Jukebox Junior Does The 2015 Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize Shortlist

popjustice

THE CHALLENGE

Get my daughters to review Popjustice‘s Twenty Quid Music Prize shortlist for the best British single of the last 12 months (actual judging this Friday, 20 November).

THE PANEL

Junior (aged 10, the original Jukebox Junior from back when she was 20 weeks old in November 2005. Jesus, this blog will be 10 years old soon)
Junior 2 (aged 7)
Junior 3 (aged 5)

THE SONGS

Little Mix, ‘Black Magic’
Cyndi Laupish

Junior 3: “It’s ‘Black Magic’.”
Junior 2 is hey-ing.
Junior 3: “We all like ‘Black Magic’.”
Junior: “I like the video.”

Foxes, ‘Body Talk’
Fluid electro-pop from the Doctor Who chanteuse who isn’t Kylie

Junior 3: “I didn’t like it.”
Junior: “I like Little Mix more.”

Jess Glynne, ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’
If it’s 2015, Jess is statistically likely to be this week’s No.1

Junior: “Is this Jess Glynne?”
Junior 3 is more fascinated by the Dartford Tunnel.
Junior 2: “This is better than ‘Hold My Hand’.”

Marina & The Diamonds, ‘I’m A Ruin’
Neither Catherine Zeta Jones nor Shakira gets vulnerable

Junior 2: “It’s very calm, very soft. It’s smooth, with quite low notes.”
Junior: “I don’t like it as much as ‘Body Talk’.”
Junior 3: “I don’t really like it.”
Junior 2: “I think when she was singing she was quite lonely.”

Blonde featuring Melissa Steel, ‘I Loved You’
A livin’ joy from start to finish

They all know it. Their mum is singing along to it.
Junior: “It’s lively.”
Junior 3: “I kind of like it.”
Junior 2: “It’s very jumpy.”
Their mum: “It’ll be on the next Charlotte Crosby fitness DVD.”

Years & Years, ‘King’
Panpipes are the Sound of 2015

Junior 3: “I really really like it.”
Junior 2: “It’s very fast and it has a nice tune.”
Junior: “Some bits I like, some are a bit annoying and repetitive.”

Becky Hill, ‘Losing’
Team Jessie

Junior 2: “It’s a good song.”
Junior 3 is giving it a wavy hand.
Junior: “It sounds a bit droopy.”

Ellie Goulding, ‘Love Me Like You Do’
Filth soundtrack

It’s Ellie Goulding.
All: “Yay!”
Junior 3: “Is it ‘Love Me Like You Do’?”
Junior is doing an exaggerated power-ballad sway.
Junior 2 is closing her eyes and singing along.
Junior 3: “Daddy, I like it.”
Junior 2: “It’s a very happy song, very enjoyable.” She sounds sarcastic.
Junior: “I really like it.”
Their mum: “For me, it’s got that movie all over it. It’s a really crappy sequence.”

Olly Murs, ‘Seasons’
Thinly disguised cod reggae from the scourge of Monica Michael

Junior: “He’s the one that presents X Factor.”
Junior 2 looks puzzled.
Junior 3 gives it two thumbs up.
Junior: “It’s very jolly.”
Where’s Caroline Flack though?
Junior: “She’s a TV presenter.”

Nero, ‘The Thrill’
Rave-horn stadium dubstep from surprisingly durable Roman Emperor

Junior 2: “This is very jumpy.”
Junior: “It sounds very rockish.”
Double thumbs up from Junior 3.
Junior 3: “Actually, I think it’s rubbish.”
Junior: “There’s too much effort and noise. It’s horrible and full.”

KDA featuring Tinie Tempah & Katy B, ‘Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)’
Irresistible old skool-ish house delays Tinie’s third album even further

Junior: “Oh, I like this one.”
Junior 3 is giving wavy thumbs.
Junior 2: “It’s fun and happy.”

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, ‘Uptown Funk’
Oops upside your he-llo how’s everybody doing?

There is general cheering.
Junior 2 is rapping.
Everyone is too hot.
Junior: “Uptown Funk you up as cool as possible.”
Junior 2: “Amazing, fantastic.”
Junior: “Yeah.”

