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.

No comments: