May 17, 2024

Eurovision 2024: A giant egg, demon wolves and too many ooohs

I'm not a huge Eurovision buff. Cheesy makes me queasy, and ballads are a ball-ache. But I did watch Eurovision 2024, so here are some unedited thought splats about the whole thing. In alphabetical order by country, so like a proper dictionary and everything.

The following content is adapted from my Twitter account, or as we have to call it now, my X account. Not every country is included here, for humanitarian reasons. And I was significantly more enthusiastic about the UK entry on the night, but I've watched it back with a sober brain, and I've dampened down my excitement.

Here we go...

Bit of old Armenian folk vibes. I'm off for a cup of tea. What am I saying? I don't even drink tea. I'm off to slurp up something I spilled down the back of the sofa. Back in a bit. 1/10

We Will Rave? Right, Austria, I'm paying attention. Lasers! Banging beats! Techno synths! Massive build-ups! Acid squeaks! Shouting out Eurovision! DRUM N BASS! I want all 26 entries to be like this, please. A grand closer. 10/10

Croatia. I recognise this. Baby Lasagne's got layers. The Prodigy meets Billy Idol meets Rammstein meets Bring Me Edelweiss. Utterly stupid, very singalong, and everything that Eurovision should be about. We're cooking. 9/10

Shout out to all the Cypriot comedians I have the pleasure of regularly working with. The #Eurovision2024 entry is a bit of banger. She's really clapping back at that ex. Love this deep production, nice and chunky. Not bad at all. 7/10

Big up to Estonia and everyone in it right now. Crikes, this is like the Baha Men on a comeback with the Happy Mondays. A shouty, loose mess, but not necessarily in a bad way. Is that the guy from V Sauce? 3/10

Oh Lordi, it's Finland. Emerging from a giant egg is a win for me. Very Europop and pretty forgettable. Decent chord change. There he is, flapping his floppy disc about all over the place. 4/10

France. Not keen on a ballad. But this is dramatic. Will his voice cope? Here goes... [watches the performance] Respect to the guy. Went for the notes, nailed it. Unless he was meant to be two octaves higher: not heard the song before. Anyway, well done bloke in white, you gave it everything. I'm sure it's a very good ballad. 7/10

Sorry Germany, there are too many lumberjacks posing as emotive songsters. The charts is full of them: it doesn't twiddle my tassels. Catchy chorus, though. Are things meant to be on fire or is he an arsonist? 2/10

Here's Georgia and their fire goddess. Another super catchy pop anthem. Why would you NOT perform with a super catchy pop anthem? That said, I think I will forget this in five minutes. Yargles, that is a LOT of fire. I hope everyone's hair gel is okay. 6/10

Greece bringing the TikTok vibes. And the dancehall vibes. And the banghra overtones. And some digital mayhem thrown in for good measure. This is the opposite of monotone: it's like a paint factory's electrocuted. Yikes. 7/10

Bambie Thug has turned up. Phew. Oh yes, I've heard Ireland's before. A Jekyll and Hyde of a track, with the darkness and the sweetness. Feels like a novelty 1990s number one single. The screams. The techno breakdown. Great. 9/10

Italy just make me want to listen to another specific similar-sounding track, the name of which escapes me because my brain is full of this super average entry from Italy. [And then, a few minutes later...] Stromae! That's it. It just made me want to listen to Alors on danse. 5/10

Now it's Dons performing for Latvia, also known as Judge Rinder's S&M brother. Look at him, all carbon fibred up. I can see this one doing quite well. Ballads don't excite me too much, especially with chord swoops like this one. 4/10 

Good old Silvester Belt and their nose. They used to work in a beauty salon. They seems like the kind of person who worked in a beauty salon. They're giving Troy Sivan and the beats are giving Paul Van Dyk. Excellent work, Lithuania. Big and bouncy but a lamination of lovely melancholy. 8/10

Luxembourg are back in the contest. Only country that rhymes with Bella Emberg. Are those real cheetahs? Should we be running? This is pretty... okay Shakira fayre. To be honest, I'm just concerned about being mauled. 5/10

