• 3. Priceless Junk
    (The third part of the 3-part piece about the 1000th Number 1, the charts, and 20 years of writing about them. Part 1. Part 2. See also the pieces on #999 and #1000 on Popular.) Here’s the thing, though. I still really like pop music. When I […]
  • 2. All My Lazy Teenage Boasts Are Now High Precision Ghosts
    (This is Part 2 of a 3 part piece around the 1000th No.1. Part 1 is here but you might also want to read about the 999th Number 1) Dr Manhattan is on Mars, some time before he leaves our Universe at the end of Watchmen to become a meme. It is 1958[…]
  • 1. No Bird Can Fly, No Fish Can Swim Until The King Is Born
    (This is part 1 of a 3-part piece designed to fit around the 999th and 1000th Popular entries, which will go up on the Popular site.) Almost my first memory of the charts is of the charts being broken. Broken hearted; collapsed by shock and grief […]
  • Omargeddon #39: The Clouds Hill Tapes Parts I, II & III
    Omar Rodríguez-López is famously prolific, so I knew at some point during this project that my to-review list would increase; my only surprise was that it wasn’t sooner. The Clouds Hill Tapes Parts I, II & III were released during Summer Lock[…]
  • #FearOfMu21c #16 – 2021-2023
    The #FearOfMu21c selection struggle reaches its end – two years once again dominated by the pop polls and then bang up to date with the sounds of 2023. These have also been years of gradual personal improvement after 2019-2020 were bin-fires fo[…]
  • #FearOfMu21c #15 – 2019-2020
    A bunch of things happened in 2020 but the most consequential (OK, the most consequential FOR ME) is that I started doing pop polls on Twitter. I think I can state at this point that there is nobody better at creating and running track-based Twitter […]
  1. Tom, thank you for such thoughtful reflections on Popular and the charts. I really enjoyed them, just as I’ve really…

  2. Congratulations on making it this far, and I'm enjoying it more than ever! And I have been reading for my…

  3. Yeah while I wanted to accentuate the positive there are some absolute horrorshows to come and Sheerangate is one of…

  4. It's great to hear that the new focus on pop's past didn't pull you too far away from the present.…

  5. Almost unbelievable achievement Tom! That many reviews, and all of them crackling with personality, opinion, taste and varying degrees of…

  • ELVIS PRESLEY – “One Night” / “I Got Stung”
    “The things I did and I saw / Would make the earth stand still” – Smiley Lewis In the early days of Popular lack of research was part of the Method. Context was the enemy: the text was the text. My job was to see what, 50 or so years lat[…]
  • ELVIS PRESLEY – “Jailhouse Rock”
    (You might also like to read Part 1 of a 3-part piece loosely about the 1000th No.1. I should probably say that piece contains SPOILERS as to the identity of the 1000th No.1, my apologies if that had been a source of pleasurable suspense for you.) […]
  • STEVE BROOKSTEIN – “Against All Odds”
    The 24 Number 1s between Sam & Mark and Girls Aloud are the longest Popular has been Reality TV free since Hear’Say’s first hit. You might have been fooled into thinking its heyday was over. You would have been quite wrong. The X Factor is[…]
  • BAND AID 20 – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
    “The 2000s remakes all got a bit too clever”, sniffed SAW’s Mike Stock years later. A touch of bitterness there perhaps – the people involved with this were as likely to rep for Pictures Of Starving Children Sell Records as Band Aid II &#[…]
  • GIRLS ALOUD – “I’ll Stand By You”
    Girls Aloud were two bands uneasily sharing one career. They were the TV competition winners who kept one foot in the light entertainment paddock, reliably putting out a cover version whenever a telethon required it. And they were the pop band –[…]
  • U2 – “Vertigo”
    For me Bono’s most likeable – if sometimes excruciating – trait is how candid he is about his ambitions and excitement over each record his band makes. The Wikipedia pages for U2 records are always breadcrumb trails of aspirations, as o[…]

People's Pop
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 3. INSTRUMENTALS – Polls
    This week’s theme – picked by a League player, as usual! – is INSTRUMENTALS (which I’ve decreed can include whistling). As usual, thankyou to our 11 intrepid selectors for choosing tracks to vote on. How do you take part? […]
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 3. INSTRUMENTALS – Playlists
    We’re back with Season 2 Round 3 – and this round the brief was a simple one: find us all some instrumentals we haven’t heard. Note that I’ve decided to allow whistling in the instrumental category (if you want to be stricter […]
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 2.RELIGION – Results!
    Apologies for the delay posting these and the new poll, though at least it’s given our 11 seekers after pop more time to work on the somewhat tricky Week 4 task.. Anyway, the white smoke has now issued from the Pop Vatican and I can announce[…]
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 2. RELIGION – Polls
    This week’s League Of Tracks is the first theme to go beyond pre-existing pop polls – we are tacking RELIGION with a selection of devotional, heretical, or otherwise spiritual tunes from across the history of pop. As usual the rules ar[…]
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 2. RELIGION – Playlists
    For the second theme of the new season Dave chose RELIGION – go as broad as you like, he advised. Let’s see what you unholy lot came up with. As ever, listen to the playlist and then vote in the POLL POST. This time all but one of t[…]
  • The League Of Extraordinary Tracks II: 1. NOT IN ENGLISH – Results
    A close fought first week ends and it’s time for the RESULTS of the non-English selections. As last time, points are allocate Eurovision style (12-10-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-0), with voting ties all getting the higher score. This means a skinny gap in […]