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Feb 14

Popular ’96

Popular44 comments • 3,639 views

I give every record on Popular a mark out of 10. This poll is a chance for you to say which Number Ones in a year you’d have given 6 or more out of 10 to.

In terms of my marks, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Four 9s – “Jesus To A Child”, “Firestarter”, “Wannabe” and “Setting Sun”. But a 1 out of 10 – the hapless Barlow – and three 2s (Robson And Jerome and a brace of Boyzones). Use the comments to talk about the year in general, post other lists, reminisce, etc etc.

Which Number Ones Of 1996 Would You Give 6 Or More To?

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Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 1
    Tom on 1 Feb 2014 #

    Popular (Not Popular) list – the records which had the longest stay in the Top 10 without getting to No.1 (in 1996 anyhow)

    1. Toni Braxton – “Unbreak My Heart” (12 weeks)
    2. Peter Andre – “Mysterious Girl” (11 weeks)
    3. Robert Miles – “Children” (10 weeks)
    4. Robert Miles – “One And One” (9 weeks)
    5. Los Del Rio – “Macarena” (8 weeks, peak #2)
    6. Celine Dion – “Because You Loved Me” (8 weeks, peak #5)
    7. 3T – “Anything” (7 weeks, peak #2)
    8. Livin’ Joy – “Don’t Stop Moving” (7 weeks, peak #5)
    9=. Underworld – “Born Slippy” (6 weeks, peak #2)
    9=. East 17 ft Gabrielle – “If You Ever” (6 weeks, peak #2)

    I don’t remember the Celine, 3T or Livin’ Joy tracks at all!

    The #1s which lasted the shortest time in the Top 10 were “Setting Sun” and “I Feel You” – not surprising, these are pure fanbase records, even if I love one of them. “Return Of The Mack” and “Wannabe” stayed in the Top 10 longest (12 weeks each).

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 1 Feb 2014 #

    NME Top 50 singles for 1996 (according to http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk)

    1. Underworld -Born Slippy (Junior Boy’s Own)
    2. Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life (Epic)
    3. Beck – Where It’s At (Geffen)
    4. The Prodigy- Firestarter (Xl)
    5. Orbital – The Box (Lnternal)
    6. Folk Implosion- Natural One (London)
    7. Beck – Devils Haircut (Geffen)
    8. Tiger – Race (Trade2)
    9. 2pac – California Love (Death Row)
    10. Suede – Trash (Nude)
    11. The Bluetones – Slight Return (Superior Quality)
    12. Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (Creation)
    13. Fugees – Ready Or Not (Columbia)
    14. Oasis – Don’t Took Back In Anger (Creation)
    15. Ash – Oh Yeah (Infectious)
    16. The Charlatans – One To Another (Beggars Banquet)
    17. Rocket From The Crypt – Born In ’69 (Elemental)
    18. Spice Girls – Wannabe (Virgin)
    19. Babybird – You’re Gorgeous (Echo)
    20. The Lemonheads – If I Could Talk I’d Tell You (East West)
    21. Rem – E-Bow The Letter (Wea)
    22. Supergrass – Going Out (Parlophone)
    23. The Prodigy – Breathe (Xl)
    24. The Divine Comedy – The Frog Princess (Setanta)
    25. Bis – The Secret Vampire Soundtrack (Chemikal Underground)
    26. CJ Bolland – Sugar Is Sweeter (Internal)
    27. Busta Rhymes – Woo-Hah !! (Got You All In Check) (Elektra)
    28. Catatonia – You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For (Blanco Y Negro)
    29. Nas – If I Ruled The World (Columbia)
    30. Fugees – Killing Me Softly (Columbia)
    31. Third Eye Foundation – Semtex (Domino)
    32. The Boo Radleys – C’mon Kids (Creation}
    33. Mogwai – Summer (Love Train)
    34. Dose Featuring Mark E Smith – Plug Myself In (Coliseum)
    35. Aphex Twin – Girl/Boy Ep (Warp)
    36. The Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun (Virgin)
    37. Super Furry Animals – If You Don’t Want Me To Destroy You (Creation)
    38. The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend (Setanta)
    39. The Lightning Seeds + Baddiel & Skinner – Three Lions (Epic)
    40. Space – Female Of The Species (Gut)
    41. Blackstreet – No Diggity (Mca)
    42. Sebadoh – Beauty Of The Ride (Domino)
    43. Sparklehorse – Someday I Will Treatyou Good (Capitol)
    44. Super Furry Animals – God! Show Me Magic (Creation)
    45. George Michael – Fast Love (Virgin)
    46. The Cardigans – Lovefool (Polydor)
    47. Kula Shaker – Tattva (Columbia)
    48. DJ Shadow – Stem (Mo’wax)
    49. Ash – Goldfinger (Infectious)
    50. Black Grape – England’s Irie (Radioactive)

  3. 3
    Ed on 1 Feb 2014 #

    @2 That list really shows how little was going on outside the charts, doesn’t it! All the best records there made number one or two.

