Jul 11

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops 2011: the Number 7s

Which Decade Is Tops For Pops33 comments • 1,072 views

1961: Don’t Treat Me Like A Child – Helen Shapiro (video) (lyrics)
1971: Remember Me – Diana Ross (video) (lyrics)
1981: This Ole House – Shakin’ Stevens (video) (lyrics) (Popular entry)
1991: Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman) – Zucchero ft Paul Young (video) (lyrics)
2001: Liquid Dreams – O-Town (video) (lyrics)
2011: Unorthodox – Wretch 32 ft Example (video) (lyrics)

Spotify playlist (minus O-Town & Wretch 32)

I commented on the phenomenon last year, when evaluating Steve Lawrence’s “Footsteps”, but now Helen Shapiro‘s debut single gives us another chance to savour one of the kitschiest delights of early Sixties pop. I’m such a sucker for the rinky-dink backing vocals which sometimes threaten to overwhelm “Don’t Treat Me Like A Child”, and here they’re used to cunning effect, undercuttiing the 14 year old’s earnest plea to be taken seriously with an almost malevolent schoolgirl glee. (I’m picturing Helen’s singers with bunched hair and painted freckles, waggling oversized lollipops – but then I’ve always had an overactive imagination.)

As rallying cries for Disaffected Youth go, “Don’t Treat Me Like A Child” is tame fare indeed. But if the generational schism which rock and roll had opened was closing again, and if the journey from the primness of “My own point of view has got to be known” to the fury of “Why don’t you all f-f-f-fade away” had barely begun, then Disaffected Youth would have to rally round any cries it could find. You tell ’em, Helen!

Landing her third British hit as a solo performer (like its predecessors, an Ashford and Simpson composition), Diana Ross‘s evolution from troupe leader to queenly diva was well underway, and the faux-humble high drama of “Remember Me” ably serves her purpose. Unlike its predecessor “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, which slaps you round the face witihin seconds, a sense of impending drama lurks within the apparent gentleness of its opening bars, as Ross plays a “hey, I’m cool with this” opening gambit with her newly departed lover. As the arrangement starts to swell, a tension builds between her nonchalance and her pride, setting up a contradiction which is never fully resolved. Gradually, the implicit message becomes apparent: I’m the best thing you’ll ever have, and don’t you ever forget it. It’s the classiest of kiss-offs, which plays to all of Ross’s strengths.

There’s a sharper contradiction still within Shakin’ Stevens‘ sprightly rockabilly cover of Rosemary Clooney’s stridently perky “This Ole House”: a song that was reportedly inspired by stumbling across a dessicated corpse in a crumbling shack. In apparently blithe ignorance of the lyrical death-wish – deserted by wife and children, both the house and its occupant are “getting ready to meet the saints” – Stevens treats the song as an amiable romp (“this ole house is getting shaky”, he winks), displaying all the concern of a lazy dad who can’t be arsed to get down to Homebase for nails and paint. As a piece of rockabilly, this isn’t at all bad – Stevens had yet to trade his respected scenester chops for easy showbiz rewards – and if he seemed like the enemy of shiny New Pop at the time, then perhaps some measure of rehabilitation is overdue. It doesn’t excuse him from his crime of lyrical misinterpretation, but let’s cut the old ham some slack, eh? Just this once?

The theme of romantic abandonment persists, as Italy’s Zucchero (“probably one of the best blues musicians I’ve ever worked with” – Ray Charles) ropes in Paul Young for assistance on his self-composed ballad of survival. Like Diana Ross before him, Zucchero strives to walk on with head held high, but his wounds are fresher and there’s a barely concealed bile behind the bluster. Bitterly self-pitying and grumpily self-aggrandising, Zucchero does himself no favours, as he moans about having to do his own cooking while his “lady” plays away. And note, if you will, those tell-tale indefinite articles: it’s not her presence that he has been missing, merely the presence of “a woman”. So this is either an acutely observed critique of a chauvinist in crisis, or the whiney, breast-beating lament of a terminally unloveable fool, who is destined to repeat his mistakes. I know which way I’m leaning.

