[1] Scissor Sisters, ‘Comfortably Numb’

Scissor Sisters

In many ways – visual, musical, camp – Scissor Sisters were a shot in the arm for a moribund pop scene. The teen bracket was thriving, sure, mainly through the reality parade, but Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, Babydaddy et al negotiated a glitzy path to the heart of the big record buyer. A crossover triumph. Their showtuny, Elton John-infused (and frankly pretty flimsy) debut album was neck and neck with the more prosaic Keane in the year’s bestselling chart, laying bare 50 Quid Man’s lesser-spotted appetite for gay-as-a-window flim-flammery.

They waved their jazz hands over the parapet with this impudent romp over Pink Floyd’s dour classic. We heard the Bee Gees, KC & The Sunshine Band and – perhaps most of all, but less acknowledged – Frankie Knuckles. What initially appealed as a Night Fever throwback turned out to be a modern house monster with pop bells on, a gleeful destruction of Roger Waters’ puffed-up, jacked-up sense poem, but a destruction somehow executed with poignancy and cheeky respect.

I think it’s respect anyway. The euphoric hand claps after “But you may feel a little sick” don’t suggest much forelock-tugging.

Reactions from Junior tread the thin line between the surreal and Keanely prosaic – “Are they cutting?” “Is it Lily Allen? Is it soldiers?” “Where’s the lady?” Junior’s in the back of the car, but I can hear her clapping along, sending up Pink’s peril and “Uh-huh-uh-huh”ing where called upon. “I sang lots of that,” she tells me as the song echoes away, so there’s your proof. A crossover triumph.

Come on, it’s time to go:

[2] The Killers, ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’

The Killers

Our now-seemingly-weekly series staggers on with a truly mediocre band raking in millions across the globe for some buffed-up US take on ‘80s indie. What are they doing here then? Every dog must have its day – even a dog that has the chutzpah to carry on like nothing happened after releasing a piss-weak Springsteen knock-off as a second album – and despite the hypnotherapy, primal scream exercises, stiff talkings-to from concerned friends, I bloody love this song.

“Is he singing about being a soldier?” Junior misses the mark, but wallows in the warm riffs, uplifting keys, rolling drums and pleasing bookends of The Killers’ only good record. “No, he’s singing about not being a soldier.”


I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldering iron:

[3] Franz Ferdinand, ‘Take Me Out’

Franz Ferdinand

A tremendous, not-so-inevitable skew on the new-new wave mania scorching the pop earth in the early Noughties, Franz Ferdinand swaggered in all-literate-like with Wiry rhythm and Blondie hit chops. That audacious aim to “get girls dancing” found full flower here in Junior’s neck-crick nodding in the back seat as the enormous riff kicked this song off proper.

Is there a more pleasing sight than two grown men throttling their guitars to synchronised steps? Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy were the new Rossi and Parfitt, the new Mud, the new Shadows – well-turned out gents who knew the value of fancy footwork, the limitations of rock shapes. If ‘Take Me Out’ – the tripartite axe-slinging beauty – could get them skipping in time, the girls would be a cert.


[4] The Libertines, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’

The Libertines

“An ending fitting for the start” – the CD clicked and spluttered in the car stereo until this song became a succession of quickfire tuts. “Is that the Easter Bunny?” asked Junior. I wouldn’t like to see Pete Doherty prancing around my garden, hiding foil-wrapped items among the pine needles.

Earlier she’d sought confirmation that it was two people singing. Fair enough, it’s hard to tell with Doherty and Carl Barât, their voices interchangeable as they exchange barbs and pleas and let their life’s work crumble around their ears. This almost-swansong comes from a patchy second album, but the debut’s vim and swagger trumpeted a band of huge promise – promise squandered by a ghoul-faced buffoon of a smackhead with idiot “light fingers”. Here’s to that solo album, Peter!

Is this record really so great? Does it just profit in context? Something stirs me – the control-free guitar, the sourness and release of the singing, the bye-bye harmonica (“I’ve got a pink one of those, Daddy”). It’s the Noughties ‘Ballad Of John And Yoko’, served up to the same mixed feelings.

The boy kicked out at the world:

[5] Green Day, ‘American Idiot’

Green Day

Junior reckons “it’s too noisy.”

Me? I can’t stand Green Day. Punk? Pah. Just snotty, stary, immaculately-scruffily coiffed Americans opening the door to the limp likes of Sum 41 and any number of other anarcho-veneered, Studio Line-spiked college brats.