    Otherwise it’s Britpop Championship and League 1 acts, the last flashes before the dying of the light from REM and Suede, minor 2Pac, Bunnied Welsh Band, who are one of my blind spots, and a few entertaining oddities like Third Eye Foundation and DJ Shadow. And I love England’s Irie. Oh, and there’s bloody Beck…..

    The most interesting record there is Blackstreet down at #41: harbinger of the R&B explosion to come.

  4. 4
    Tom on 1 Feb 2014 #

    #2,3 – also a reminder of quite how much hope/expectation/appreciation was given to Beck around this point, who I never ‘got’ at all: he seemed like a weak halfway point between the Beastie Boys and Pavement.

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 1 Feb 2014 #

    @3 & 4: I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t like Beck at that point – I listened to Odelay and found it indigestible. I did buy Mutations later which I enjoyed.
    I remember 1996 as the year that Patti Smith returned to music – I saw her play a great set at at a crowded Shepherds Bush Empire that year. At one point I looked over to see Damon Albarn and Justine Frischmann watching intently

  6. 6
    ciaran on 1 Feb 2014 #

    13 out of 23 (Excluding Dunblane)

    A Different beat and Killing Me Softly were both 5′s from me so just missed out.

    I gave 6 and above to Oasis and Deep Blue Something.

    Fascinating year. One of the best in a long time.

    Early 1997 is looking promising and all.

  7. 7
    mapman132 on 1 Feb 2014 #

    And now the Billboard Hot 100 list of number ones in 1996. Note the complete lack of overlap between the UK and US lists (although “Wannabe” would hit #1 in 1997). Also, fans of US alt-rock, prepare to be disappointed: Due to the “singles only” rule again, there was hardly any alt-rock in the US Top 10 in 1996, let at #1.

    One Sweet Day – Mariah & Boyz II Men
    - And so the record 16 weeks come to an end in March. It wouldn’t be the top single of the year though….

    Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
    - This song always screamed out “middle-aged feminine friendship song” to me. I have no idea whether this was ever performed on Oprah, but it seems like it would be been.

    Always Be My Baby – Mariah Carey
    - Typical Mariah up-tempo song. For some reason, this one sticks in my memory better than most of her others.

    Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
    - Gangsta rap group shows their softer side. Isn’t there a bunnied cover of this at some point?

    How Do U Want It/California Love – 2Pac featuring a bunch of other people
    - His only #1. The second track is much more familiar to me than the first. Still moving down the chart when he was gunned down in September.

    You’re Makin’ Me High/Let It Flow – Toni Braxton
    - This time the first track was the hit while I don’t remember the second track at all. Quickly overshadowed by its immediate successor at #1 and later by her much bigger followup hit.

    Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) – Los Del Rio
    - 14 weeks at #1. It wasn’t the biggest US seller of the decade (that would be in 1997), but it was arguably the biggest cultural phenomenon to come from the Hot 100 in the 90′s. At least four different versions charted in 1996: the megasmash Bayside Boys remix, the original Spanish-only Los Del Rio version, a cover version by a group called Los Del Mar, and yes, the inevitable Christmas version. I guess it was my American-colored glasses that made me think that only Spicemania kept this from taking over the UK as well. In fact, Wikipedia shows there were a bunch of Western countries where this didn’t hit #1. So I suppose it was “just another #2 record” in the UK. I’ll leave it up to the rest of this forum to decide if this was a bug or a feature :)

    No Diggity – Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre
    - Not much to say here. R&B smash apparently big enough to top Hot 100 as well.

    Un-Break My Heart – Toni Braxton
    - 11 weeks at #1 that lasted into 1997. Based on other threads’ comments, this missing the UK#1 slot was definitely a bug for some. It was interesting that the Dunblane record officially kept it out of #1, but if that record hadn’t existed, it would’ve been steamrolled by the Spice Girls release week instead.

    And there you have it…onward to 1997. My first official 10 in five years is soon to come!

  8. 8
    Tom on 1 Feb 2014 #

    Thanks for the overview Mapman132! California Love and No Diggity the highlights there for me, and you’re right about a Crossroads cover.

  9. 9
    Rory on 1 Feb 2014 #

    What an unexpectedly strong year: 13 votes from me (Spice Girls x 3, Prodigy x 2, Chemical Bros, Fugees x 2, Oasis, Mark Morrison, Lightning Seeds et al., Babylon Zoo, and George Michael for “Jesus to a Child”), two of them 10s (Prodigy). A few I gave 5, as well. And unexpectedly dire at the weaker end: four 2s (Peter Andre x 2, Boyzone’s “A Different Beat”, Robson and Jerome) and a 1 (Gary Barlow – that was shocking). Great fun to read and comment on it all. Loving the revitalised posting schedule – tearing through three a week is terrific, and makes the weaker tracks far less painful to endure.

