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Jun 10

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops? The Results, Round By Round.

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops15 comments • 588 views

Before we get to the final rankings for our six decades, which I’ll be posting in the next couple of days or so, here are the final totals for each round.

Round One: The Number 10s.

246 points, average score 4.82: Kelis – Acapella (2010)
“Great to have her back- a pop star with character seems a bit of a novelty these days” – crag

231 points, average score 4.53: The Undertones – My Perfect Cousin (1980)
“I have a massive soft spot for some of the more absurd rhyming couplets” – jeff w

173 points, average score 3.39: MJ Cole – Crazy Love (2000)
“I am transported via teleportation to a wine bar!!!” – JonnyB

171 points, average score 3.35: The Family Stand – Ghetto Heaven (1990)
“The remix has retained its power via the potent combo of orchestral and vocal grace with street beats” – Steve Mannion

139 points, average score 2.73: The Move – Brontosaurus (1970)
“You can tell the “progression” here is slightly forced” – punctum

111 points, average score 2.18: Steve Lawrence – Footsteps (1960)
“Steve sounds chipper enough but I wouldn’t want those backing singers following me around all day” – pink champale

A strong opening selection made this one of our most well-regarded rounds, quality-wise. It was also our most popular round, attracting 51 sets of votes. Kelis provided 2010 with an early lead, with only The Undertones giving her any cause for concern. “My Perfect Cousin” aside, the rest of the votes in Round One stacked up in exact reverse chronological order, suggesting that maybe – just maybe – pop music has been steadily improving over the past fifty years? It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Round Two: The Number 9s.

230 points, average score 4.60: Sweet Female Attitude – Flowers (2000)
“Like finding a spring flower, perfect, in a cracked vase on a rotting sill in a slum estate and looking beneath the grey gravel to unearth the fields beneath” – punctum

193 points, average score 3.86: Professor Green – I Need You Tonight (2010)
“Hideous production, terrible lyrics, no character at all. Prof Green has access to some of the best beat-makers in the UK right now and the ability to craft better verses than this so why does this even exist?” – Lex

184 points, average score 3.68: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Travelin’ Band (1970)
“It sounds stodgy and, for a rave record, strangely joyless and workmanlike” – Ciaran Gaynor

166 points, average score 3.32: Hot Chocolate – No Doubt About It (1980)
“I would have marked HC a lot higher until it slumped out of the quite taut and intriguing black-science-fiction intro into the chorus” – lørd sükråt

155 points, average score 3.10: Heart – All I Wanna Do is Make Love To You (1990)
“The most questionable lyrics in any song, ever” – Nick

122 points, average score 2.44: Lonnie Donegan – My Old Man’s A Dustman (1960)
“Is there any other great artist whose reputation has been so sullied by their biggest, worst hit?” – weej

In another victory for the contemporary, the 2000s and 2010s scored the most highly here. Sweet Female Attitude’s “Flowers” notched up more first-place votes than any other track in this year’s contest, with over half the voters (27 out of 50) awarding it the full six points. Meanwhile, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band” earned a higher proportion of first and last placed votes than any other track, making it this year’s sharpest divider of opinion.

Round Three: The Number 8s.

TIED: 173 points, average score 4.02: Elvis Presley – Stuck On You (1960)
“The swagger never quite went away even after he was demobbed, and every Elvis single is an invitation to spend some time with the most remarkable personality you can imagine” – Billy Smart

TIED: 173 points, average score 4.02: Motörhead – Leaving Here (1980)
“Lemmy and pals channel Blues, Punk and Metal like no other band can with energy and infectious “f*ck you” bravado” – thefatgit

154 points, average score 3.58: Toni Braxton – He Wasn’t Man Enough (2000)
“I like the way TBs smokey vocal slips around the syncopated bassline, also the swiss-watch precision of the call and response between the lead and backing vocals” – lonepilgrim

146 points, average score 3.40: Diana Vickers – Once (2010)
“I’d like to hear this song performed by someone who isn’t using Dolores O’Riordan as a vocal role model” – Erithian