Norway are bringing epic with an extra epic hat on with the word EPIC written on it. I feel like they're summoning a horde of demon wolves from the pits of the underworld. Great guitar game. That was... A LOT. 7/10

Another snoozefest, this time from Portugal. Sorry for being negative, but we're at the slog bit of the running order, and we really could do with some hardcore rave or liquid drum 'n' bass right now. 1/10

Where are we? Oh right, Serbia. This is a snoozathon. It had better kick off. Waiting. Still waiting. I feel like it's going to kick off. No? It didn't kick off. Not for me. 0/10

Time for Slovenia, who are giving male nudity (although not that much - I went to Kylie's Aphrodite tour, and that was a flesh Christmas). Too waily. Make it stop. Ouch. Nope. Not for me. 0/10

Woah Spain, what is going on? Sassy dancers. Drum fills. A keytar. Bottoms?! It's as MOR as heck under the glitz, but it's got shouting and dramatic chord changes. 6/10

Sweden sounded like Olly Alexander but looked like Ant & Dec. Standard pop EDM fayre with chunky production. Went right off them when they said "Make some noise". 6/10

Nemo (pictured) is definitely giving fishy for Switzerland. It's very musical theatre, but I'm down for this. Thoroughly pop, decidedly queer, gloriously refreshing. I swear he was going to fall of that bucking bronco disc. What a star. I hope this wins. 10/10

I wasn't into Ukraine's poppy goth plod vibe. Too many "oooh"s. Never trust anyone who ooohs a lot, in song or in conversation. The rapper look like they could rap their way out of a fight, so they were good. 3/10

Time for the United Kingdom. How is Olly upside-down?! This staging is next level. I want to be in that weird spinny room with those men. That voiceover bit is deliciously Pet Shop Boys. Big up Olly's cats Fanta and Sprite who, sadly, might have done a better job with singing in this performance. 5/10 

Further Fats: Bert And Ernie Bumper Car face mask Euro fury (2012)

Further Fats: I'm too techno to be Brexit (2017)

May 1, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Fugees in the place, got a bittersweet face

Why? Why? What have we done to deserve this? Whyyyyy?

And there is my introduction to the latest episode of the Ultimate 1990s Number One, in which I trawl through every chart-topping single of the 1990s to decide the bestest of the best.

This competition has notional judging criteria of (a) is it a banger and (b) is it bleepy, but to be honest, I've been drunk on absinthe for most of these blog posts, and I'm currently convinced that my legs are made of spaghetti.

Let's go!

The contenders

Billie: Girlfriend  |  Celine Dion: Think Twice  |  Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry with Eric Clapton: Love Can Build a Bridge  |  Five: Keep on Movin'  |  Fugees: Killing Me Softly  |  Oasis: Don't Look Back in Anger  |  Oasis: Some Might Say  |  Robbie Williams: Millennium  |  The Shamen: Ebeneezer Goode  |  Shanks & Bigfoot: Sweet Like Chocolate  |  The Simpsons: Do the Bartman

Scratchy eyeballs

I would rather massage my eyeballs with hedgehogs than listen to a single second of Celine Dion, so she’s out of contention straight away. Do the Bartman by The Simpsons makes me want to do similar things to my peepers, such is the blot this single put on the reputation of Groening’s genius cartoon series.

I would definitely go on a camping weekend in the countryside with Cher, Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry. They’d be a right laugh, and we would drink hot chocolate under a starry sky and throw peanut M&Ms at the sheep. However, for Love Can Build a Bridge, we’ve got to spend our rural retreat with Eric Clapton and his toxic opinions. No thank you.

I am not a blokey bloke. I don't wear Ben Sherman, I'm not impressed by exhaust sizes, and I have zero opinions on Premier League football and/or hot sauces. With this in mind, I am immediately ejecting from this competition both Oasis singles and Robbie Williams's John Barry-aping ode to the millennium.

Let's move on.

