So I’ve added a second part to yesterday’s article here, an appendix, or addendum to yesterday’s article. Here are my findings across the series so far, which will be expanded every ten volumes. Theories, trends and such, and bullying of the useless prat Paul Weller.
Are you paying attention at the back? I have graphs and pop hypotheses. I’m that exciting! Stop passing notes! There’ll be a test on this next week!
So my first important finding for pop scholars of the future is that the best pop music is released in even numbered years. Here is a graph that proves this with science!
And just for the sake of making this into a Powerpoint presentation, here is a similar graph, in 3D, which proves nothing further, arranged by Now! volume, in electric green.
1) Phil Collins (including Genesis) – 13 songs
Featuring on 65% of all Now! albums over 8 years. There’s some great songs (In the Air Tonight) and some less great songs, but by jove, there’s a hella lot of songs. Patrick Bateman will be so pleased!
2) Communards (inc. Bronski Beat & Jimmy Somerville) – 12 songs
Just south of the win, and brilliantly consistent until The Communards split up, a victory for Radio 4’s most loved contributor!
3) Queen (inc. Freddie Mercury) – 10 songs
Less surprising really. It’s Queen. They are brilliant.
4) UB40 – 10 songs
Again, on half of the Now! albums so far, it’s a big win for Birmingham based reggae. As an adopted Brummie, I am so very proud.
5) Tina Turner – 8 songs
Because nobody does 80’s soul music better. You could say she’s simply the best female artist of the 80s. Better than all the rest of the female artists of this period. Better than anyone other than Phil Collins, The Communards, Queen and UB40, although this may be a byproduct of the patriarchal nature of the music industry. Anyone I’ve ever met.
Simply the Best
According to my scientific and empirically unimpeachable system*, the best artists in terms of quality over the first 20 Now! albums are as follows;
1) Pet Shop Boys/ The Beautiful South (inc. The Housemartins) – 93% from 7 songs
Both deservedly at the top, although possibly indicative of my preference for witty pop acts with a good few brain cells to bounce off each other. Seeing this, the idea of a Paul Heaton/Neil Tennant superpop song is too irresistible for words.
2) Fine Young Cannibals – 90% from 5 songs
Brilliant unexpected entry here! I was aware of all the songs, but wasn’t aware that they were all released over this 8 year period. They really were on top of their game!
3) Duran Duran/ Erasure – 86% from 7 songs
Duran Duran ruling the 80’s is pretty unsurprising. But I always thought Erasure were an ersatz Pet Shop Boys, with one or two good songs. It turns out my assumptions were very wrong, and I am very happy that I have had my prejudices removed here.
4) Queen (inc. Freddie) – 85% from 10 songs
Impressive to have stayed so good, in spite of such a prodigious output. But again. this is Queen. There’s a reason they’re remembered so fondly. They’d be even higher with the inclusion of Now 21, which has Bohemian Rhapsody on it! (Correction… no they wouldn’t. It has a Brian May solo track too. Get back to your clogs and badgers, good sir!)
5) Tina Turner – 80% from 8 songs
I said all I need to say above, and sadly can’t work out a better joke involving Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome. Hey, I’m disappointed too.
I’d Rather Go Blind
A wise man once said that every action has an equal reaction. And so, here are the empirically worst entries to the pop canon.
1) Style Council – 0% from 5 songs
They say that if you throw enough shit at a wall, eventually some will stick. Paul Weller, I’m still waiting.
2) Culture Club (inc. Boy George and Jesus Loves You) / Level 42 / Simple Minds –25% from 6 songs
None of these acts are terrible per se, but they have all released a lot of dull, uninspired, turgid music. I actually thought I liked Boy George a lot more before I actually listened to him. He’s still a fabulous bitch, but how he ever got by as a singer is a mystery to me.
3) Cliff Richard – 30% from 5 songs
And let’s be honest, he hasn’t even released The Millennium Prayer yet, for which I might deduct the few points he has.
4) INXS – 40% from 5 songs
Because they’ll never live up to the opening riff from Need You Tonight. Sorrynotsorry Australia.
5) Phil Collins (inc. Genesis) – 50% from 5 songs
I’m a little aggrieved at this one. The 50% that wasn’t crap was great. It’s feast or famine with Phil Collins, he’s either a genius or a load of old crap.