Here in the UK, the Reality Pop era dawned with Popstars, Hear’say, and a song about being pure and simple. Things were heading in a similar direction in the States, thanks to a show called Making The Band, its progenies O-Town, and a song about – not to put too fine a point on it – “nocturnal emissions”. (Roll over, Max Romeo.)

Surveying O-Town’s “morpharotic” (yer WHAT?) wankfest roll call, it’s interesting to see who has lasted the decade – Angelina, J-Lo, Halle Berry and Destiny’s Beyonce – and who has faded from the teenage imagination – Cindy Crawford, Janet Jackson and most especially Madonna. (That said, there’s already a certain edging away from the clutches of Old Granny-Claws; “just a little touch of Madonna’s wild style”, they cautiously aver.)

Last year’s “Which Decade” was strewn with offerings from grime acts gone pop, and here’s another specimen: Tottenham’s Wretch 32, for whom “Unorthodox” involves slapping a skanking backbeat under the riff from The Stone Roses’ “Fools Gold” (which in turn samples James Brown and half-lifts a lick from an old Can track – so, hey, it’s good to have some Krautrock in the charts, right?)

“Fools Gold” has been used before – by Run DMC on “What’s It All About” and by Bananarama on “Only Your Love” – and it turns out to be a durable old beast, adding a certain grit and menace to the unremarkable brags of Wretch and his buddy Example. (There’s also a cameo appearance on the video from Chipmunk, who got a right old going-over from most of us last year.) Placed next to the peppy brio of Mann’s “Buzzin”, it sounds a little stodgy and laboured – but we’ve had far worse, and credit is due for keeping the Guetta-bots at bay.

Time now to take our first peek at the current state of play between our competing decades, based on current scores from the first three rounds. Points are accrued by taking the average number of points scored by each track, and combining them for each decade. So, for example, if all three songs from 1981 had scored maximum points from every voter, then the Eighties would have 18 points at this stage.

1. The Nineties (14.06)
2. The Sixties (11.72)
3. The Teens (10.81)
4. The Eighties (9.93)
5. The Noughties (9.51)
6. The Seventies (6.96)

So it’s an early lead for last year’s champs – thanks to strong showings from De La Soul, Electronic and The Waterboys – and a poor start for 1971, who have been lumbered with Ray Stevens, The Fantastics and Andy Williams.

Given the awesomeness of Miss Ross and the dirginess of Zucchero, I’m predicting a marked narrowing of the gap in the next round. But I’ve been wrong before. Voting time!


  1. 1
    Mike Atkinson on 22 Jul 2011 #

    My votes:
    6 points – Diana Ross
    5 points – Helen Shapiro
    4 points – Shakin’ Stevens
    3 points – Wretch 32 ft Example
    2 points – Zucchero ft Paul Young
    1 point – O-Town

    1971: Remember Me – Diana Ross – 118 points
    1961: Don’t Treat Me Like A Child – Helen Shapiro – 90 points
    1981: This Ole House – Shakin’ Stevens – 86 points
    2011: Unorthodox – Wretch 32 ft Example – 74 points
    1991: Senza Una Donna (Without A Woman) – Zucchero ft Paul Young – 41 points
    2001: Liquid Dreams – O-Town – 32 points

  2. 2
    David Belbin on 22 Jul 2011 #

    I’m in complete agreement with you for once. I was disappointed, seeing Diana in Nottingham a few years ago, that she didn’t do ‘Remember Me’, a favourite of my youth. The Helen Shapiro I didn’t remember, but is good. The rest… anyway, welcome back. Make sure you finish this by Christmas.

  3. 3
    punctum on 22 Jul 2011 #

    For those who don’t know it, I should mention that the full-length album version of “Ain’t No Mountain” certainly doesn’t slap you round the face within seconds; it takes its time to build up and it’s all the more moving for it. I wish Motown had had the courage to run with it unedited as a 45.

    I always thought Shaky a sneaky New Pop ally myself for reasons I’ve yet to work out.

  4. 4
    Mike Atkinson on 22 Jul 2011 #

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard the full-length “Mountain” – must rectify that. It’s forever linked in my mind with “Remember Me” on account of the epic Boystown Gang medley, which took up the whole of one side of their 1981 album (the other side being filled by the porno-drama of “Crusin’ The Streets”). For some unknown reason, it was a HUGE floor-filler at our local gay club from Autumn 84 to Spring 85.