  10. 10
    Rory on 1 Feb 2014 #

    Here are the 1996 Australian number ones:

    George Michael, “Jesus to a Child” (2 weeks)
    Shaggy, “Boombastic” (5 weeks)
    Oasis, “Wonderwall” (1 week)
    Joan Osborne, “One of Us” (4 weeks)
    OMC, “How Bizarre” (5 weeks)
    George Michael, “Fastlove” (4 weeks)
    Metallica, “Until It Sleeps” (1 week)
    Fugees, “Killing Me Softly” (7 weeks)
    Céline Dion, “Because You Loved Me”/”The Power of the Dream” (3 weeks)
    Los del Río, “Macarena” (9 weeks, highest selling single of the year)
    Spice Girls, “Wannabe” (9 weeks, plus 2 weeks in 1997)

    A much shorter and less diverse list, thanks to some long stays at the top. No Australian artists reached number one that year; the closest were OMC, a New Zealand band.

  11. 11
    Steve Mannion on 1 Feb 2014 #

    My Top 25 tracks of 1996 as compiled at the end of that year:

    1. Todd Terry – Jumpin’ (Rhythm Masters Remix)
    - Colossal banger, this mix closer to the original ‘unreleased edit’ by Todd from a few years before rather than the hit version which features more of Jocelyn Brown and Martha Wash.
    2. Underworld – Born Slippy: Nuxx
    - inescapable monster
    3. Faithless – Insomnia
    - re-release of Trade club anthem from the previous year, genuinely odd and thrilling at that time then somehow became a massive hit all over Europe
    4. The Prodigy – Firestarter
    - it grew on me after initial disappointment but I put this far too high
    5. Oasis – Champagne Supernova
    - hardest song to still like out of all these and indeed I don’t
    6. Tori Amos – Professional Widow (Armand’s Star Trunk Funk Remix)
    - probably the biggest track of its kind of that Summer from what I could see…perhaps also the most radical (more soon)
    7. Faithless – Salva Mea
    - early debut for Dido on the intro, just as powerful as Insomnia, much fondness for Maxi Jazz’s bouncing-ball rap
    8. Way Out West – Domination
    - a halfway point between Sasha and Sash
    9. Stretch N’ Vern – I’m Alive
    - fun foolaround with ‘Boogie Wonderland’
    10. Subliminal Cuts – Le Voie Le Soleil
    - re-release of lovely piano house hug-athon from ’92
    11. Alcatraz – Giv Me Luv
    - big epic/deep/whatever house from Washington DC – one for Monica L…
    12. Gat Décor – Passion
    - another re-release – not sure why I listed it tho as I didn’t really like the mash-up version with the ‘Do You Want It Right Now?’ vocal
    13. Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger
    14. Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded
    - sad Tracey is sad! a bold move to go ‘artcore’ after the success of ‘Missing’ but it paid off
    15. Underworld – Pearl’s Girl
    - DAVE IS FLOATING. Probably my favourite single of theirs all in all.
    16. Alex Reece – Feel The Sunshine
    - hangover from the end of the previous year, the pony-tailed Ealingite showing a lighter side after moody anthem ‘Pulp Fiction’ (or ‘Pulp Friction’ as it was retitled for the album)
    17. Robert Miles – Children
    18. Lisa May – The Curse Of Voodoo Ray
    - fun remix of the Guy Called Gerald original plus a spooky downtempo version by Justin Robertson
    19. Wildchild – Jump To My Beat (Todd Edwards Remix)
    - my favourite remix by Todd from this time although the one of St. Germain’s ‘Alabama Blues’ might be more popular out there
    20. Goldie – State Of Mind
    - one of the slowies from ‘Timeless’ but probably the least exciting or interesting thing on that entire album so a daft inclusion really I think it just calmed me down a lot during pre-A-Level anxious episodes
    21. Nikita Warren – I Need U (Basement Jaxx Remix)
    22. Lil Mo Yin Yang – Reach (Basement Jaxx Remix)
    - Basement Jaxx ended the year as my favourite new thing along with Armand Van Helden
    23. NuYorican Soul – Mind Fluid
    - trip-house from Masters At Work’s ‘bit of everything we fancy’ side-project
    24. DJ Shadow – Midnight In A Perfect World
    - one of the highlights from either my 1st or 2nd favourite 90s album
    25. BT – Tripping The Light Fantastic
    - another epic-house heavy-hitter

  12. 12
    Tom Lawrence on 1 Feb 2014 #

    Interesting that the US had such long running number 1s as we’re entering an era where a single week was the norm. I suppose that’s the difference with counting airplay as well as single sales. Astounded the Macarena never made it number 1 here though. It certainly feels as though it did.

    If I may plug a little something here for fans of writing about the uk pop charts: I wrote 40 words about everything in the UK top 40 over on my Tumblr, and i’d love people to check it out and tell me if they like it. If they do I’ll try and keep it up!

