[12] Gwen Stefani, ‘What You Waiting For?’

Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls

Not just a zillion-mile-per-hour state-of-the-art glossy pop single, but a fascinating soul-search into the bargain. For three-and-a-half head-mashing minutes, Gwenno trills engagingly about the position of the slightly older woman in modern culture (“Your moment will run out ‘cos of your sex chromosome”), tosses a few proverbial coins to ease her decision to leave No Doubt (Jesus Christ, woman, do it!), ticks herself off as a cowardly “stupid hoe” and – choice made – hurtles down the rabbit hole to solo stardom. The odd dreadful misfire aside, Love. Angel. Music. Baby justified the audacity and the equally mixed bag The Sweet Escape pretty much sealed it.

So why’s she rejoining the Doubters? Did Satan buy her soul? Was she handed ‘Don’t Speak’ at a still, silent crossroads all those years ago?

This busy record has Junior grinning and “tick-tocking” like Captain Hook’s crocodile nemesis. Brassy concoctions like ‘What You Waiting For?’ are the base fuel of modern pop music, keeping the treble high, the sonic effects pinging and the “imaginary” Harajuku fairies jacking – it’s the least a modern girl like Junior expects.

Your hot track:

[13] Belle And Sebastian, ‘I’m A Cuckoo’


Did Trevor Horn ruin Belle And Sebastian? Did Russell T. Davies ruin Doctor Who? Did Tony Blair ruin Labour? Nah, they just buffed them up until you could shave in them. Dear Catastrophe Waitress represented a sonic step forward – or sideways, however you look at it – but B&S were never exactly scuzzy and never lost their lighter touch. There’s not much lightness of touch on ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, unless you take it for a wimpier spin on Thin Lizzy; there are guitar pyrotechnics (well, they spark a little) and it soars up to a triumphant final verse, riding shotgun with the Sunday gang in Harajuku.

Junior bops, and actually likes it. I’ve suspicions that the chocolate cornflake cake she was munching did more to hep up her mood, but Belle And Sebastian never did anyone any harm.

Tune in on Monday for the second part of our Harajuku double-header.

There’s something wrong with me: