[2] Elton John, ‘Rocket Man’

Elton John

“This is for boys,” is the reaction from Junior. I think she’s speaking about astronauts being a young lad’s preoccupation, which means she’s forgetting the half-hour’s footage of space shuttles taking off she made me play her on YouTube a few months ago. And the increasingly complex questions she asked me, questions I then increasingly met with outlandish cod-science dressed up as wisdom – parenthood in a nutshell.

Space is mainly for boys. Actually, I’m trying to write a comic novel about space travel. Think Red Dwarf, with laughs. Kate Bush covered ‘Rocket Man’, of course, and she’s for boys. Come on, you know it’s true. Elton’s ‘Rocket Man’ is all about space, but not just space – it’s also about… space. The missing line after, “Burning out his fuse up here alone…” Listen, there’s a missing line. With or without it, it’s gorgeous, stately and lonely.

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[11] T. Rex, ‘Metal Guru’

T. Rex

What was No.1 when you were born? And does it say the smallest thing to you about your life? When you found out, presumably many years later, did you warm to the song, did it all make sense? Junior had that godawful Elton meets 2Pac’s corpse mawkfest. Let’s hope she’s never exposed to it again.

We talked about it here, but thankfully any memories were drowned by ‘Metal Guru”s eerie wail and glam vamp, a Wall of Sleazy Sound that seemed to unsettle Junior for a moment. It does disorientate. It’s a technicolour yawn made, er, audio. Although there’s no ‘Get It On’ funky steel to it, its banshee chug just edges out the slinky ‘Children Of The Revolution’ and kooky ‘Telegram Sam’ in the sprint for best T. Rex single of the year.

But I’m biased.

[1] Scissor Sisters, ‘Comfortably Numb’

Scissor Sisters

In many ways – visual, musical, camp – Scissor Sisters were a shot in the arm for a moribund pop scene. The teen bracket was thriving, sure, mainly through the reality parade, but Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, Babydaddy et al negotiated a glitzy path to the heart of the big record buyer. A crossover triumph. Their showtuny, Elton John-infused (and frankly pretty flimsy) debut album was neck and neck with the more prosaic Keane in the year’s bestselling chart, laying bare 50 Quid Man’s lesser-spotted appetite for gay-as-a-window flim-flammery.

They waved their jazz hands over the parapet with this impudent romp over Pink Floyd’s dour classic. We heard the Bee Gees, KC & The Sunshine Band and – perhaps most of all, but less acknowledged – Frankie Knuckles. What initially appealed as a Night Fever throwback turned out to be a modern house monster with pop bells on, a gleeful destruction of Roger Waters’ puffed-up, jacked-up sense poem, but a destruction somehow executed with poignancy and cheeky respect.

I think it’s respect anyway. The euphoric hand claps after “But you may feel a little sick” don’t suggest much forelock-tugging.

Reactions from Junior tread the thin line between the surreal and Keanely prosaic – “Are they cutting?” “Is it Lily Allen? Is it soldiers?” “Where’s the lady?” Junior’s in the back of the car, but I can hear her clapping along, sending up Pink’s peril and “Uh-huh-uh-huh”ing where called upon. “I sang lots of that,” she tells me as the song echoes away, so there’s your proof. A crossover triumph.


Come on, it’s time to go:

[19] Radiohead, ‘Paranoid Android’

Radiohead’s first fan-shedding phase started, paradoxically, with the Greatest Album Of All Time (© Q Magazine, probably). It was a fantastic bit of over-hyping that even led to ‘No Surprises’ being tagged the Greatest Rock Single Of All Time early the next year. Stupendous. Your stalwart rock hacks were breathless, feverish. Just imagine the couple of seconds of awkward silence after they heard Kid A for the first time.

And last time.

Keeping up the contradictions, ‘Paranoid Android’ alienated swathes of fans and took Radiohead to the Top 3 for the first and – so far – only time. It’s a six-minute riot of joyous Italo-house pianos, frog choruses, Elton and Kiki Dee-style cheeky vocal interplay and Junior Senioresque infectiousness.

Nah, it’s a six-minute trial of studious fretwankery. But pretty good with it. It’s certainly worth a flash of air guitar, as Junior appreciated, and a wave of the castanets. I think she was being sarky there.