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THE TVC UPDATE'S REAL 100 BEST SINGLES EVER...

Compiled by the subscribers to the TV Cream Update, our regular retronews mailout (subscribe now) in the summer of 2002, this is the list of the real top 100 singles of all time, ie the records people really love as opposed to the ones that they just automatically vote for in polls like this. Hence no Beatles, no REM and no Oasis.

We've fed all the votes into the TVC mastercomputer ERIC (and he's very fussy), and the results emerged like this...

100 WHAT TIME IS LOVE? - THE KLF
Now sadly all but overshadowed by the increasingly irritating po-mo antics that studded their decline (burning a million quid, The K Foundation, 2K et al), but in 1991 this was fantastically thrilling pop.

99 I WANT YOUR LOVE - TRANSVISION VAMP
Not that we're advocating a reappraisal of The Little Magnets Vs Bubble Bobble or whatever it was called, but c'mon, it was great. And we liked Baby I Don't Care, too. Good old Tex Axile...

98 AVENUES AND ALLEYWAYS - TONY CHRISTIE
Never mind that "ironic" easy boom of 1996, this is sweepingly brilliant, especially the neat 'Sleep like a baby'/'Wake up my pretty' conceit in the verses, and none the worse for being the theme from The Protectors.

97 EVERYBODY'S GOT TO LEARN SOMETIME - THE KORGIS
Staple end-of-term school disco something-in-my-eye business.

96 JUDY IN DISGUISE WITH GLASSES - JOHN FRED AND THE PLAYBOY BAND
Not entirely sure what's going on here. Curious late 60s Anglo Bubbly rip-off of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds that sounded like the soundtrack to one of those dune buggy sequences on The Banana Splits. And what kind of name is John Fred?

95 STAR - KIKI DEE
"Staaaaaar! That's what they call you!" Fab pounding MOR meditation on being "a video star" as nicked by Bob Monkhouse. When opportunity comes your way - don't knock it.

94 FAREWELL MY SUMMER LOVE - MICHAEL JACKSON
In the 70s he was making sunny records about next-door crushes on girls visiting their grandma. In the 90s he was attempting to salvage the planet by stamping his foot and wailing a bit. As Marcus Bentley says, you decide.

93 NUMERO UNO - STARLIGHT
Ah, Italo House - the summer of 89, all mad pianos, frenetic samples and shouty session singers. Everyone remembers Ride On Time and forgets this, which is a shame cos it's miles, miles better.

92 HUM RUSH - KMD
The greatest rap novelty crossover hit that never was. Just as De La Soul started acting all snooty, three NY kids sample Bert from Sesame Street ("Oh boy, an empty place! The perfect place to practice the exciting art of... humming!") Somehow, Set Adrift On Memory Bliss went to the top instead. For shame.

91 PUMP UP THE VOLUME - M/A/R/R/S
Hard to credit it now but in 1987 this represented some kind of threat - it even got on the Six O'Clock News, for instance. First number one for 4AD. We still await the second.

90 S-S-S-SINGLE BED - FOX
You knew it was coming. But it's fantastic. Noosha's Deitrich-on-helium vocals, that daft jerky guitar riff, the heroically unsubtle synth stabs, and of course that guitar talkbox break.

89 ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG) - RUPERT HOLMES
Yes, we like pina coladas. And getting caught in the rain.

88 SUSSUDIO - PHIL COLLINS
Falling squarely into the category "the one you're allowed to like by", if not entirely erasing the memory of Phil's awful rolled-up jacket sleeves.

87 THE MODEL - KRAFTWERK
Number one for one magnificently inexplicable week in 1982, which at least phased Tony Blackburn if nothing else.

86 BRILLIANT MIND - FURNITURE
Funny how everyone remembers this considering it only got to no21 and it was their only hit. Really quite good, all told, mind.

85 ST ELMO'S FIRE (MAN IN MOTION) - JOHN PARR
Unsubtly "inspirational" but secretly likeable anthem by 'Yorkshireman John Parr', as he must always be described, culled from uber1985 bratflick. Lisa Simpson's favourite record.