Imagine my irritation when ‘’American Idiot’ kicked a hole in our heads with a chorus strong enough to fell Big Daddy. It’s like your Harley cannoning down the road, leaving you flat on your arse, thinking, erm, “Rats. I swore I’d never like a Green Day song.” Thank God the lyrics are so trite.

Sing along to the age of paranoia!

[6] Secret Machines, ‘Nowhere Again’

Secret Machines

Why does everything have to have a name these days? Why does music have to be put in a box, a genre, a scene? Why does every rock critic have to christen a movement, splicing terms together like so many mini-Paul Morleys? Can’t good music just be good music? The campaign starts here.

So, this is a mighty slice of KrautProg from the two brothers and their mate who made up Secret Machines before one brother split to form the equally splendid School Of Seven Bells.

Junior told me her Barbie liked it. When quizzed on what else Barbie likes, she replied, “High School Musical”. Isn’t it nice to see a doll with such eclectic taste?

You’d be surprised how we race:

[7] Kylie Minogue, ‘I Believe In You’

Kylie Minogue

All things considered, at the end of the day, when all’s said and done, in the final analysis, weighing up the pros and cons, when it all comes down to it, if I’m pushed, I’d say ‘I Believe In You’ is my favourite Kylie single. Not ‘Shocked’, not ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, not ‘I Should be So Lucky’, not ‘Love At First Sight’ – no, I believe in ‘I Believe In You’.

So does Junior. And, if pushed, if asked if she likes Kylie’s singing, she says, “Yes.” And what else does she like? I meant what else does she like about the song, but… “Mermaids. And Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.”

From top to toe, this record’s gorgeous. Lush and dreamy. I like to think it’s the Kylester’s answer to John Lennon’s ‘God’, but it is, of course, the work of 2004’s main chart sales flava – Scissor Sisters. Who’d have thought Scissor Sisters had it in them?

But I-i-i believe in… me, Yoko and me:

[8] Girls Aloud, ‘Love Machine’

Girls Aloud

Frankly, I think I’ve written enough about Girls Aloud. I love them, Junior loves them, we all have a mad dance-off. I look ridiculous and Junior looks as if she could oust anyone who’s not pulling their weight.

‘Love Machine’ is a fairly straightforward beat group pastiche, that batters its ho-hum roots with manic enthusiasm, barmy lyrics and those excellent “oh”s. And Cheryl doing the claws.

Let’s go, eskimo:

[9] Kings Of Leon, ‘The Bucket’

Kings Of Leon

How did these Southern varmints become the biggest band in the world (hell, near enough)? That was going to be rhetorical, but I’m saying – by taking their rough-edged, tighter-than-a-Liverpool-winning-margin, down-home rock and polishing away any abrasive corners, ditching the concise for the flabby and bunging in as many leadfooted power chords as a song can take without collapsing under a stadium-weight of tedium. And that’s an improvement, is it, record-buying public?

OK, ‘The Bucket’ is a sly step in that direction, but back in 2004 the good ol’ boys still had a few tricks: some speedy military drumming, a cheeky riff, a “woo” to announce their second-album return and some crazy guff about a “Japanese scream”. It’s just so much more interesting than ohhhhh-ohh-ohhh this sex is on fire. Nonsense shouldn’t be meaningful (man).

These are fine margins, of course, and Junior wasn’t having any of it. No matter how bang-on-the-beat her dad’s air-drumming was, she was in a big sulk and it was entrenched. I reckon girls prefer later Leon anyway. This is based on a straw poll of her mum.

I’ll swing my legs:

[10] Rufus Wainwright, ‘I Don’t Know What It Is’

Rufus Wainwright

One day, Junior and her sister will have haphazard hitmaking careers of their own, keeping me in Earl Grey and cheeky Hoegaarden four-packs into my dotage. Perhaps one of them will even have the courtesy to pen a ‘Bloody Motherf***ing A**hole’ paean to their dear old Pops, to bring a tear to a wrinkly peeper. O happy day, eh?

Martha’s already a big noise around here, so Junior was intrigued to hear bruv in action. She practised saying his name – “Woofus” – and paused after the Gay Messiah’s final crescendo to rate the song “Lovely”. It is as well. As ornate, grandiose, heart-swelling and gaudy as anything on Want One, it makes me bellow along in the car like an octave-battering diva on wheels. Woofus is on a hunt for himself and I’ve no idea if he ever did turn up, but the search is a thrill.

Chugging along: