Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1991

Our survey takes us now to 1991. This was the last year in which Billboard got its sales figures over the phone from record stores - in November, the company started getting data from Nielsen SoundScan, which used a marvelous new technology called “the Internet” to collect sales data directly from store POS terminals. As such, it’s the last year before this more accurate source of data causes the charts to contract and songs to have longer runs at #1.

27 songs made it to #1 this year. What’s your favorite?

Previous polls: 1955-56 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 2012 2013

"Coming Out of the Dark” was an easy pick for me. It’s probably not so well-remembered today, but it was Gloria Estefan’s comeback single after she nearly died in a tour bus crash. This past winter was such a horrible winter around here, and it felt so great to listen to that song again in early March.

EMF’s “Unbelievable” (a great song that still sounds fresh after 23 years) finishes in a solid second place, and Mariah Carey’s “Someday” (one of the few Carey songs I like) finishes in third place in the world-famous Ponch8 Music Rating System. I used to love “The First Time” by Surface, but that song sounds very dated.

Dead-ass last place belongs to that no-talent ass clown Michael Bolton with “When a Man Loves a Woman.” “I Like the Way” and “One More Try” are pretty terrible also.

There’s one song on this list I don’t remember: Carey’s “I Don’t Wanna Cry.” I didn’t miss a whole lot.

I’m starting not to recognize stuff on the list.

I voted for C+C Music Factory because that’s a pretty good dance song, even though I don’t dance. I think my mom even bought that one.

I could have voted for Mariah Carey’s Emotions, because even though I’m not crazy about the song itself, I always always stop and listen when I run across it on the radio. I marvel at hearing her sing those flourishes near the end.

More than half I think I have never heard (of), the ones I know, I don’t like. This is the first year where I abstain.

I think you made most of these song titles up, as I have never heard of them. HOWEVER, there’s a song I actually still like on the list, so EMF: here’s looking at you.

Lots of crap here. We might have to start polling the best #1 songs on the alternative charts, because the rest of the decade looks pitiful.

I voted for Janet Jackson. “Love Will Never Do Without You” is probably my favorite song of hers, and always puts me in a good mood.

Aside from a few gems, the list of #1 alternative songs from 1991 is made up mostly of stuff I don’t remember either;

Sisters of Mercy - “More”
Happy Mondays - “Kinky Afro”
Sting - “All This Time”
Jesus Jones - “Right Here, Right Now”
REM - “Losing My Religion”
Simple Minds - “See The Lights”
Elvis Costello - “The Other Side Of Summer”
Electronic - “Get the Message”
Siouxsie and the Banshees - “Kiss Them for Me”
Big Audio Dynamite II - “Until She Comes”
Robyn Hitchcock - “So You Think You’re in Love”
Red Hot Chili Peppers - “Give It Away”
U2 - “The Fly”
Nirvana - “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
U2 - “Mysterious Ways”

The alternative charts (which started in 1988 and are based on airplay data from about 80 stations nationwide) might be a good idea for a future poll series, though.

(In case you’re wondering, the current alternative #1 is “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance.

Another really bad list. So bad that I actually voted for Extreme!!!

Please tell me there will eventually be another good year.

I was about to abstain again when I saw Londonbeat on the list. I actually have that song on my phone and listen to it regularly. And not as a “work-out remix” either! (Work-out? Have you seen me lately? “Work-out.” It is to laugh.)

I halfheartedly (very halfheartedly) voted for PM Dawn. And that was the only song I could even consider voting for on this shitty, shitty list. Good god, what a dire fucking set of songs this thing is.

Not for a while.

Rough year, indeed. Absolutely dire. I have a vague recollection of enjoying Prince’s “Cream” and its sexy swagger, so I went with that.

This list is so bad it’s . . . unbelievable!

Oh! What the?

Gonna have to abstain this time. Absolutely nothing to say about any of the songs.
Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey were fun to watch on MTV as long as you turned the sound down.

Don’t remember anything about the Madonna song except the title, but I do recall that she was about to embark on a three or four year stint of raunchiness that nearly tanked her career.

Yep. It may have started with that song. I remember it being particularly controversial video at the time (which I guess is not surprising with Madonna) featuring sadmasochism, homoeroticism, voyeurism, etc. It was like film noir meets Mapplethorpe meets MTV.

I hope it doesn’t sound like threads*itting for me to say that the crapfest continues. I voted for EMF, as a nod to the Madchester scene.

The alternative chart – nice! I would have voted for RHCP (“Give it Away,”), but many worthy contenders there. (Some looks so mainstream to me, hard to call it “alternative” – but whatever.)

EMF is the only really acceptable choice for me, too.

EMF - easy choice.

Still a track that makes me want to dance around like a madman when I hear it…

I know as many songs from this (much smaller) list of alternative songs ffrom 1991 as I do from the list of overall #1’s (five each).

I went with “Unbelievable” in the poll. In a hypothetical poll of the alternative #1’s, I’d flip a coin between U2’s “Mysterious Ways” and Jesus Jones’ “Right Here, Right Now.”

The new music I remember listening to in 1991 was Johnny Clegg & Savuka’s Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World and Voice of the Beehive’s Honey Lingers. (Johnny Clegg was the answer to “I liked the “world beat” sound in Paul Simon’s Graceland; where should I go next?”)

Now THERE’s a list of songs. For me it’s a three-way tie between “Losing My Religion”, “Mysterious Ways” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”