The History of Pop Music – 1996


A History of Pop Music – 1996

Firstly, apologies for the rather long delay between these music articles.  Normal service will now be resumed.

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it. One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So, on we go with memories from 1996: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about:

The Spice Girls.  Dunblane massacre.  Take That splitting up.  Not one, but two royal divorces. Dolly the Sheep and of course Wendyball 1996.

What was I doing: Most days I would drive to work to Eurotunnel near Folkestone, straight onto the next shuttle, arrive in my office in Calais 40 minutes later.  I mainly remember the awful French food in the canteen. Often just making do with a plate of chips and a bread roll.  In general, French food is not nice.


Prime Minister – John Major (Conservative)

10 January – Terry Venables announces that he will resign as manager of the England national football team after this summer’s European Championships, which will be hosted in England.

19 January – Ian and Kevin Maxwell, sons of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell, are cleared of fraud at the Old Bailey after a trial lasting eleven days.  I seem to recall Angus Dayton getting some flack over calling them robbing bastards or something like that.

23–26 January – Much of Britain is struck with sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms. Schools and transport are disrupted.

9 February – The IRA carry out the Docklands bombing, which injures 39 people and ends the 17-month ceasefire.

10 February – The bodies of two men are discovered at Canary Wharf, the only fatalities of the IRA bombing – of which it was initially believed there were no fatalities. On the same day, the IRA admits responsibility for the bombing.

13 February – Take That, the most successful British band of the 1990s, announce that they are splitting up.  How we all cried.

18 February – An IRA bomb explodes on a bus in Central London, killing the transporter, Edward O’Brien, and injuring eight other people, including the driver.

19–20 February – Approximately 1,000 passengers are trapped in the Channel Tunnel when two Eurostar trains break down due to electronic failures caused by snow and ice. I remember this well, I got tasked to find electric cables to fit some emergency vehicles.

22 February – Conservative MP Peter Thurnham announces his resignation from the House of Commons, reducing the Conservative Government’s majority to just two seats. Resignations and by-election defeats have cost the Conservatives nineteen seats since the general election just under four years ago.

28 February – The Princess of Wales agrees to give The Prince of Wales a divorce, more than three years after separating.

13 March – A gunman kills sixteen children, a teacher and himself in the Dunblane massacre. The killer is quickly identified as 43-year-old former scout leader Thomas Hamilton. It is the worst killing spree in the United Kingdom since the Hungerford massacre in 1987.

17 April – The Duke and Duchess of York are divorced after ten years of marriage and four years after their separation.

2 May – The Football Association announces that Glenn Hoddle, the current Chelsea manager, will succeed Terry Venables as manager of the England national football team after next month’s European Championships, which England is hosting for the first time.

30 May – the Duke and Duchess of York complete their divorce proceedings. The former Duchess loses the title HRH and becomes Sarah, Duchess of York.

8 June – The European Football Championships begin in England, with the host nation drawing 1–1 with Switzerland in the opening game.

26 June – England’s hopes of being European champions of football for the first time are ended with a penalty shootout defeat to Germany after a 1–1 draw in the semi-final.  Talk about robbed.

30 June – Germany wins the European Championship final with a 2–1 victory over the Czech Republic at Wembley.

5 July – Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell, is born at the Roslin Institute.

8 July – The Spice Girls’ debut single Wannabe is released.

14 August – Unemployment has fallen to 2,126,200 – its lowest level since the summer of 1991.

28 August – The Prince and Princess of Wales complete their divorce proceedings after fifteen years of marriage. Their separation was first announced nearly four years ago.[9] The former Princess of Wales loses her title of Royal Highness and assumes the title, Diana, Princess of Wales.

12 October – The Conservative government’s majority has dwindled to a single seat following the defection of Peter Thurnham to the Liberal Democrats.

8 November – With the next general election no more than six months away, Labour still look set for a return to power after eighteen years in opposition, but the Conservatives have cut their lead to seventeen points in the latest MORI opinion poll

18 November – Channel Tunnel fire – The Channel Tunnel is closed when a truck on a transporter wagon catches fire, disrupting Eurotunnel Shuttle and Eurostar services.  Never did catch the (inserts well know puffin nomenclature) who did this.  I was there and everyone who worked there really did a magnificent job, not just to restore some service, albeit very reduced, but then to complete the major repairs required in a very timely and safe manner.

30 November – The Stone of Scone is installed in Edinburgh Castle 700 years after it was removed from Scotland by King Edward I of England

7 December – Sir John Gorst, 68-year-old Conservative MP for Hendon North in London, resigns the party whip, leaving the Conservative Party without a majority in the House of Commons.

Of note:  More than 4% of the UK population (some 2,500,000 people) now have internet access.