Aaargh bees

When I was eleven, I was chased by bees. I got too close to their nest in the local park, and I ran up a hill until the bees had stopped pursuing me. Only problem is, I kept on running upwards after the hill had stopped, so I ran up into space and accidentally knocked Jupiter off its orbit. There are alien lizards on the rings of Saturn that now worship me as a god, but it's a hollow victory.

What's the purpose of this definitely actually true story? It's to distract you from how boring I find Billie and Five. Yes, pop princess Billie is impressive, dropping pop bangers before she had finished her GCSEs. And Five, or to give them their proper name, F5i5v5e, are cheeky scamps it's hard not to love. But I want to, erm, keep on movin' past these two.

Doughnuts, chocolate and pills

Now we get to the good stuff. The real deal. The genuine juice.

Lauryn Hill strummed our pain with her fingers when she fronted the Fugees. Killing Me Softly was the bestselling single of 1996, and with good reason. If I were to kill someone softly, I'd use doughnuts. Thousands of them. Pile them on. Death by sprinkles.

I am conflicted about the Shanks & Bigfoot track. It was so fantastic having a garage track at number one in the charts. The track was cheeky, like a little scamp stealing your false teeth. But it was also awful, with lyrics like "you are warm like the rays of the sun" and "holding you is a gift from above". This isn't chocolate: it's cheese. But oh so tasty cheese.

Finally, and this is my top pick for this week's selections, there's a guy in the place with a bittersweet face who goes by the name of Ebeneezer Goode. Mr C was a controversial choice for frontman of The Shamen, who had genuine rave credentials and didn't necessarily need to become a comedy band doing an impression of a Victorian Kenneth Williams.

But if I had an orphan child for every fantastic moment in this top-drawer pop single, I'd be able to run a fully-fledged chimney sweep business. The Syd James laughter. The snappy lyrics. The responsible drugs advice (yes, really). The bit where the guy goes "Ello!"

Ebeneezer Goode was produced by The Beatmasters, who also gave us Betty Boo. The comic perkiness of it all kind of makes sense. This was a form of The Shamen that seemed a long way from singles like Hyperreal. But there was enough rave wonkiness in there for this to become my anthem for many years to come. So great.

The Shamen it is. Plenty more to come in this series. Turns out there are LOADS of number ones in the 1990s.

Apr 18, 2024

Underworld bring light in at Aviva Studios / Factory International

Thirty years after the release of their classic album Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Underworld very much bassed with our head man with two spectacular shows at the weekend. 

The venue was Aviva Studios at Factory International, a triangle-decked super venue on the banks of the River Irwell in Manchester. With the seating pulled out, its main gig space has all of the warehouse vibes you'd hope for an old rave band.

Not that the audience was old. I was expecting to be surrounded by a creaking crowd of ancient clubbers, throwing our zimmer frames up in the air like we just didn't care. But it was surprisingly youthful: a testament to a band that has retained its relevance through Danny Boyle soundtracks, opening Olympic ceremonies and a bunch of fancy National Theatre gubbins.

Their lengthy discography was laid out in big fat bass spasms, from the early Dubnobass stompers to the Aphexian oversharing of 2019's massive Drift series. For the old stuff, Dirty Epic lived up to its name, and King of Snake was as poisonous as ever. Their new stuff was well represented: denver luna sounded beautiful live, and the Detroit-dappled Fen Violet seemed laser-targeted for a Manchester rave.

Karl Hyde chose to remain static in the first half, before going full Tasmanian Devil in the second section of the show. Every smiling mouth-beam of that guy is the personification of the refrain from Two Months Off: "you bring light in, you bring light in...". Oh and Rick Smith was there too. Poor Rick. Bogged down with controlling all of that electronic gear while his wayward disco brother goes ham left right and centre. I hope Rick comes off stage at the end and has a little boogie to himself, as a treat.

Shout out to my gig buddy Ros, who came to the gig as a fan of their soundtrack work and went away a bona-fide Underworld club veteran. We have now nicknamed ourselves the Strawberry Jam Girls, after an Underworld lyric. Big up to the lone guy in the "Dark Train" top who seemed lost in a special kind of bliss. And doff of the hat to White T-Shirt Guy next to me who was well up for hugs and yippees.

