Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1993-1994

Other than “Always On My Mind,” no other Pet Shop Boys cover demonstrates their talent for contemporizing a song for the sake of a ravaged homosexual community looking for the promise of West Side Story‘s “Somewhere” (another PSB cover a few years later): a place where life is peaceful, the air is free, the men sing lustily, and life is peaceful. Because Tennant is by temperament a singer for whom wistfulness functions as a species of irony, “Go West” was at home with the Eurohouse hits by Corona and Haddaway while surpassing them in dialectical tension. Tennant and Chris Lowe don’t believe a word of the Village People thumper but treat it as notes toward a supreme fiction.

The unknown-to-me Urban Cookie Collective and Let Loose rub against the aforementioned hits, a couple of which also scored in America, and Take That’s ballad breakthrough, Michael Jackson’s best stab at rock ominousness after “Beat It,” and Kylie Minogue’s first attempt to thicken her sound beyond the bam-bam-bam climaxes of her Stock-Aitken-Waterman material. Two of the most horrifyingly sung top tens (on both sides of the Atlantic) mar this list, but it’s not as if we’ll see Crash Test Dummies and 4 No Blondes on these rankings again, Linda Perry’s solid song doctoring career an important redress notwithstanding.

A comfort to know Our British Cousins were drunk enough to accept “Always,” the pair of Bryan Adams assassins, and Big Mountain’s Peter Frampton cover.

The Hague

Bon Jovi – Always
Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart & Sting – All For Love
Big Mountain – Baby I Love Your Way
All-4-One – I Swear
4 Non Blondes – What’s Up?
Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Meh

The Stone Roses – Love Spreads
Elton John & Kiki Dee – True Love
Boyzone – Love Me for a Reason
Snow – Informer
Haddaway – What is Love
Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me

Sound, Solid

Bitty Mclean – It Keeps Raining (Tears from My Eyes).
Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia
Corona – The Rhythm of the Night
Let Loose – Crazy for You
Urban Cookie Collective – The Key The Secret
Take That – Why Can’t I Wake Up With You

Good to Great

Pet Shop Boys – Go West
Michael Jackson ft. Slash – Give In to Me
Ace of Base – The Sign
Janet Jackson – That’s the Way Love Goes
Kylie Minogue – Confide in Me
Toni Braxton – Breathe Again
M People – Moving on Up
Snap! featuring Niki Haris – Exterminate!
Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas Is You
M.C. Sar & Real McCoy – Another Night

5 thoughts on “Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1993-1994

  1. Bless you my son, for diligently hating on the odiously contrived vocal hijinx of Creash Test Dummays and Four Non Blondes. My least loved vocal pop performances of all time…and in a world where Stevie Nicks lives and breathes! When I still hear “What’s Up?” on public music systems it’s an effort not to Hulk out and start smashing things!

  2. It’s impossible for me to strip off “Streets of Philadelphia” out of its context. Not much the movie -which is merely ok to me- but the STORY. The sparneness of its arrangement: a marching beat of drums that seem toned down for inobstrusive purposes; a funereal march, perhaps. The hushed, defeated vocals. The synth crescendo in the best bit: the bridge.
    II think the protagonist of the film was way more optimistic than its theme song, which is weird. For we are talkng about a song sing in character here. There was some plaintive pain and narcotic gloom that seemed to come out of Springsteen himself that I don’t remember even in the movie ( as opposed to a tearjerker, which is where I locate the movie as well as its final and lesser known song: Neil Young’s “Philadelphia”, a sister song to “The Last Song” in many ways)

    Maybe we were spoiled by more wistful (but nonetheless melancholic) tributes to the AIDS era from the likes of Madonna, the PSP and B-52’s. But I cannot help of thinking this song as a counterpoint to all of the aforementioned. It was different. From the film and from the others. And it sounded kind of good on radio. Which is extra weird. For that alone, I’d put it on the upper list.

    1. I vacillate. The melody isn’t strong enough to hold my attention for long, but its sincerity and how it crashed radio playlists like a mourner at a rave are winning.

      1. Because the melody is provided entirely by Springsteen, and he’s subdued above it and barely changes chords. The protagonist is numbed and i think it fits. What it really carries to the other level to me is the background, insistent drum funeral march and like i think it’s a synth organ adding some texture with his own bacling vocals, like he’s a walking ghost. It’s always supended until that bridge, a briefly cry for help, only to come back to Earth as a lament againt, like It shows no sense of resolution to the emotional devastation. Such represention of despair, a winner in airwaves like you said, is Bressonian in its austherity, sincerety and, above all, briefness. Indeed you might have a hard time remember the tune. But it’s unforgettable as VIBE. Like if the Springestenn of “Tunnel of Love” was seelking inspiration by listening to Joy Division. non stop. And THAT was a hit.

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