THE VERDICT

Favourites:

A unanimous shout for ‘Uptown Funk’.

Flops:

An equally unanimous diss for “that rocky one”. They mean Nero. Sorry, Nero.

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The 2013 Popjustice Twenty Quid Prize

jbj_popjustice13_2

THE CHALLENGE

Get my daughters to review Popjustice’s Twenty Quid Prize shortlist for the best British single of the last 12 months (actual judging this Wednesday, 30 October).

THE PANEL

Junior (aged 8, the original Jukebox Junior from back when she was 20 weeks old in November 2005, reviewing Antipop Consortium and songs from The Sound Of Music)
Junior 2 (aged 5)
Junior 3 (aged 3)

THE SONGS

Chvrches, ‘The Mother We Share’
One Dove reform with Clare Grogan on vocals

Junior: “I like the start. The music gathers up.”
Junior 2 appears to know all the words.
Junior is now oh-ohing and says it’s “all right”.

Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge, ‘White Noise’
Deep house meets proto-UK garage. Alex Party, basically

Junior is excited and grooving along, as we hip dads say.
Junior 2 appears to know all the words.
Junior 3: “They say ‘yesterday rup'”.
Junior likes the keyboard sound. “It’s like when you touch an iPhone.”

Duke Dumont feat. A*M*E, ‘Need U (100%)’
More like Duke Derek Saunderson, right?

Junior: “It does repeat sometimes. ‘White Noise’ is better.”
Junior 2 appears to know all the words.
Junior 3: “I want ‘The Grand Old Duke Of York’.”

Girls Aloud, ‘Something New’
Xenomaniacal J.Lo

Junior: “I like that they’re singing about girls. Who is it?”
Junior 2 appears to know all the words.

Little Mix, ‘DNA’
The Munchkins fight back

Junior: “What does “DNA” mean?” [She is told]. “Oh, I’ve seen that at the doctors’.”
Junior 2 does not know the words.
Junior 3 is reading the National Heritage handbook.

Mutya Keisha Siobhan, ‘Flatline’
Sugababes Mk I with that Dev Hynes first-side-of-True-Blue magic

Junior is distracted. “I don’t like it much.”
Junior 2 is hand-jiving. “I like it.”

Olly Murs, ‘Dear Darlin”
The hat’s off along with the bets as the Murs gets serious

All three are word-perfect.
Junior: “I liked that, Daddy.”

One Direction, ‘Kiss You’
Robot (pop-) rock with that slightly cheesy teenage boy’s bedroom whiff

Junior: “I’ve got this on my mp3 player. Is it One Direction? It’s on my DS too.” However, she is not a big fan.
Junior 3 has a dance routine for this one. It involves wiggling in her seat and pumping her arms.

Petula Clark, ‘Cut Copy Me’
Octagenarian Balearic

Petula Clark is 80. “Woah,” says Junior. Granny has got some of her records. Junior does pop-eyed surprise, then says, “It’s a bit boring.”
Junior 2: “It’s like a sleepy song to me.”
Junior 3: “I think it’s a bit boring too.”

Robbie Williams, ‘Candy’
Speedball suit-filling nursery rhyme

Junior: “Yay! ‘Candy’!”
Junior 3: “This isn’t boring!”
They all sing along to the chorus.

The Saturdays, ‘Gentleman’
So 1995

Junior: “Is it the ‘Single Ladies’ singer?”
Junior 2: “Is it Jessie J?”
Junior: “Is it the ones who do ‘Black Heart’?”

VV Brown, ‘The Apple’
Grace Jones is back, and she’s hiding the lost La Roux album up her top. Along with ‘Macarena’

Junior: “I didn’t really like it.”

THE VERDICT

Favourites:

Junior: ‘Dear Darlin” or ‘Candy’. Murs takes it because “I only like the ‘Candy’ chorus.”
Junior 2: ‘Kiss You’.
Junior 3: ‘Candy’.

‘Candy’ takes it on proportional representation.

Flops:

Junior: ‘The Apple’.
Junior 2: ‘The Apple’.
Junior 3: ‘The Mother We Share’.

