Britons Wander Through Their Playing Cards Almost Anywhere They Go

Lucas Jensen | April 14, 2009 - 11:30 am

or a while, I could not go anywhere without hearing Three Doors Down’s atrocious “Kryptonite”… and that was three years after it was a hit. That song is up there with Stroke 9’s “Little Black Backpack” and anything by Puddle Of Mudd as my least favorite Modern Rock song ever, so it felt like I was being punished for sins I haven’t even committed. This cosmic joke went on for few months, each time sending me into the spastic fit of the Hate Shakes™. To figure out how this phenomenon plays out across the pond, BBC Radio 2 and the British licensing organism PPL have attempted to quantify the most inescapable songs of the last 75 years. The results are rather surprising:

1. Procol Harum, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (UK No. 1 on June 8, 1967)
2. Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (UK No. 1 on Nov. 29, 1975)
3. Everly Brothers, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” (UK No. 1 on July 4, 1958)
4. Wet Wet Wet, “Love is All Around” (UK No. 1 on June 4, 1994)
5. Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (UK No. 1 on July 13, 1991)
6. Robbie Williams, “Angels” (UK No. 1 on Dec. 1, 1997)
7. Elvis Presley, “All Shook Up” (UK No. 1 on July 12, 1957)
8. Abba, “Dancing Queen” (UK No. 1 on Sept. 4, 1976)
9. Perry Como, “Magic Moments” (UK No. 1 on Feb. 28, 1958)
10. Bing Crosby, “White Christmas” (UK No. 1 on Jan. 1, 1942)

Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” at No. 1 isn’t too bad, though I’m not a Brit. I profess an affinity for the song (perhaps because of Martin Scorsese’s “Life Lessons” short in New York Stories), but I know plenty of folks who hate it. As for “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I can get behind all things Queen; here in the States, I’d suspect that “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” is much more ubiquitous. The Everly Brothers’ placement is delightful.

And then there are Nos. 4-6. Think about this: this list spans 75 years. That means that Wet Wet Wet, Bryan Adams, and Robbie Williams had to be played a hell of a lot more per year in the last two decades to catch up with Procol Harum, Elvis, and Bing Crosby. That Wet Wet Wet version of “Love Is All Around” is a disaster, the kind of gooey nonsense that I use as ammunition against my friends who insist that British people have better music taste than Americans. (Cliff Richard gets thrown out a lot as well.) Exhibit B for the UK having crappy taste is Bryan Adams’ vile piece of cheese from a vile, cheesy movie. Robbie Williams is OK, I guess, but “Angels”?

All in all, it’s strange and interesting. I’d love to see Nos. 11-50! What do you think are the most inescapable American songs? I nominate “Center Field.”

Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale tops most-played list [Guardian]