  5. 5
    David Belbin on 22 Jul 2011 #

    The full length ‘Mountain’ is probably my most played 12″ single,

  6. 6
    Scott M on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 points – Helen Shapiro
    5 points – Diana Ross
    4 points – Wretch 32 ft Example
    3 points – O-Town
    2 points – Shakin’ Stevens
    1 point – Zucchero ft Paul Young

  7. 7
    DietMondrian on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Wretch 32 ft Example
    5 – Diana Ross
    4 – Helen Shapiro
    3 – Shakin’ Stevens
    2 – Zucchero ft Paul Young – on seeing the list I thought this was a shoo-in for last place, but then I’d never previously heard…
    1 – O-Town – Zero-Town, more like. Eh? Eh? Oh, never mind.

  8. 8
    swanstep on 22 Jul 2011 #

    All these tracks are new to me apart from Shaky…anyhow, really enjoyed your write-ups this time Mike.

    6- Diana Ross (Brilliant record! How have I never heard this before? Hits so many pleasure centers at once – indescribable – absolutely love it. Have already listened to it 5 times!)
    5 – Helen Shapiro (There’s some interesting stuff in this one too. It reminds me of Nico’s I’m not saying at points. Good.)
    4 – Wretch 32 (Pretty good – like the guitar line and the ska/reggae stuff underneath the main rhythm is interesting. Rap is only OK.)
    3 – Shaky. (A Grease hangover perhaps? It is and was maddening that this was big in 1981, but setting that issue aside, the song’s harmless enough I guess)
    2 – O-town. (Dreadful chorus, but the sound of the thing redeems it at least a little)
    1 – Zucchero (Couldn’t even finish this one. Not sure why, just yuck.)

  9. 9
    Chelovek na lune on 22 Jul 2011 #

    There are many things that annoy me about that wretched 32 record, but above all because of the fact that word “Heterodox” would have served their purpose at least equally well, if not more admirably, and probably would also have lightly enrichened the vocabulary of those who like to listen to that sort of thing.

    Ratings to follow. Though I am quite confident that top of my list will be a female solo singer.

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 points – Diana Ross
    An outstanding performance – Diana’s voice is sooo breathy and powerful
    5 points – Wretch 32 ft Example
    bursting with energy and swagger – which was not what I was expecting given how languid ‘Fool’s Gold’ is (in my memory at least)
    4 points – Helen Shapiro
    This is pleasant enough but still sounds stuck in the past
    3 points – Shakin’ Stevens
    I can’t bear to listen to this once more – but at least it has some energy to it, despite being tasteless drivel
    2 points – Zucchero ft Paul Young
    Sounds like it should be accompanying an advert for Dignitas- tasteful drivel
    1 point – O-Town
    that really is one of the worst things I’ve heard or seen – is the title a euphemism for wet dream?

  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Diana Ross – “remember me as a big balloon” is a curious kiss-off, but I’m very pleased that it’s getting so much love here. Can I point readers to her other (apart from the ace Popular entry) 1971 Top 10 hit, Surrender? Another gem.

    5 – Shaky – especially for the nanny goat “aaaiiiin’t got time”s towards the end. Irrepressible and, like You Drive Me Crazy, entirely in keeping with the spirit of ’81.

    4 – Helen Shapiro – the lyrics on paper are pretty powerful, for a non-rock teen anthem, but the bv’s do me head in to be honest. As has been said elsewhere, Helen S was an underused talent. This self-penned ode to sexual awakening (she was 17 by this point) is off the scale and I wish she’d been encouraged to write more.

    3 – Wretch 32 ft Example – Fools Gold skank also looks good on paper but it didn’t grab me enough to make me want to listen til the end. Hmmm, ‘s alright.

    2 – Zucchero ft Paul Young – Leo Sayer also described himself as a “blues singer” when he first appeared. Is it the most abused musical category ever?

    1 – Onanist Town – sweet jesus, that’s horrible!

  12. 12
    Mike Atkinson on 22 Jul 2011 #

    Instant love for “He Knows How To Love Me”, thanks for that!

    I’d love to know why Diana wanted to be remembered as a “big balloon”.

