[1] The Verve, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

For a couple of months in 1997 everyone loved The Verve. Then ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ was a bit drippy (No.1 smash notwithstanding), the album underwhelmed and the whole shooting match fell to pieces amid lawsuits and general hatred, only for Richard Ashcroft to rise from the flames like a boring phoenix.

So, many evils were visited upon the world, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. I love ‘Brimful Of Asha’ more, I find, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. We need our rock classics. Without them, what would Virgin Radio’s listeners vote into the Top 10 ‘tracks’ of all time? What would our dads and brothers-in-law play in the car?

This is more inventive than your standard rock monster. For a start, there’s a *gasp* sample. Bet they regretted that. The strings don’t add pomposity, as they would to any number of Oasis singles of the time, they add urgency. Pompous as that sounds. Oh, blah blah blah. I love the wall of sound, getting wider and higher throughout.

And Junior swung her hips – which don’t lie – in exact time with the string stabs, and rocked back and forth with the Eastenders drums. She was wailing by the end, mind. Probably had a vision of Ashcroft’s solo career. Actually, the iDog was making funny noises as well. That’s one bad solo career.

A Spotify playlist of the whole Top 20 (but no Blue Boy. Rats)

[2] Cornershop, ‘Brimful Of Asha’

Not the crazee Norman Cook remix and its forced jollity and helium vocals. This is the real deal, one of the cutest 45s in years. No other record has so successfully married a tribute to Asha Bhosle and a paean to the 7” single. God knows many have tried.

Junior takes the opportunity, as Marc Bolan – an obvious Cornershop influence – once sang, to “ride a green, blue and red snail like the people of the Beltane”. It’s a rocking horse, in the form of a snail. You know the sort of thing. Before saddling up, she was boogieing along and wondering if this really could be the same band that got caught up in all that Riot Grrl nonsense. Damn the NME. They know how to brand a band.

I was surprised to clock that this is five minutes long. It’s so concise and trim, with just enough embellishment in the strings and handclaps, that you think it’s the classic three-minute pop song. Tjinder Singh also ticks another of my favourite boxes by trying the ‘Young Americans’ trick of fitting too many words in each line. He succeeds where many a Manic Street Preacher has failed.

God. It should be No.1. It’s just that the next song ate rock music, spat it out and ruined its own makers.

[3] Supergrass, ‘Richard III’

After wheelie-ing their way into our affections with ‘Alright’ and other sparky singles, Supergrass flexed their monkey muscles with the second album, screeching back into public focus with the searing adrenaline buzz of Richard III’. On its release, it seemed as if there hadn’t been a tauter, more aggressive, more direct single in years. Maybe there hadn’t.

The record’s a bit of a shock for me at eight o’clock in the morning, but Junior had been warming up for a while and was ready for the standard rush on the coffee table. Not much coffee around – it’s become an ersatz library for her, and a place where she can rip up Heat magazine. Anyway, she shook her behind at the breakneck pace set by the ‘Grass and threw in some polite headbanging. It doesn’t outstay its welcome, so she rocked to the end.

Supergrass plough a more reflective furrow these days. You don’t get the same old rush with them, but the hairy little chimps are still up there with the best.

[4] All Saints, ‘Never Ever’

Junior just stood in the middle of the room, flexing her knees. She could’ve been an Appleton.

I used to think this record sounded fairly lush, but it’s a typically clinical late 90s production. The lushness more likely stems from Mel Blatt’s honeyed vocals and, erm, Shaznay Lewis’ honeyed vocals. It’s a doo-woppy song, beguiling in its languor, effortlessly catchy, and for a little while it made me think that the Saints were better than the Spices.

And maybe they were, with their hoity toity Lahndan sophistication, just for a few months. The competition was ‘Spice Up Your Life’, and you won’t be finding that in the Top Three.

You’ll be finding a trio of astonishing singles in the Top Three. Believe me, 1997 was good after all.

[5] Texas, ‘Say What You Want’

When Texas first turned up with their worthy Americana it was the guitarist who was eulogised. He was tagged as a new axe hero for the kids, with Johnny Marr now out of the picture. Each record was duller than the last and soon the band fell right off the radar, presumably never to return.