TV programmes included:

 The X-Files makes its BBC1 debut.  A brand new Friday entertainment show TFI Friday begins on Channel 4. The show ran for over 4 and a half years with 6 series. (I liked this).  ITV airs the final episode of the long running satirical puppet show Spitting Image.  At the 1996 BRIT Awards, subsequently aired by ITV, Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker invades the stage during Michael Jackson’s performance of his “Earth Song”. Jackson, surrounded by children, was dressed as a Christ-like figure, an image which Cocker found objectionable.  ITV airs Episode 4000 of Coronation Street.  BBC1 airs the first of a new series of The Liver Birds, which catches up with Beryl (Polly James) and Sandra (Nerys Hughes) two decades on from the original series.  Bill Treacher makes his final appearance as EastEnders character Arthur Fowler.  Having left the series in December 1995, Treacher briefly returned to the role of Arthur to film scenes in which the character is killed off.  After 32 years (excluding six months in 1973), Top of the Pops moves from its traditional Thursday evening slot to Fridays. (I think a very stupid idea and started the demise of what was a great show).  London’s Burning returns to ITV for a new series, its ninth since launching in 1988.  Absolutely stunning programme that.  Sarah Lancashire makes her final appearance in Coronation Street as Raquel Watts.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top Tip: Right-click and open in new tab


Top Hits of 1996



Killing Me Softly


Spice Girls



Babylon Zoo



Spice Girls

Say You’ll Be There


Mark Morrison

Return of the Mack


Gina G

Ooh Ah Just A Little Bit


Baddiel & Skinner & The Lightning Seeds

Three Lions


Robert Miles



Spice Girls

2 Become 1



Don’t Look Back In Anger

 Spice girls were very big this year again. 3 top hits in the top 10.  Will you listen the Fugees for one-time? Two-time?  I used to really enjoy Don’t Look Back in Anger, but now it is the anthem song after every stabbing, bombing and killing by a lone-wolf with mental health issues who was good to his mum and an aspiring footballer/doctor/rocket scientist, it has put me off a bit.  Boyzone had a few great pop tunes as well.

My featured song:  “Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit” is the Grammy Award-nominated debut solo single by Australian singer Gina G. The song was written by British songwriters Simon Caldwell and Steve Rodway and was released as a single on 25 March 1996. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart almost two months later and was also a number-one hit in Israel. In the US, the song peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was the United Kingdom’s entry in the 1996 Eurovision Song Contest. The song finished in eighth place in the contest, staged in Oslo, Norway, on May 18, which was a complete rip-off, we woz robbed moment, as it was by far the best.  It was highly successful on the charts in Europe, Australia and the US.

More writings on this song here:  – Ooh Aah just a little bit

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track:

Lighthouse Family – Lifted – Could have been my featured song as this is superb, however I wanted a really fun track instead.

Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life – Another contender, excellent song this.

Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train – another contender, most bigly excellent tune.

The Beautiful South – Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) – made some great songs this band.

Gina G – I Belong To You – Just so you know she had more than one hit!  Very much a 90’s pop song.

Björk – it’s oh so quiet – Not sure I can ever forgive Chris Evans for introducing this ear-worm to us.  I still love it though.

Peter Andre – Mysterious Girl – I know, but I like it.

Deep Blue Something – Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Alanis Morissette – Ironic

The Prodigy – Firestarter – Not really my thing, but thought it best to include it to save me from being lynched.

Los Del Rio – La Macarena – Don’t care what you say, this is a guaranteed floor filler and any bloke prepared to learn the stupid dance could pull any lady.  (If you did not know that, then it is never to late to learn)

Take That – How Deep Is Your Love – Obviously cannot beet the Bee Gees, but not a bad effort this.

Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me – great voice.

Gabrielle – Give Me A Little More Time – another lady with a super voice.

Robson & Jerome – What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted – I know the voices are altered as neither could actually sing, it was a fun challenge by Simon Cowell.  This is a super version of a super song though.

Boyzone – Words – Again from the Bee Gees, but this is a particularly excellent version.

OMC – How Bizarre

Babybird – You’re Gorgeous – Like this.

Céline Dion – It’s All Coming Back To Me Now

Oasis – Wonderwall – I do like a bit of Oasis.

Fun Song:

The Woolpackers – Hillbilly Rock, Hillbilly Roll – Nice little toe tapper from the Emmerdale team before it became Eastenders but set in the countryside.

Just 21 songs for 1996 in my favourites list.  I think they are all great, but the rest of the so called top 100 are pretty dire again.

Hat tips to:  these give the top 100 selling charts for each year   these give the top 10 songs for each year  you know them.

Next Time 1997 – We are well into the third barrel to get to the bottom of.

© Phil the test manager 2020