84 CRUEL TO BE KIND - NICK LOWE
Unjustly forgotten new wave pub rock stylings, especially the end bit where Nick goes "it's a very very very good sign!". Eminently whistleable.

83 GROOVE IS IN THE HEART - DEEE-LITE
Set the kooky-o-meter for maximum! Fun if ever-so-slightly-overweening disco shindig from the summer of 90. Not vicious, or malicious, just lovely. And delicious.

82 THE CRUNCH/CLOUDS ACROSS THE MOON - THE RAH BAND
The Crunch just pips Hot Butter as the definitive 'Ooh, this techno housey music, they started it all' novelty hit, then they waited five years before following it up with their sci-fi weepie. Like if The Prodigy had followed up Firestarter with the theme from Titanic.

81 COOL FOR CATS - SQUEEZE
'Drink milk!' ad rewrites notwithstanding, this topped a burgeoning pile of Squeeze nominations, on account of that odd squelchy production, and the line "Funny how their missus always looks the bleedin' same". Marvellous.

 

80 I HEARD A RUMOUR - BANANARAMA
Chris Lowe liked it, according to the 1988 Pet Shop Boys annual, hence it edges out all our other Rams nominations like Cruel Summer, Robert De Niro's Waiting and That One Chris Serle Did The Video For.

79 INBETWEENER - SLEEPER
Everyone's forgotten about this since the Great Britpop Fallout, but it was ace actually, the sort of cul-de-sac pop that's rather been forgotten about. And it had Dale Winton in the video.

78 REVEREND BLACK GRAPE - BLACK GRAPE
Inspired if not-particularly-obvious blueprint, involving soldering what sounded like the harmonica riff from The Old Grey Whistle Test to lines from old Christmas carols.

77 WOT - CAPTAIN SENSIBLE
Spuriously based around the same rhythm as Good Times, although never really managing it. Worth it for the lines "Hello Adam, where've you been, stand aside 'cos I'm a-feeling mean", accompanied by a rubbish Adam Ant lookalike and a pyjama-clad Captain in the video.

76 TOM HARK - THE PIRANHAS
Pure lads-all-dancing-in-a-big-circle-at-school-disco manna, although no votes for follow-up Zambesi (featuring Boring Bob Grover, whoever he was), disappointingly.

76 ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK - MURRAY HEAD
No Abba in the chart, controversially. But this Anderson/Ulvaeus West End spin-off, "rapping" racily about "the creme de la creme of the chess world" from Play Chess! - The Musical or whatever it was called plugs the gap.

75 HOUSE OF THE KING - FOCUS
Pure-theme-from-Don't-Ask-Me-frugging-in-front-of-the-telly magic.

74 DON'T STOP ME NOW - QUEEN
Seeing as it was that whole Bohemian Rhapsody thing that kicked this off, it would have been bad manners not to, wouldn't it? Besides, this frenetic 'that's why they call me Mr Fahrenheit' imbrolglio is the best thing they did.

73 DOCTORIN THE HOUSE - COLDCUT
The epitome of Now That's What I Call Music 11 (record two side two) house-pop, right there. Half a ton of cut-out-and-keep samples and a weak pun chucked in the mixer. Magnificent.

72 COZ I LUV YOU - SLADE
Poor old Slade, always ignored whenever the polls come knocking. Shame, as the glam scaffolders turned out some unashamedly exultant singles. Hell,even Radio Wall Of Sound was quite good.

71 GOOD ENOUGH - DODGY
Most people hated Dodgy, largely on account of the drummer's hat and videos more annoying than a Johnny Vaughan cider ad, but they did once play at a pub a TVC editor worked at called The Bear, and the singer managed to knock a chip out of his tooth with his bass. In they go...

70 WORD UP - CAMEO
Points Of View-bothering Fisher-Price funk lambasting "sucker DJs" with The Good, The Bad And The Ugly samples. And there's nothing wrong with that.

69 WORLD IN MOTION - NEW ORDER
Everyone voted for Blue Monday or True Faith, natch, so we binned all those and arbitrarily put this in. Fantastic and evocative and like we said in Creamup the other week, it's great because they didn't look like they were trying.