141 points, average score 3.28: Soul II Soul – A Dream’s A Dream (1990)
“An exercise in genre — a genre they invented mind you, but still” – scott woods

116 points, average score 2.70: Tom Jones – Daughter Of Darkness (1970)
“Tom’s more blusterous than illustrious here” – Steve Mannion

With just 1.32 points separating the lowest and highest average scores, this was our most evenly divided round. Although Motörhead led the way all the way through the voting, Elvis Presley waited until the very last vote to sneak up on them, resulting in a tied first place. Having lost both the opening rounds, the 1960s now began to fight back in earnest.

Round Four: The Number 7s.

200 points, average score 5.00: Brenda Lee – Sweet Nothin’s (1960)
“The first real indication we’ve had that the turn away from rock’n’roll at the end of the 50s was a good idea as well as a bad one” – Tom

197 points, average score 4.92: Snap! – The Power (1990)
“One of those records that revises your opinion of what a genre of music is capable of” – Erithian

139 points, average score 3.47: Rodney Franklin – The Groove (1980)
“Flick! Lonsdale! Farahs!” – wichita lineman

116 points, average score 2.90: The Hollies – I Can’t Tell The Bottom From The Top (1970)
“I imagine this would work best selling one of those pro-biotic fruit yogurts” – asta

98 points, average score 2.45: Chipmunk – Until You Were Gone (ft. Esmee Denters) (2010)
“I like the fact that you can sing “We’re All Going To the Zoo Tomorrow” over the chorus” – jeff w

90 points, average score 2.25: True Steppers Featuring Dane Bowers – Buggin’ (2000)
“Singin is a little nasal and unconcerned in a very pretty arrangement, though it sharpens up when the autotune starts to wrinkle it” – lørd sükråt

A second consecutive victory for 1960, as “Sweet Nothin’s” became the first of only three tracks to average 5 points or more. “The Power” chased it hard all the way, notching up 21 first places out of 40 compared to Brenda’s 13 – but it was Brenda’s overall popularity that won the day. Uniquely in this contest, none of you awarded her song fewer than three points. As for the hapless 2000s and 2010s, who had started so confidently, True Steppers and Chipmunk brought shame upon the contemporary, lagging hopelessly behind the pack.

Round Five: The Number 6s.

167 points, average score 4.17: Sky – Toccata (1980)
“I was fully prepared to loathe this but found it made me feel quite nostalgic for an age when the charts included music and musos like this” – lonepilgrim

165 points, average score 4.12: Christie – Yellow River (1970)
“I should like “Yellow River”, but all I’m reminded of is schoolboy sniggering as you cross piss streams in the boys bogs” – thefatgit

138 points, average score 3.45: Mandy Moore – Candy (2000)
“Sounds like a randomised version of a Britney Spears song but I’ve heard worse” – DietMondrian

136 points, average score 3.40: UB40 – Kingston Town (1990)
“I think of UB40 as the group fueled by Xanax rather than ganja; this song is coma-inducing” – asta

122 points, average score 3.05: Jimmy Jones – Handy Man (1960)
“It’s interesting to hear how, um, VIVID the song’s original version is, compared to the James Taylor lullaby one I grew up knowing” – Lena

112 points, average score 2.80: Taio Cruz ft Ke$ha – Dirty Picture (2010)
“Is this the first hit song based around the scary barter economy of sexting? Addictively callous” – Tom

By general consensus, this was the stinkiest round quality-wise, as reflected in the close scoring. Sky and Christie were neck-and-neck all through the voting, but the symph-progging Bach-manglers edged ahead of the homecoming Britgummers at the final hurdle, providing us with one of our more startling results. With two wins in the last three rounds, things were starting to shape up very nicely for the 1980s.

Round Six: The Number 5s.

