[3] The 1975, ‘Somebody Else’

1975-2016

I was there when the Popjustice judges shoved this into second place behind… Christ, I can’t remember what won. It wasn’t this. Some things are too beautiful to succeed.

If any fellow music journalists are reading, they’ll like this: I never bought or owned the first 1975 album in any way; I just used to dip into PlayMPE every now and then and listen to it. So, obviously I never heard the whole record. Trying to listen to I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is even more of a challenge, because its playing length actually exceeds its title. Still, worth it in the end, whatever age you end up.

“I like the rhythm,” says Junior 2. “Yeah, the beat,” clarifies big sis. Junior 2’s thinking now: “Is it the man with the curly hair?” Yes, it is. They, like everyone else, were very taken with The 1975’s Glastonbury performance (on the telly; I’m not a madman), providing raw proof that this is a band breaking through everywhere to mass cross-generational, and cross-taste, effect. ‘Somebody Else’ is simply gorgeous, straddling some unconsidered line between FM Radio 70s pop and Balearic house, and doing it while addressing an impulse we all recognise but are never particularly proud of. If you get me. By Jove, they’re going to be so huge.

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[1] Hot Chip, ‘Huarache Lights’

hot-chip-15

2008: [20] Hot Chip, ‘Ready For The Floor’
2000s: [26] Hot Chip, ‘Over And Over’
2010: [8] Hot Chip, ‘One Life Stand’
2012: [6] Hot Chip, ‘Let Me Be Him’

So, basically, Hot Chip have been heading this way. Regular readers of Jukebox Junior (hi Mum!) will know my feelings about Hot Chip – they should be right up my street, but something’s always missing, at least over the course of an album – but I started to feel different this year, mainly down to a cracking Glastonbury set that was a ‘moment’ from start to finish. ‘Huarache Lights’, thumping organic rhythm, cheeky sample later repurposed, nerdy bounce, talkbox, joy of records, everything, was already my single of the year; the gig just made sure.

Junior? “It’s a bit boring.”

[7] TV On The Radio, ‘Second Song’

TV On The Radio

And it’s the FIRST song on the album! That’s what I call avant-garde.

This wordy addition to the TVOTR Princey-funk-rock almanac plays excellent games with layers, building up to a groovy lurch that makes you feel proud for no obvious reason. It’s charismatic that way. Like singer Tunde Adebimpe. They didn’t play this song at Glastonbury, but it was my favourite set of the weekend – a pick-me-up on a lagging, suffering Sunday afternoon – and I came away with a big swooning man-crush on Tunde.

Get too close to TVOTR and you start to think their name is normal. Well, thank goodness Junior’s around then. She raps: “Watch TV, yeah, watch TV – oh we’ll watch telly on the radio.” Junior 2 joins in, they punch the air madly to the chorus and then round it all off with a few slaps to their own heads. What did they think? “It’s OK.”

Lady GaGa, ‘Paparazzi’

Lady GaGa

In some cold sense, Lady GaGa is a fantastic pop star – all glitz and Vegas glamour, ever-changing, seemingly personality-free – yet it’s those very things that make her one big nothing. In my shady day job as editor of a horrifyingly mainstream music site, GaGa is a godsend. She’s full of juicy quotes, decked out in a new flesh-flashing doily every day, selling phenomenal amounts of records and it’s all so… so… boring.

On the other hand, she put on a sterling if robotic show at Glastonbury and ‘Just Dance’, ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Paparazzi’ are the sort of ear-worms that The Saturdays, say, would kill for. I’ve gone with the third single here because – hey! – it’s recent and we’re nothing if not bleeding-edge. ‘Paparazzi’ is a huge great clunking metaphor for slavish empty adoration; just the kind GaGa needs for these 15 minutes.

Is Junior her biggest fan? She shuffles in her seat as she takes the standard eon to eat her cornflakes, but in the end the song merits a shrug. I try to fire some debate: “Do you know what ‘Paparazzi’ means?” “Morris has got one.” Her friend Morris calls his dad “Papa”, you see. Maybe he’s seen him sneak off into the night with his Canon, in hot pursuit of a mini-Madonna in a bubble dress. It’s a living.

Snap snap to that shit on the radio:

Animal Collective, ‘Summertime Clothes’

Animal Collective

So it’s Junior’s fourth birthday. It seems only three and a half years and a bit since we were reviewing Antipop Consortium records together and plumping for Kanye West over Missy Elliott in the 2005 chart. How time flies, innit.

