[1] Chris Brown featuring Benny Benassi, ‘Beautiful People’

Chris Brown

It’s not my fault, it just happened. The little worm has probably used that line too.

Anyway, I searched my conscience and found that this is a Benny Benassi record, so all good. And all good it is – I’ve not heard a record that so perfectly captures early 90s club euphoria since… since…

Read not too closely between the lines and this is deeply narcissistic, of course. Could Chris be singing about himself, kids? Isn’t he a little bit beautiful inside as well? Maybe he has rather smashing internal organs. Still, taken purely as an audio experience ‘Beautiful People’ is dashing, thrilling, direct, hangs on a superb hook and is about the only rave-synthed tune of the last five years that sidesteps a cheesy doom. Come on, it does.

All these songs are purely audio experiences for Junior. That’ll change, but right now she and her sisters can just enjoy chanting “Everywhere, everywhere…” and puzzle over how Brown can be singing both the title and the woah-ohs. We’ll discuss studio techniques another time.

Anyway, we agree on this one – “I like it the most of all the others. Bom-bom-bom [‘Super Bass’] and live your life [er, this] are *thumbs up*, the others are *middling thumbs* and *thumbs down*.” So there.

Next up, 1980 or 2002.

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[2] Bon Iver, ‘Calgary’

there’s a fire going out,
but there’s really nothing to the south
swollen orange and light let through
your one piece swimmer stuck to you

I think this is ‘Astral Weeks’, and the whole album is a son of Astral Weeks the album. It has a poetry wrapped up in the fug of memory, of magic, heartbreak and lost places. ‘Calgary’ is a rising storm with hooks too beautiful to remain composed in the face of, and anyway, Justin Vernon could make the TV Burp theme sound like a distraught elegy for Old Yeller.

Junior picks this up. “Oh, I know this one. Is it about someone dying?” Well, who the hell knows? It’s the impact that matters. As for her opinion – “The same thought that you think” – she’s learning Iverese.

So it should be No.1. It’s my favourite song of the year, but top spot goes to clearly the best single of the year. And it’s a disgrace.

[3] Junior Boys, ‘Banana Ripple’

Junior Boys

Now I love a nine-minute record that doesn’t waste a second as much as the next man, so no doubt we’re all delighted to see this has placed so high. My wife says it’s very me, by which I’m sure she means it’s funky, addictive and a joy to have around the house rather than over-polite, unsexy and called Jeremy.

Jeremy Greenspan isn’t a very rock’n’roll name, is it? Further evidence from Junior: “I don’t like the singing. It’s not rock’n’roll like ‘Firework’.” Well, nothing’s as rawk as Katy Perry. Not even P!nk. Junior’s in the mood to examine this record, dismissing a banana ripple for more foodstuff-based suggestions: “What about one potato, two potato? You rip the skin off them too.” There’s, um, food for thought for Junior Boys’ fifth album.

In the end I catch her doing a strutting hip dance – moving like Jagger once more – in secret. That’s Junior Boys really, dance music to be enjoyed in private.

[4] Hercules And Love Affair, ‘My House’

Hercules And Love Affair

To deliver this skintight streak of acid soul, Hercules use three singers: one to, well, sing the song, one to say “Get up, get up”, the third to say “Ca-con-con”. Staggering. The last days of disco indeed.

It’s all very Fingers Inc and diva-defiant but goes to show just how fresh this kind of thing still sounds. There’s no way you can’t at least jerk your head around to ‘My House’. In a way though, it was a false start for an album that never quite catches fire like their wonderful debut; maybe that’s the absence of Antony, but I think these three singers do a fine job even with their ill-balanced burden.

Or do they? Over to Junior: “It’s a bit good. Not the singing, the instruments – they suit the singing.” I wouldn’t like to work out those royalties.

[5] Nicki Minaj, ‘Super Bass’

Nicki Minaj

A beautiful piece of pop for a lad who deserves it. I mean, my my my, he’s like pelican fly.

Junior sings along while doing some colouring, a good occupation when you’re listening to day-glo Nicki. She should be able to brighten up the world with her sunburst music alone, but no harm helping her along a bit.

He’s also got that boom badoom boom boom badoom boom bass.

There might’ve been a clue in the purloining of ‘No More “I Love You”s’ for ‘Your Love’, but I wasn’t expecting Minaj to get quite so sweet on someone. She wasn’t meant to make the love song for all the little girls to sing.

Like it, Junior? “Yeah, boom boom boom.”

