My List of 'Best British Songs Ever' Actually Features Women :)

If "British" is a synonym for "mostly white men," a Radio X listener poll that championed Oasis, Queen, Arctic Monkeys and The Smiths makes total sense.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB
Left via / Right via

Yes, yes. The dads, unfortunately, are at it again. Radio X, the radio station of choice for people who call the shed at the back of the garden their "Man Cave," has run its second annual "Best of British" poll, where listeners are invited to vote for the tracks they believe to be the best British songs of all time. Behold the top ten:

  • “Live Forever” – Oasis
  • “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
  • “Don’t Look Back in Anger” – Oasis
  • “I Am the Resurrection” – The Stone Roses
  • “Bitter Sweet Symphony” – The Verve
  • “Wonderwall” – Oasis
  • “Slide Away” – Oasis
  • “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” – The Smiths
  • “Champagne Supernova” – Oasis
  • “I Bet You Look Godd on the Dancefloor” – Arctic Monkeys


What we have here is a poll (albeit one called "Best of British" which sounds more like a marketing campaign for sausages than a serious music vote) claiming one band made five out of the ten greatest musical achievements in the history of an entire nation. The result, while unsurprising considering Radio X's listener base, is actually kind of important because it speaks to the way that many consider white maleness to be the default for British musicianship. In 2018, that couldn't really be further from the truth, and it's a shame that a poll with a wide-spanning title like "Best of British" should represent only one tiny sub-section of British society (although admittedly, it's a sub-section that is overrepresented in the British music industry).

It's also pretty typical of a casual listenership: you won't find any deep cuts in the top 100 on this list – it's all singles, and extremely famous ones at that. You'll also only find two women: Pulp's Candida Doyle and New Order's Gillian Gilbert, which says all you really need to know. But let's be honest: if you were to scrape together the most popular and broad music for our generation in about 30 years, the list would likely be a shambles too.

If Radio X is still going in 2048, with the same casual listener fanbase, you'd probably find Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" knocking at that number one spot, closely followed by whichever Clean Bandit song soundtracked that M&S Food advert, something by Rudimental, another Ed Sheeran single, Adele's "Someone Like You", "Do I Wanna Know" by Arctic Monkeys (a rare deserving entry) and "Mr Brightside," which, following an impassioned online petition, will probably be granted honorary Britishness at some point in the next decade. But what should an actual top ten British songs of all time ever, right now, really look like? Noisey has some ideas:


10) The Spice Girls – "Spice Up Your Life"

9) Robbie Williams – "Angels"
Ask anyone which they prefer out of this and the national anthem.

8) Skepta feat. JME – "That's Not Me"
Look, Skepta and JME are essentially grime's Janet and Michael Jackson at the Jacksons' 90s peak. "That's Not Me," one of their many joint tracks, is perhaps the jewel in their crown.

7) Ray BLK – "My Hood"
As you might have gathered, some of these entries have been A Joke. This one however is entirely serious: there are few lyricists who conjure Britain right now as richly and with as much affection as Ray BLK. Add to that her world class voice and honestly you have the perfect example of artists who polls called things like "Best of British" should be championing.

6) Giggs – "Talkin' Da Hardest"
I know what I just said about "Angels" and the national anthem but this is an even stronger contender for a song that makes you want to tear up at the slightest flicker of a Union Jack in the breeze.

Have some respect.

4) Oasis – "Cigarettes and Alcohol"
We're not anti-Oasis, we're just extremely pro-Oasis songs about getting smashed and being a rock star. The fact that this didn't break the top ten of the actual poll is a damning indictment of Radio X listeners.

3) The Spice Girls – "Wannabe"
I mean if Oasis can get on the list five times…

2) Literally anything by PJ Harvey, singles or deep cuts, it doesn't even matter, she comes through with the heat consistently
Call yourselves real music fans, Radio X listeners? For shame.

1) Sophia Grace – "Best Friends"
Don't @ us.

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