  13. 13
    Weej on 1 Feb 2014 #

    #2&3 reminds me vividly of that time, and afraid I’m going to have to disagree with Ed in the most vehement terms – 96/97 could well be my favourite years for music, and there’s plenty of note in that list.

    Supergrass – Going Out / The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend / SFA – Hometown Unicorn = three standout singles from three excellent, very different bands, not deserving of the b-league Britpop label at all.

    Bis / Tiger – Genuinely excited by these at the time. The bullying they suffered at the hands of Swells actually stopped me buying the NME for a while. Meanwhile John Harris had taken over Select and seemed to have a policy of Oasis / Weller on the cover every month, and a general feeling of pro-rock/anti-weird pervading the whole thing, and I only really bought it for the listings in the back. Melody Maker was at this point the only holdout for the art-school element, and they sort of blew it with the whole ‘Romo’ thing, though I have never been able to fathom what the objection was to curating a movement – Tom’s article in the Guardian about genre-mongers was spot on about this, and it’s sad that Plastic Fantastic didn’t get a fair hearing.

    Mogwai – Summer – The mainstream indie scene might’ve been in a sad decline, but by this point the Glasgow scene was taking a good chunk of my attention anyway. I naively assumed that because the music had such variety and quality, because it all excited me so much, that it would be just a matter of time before it broke through into the charts, but obviously that didn’t happen. Anyway, Mogwai’s 1996 singles are all excellent, I’d like to go on at length here about Arab Strap, The Yummy Fur, Delgados, Ganger, Urusei Yatsura, Lungleg and the rest but I’m not sure where to start or how long it would take me, perhaps it needs a blog of its own.

    Also notable: Busta Rhymes, Dose ft MES, Backstreet, Black Grape, plenty more too in the John Peel list I’m about to post.

    Reading back over this I seem to have just listed a load of superlatives rather than added anything halfway constructive, sorry about that, but point made anyway.

  14. 14
    Weej on 1 Feb 2014 #

    John Peel’s festive fifty:

    1. Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite
    2. Arab Strap – First Big Weekend
    3. The Delgados – Under Canvas Under Wraps
    4. Kenickie – Punka
    5. Underworld – Born Slippy
    6. The Fall – Cheetham Hill
    7. Orbital – The Box
    8. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Patio Song
    9. Sweeney – Why?
    10. Helen Love – Girl About Town
    11. Stereolab – Cybele’s Reverie
    12. Billy Bragg – Brickbat
    13. The Fall – The Chiselers
    14. bis – Kandy Pop
    15. Baby Bird – Goodnight
    16. The Fall – Hostile
    17. PJ Harvey & John Parish – That Was My Veil
    18. The Flaming Lips – 10 Feet Tall
    19. Trembling Blue Stars – Abba On The Jukebox
    20. Stereolab – Fluorescences
    21. Tortoise – DJED
    22. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – 2 Kindsa Love
    23. PJ Harvey & John Parish – Taut
    24. Quickspace – Friend
    25. Dave Clarke – No One’s Driving
    26. AC Acoustics – Stunt Girl
    27. Dick Dale – Nitrus
    28. Belle & Sebastian – The State I’m In
    29. Aphex Twin – Girl/Boy
    30. Force & Stars – Fireworks
    31. White Town – Your Woman
    32. Zion Train – Babylon’s Burning
    33. Calvin Party – Lies, Lies & Government
    34. Broadcast – The Book Lovers
    35. DJ Shadow – Stem
    36. Wedding Present – 2, 3, Go
    37. The Prodigy – Firestarter
    38. Ash – Oh Yeah
    39. Placebo – Teenage Angst
    40. Broadcast – Living Room
    41. Tiger – Race
    42. Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
    43. Half Man, Half Biscuit – Paintball’s Coming Home
    44. Soul Bossa – Sore Loser
    45. Urusei Yatsura – Kewpies Like Watermelon
    46. Wedding Present – Go Man Go
    47. Orbital – Out There Somewhere
    48. The Flaming Lips – The Face On The Bar Room Floor
    49. Super Furry Animals – God Show Me Magic
    50. Stereolab – Les Yper-Sound

  15. 15
    Kat but logged out innit on 1 Feb 2014 #

    I ticked the first 30 seconds of Babylon Zoo, obv.

  16. 16
    mapman132 on 1 Feb 2014 #

    #12 The slowness of turnover on the Hot 100 pretty much started with the switch to Soundscan in 1991. Before that, 1 and 2 week stays at #1 were the norm.

    On a more general note, I voted for a whopping 13 songs in the 1996 poll. All of the readers’ top 11 except for Mark Morrison, who I actually planned to vote for, but apparently missed checking his box and didn’t feel like correcting it (that’s what he gets for being a jerk! ;)) I also voted for JTAC, Spaceman, and Dunblane, despite agreeing with the ungradability assessment. I was on the fence for DBS/BAT’s, but ultimately skipped it even though I think I gave it a 6/10 before.

