennui? Have we lost their trust?

    *exit pursued by a bunny*

  18. 48
    punctum on 3 May 2013 #

    Some great number one albums to look forward to in 1995 (part of why I started TPL) and some really rather good number twos as well; alas the number one list is the short straw here :-(

  19. 49
    Patrick Mexico on 6 May 2013 #

    Re: #31 (self-critical here!) I’ll trade DJ Miko for a certain bunny who we’ll be talking about no less than 8 (in Grandstand-ese, EIGHT) times. It’s also, despite it being “far too smelly” for the band in question, refreshing as traditional lemonade, and what Kurt would have wanted. Then again, maybe, I don’t really wanna know.

    Re: #33 Thank you, Chelovek. That is phenomenal. Omen III was the highlight of this already wonderful album of my childhood:


    I’m a sucker for the totalitarian* theatrics of the acts you mentioned, so will have a look at Poyushchye Vmeste et al. I guess the Manics’ Holy Bible-era uniforms** naturally sway my attention to all things Russian..

    * In a musical way!
    ** In an unambiguously heterosexual way, but oh god, James’s mullet back then… if I wasn’t married already to my Japanese hologram wife

  20. 50
    Baztech on 6 May 2013 #

    Just looked at 1995…not as bad as I thought. Or that may be because of a certain locking of horns for the no.1 spot between 2 britpop faves. Can’t wait to see comments on that.
    There might be a touch of melancholy as it’s the last moment the charts seemed to matter to a large proportian of young people. (very debatable???) In my eyes (I was 7 at this point)

    OK I am skipping ahead, 1994 No1s were pish though. Peels list only decent IMO. “As you masterbate with your Shaun Ryder face” indeed.

  21. 51
    Patrick Mexico on 7 May 2013 #

    Indeed – I think that might smash the comments record currently held by :cough: JJ Barrie! Helps that the weather today is *very* summer of Britpop. Colchester, Burnage, a glass of wine, favourite easy chair, box of popcorn.. sit back, relax, and watch the sparks fly. Revisionism of Britpop has been in vogue for a full decade now, ever since John Harris’ The Last Party was published. We’ll soon find out if in any way that entire genre was :choke: actually any good at all.. I’ll try not to be too cynical right now though, we just need to avoid embracing certain nostalgic tropes, as these (sorta) wise words prove:


  22. 52
    punctum on 7 May 2013 #

    #55 – both of which appear on number one albums, so if you want to know my views on them I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait until TPL gets to them.

  23. 53
    James BC on 7 May 2013 #

    Great to see the two early Ash songs on the Peel list (and they are the best things on it).

    It’s hard to say whether Britpop helped or hindered Ash. Did they benefit from renewed interest in “guitar music”? Or were they a bit heavy to really fit in? Either way, they are still going, as good as ever, one of the best bands of every era they’ve survived through.

  24. 54
    lonepilgrim on 7 May 2013 #

    I had a cassette compilation of Brit nominees for 1994-1995 which featured a wonderful selection of tunes from a variety of genres – including Common People, The Universal by Blur, Kiss to a Rose by Seal and something by PJ Harvey whose name I can’t remember.

    I’ve tried tracking it down via Google but have had no luck yet – any suggestions?

  25. 55
    Alan not logged in on 7 May 2013 #

    was it this

    which had PJ’s Down By The Water. it’s Brits96 mind

  26. 56
    lonepilgrim on 7 May 2013 #

    thanks Alan! no wonder I couldn’t track it down

  27. 57
    intothefireuk on 8 May 2013 #

    Only Baby D gets the 6 and above vote for me. Very poor but not unexpected. Otherwise the above lists show how much was really going on and how much quality music was being produced.

  28. 58
    DV on 3 Jun 2013 #

    Wow, the NME top 50 is wayyyyyy better than the lamer real top 50 for this year.

  29. 59
    Chelovek na lune on 1 Mar 2015 #

    So the Official Charts Company now has published an archive of the Scottish Charts, ostensibly going back to February 1994, but in fact there are quite a few weeks missing (or possibly in some casescombined into monthly charts) for the first few months, and with numerous oddities that are so glaring that they must surely be errors or not credible.

    Towards the end of the year, the compilation has evidently settled down, and as regards no 1s, the differences between the UK chart are as follows:

    No 1 in Scotland but not UK :
    1) Mc Sar & The Real McCoy – Another Night
    2) Stone Roses – Love Spreads

    No 1 in UK but not Scotland
    1) Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy.

    Sorry to see Baby D not make it north of the border; kind of pleased to see the Real McKoy do so, and profoundly indifferent towards the Roses’ underwhelming comeback single.

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