166 points, average score 4.37: The Adventures Of Stevie V – Dirty Cash (1990)
“It’s a halfway through the night song. The club is full, the drinks are kicking in and you know pretty soon the DJ’s gonna drop some Techno/Acid House and we can do that bigfishlittlefishcardboardbox dance” – thefatgit

151 points, average score 3.97: David Essex – Silver Dream Machine (1980)
“Ah! Dear David, lovely *and* brilliant, trying to do something interesting and unexpected with pop” – Billy Smart

132 points, average score 3.47: Sisqó – Thong Song (2000)
“Loses marks for a key change” – lonepilgrim
“One of the best key changes in pop ever” – wichita lineman

127 points, average score 3.34: Cliff Richard & The Shadows – Fall In Love With You (1960)
“COME TO HAWAII WITH ME FOR SOME CHASTE HANDHOLDING” – Al Ewing

TIED: 111 points, average score 2.92: Dana – All Kinds Of Everything (1970)
“THINGS OF THE SEA <— this is what reminds me of you! I would like this uberperky kidsong more if she expanded on this insight” – lørd sükråt

TIED: 111 points, average score 2.92: Aggro Santos ft Kimberly Wyatt – Candy (2010)
“How many of These People have I unfollowed on Twitter for basically doing nothing other than advertise themselves?” – punctum

This is the round where my personal preferences diverged the most sharply from the final scores. The 1990s scored their first win with “Dirty Cash” – my least favourite track in this round – while only two of you fully shared my enthusiasm for Cliff’s “Fall In Love With You”. There was a tie for last place, making it two defeats on the trot for 2010 (now at their lowest ebb) and the first of two defeats for winning Eurovision entries.

Round Seven: The Number 4s.

181 points, average score 5.17: Adamski – Killer (1990)
“Spooky and spooked, beautiful chords” – wichita lineman

179 points, average score 5.11: Blondie – Call Me (1980)
“Frenetic and unapologetic; the usual irony in her voice is really pushed to the limit, though” – Lena

112 points, average score 3.20: The Bloodhound Gang – The Bad Touch (2000)
“A genuinely sweet song – a conversation the singer is having with a lover who’s in on the joke and thinks it’s funny” – Al Ewing
“These frat thugs are wrapping up a truck load of hostility in clever phrases and not very funny imagery” – asta

98 points, average score 2.80: Frijid Pink – House Of The Rising Sun (1970)
“Blessed relief to hear the sound of a grungy guitar again – I think the point was they were trying to destroy the original” – intothefireuk

87 points, average score 2.49: Pendulum – Watercolour (2010)
“These guys routinely demonstrate that they have more in common with Coldplay than Grooverider and have somehow managed to create a dnb formula that’s almost completely devoid of all that was great about the genre in its heyday” – Steve Mannion

78 points, average score 2.23: The King Brothers – Standing On The Corner (1960)
“Don’t backing vox me bro! The smoothies at the front might actually do more than watch the girls if it wasn’t for Idiot King Brother whoopin’ it up behind” – Tom

The two highest-scoring songs in this year’s contest – “Killer” and “Call Me” – both featured in this round, finishing streets ahead of the competition and earning average scores of over 5. Indeed, their domination was so total that between them, they hoovered up all but three of your six-point votes. At the other end of the scale, “Standing On The Corner” failed to earn more than four points from any of you; a distinction it shared with just one other song.

Round Eight: The Number 3s.

160 points, average score 4.71: Plan B – She Said (2010)
“When the modern/old fashioned blend works, it really works. One that we’ll think of fondly in twenty years” – JonnyB

134 points, average score 3.94: Paul McCartney – Coming Up (1980)
“Never as good as you think it is but it shows two of his most endearing sides – chipperness and a willingness to give new things a shot – very well” – Tom

TIED: 116 points, average score 3.41: The Moody Blues – Question (1970)
“This is an infinite loop, the question being asked and love being the question and the answer but where is the love, repeat as necessary” – Lena

TIED: 116 points, average score 3.41: Alannah Myles – Black Velvet (1990)
“Superior Can Con pop-blues although fellow Canadians the Cowboy Junkies might have something to say about the melody” – punctum