Here are those two sets in full. Yes, two sets. There was an interval, like we were at a Gilbert and Sullivan opera or something. Below that is a video of Two Months Off, which sees Underworld doused in sunshine, and captures perfectly the insane dynamics after the four-minute mark.

Low Burn  |  Nylon Strung  |  Trim  |  Dirty Epic  |  Soniamode (Aditya Game Version)  |  Kittens  |  Mmm... Skyscraper, I Love You  |  Juanita 2022  |  Tin There

Jumbo  |  denver luna  |  S T A R  |  Pearl's Girl  |  Dark & Long (Dark Train)  |  Two Months Off  |  Rez / Cowgirl  |  and the colour red  |  Border Country  |  Fen Violet  |  King of Snake  |  Born Slippy NUXX

Further Fats: Mmm Underworld, the world loves you (2012)


Apr 16, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Babylon Zoo comes along and ruins everything

The competition to discover the ultimate 1990s number one single continues. There have been numerous episodes of this series so far, and there are plenty more to come. 206 number one singles to judge in all: one for every bone in the human body.

Let's take a look at the latest collection of bones-- er, I mean, number one singles.

The contenders

Babylon Zoo: Spaceman  |  Celine Dion: My Heart Will Go On  |  Cliff Richard: Saviour's Day  |  Jason Donovan: Any Dream Will Do  |  Mariah Carey: Without You  |  Melanie B featuring Missy Elliott: I Want You Back  |  Olive: You're Not Alone  |  The Prodigy: Breathe  |  Shaggy: Oh Carolina  |  Usher: You Make Me Wanna..

Giving me a haddock

Splice the mainbrace, whatever that is. Let's get rid of my least favourite songs from this batch.

Celine Dion's Titanic warble made me wish I was clinging onto a door in the icy waters of the Atlantic ocean. Pop me in a dingy and plug my ears with haddock: anything to avoid Dion's watery cheese. I have similar feelings about Mariah Carey's Without You, although I have fewer nautical metaphors for that one.

I'm not sure what's more wholesome: Cliff Richard's seasonal tribute to Jesus H Christ, or Jason Donovan's eulogy to a dreamy bible bloke in a gaudy anorak. Either way, the result is the same. Both of these saintly songs make me want to commit acts so heinous, I'd be destined straight for hell. Jumping the queue at Gregg's, popping paper in the bottle bin, still referring to X posts as tweets, that sort of thing.

Beep beep

"How can you beep beep with no keys?" mused Missy Elliott on Melanie B's I Want You Back. Deep philosophy for a track so light on melody. At least Usher's offering had a memorable melody, despite its dubious subject matter of fancying your girlfriend's best mate. Come on, Ush, mate, keep it in your trousers, at least until the end of this blog post.

Oh Carolina was a cover of an old ska hit that Shaggy used to sing rude words to^ when he was a kid. I remember its repetition being a bit annoying when it came out, although it introduced us to a genuine pop superstar. Still... not as annoying as THAT moment when we all realised that, instead of being a falsetto space jam, Babylon Zoo's chart-topper was a miserable dirge that felt like it had been scraped from the netherwheres of someone's grungey underpants. The record label sent me the Babylon Zoo album. It was all awful.

This leaves us with two top tier tracks. Firstly, it's Olive with a track co-written by a bloke from Nightmares On Wax and some fella from Simply Red. Singer Ruth-Ann Boyle went on to feature on several albums by techno-monks Enigma. Best of all, this remains a rare example of a drum 'n' bass track topping the UK charts, and it deserves to go through to this competition's final on that basis alone.

Aaaaargh. Sorry. Just having a Babylon Zoo flashback.

Meanwhile, the Prodigy's Breathe cemented their reputation as one of the biggest break-through dance acts of the decade. A second number one single for them, smashing into the top spot after just one week of record sales. It's probably the coolest track to sample a Thin Lizzy drum beat. Of course this goes through to the final. 

