A Monday morning laugh – Xfm’s top songs of all time

Brrrr – cold, isn’t it? Need a laugh on the first Monday of the year? Here’s one – Xfm’s top songs of all time. In the past half-century of popular music, what did the listeners to 104.9 decide was the finest piece of musical sound ever captured?

Yup, The Killers. Not even The Killers’ the best song, as someone said to me. Not only that, there’s three Oasis songs in the top 10, only three songs are judged to be finer than Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire, and Ian Brown’s F.E.A.R. is, according to Xfm and its listeners, superior to anything the Stone Roses ever did. Ooops.

It’s strange how Xfm manages to persist in keeping its “alternative” sheen that it had when it launched in September 1997, when its main output is has been anything but since it was bought and relaunched by Capital Radio a year later. Fact is, it’s just a mainstream rock station with a few token nods to something more satisfying than “landfill indie”. In other words, it’s Absolute Radio.

Which might have been fine 12 years ago when Capital sought to buy Xfm and relaunch it as a clone of Absolute’s past incarnation, Virgin, but now there’s a hell of a lot more competition out there. There’s even Compare My Radio, a whizzy little tool designed by Absolute’s techies, which will tell you how little most UK stations are actually playing.

The backers of NME Radio, which is run by Xfm’s original founder and cleverly has as little as possible to do with the magazine, must be chinking plastic cups of watery Red Stripe this morning, as their station has just gone digital nationwide. And with 6 Music starting to sound decent again thanks to the wonderful Lauren Laverne, Xfm must be wondering looking at their poll and what the point is…


  1. Except, of course, according to CompareMyRadio, XFM and Absolute aren’t that similar*.

    Whenever you do a poll of the top songs ‘of all time’, there’s always going to be a skew towards recent releases – particularly when you get to the top 100 or so, where number of votes actually matter (as opposed to the lower end of the list where there’s probably not much in it between 577th and 578th place). It does look like this year’s voters have had a shorter memory than in previous polls, though.

    Despite being pretty mainstream, I reckon XFM does still serve a purpose – they’ve at least managed to recover from the disastrous ‘presenter-free’ format they tried a couple of years ago. Plus plenty of my friends in Glasgow were complaining when Global replaced XFM Scotland with Galaxy last year. Yes, you can listen to XFM or 6 Music on digital, but that’s no use if you’re in the car, where you almost certainly won’t have a DAB tuner.

    * even if you compare daytimes for a week in mid-December, rather than the last 30 days, which might be skewed by XFM’s countdown.

  2. I wouldn’t put my hand on a bible but I think the poll was actually “song of the decade” and I believe it was run by an outside agency in conjunction with XFM and Absolute radio amongst others. A couple of weeks before Christmas it got hijacked by a McFly forum so for a few days it was McFly heavy at the top. I suppose the adage is the same if you don’t vote don’t grumble about the result.

  3. Almost everything Muse has ever done is listed too. Which smacks of a) good taste or b) a concerted effort.

  4. Stuart- Muse are pretty amazing 😉 but I wouldn’t have put Starlight in there. Can any track be the best song ever? The point of these polls is to get people debating and to disagree with one another but it’s all a rather pointless, and frankly tedious, exercise. Variety is the spice of life; I’ve just discovered Compare My Radio and I agree with Clair- how depressing! Gone are the days when you could tune in, hear something great and different and go out and discover a complete new artist or sound. One of the many, many reasons why music fans have been moving to other stations and sites too source out good music.

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