Official: those golden oldies were the best

The baby-boomers' refrain that pop music has gone down hill since the Sixties has been confirmed by a poll of pop experts that seems to show the art of the single peaked in 1966.

The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" heads a list of the top 100 singles of all time as picked by more than 100 singers, songwriters, musicians and producers for this month's Mojo magazine.

Only one single released in the Nineties - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana - makes it on the list. The rest is dominated by acts from the Sixties like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys.

The Eighties does no better on the list than the Nineties, with "Just When Doves Cry" by Prince making the list. The Seventies do better thanks to a number of entries by David Bowie, but there is only "God Save The Queen" by the Sex Pistols to represent the entire punk and post-punk era. No dance music single from the last 10 years made the list.

But the magazine insists the music industry people questioned were not all ageing hippies and rock dinosaurs.

In fact those voting included Ian Broudie, lead singer of The Lightening Seeds, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and even former Take That star Gary Barlow.

"It wasn't just a bunch of old farts we questioned," said Mojo's features editor Paul Trynka. "It was a cross-section, although everyone who voted had to have a good number of hits themselves.

"The Sixties singles did well because there's more unanimity about hits from the Sixties. Musical genres now have splintered and people named all sorts of different bands from the Nineties."

Mr Trynka believes Nirvana did well because that one song invented the "grunge" movement and had a huge influence across all sorts of styles of music.

But he thinks the art of the pop single could be little improved on after the Beach Boys: "Like any art form the principles are established fairly soon. By 1968 they had done everything that could be done with a single. Even if you look at experimental techniques used by musicians like The Chemical Brothers its hard to say they're coming up with anything more complex than `Good Vibrations'."

Paul McCartney, one of those surveyed, told Mojo that "Good Vibrations" and the group's album Pet Sounds were phenomenal: "It really was a big turn on for me. I can still listen to it and go sheeit, how did he ever think of that."

And proving the breadth of the single's appeal, John Squire of Nineties Indie band The Seahorses, described it as "Spine tinglingly inspired. A complete masterpiece."

"Good Vibrations" and Pet Sounds were largely the inspiration of Brian Wilson, who used the special effects stand-by from sci-fi movies, the Theremin, on the track to give the "vibration" sound. He was also one of the first musicians to use an eight-track recording equipment to mix multiple layers of sound and create what he described himself as a "pocket symphony".

The Mojo top 50

1 Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys, (1966)

2 Strawberry Fields Forever/ Penny Lane - The Beatles (1967)

3 Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan, (1965)

4 Be My Baby - The Ronettes, (1963)

5 I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvin Gaye, (1968)

6 (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones, (1965)

7 Hey Jude/Revolution - The Beatles, (1968)

8 River Deep, Mountain High - Ike & Tina Turner, (1966)

9 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana, (1991)

10 What's Going On - Marvin Gaye, (1971)

11 Don't Worry Baby - The Beach Boys, (1964)

12 Hey Joe - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, (1966)

13 You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - The Righteous Brothers, (1964)

14 I Want To Hold Your Hand - The Beatles, (1963)

15 Respect - Aretha Franklin, (1967)

16 Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley, (1956)

17 (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding, (1967)

18 Born To Run - Bruce Springsteen, (1975)

19 Mr Tambourine Man - The Byrds, (1965)

20 God Save The Queen - Sex Pistols, (1977)

21 Family Affair - Sly And The Family Stone, (1972)

22 A Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum, (1967)

23 Dancing In The Street - Martha & The Vandellas, (1964)

24 Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran, (1958)

25 That'll Be The Day - Buddy Holly & The Crickets, (1957)

26 When Doves Cry - Prince, 1984

27 Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones, (1968)

28 God Only Knows - The Beach Boys, (1966)

29 Paperback Writer/Rain - The Beatles, (1966)

30 You Really Got Me - The Kinks, (1964)

31 A Change Is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke, (1964)

32 Reach Out I'll Be There - The Four Tops,

33 I Can't Stand The Rain - Ann Peebles, (1973)

34 Heroes - David Bowie, (1977)

35 Papa's Got A Brand New Bag - James Brown, (1965)

36 Imagine - John Lennon, (1975)

37 Superstition - Stevie Wonder, (1972)

38 Runaway - Del Shannon, (1961)

39 Space Oddity - David Bowie, (1969)

40 Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen, (1975)

41 Green Onions - Booker T And The MGS, (1962)

42 Why Do Fools Fall In Love - Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers, (1956)

43 Purple Haze - The Jimi Hendrix Experience, (1967)

44 Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers, (1960)

45 Let's Stay Together - Al Green, (1971)

46 Something In The Air - Thunderclap Newman, (1969)

47 Stay With Me - Lorraine Ellison, (1966)

48 I Want You Back - The Jackson 5, (1969)

49 Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell, (1969)

50 Honky Tonk - Bill Doggett, (1956)

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