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.


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.

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