[1] U2, ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’

I was given my first CD player for my birthday that year and had to choose one CD. A friend suggested I replace my favourite album. The Joshua Tree had been out for three months, ample time for me to decide – briefly – that it was the greatest record ever released, so that was the one. How fickle our young selves are.

I forgot about it for a few years, when chest-beating stadium behemoths were painted as the devil incarnate, but have come back to it a bit now, and it’s not too harsh a shock to see this song at the top of the pile. U2’s plodding and patchy recent efforts, and the “will this do?” likes of Coldplay’s vapid X&Y are giving impassioned, crowd-pleasing rock a bad name again, though, and the superior quality of The Joshua Tree is shown in stark relief.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, and not really my favourite stuff these days. Some songs break through. I like the yearning and insistent chords, and the way it builds, shown to more obvious effect on Rattle & Hum’s gospelified version. The Chimes’ fantastic soul cover a few years later takes it even further, bringing out the potential Bono hoped it had.

Of course, it could just be a load of cod-religious, bombastic, empty posturing. Hey, that’s why we love them, right? Junior tried to get with the questing theme by working out how to sit up unaided. Didn’t quite manage it, but she put on a decent performance. Acting baby.

[2] The Sugarcubes, ‘Birthday’

Junior thought this was coming from the light fittings and, let’s face it, that probably isn’t far off. When not staring at the ceiling, she spent the rest of the song craning to look around the room, determined to find that Icelandic pixie. We’re no wiser than we were back then.

Back then, I first heard about The Sugarcubes in Record Mirror, then saw a snatch of video on the Chart Show. You had to take notice. In Oxford Street’s Virgin Megastore, I saw 18 year old gothic indie chicks carrying the 12” of the Icelandic version, and felt intimidated. The shop was very different in the ’80s, not the shiny identikit middle-aged-50-quid-man haven it is today. It was dirty and seedy, and you were sneered on like a fish-out-of-water dad in a small, independent record store. Jelly-legged, I’d take my Microdisney tapes up to the listening booths, knowing I’d feel compelled to buy them however they sounded.

‘Birthday’ was alien and exciting. My big sister – by now a national luminary of youth music theatre – said that Björk would ruin her vocal chords screaming like that. I thought that this was beside the point. Now I’m hoping that Junior didn’t pick up any ideas.

[3] Prince, ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’

So Prince got all socially conscious on us and it didn’t seem pious. He had no previous, you see. Stripped down, raw and funky, ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’ came out of nowhere when we’d barely finished getting down to the ninth single from Parade. He was astonishingly prolific without dropping below the quality threshold, at least for another couple of years.

You have to do a silly, jerky dance to this. Junior understood. Attempting to stand up, with support, she let her knees give way a few times, and sometimes on the beat. I can’t remember whether we ever danced to this at teenage discos. Would’ve been excruciating, in our roll-neck tops and black jeans and Converse boots.

The breathtaking, hubristic album still takes your breath away and challenges the gods. Skip the loose jams and it’s filled with psychedelic pop/soul/rock beauties and singles that should’ve made this chart. He was on a huge, kaleidoscopic roll. If I’d had a boy, I’d have called him Nate.

[4] Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’

This is the best single of 1987 by some distance, only I didn’t quite realise at the time. The “song with no chorus”, as Tennant and Lowe knew it, has drama, bitterness, regret and huge, warm hooks. It also has those synth horns on the second bridge that set you up for Dusty’s matchless second verse/bridge/kind-of-chorus. The catch in her voice here is not just the highlight of the record, it’s one of the pop highlights of the decade.

The kids like it as well. My brother was two when this was released and it’s the first of my records I remember him singing along with, in an early prototype of Jukebox Junior. Junior herself enjoyed this in a more stately manner, waltzing around the living room with her dad.

I haven’t paid much attention to the Pet Shop Boys in the last 10 years. I know they made a new soundtrack to Battleship Potemkin last year, and I’ve been dimly aware of the steady trickle of pale imitations of former glories. Nothing disguises the weakening grip on the mastery of pop. It would’ve been a tall order, anyway. In the ’80s they peered down on all except the pint-sized purple paisley poseur.

