Popular took a while to work its way through 1992, and my comments on it were relatively sparse too (I said nothing about the entertaining “Ebeneezer Goode”, for example), but here they are.

Right Said Fred, “Deeply Dippy”, 18 April 1992

Right Said Fred’s best-known song fell into a void for me; when I travelled from one country to the other, Australia hadn’t sent “I’m Too Sexy” up the charts and the UK was already finished with it. As a result I only heard it second-hand for a long time, from friends humming a line or two, and I’m not even sure I ever did hear the whole of it back in 1991-92. So nowadays I hear it through the lense of the Right Said Fred hit I did know, which was this one; and I actually find it less interesting as a result. The “I’m a model” bit sounds like a ripoff of a ’70s song I can’t quite remember the name of, and the rest doesn’t have the breezy charm of this. “Deeply Dippy” may not have sensational vocals, sexy dance moves, serious intent, but seems happy with what it is: a ditty, in the nicest possible sense. It’s a happy deeply dippy ditty.

It’s also one of the few Top of the Pops performances I can remember seeing during my student year in England. I wasn’t convinced enough to board the Fred bandwagon, and never bought the single or the album, but it felt like a song it was impossible to hate, and I still don’t. 5.

Erasure, ABBA-Esque EP, 13 June 1992

Erasure were one of those bands that half the English students around me in 1992 seemed to love, but which I really didn’t get; they just seemed too distant from my old Oz-rock leanings or my nascent indie-alternative ones. This EP hit number one at the end of my studies that year, and it felt like a sign that UK pop was heading off in its own direction without me after those few brief months we had in common. Within a month I was picking up a very different pop landmark in Tower Records in Atlanta, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, which was much more a sign of where I was headed.

So how does this music strike me now? Not too bad, but the rap in “Take a Chance on Me” does nothing for me, and cancels out some of the more intriguing elements here. The intro of “Voulez Vous” is my highlight; but with that and all the other tracks, I’m just left wanting to hear the originals. Fortunately, I picked up every last ABBA album after Popular rekindled my interest a few years ago, so I can.

5, because the songs are so strong and the performances are sufficient.

Jimmy Nail, “Ain’t No Doubt”, 18 July 1992

This UK number one marks the first of 1992 that I wasn’t around for—by July I was travelling in the states on my way home from my student year—so I was never immersed in it to the degree the British were, although it did hit number 5 in Australia that September. We knew Jimmy from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, but that had a low enough profile that the “celebrity” angle seemed secondary to whether or not it was any good.

And to me, it is. Listening to it without the video, the mixture of chorus horns and Neil-Tennant-like spoken passages works well—I’m tempted to go to 7, and wouldn’t go below a 6.

Charles and Eddie, “Would I Lie To You?”, 21 November 1992

I had no idea what this was until I watched the video and realised I’d heard it before. A great hook, but for me this goes on about a minute and a half too long; I would have preferred the briefer treatment it would have had in the 1960s. Nevertheless: 7.

Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”, 5 December 1992

Okay, I thought, I’ll pretend I didn’t live through the Christmas of 1992 (when this spent 10 weeks at the top in Australia, too) and give this another shot. And I didn’t mind the first minute and a half. But then she started to crank it up, and I started hitting the volume-down button on my office computer; and up, and up, and down, and down, until I was searching for a half-a-blob setting that wasn’t there.

6 or 7 for the first 1:30, half a blob for the rest. 2 overall.

5 January 2012 · Music