Delilah, ‘Love You So’

Delilah

I’ve done a proper, almost considered review of her album for NME, but we do of course need to appraise Delilah frivolously – and with input from a seven-year-old.

Delilah’s all 21st century trip-hop, which sounds like a creaking bore on paper until you appreciate what she could’ve been. She was a vocal foil for Chase And Status, the hollow-hearted Apollo 440 for nos jours. We could’ve had another Kosheen on our hands. In the circumstances, some lush, gorgeously sung trip-hop is manna from Heaven.

Junior’s musical muscle memory isn’t weighed down by the plodding mass of Morcheeba or Sneaker Pimps, so she can sit here and enjoy ‘Love You So’. There’s a trace of sarcasm in her “fantastic” verdict and the cherry on top is the wavering thumb, neither up nor down.

Junior’s mum just spends three minutes trying to remember the name of Finley Quaye’s ‘Even After All’.

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, ‘Especially For You’

Kylie and Jason

A very minor consolation for the epic gig we’re all missing tonight. Don’t know about you guys, but I couldn’t wait to stand in the tipping rain making amazing gags about what a ‘Tragedy’ it was. But even gnat’s piss-weak jokes would’ve been worth it to see Kylie and Jason turning on that half-arsed chemistry again, to have Donovan make us yearn for the glory days of Keith Washington, to hear this wan melody squeaking over a vast PA. Oh, alright, I quite like it – but back in 1988, something made me take against ‘Especially For You’. There was something irritating about that hairsprayed sock puppet Donovan draping himself all over the delectable pocket-sized goddess Kylie that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Junior says this is “boring”. When I put on ‘Better The Devil You Know’ she says it’s way better. I think we can all detect the uncommon factor, kids.

Justin Bieber, ‘Boyfriend’

Justin Bieber

Junior is seven today. And this is her first record – well, the album is. Maybe her record-buying development’s been arrested by Jukebox Junior because you’d expect her to have her own records by now, wouldn’t you? Sure, she has Disney Princess compilations and nursery rhyme CDs, but she doesn’t need to go out and buy (or ask for) One Direction or Rihanna albums because nice people send them to Daddy anyway.

So Justin Bieber’s Believe will be the answer to that first record question in years to come and it’ll all be because Bieber’s UK label thought Junior’s dad would rip it and spray it all over the Internet, so they didn’t give it to him.

This is just streaming. It doesn’t count.

To my ears this is a pale Trousersnake retread, but I just don’t get it, do I? Junior does the patented family shoulder roll and Junior 2 already knows all the words. It’s quite chilling how the Cult of the Belieber has infiltrated my house while I was trying to win the family over with clean edits of Azealia Banks tracks. This is just a taste of my powerlessness to come.

One Direction, ‘Gotta Be You’

Andrew Loog Oldham’s going to sue over that intro.

As sincere boyband ballads go, this isn’t dead before it begins. One Direction are being handled with care – just the right combination of harmless fun and puppy-shagging-your-legness – which makes them a nice fit in the teen market. It’s better than a bunch of miniature Cliff Richards sitting on stools and pretending adolescence is one big chaste wallow in romance. Yeah, ‘Gotta Be You’ is undying-love slush but at least the chaps are only declaring it so they can cop a feel.

Let’s not concern ourselves with the “mess” they made upon the poor girl’s innocence.

It’s just pleasant pop to the Juniors, who say they like it, as Cowell always knew they would. Junior 3 twirls about then raises her hands in the air for each yearning chorus – feeling that EMOTION coursing through. Junior herself is interested in the details: “Who’s singing?” Well, there’s Liam and Harry, they do the heavy lifting. Zayn’s a bit more freestyle, Louis chips in maybe. She points at Niall: “What does he do?”

Martin Solveig and Dragonette, ‘Hello’

Dragonette

Sort of like Neil Tennant, I’m looking back upon my year, forever with a sense of shame – I’ve always been the one to blame. Not sure how this slipped into the reckoning though, because it’s clearly a 2010 single, but it’s been a big hit with the girls this year. Which makes them the ones to blame.

