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?”

[16] Cliff Richard, ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’

Junior insisted she knew who this was: “He’s got black spiky hair and he dances like this…” She crouched down, stood up slowly and lifted her arms in fifth position, then rocked back and forth, bending at the waist. It looked like a balletic version of The Ting Tings in their ‘Great DJ’ video. There you are – Junior thinks Cliff is a member of our premier Mancunian flash-in-the-pan guitar/drums duo.

Is it any more outlandish than Cliff hitting No.1 at the pinnacle of New Wave? That’s the thing with musical movements; they’re never as all-encompassing as history tells us. Punk washed away the dinosaurs!!! Meanwhile ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ became the biggest selling single of all time.

This is the most astonishing of the great man’s later chart-toppers – coming 11 years after ‘Congratulations’ – because it isn’t hung on festive schlock or Young Ones larks, and it’s a good record. A truly solid pop song, with Sir Cliff emoting, falsetto and all, and a chunky synth foundation presaging any number of ‘80s FM hits. If it seems naff, it’s only the fault of the cloak he can’t shake off – and he wouldn’t care anyway. You need the hide of a rhinoceros to plough bloodymindedly on, held up by a dwindling yet voracious fanbase. If the mask ever slips, the mums stick it firmly back on.

[20] Squeeze, ‘Cool For Cats’

Ah, 1979. I started paying attention to Top Of The Pops, Arsenal, all life’s sweetest joys. Moved to Hertfordshire in January and stayed there for 17 years (minus a dozen terms in Bristol). Pop baffled me, but that may have been down to assuming that everything Terry Wogan played was current. In that world, the Supremes were going strong and Cliff Richard was still a chart-topper. Hmmm.

Marrying new wave and pub rock, Squeeze had a boisterous appeal that worked well in the playground; to seven-year-olds a band to file alongside The Specials, The Jam and the rising Madness – stuff it was ok to like and bowl along to as if you were something else, something a stretch more streetwise than a kid with a fringe and grey shorts. If it was cool for cats, we wanted a bit of it. In essence, the single isn’t typical Squeeze, more a part within a part for Chris Difford to play, but he sounds smart and the band bounce in broad-shouldered style. The drifting middle eight’s useless though.

For all I know, Junior’s already at the age when she wants to impress her peers, and she’s got all the moves to do so. A jerky dance matched the sproinging bass and she gave an airing to this week’s trick – humming along to the tune. At the end she asked whether Junior 2 (Juniest? Minima?) liked the song now there’s scope for a blog within a blog – and then requested the next track on the Best Of. Give it a week or so, missy.

[11] Fine Young Cannibals, ‘She Drives Me Crazy’

Fine Young Cannibals

Just what was stuck in Roland Gift’s throat? Maybe he’d sniffed too hard at the Like A Prayer sleeve. And what happened to this lot, anyway? The Raw & The Cooked album was the year’s most unexpected must-have, which must have made them shedloads of cash and stored up a cache of goodwill for whatever they wanted to do next. Nothing.

A catchy single, this, snaring soul, rock, pop and funk fans all at once. Junior is all of these. It was slyly released into the no-man’s land of early January – when the record buyers are sick to the back teeth of Cliff and Slade, and will even propel a sub-par washed-up Duran Duran single into the Top 10 – and what do you know, the first memorable hit of the year.

As Junior bounced her chair along the floorboards, I had a gander at the tracklist for the R&TC. It reminded me of Jukebox Junior Theory 2c: no one makes tightly-edited, quality-controlled, filler-free 10-track albums anymore. We’re assailed with “added value”, bonus tracks, unfunny skits and will-this-do?-isms, and it’s all a load of crap.

Am I right?

[16] U2, ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’

The high chair was today’s listening platform. Junior did her side to side move, as if she’s trying to dodge you on the basketball court, and was as enthused with the stadium rock power as ever.

‘New Year’s Day’ was the first U2 single I heard, and I hated them. I liked this song and ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ but hated them again in time for the next year’s arrogant, show-stopping Live Aid performance. Bono’s antics at Live Aid made me cringe. My mum was in hospital waiting to give birth to my brother, and my nonplussed dad let me sit in front of the TV all day. I remember him being rather taken with Madonna, able to identify her whenever she appeared on Top Of The Pops after that. Quite a feat when you consider that he usually thought that all pop stars were Cliff Richard.

He even let me sleep on the sofa that night so I could catch the Philadelphia concert, and particularly Duran Duran. I knew I wouldn’t make it so I set my alarm clock, but – portending my adult future – I slept right through it. I was gutted. Still haven’t seen Duran Duran’s bit. Was it any good?

Back to 1984. ‘Pride’ is one of those huge, undeniable records that will have you nodding your head, hate it or love it. Junior and I got into it, air drums on the tray, but we’ve probably heard it enough now.