Why 1990 was the best and worst year in UK pop music history

I have argued in previous posts that 1979 and 1982 were both the best years in UK pop music history. To continue my inconsistency, I will now claim that 1990 was both the best and worst year in UK pop music history. It was truly ambivalent.

Here is the evidence.

In January, this tremendous slice of trip-hop made it to No. 7 in the UK Singles Chart, which was a good start:



However, the dreadful Hangin' Tough by New Kids On The Block reached No. 1.

In February, things improved as a Depeche Mode classic climbed to No. 6...




...but sadly Michael Bolton promptly made it to No. 3 with the awful 'How Am I Supposed To Live Without You?'

In the spring, things were remediated when this magically quirky little ditty made it as high as No. 6:



But its magic was soon cancelled out by Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract", Heart's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You", and the extraordinary blandness of Wilson Phillips' "Hold On".

To improve things enormously, the summer singles-buying public gave their thumbs-up to the novelty of a good football song, whilst also providing New Order with their first-ever No. 1:



However, they immediately undid their good work by also propelling Bombalurina and Timmy Mallett to No. 1 in their Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.

Whilst interpretations of I'm Free and Tom's Diner alleviated matters somewhat, Turtle Power and Hanky Panky did not, and are best not mentioned.

Thank Jiminy for The Beautiful South then, whose domestic duet with a brilliant video topped the charts in October:



At the same time, thank Satan for the execrable "Have You Seen Her?" which droned its way into the top ten and proved that MC Hammer really couldn't touch his earlier hit of the year.

After Italia '90 and World In Motion, everyone loved Gazza, so this perhaps explains him also grabbing an autumn top ten single. It doesn't excuse its rubbishness though.

If Gazza had joined Bez that would have been much better, as he and his Happy Mondays kinked and afroed to No. 5:



Then came Christmas, with the inevitability of Cliff Richard (with his "Saviour's Day"), not to mention the New Kids On The Block claiming "This One's For The Children". The only counterbalance was provided by this dark, brooding classic reaching No. 10:



So, in conclusion, 1990 features both some of my favourite songs and some of the worst Top Ten singles in music history. There has rarely been a record bag quite so mixed.


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