This is moronic. Naggingly, chirpily, vaguely enjoyably so, but moronic all the same. The Juniors understand it at a primal level I’m not hearing, joyously bellowing “HELLO” whether they’re 6, 3 or 1 and I’m forced to get up and bounce as well. Like Metronomy, Dragonette are one of those bands I don’t really like reviving a synth pop I love. Tropes alone are not enough, kids.

Solveig goes BANG BANG BANG bang bang bang bang BANG BANG BANG BANG bang bang bang bang. I go, “Heavens, I should start a 2011 Top 20 countdown next week.”

Dion, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’

Dion

My mum introduced me to Dion. His music, I mean – she’s not a close personal friend. She might have had trouble with his drug years, if her attitude to my teenage smoking’s anything to go by. I’m not sure how this squares with her and my dad bringing back container-loads of duty free fags for my brother (13 years younger), but let’s save that one for another day.

So my mum introduced me to Dion a few years ago when she bought me 1975’s Phil Spector-produced Born To Be With You after reading a feature in the Telegraph. Great decision – it’s a truly stupendous record – although she was more into the rock’n’roll Dion and his Belmonts. This Dylan cover comes somewhere in between. It’s from Wonder Where I’m Bound, a cash-in collection of folk-rock efforts originally released in 1969 but reissued this year, and has that familiar, easy Dion swing. Something in his Bronx brogue is enormously warm and comforting and the arrangement sparkles, in a Byrdsian way perhaps.

This place should become a bit of a three-hander now. It’s Junior’s blog of course, but Junior 2 (three and a half to Junior’s six and a third) is increasingly the one who’s most interested in what I’m sticking on the stereo. Well, they’re different types of engagement, I suppose. Junior is now aware of the pop world around her and knows what she likes – and more and more it’s not what I’m choosing. That’s only right. But Junior 2 wants to know all about what I’m playing: she wants to see the sleeves, she wants to exchange croons of “baby blue”, she wants to compare with the Dylan original. Soon enough she’ll decide on her own stuff. That’s only right too.

In the meantime I’ll vainly carry on doing what I’m doing, possibly more frequently.

Rolf Harris, ‘Jake The Peg’

Rolf Harris

A renaissance man – painter, singer, writer, comedian, TV presenter, wobble board pioneer – Rolf bestrides post-war culture like a bearded colossus, the Ayers Rock of the art world, the panting Rolfaroo of blocky strokes and sad/absurd songs. See what I did there? I anointed Rolf the antipodean Zelig of modern artistic advance. Always twinkling in the fabric, twitching the curtains of the global stage.

Rolf’s way is to find the poignant in the ridiculous – or vice versa – from Jake’s God-given travails to Miss Given’s usually ignored presence in ‘Stairway To Heaven’. He walks a fine line, but he has Kate Bush’s trust (I can just hear him against a backdrop of falling snowflakes, can’t you?) and can still make a grown man cry with ‘Two Little Boys’, a pair of facts that buys him a pass to mess about all he likes and remain a respected figure even as he emotes over a poorly chinchilla on a vet’s operating table.

His wily reach spans generations, with ‘Jake The Peg’ enjoying a canonical place in our home decades after it was recorded. It’s the first track on Hello Children Everywhere!, a 3-CD compendium of Children’s Hour classics that pulls in moth-eared but magnificent turns from Pinky and Perky, Flanders and Swann, Morecambe and Wise and other non-duo based acts. Such sustained quality, and kids today get Mr Tumble. Or, just as often in my house, Rihanna.

‘Jake The Peg’ prompts enthusiastic singing and dancing – surely another skill Rolf can master – and, from Junior alone, a lot of awkward walking about using a child-sized broom as an extra leg. “Can I touch your leg?” asks Junior 2, in a rather forward manner. Her comic timing’s great but it doesn’t quite match Rolf’s delayed pay-offs, the rhymes you can see a mile off yet they still slay you when they drop. I’m laughing; Junior’s now tap dancing, her peg leg an Astairesque cane.

…2, 3, 4…8, 9, 10…14…19, 20, 21… … to twenty-five!”