103 points, average score 3.03: Craig David – Fill Me In (2000)
“Sometimes I feel like the only person still willing to admit that I like him” – Tom Lawrence

85 points, average score 2.50: Adam Faith – Someone Else’s Baby (1960)
“Pleasant in tone, hiding some backstabby words. This is what the Four Tops tried to warn us about” – Al Ewing

Lousy news for the Sixties, shunted into last place for the fourth time – but a convincing win for the Teens, who badly needed some good fortune after five miserable rounds. The battle was a good deal more closely fought in mid-table, resulting in a dead heat between Alannah Myles and the Moody Blues.

Round Nine: The Number 2s.

155 points, average score 4.84: Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky (1970)
“I’ve always liked this song’s dopey lope. Have to tune out the lyrics, though” – DietMondrian

122 points, average score 3.81: Anthony Newley – Do You Mind? (1960)
“A fascinating suggestion of a road not taken in UK pop – and far more compelling than Adam Faith’s watered down Buddy Holly. This is more like beefed up Noel Coward” – lonepilgrim

117 points, average score 3.66: Paula Abdul With The Wild Pair – Opposites Attract (1990)
“Cheesy Cheesy; the cartoon version of a cartoon entertainer. Paula’s entire career has been posing with a beat” – asta

116 points, average score 3.62: Fragma – Toca’s Miracle (2000)
“For me, THE song of 2000. Brings back many happy memories of a great time in my life. An all-time dance classic” – RobMiles

101 points, average score 3.16: Usher – OMG (2010)
“The production has managed to exorcise any soul, feeling etc. out of it (if there was any to begin with)” – intothefireuk

61 points, average score 1.91: Johnny Logan – What’s Another Year? (1980)
“Playing What’s Another Year was the first time I’ve felt embarrassed listening to a “Which Decade” song” – grange85

The curse of Eurovision struck for a second time, earning Johnny Logan the dubious accolade of being responsible for this year’s most unpopular song: the highest proportion of one-point votes (over half of you placed it last, and none of you placed it higher than third), and the only song to average a score of less than 2. But where the Eighties hit a late slump, the Seventies managed a late surge, thanks to “Spirit In The Sky”, which became the first song from 1970 to win a round.

Round Ten: The Number Ones.

156 points, average score 4.59: Madonna – Vogue (1990)
“Tapping into, absorbing (or appropriating, depending on your social politics) the moment and making it her own” – asta

151 points, average score 4.44: Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno (1980)
“Such intense emotions over such a minor figure” – wichita lineman

144 points, average score 4.24: The Everly Brothers – Cathy’s Clown (1960)
“The Everly Brothers carry the cross of public mortification for us all. Bless them!” – Lena

106 points, average score 3.12: Oxide And Neutrino – Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty) (2000)
“Comically awful record was my immediate impression, subsequently revised to comically brilliant record” – pink champale

82 points, average score 2.41: Roll Deep – Good Times (2010)
“There’s a fascinating undercurrent of misery and desperation here – everyone in the song is wanting to escape, to forget their miserable jobs, their short lives. Everybody spending more than they earn, because tomorrow we’re probably going to die anyway, so…” – Al Ewing

75 points, average score 2.21: England World Cup Squad – Back Home (1970)
“A really underrated record. Listen to the clever internal rhyming, the way the vocals counterpoint the rhythm” – Erithian

Like the Blondie/Adamski face-off in Round Seven, this was an Eighties/Nineties two-horse race all the way. Although she only finished five points ahead of “Geno”, Madonna bagged 16 first place votes to Dexys’ 8, proving that when you loved “Vogue”, you really loved “Vogue”. After a slow start, this gave the Nineties their third victory in five rounds – but would this be enough to break the Eighties’ seemingly unshakeable stranglehold on the leader board?

To find out, you’ll have to wait until this year’s final “Which Decade” post, which will reveal the overall rankings for each decade. Yes, I know I’m spinning this out a bit. But oh, the tension!

