[1] LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

LCD Soundsystem, ‘All My Friends’

The single of the millennium – sorry, Scissor Sisters, you had a good innings – is a fantastic achievement from a man at the very peak of his game. I’ve already mentioned this year’s Sound Of Silver, which snaffles the album rosette, but this is the dizzy high point of the set. A sensitive appraisal of a life in motion, ‘All My Friends’ is unsentimental but touching and universal.
It’s difficult to pinpoint. To these ears it’s a glorious amalgam of New Order’s ‘Love Vigilantes’ and ‘Run’, Talking Heads’ ‘Once in A Lifetime’ and David Bowie’s ‘Young Americans’ – and as wonderful as that suggests, but it’s no copy. It’s a stunning original, a would-be seminal track if it was possible to follow it.
To unending layers of piano, bass, guitar and bags of atmosphere, James Murphy sings of running with the pack, but always coming back to what counts – your friends. Aww. But, as I say, it’s not sentimental. It’s resigned, but happy. Wistful and celebratory.
You’d think loving this track was the sole preserve of the thirtysomething, but Junior has adored it all year. As ever, she mimes along with the woodpecker piano of the intro, more frenzied as it works itself up, and sings the last word of each line like one of those people who always finish your sentences. Only she does it in a cute way. That’s a deft move.

[2] Los Campesinos!, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’

Los Campesinos!, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’

It actually breaks my heart not to put this at No.1, but when you’re dealing with the single of the century, what can you do? I’m going to plagiarise myself here – I reviewed this single for a venerable website in June, and nailed my own thoughts:
“This Cardiff septet (a Cardiff septet! How long have we waited?) throw everything at the wall and see what paints it all the colours of the rainbow and gives it a kiss for luck. ‘You! Me! Dancing!’, with every exclamation mark a necessity, is a joyful romp through influences as diverse as New Order, Arcade Fire, The Strokes, the Boo Radleys and The Mighty Wah! with all the poignancy, passion and pop they suggest. A boyish vocal shyly mumbles “if there’s one thing I can never confess, it’s that I can’t dance a single step”, but if he wigs out to the glockenspiel and thrashing guitars and drums like the rest of us, he hasn’t got a problem.”
A few weeks later, we saw the seven of them at Glastonbury and found that a whole 45 minutes of glockenspiel-bashing was a lot to swallow, but they’ve wisely taken their time over a debut album, which’ll come out in February – perhaps it will offer some light and shade. The good news is ‘You! Me Dancing!’ doesn’t diminish one iota with countless plays, so brimming is it with fantastic ideas. Single of the Year in any other year.
In the latest example of what will doubtless be decades of pulling the rug out from underneath my feet, Junior didn’t pay it too much mind. She promised she was listening to it, but it’s tree decoration day and, frankly, what do you think is more appealing to a two-year-old? Los Campesinos! aren’t quite the angel at the top – there’s more than one tier of genius.

[3] Robyn with Kleerup, ‘With Every Heartbeat’

Robyn with Kleerup, ‘With Every Heartbeat’

The Swedish popstress graced the charts before, back in the ‘90s, with ‘Show Me Love’. No, not that one. It did nothing to prepare us for this swooning beauty. What did prepare us was the fact that ‘With Every Heartbeat’ had been hanging around for a good year or two, but let’s gloss over that. It hit No.1 this year, so that’ll sway the arbitrary rules.
Sad techno is an occasionally populated genre, yet rarely is it rendered as gorgeously as this. Kleerup provides the synth washes and electric strings, while Robyn drops her standard tough-girl shtick to bare all – emotionally, dirty fans. The building melody is off-the-peg, but delivered with a lump in the throat and when Robyn punctuates every word of the chorus with a caught breath it would be a hard soul to resist. ‘With Every Heartbeat’ is a stunning marker, a genuine sign of a woman who can make the pop world her own. Good old Scandinavia – first Annie, now Robyn… well, first ABBA, then A-ha… then The Cardigans… um, there’s a point here.
Well, Junior was delighted to have it on the turntable, and graced the baby doll with a waltz. She likes the shinier side of pop – a weakness of mine too – perhaps she’s been brainwashed. Anyway, that’s two heart-rending tunes in a row. Time for unfettered joy!

[4] LCD Soundsystem, ‘Someone Great’

LCD Soundsystem, ‘Someone Great’

Met with gentle swaying from Junior, James Murphy’s song of profound loss is warm in its stark simplicity. It’s the aching heart of a quite brilliant album – Sound Of Silver – an album that engages the feet and the emotions, a remarkable forward step from the admittedly fine new-waveisms and punk funk of their debut.
Built on burbling, prodded keyboards reminiscent of early exercises by Depeche Mode and The Human League and propelled by a hopscotching beat, ‘Someone Great’ tells an unadorned tale of the death – we assume – of a beloved friend. It is powerful in its lack of histrionics, but anguish seeps through in the final chorus. Tough but beautiful.
The sentiments won’t reach Junior, but she dances with care and sticks around for most of its six-plus minutes. As it fades, she asks me to “put the girl on”. And so to No.3.

[5] Battles, ‘Atlas’

Battles, ‘Atlas’

Math rock. Pretentious Americans showing off their virtuoso chops with challenging chords, duelling guitars and interesting time signatures. Complex, clever, utterly addictive in its quirks, progressively exhilarating, becoming a mantra of joy.
Sounds rubbish? It actually sounds like Pinky and Perky fronting a 21st century Glitter Band – yes, that scary. Junior asked for it to be switched off after 45 seconds, the whirrs and tribal rhythms frightening her like those flies on holiday.
‘Atlas’ is certainly no conventional song, but a thrilling romp that makes you feel smart.

