[20] Sivu, ‘Can’t Stop Now’


Junior’s nine now. I first wrote about the way she experienced music in November 2005 when she was 20 weeks old, fidgeting in her bouncy chair to the minimalist hip-hop of Antipop Consortium. Since then, she’s formed her own opinions, protested about doing this at all and asked to do it again. I think she believed she was famous at one point – if ‘famous’ means a couple of dozen people knowing who you are without actually meeting you, then I suppose she was.

In 2008 Junior 2 arrived and then Junior 3 turned up in 2010. Three girls who reckon they know more about music than their dad. Out of the four of us, I’m the biggest One Direction fan, so perhaps they’re right. But can they recite an entire volume of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles? No, they cannot. Who’s the real winner here?

None of us knows much about Sivu, but I have press releases in my inbox so I can busk it. He’s really called James Page, was born in St Ives (Cambs version) but somehow ended up in Kennington feeling the weight of South London’s urban dislocation. He sticks it in song, although ‘Can’t Stop Now”s tumbling flow dings a note of optimism with its folky trills, rising keys and faked laser sheen. The ooo-ooo-ooos alone plant it in our top 20 of the year. It’s no headbanger but that’s what Junior does anyway, giving Page the actual thumbs-up. Junior 2 says, “It sounds good to me because there’s lots of people talking,” while Junior 3 adds, “We’re still going south.” She’s playing with a compass.

[17] Japan, ‘Ghosts’

At the time, I thought this went to Number One. To be honest, until I started taking a keen interest in the chart during the summer of ‘82,I thought everything that appeared on Top Of The Pops was a No.1 single. Happy, uncomplicated days, before my first Guinness Book of British Hit Singles destroyed these reveries. I felt crushed for Sylvian and the lads, and their No.5 hit.

They were probably ecstatic, or as ecstatic as a bunch of in-fighting, studiedly glacial, new romantic poseurs were ever going to get. Maybe they flared a nostril.

‘Ghosts’ is thuddingly pretentious, a glorious mood piece of mannered vocals and blandly eerie effects. It’s certainly no better than ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ and ‘Mirror Man’, but it thinks it is, and that’s half the battle. Like The Jam, Japan were gone by the end of the year, with a frontman indulging his whimsies. He plods along still, still able to bore you to death at a hundred paces, but at least he does it without Ocean Colour Scene.

I bloody loved Japan, really. Junior tried to look enthused herself, dancing with unsuitable vigour to the first few bars of tuneless electronic dabbling. After a couple of minutes she was thinking of forming the Style Council.