Comments

  1. 1
    David Belbin on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Thanks for doing this again, Mike. Tempting to start commenting all over again on your selected comments. Kevin Rowlands a minor figure? Hardly. And don’t get me started on CCR…

  2. 2
    Mike Atkinson on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Geno Washington = the minor figure, surely?

  3. 3
    David Belbin on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Ah yes, of course. ‘And now you’re all over, your song is so tame’ etc That’s the trouble with comments taken out of context…

  4. 4
    Al Ewing on 13 Jun 2010 #

    NOOO THE TENSION etc. Don’t force me to use maths, Mike!

    This has been excellent – is it too much to hope for it to be bi-annual? More data = a truer result after all.

  5. 5
    Mike Atkinson on 13 Jun 2010 #

    PLEASE don’t make me do it bi-annually! It takes AGES! :-)

  6. 6
    Steve Mannion on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Ah that’s a shame, would love another round in a few months, but fair enough.

  7. 7
    wichita lineman on 13 Jun 2010 #

    Hats off, Mike.

    I’m SHOCKED at the lack of love for OMG! And i LOVE the idea that Levi Stubbs had Adam Faith for a back-stabbing friend! This has been top entertainment, some lovely juxtapositions.

    I’d second the calls for this to be bi-annual, but I think I should get off my World Cup ass and do a blog of my own first.

  8. 8
    lonepilgrim on 13 Jun 2010 #

    thanks Mike – it’s been a great experience

  9. 9
    Al Ewing on 14 Jun 2010 #

    Fair do’s – thanks for doing it at all in that case! Looking forward to next year where surely the eighties will be even MIGHTIER.

  10. 10
    Mike Atkinson on 14 Jun 2010 #

    I mentioned your calls for a November re-match to my partner this morning. He muttered darkly about “divorce papers”. Which Decade, you are a cruel and demanding mistress.

  11. 11
    jeff w on 14 Jun 2010 #

    Thank you for this post, Mike. I said right at the start that the presentation of this slice of Orgafun was first rate and you aren’t letting us down for the results phase.

    But once a year is quite enough, I think.

    A general thought on the representatives before the final result is posted: it’s probably fair to say that none of the 60s, 70s and 80s top tens reflect what many people remember those decades for. The songs representing 1960, ’70 and ’80 were more full stops on the end of their preceding decades than exciting portents of what was to come.* Contrast with e.g. the UK garage-tinged 2000 top ten which indicates the noughties had got off to a flyer. Even this year’s chart (taking as read that pop has eaten much of itself by now, casually chewing and then spitting out references from all over) feels more forward-looking than backward to me. You may not like where chart pop is heading, and the result of all that chewing can sometimes be slightly bland goo, but it is moving forward confidently.

    *So if the 80s win this round, then I’ll claim victory for the 70s after all haha

  12. 12
    Billy Smart on 14 Jun 2010 #

    Quite apart from Mike’s peace of mind, if Which Decade was biannual, then we wouldn’t be able to evaluate 2015-19…

  13. 13
    DietMondrian on 14 Jun 2010 #

    Thanks Mike, it’s been an enjoyable ear-opener.

    I’ve had Anthony Newley’s “Do You Mind” intermittently on my internal jukebox for days now – if I’d left it longer before rating I might have scored it higher.

    I also surprised myself with how much I liked McCartney’s “Coming Up”.

  14. 14
    Mike Atkinson on 14 Jun 2010 #

    My pleasant surprises have mostly been from 1960: Anthony Newley (ditto), Elvis, Cliff, Brenda Lee… and also “Cathy’s Clown”, which I’ve warmed to since posting my blurb. Conversely, a fair few 1980 entries have disappointed, compared to the versions in my memory. With the 2010 entries, Plan B has grown while Roll Deep has withered.

  15. 15
    Martin Skidmore on 16 Jun 2010 #

    I’d like to vote for this to happen more often, perhaps every three months, say.

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