[6] Janelle Monae featuring Big Boi, ‘Tightrope’

Janelle Monae

She looks like the most eager beaver on the block, so it’s little surprise this is the peppiest song of the year, a barrage of pure joie de vivre set to the funkiest sproing this side of the Collins brothers. There’s obviously a huge debt to James Brown, but it’s not as if Monae hides it, and she has the knackering enthusiasm for it, the soul to suit and the suit to soul. I’m chucking these words out, something like a terminator.

The only sane response to ‘Tightrope’ is to fling yourself about the room like you’re five years old. Hey presto! Here’s one I prepared earlier, and she’s got the pen again: “Junior [she wrote her real name – but I have to keep some mystique. Yeah, believe, Junior’s not her real name] likes it.” “Four, three, two, one, zero!” she shouts before tipping on alligators. And rattlesnakers.

[20] Tom Tom Club, ‘Genius Of Love’

Tom Tom Club

This is a hindsight Top 20, taking place a year before I started buying my own records and making my own tapes and obsessing over Duran Duran and the Top 40. 1981 was the year my sister began to record the chart rundown, introducing me to the wild sounds of Landscape and, erm, Alvin Stardust. Up to this point, all I knew were Beatles and Boney Ms, ABBAs and Brotherhoods Of Man. Now we had a dead Beatle and a declining, rended ABBA.

Partners in rhythm Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were no longer satisfied with merely pushing the very corners of rock’s envelopes in Talking Heads’ engine room – or perhaps David Byrne and Brian Eno left no elbow room – and Tom Tom Club was the joyous diversion. Mixing funk, bags of funk, with pop, rap and world music, they revealed a sunnier side nowhere brighter than on the glorious ‘Genius Of Love’. It’s a tribute to a spiffing boyfriend wrapped up in loyal dedication to their funky forebears, and in a nice piece of symmetry has become one of the most sampled records – seized upon by trailblazers from Grandmaster Flash to, yes, Mariah Carey.

‘Genius Of Love’ locks into a groove, but Junior ain’t for dancin’. Apparently her baby sister “doesn’t want me to,” which is an impressive bit of inter-sibling communication – and we thought all they did was laugh at each other. But what does she think of the song? “I don’t like it; it makes me sad.” I’ve got it all wrong.

James Brooooown:

[6] The Stone Roses, ‘Love Spreads’

We tried a new experiment this morning – well, we were pushed for time and it would’ve been a pity to mess up this tune-a-weekday thing we’ve got going on – and listened to the song on the bus to nursery, like teenage rapscallions playing tinny bassline house on the backseat. Don’t worry; we were at the front, listening through sound-isolating earphones at a responsible volume. Junior showed fierce concentration all the way through the lengthy John Squire Led Zep-a-thon, breaking off only to declare that her arms ached from holding the earpieces in place. Afterwards she said that she liked the song and it had “lots of guitars”.

I think Squire would have been pleased with the assessment. That’s why he kept the band holed up in Wales for four years, wasn’t it? To lay down “lots of guitars”.

Anticipation had reached Chinese Democracy levels by the time this surfaced in November 1994, and it was only ever going to be an anticlimax. It’s a pretty solid rocker with a bit of swagger, but last time we’d seen The Stone Roses they looked as if they might Change The World with large jeans and half-inched James Brown beats. This plodded in comparison. Still, with a sense of relief at any kind of output, I loved it for a few months, and Paddy and I particularly enjoyed making Neil and Kate sing “The Messiah is my sister” over and over in the backseat as we drove up to Edinburgh that New Year’s Eve.

The Messiah is his sister?

[5] Terence Trent D’Arby, ‘If You Let Me Stay’

A second appearance from 1987’s self-proclaimed biggest star. ‘If You Let Me Stay’ was his first single, an ’80s soul rush with oomph to spare and the campest backing singers this side of Vegas. His bug-eyed James Brownisms were everywhere for a year or so, an effortless rise to the top of the tree that was almost as quick and remarkable as his subsequent fall.

The Trout (thanks, Smash Hits) saw his debut album spend at least six months in the chart even before it reached No.1 in early ’88, where it stayed for a couple of months. A huge, heady success. The second arrived in 1990, entered at No. 12 and was gone in four weeks, never to be seen again. He didn’t miss his water, ‘til his well ran dry.

Junior was caught up in the whirl, laughter tinkling with each of Terence’s whoops. I was throwing her up in the air at the same time, admittedly. Still, the song whistles past and leaves you smiling.