[1] TLC, ‘Waterfalls’

There’s a persistent rumour that this song was written by Prince, perhaps spread by those who refused to believe his muse had long since shrugged its shoulders and snuck off. Anyway, I don’t think it is, not even one of his ‘Manic Monday’ noms de plume. No doubting though that its tight funkiness and melody could have graced the mauve midget’s mid-’80s output.

So, it’s No.1. It’s not the expected conclusion of the preceding tracks, but I never tire of it. Not one jot. The soft wah-wah, T-Boz’s purr, the flowing bassline, Left-Eye’s arsonist Minnie Mouse rap – it sticks together like glue, every element essential to the sequencing of the tune. Yeah, the lyrics can be facile, but they lodge in your brain, the harmonies papering over the cracks. TLC led the ’90s r’n’b girl group boom, tracks like this, ‘Creep’ and ‘No Scrubs’ easily outstripping their peers.

A big hit with Junior too, this time giving the tray of her high chair a hammering, bouncing up and down within the strictures of the straps, her eyes crinkling with delight. A perfectly formed little gem for, well, you know. Aww.

[2] Take That, ‘Back For Good’

Well I never. There are two types of people: those who understand that this is a pop classic and those who reckon that Robbie Williams’ wrongheaded, legacy-pissing, smug “punk” cover is somehow better. That kind of thing narks me right off. They’re the same earnest Mojo readers who dislike ‘.. Baby One More Time’ and ‘Independent Women’ but fawn over Travis’ and Elbow’s respective versions. Bands who do this believe that they’re legitimising the song by stripping the pop nous and adding dreary rock chords. They’re not. It’s an in-joke that reveals their fear of what the boys might think.

You can possibly tell which side of the fence I occupy. I never had a problem with Take That, a blessed relief after New Kids On The Block. The songs were ordinary, inoffensive, with the odd one or two rising above the parapet. Then I saw them perform this on the Brits and was bowled over by the hooks and its near perfect form. The middle eight is weak, but nothing else is, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Hindsight shows it was a one-off for Gary Barlow, the awkward, rotund George Michael that never was.

Junior and I didn’t have time to discuss the record. She sat in the ring and chewed her foam pig while I puzzled over why the mixer was making everything sound fuzzy. I should dust more often. A flawed performance then, an ill-fitting tribute to this soppy dazzler.

[3] Black Grape, ‘Reverend Black Grape’

Junior was agog as her dad performed the Bez dance with a finesse hitherto unexpected. The inflatable ring is the perfect vantage point for appreciating both music and performance. She slapped her hands on the sides and gave panda a quick spin to the rumbustious verses; they’ll be happy memories if she’s not scarred for life.

This record is more bananas yet more direct than anything the Happy Mondays released. Ideas fly all over the shop, Kermit declaims like an acid casualty possessed, the lyric is hilariously crazed. There is a message, mind you. Beyond the tangents and flights of fancy, there are irreverent barbs at the corruption of organised religion, with TV evangelists and the Vatican getting it in the neck. What happened to fat lady wrestlers, Shaun?

Unhinged ad libs, bellowed choruses and frantic harmonica see the song to a close. The head’s spinning; time to bring it down a notch.

[4] The Charlatans, ‘Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over’

A joyous noise from everyone’s 22nd favourite band at their peak. Junior listened to it from her new inflatable ring, watching with growing fascination as her dad thrashed out the old air piano on the back of the sofa. I’d be unstoppable with real instruments.

That’s if I could identify them. The first couple of times I heard this song, I thought there was a saxophone solo halfway through. Wouldn’t have been such a bad idea on a track that bowls along breezily like this. It could carry it off.

There were “g”s dropped all over the album – ‘Just When You’re Thinkin’..’, ‘Just Lookin’’, ‘Crashin’ In’ – as the Charlatans tried to prove to us that they were really ROCK and ROLL, and not just a bunch of baggy also-rans. We know Junior likes the rock, and this one saw her giving the new squawk an early morning run-out. They’re not as loveable as Supergrass, but they still make you feel quite warm.

[5] Pulp, ‘Common People’

This one topped many end of year lists, so I won’t try to add too much or rabbit on about Jarvis Cocker’s art college youth. We all know it’s a landmark record of its time, even if it’s only marking the ordinary backwaters of Britpop.

What I like best about it is that it’s a song that knows it has a Final Chorus, and it builds up to it like it’s an event. It’s ever more frantic, juddery and head-pounding, and you’re there with it at the end. And everyone knows the wit and wile of the words.

Junior danced to this, standing up bouncing on her mum’s lap, savouring the rush. She’s getting ready to slum it with the common people at nursery in a couple of weeks.

