It’s probably fair to assume that most of the people reading this don’t have a clue what’s Number One right now. I would be amazed if anyone reading this would be able to endure a listen to the entirety of the countdown on Radio One on a Sunday these days and I’d be fairly surprised if anyone has had the inclination at any point in the last five years. The demise of the physical formats and the rise of the talent show pop star-dominated Top 40 have long since put paid to my interest in what singles are being bought in any given week.
A Saturday night in then, and something is stirring. ITV’s “The Nation’s Favourite Number One”Â has awoken something that has lain dormant inside me for at least a decade. Number One singles. We know what to expect by now with the list show, the Best Something or the Worst Something counted down while we’re entertained by talking heads recounting word for word things that they can only possibly remember by being played the clip and being asked to pass comment on it. John Robb is sadly absent this time, Mark Radcliffe is selected to give an air of credibility to Fern Cotton’s proceedings – and this time it’s voted for by the public (well ITV viewers and Daily Mirror readers), right?
Tuning in I’m expecting the usual suspects: Bohemian Rhapsody, Imagine, we know the drill. I’m also expecting the countdown to be weighted toward the post-millenium – so a sprinkling of Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and suchlike. I take pleasure in scoffing as Gary Barlow tells us that Imagine ”Ësums up music’. ”ËImagine’ if rich people didn’t put their earnings into offshore tax havens, Gary.
Pete Waterman tells us that the Kinks invented Heavy Metal. So far, so very list show. I’m fairly shocked though as the list unfolds that the zombified voting public have plumped for Procol Harum, Ian Dury, The Animals, Adam & The Ants. Perhaps Simon Cowell has failed to turn us into a nation of zombies after all.
Well, it turns out that we’re none the wiser on which parts of pop’s rich pickings are still tickling the tastebuds. A ”Ëpanel of popstars’ have chosen 60 number ones, roughly evenly weighted over time, and the public are merely voting to put them in order. Great. Hence we’re served up ‘Stand & Deliver’ rather than the superior ‘Prince Charming’. Hence the absence of any recent hits aside from an offering from Adele. Hence the best number one of the 2000s, the brilliant ”ËGroovejet’ with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on vocals, is nowhere in sight. I begin to make a list of ”Ëmissing top drawer number ones’ that deserved consideration but frankly, I went back through the somewhat ”Ëbarren spell’ of the past 12 years – no Arctic Monkeys, Sugababes… and had 30 already… it soon became apparent that I didn’t have the paper or pencil lead, or for that matter desire, to get as far as ‘Ghost Town’ or ‘Geno’, let alone the Motown-era.
Just to add a whole new level of farce to proceedings, during the ad-break we are sold ”ËNow That’s What I Call A Number One’, which features 60 number ones that turn out to barely overlap the tracks in ITV’s countdown. So what has been the point of this exercise? Well, Gary Barlow andPaul Gambaccini are a few quid richer, ITV have sold some ad time, the Daily Mirror has shifted a few more copies and… we can only hope that some kid is watching – or listening to his mum’s copy of the Now CD ”â and is suitably inspired by ”ËI Heard It Through The Grapevine’ or ”ËDon’t You Want Me’ to set to work on his or her own chart-topping masterpiece, if such a thing isn’t by now extinct.