    Favorite UK #1 of 1996: “Spaceman”. The whole song. Really. I’m surprised I like it too. Wish it had been a US hit.

    Favorite US #1 of 1996: “Macarena”. Many of my countrymen (and perhaps some here) would beat me up over this, but what can I say?

    Favorite song of the year overall: “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins – at least at the time. Loved the video in particular. I’m actually enough of a chart geek to have a personal chart in various guises for 23 years now. I won’t bore people with the details (unless they want me to), but this was my 1996 Song of the Year.

  17. 17
    Query on 1 Feb 2014 #

    I suppose this is a good as place as any to briefly mention Tupac, since we won’t otherwise have the opportunity to do so on this blog. In a way it’s a bit sad that his first and only #1 US Billboard hit before he died was “California Love,” given how much more entertaining singles like “I Get Around” and even “All About U” were.

    Despite his lyrical subject matter, his political ties, his troubles with the law, etc., he had all the makings of a successful crossover hip hop star (flow, charisma, even his particular vocal timbre), which I think he instinctively understood. For all the ‘thug life’ trappings, had he lived a few years his career may well have followed the successful template of Puff Daddy and others.

  18. 18
    Tom on 1 Feb 2014 #

    #17 he has a posthumous (much later) number one here too!

  19. 19
    Query on 1 Feb 2014 #

    #18 I didn’t even know about that! Reminds me of this Dave Chappelle classic.

  20. 20
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Feb 2014 #

    Having spent the first half of the year (and much of the previous year) in various places in Eastern Europe (mostly Ukraine) it’d be fair to say I was somewhat out of touch with trends and developments in British popular culture in 1996. It would, however, be remiss of me not to mention one of my favourite albums of the year, ‘Krylya’ by the Russian rock group (much celebrated in the cult, Tarantino-esque gangster movie, ‘Brother’ – truly a ground-breaking thing in post-Soviet cinema) Nautilus Pompilius. Although it’s not my absolutely favourite track of theirs, I really should provide a link to the track on the album which gives me my user name here, ‘Chelovek na lune’ (=’Man in the moon’) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0gZK5n3o7g

  21. 21
    Billy Hicks on 2 Feb 2014 #

    Chems, Oasis, Three Lions, Gina G and both George Michaels were my choices. Completely missing the top 4 of Firestarter and the three Spices, none of them that good enough for me with perhaps ’2 Become 1′ the best out the lot.

    Otherwise this was an incredibly good year for music, particularly on the dance side of things – this beats 1991 as my favourite year of the 1990s so far, although my ultimate favourite year of the decade (and, indeed, of all time) is yet to come.

    These are all unbelievably brilliant and would for the most part see me giving out tens by the shedload had they climbed just a couple of places higher:

    Underworld – Born Slippy
    Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness (Dexy & Jones remix)
    Technohead – I Wanna Be A Hippy
    Suggs – Cecilia
    Suede – Trash/Beautiful Ones
    Stretch & Vern – I’m Alive
    Robert Miles – One & One
    Pulp – Something Changed
    Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vide E
    Pianoman – Blurred
    OMD – Walking On The Milky Way
    OMC – How Bizarre
    Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train
    Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life
    Lighthouse Family – Ocean Drive
    Hysteric Ego – Want Love
    Faithless – Insomnia/Salva Mea
    Donna Lewis – I Love You Always Forever
    Dodgy – Good Enough
    DJ Misjah & DJ Tim – Access
    CJ Bolland – Sugar is Sweeter
    Chicane – Offshore
    Cast – Sandstorm
    Blur – Charmless Man
    The Bluetones – Slight Return
    The Beautiful South – Rotterdam/Don’t Marry Her

    …and that’s just the ones I’ve found on a quick iTunes check. Utterly, utterly astonishing year, and along with 1991, one I’d give a 10 to overall.

  22. 22
    Andrew Farrell on 2 Feb 2014 #

    It’s may favourite year as well, and Popular seems* to agree – you have to go back to 1990 to find 5 records over 50%, and 96 has 10 at time of going to press.

    *It is of course early days – do scores tend to settle downwards over time, is there a thing where people will come in just to vote for Their Favourite Single?

  23. 23
    Tom on 2 Feb 2014 #

    I think that does happen, yeah. Not too surprising – the later voters are likely to be the ones checking the site less often: if you’re particularly keen on a given era you’re more likely (I assume!) to drop by more regularly. But this is also a good year – I ticked 14 out of 24.

  24. 24
    Tom on 2 Feb 2014 #

    #13 Weej – all that stuff, but especially the Scottish end, is what I still think of as “uk.music.alternative indie”, so – in my personal architecture of Popular at any rate – there’s a kinda legit opportunity to discuss them very soon indeed!