  13. 13
    wichita lineman on 22 Jul 2011 #

    Least I can do! I love this blog!

  14. 14
    Lionel d'Lion on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 pts: Shakin’ Stevens
    5 pts: Diana Ross
    4 pts: Wretch 32 ft Example
    3 pts: Helen Shapiro
    2 pts: Zucchero & Paul Young
    1 pt: O-Town

  15. 15
    thefatgit on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 pts-Diana Ross
    5 pts-Shakin’ Stevens
    4 pts-Wretch 32 ft Example
    3 pts-Helen Shapiro
    2 pts-Zucchero & Paul Young
    1 pt-O Town

    Kicking off with O Town; eurgh!
    Zucchero comes across as an Italian Joe Cocker. Not necessarily a bad thing, but moaning about your wayward spouse doesn’t win my sympathy. Helen Shapiro had a precocious voice for a teen star, but I guess that was part of her charm. A charming ditty as well.
    Wretch 32 doesn’t push himself forward enough and Example hogs the limelight, but then I like Example, so maybe it should have been Example ft Wretch 32 perhaps?
    Shaky’s most memorable and likeable hit. Dare I say, g***ty pl*****e? Well, it’s like one of those old C&A jumpers…you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing it, but damn! It’s comfortable.
    Diana Ross’ delivery is ecstatic and euphoric. A woman absolutely on top her game. A well deserved six.

  16. 16
    Z on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 points – Diana Ross.
    5 points – Helen Shapiro. All prepared to be irritated by the yee-yees, until you reminded me that she was 14, when I abruptly changed them to brilliant. A remarkably assured performance
    4 points – Wretch 32 ft Example. It grew on me.
    3 points – Shakin’ Stevens. Reasonably jolly to listen to.
    2 points – Zucchero ft Paul Young. Awful. In any other company it would have received bottom place.
    1 point – O-Town. No, really, that’s beyond the pale.

    The top two and bottom two exemplify why I don’t like background music at social events. Either I like it and listen to it instead of talking to people, or I hate it and start complaining. Neither makes me popular.

  17. 17
    AndyPandy on 22 Jul 2011 #

    I didn’t really go mad for any of those – Diana easily the best though

    6 Diana Ross
    5 Helen Shapiro
    4 Shakin’ Stevens
    3 Wretch 32 ft Example
    2 O-Town
    1 Zucchero ft Paul Young

  18. 18
    chelovek na lune on 22 Jul 2011 #

    6 points – Diana Ross.
    Motown Goddess, that’s all. Not her very best. But still great.

    5 Helen Shapiro.
    Again not her very best either. But charming, singalong, conveys its message well. And she has a lovely voice, and the musical arrangement works.

    4 Shakin Stevens.
    Surprisingly. Before he went bad, or mouldy, or old, or just dough, I mean dull.

    3. O-Town.
    Judging it on the music/melody/production, and not the video or the lyrics, it’s OK. But…whoever thought a sperm-themed video was a good idea? Truly atrocious, and evidence for the case that a certain degree of sexual repression protects a certain cultural value. Was Judge Dread banned for this? Was Woody Allen risqué so that these wankers could do this? But sticking to the music as music, and putting aside the lyrics (to damn with faint praise, to compare this with a song with a similar theme by another boy band, I think this is still superior to NKOTB’s “Cover Girl”) , the actual rhythm and hook isn’t bad at all and is rather catchy and a decent earworm. I have only very limited recollection of this – I wasn’t expecting a boy-band at all, but something rather clubbier, housier and more credible. Oh well..

    2. Zucchero/Paul Young
    I didn’t hate this at the time (and dare I admit to having quite a soft spot for Paul Young. Bless him, it’s not his fault he was born 3 decades too late to be regarded with affection. Zucchero, however….). But still..One of them, poor man, is “Doing [his] own cookin”. and as for “Look at me – feel the power – I’m a flower.” Oh dear. I still don’t hate it – the melody has something going for it, as does the arrangement. But, still, that doesn’t save it from its naffness and vague crassness.

