21 (1993) Aimee Mann - I Should've Known
If I were being retroactive, I'd pick something like OU or Razzmatazz from the Pulp: Intro album, but sadly I didn't discover Jarvis till the following year. I did discover Aimee Mann in '93 though and even chose her debut solo record, Whatever, as my album of the year. Mr. Harris is probably my favourite track from that disc now, but this is the one that made me love Aimee at the time.
Meanwhile, the singles chart had fallen off a cliff. Number One as I got the key to the door? Oh Carolina by Shaggy.
22 (1994) Morrissey - Now My Heart Is Full
And I just can't explain so I won't even try to
Jarvis almost made it home once again, I could have gone with just about anything from His 'n' Hers. But then there's Vauxhall & I. Could this be Morrissey's finest 39 minutes as a solo artist?
I told you the birthday number ones just get worse and worse. March 19th, 1994? Doop. By Doop. Sadly, not this one...
23 (1995) Pulp - Common People
All hail Britpop, and its greatest hero finally makes it home. I could have chosen Sorted For E's & Whizz, but I'd just be being contrary.
Meanwhile in the charts... Love Can Build A Bridge by Cher, Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton. Who all should have known better.
24 (1996) Ocean Colour Scene - The Day We Caught The Train
At last, proof that my favourite singles don't always come from my favourite albums. This was the year of Everything Must Go, Beautiful Freak and Murder Ballads... yet the song that most reminds me of my second stab at being a teenager is this exuberant blast of sunshiny retro-pop from Ocean Colour Scene. Hard to believe they were the first band I ever saw live.
Meanwhile, back in the charts... How Deep Is Your Love? Shallow, when it comes to the Take That version. Not so shallow they couldn't drown a few Gibb brothers in it.
25 (1997) Blur - Song 2
Blur were a great singles band and this was their greatest moment. Two minutes of noisy power pop that never fail to make me go "Woo hoo!" While Radiohead, The Verve and Gene were darkening my long player collection, Damon and the lads kept me smiling. This year's runner-up was a hymn to optimism from James: Tomorrow.
And in an alternate reality to my own, The Spice Girls were having their 4th Number One as I reached my mid-20s. I can't even remember the title.
26 (1998) The New Radicals - You Get What You Give
Another song that stands out by not belonging to one of the year's best albums. 1998 gave us my favourite record of the 90s, Pulp's public breakdown on This Is Hardcore. But the single of the year belongs to Gregg Alexander, a man who hated being a rock star so much he went off and wrote songs for Ronan Keating.
Sadly, I can't find my other favourite single of 1998 on youtube. Child Psychology by Black Box Recorder must be too dark for the video collective.
March 19th 1998, the Number One was It's Like That by Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins. Which is a damn sight better than we've managed throughout the rest of this decade so far.
27 (1999) Travis - Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
I thought long and hard about this one. It would have been so much cooler to pick something by The Magnetic Fields (69, my favourite album of '99), The Flaming Lips or even Ooberman, but as much as Fran Healey has damaged his limited rep by writing MOR-pap for the last 10+ years, this is still a perfect gloomy-pop song that captures a snapshot of my life in 1999. I remember watching them play it live at a festival just before they went big, in the rain. Perfect.
Besides, it could have been worse. I could have chosen my last birthday Number One of the 20th Century. Boyzone murdering Billy Ocean. When The Going Gets Tough... the tough put their hands over their ears and go lalalalalalalala.
28 (2000) Everclear - Wonderful
Neither of my two favourite singles of 2000 meant much to the public at large. I've written about Black Box Recorder's The Facts Of Life before, but Wonderful by Everclear is a curio. An American band who have never bothered the British charts, this is their greatest moment. More upbeat power-pop packed with smiley hooks, handclaps and a 'na-na-na' chorus... masking a dark lyrical undertow.
Please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
Far less Wonderful, my first birthday chart-topper of the 21st Century: Bag It Up by Geri Halliwell. WTF? Is that Geri singing about her shopping? I'm not sure I've ever even heard that record. I am sure I never want to.
29 (2001) Eels - Souljacker Part 1
Ben Folds came close with Rockin' The Suburbs, but this rocks harder.
And on my birthday? Pure And Simple by Hear'Say. The charts are officially dead.
30 (2002) The Flaming Lips - Do You Realise?
The song I want playing at my funeral. Kind of apt for my 30th birthday?
But as I actually turned 30, Will Young was at Number One, marking the funeral of the singles chart as we knew it. Simon Cowell slaughtered the damned thing before our very eyes.
Ten more years to go...