Aaaaaaaaargh! Seriously, I think I have BabZoo reflux. Someone call a vet.

More of the Ultimate 90s numbaaaaaaaargh one


Mar 31, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Keyboard wizards and their Block Rockin' Beats (International)

Hold on to your wig. It's time for the latest episode of Fat Roland Waffles On Aimlessly About 1990s Music Under The Vague Guise Of A Music Competition.

Here are another ten contenders hoping to be crowned as the ultimate 1990s number one single. They are randomly picked from a much longer list of all 206 1990s chart-toppers. Only the most banging and most bleepy tracks will win this competition.

The contenders

Adamski: Killer  |  Beats International: Dub Be Good to Me  |  The Chemical Brothers: Block Rockin' Beats  |  Coolio featuring L.V.: Gangsta's Paradise  |  Jimmy Nail: Ain't No Doubt  |  Oasis: All Around the World  |  Robbie Williams: She's the One / It's Only Us  |  Simply Red: Fairground  |  Take That: Back for Good  |  The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody †

Almost all bangers

This is a remarkable rack of big hits. I don't think there is a bad song on this list. Actually, that Oasis song's pretty boring, so let's discard that one straight away. But the others can all claim to be bangers in some way or other.

Having said that, Simply Red is not my cup of tea. It's not even my cup of lukewarm herbal tea with the tea bag still festering in it. And we can eliminate The Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody at this stage too. It's a massive tune, achieving number one status with two different acts in the 1990s, but it's not the bleepy goodness I'm looking for.

Not the ones

I once popped to the North East to do a gig, and in the first pub I went to, some bloke was singing a Jimmy Nail song, as if he was planted there by the North East Tourist Board. Ain't No Doubt is a classic pop song, as is Take That's Back for Good. Iconic tunes, both of them. Not enough for this competition, though. I also suspect if Manchester went to war with Newcastle, Jimmy Nail would beat seven levels of brown ale out of the Take That lads.

The tracks by Coolio and Robbie Williams are each stealing someone else's thunder. Although it's a classic single, Gangsta's Paradise is an inferior take on Stevie Wonder's 1976 original. The Wonder song was revolutionary for using a synthesiser usage: sadly, we're it's the Coolio track we're judging here. And Williams did a pretty straight cover of World Party's far superior She's The One. The fact Williams took the song without Wallinger's blessing is pretty naff. Rest in peace, Karl.

Which leaves us with Adamski, Beats International and the Chemical Brothers.

Not an actual seal

I cannot give enough praise to Killer by Adamski. The keyboard wizard had synthesisers stacked up to the eyeballs, and its clinical waveforms seemed to signal an exciting electronic future. True Adamski heads preferred NRG, but Killer made us kids feel like we could all become bedroom producers. And Seal was really impressive too, even though he wasn't an actual seal.

We have several things to thank Beats International for. A banging tune, obviously. They gave us a post-Housemartins Normal Cook, later to become Fatboy Slim. It gave us the brilliant Dub Pistols-collaborator Lindy Layton. And it gave us graffiti-spraying trip-hopper Req, a key voice in trip hop and lo-fi beats.

And finally, we have Tom and Ed, better known as the Chemical Brothers. Block Rockin' Beats earned the pair a Grammy award, which seems odd considering how dirty that track sounds, and how middle-of-the-road the Grammies tend to be. There's something special about their loops of fury.

I can't decide between Adamski, Beats International and the block-rockin' Chemicals. So it's a joint win for all three. Gold medals all round. Yellow jerseys all round. Chufty badges all round. Delete as appropriate.

Mar 20, 2024

Electronic Sound 111: Steve Strange, Distressed Puce and a load of old bangers

The latest edition of Electronic Sound leads with Rusty Egan and Steve Strange's Blitz club, which helped form the new romantic movement.

Which is handy because it coincides with the launch of my new Fat Roland make-up range. Shades include Distressed Puce, Seeping Pore Blush and Nude Idiot. 