One Hit Wonders
Here, in a quick block of text, are the artists who have (so far!), had one great song, and no more on the last 20 Now! albums (anything I feel shouldn’t be on here, because they’re better than this and deserve more entries is highlighted in bold)
2 Unlimited, 808 State, ABC, All About Eve, Baltimora, Ben E. King, Berlin, Betty Boo, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, Bluebells, Bob Marley, Bobby McFerrin, Bombalurina, Bon Jovi, Bonnie Tyler, C and C Music Factory, Candi Staton, Candy Flip, Chris De Burgh, Clash, Coldcut, Commentators, Conway Brothers, Cutting Crew, Damned, Depeche Mode, Derek B, DNA, Donna Allen, Eddie Cochran, Eddy Grant, Electribe 101, Europe, Faith No More, Free, Fresh 4, Furniture, Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey, Grace Jones, Grandmaster Flash, Happy Mondays, Harold Faltermeyer, Hollies, House of Love, Huey Lewis and the News, Inspiral Carpets, Iron Maiden, Jackie Wilson, Jam Tronik, James, James Brown, Janet Jackson, Jesus Jones, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, Joyce Sims, JT and the Big Family, Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kirsty MacColl, Kiss, Lil Louis, Lionel Richie, Lloyd Cole, Los Lobos, Lovebug Starski, Mantronix, Marc Almond, Marc Cohn, MARRS, Massive Attack, Matthew Wilder, Men at Work, Men Without Hats, Moby, Monty Python, Nena, New Edition, Nick Berry, Nina Simone, Nu Shooz, Orbital, Owen Paul, Pete Wylie, Peter Gabriel, PM Dawn, Pointer Sisters, Poison, Primal Scream, Prince, Proclaimers, Propaganda, Public Image Ltd, Ray Parker Jr, Real Roxanne, Redhead Kingpin, Richard Marx, Robbie Nevil, Rock Steady Crew, Rockwell, Rose Royce, Rozalla, Run DMC, Sabrina, Sam Brown, Scorpions, Shakespears Sister, Sly Fox, The Smiths, Specials, Squeeze, Stan Ridgway, Stephen ‘Tintin’ Duffy, Steve Miller Band, Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley, Taffy, Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, The Las, Thomas Dolby, Tone Loc, Vanessa Paradis, Wee Papa Girl Rappers, Will Powers, Wonder Stuff, Yello
One Shit Blunders
And conversely, here are the artists who have had one chance, and BLEW IT. (anything I feel shouldn’t be on here, because they’re otherwise good is highlighted in bold)
49ers, Alarm, Amazulu, Art Company, Aurra, Bizz Nizz, Blow Monkeys, Boris Gardiner, Breathe, Bucks Fizz, Cathy Dennis, Chris Isaak, Chris Rea, David Sylvian, Dead or Alive, Don McLean, E Zee Possee, Enigma, Enya, Eugene Wilde, Fiction Factory, Gap Band, Gary Glitter, Glass Tiger, Glenn Medeiros, Gwen Guthrie, Hale and Pace, Hazell Dean, Jane Wiedlin, Joe Fagin, John Waite, Julia and Company, Kane Gang, Kenny Thomas, Kool and the Gang, Krush, Lisa Stansfield, Loose Ends, Mel & Kim, Mental As Anything, Midnight Star, Mission, Nick Heyward, Nick Kamen, Oleta Adams, Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald, Pepsi and Shirlie, Praise, Quireboys, Railway Children, Re-Flex, Rick Astley, Robin Beck, Rod Stewart, Samantha Fox, Siouxie and the Banshees, Snowy White, Steve Arrington, Steve Winwood, Stevie B, The Adventures of Stevie V, Thunder, Two Men, a Drum Machine and a Trumpet, Waterfront, Wendy and Lisa, Westworld, Will Downing, Zoe
And finally, the playlist
* There’s a spreadsheet. There’s always a spreadsheet. A great song is given one point, average half a point, and a crap son, nil points. This is then divided by the number of songs and multiplied by 100 to give a percentage score. You just wasted 20 seconds of your life reading this.