[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.

[6] 10,000 Maniacs, ‘What’s The Matter Here?’

A song about child abuse, and the powerlessness and denial of living next door. Not one for Junior to boogie around to, then, so I left her sitting quietly while I became reacquainted with the record. She was much more interested in the email mum was sending to her boss, anyway.

Natalie Merchant had a voice that only Michael Stipe could love, allegedly, although its ticks and quirks interested me today. In this song, she uses the beat to punctuate her words and it makes an uncomfortable whip-crack effect. She’s telling a story at the start, then in the middle eight she adopts the voice of the abuser and alternates between quiet menace and swooping anger. In the last verse, she gives vent to the bafflement we’d all feel as neighbours and the result is rousing. Packs a punch, this.

When I bought this (a 3-inch CD single, nostalgia buffs), it was the tune I loved while I allowed myself a suitably serious nod towards the content. It gets more unsettling as you get older, even if the cynical adult is inclined to notice triteness in the lyrics. For all the brow-beating, hectoring and polemic across their albums, at least they give it a melody here.

[7] The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl, ‘Fairytale Of New York’

We’ve already done this one in the Christmas section. Gratifyingly, Junior again sings along with the intro.

Festive records shouldn’t be in year-end Top 10s. It feels wrong, no matter how right the record is.

[8] The Jesus And Mary Chain, ‘April Skies’

They replaced Bobby Gillespie with a drum machine (there’s a thought) and revved up ‘Some Candy Talking’ to make a straight-up indie pop grower. It’s more unusual than that. You get two verses and then two choruses, and this makes it feel like it’s forever building to a big finish. In a way, it is. Jim Reid lets rip with what sounds like real drive, something that Psychocandy didn’t quite give us.

Junior was distracted this morning. We think she might’ve been peeved at wearing a blue vest and blue sleepsuit. She likes her girlie accoutrements. The Jesus and Mary Chain get a passing nod. She’ll learn though, when she’s decked out in black at 14 years old and telling us how she always liked The Velvet Underground.

Listening to ‘April Skies’ again makes me wonder whether we’ve got The Strokes all wrong. They like the skinny ties, trousers and baseball boots of new wave, but they want to make goth surf pop.

[9] Hue And Cry, ‘Labour Of Love’

A blistering white soul attack on Thatcherite Britain, or Matt Bianco with balls? You decide. Junior threw some shapes to it and thanked her lucky stars that the Kane brothers weren’t looking for Linda.

The dizzy heights of No.9 might be stretching it slightly for this, but it sustains a cracking tempo and some handily spat out lyrics. A friend of mine drops this into the mix occasionally when exercising his ninja DJ skillz, and it isn’t too out of place. Strange, as it’s dated in more than just its meaning.

We enjoyed the brassy few minutes, although some of its gloss was scuffed when I didn’t turn the tape off quickly enough at the end of the song. No.8, you see, is a stone cold classic.

[10] M/A/R/R/S, ‘Pump Up The Volume’

Junior looked a bit bewildered at this one, particularly with her dad struggling manfully to sing along with the samples. I do a mean Ofra Haza. As with the 1987 British public, however, bewilderment gave way to enthusiasm and we had a hit on our hands.

Colourbox were known for a maverick ‘86 World Cup theme, and AR Kane indulged in psychedelic shoe-gazing pop. Dave Dorrell and CJ Mackintosh bucked up their ideas for them and gave us a seminal No.1. Yeah, sampling wasn’t new, but for the punter at large a record consisting solely of samples was a new and frightening thing. It’s odd to think of the furore now. Lawsuits aplenty, not least from the blissfully backward Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Weeks earlier, they’d delighted in white labels of ‘Roadblock’ fooling the fashion-conscious DJs into championing Rick Astley’s svengalis, now they took their ball home when they could’ve been enjoying even greater kudos. Ironic, doncha think?

Oddly, this is still a meaty-sounding record. Put it next to the flimsy ‘Jack Your Body’ and see the Brits breaking the new ground. By the end, Junior was applauding.