    1. Wretch 32 ft Example
    Evidence for the case that having good taste in samples isn’t in itself a sufficient basis for a good pop record. Maybe once, when samples were less ubiquitous, and hadn’t been overused (mind you, was that ever true of the “Funky Drummer” since the advent of samples? Up with with “Rock A Lott” and “Think” as over-over-used, already, by 1990). Really bloody irritating and annoying. Yuk.

  19. 19
    Mark M on 22 Jul 2011 #

    A generally weak bunch, really. But anyway:

    6 points: Wretch 32 ft Example – I know it’s Stone Roses-derived, but the texture of the sample (is actually a sample? or have they just nicked the notes?) brings to mind Bomb The Bass’s immortal Beat Dis or Beyonce’s Work It Out. I quite like Wretch’s relaxed, very English rapping, too – he’s a bit like Prof Green, which is praise in my house. Obviously, it’s hopelessly orthodox, but no one’s going to title their song ‘Middling and Derivative’

    5: Diana Ross – not particularly memorable, and her voice is as limited as ever, but OK.

    4: Shaky – Um, energetic, tuneful, decentish guitar solo…

    3: Helen Shapiro – ah, the 1960s Joss Stone with a ’60s prefiguring of Billie Piper’s Because We Want To. I had some hopes for this, but it’s made very hard to listen to by the those horrible, horrible backing vocals.

    2: O-Town – ew.

    1: Paul Young & Zucchero: constipation as pop.

  20. 20
    Billy Smart on 23 Jul 2011 #

    6. Diana Ross
    5. Helen Shapiro
    4. Shakin’ Stevens
    3. Wretch 32
    2. Zucchero
    1. O-Town

  21. 21
    Weej on 23 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Diana Ross – Yup, no way such competition can stand up to this.
    5 – Shakin Stevens – Naff light entertainment, but at least it’s well-executed naff light entertainment. Also I found this performace via related videos and enjoyed it very much indeed.
    4 – Helen Shapiro – What a funny time the early sixties was. This kind of thing sounds like half a century away from the pop music of, say 1968 – especially lyrically. Still, not a bad period piece.
    3 – Wretch 32 – Points off for not using the real IPA at the start. Harsh, perhaps, but they HAVE TO LEARN. Otherwise it’s a great concept for a song, but let down by very slack execution and unmemorable rapping.
    2 – Zucchero ft Paul Young – Not as bad as I was bracing myself for, but still pretty awful. There’s the grain of something good in there, but the endless poor performance and production flourishes really spoil it.
    1 – O-Town – How many people worked on this without anyone realising what a terrible, terrible concept for a song it was? Or perhaps they knew but were too afraid to speak up. 90s American boy bands, your follies end here, rest in peace, you won’t be greatly missed.

  22. 22
    Ed on 24 Jul 2011 #

    We’ve had a couple of great rounds… this time, not so much. Great tune count: 2. Total stinker count: 2.

    6 – Diana Ross. Not as melodically inspired as her greatest work, but still a wonderful sense of drama in the performance and arrangement.

    5 – Wretch 32. New to me, but I loved it for its genial sunny mood, recapturing the vibe as well as the tunes of the Baggy Age. The ‘Fool’s Gold’ lick is a replayed, not a sample, right? Sounds like the bassline played on guitar. Earns extra points for its – entirely unrealistic – depiction of East London as a honeyed paradise of diverse communities living as one. I have to agree, calling it ‘Heterodox’ would have been a master-stroke, though, and might have tipped it into first place.

    4 – Helen Shapiro. I am old enough now to find this sort of adolescent foot-stamping charming rather than annoying.

    3 – Shakin’ Stevens. Surprisingly good fun, given my memories of having loathed this as a foot-stamping adolescent myself. That’s the New Pop connection, surely: the irrepressible sense of fun. It fits into the charts right alongside ‘Love Plus One’ and ‘Stand and Deliver’, as the antithesis to ‘Ghost Town’.

    2 – O-Town. Truly horrible. Weak beats and singing, and terrible non-scanning lyric including a stupid made-up word and generally icky subject matter. Would have been a cert for last place, but for…

    1 – Zucchero ft Paul Young. “Italian Joe Cocker” is spot-on. Cocker is responsible for my least favourite recording of all time, his catastrophic ham-fisted slaughtering of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’, but this runs him very close. Wrong country, I know, but this always reminds me of a bullfight. Zucchero is mortally wounded and roaring in pain, and you always hope for Young to put him out of his misery, but he never does.

