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.

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