[6] Coldplay, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’

Coldplay

I posted this in July (then cunningly hid it):

———-

As the planet’s leading Coldplay apologist, I feel compelled to defend ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ against the harsh barbs hurled in its path. Yes, it’s ‘Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp’ by way of Big Country by way of – what? – Bizarre Inc? Yes, Chris Martin’s whipped his rhyming dictionary out again, now thumbed to a cinder. Yes, its rave riff is a now-allegedly-customary lift. But come on, it’s credited. Now. What matters, to me at least, is its life-affirming kinetic drive, its splurge of non-specific euphoria and determination to grasp that pop nettle again and finally consign the blubs of X&Y to history’s disgrace.

But even I don’t go as far as Junior, who insists it’s “brilliant”. It also “sounds like bagpipes”. When Stuart Adamson was wringing those kinds of sonics out of his guitar, we were pretty impressed. In an aghast sort of way.

———-

Back to December, I now believe it is brilliant and Junior says, “I’ve heard it too many times”.

Real talk.

[7] TV On The Radio, ‘Second Song’

TV On The Radio

And it’s the FIRST song on the album! That’s what I call avant-garde.

This wordy addition to the TVOTR Princey-funk-rock almanac plays excellent games with layers, building up to a groovy lurch that makes you feel proud for no obvious reason. It’s charismatic that way. Like singer Tunde Adebimpe. They didn’t play this song at Glastonbury, but it was my favourite set of the weekend – a pick-me-up on a lagging, suffering Sunday afternoon – and I came away with a big swooning man-crush on Tunde.

Get too close to TVOTR and you start to think their name is normal. Well, thank goodness Junior’s around then. She raps: “Watch TV, yeah, watch TV – oh we’ll watch telly on the radio.” Junior 2 joins in, they punch the air madly to the chorus and then round it all off with a few slaps to their own heads. What did they think? “It’s OK.”

[8] Polock, ‘Fireworks’

Polock

We pooled our knowledge for this one: “They’re from Spain.” “Spain is a very long time.” Getting a bit meta, Junior then sings Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ over the top and claims Polock’s “one, two, three, four, five” is from a song by a girl about “daydreaming”. So far we don’t think she means Kid Sister, Aretha or Massive Attack.

When she eventually gets to hear Phoenix, she’s going to think they’re Polock’s Gallic shrug, a Versailles knock-off of a Valencia original, because – in the most generous terms – they’re peas in a pod. ‘Fireworks’ is Phoenix distilled into one song, melody coursing through every guitar strum, synth wash and bass drop, the production swaddled in that warm, 70s, AOR blanket. If it wasn’t for Papu Sebastián’s Spanish accent, well, you know now. But the tune is so glorious, you can put it all down to shared musical loves.

In the end, ‘Fireworks” sunny rush has Juniors 1, 2 and 3 premiering an audacious mash-up of the Hokey-Cokey and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

[9] Planningtorock, ‘Living It Out’

Planningtorock

One of my favourite things when I was Junior’s age was my Batman outfit. A top and cloak, and a full mask that used to get all moist with the dribble and sweat that would accumulate from tearing around fighting crime on the enclosed RAF married quarters patch at Cranwell. It was like The Wire. Or indeed Batman.

Janine Rostron still wears a mask.

I guess she doesn’t believe in projecting an image of herself, that it’s all subsumed by the music and – really – we shouldn’t be making value judgements based on appearance anyway. Or she just knows it’s cool.

‘Living It Out’ is the banger on W, Rostron/Planningtorock’s ace album from earlier this year. It’s buffered by enormous doom-synth tracks on all sides which makes it come as a bit of a relief, even if it’s at least as Berlinish as the rest. Standing alone it draws at once funky, at once robotic dancing from Junior and later sees her brandishing a sword.

A plastic one. For fighting crime.

[10] Emeli Sandé, ‘Heaven’

Emeli Sandé

“Will you recognise ME?” Sure. You’re that Shara Nelson, aren’t you?

Bit of satire there, ladeezangennelmen. Junior seems to know all the words to this one already – which is more than we can say about ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ because I never play it, having absolutely KILLED it in 1991. It left a grimy fingerprint on the stereo along with Screamadelica, Eg & Alice’s ‘Indian’, Jesus Loves You’s ‘Bow Down Mister’ and Jellyfish’s Bellybutton. And, let’s face facts, The Milltown Brothers’ debut album.

Junior asks if she’s English, obviously, but of course Sandé couldn’t be less English if she was Neptunian. She’s Scottish and let’s say that she caresses ‘Heaven’ with that peculiar Scots soul passion, ranking alongside Sharleen Spiteri, Lorraine McIntosh, Marti Pellow, Pat Kane, Lulu and, er, Maria McKee. On firmer ground, the beats are terrific and the strings – ahem – sympathetic. That Critics’ Choice BRIT will look lovely in her palm.