  23. 23
    intothefireuk on 24 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Diana Ross – Used to think she was calling herself a ‘pink balloon’ although a big balloon isn’t much of an improvement. Still it’s a great peformance and wins her the plaudits for this round.
    5 – Shaky – Wouldn’t have had much time for this in 1981 but it seems to have gained a little charm in the intervening years. Is Shaky due for an ABBA style re-appraisal ? Probably not.
    4 – Helen Shapiro – First time I’ve heard this and it’s striking how innocent it all sounds. Definitely of it’s time and that’s not a bad thing in this case.
    3 – Wretch 32 – Due to the Roses riff mainly.
    2 – Zucchero – Starts ok but deteriorates rapidly. The line about him being a ‘flower’ seals it’s fate.
    1 – O-town – First time I’ve heard this as well – and hopefully the last. Where is Max Romeo when you need him?

  24. 24
    wichita lineman on 24 Jul 2011 #

    Shakin’ Stevens’ Greatest Hits is a very enjoyable listen, after hours, with a few friends over. But then I was a big Darts fan aged 13 – I say hats off to anyone who could dig up relative obscurities like I’ll Be Satisfied or Lipstick Powder And Paint, passing on the love and the knowledge, and pepper the covers with good originals (Give Me Your Heart Tonight, A Love Worth Waiting For).

    1980’s Marie Marie is a match for anything by the Stray Cats, which might sound like faint praise now but, along with the similarly hyped Spandau Ballet, they were seen as a major deal, a new post Joy Division future music at the fag end of 1980 when New Pop was busy being conceived.

    Oh, and Shaky’s version (no.10, 1981) was the first time I ever heard It’s Raining. Hopefully Irma Thomas will sing it at the Barbican tonight (v excited).

  25. 25
    Clair on 24 Jul 2011 #

    Our votes:

    1 point : O-town
    2 points: Zucchero
    3 points: Wretch 32
    4 points: Helen Shapiro (but we would have liked Morecambe & Wise doing the backing vocals a la Tom Jones)
    5 points: Diana Ross
    6 points: Shakin Stevens

  26. 26
    hardtogethits on 25 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Zucchero: out on a limb in voting for this, by elimination. Not great, but different from its chart contemporaries in a way which sadly mars the other entries here, to a greater or lesser extent.
    5 – Helen Shapiro: Fascinating vocal, good song, but not quite distinctive enough from its contemporaries in its song structure – I wanted to like it more.
    4 – Shakin’ Stevens: Big pity. Much underrated, definitely Wichita – you’re so right about his choice of hardtoget covers intermingling with wrongly-maligned originals (Barry Manilow covered Shaky and had a top 40 US hit!) (and Darts incredibly underrated, btw). But Shaky doesn’t quite get this right, does he? Amazing that this kickstarted his career. You Drive Me Crazy was joyful.
    3 – Diana Ross. Just misses the mark for me. I think I see what others see in it.
    2 – O Town
    1 – Wretch 32

    Separating the last 2 was a hard decision, I guess others who’ve run with this before must have experienced similar dilemmas before.

  27. 27
    Erithian on 25 Jul 2011 #

    6 pts 1971 – Diana Ross. I’ll be honest and say I enjoy “This Ole House” more, but by any objective judgment this is the finer record. Diana on her day has lots of soul and the breathy voice works wonders. It’s peak-phase Motown, and I love the backing too, especially that bass run in the middle of the chorus. You can picture this as central to a lot of couples’ stories.

    5 pts 1981 – Shakin’ Stevens. OK, nothing to do with the subject matter of the lyric, but lots of fun to throw yourself around to.

    4 pts 1961 – Helen Shapiro. The twee backing vocals familiar from “Walking Back to Happiness” two hits further along are more muted towards the end of this song, as if they just wanted to establish the earworm then get on with the rest. In fact, despite your observation as to what Disaffected Youth wanted to hear half a decade later, it’s tempting to wonder how the production on this song would have sounded later on in the 60s – it would have sounded more serious, and more would have been made of that nice little guitar lick thrown away in the mix.

