[1] Missy Elliott, ‘Get Ur Freak On’

For all my efforts, Junior doesn’t quite have the weight of cultural history on her small shoulders, so true innovation won’t astonish her just yet. To her, ‘Get Ur Freak On’ has a slinky groove that makes those unburdened shoulders shimmy, but – as far as artistic impact goes – it faces tough competition from the Rice Krispies.

So, what makes ‘Get Ur Freak On’ so great? Is it the much-imitated-but-then-truly-original bhangra shake turning hip-hop inside out? Is it Timbaland’s beats cutting up sharp enough to slice through Run-D.M.C.’s gold chains? Is it the punctuating “holla”s that stop the record stone dead to let you catch a breather before the nagging resumes at twice the power? Is it hindsight – or even prescience – that Missy and Timbaland have reached their creative peak here and all that’s left are old skool retreads and a steady stream of career revivals for Furtado, Ciccone and whoever’s next? Is it the “hach-TOO” flying in your face? Is it the pie-eyed mix of vocal tics and screams rubbing up against punishing techno twangs that makes you think you’ve stepped into some sci-fi jungle nightmare, shortly before you realise you actually have?


[2] Daft Punk, ‘Digital Love’

No one actually realised that we needed a reworking of ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, but need it we did, and at this point in time these glossy disco-techno robot chiefs were the men to bring it to life. ‘Digital Love’ tickles the underbelly of naff, wraps it in fake-fur and plasters it with thousands of tiny mirrors. Yes, it’s a hugely uncool mirrorball of a dancefloor clearer, doing more for the synthesised electric guitar than any record since ABBA’s we-really-should-be-going-now farewell single ‘Under Attack’.

Junior’s mum and I are the biggest ‘Digital Love’ fans this side of Justice. Junior herself wasn’t so sure. This was played in my absence and I’m told that comments ranged, rather narrowly, from “Too loud, Mummy” via “Stop singing, Mummy” to “Stop dancing, Mummy”. On being told that a guitar solo was coming up, she replied “I don’t like guitar”. Anyone who’s seen her pulling Gary Moore faces while wielding the plastic Stratocaster will know that’s a blatant lie. Must have been one of those days.

[3] The Strokes, ‘The Modern Age EP’

There was such a quaint furore about The Strokes those long seven years ago, loud voices on either side. Were they singlehandedly saving rawk? Were they arch-copyists, not an original note in their scuffy Converse? Did any of it really matter? Well, yes and no. A bit of debate keeps pop lively, but would the naysayers have been so quick to swipe if they’d known the day would come when every band and its wife would be ripping off The Libertines, and not the rather more plunderable Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, Blondie, you-name-a-cool-NYC-trailblazer? The answer’s no.

Anyway, what Julian Casablancas and rich kid friends had in bags were tunes. On first listen, I thought ‘The Modern Age’ was The Velvet Underground – that’ll be Casablancas’ Lou Reed drawl – still it was a catchy little effort from the off. Studiedly cool, yep, but nevertheless, er, cool. ‘Last Nite’ was a white boy’s Motown pastiche even more authentic than Phil Collins’ flail at ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’.

But we don’t want them to get too chipper. Junior and I did the arm-pumping ‘Tiger Feet’ dance, one ‘70s influence The Strokes possibly wouldn’t want to snatch. Saying that, let’s see what the fourth album brings.

[4] Outkast, ‘Ms Jackson’

Operating on some sort of mad, sickly, spandex level above conventional hip-hop, Outkast have the crossover appeal that hip-hop purists don’t want. At least Big Boi’s there to keep it real, but Andre 3000 is a space-age Prince even more indebted to the sleaze than his purple precedent. But then I’m not a hip-hop purist, so balls to it. And Big Boi can’t be keeping it THAT real, if he’s letting Soul Train glitter like this pass by under his nose.

The last thing you’d predict for this record is no reaction at all, but that’s what Junior gives it. She sits blankly staring at the stereo, not a twitch in her dancing feet. We found out later that she had a temperature, so well done, Dad, for trying to get her enthused about some shiny hipster-hop. I’m sorry, Miss Junior. Oooo.

I wonder if Erykah Badu’s mom took the apology with good grace. Somehow, all that appropriation of the wedding march makes ‘Ms Jackson’ seem a touch insincere. Glorious stuff, though, forever-evah.

[5] Manic Street Preachers, ‘So Why So Sad (Sean Penn Mix – Avalanches)

Is this really the done thing? Heroes of the year, The Avalanches took the Manics’ dreary and slightly odd Showaddywaddyesque plodder and kicked out the stinking chorus, droning Nicky Wire echoed vocal lines, misplaced moog and general sense of melodic dead-end – and replaced all the tired parts with Beach Boys glitter, sun-kissed Hawaiian keyboard strokes and chugging percussion, creating a dizzily gorgeous seaside twilight happy mix. Then they named it after Sean Penn. Pure crazed genius. It’s just a pity for the Preachers that these Aussie samplesmiths couldn’t be around every day. Pity for us too – think of the records we would have been spared.

Junior stood before me, wielding a plastic sword. That might have been how The Avalanches did it, come to think.

[6] Kylie Minogue, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’

Yes – shock and awe – the Greatest Pop Single of the Century is only the 2001 No.6. It’s a fine record, but it’s as if the critiscenti were simply waiting for a Kylie track to hang the accolade on. The pumped beats, hopping synths, “la la la”s, the non-singing, the ‘Love Action’ “wowowowow”s, they all add up to an addictive confection – it’s just I’d have liked a proper hook and a whiff of soul before propping it up as a paragon of the art. Even Paul Morley, in the Kylie shrine that is his essay Words And Music, is essentially hung up on the video, not the song.

So there you are. I’m a semi-believer.

But we don’t care what I think. Junior was entranced – although, like Morley, she wasn’t fussing about the song, more about the airbrushed loveliness of Kylie on the single sleeve. She wanted to hold it, and spent most of the playback opening the case and saying, “Where’s Kylie gone?” If X is anything to go by, she’s gone on to diminishing pop returns.

[7] Jay-Z ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’

He was already well-enough-established by this point, largely thanks to forever soiling his legacy for a hit with the Little Orphan Annie-sponsored ‘Hard Knock Life’ back in 1998 – but now, right here, was where The Hov was riding highest: this hard-funk cut with ego on all cylinders, and The Blueprint album coming fast in the pipeline.

No diss-respect to Jay-Z’s laconic flow and easy rhyming, but the heavy lifting is handled by The Neptunes, and Pharrell Williams in particular. In 2001, before the horror of N*E*R*D’s second album, everything Williams touches is still turning gold and the descending, clipped riff and falsetto chorus are what makes ‘…Give It 2 Me’. So there.

Now, onto the Does Hip-Hop Have A Place At Glastonbury? debate…

Jokes. Junior took it easy, waiting for a good two or three minutes before clapping along to the springboard bass, bang on the rhythm. Come to think of it, I’m not sure she’s ever heard any of Noel Gallagher’s work – we can be pretty sure she won’t find much swing there.

[8] Destiny’s Child, ‘Bootylicious’

It’s all very well asking if the girls can “handle it”, but over the thrummy bass intro from ‘Eye Of The Tiger’? It’s a bloody tall order. Kelly, Michelle and Beyoncé prove themselves at least the equal of the punishing electro rhythm, however, and punctuate the beats with a few orgasmic “urgh”s to show that they’re light years beyond their pious beginnings by now. If they seemed a little naughty on ‘Jumpin’ Jumpin’’ – the other contender for Best Destiny’s Child Single – here, they’re letting the booty hang out. And it’s licious.

Junior didn’t seem all that bothered about the whole charade, until I noticed she was kicking her legs in time under the breakfast table. Beyoncé and co would never be that demure again.

As for whether B’s body was too bootylicious – well, there was one chap who could handle it. And, hark! Who’s that about to give it 2 us?

[9] Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, ‘Whatever Happened To My Rock ‘N’ Roll (Punk Song)’

Good start, cool name. Terrific single too (their third, or thereabouts), that suggested a searing balls-out rock pedigree, all full-throttle rhythm and piled-on guitars. I first heard about them when Charlatan Tim Burgess was bigging up this record on some radio show, and it could almost pass for one of his own – with Rob Levon Been’s sub-Jagger sneer a ringer for Burgess’s Manc-turned-Yank lip-curl – albeit a little more cranked-up than your standard Charlatans blues-pop.

It flattered to deceive. ‘Spread Your Love’, their next foray into the UK Top 30, sounded like ‘Spirit In The Sky’ and tepid albums gave way to a grasp at serious cred with third long-player Howl, an nth-generation tilt at rootsy blues. Who needs it?

The tidal wave of gee-tar prompted Junior to sling on the plastic Strat and rumble along with BRMC. Finding the jarring piano button on her axe, she was then moved to delve into the toy box for the pink keyboard, and the ensuing cacophony had Junior 2 looking aghast. Pure-spun rock’n’roll. It sounded like some godawful mash-up – appropriate in 2001, when the world and his wife were at it.

Reminds me – I must be the only man alive who doesn’t own 2 Many DJs’ As Heard On Radio Soulwax. Or, entirely unrelated, Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. Or Damien Rice’s O. Or Nevermind.

[10] Madonna, ‘What It Feels Like For A Girl’

In which musclebound Madge tries to convince us that she’s really a sensitive little flower at Kabbalah-coddled heart, all to a sympathetic and warmly electronic soundtrack from Mark “Spike” Stent and not the marvellous Mirwais who wove such wonder into the rest of the Music album. The girl speaking at the start is Charlotte Gainsbourg (in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden), who went on to trump anything Madonna’s done this century with her own 5.55 album in 2006. She’s been too quiet since.

Unlikely as it seems, Madonna drives home the little-girl-lost shot with some distinction. Junior sulked because she wasn’t allowed to put the CD in the brand new stereo herself, and simply sat on her little chair, swinging her legs, no doubt wondering whether Dad would ever understand.