68 GOOD TIMES - CHIC
Sampled once already by the Captain at no77, the definitive eulogy to Studio 54 decadence and rollerskates known to man.

67 LOVE UNLIMITED - FUN LOVING CRIMINALS
Criminally (ha ha) overlooked band, forever lumped in with music for "blokes" who like "brewskis", but still ace. Love Unlimited pips Korean Bodega, which reminded the
Creamguide TV editor of a girl he fancied called Kadija Bogela, cos it fits.

66 THE LONE RANGER - QUANTUM JUMP
The gibberish chanting provides both a starting point for playground silliness and an educational nugget (it's a Guinness Book of Records-listed Maori name for a hill in New Zealand, apparently) while the lyrics are a load of gay innuendo that make YMCA look like that Snails and Oysters speech in Spartacus by comparison.

65 ALRIGHT - SUPERGRASS
Yeah, more Britpop, but nobody can object to this three-minute pub piannah soundtrack to the summer of Chris Evans When He Was Good and debates over whether Two Dogs was better than Hooch, surely?

64 99 RED BALLOONS - NENA
Flukey German armageddopop chart-topper from 1984, the Official Year of Nuclear War (cf Threads, Two Tribes), a sort of teutonic for the troops with awkward synth stylings. "That Nena - she's something!"

63 CLUB TROPICANA - WHAM
Fuel-injection tongue-in-cheek Club 18-30 pisstaking, from the period before George Michael permanently mislaid his sense of humour.

63 WATERFALLS - TLC
Fantastic, utterly assured crossover R'n'B, the kind of record best sampled blasting out of a car window on a summer's day. And they nicked its main hook line from perhaps Macca's least inspired moment.

62 THERE SHE GOES - THE LA'S
There's some kind of by-law forbidding us describining this record without using the words "timeless" and "jangly", apparently. Nomination arrived "in spite of inclusion in Fever Pitch", which is a shame as we liked the film, solely for the historically accurate inclusion of the old 9.55 MW-only R2 sports bulletin.

61 YOU'RE IN A BAD WAY - ST ETIENNE
Brilliant humming Joe Meek pastiche from the great lost Magpie team that was St Etienne, earning extra I-Spy points for the reference to the Generation Game in the first verse.

60 THE FLORAL DANCE - TERRY WOGAN
On a novelty tip, but it remains a belter - was here ever such a perfect match between vocal style and lyrical content (in this case whimsical, self-mocking cod-olde-worlde declamation)?

59 EYE LEVEL - SIMON PARK ORCHESTRA
Sod it, it just makes you happy, doesn't it?

58 CLOG DANCE - VIOLINSKI
Ex-ELO fiddler Violinski. No justification needed, surely?

57 AIN'T NO LOVE (AIN'T NO USE) - SUB SUB FEATURING MELANIE WILLIAMS
Doves, yes, but by any singles yardstick this is one great big squelchy synth disco song.

56 VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR - BUGGLES
Shame how this gets dumped in the brantub marked 'early 80s novelty curiosities' as it's a genuinely great and sad (in the literal sense) song, isn't it? Must be something to do with Trevor Horn's glasses.

56 DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA - JULIE COVINGTON
Everyone always slags off Lloyd Webber and rightly so, but then again, there's lush West End melodrama like this. Perhaps it's time the Creamguide Singers considered mounting a revival of Evita...

55 KIDS IN AMERICA - KIM WILDE
Definitive Flexipop-era, erm, pop as glacially performed by the divine Ms Wilde on Razzmatazz. Managed to get away with rhyming 'California' with 'warn ya'.

54 LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN - DREAM ACADEMY
Fey, yes, but rather magnificent bedsit strumming. Nearly became theme to Brookside according to Smash Hits circa 1985.

53 LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS - THE ORB
Before the nebulous marketing concept that is 'chillout' came this ace, life-affirming nimbostratus of pop-ambience with Rickie Lee Jones sampled off an American kids book programme.

52 THE ROCKEFELLA SKANK - FAT BOY SLIM
Pretty much as up-to-date as this chart gets - mad, elastic and still beloved of TV promo editors.

51 GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS - SAILOR
Unashamedly "of its time" this, a wolf-whistling tribute to, ahem, girls that sounded like a multi-harmonied cross between Roxy Music and the Cliff Adams Singers, by a load of blokes dressed up as teachers and tennis pros.

50 THINKING OF YOU - THE COLOURFIELD
Definitive pop perfection from one of Terry Hall's many post-Specials projects, dead sunshiney and "continental" but underneath secretly quite mordant.

49 PIPES OF PEACE - PAUL McCARTNEY
Yeah, yeah, Fab Four, Sgt Pepper, turning points in western civilisation and all that, but has Macca ever really topped the wartime kickabout video and look-I-can-use-a-synthesiser instrumental middle eight?

48 BIRTHDAY - THE SUGARCUBES
"She saw a huge raven. It floated down the sky. She touched it!" Fantastically sexually-dubious no-tune showcase for mad Icelandic bird's voice.

47 THE SHOW - DOUG E FRESH AND THE GET FRESH CREW
"Excuse me, Doug E Fresh!" Big catchphrase round our playground circa 85, that, as well might a rap crossover hit that referenced Inspector Gadget and Tony The Tiger. "Six minutes! Six minutes, Doug E Fresh you're on!"

46 I FEEL LOVE - DONNA SUMMER
"Oooh, Lippy Lion, Lippy Lion..."

45 IF I HAD WORDS - SCOTT FITZGERALD AND YVONNE KEELEY
Nobody remembers this now, alas, but it's dead Christmassy and great, a sort of reggae-lite rewrite of that Saint-Saens piece from Babe with "spiritual" lyrics and kids singing and stuff. Better than that sounds, believe us.

44 BEAT THE CLOCK - SPARKS
Well, the disco Hitlers had to be in here somewhere. Close call between this and This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, but the Creamup ed exercised the casting vote. There you go.

43 LONG HOT SUMMER - THE STYLE COUNCIL
The purists forever dismiss the Council, but before they legged it down the dumper sharpish in their Italian loafers they banged out a slew of ace singles. Like this.

43 HELLO - THE BELOVED
Totally forgotten now, but Happiness was a sixth-form common room staple circa 90. And we love songs that are just lists of names ("Salman Rushdie, Kym Mazelle") Namechecks last-line-of-Radio-Creamguide icon Brian Hayes.

42 MADAM BUTTERFLY - MALCOLM MCLAREN
Incredible the number of contenders for real great singles Malc's turned out in the last 20 years - Double Dutch, Jumping In Your Shirt etc - but this ace 'Nam/opera-before-it-was-"trendy" crossover just clinches it.

41 ACE OF SPADES - MOTORHEAD
Not really ever in doubt, was it? Imperial Castrol GTX and pork scratchings rock'n'roll.

 

40 BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW - KYLIE MINOGUE
Honestly, the arguments in the office. It started off with nominations for imperial phase fodder like Got To Be Certain, then there was a big swing to the unfashionable but brilliant Some Kind Of Bliss era, then the Creamup ed insisted it had to be Never Too Late. Nobody voted for Finer Feelings. Then we compromised.

39 HEY YOU (THE ROCK STEADY CREW) - ROCK STEADY CREW
Endless John Craven's Newsround reports on "the new craze of breakdancing" notwithstanding, these three minutes of Amstrad playtime electro were pretty fun. "Digital!"

39 DAYDREAM BELIEVER - THE MONKEES
Definitive technicolor pop and the soundtrack to the rainy summer holiday mornings of a generation or ten.

38 CENTERFOLD - J GEILS BAND
Dumb, big-foam-hand sort of record, as subtle as a Superbowl half-time show, but remarkably none the worse for that, or indeed the weird squeezebox noises and cheerleaders 'n' milk-on-drums Entertainment USA staple promo.

37 RESPECTABLE - MEL AND KIM
The apotheosis of The Hit Factory TM, right there.

36 WEEKENDER - FLOWERED UP
Mmm, whither Barry Mooncult? Big massive 12-minute epic widescreen fin-de-siecle thing with Quadrophenia samples and accompanying big massive etc etc video.

35 SENSES WORKING OVERTIME - XTC
Yet another band who consistently and unfairly fail to fall under the big chart compilers' monocle, despite a discography that could easily fill a hit parade of magnificence all by themselves.

34 GETTING AWAY WITH IT - ELECTRONIC
Not just a supergroup, a superb group! Must remain on every student union jukebox until at least the next ice age, it's been decreed.

33 CAN U DIG IT? - PWEI
More big lists of people and stuff ("We dig Optimus Prime and not Galvatron!") as painstakingly annotated by Andrew Collins in the NME in 1989, which is more than reason enough for it to go in here.

32 CAPTAIN OF YOUR SHIP - REPARATA AND THE DELRONS
Age shall not wither this little oddity made up of three and a half randomly stitched-together choruses, nor shall badly-animated rice pudding adverts dim the beauty of that wistful morse code bridge.

31 FAVOURITE SHIRTS - HAIRCUT 100
Two-for-the-price-of-one authentic early 80s trumpet and saxophone solos. Plus Nick raps!

30 DA FUNK - DAFT PUNK
Practically everything off the majestic Discovery, with its laudable Buggles fixation, could have gone in here, but our timeline cuts off round about 1998 so it's in with Da Funk. And we'll even forgive them that Gap ad.

29 JAMBALAYA - THE CARPENTERS
Derided for years by fools as being "kitsch" although everyone's wise to their brilliance now, natch. Perfect back-of-the-car singalong fodder, this.

28 TAKE MY BREATH AWAY - BERLIN
No really, it's fantastic.
(It is!)

27 TWO TRIBES - FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
Protect and Survive-baiting hi-NRG apocalypse-o-rama, with Patrick Allen on scary vibes. Sounded like it cost ZTT a million quid to make, and probably did.

27 PARANOID - BLACK SABBATH
Ah, Paranoid, the towering Rotunda in the Bull Ring that is rock. Go and put it on now, you know you want to.

26 JAPANESE BOY - ANEKA
Now we did say we weren't going to be ironic, but come on, it's ace! Unabashed novelty pop, all syn drums and plinky-plonk noises by Gaelic songstress Mary Sandeman, who coached our friend for a singing contest and is very nice.

25 SHE SELLS SANCTUARY - THE CULT
Even now, those opening shimmering shards are enough to regress any male under the age of about 36 to the union bar ritual of hastily putting down their cider and bounding dementedly for the dance floor.

24 MY SHARONA - THE KNACK
In America they said The Knack would be as big as The Beatles. Not bad for a DIY partwork "strong enough to take all the knocks!" Like no38, big, dumb and disturbingly likeable.

23 E=MC2 - BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE
Nothing from the boring old Clash in here, but this ace twangy nugget, with Nic Roeg fixation and Major Morgan-calibre sampling ought to get in any list of great singles. Their theme from Get Fresh doesn't.

22 THE REFLEX - DURAN DURAN
Back in 1984 we got accused of being "gay" at school for liking them. Now everyone accepts that they were essentially a legit funk outfit, heavily influenced by Chic, in New Romantic's clothing. So, er, there.

21 EXTRACT FROM A TEENAGE OPERA - KEITH WEST
Neglected if sentimental 60s baroque gem about, erm, a grocer called Jack who's died. Lovely. Has kids singing on it. Not much liked by TVC staffers called Jack, mind.

 

20 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL - IAN DURY AND THE BLOCKHEADS
Reminds us looking at the lyrics in Smash Hits and getting about a third of references. Apart from being obviously brilliant, it mentions Wee Willie Harris [ah! - slightly less ignorant Creamup ed] which must be unique.

19 AIRPORT - THE MOTORS
Fab skinny-tied new wavery with the second-best piano break ever and ace "dit dit dit" backing vocals. Edges out follow-up Forget About You, which sounded like the theme from Grandstand.

