Jun 6, 2020

On my mind: The Guardian's 100 greatest UK No 1s

The Pet Shop Boys

The Guardian's 100 greatest UK No 1s had some pretty good selections. It's hard to go wrong when you're picking 100 highlights from fewer than 1,500 songs, most of which are hogwash. Take a random year as an example: 1999 number ones by Chef, The Offspring, Boyzone or the Mambo No 5 bloke were hardly going to trouble the list.

Pet Shop Boys' topped their poll, which is entirely the correct choice. Their take on Elvis's Always On My Mind has an incredible energy, like a firework exploding in the boot of a car – I've always considered this the best Christmas number one, so I'm happy to extend it to the best chart topper of all time. Sadly, the Guardian opted for West End Girls as the greatest number one; any fool knows that the other PSB number ones, Heart and It's A Sin, are better than 'Girls. Pfffrt. Just you wait till I get you home, The Guardian.

The Chemical Brothers were just inside their top 50, while the Prodigy soared into their top ten, troubling the likes of Michael Jackson and the Human League. Steve 'Silk' Hurley's Jack Your Body was also in the mix, with it being labelled as "the most minimal No 1 of all time". Black Box and Daft Punk were included, although the latter's only number one song is hardly their best.

Killer made it into their list, with the Guardian praising its perfect design, as did I just last week. Kraftwerk's The Model is also in there, with a welcome shout-out to its brilliant flip-side Computer Love. And while we're doing k-words, the KLF's 3am Eternal made it quite high up the list, proving the ancients of Mu-Mu still have some mojo. This made me sad that Last Train To Trancentral never got to number one. Still, all of these were great to see.

They chose Snap!'s Rhythm Is a Dancer, which I'm sure they were as serious as gout about, but I would have probably have gone for Snap!'s other number one, The Power. That track was so strange and discordant, confusing my head at the time before my heart fell in love with it. The Power knocked Beats International's Dub Be Good To Me off the top spot – another missed contender in this list.

They should have included Pump Up The Volume by MARRS, which incidentally stands for band members Martyn, Alex, Rudy, Russell and Steve. They're like ABBA but with less knitwear. The band didn't get on, and it was a miracle they ever released anything, never mind create a chart-topping acid house classic. And how on earth The Guardian missed The Shamen's Ebeneezer Goode, I have no idea.

There were some outsider choices I would have like to have seen, and would have no doubt made a top 200. For the 1990s, I love the indie spirit of White Town's pin-sharp Your Woman ("So much for all your highbrow Marxist ways, just use me up and then you walk away"), while I mourn the exclusion of Flat Beat by Mr Oizo, which was a blow to yellow puppets everywhere.

There are some 21st century outsiders I'd liked to have seen: Rihanna's Diamonds (they chose Umbrella); Duck Sauce's Barbra Streisand; David Guetta's epic Titanium; Tinie Tempah's Scunthorpe-namechecking Pass Out. Nothing much interesting to say about them – I just like the tunes, dammit.

Like I say, it's an easy list to generally get right, even for people like me who find it difficult to focus on anything before 1987. And not a single mention of Lou Bega's fifth Mambo, despite its remarkable lyric "It's all good, let me dump it, please set in the trumpet". Pardon?

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