Best #1 single of the year retrospective: 1996

The year is now 1996. Having slowly bubbled up for several years, we’re increasingly beginning to see hip-hop and R&B dominate the top spot. For the first time since the '70s (and for almost the last time ever) we have two sets of double A-sides at #1, which means that, with Mariah carrying over, we have… 11 songs to choose from. (Notwithstanding the carryover and the double A-sides, 1996 would be tied for the slowest year in the history of the #1 spot.)

You know the drill. What’s your favorite?

  • denotes one half of a double A-side

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 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 2012 2013

Since I’m in before the poll, I’m gonna make a preemptive vote for “none of them”. I’ll come back in a few minutes to see if I was right.

Black Street “No Diggity” got my vote.

“No Diggity” is fun. (Here’s a band covering it – also fun.) I don’t think I’d pee on any of the other songs if they were on fire.

The only one on the list I have heard is the Macarena and I don’t know about the various mixes. The only good thing I can say for it is that I wouldn’t turn it off if I hadn’t heard it in a year.

I heard Ed Sheeran, of all people, do a cover of that song at a live show a few years back. Hip-hop performed by a white guy with a very British singing voice on solo acoustic with a loop pedal is… well, it’s something, I’ll give it that.

The Macarena was fun, but the song itself was just fluff and the English lyrics that the Bayside Boys wrote were just plain stupid. The dance was what got this one to #1, and the music video didn’t even show full dance, just a slowed-down shortened version of it. Of course, after that, America came to its senses and never again did a song named after a dance reach #1. Oh, wait.

I myself voted for “California Love”. I’m not much of a hip-hop fan and I just found the song annoying when it was new, but it’s grown on me over the years - it’s fun and it’s a good showcase both for Dre’s production and Tupac’s vocals.

(PS: I will be expecting written apologies from everyone who complained that there weren’t any good songs on the '70s lists.)

To clarify, the Bayside Boys mix is the default version you probably think of when you think of the Macarena- synth beat, random women singing about how their boyfriend is away and they want to dance, and two old guys singing the chorus in Spanish. The original, which was recorded in 1992 and never got significant airplay outside the Hispanosphere, was Latin jazz.

If “none of the above” were an option, I’d probably have voted for it here (not for the first time in this decade). But since it isn’t, I voted for California Love, though I was sorely tempted to vote for Macarena, just because.

*Macarena is the best song on this list. * Ponder that statement for a while.

I hate every other song on this list except for Dr. Dre’s, so consider this an 8-way tie for dead-ass last place.

Voted for No Diggity, but it is clear something fundamental has happened to how music is charted.

Looking at that list, I’m starting to see how the Macarena became such a big hit.

I’ve never heard of a single one of these songs. Abstain.

Gotta represent for the late, great Roger Troutman - who was born fifteen minutes from where I live - and vote for “California Love”. Besides, it’s the best song on yet another sorry fucking list (closely followed by “No Diggity” and … not one other fucking song on this bitch).

Toni Braxton - “Un-Break My Heart” is by far the best on the list, and with the novelty song Macarena the only one I would not mind listening to once in a while.

“California Love.” It’s one of the few songs on this list I still listen to. “No Diggity” is a good track, as well.

“Macarena” is probably my least favorite of the bunch. I’m somewhat surprised at how well it’s doing.

Like potential presidential candidate polling two years out, it’s all about name recognition.

I voted “Crossroads” but it ties with “California Love”. If I had to come up with a soundtrack for freshman year of college, those would definitely on the list. And the videos for both are kind of cool.

I swear that other than Macarena I could not tell you what a single one of these songs sound like. Was I deaf in 1996?

… Well, we’ve hit the first year since the early 60s when there’s not one song I can actually say I like.

The only two I can even remember without looking them up are Macarena and Unbreak My Heart, both of which are annoying as fuck… And have created a mashup earworm.

“California Love” in an absolute landslide. “No Diggity” was a great song (and I loved that whole album), so that gets second place.