18 COME UP AND SEE ME (MAKE ME SMILE) - STEVE HARLEY AND COCKNEY REBEL
Brilliant from start to finish, this, especially that lolloping acoustic intro, the ace "bah bah bah" backing vocals, and of course
that false ending. Neatly enough, covered on the b-side of no22.

17 MR BLUE SKY - ELO
Everybody's starting to demand recounts by this stage, but ELO scrape in at a lowly no17. Still utterly majestic, mind, just for the way it stops at 3:43, rocks out, goes all mellow and comes back again dead melancholy and melodramatic. Ought to be the national anthem.

16 NOBODY DOES IT BETTER - CARLY SIMON
Nobody, we hope, is arguing there's ever been a better Bond theme. Note the sublime, throwaway mention of the film's title (The Spy Who Loved Me) three-quarters of the way through. Goldfinger my arse!

15 ROCK ME AMADEUS - FALCO
Like Buggles, now derided as novelty fodder but with added Eurocheese, however in actual fact it's a truly great pop single - manic, amusing and timely. And the basis for the Simpsons' funniest musical parody as well. Now dead.

14 BUFFALO STANCE - NENEH CHERRY
Millions of nominations for this, irritating the Creamup ed who wanted to sneak Manchild in instead. Padded bras, sucking beer through straws etc etc. Face it, you knew every word back in 1988.

13 OUR HOUSE - MADNESS
By our reckoning they had at least a dozen candidates for this chart, but this rowdy-parpy signature kitchen sink mini-epic just about nicked it.

12 ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS - DAVID BOWIE
It's one thing being all thin and influential in Berlin (the city, not the authors of no28). Dancing atop a giant typewriter is another.

11 THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON TV - A-HA
Practically everyone voted for the Nordic high-cheekboned Saturday Superstore staples, interestingly. Sun edged out evens fav Take On Me, on account of its thrilling epic swooshy grandeur and a chorus nicked by U2.

10 STAND AND DELIVER - ADAM AND THE ANTS
The music cognoscenti (and Jo Whiley) might laud the early punky stuff, but c'mon, it was the chandelier-swinging, panthers and Diana Dors era that everyone
really loved.

9 INSANITY - OCEANIC
The soundtrack to a million mid-90s college balls.

8 PARTY FEARS TWO - THE ASSOCIATES
So your mum might have thought she could sing better than Billy McKenzie, but really this was as swoony and melodramatic as perfect 80s pop could get. Did lengthy service as theme to SDP-era R4 satirefest Week Ending too.

7 LEFT TO MY OWN DEVICES - PET SHOP BOYS
Gets our vote for the one essential PSBs offering. All the necessary subject matter present and correct of course - drinking tea, shopping etc.

6 DUEL - PROPAGANDA
Truly ZTT's finest four minutes, and yeah, there is some competition for that title. But Duel storms it courtesy of that exultant piano break. Did lengthy service as theme to the Lombard RAC Rally on BBC2 too.

5 THE STORY OF THE BLUES - WAH!
Poor old Pete Wylie, he wrote one of the great 80s anthems (and did it again with Sinful three years later) but did anyone ever thank him for it?

4 THE LOOK OF LOVE - ABC
"And all my friends just might ask me, they say, 'Martin...'"

3 VIRGINIA PLAIN - ROXY MUSIC
Knowing ritzy sci-fi decadence and ever-so-slightly-too-complicated-back-of-a-Gitanes-packet lyrics never, erm, sounded so good.

2 HEART OF GLASS - BLONDIE
Majestic swirly I Love NY disco with throbbing synths ahoy, and of course, that tricky time-sig middle-eight. But the winner is...

BRITAIN'S NUMBER ONE
DON'T YOU WANT ME - THE HUMAN LEAGUE
The returning officers have counted all the votes, our independent adjudicators have ratified the result and a hush falls over TVC Towers as the pulsating cinematic pop meisterwerk, Don't You Want Me, is declared the real greatest single of all time by a whacking great margin. Sadly, Phil and The Girls can't be with us this evening, but fortunately Paul Morley is on hand to make an entertaining if diverting speech about how the group were "a bit like if Abba had come from Sheffield". Paul...?