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A Blog About Songs That Peaked At Number Two

I’ve started a new blog, yes, a new blog. In 2019.

It’s not a wholly original idea, it’s a conglomeration (I think it is anyway, if not, it’s certainly a conglomeration if conglomeration means what I think conglomeration means) of two things:

- A one off podcast I did about songs that got to number two in the charts where we decided whether they were better than the song that kept them off the top.

- Tom Ewing’s incredible ‘Popular’ blog which might be my favourite thing on the internet. He reviews every UK number one single from the start. He’s been doing it since 2003 and he’s, as I write, only up to David Sneddon.

- Oh, there’s a third thing. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to reviewing for Melody Maker in1996.

So, what I’m doing is reviewing every song that peaked at number two in the charts. It’ll take me less time than Popular (Although it is, by definition, technically never ending, except on my death and I’m already 40) as lots of songs that reached number two had previously topped the charts or would in the future.

I wasn’t going to do this, my original plan was to review every number one album ever, because, like I suspect most of us, I’ve not listened to all of the supposedly great albums and feel like I should while, deep down, suspecting I wouldn’t enjoy a good number of them. But that’s a ridiculous task isn’t it? I also think it may not be a fun one. The pop charts say one thing and the album charts another. The singles chart throws up surprises, it tells us about now, it sells (Or at least it did) to different ages and different types of people. The novelty hits out of nowhere that interrupt the official history of British pop music ™, the songs that just sound like 1966 or 1987, the songs that we were told would never be listened to in thirty years time that are, the songs we were told that would be that aren’t.

Albums don’t seem to be of the now quite as much, a glance through those charts seems to show that the top selling album of the day is quite often the sound of five years earlier. Probably because the age of people buying them is older and less likely to be at the whims of fashion? Either way, I do know that if I do continue this for a longtime, in a decade, I could have been listening to the first Robbie Williams album to top the charts with the knowledge that there are eleven more to come. Sorry, I just can’t live like that. I think I prefer singles anyway, and number two singles are fascinating. So close. SO close. The most commonly referred to number two is Vienna by Ultravox. I have views on this song that I’ll get to late but my main view is that it is odd that this is the go-to harshly done by number two. I get it in one way, in that it was kept off the top by a novelty track but, among the Q Magazine readers who you’d think vote in these sort of polls, the likes of Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever being kept off by Englebert might be more controversial? Or the Sex Pistols/Rod Stewart debacle? Or the Britpop big hitters of Wonderwall and Common People both being thwarted by Robson and Jerome? This blog though, is named ‘Keep Us Down’ from the line in My Generation, which, co-incidentally, peaked at number two in the charts. I say do-incidentally but I did do it on purpose.

So what are my tastes? I’m not sure, I could list loads of songs I like but I’m not sure what ties them all together, if anything.

What are my qualifications? I like songs. Just that. I’ll be marking each song out of ten but it’s not a science or anything, it’s a feeling, mostly based on ignorance. See you soon for Feet Up (Pat Him On The Po Po) by Guy Mitchell.

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