Thumbing through the singles afterwards, I put on ‘Babies’. I always liked Pulp, but I never felt I could love them. ‘Babies’ was the exception.

[6] Massive Attack, ‘Protection’

Postscript: all the dance records that get in the charts these days sound like Spagna’s ‘Call Me’. I don’t know if it’s any better in the clubs, because I’m too old and a dad.

Massive Attack redefined a small area of club music. Blue Lines was the pinnacle, and it still holds up today with ease. Its reputation grew over a few years until the expectation surrounding the Protection album was nigh on unbearable; in the end, they couldn’t take the weight. Tricky was reduced to cameos and Mushroom became estranged, some truly awful tracks got past quality control.

This single was a beauty, affecting, hypnotic, metronomic, with the newly fashionable Tracey Thorn to the fore. Junior was spellbound, only breaking free and demo-ing the new cockateel dance towards the end, so it’s a hit with the infant jury.

What happened next? Mezzanine, was a “dark”, “moody” piece beloved of the tastemakers. Yep, dull. A feature length BMW ad soundtrack. Then there was the unlistenable, po-faced tosh of 100th Window. Either excessive marijuana use has muted the muse, or 3-D without his cohorts is a bore. The new single is ok thanks to Terry Callier’s rich voice, but it’s still melodically uninteresting. It’s all been such a disappointment.

[8] Björk, ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’

Does this annoy the hell out of you? My deep love for Björk extends even as far as show tunes and ludicrous Busby Berkeley videos. Her dancing’s woeful, but she’s a game girl.

As is the fickle public’s wont, this became her biggest hit, as out of place as it is. I propped Junior up on the back of the smaller sofa so she could bathe in the music and watch the pretty lights on the mixer. Mesmerised. There was still some debate about where the song was coming from – the CD racks? The record decks? Another dimension? Hell, maybe the speakers? Until she susses it out, I think my stereo’s safe.

Björk’s odd mixture of Icelandic, cockney and Mancunian sounds even more bizarre on this record. The brass stabs failed to make Junior jump despite our fears, but she took the shushes to heart.

[9] Method Man featuring Mary J Blige, ‘I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By’

This record scares me. It’s a decent Puff Daddy mix for a start, and then there are the discordant, eerie Blige vocals hovering in the background, not to mention the sound of Method Man declaring undying devotion. It’s almost as threatening as Whitney Houston’s ‘I Will Always Love You’.

It has presence and power; I suppose that’s why I placed it so high. Not enough power, mind you, to distract Junior from scratching her mum’s dressing gown while she sends her emails. For now, Mum and Dad will remain the most fascinating objects in the universe, vying only with the Rollaround balls and sofa cover.

I only noticed today that Ashford and Simpson wrote ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’ in its original form. They built it up, and built it up, and built it up and now it’s solid.

[10] Blur, ‘The Universal’

That clever-clever Clockwork Orange video, the voguish thought-control paranoia of the lyric, the clean lines and tuneless faffings of The Great Escape: Blur were a funny old mixed bag in 1995. Parklife – half a very good album – gave them too much fame and they didn’t know what to do with it. I don’t know if they intended to skewer it with half-baked songs, but it was a sterling effort.

‘The Universal’ is one of two exceptions, to these ears. It’s singalong (ooh, “ironic” karaoke), has some fine trumpet interludes, satisfying use of strings and it builds to a crescendo rather like the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Jealousy’. 

Junior jumped when the strings came in, but soon relaxed as her dad did his near-legendary violin mime. She did the head-rock again, for a moment resembling a classical cellist, and rounded things off with a few of her favourite lip-smacks like an Albarn relishing his Gorillaz cash.

You can almost hear Graham Coxon sneering that he never liked hits anyway.

[11] D’Angelo, ‘Brown Sugar’

To go with her shoulder rolls, Junior’s been learning a new dance move. It involves rocking her head from side to side, and got a good airing to D’Angelo. Dad was clicking his fingers on the snap of the beat. Junior could see it was apt comment on this crisp, cool-as-frozen-cubes-of-sweet-potato-baby-meals record.

‘Brown Sugar’ is as smooth as particularly unruffled silk. It’s sparse yet polished, with dashes of strings and tinkles of hammond, and it drifts by in a smoky haze. You’d fall asleep if it wasn’t so insidiously funky. D’Angelo was riding the crest of the “nu soul” wave, Maxwell, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott in his wake, but it all came to nothing in the end. None of them pressed the garish commercial buttons.

10 down, 10 to go. Gets a bit more obvious now. Robson & Jerome, Rednex and Celine Dion all still to come.