  25. 25
    Kinitawowi on 2 Feb 2014 #

    Some twelve years ago, a particularly dumb and ignorant me compiled a personal Top 200 Evar for discussion on a Buffy forum. (Long story.) Ten from 1996 managed to bother the charts:

    Lightning Seeds etc – Three Lions
    Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground (rereleased in ’97, but it got to #15 first go)
    Mansun – Wide Open Space
    Space – Neighbourhood
    Suede – Trash
    Grace – Not Over Yet (might have been wrong about this one – I still can’t figure out if the version I love is the ’95 Patti Low or the ’96 Dominique Atkins. Oh, and screw the Klaxons)
    The Divine Comedy – Something For The Weekend
    The Bluetones – Marblehead Johnson
    Pet Shop Boys – Se A Vida É (That’s The Way Life Is)
    Blur – Charmless Man

    In other words, in 2001 I was an indie obsessive who should have known better; I’d only consider two of these nailed-on 10s now (Three Lions and Not Over Yet; *maybe* 6 Underground), while others were “I don’t care if they suck, I love it”-types (most of the rest).

    Notable non-singles from that Big List: Oasis – Champagne Supernova (a single everywhere but here); Beth Orton – I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine; REM – Leave (too weird to ever be single material – so was most of New Adventures – but goddam it’s good).

    Ticked 6 of the Popular list here; Firestarter, two Spices (Wannabe missed the cut), Don’t Talk Back You Wanker, Gina G and the Lions.

  26. 26
    Ed on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Weej @13: I am very happy to be disagreed with! I am prepared to believe there was lots of great stuff I missed or under-appreciated in that era, in part because of my advancing years.

    I agree, too, that Mogwai and Arab Strap seemed like the best of a – to me – very bad bunch of UK indie. The other bands you mention I hadn’t heard anything by.

    Out of respect for the bunny I will say no more here, but I look forward to the discussion when it comes up….

    But there is just one more thing. I see that not even you, as an avowed 96-97 partisan, is standing up for Beck. I have a memory of some critic at the time writing something like “when we look back in 20 years, Beck is the performer most likely to get us asking ourselves: ‘what were we thinking?’.” Sadly I can’t now find the quote.

    Music writing felt like it was at a low ebb – after the heyday of the weeklies, before the creation of FT (hem-hem) – and critics seemed to clutch desperately at any half-pausible contenders. That was how we got Beck, and also that small rash of other terrible US acts ike Rocket From the Crypt and the John Spencer Blues Explosions.

    You can see why the Strokes were greeted with such giddy delight when they turned up.

  27. 27
    Cumbrian on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #13: Interesting that your take on Select was that John Harris was pro-Weller and Oasis. The Last Party is massively anti-Oasis and certainly only pro-Weller before he fell in with the Gallaghers (or vice versa); the prevailing line being Oasis came in and ruined the whole bloody thing, Blur and Pulp were amazing and Suede were a missed opportunity. I suppose having them on the cover a lot is bowing to commercial imperative in some senses though – he might have been holding his nose all the while.

    I also bristle at the the idea that Supergrass and Super Furry Animals were B-League, if such a thing exists. Supergrass were gearing up to release their best album (I Should Coco has higher highs but drifts in the later half, when the sugar rush wears off, whereas In It For The Money is consistent all the way through). I loved Going Out and I return to their albums more than any other Britpop act with the exception of SFA. The definitive version of The Man Don’t Give A Fuck (the live 20 minute version with Cian’s techno section) was still someway off but even the original is rightly, in my view, high up there in the NME list and whilst they were not quite ready to make the big leap (Radiator being a subtle move on from Fuzzy Logic), in retrospect, you can see that there’s more to them than many of their peers too.

    Looking at some of the other lists that have been stuck up though, I feel like the #1s are actually pretty representative in at least one respect – there is some terrible dross in there, along with some stuff that is just wonderful (though was it ever thus? Possibly). No Diggity in particular is tremendous – possibly the stand out record for me of all the stuff that has been mentioned thus far. DJ Shadow’s stuff from this year is also really good – but I can’t help but feel that he trapped lightning in a bottle, as his follow up albums are nowhere near the same standard.

    Re: Beck – more catchy when being an annoying hipster, when being a more reflective “real” person, incredibly boring. I struggled with his records manfully for years on and off, always thinking “maybe I’ll get it this time”. I’ve long since given up, I’m afraid.

  28. 28
    Mark M on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Re 26: Was ‘music writing at a low ebb’? That strikes me as a sweeping statement for which you would need to make a stronger case. What is true is that among people whose primary business was writing about guitar music (which mine wasn’t) there was definitely a tussle to define a post-Britpop world, with contenders suggested by those lists including quiff rock, ‘real indie’, post/math rock… And, to get slightly ahead of ourselves, this was the background for the dramatic policy flip-flops of John Harris’ editorial reign at Select (I’d like to blame John, because he didn’t like me, but I suspect the panic came from further up the ladder at Emap Metro).
    I wasn’t reading the inkies much by then, but if it wasn’t a great time for polemical pieces, then it was (as mentioned in the Wannabe thread) a fine one for in-depth interviews by Miranda Sawyer and Chris Heath in The Face, plus Sian Pattenden was always sharp and funny in Select and elsewhere. I’m sure others can think of more decent writers around then.
    I gave Beck’s Odelay 4/5 in Select. No, I don’t listen to it these days but I don’t think that’s way off.

