[7] Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, ‘Gold Digger’

Gold Digger

Is Kanye a dick? Let’s look at the evidence: spoiling poor Taylor Swift’s big moment; giving airtime to the horrific Mr Hudson; the gauche title of Diamonds From Sierra Leone, disguising its content; banging on for 10 whole minutes about his record deal on The College Dropout; an inappropriate – but, yeah, funny – takedown of George W. Bush… well, it’s small beans, isn’t it? In the pro column are great tunes and generous sprinkles of wit. In context, his flow is as good as it needs to be.

On ‘Gold Digger’ he deserves his moment for the trickster’s gambit of getting Jamie Foxx to reprise his Ray Charles, legitimising the sample and giving him a fly mate for the video. And what a video – it’s utterly made by Kanye’s jerky throw-your-torso-back show-off dance, stamping surplus cool on an already deeply funky record. ‘Gold Digger”s lyric is amusing, but to call it uncharitable would be praising it with faint damnation. Still, go on, Kanye, you can have this one.

Junior says: “I like your dance.” I nicked it off Mr West. Somehow I look sillier. She tries it too, and dammit if she doesn’t get her groove on with way smoother coordination than me.

Best bit: “WE WANT PRE-NUP!” Yeah.

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[18] Kanye West, ‘Stronger’

Kanye West, ‘Stronger’

Jukebox Junior’s first ever Single of the Year, in 2005, was Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger’. The wire-jawed walking ego has slipped a bit since, but still knows how to make an impact in the increasingly staid world of commercial hip-hop. ‘Stronger’ samples Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ (the fourth best single from Discovery), slowing it down and weaving its central line into Kanye’s big man narrative. It’s sharp, witty and massively sure of itself. Like our favourite blind-shaded rap maverick.
 
For Junior, a maverick herself, it’s a chance to dance with suitcases. This is not a routine I’ve seen before, but as Mr West says, “she’ll do anything for the limelight” – and I indulge her. What else is this place for?

[17] INXS, ‘Need You Tonight’

Taking INXS’ Kick into school in the fifth form brought some unexpected kudos, but they were never really loved, were they? There were enormous global sales, unprecedented female attention for Michael Hutchence and a funky bar room sound that could appeal to the boys, yet still no one would ever say that they were their favourite band.

So when Hutchence knuckle-shuffled off this mortal coil, the posthumous Number Ones didn’t ensue. There were no voices raised in grief, wailing “First Kurt, then Diana, now Michael – when will the killing end?” and no fountains commissioned. No, we became voyeurs, and took cheap shots at the names of Paula Yates’ children.

‘Need You Tonight’ has retained its groove. Junior, in fact, is in raptures as it kicks off and Dad discovers he can do a passable Kanye Gold Digger dance to it. It’s a sexy record, I suppose, of the sort that INXS could pull off every album or so, but it’s ultimately unsatisfying. It peters out, and loses its gist through false endings. Even its real ending seems false. You can almost sense the ghost of Bruno Brookes wondering when to cut in.

[1] Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, ‘Gold Digger’

It’s funny, clever, catchy, singalong and groovy. It has chutzpah in bags. I mean, it kicks off with a Ray Charles sample and then has the bloke who played him in the film repeating the sample throughout the track. That must show chutzpah. Or it’s a legal issue.

We can’t stop ourselves dancing to this. Junior is having a go at the move that Kanye’s so pleased with in the video. You know, the one where he jerks back and to the side, elbow leading, as if a particularly appealing lady has just gone by at speed. You can tell that he’s practised it in the mirror countless times and has come to the conclusion that he looks pretty fly doing it. Junior looks fairly fresh too. Mum and Dad give it a whirl as well, and we become quite the coolest family on the block.

The album’s not as good as his debut, despite what the latecomer critics might tell you, but the peaks are loftier. ‘Gold Digger’ is the highest of these, and “we want pre-nup!” is the winning shout. I mean, it’s so romantic. Yet Kanye does still love her, faults and all, not caring a jot how jiggy she’s got with Usher and Busta. They’re fine upstanding chaps, after all.

That’s it, then. In the albums, Kate Bush edges out the Arcade Fire, but you knew that already. Junior’s looking forward to 2006 now, choosing a new theme for January and maybe getting a few of those requests out of the way. She’ll buy the Belle & Sebastian and Strokes albums, expecting nothing too exciting, and will continue pestering the Avalanches for new material.

Merry Christmas.