    3 pts 1991 – Zucchero/Paul Young. Fairly classy but dull.

    2 pts 2001 – O-Town. I carry no torch whatsoever for boy bands, but I did find myself thinking, you know, this is far from the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Odd subject matter, yes, but nothing like as explicit as stuff you get today from, say, Rihanna, or Bruno Mars talking about sticking his hand down his pants and having really nice s€x. If you weren’t aware of the subject it could easily pass you by, nothing for Mumsnet to worry about. And it swings nicely.

    1 pt 2011 – Wretch 32 ft Example. Apart from the sample, i.e. lifting someone else’s idea, nothing to recommend this.

  28. 28
    lockedintheattic on 25 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Diana Ross – streets ahead of the rest
    5 – Wretch 32
    4 – Shaky
    3 – Helen Shapiro
    2 – O-Town
    1 – Zucchero – indescribably awful

  29. 29
    Lena on 26 Jul 2011 #

    Yay, back!

    To the business…

    6 – Helen Shapiro – For reasons I can’t really explain I have to go with this, maybe because I always wanted her and Amy to get together and make a jazz album. Sadly that won’t happen now.

    5 – Diana Ross – Motown dropped the ball on pushing this one, but maybe it was just too sad? Agreed you have to hear the whole of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to get the full effect.

    4 – Wretch 32 w/Example – Sure it’s a sample, but I am always happy to hear the Roses and I like it more than, oh, “Champion” and other Apprentice-approved pop grime anthems.

    3 – Shakin’ Stevens – Sure this was #1 when Charles & Diana were wed instead of The Specials, but this is like dancing on the remains of the Bastille. Didn’t Christopher Hitchens once meet Diana and say he was glad to meet a fellow anti-monarchist?

    2 – O-Town – Catchy enough to make me ignore the male gaze; also a handy guide to all the women that were considered hot in 2001.

    1 – Zucchero – The poor man has to cook for himself. He is a sensitive flower. COME ON!

  30. 30
    Conrad on 26 Jul 2011 #

    Green Door, Lena – and by a whisker, up from 22 to 1 the day before the Royal Wedding

    And as I’m ere

    6 – D Ross
    5 – H SHapiro
    4 – S Stevens
    3 – Zucchero
    2 – Wretch 32
    1 – O Town

  31. 31
    jeff w registered on 27 Jul 2011 #

    Must. resist. urge. to. type. “Dross”, “Wretched”, “O Dear” etc. The highest scores go to the songs I’d discover myself subconsciously singing at odd moments of the day. The guilty pleasures, if you like.

    6 – Zucchero (it’s the mangled English that appeals. Paul Y is worse than Mr Z at times here, like he’s gargling cats while doing his vocal)
    5 – Shaky
    4 – Diana
    3 – Wretch 32
    2 – Shapiro (a beehive on a 14 y.o. always struck me as wrong)
    1 – boy band

  32. 32
    The Lurker on 28 Jul 2011 #

    6 – Diana – hadn’t heard this before, a lesser Diana song but not bad
    5 – Shaky – think I have a soft spot for Shaky
    4 – Helen – inoffensove
    3 – Wretch – ok
    2 – O-Town – tolerable
    1 – Zucchero – endless exposure to this on MTV Europe in the 91 has killed this for me

  33. 33
    Steve Mannion on 3 Aug 2011 #

    6: Diana Ross – New to me but an easy winner – doesn’t really put a foot wrong and wraps it up in good time.

    5: Shakin’ Stevens – The only song here I can say I loved at the time. Not that much of an advantage as I have no desire to ever revisit Shakey hits but it was always fine for what it was.

    4: Wretch 32 ft. Example – Not what Wretch should be doing imo, his ultra-casual style doesn’t suit a tune this jaunty. The Fools Gold sample (Really tho?) is also diluted so much as to lose any remaining effectiveness. Catchy but rote.

    3: Helen Shapiro – The backing vocals kinda ruin it for me.

    2: Zucchero & Paul Young – Obviously naff but Zucchero’s schtick (an Italian inferior Chris Rea+Joe Cocker?) was almost intriguing.

    1: O-Town – Ignored this at the time so had no memory of it beyond the terrible title. They sound pretty weak compared to their contemporaries at the time.

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