Then, what do you know, they rolled up with this, with the pretty lady front and centre. A very 90s thing to do. The emphasis was off the big chords and onto the pattering groove and Sharleen’s breathy breaths.

Texas set about making the world’s coffee table their very own, but they’re a fondness of mine, with their safe songs and clean sheen. Altered Images veteran Johnny McElhone was now giving them a classic pop sound, an unashamed Fleetwood Mac-ish love of melody and glossy production. This song pilfers from Marvin Gaye and Al Green too, but Ms Spiteri has the chutzpah to carry it off.

Junior jealously guarded her own coffee table and rocked, but gently.

[6] The Charlatans, ‘North Country Boy’

Junior was laughing again with this one. Coincidentally, I was singing. She rocked from side to side, like a chubby metronome, and was at one with The Charlatans’ good-time bluster. It’s a joyous record, sung with a smile on its lips. Their run of great singles was coming to an end, but it had been a cracking few years.

With this single, their Dylan passion was made flesh. The title’s a riff on ‘Girl From The North Country’, the sleeve’s a pastiche of Nashville Skyline’s, even Tim Burgess’s phrasing is the culmination of years of botched impressions.

Burgess has always been one for a bit of hero worship, from the Stone Roses through Dylan to, in recent years, Curtis Mayfield. He’s not gone as far as breaking his spine, though. Charlatan.

[7] Massive Attack, ‘Risingson’

Dense, edgy, sneering, eerie, blank, clammy, creepy, discordant and destructive, ‘Risingson’ has all the ingredients of a top pop tune. It came out quietly in the Summer, took Massive Attack to No.11, their biggest hit at that point, and was all but forgotten by the time of the Mezzanine album a year later. The band themselves remembered its dark hue, but copied it over and over until the album was a bore.

But I’ve moaned about that before.

Junior loves to prick the pomposity, poke fun at the serious. She grinned at ‘Risingson’’s sinister tones, swept all her books off the coffee table and played ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ over the top of it all. The effect was like one of those old children’s music boxes playing in a horror film. Freaked me out; she just stood there laughing.

[8] Hanson, Mmmbop’

I think it was The Face that described Hanson’s cherubic looks as “Kate Moss crossed with Kurt Cobain, Kate Moss crossed with Little Jimmy Osmond and Kate Moss crossed with Desert Orchid”. The big bruv did always look as if he’d be happier leaping the fence and getting away, but what would he do? The middle lad was the talent. It was like Jermaine and Michael, without the raging madness – as far as I’m aware.

‘Mmmbop’ has some of the starburst thrill of ‘I Want You Back’, but where the Jackson 5’s debut hit united the people, this just annoyed the arse off them. Precocity, you love it or hate it, it depends who’s delivering it. Plenty bought this – it was a No.1, for pity’s sake – and they can’t all have been kids. Um, there was me for a start.

Well, it’s a true pop moment, with zip and scratching, and some classic, poorly enunciated lines. It’s all about friendships that last and friendships that disappear in the blink of an eye. I think. Who cares? Junior saw its value as a ‘dance with your dad’ floorburner, her experience enhanced by not having to see their Moss hybrid chops.

[9] Finley Quaye, ‘Even After All’

Finley again. He polarises opinion. You either rather like his sunshine reggaefied rock and still play his debut now but not that slightly harder-edged commercial disaster follow-up, or you’re not that bothered about the little chap and would prefer to listen to some of that proper roots stuff like UB40. Bitter war rages between these factions.

This record’s made with a wonderfully light touch, the most mellow of warm guitar solos and a lyric that’s simple but fits like a glove. It’s worth hearing again.

Junior was excited as ever to hear the stereo start up – obviously walked a couple of steps to the table, just because she CAN. She swayed and waved her hairbrush, enjoying the calm before the teenage ultrapop storm to come.

[10] Blur, ‘Song 2’

And whoomph. Blur killed Britpop.

It only took two minutes as well.

Why didn’t anyone think of it before?

‘Song 2’ was given its due props by Junior, who flung herself from side to side during the choppy verses and headbanged perfectly in time to the speedrush chorus. She then made a dive for her dad’s notebook, trying to rip up her history like a short female Albarn.

She walked unaided for the first time today too. Fifteen steps the best consecutive effort. It wasn’t easy, but nothing is.