[6] Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse, ‘Valerie’

Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse, ‘Valerie’

Mark Ronson’s lounge-pop interpretations on Version are a queasy hornfest, not bearing many repeat plays for fear of unstoppable waves of nausea. It’s not a bad collection, but it’s heavy with woozy playing and overfacing joie de vivre. Certain quarters considered his cover of The Smiths’ ‘Stop Me’ sacrilege – we’re not so precious here. A cover doesn’t denigrate the original and often it can improve on it. That’s what Ronson and Amy Winehouse achieve with The Zutons’ wheezing bludgeon.
Winehouse is of course the Woman of the Year. And an idiot. Back To Black has effortlessly outstripped the pack in album sales, but suffers from inevitable ubiquity, and you can say the same of the girl herself. Cutting to the music, ‘Valerie’ here comes on all ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ yet mainly recalls an earlier, earthier girl group sound. It’s unfussy and tight, inspired and believable, and topped off with a terrific vocal performance – “aaarrr-are you busy?”, “did you get a good lawyer-er-er-ER” are catches you can hang your pop hat on. It would be nice if she could sustain this sort of quality, but at the moment she’s a wretched tabloid darling whose music is just staying ahead of the tawdry game swallowing the rest of her life.
A pushed, skipping beat has Junior rocking in front of the speakers from apology to Charlie Murphy to final gurgled “Vaaa-aaaleriee-eee”. Stay focused, Ames.

[7] Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, ‘Umbrella’

Rihanna featuring Jay-Z, ‘Umbrella’

All this “featuring” lark really messes up your mp3 tags, don’t you think? On to more pressing concerns – here’s 2007’s big single, notwithstanding the Leona Lewis chicanery. A note: Leona’s single is quite good, if you can stomach that sort of thing. It’s not a patch on ‘Umbrella’, though, which picks up simple tools, fashions something vaguely unarresting but somehow ends up splendid. I was startled at the universal adoration poured its way, at least at first, but ended up shivering under Rihanna’s um-ber-rella-ella-ella-ay-ay-ay like everyone else.
Junior wasn’t particularly interested in yesterday’s gala play of this single, although she has been known to sing along with the simple title repeat – which has to be one of its chief strengths. Then there are the power chords, which give rock ballad muscle to an ostensibly r’n’b crooner. It’s a record with depth and everyman appeal, and somehow didn’t pall even into its third month at the top.
Only Wet Wet Wet have pulled off that trick before. Right, kids?
Right. Right, eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed we’re attempting two a day here. Expect the trend to continue, and the No.1 to be unveiled with breathless fanfare after a few festive beers on Friday afternoon.

[8] Maxïmo Park, ‘Our Velocity’

Maxïmo Park, ‘Our Velocity’

These Geordie lads and their acclaimed debut A Certain Trigger passed under my radar when they were making big noises a couple of years back – I expected workaday rock, nothing remarkable enough to pique interest – so I was surprised at just how good they can be when I was called on to review ‘Our Velocity’ in the spring. Its tautness and deft use of an inspired array of bridges, choruses and middle eights bowled me over, along with its assured mix of ferocious guitars and vulnerable sentiments. A cracking five star track with not a note wasted.
The onslaught had Junior feeling the speakers for the bass boom, but she wasn’t taken for long. There were desk drawers to be opened, one after another. So, it was immediate for her, if not entirely captivating.
To give the Maxïmos their full due, the equally brisk ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ was No.21. Or 22. Either way, a strong showing.

[9] Arcade Fire, ‘Intervention’

Arcade Fire, ‘Intervention’

Is there an Arcade Fire backlash yet? Now that Q have put Neon Bible at No.1 in their albums of the year, I imagine it’s about to start. I mean, come on, a good half of it is what the skip button was invented for.
But ‘Intervention’ wears its overblown charms with justifiable pride. It fashions the opening fanfare from Boy Meets Girl’s cheese-riddled ‘Waiting For A Star To Fall’ into something dramatic, something glorious, and piles headlong into a chest-beating damnation of church and state. Ridiculous. No strangers to pomposity, this most sullen (apart from the beaming, accordion-playing Regine Chassagne) of bands get away with it because of their profound well of top pop tunes.
Junior raises her arms to the sky for the organ’s opening notes then swims through the air like one of the eerie water babes from their stage films. We thought she was with her grandparents while we were at Glastonbury, but it seems she was there – squirreled away in a wellie?

[10] Gwen Stefani featuring Akon, ‘The Sweet Escape’

Gwen Stefani featuring Akon, ‘The Sweet Escape’

Woooo-hoooo. Yeeee-hoooo.
I thought it seemed throwaway at first, even annoying – certainly annoying – until I realised that these were its lasting qualities. In a pop world about to succumb, yet again, to some insultingly dreary X Factor pap, we should hold platinum-plated Gwen to our hearts and, for once, thank the Lord for Akon.
Most importantly, this is a record that Junior loves like a brother (or sister – she changes her preference every day) and gets palpably excited about whenever she hears the opening clanging chords. This time, she punched the air with her fists, sang along to the obvious bits and even attempted the tongue-twisting bits, and stood in front of the right hand speaker for the duration.
So if you don’t understand the song, find a youth that does. I gather that it’s effortless pop gold.