In this issue, you'll also happen across Kim Gordon out of Sonic Youth, some wayward pilgrims called Lost Souls Of Saturn, a mate of Brian Eno called William, a Ninja Tune act that sounds woody and sharp, and a Detroit techno act who may or may not be related to Little Red Riding Hood. Cryptic enough for you?

My 111th column for Electronic Sound turns its focus on "bangers". I've put speech marks around that word like some kind of grandad. I'm currently running a blog series that picks out the greatest bangers of the 1990s, so this column kind of ties in with that. Get ready for full banging mode. 

An excerpt:

Fireworks. Sausages. Old Ford Fiestas. If you’re clever with words like what me is, you’ll recognise these as “bangers”. Fireworks go bang when you put fire on them. Sausages go bang when you don’t fork them with holes. And old Ford Fiestas go bang when you drive them off a cliff. However, I have little interest in careening cars or meat tubes. My favourite kind of “bangers” are massive tunes. Killer beats, wicked synths, mad lyrics, total bangers.... 

Read more by getting the latest issue of Electronic Sound.



Mar 18, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: (G)love (puppet)'s got the world in motion

This is the latest in a long line of terminally dull blog posts about all of the awful music that topped the charts too many years ago to be interesting.

I'm attempting to discover the best UK number one single of the 1990s. Criterion number one: is it a banger? Criterion number two: does it bleep? In other words, does it have electronic music credentials?

There are 206 UK chart-toppers to get through, so can you please shut up so I can get on with it. Here are the latest 10 contenders...

The contenders

2 Unlimited: No Limit  |  Backstreet Boys: I Want It That Way  |  Boyzone: No Matter What  |  Boyzone: Words  |  The Clash: Should I Stay or Should I Go  |  Eiffel 65: Blue (Da Ba Dee)  |  Englandneworder: World in Motion  |  Mr. Oizo: Flat Beat  |  Spice Girls: Spice Up Your Life  |  UB40: (I Can't Help) Falling in Love With You

Banned bands

If your band name begins with B, you are automatically eliminated. That means Backstreet Boys and Boyzone are out. There has never been a good band beginning with B. Please do not analyse this statement; let's just pretend that it's true. Bombalurina. Bob The Builder. Bluetones. See? Every single one of them, terrible.

Now let's deal with The Clash, the Spice Girls and UB40.

Wanton

Spice Up Your Life was a good single. The United Colours of Benetton wrapped up in girl power. Just don't pay too much attention to its wanton lyrics.

Which brings us to The Clash and UB40. The latter's take on Elvis's Can't Help Falling in Love takes all the charm of the original and squeezes it into a husk of uninspired pop drudgery. And The Clash's rock plodder is so ploppily plodding, when I first heard it, I thought the entire history of music had suffered one massive seizure. 

The fact that these reached the top of the charts while Transglobal Underground failed to score a single top 75 chart hit should be investigated by the UN immediately. Criminal.

Still. It couldn't get any worse. Could it? Surely not.

It gets worse

Next up is 2 Unlimited's No Limit and Eiffel 65's Blue (Da Ba Dee). Excuse me while I feed my earballs into this woodchipper.

Whenever I mention that I'm into techno, people quote 2 Unlimited at me. "Techno, techno, techno, techno." Right into my face. These people are idiots and do not know the world of The Black Dog and Autechre and the like. I can't allow 2 Unlimited to progress in this competition.

I would have ranted about how stupid Eiffel 65 were, but a couple of years ago David Guetta achieved the mathematically impossible feat of releasing a cover version that was nintey-twelvety trillion-bajillion times worse. Please don't google it: your ears will hate you forever. The Blue song goes in the same bin as 2 Unlimited.

But wait! Just when I thought all hope was lost, we have two genuine bangers.

Doo-bi-doo dee dooo

You've got to hold and flibble, do it at the right time, doo-bi-doo dee dooo, something about getting to the line. You tell 'em, John Barnes. Englandneworder's World in Motion is possibly the best football song of all time. Yes, even better than Pop Will Eat Itself's Touched by the Hand of Cicciolina.