  29. 29
    Rory on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Kinitawowi, I don’t think you need to feel defensive about the tracks on your list at all – or at least the ones I know (Lightning Seeds, Mansun, Space, Suede, DC, Bluetones, Blur). Great tracks all; “Three Lions” would be my least favourite of them, and I gave it 6.

    This is an odd Popular year for me in that I’ve rated so many tracks as good or better, but only a few of them are things I was actually listening to in 1996 or thereabouts and would listen to much today. (The ratio may change, though, as I’ve finally ordered a 1p used copy of Spice from Amazon…) The stuff I really loved that year was the sort of stuff you and others have mentioned, especially Suede’s Coming Up and Ash’s 1977 – solid 10s for me, and still my favourite albums by each band.

    If nobody else will defend Beck here, I will. My old English Ride/Cure/indie-fan friend, who sent me my first tape of Definitely Maybe a couple of years earlier, by 1996 was raving about Odelay, and I remember Rolling Stone rating it highly too. I didn’t quite get it at the time – as critically-acclaimed albums after popular breakthrough hits went, it was no The Bends – but didn’t mind it, and I picked up his next one. That’s when he clicked for me, and I still rate Mutations, Midnite Vultures and Sea Change highly. The last, in particular, was an amazing album, though I suppose it’s the one Cumbrian is calling “incredibly boring”, as I know many find it to be. Nopety nopety nope. Not boring. Amazing.

    I’ve stuck with him through later albums as a result, even though they’ve been patchy; I wanted to like Guero and Modern Guilt more than I did (I liked “Chemtrails”, at least). The Information is still pretty good. I was excited on the weekend to see that he has a new album out soon, after a long gap, though I’ll probably wait a while before picking it up. Hang on, no I won’t: Wikipedia says it’s a “companion piece” to Sea Change. Ordered.

  30. 30
    Garry on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #2 1996 – the year I got to Uni but the year before I joined it’s radio station and had access to loads of music. So 70% of the tracks in that list are unfamiliar to me or at least I can’t remember them. For a lot of those acts I came in with their next release. For many I still haven’t even heard anything.

    I did hate The Cardigan’s Lovefool with a passion what with the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack escaping from almost anywhere in college 24 hours a day.

    And Beck: I prefer Tropicalia.

  31. 31
    swanstep on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Ah yes, but did anyone here, even Mark or Marcello, get Beck’s 2012 album Song Reader, the one that was issued only as sheet music (i.e., to explore whether there was anything to be gained by temporarily, locally re-inhabiting the pre-recorded music era)?

  32. 32
    Cumbrian on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #32: Rory – educate me please? What’s so good about Sea Change? When I think of “boring Beck”, I think primarily of that and Mutations, neither of which I get. Sea Change in particular – my iTunes tells me, I have listened to that album 9 times over my lifetime with that program, so it’s not for want of trying. I just don’t hear it.

  33. 33
    Mark M on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Re 27: As I hinted, I don’t think John’s personal views on Oasis came into it.
    On the subject of which, this is an interesting piece by Roy Wilkinson, who wrote the infamous Select five-star review of Be Here Now (I found it via either Tom or Wichita on Twitter, but I don’t think anyone’s linked to it here):
    http://thequietus.com/articles/04434-pop-will-eat-itself-oasis-time-flies-as-a-catering-line

  34. 34
    Ed on 3 Feb 2014 #

    @33 That’s a very good piece. Although again with the backstage logistics!… Deeply interesting to a professional music journalist, I am sure – you have to take your free food and booze where you find them – but not remotely so to anyone else.

  35. 35
    Ed on 3 Feb 2014 #

    @28 It *is* a sweeping statement, and I can’t really make a strong case for it. It was just my perception as a moderately engaged consumer at the time. As with the music itself, I am sure there was a lot of great writing I missed.

    I should also confess that I am writing here as someone who discovered this really interesting new thing called The Internet in about 1998.

  36. 36
    Rory on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #32: Now you’ve put me on the spot – it’s one of those albums that I listened to so intently that I’ve let it lie fallow for a few years, and now have to give it another listen to be able to talk about specifics. But it wasn’t really about the specifics for me, it was the mood and the timing. Sea Change feels to me like the definitive post-9/11 album – I know it’s about breaking up with his girlfriend, but it captured (for me) some complex feelings about America at that moment, a waking-up-from-a-dream, the dream being the optimistic late ’90s Web-gold-rush years (which Midnite Vultures in its own way represented). If the new one is Morning Phase, this was his mourning phase, and a year after September 11 that was still all too relevant to all too many of us.

