Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Number Two Thing

An alert reader has let me know that BBC's Radio 2 has a poll running for the nation's favorite #2 hits (though you don't have to live in the UK to vote).  The 'panel of experts' chose over 100 #2s from the Official Charts (no NME chart #2s post-'60 alas).  Now in theory I should be happy about this, but as usual there is something to bother me, not least of which is the...ordinariness of the songs.  I know it's Radio 2 and all, but someone seems to have thought that all Britpop songs had to be there, not to mention all Elvis Presley songs, including one that actually was never a #2 to begin with*...and then there's the matter of songs like, oh, "Last Christmas" which is rather sour grapes to complain about not getting to #1, seeing as how it's like the biggest-selling #2 of all time, behind this bothersome trifle called "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

And to top it all off, someone from the Official Charts is going to come in and give the winner of this poll 'an honorary number one.'  This totally misunderstands the nature of music and the nature of charts; a nature I hope I have been able to trace so far in this blog.  Songs get to #2 in many ways; in the old days, it was a simple case of being popular but not that popular; latterly it is songs that debut at #2 and then slowly fall in the chart, or perhaps they rise and fall, becoming much bigger songs in the public's psyche than the #1s that come and go.  The number two is a natural opposition placement; the official opposition, if you like, to the top spot.  Giving a song an 'honorary' status makes a mess of that, and not a good and fruitful one, either.  It is also a poll that seems to sneer at the fact that these songs were stopped by uniformly awful #1s, which isn't the case; but it also manages to ignore that these songs have fended very well for themselves, and that in the end the public has awarded them with classic status, where chart placements and such don't mean very much. 

And no, they didn't include me in their panel of experts.  If they had, you would see these nominees at least - "O Superman" - "I.O.U." - "Lovefool" - "One More Time" - "Antmusic" - "Funkytown" - "Magic Fly" - "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and "Excerpt From 'A Teenage Opera'" - all of which are at least good, and sometimes great, if not amazing songs.  Alas, there is no write-in vote...     

Still, I feel compelled to vote, and wish they had asked me for advice at least; but for which song, dear readers?

*"Don't Be Cruel"; it ought to be "Don't" of course.

3 comments:

Mark G said...

The idea of the 'honorary' number one makes me insist that everyone has to vote for the Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen"..

They have rather stuck to the 'often told stories' list, so we get to hear about Band-Aid stopping some 'singles-with-bad-timing' that'd otherwise would have made it, Vienna being held off by Joe Dolce, "I'm Too Sexy" being held off by Bryan Adams, Lennon/StWinifreds and soooh on..

But then, every single that got to number two only is a single that would have made nu,mber one if one other record hadn't been available that week...

MikeMCSG said...

Any poll which restricts you to the "experts'" choices is automatically bogus ( and I think goes back to R1's genuinely democratic best singles poll in 1988 which came out with Bros's "I Owe You Nothing" as the winner). I agree with most of your nominations Lena ; my own if not already there would be "Part Of The Union", "Golden Brown" , "Yesterday Once More", "Can't Stand Losing You" and, outright winner, "Mmm Mmm Mmm."

malmo58 said...

Totally agree with Lena and Mike. The poll would only have had any true meaning if we'd had the chance to vote for all the #2s of all time (with perhaps an end of 2010 cut-off date to avoid a result like Bros' record winning the number ones poll months after it was a hit).