And in those few short years, Animal Collective have gone from quirky indie electronica nerds to quirky indie electronica nerds with something approaching proper tunes. There have always been squirts of brilliance, but 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion has pulled together more than most and set them to some full rave dynamics. The jaunty ‘Summertime Clothes’ isn’t the best single on it – mayyybbeee we’ll save one for the year-end chart – but it’s a ray of hope as everything goes haywire outside the window.

Newly grown-up Junior is more interested in the flashy magic eye madness on the album sleeve, gracing the song with a mere handclap or two. She’d have loved them at Glastonbury though, where they stole the show with disco lights and hands aloft and sent all my mates packing to buy their album.

AndIwaaaaannawaaaaalkarooouuundwithyou:

N.B. Coming soon(ish) – The Top 50 Singles of the 00s

[7] Jay-Z ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’

He was already well-enough-established by this point, largely thanks to forever soiling his legacy for a hit with the Little Orphan Annie-sponsored ‘Hard Knock Life’ back in 1998 – but now, right here, was where The Hov was riding highest: this hard-funk cut with ego on all cylinders, and The Blueprint album coming fast in the pipeline.

No diss-respect to Jay-Z’s laconic flow and easy rhyming, but the heavy lifting is handled by The Neptunes, and Pharrell Williams in particular. In 2001, before the horror of N*E*R*D’s second album, everything Williams touches is still turning gold and the descending, clipped riff and falsetto chorus are what makes ‘…Give It 2 Me’. So there.

Now, onto the Does Hip-Hop Have A Place At Glastonbury? debate…

Jokes. Junior took it easy, waiting for a good two or three minutes before clapping along to the springboard bass, bang on the rhythm. Come to think of it, I’m not sure she’s ever heard any of Noel Gallagher’s work – we can be pretty sure she won’t find much swing there.

[1] Glen Campbell, ‘Wichita Lineman’

And you thought we’d forgotten. You try launching two websites in a month. The good news is, one’s done and has for the past two days been revolutionising the way the world thinks about music channels run by corporate communications portals; as for the bad news, the other one’s the work of just me and a couple of associates, and we’re lazy as hell. Expect Jukebox Junior entries to come flying thick and fast while I put off doing proper work. That’s a promise, by the way. The 1969 chart’s taken longer than the actual year.

But here we bid it farewell, with some tastefully wrought sentiment and an arrangement that stands just as proud in 2008 as it must have done in 1969, because it’s timeless, definitive and enduring. Well, it’s still on the line. It’s a Jimmy Webb special, strings and horns present and correct alongside a sense of vastness, of a granite-hewn cowboy standing on the verge of getting it on. I’m going all Brokeback. The song houses one of my favourite couplets (“And I need you more than want you” – Oh dear – “And I want you for all time” – Ah, I see) and pulls off ingenious capers with violins and synths, recreating the Morse code of the telegraph – all bundled together to form a peerless, romantic whole.

Junior sat in the back of the car, waving her arms, conducting the orchestra. I’m not even sure she’s seen a conductor in action, so it must be instinctive. Of course she asks “Who’s singing?” It’s the sonorous tones of Glen Campbell, the golden teddy bear, the country and western Jack Nicklaus.

Back after Glastonbury with a seething vengeance. All you shy readers can select a new year to slice, dice and swathe with unlikely records that only a shameless pop freak of dubious taste could love. Anything except 1969, 1973, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006 and 2007. They’re either here or archived over there. Think that covers it.

[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.

[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?

[12] Jamie T, ‘Calm Down Dearest’

Jamie T, ‘Calm Down Dearest’

Wimbledon’s premier rap-skiffle rodent had a big year, what with that Mercury nomination (and he really should have won – or did I say that about Bat For Lashes? Anyway, Panic Prevention was wildly inventive, clever and fun) and a packed John Peel tent singing along to this track at Glastonbury. His range is clearest on ‘Calm Down Dearest’, which sounds like Saint Etienne’s ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’ sung by a particularly verbose drunkard. It’s even better than I paint it.
 
It was greeted with stomping feet by Junior, who also chose to mirror the lyrics with a snarly face. Has she seen the lad? It was uncanny. She threw all this into the first couple of bars, missing the later subtleties of Treays’ affecting semi-ballad – “racking and stacking them lines” – subtleties that fair bring a tear to a wincing eye.