    It feels trite to talk about my personal response to 9/11 to explain why I admire a break-up album, but I’m playing it in the background now (thanks, YouTube uploader), and was just floored by the transition from “Lonesome Tears” to “Lost Cause”, a masterpiece of sequencing – and I’m poring through the lyrics to try to justify the connection, and hardly have to go past “Golden Age”: These days I barely get by / I don’t even try. I spent far too much time in the few years after 9/11 consumed by online commentary on it all, trying to make sense of what had happened, what we’d lost, and what was being done its name, and remember being absolutely wrenched by it every anniversary for years – the worst precursor to a northern winter imaginable, to someone still getting used to northern winters. I’d moved to the other side of the world in 2001 in a spirit of optimism and possibility, and almost immediately it became a struggle to maintain that spirit. I don’t think I really got over that until years later. And it’s possible that I haven’t listened to Sea Change since then, until right now.

    Jesus, “Round the Bend” – it isn’t just Beck, it’s Nigel Godrich, whose production on the album is staggering – the strings with their echoes of Samuel Barber, the discordant piano flourishes he’d developed with Radiohead. And here a couple of tracks later is “Sunday Sun” – There’s no other ending / Sunday sun / Yesterdays are ending / Sunday sun – collapsing into wreckage in its final seconds. And then “Little One” kicks in, again perfectly sequenced: Go to sleep / We’re so tired now / All together in a snake pit of souls…

    I can understand why it isn’t everybody’s music. It isn’t even everyday music. But for me it was one of the albums of the decade, most definitely. More so than other albums I rated more highly at the time.

  37. 37
    punctum on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #31: I was able to read it. Bad Chick Corea would be a charitable description. Sc**nt*l*gy – don’t, don’t do it.

  38. 38
    anto on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #29 Ash 1977 – Initially retailed at a 1977 price (£3.99). There were three stunning singles one after the other – Angel Interceptor, Goldfinger and Oh Yeah. Whenever Ash found form they were hard to resist. They seemed very close to the audience as well because of their youth. It was as if a schoolmates group had somehow gone all the way.

  39. 39
    Rory on 3 Feb 2014 #

    #31: The Song Reader website is worth a visit, because it (now) has a good selection of listeners’ interpretations of the songs. If you “sort by most loved” you get a reasonable bunch of them.

    Alternatively, YouTube has some live versions by the man himself: Sorry and Heaven’s Ladder, or ten tracks played by Beck and friends live at the Barbican last July.

  40. 40
    Rory on 3 Feb 2014 #

    (Whoops, my link-heavy post triggered the moderation queue…)

  41. 41
    swanstep on 3 Feb 2014 #

    @rory, 39. Thanks for that link, I’ll check it out.
    @punctum, 37. Excellent, I’m impressed. I believe that both Corea and Beck are scientologists, although B’s connection to it seems weaker (apparently it’s something his family did rather than something he’s been won over to). That said, knowing about the Scien. connection, you never hear ‘In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey’ the same way again.

  42. 42
    swanstep on 4 Feb 2014 #

    If anyone hasn’t seen Beck cut it up live then this performance of Debra (the track that gave Flight of The Conchords their career) at, of all things, a Fashion Awards show may be mind-opening.

  43. 43
    Cumbrian on 4 Feb 2014 #

    #36: Rory, thanks very much for this post. Very good, very convincing. I, perhaps obviously, don’t hold the same associations with it as you do – for me, it is a straight break up album – though you present a cogent argument for looking at it through a post 9/11 lense, it might be something that I have to have (yet another) listen to and think of it in those terms.

    Up until now, I have regarded it purely as a relationship/break up album and, in that respect, whilst it does a good job of establishing a mood of melancholy, it all feels a bit one note. Compared to stuff like Springsteen’s Tunnel Of Love or Graham Coxon’s Love Travels At Illegal Speeds, there’s just nothing that grabs my ears, with everything just drifting past – like a mumble-core Sundance movie, invoking the right mood, reflecting the right feelings but difficult for me to engage with. Some of this is also, perhaps, my reaction to his persona around Odelay and Midnite Vultures (annoying hipster I said earlier – perhaps more charitable, would be Puckish) with the artifice making it difficult to take this stuff at face value from him. This is doubtless my fault to an extent.

    Maybe I have never been in the right mood for it when I have listened to it and just not got it. My fault too, I guess. Might be an album I need to return to when I am in the mood for watching something like Blue Valentine, as well as giving it a listen in a more considered light.

  44. 44
    Rory on 6 Feb 2014 #

    Thanks, Cumbrian. I hope I will have helped unlock for you some of the fine qualities I hear in it, whenever you do return to it.

    On listening to it a second time yesterday, I couldn’t believe that I failed to mention the lyrics to “Paper Tiger” as Exhibit A in my Case for a 9/11 Interpretation: No more ashes to ashes / No more cinders from the sky… O deserts down below us / And storms up above… We’re just holding on to nothing / To see how long nothing lasts.

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