Greetings, Glancers! You may have picked up that I’m a Manic Street Preachers fan, and one of the only reasons I’m still on Facebook is to chuck my vote at one of the Manics fan group polls which does the rounds. It’s always pointless because Faster always wins, but at least I can see how the other fans think about certain songs.
Recently (due to low voting) the group owner, Terry ‘Sensai’ Lawrence, has scrapped the next Manics poll and decided to make a Best Songs Of The 90s poll. Specifically, the song entrants have to have made it into the Top 10 in the UK Singles charts at some point during the 1990s. The Manics will be represented, but Faster will not. Naturally I’ll be using this as a chance to catch up on some songs I either missed or have forgotten, and to vote and talk about it too. Here’s a link to the group if anyone is interested in joining.
Why make a blog post about it? I’ll write about any old shite and may as well use the daily poll format to talk about the songs and the groups. It’s a traditional football knock-out format – groups of four songs will ‘play’ each other in a mini league, with the top two songs from each group going into a cup format, progressing until there is a winner. If you’re curious about the songs, I’m going to list every single one, with my thoughts on each. If you want to play along, you can Spotify the tracks or join the group to vote. It looks like he’s posting 16 matches every day, so I’ll try to post along for as long as possible or until I get bored. I won’t post the specific matches – you’ll get the idea that each song in a group plays every other and can pick your winner yourself – but I’ll post the groups. According to the page, there are over 1600 songs to cover over 407 groups. That’s…. a lot. We start with the first eight:
The New Radicals – You Get What You Give: This is one of those songs which immediately takes me back to a time and place. I think it was 1999 and hit big around Spring, so just as I was entering exam time when I was 16. I recorded it off the radio so it was in regular rotation for me for a brief period of time. It’s not that great a song, but it has a chill vibe which always makes me nostalgic.
M People Angel Street: I had to Youtube this one to remind myself. M People are one of my most hated groups. That’s going too far, but they’ve always been an instant ‘turn that crap off’ for me, seemingly remaining popular because the lead singer has a unique voice. Unique doesn’t mean good. They’re also annoyingly jazzy. I must admit I don’t remember this song – the chorus maybe sounds familiar, but that could be because it’s generic. It’s fine, not as grating as most of the songs I’ve heard by M People.
Michael Jackson – Earth Song: Here’s my winner for this group. Obviously I’m a big MJ fan, but this was one of his last, best songs. I don’t expect the song to do very well in what started out as a Manics group.
Stereophonics – Pick A Part That’s New: I was never a huge fan of Stereophonics, but I’ll admit to liking a few of their hits. This one has the same sense of nostalgia I get from You Get What You Give. It came at that tail end peak of Brit pop. I still can’t get on with Kelly’s vocals, but it’s a decent song.
Dee Lite – What Is Love: There’s going to be a tonne of songs I can’t stand in this whole enterprise. Dee Lite will have made at least one of those songs, but I admit to not remembering what this was. There was an unbelievable amount of shite, what I class as Dance/Rave music in the 90s. It likely was influential and I still find it hilarious that the US is only now catching on to the awfully labelled EDM now when the UK has been blasting crap for decades with great success. This is typical of 90s Dance – cheap, repetitive, sounds like it was played and recorded on a Gameboy. It’s pretty horrible.
Echobeatz – Mas Que Nada: I didn’t know what this was until I played it. This was a bit of a football related hit for a while. It’s not bad, catchy, but it’s also very cheap. There will be many, many one hit wonders such as this on this poll. This will be one of the least annoying. It also does that thing of having a scantily clad video, which was huge for dance tracks in the 90s and beyond, so if you like boobs – enjoy!
Madonna – Beautiful Stranger: I haven’t got around to finishing my Madonna rarities posts, but this will be on there. I like it, good song. My group winner.
D Mob Ft Nuff Juice – Put Your Hands Together: No clue what this is. Presumably a one hit wonder, but feel free to tell me I’m wrong. I’ve never heard this, but listening now… sure. Dance based Rap. Nothing very exciting, decent pace, trash lyrics.
Happy Mondays – Step On: I begrudge voting for Happy Mondays because they’re outrageously overrated, but look at the state of the rest of this group. This is one of their better songs, and by ‘better’, I mean 6 out of 10.
Bitty McClean – Dedicated To The One I Love: I often remember that Bitty McClean was a thing, and laugh my ass off. The UK has this weird fondness for shite reggae – obviously there’s a culture heritage thing going on, which is great. But the music, at least that which made it to the charts, is uniformly terrible. Bitty McClean seemingly made a career out of covers. His covers are frequently the worst versions. This is perfectly pleasant and unnecessary.
