The Best Years For #1s?

I was talking earlier about the #1 single culture in the UK. Quite apart from the breadth of the British music taste, it is often pretty decent quality. Most years, around half of the #1 singles will be good: given the quality of the rest of the top 40, that’s a good batting average! I would like to go through the three years I think the best for number ones. (Data courtesy of


Date Artist Single Weeks at #1 Comments
16 Jan 1982 Bucks Fizz Land Of Make Believe 2 I… I kinda like this one.
30 Jan 1982 Shakin’ Stevens Oh Julie 1 This as well.
6 Feb 1982 Kraftwerk The Model 1 An album track from 1978 hits #1 in 1982. That’s how ahead of their time Kraftwerk were.
13 Feb 1982 Jam A Town Called Malice 3 I quite like the shift from the new wave-style Jam.
6 Mar 1982 Tight Fit The Lion Sleeps Tonight 3 This just makes me think of “The Lion King”!
27 Mar 1982 Goombay Dance Band Seven Tears 3 Don’t know this one.
17 Apr 1982 Bucks Fizz My Camera Never Lies 1 Or this.
24 Apr 1982 Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder Ebony And Ivory 3 Not one of their best, from either of them!
15 May 1982 Nicole A Little Peace 2 A Eurovision winner, in a less cynical age.
29 May 1982 Madness House Of Fun 2 Class!
12 June 1982 Adam Ant Goody Two Shoes 2 His schtick was starting to wear thin.
26 June 1982 Charlene I’ve Never Been To Me 1 Don’t know this one either.
3 July 1982 Captain Sensible Happy Talk 2 WTF was Captain Sensible doing? The Damned’s hidden pop sensibility did emerge – they covered “Help!” for example.
17 Jul 1982 Irene Cara Fame 3 This just makes me think of naff gay bars and women dancing round the handbag.
7 Aug 1982 Dexy’s Midnight Runners Come On Eileen 4 Love this!
4 Sep 1982 Survivor Eye Of The Tiger 4 Where the “Rocky” films become ridiculous – and therefore need a ROCK soundtrack.
2 Oct 1982 Musical Youth Pass The Dutchie 3 Great one hit wonder!
23 Oct 1982 Culture Club Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? 3 Can’t fault this, but what a dreadful man Boy George seems nowadays.
13 Nov 1982 Eddy Grant I Don’t Wanna Dance 3 One of the first songs I remember! Great.
4 Dec 1982 Jam Beat Surrender 2 Nice to hear a new-waver pushing their boundaries. So few did.
18 Dec 1982 Renée & Renato Save Your Love 4 Don’t know this one either.


6 Jan 1979 Village People Y.M.C.A. 3 Still a great song, if totally hackneyed.
27 Jan 1979 Ian Dury & The Blockheads Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick 1 Brilliant. The sort of song, and the sort of act, you never get in the Top Ten these days.
3 Feb 1979 Blondie Heart Of Glass 4 PHWOAH. Brilliant song too!
3 Mar 1979 Bee Gees Tragedy 2 A group whose reputation was destroyed by those covering them – like Abba.
17 Mar 1979 Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive 4 Yawn. Well, it’s still a good song.
14 Apr 1979 Art Garfunkel Bright Eyes 6 Don’t know this one.
26 May 1979 Blondie Sunday Girl 3 One of the many rough-edged bands to go pop.
16 Jun 1979 Anita Ward Ring My Bell 2 Don’t know this one.
30 Jun 1979 Tubeway Army (Gary Numan) Are ‘Friends’ Electric 4 Still a brilliant song. The Sugagbabes cover “Freak Like Me” is also very good.
28 Jul 1979 Boomtown Rats I Don’t Like Mondays 4 #1 when I was born! Great song.
25 Aug 1979 Cliff Richard We Don’t Talk Anymore 4 One of Cliff’s better tunes.
22 Sep 1979 Gary Numan Cars 1 Utter classic. (The Fear Factory cover is also terrific).
29 Sep 1979 Police Message In A Bottle 3 Never been a fan of The Police, or Sting.
20 Oct 1979 Buggles Video killed The Radio Star 1 Fine pop song.
27 Oct 1979 Lena Martell One Day At A Time 3 Don’t know this one.
17 Nov 1979 Dr Hook When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman 3 Not one of theirs that I know. “Mum rock”.
8 Dec 1979 Police Walking On The moon 1 Yaaaaawn.
15 Dec 1979 Pink Floyd Another Brick In The Wall 5 You could look at “The Wall” as a rant against UK institutions: in that sense, it’s almost Thatcherite. (Roger would hate me for saying that…)


5 Jan 1991 Iron Maiden Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter 2 Many people think this is their worst song, but I like it!
19 Jan 1991 Enigma Sadness Part 1 1 Lovely song.
26 Jan 1991 Queen Innuendo 1 Queen’s finest song in years.
2 Feb 1991 KLF 3 AM Eternal 2 Briefly the best band in the world.
16 Feb 1991 Simpsons Do The Bartman 3 The novelty song is still alive and well. This is maybe one of the better ones.
9 Mar 1991 Clash Should I Go Or Should I Stay 2 One of the Levis #1s. Awesome song.
23 Mar 1991 Hale & Pace The Stonk 1 You can taste the 1991 in this.
30 Mar 1991 Chesney Hawkes The One And Only 5 Ouch.
4 May 1991 Cher Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss) 5 My mum and sister liked this A LOT.
8 Jun 1991 Color Me Badd I Wanna Sex You Up 3 Crap
29 Jun 1991 Jason Donovan Any Dream Will Do 2 Sickly crap.
13 Jul 1991 Bryan Adams (Everything I Do) I Do It For You 16 Decent song, but damn, those 16 weeks were agony!
2 Nov 1991 U2 The Fly 1 In  retrospect, an odd choice for the first single from “Achtung Baby”. I would’ve gone for “(Ever Better Than) The Real Thing”. They clearly wanted to shake up their image.
9 Nov 1991 Vic Reeves & The Wonder Stuff Dizzy 2 Love this.
23 Nov 1991 Michael Jackson Black Or White 2 Jackson’s videos were often better than his songs by now.
7 Dec 1991 George Michael & Elton John Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me 2 Bit pointless.
21 Dec 1991 Queen Bohemian Rhapsody 5 Still an legendary, genius song. (But note how similar it is to “Happiness Is A Warm Gun”).

One thought on “The Best Years For #1s?

  1. ’91 seems an odd choice, given that the top spot was hogged by The Groover for nearly a full third of the sodding year. And most of the better songs here were covers/re-releases.

    And I’d take ’81 or ’83 over ’82 – especially ’81: opening with a couple of Lennon re-issues, and then the Roxy Music cover of Jealous Guy; Adam Ant’s two best singles, Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming; The Police’s best single (I know…), Every Little Thing She Does; and Under Pressure from Queen and Bowie. And that’s just the filler. Ghost Town, Tainted Love, and Don’t You Want Me could each have made it a pretty outstanding year on their own. All three of them???!!!

    I suspect I’d agree that ’79 is annus mirabilis – almost no shit at all in that collection.

    I suppose I tend to be more old school, though. I have an abiding weakness for the pop songs of the ’60s. ’64 and ’66 were particularly rich years, but there were hardly any weak ones in that decade. 1970 was pretty awesome, too – Voodoo Child made No. 1?! I’d never known that.

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