The End of Another Decade
Historians of British pop will look back on the noughties as the decade a once-vital, progressive and unifying cultural force ran out of ideas, sold out to the TV industry, then shriveled into irrelevance. Either that, or they'll just laugh in sheer despair. Here are the singles that sold the most in the last ten years.
1. Will Young - Evergreen
2. Gareth Gates - Unchained Melody
3. Shaggy - It Wasn't Me
4. Tony Christie/Peter Kay - Is This The Way To Amarillo?
5. Band Aid 20 - Do They Know It's Christmas?
6. Hear’Say - Pure And Simple
7. Shayne Ward - That's My Goal
8. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head
9. Bob The Builder - Can We Fix It
10. Atomic Kitten - Whole Again
So that's four from ITV talent shows, two charity singles (both of them cover versions), one juvenile novelty record for toddlers (two if you count 'It Wasn't Me'), leaving only two original records.
It's worth noting that 'Unchained Melody' - the Robson & Jerome version - was also the second best selling single of the '90s: proof that Simon Cowell's dominance of the pop industry has now spanned two decades.
Compare the past decade's biggest songs with the corresponding list from the 1980s, which encompasses acts as high-minded, original and downright weird as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Human League and Dexys Midnight Runners.
What's even more embarrassing is that this creepy hollowing-out of pop is a purely UK phenomenon. The global list features Shakira, Britney Spears and Katy Perry, with not one cover version between them. In terms of quality and adventurousness, it makes our Top 10 look shockingly amateurish and gaudy.
A counter-argument could be the Top 10 is not representative; there's been plenty of great British pop in the noughties; Xenomania and Girls Aloud. And yes, there have been occasional flares of brilliance. But these are droplets in a desert.
The fact is, the pop charts were once a window onto Britain's exuberant, eccentric, uniquely accelerated cultural life. Now they're a wasteland.
Published: 10 December 2009