Clubhouse Ft Carl – Light My Fire: I’ve no idea who or what Carl, or Clubhouse is. But this is another one hit wonder of the dance variety, and as you would expect it’s repetitive, cheap junk. A shambles.
The Wonderstuff – On The Ropes: I know them from Dizzy. I can’t think of anything else I’ve heard, but playing this it sounds familiar. I know I’ve heard this at some point, but I can’t place it. I mean, I’ve probably heard all of these songs at some point because I watched TOTP every week and listened to the radio most days. Seems like an okay, forgettable song.
Phats & Small – Feel Good: One hit wonder. The vocals… there’s something familiar. It doesn’t sound cheap. Fair enough, not my kind of music, but I can feel it.
OMC – How Bizarre: One hit wonder. This was a meme before mems were a thing. Anything strange happened in school? How bizarre. How bizahh how bizzah. It doesn’t quite hit that nostalgic groove as the others mentioned, the video is embarrassing, the vocals are not good, but a chill vibe.
Madonna – I’ll Remember – Madonna is going to be all over this poll. It’s another rarity I’ll cover in that post when I get to it, but it’s a lightweight, average single by the Queen Of Pop.
Spice Girls – Viva Forever: The Spic Girls are going to be all over this poll. One of the better Spice Girls songs. I’ve always had a fondness for it. My group winner.
Cast – Walk Away: I had a bit of a love/hate thing going on with Cast back in the day. They seemed to my naive young mind as a cheap Oasis clone, with worse hair and worse songs. But sometimes they had a good song. Listening decades later, this is quite nice but ultimately feels too tame and lacks the emotional impact it seems to give other people.
Janet Jackson – What’ll I Do: As much of a Michael fan as I was, that never extended to the rest of the family. There are very few Janet songs I’ve heard (until now) that I enjoy. This is one of those, though I don’t really remember it. It has a distinct Britpop mixed with Motown vibe, which is cool.
Prodigy – Firestarter: It’s Firestarter. You love it. My group winner.
The Cartoons – Doo Dah: One of those One Hit Wonders which people despise, while loving other objectively or equally worse one hit wonder songs. Many of those are on this list. I have some sort of fondness for this song. It’s no Witch Doctor. It is terrible, but it knows it’s terrible, and therefore is somehow tolerable. You couldn’t listen to it for more than 40 seconds without having a hernia, but still…
Embrace – Come Back To What You Know: Embrace was always a Coldplay V0.9, but if pushed I would say I prefer Embrace. They’re not twats about being bland. This was their big hit. It’s fine.
Wet Wet Wet – Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now: The band had a number of hits in the 90s, but on name alone I don’t remember this. They’re generally music for Mummy In Laws, but not usually offensive. Terrible music video. This is cheery, and in the hands of a decent band this could have been turned into something marginally better. There’s a solid core melody, but they cheese the fuck out of it.
The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go: This came out in the 90s? Okay. My group winner.
911 – All I Want Is You: The first boy band entry, of which there are sure to be hundreds. Each group was worse than the one before. This is exactly what you would expect from a boy band – you could write it yourself even if you lacked the power of language and had no concept of music.
Fatboy Slim – Right Here Right Now: If there’s one musician I’d happily have removed from the history books, it’s Fatboy Slim. Having said that, I do like this one. Probably the only one I do. My group winner.
Everything But The Girl – Walking Wounded: I never really understood the appeal of Everything But The Girl. This is very weak and I have zero recollection of it.
Garbage – When I Grow Up: I had to check this out because I couldn’t remember the name. I immediately remembered it, of course. I wasn’t the biggest Garbage fan in the world – they passed me by like many of the riot grrrl groups of the 90s. I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying it’s good – not as good as their biggest hits, but it’s fine.
Cliff Richard – Millennium Prayer: Cliff sure loves the baby Jesus. It goes without saying that this is one of the worst musical atrocities of the decade.
Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be: One of the dance acts I had any respect for in the 90s. Good tune.
Candy Flip – Strawberry Fields Forever: One hit wonder. Dance. Cheap. Not repetitive because it’s actually a fairly faithful cover, but given that early 90s glazed eyes pill-popping softness. As bad as that sounds.
Notorious BIG – Mo Money Mo Problems: One of the few B.I.G songs I know. That era passed be by for the most part. Good tune. My group winner.
Blur – Tender: I’m not a big Blur fan. This is one of their more wafting and dull songs.
There you go. There will be many, many more of these posts assuming I keep up with them. What are your group winners? Which songs are completely new to you? Let us know in the comments!