Meanwhile, Mr. Oizo's Flat Beat introduced the world to Flat Eric, that floppy yellow puppet that smoked sausages while nailing business deals. Despite the novelty feel of this 1999 number one single, Quentin 'Oizo' Dupieux has impressive music and film-making pedigree. AND he stopped Eminem's debut single from getting to the top of the charts. That puppet is out of CONTROL.

Both of these songs have electronic music credentials, and they are back-of-the-net bangers. They were hits at opposite ends of the decade, but Englandneworder progress hand-in-hand with Mr. Oizo to the final of this competition.

I bet if you inflated Flat Eric until he nearly burst, he'd make a great football.

Mar 11, 2024

Ultimate 90s number one: Steel and Spice and some things nice

The fight for the best 1990s number one single continues. (See all the posts here.) This series of hastily-written and ill-thought-through blog posts will decide, once and for all, which 1990s chart topping single is the bestest and bleepiest of the decade.

Each time, I randomly choose ten (or so) singles, then pick one (or so) to go through to a final. Let's finger through the latest buffet of tasty tunes.

The contenders

George Michael: Jesus to a Child  |  George Michael and Elton John: Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me  |  LL Cool J: Ain't Nobody  |  Prince: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World  |  Shakespears Sister: Stay  |  Spice Girls: Say You'll Be There  |  The Tamperer featuring Maya: Feel It  |  Vengaboys: We're Going to Ibiza!  |  Westlife: If I Let You Go  |  U2: The Fly  |  Whitney Houston: I Will Always Love You

Bright balls

Let's start with opening a window to release the guff. George Michael doing Jesus to a Child is about as exciting as Alan Titchmarsh doing I Can Sing A Rainbow. I like a bit of Prince falsetto, but his ballad about beautiful girls was a load of Hallmark slop: "A face to be soft as a flower." Yeah, and balls as bright as begonias. Thanks for that insight, Prince. There's a Westlife single in this list, but I've already forgotten it exists.

The childish party anthem served up by the Vengaboys put me off Ibiza for life. Can you imagine being stuck at a resort with them? I just want to sit on a sun lounger and read my book. Preferably indoors. This would be the most annoying song on this list, but Whitney Houston belting out I Will Always Love You has my ears bleeding. The only positive spin on Whitney's overplayed warble waffle is that it kept Michael Jackson's shmaltzy Heal the World off the top spot.

Medical gloves

The mid-tier songs on this list are... fine. George Michael duetting with Elton John was enough to blow the cobwebs away, and the spiders along with it. LL Cool J's take on Chaka Khan's Ain't Nobody was fairly pedestrian. Meanwhile, Say You'll Be There is one of the better singles by the Spice Girls, heightened by a sci-fi video in which they kidnap men in a desert. Baby Spice wears blue medical gloves. They were definitely putting alien probes up bottoms.

Not feeling it

This list is randomly picked, and the top tier will not always turn out to be both banging and bleepy. Unfortunately, this is the case with this selection.

When it was released, U2's The Fly sent me wild. Steel and leather, and lots of television screens. A glorious U2 period. My one gigging regret is that I never got to see the Zoo TV tour. Despite Brian Eno having his hands on Bono's tiller, it doesn't really fit the bleepy criteria.

Next we have Stay by Shakespears Sister, one of the greatest number one singles of all time. The moral of its video narrative? Don't mess with Siobhan Fahey: she looks terrifying. In a way, its sinister sci-fi tones make it a sister single to Say You'll Be There. In a way.

All this brings us to The Tamperer's take on Can You Feel It by The Jacksons. It's the danciest song of this selection, but it's only a few grades above Vengaboys. I can't get excited about this being the best of this list. The high point of any wedding buffet are always the sausage rolls, but they're just sausage rolls. They'll never win a culinary award. Can You Feel It isn't even the best track called Can You Feel It (step forward Mr Fingers).

So all of this comes to nothing. You may be disappointed, but to quote the aforementioned Mr Fingers track, I am the creator and this is my house. Plenty more to come in this 1990s number one competition. Keep reading.