[1] Mariah Carey featuring Miguel, ‘#Beautiful’


“featuring Miguel”. Oh come on, Mariah, this is Miguel’s song and it’s just perfect. As soppy as a Dean Friedman ballad but a lesson in studied easiness, with Miguel and Carey concentrating on warmth rather than fire as a Stax-y guitar lick rolls beneath them and sunkissed percussion strokes their, um, cheeks. That hashtag’s oh-so modern, isn’t it, kids, but the rest is as trad as an arr. No, I don’t know what a bad folk joke’s doing here.

Best bit? “Let the moonlight…” sounds like the record’s jumped but Miguel’s as unhurried and on point as the great soul man he promises to be. He and Carey slips a summer’s romance into a sliver of a song.

Junior 3 keeps singing, “To me, to me, to me…” like a one-girl Chuckle Brothers. Junior just approves.

[14] Usher, ‘Climax’


Why didn’t you remind me I was doing this? One song a weekday before revealing the No.1 on the 21st. Another broken manifesto pledge.

Usher’s like one of those billionaires now who does whatever the blazes he wants when he wants. So he can do a big guest vocal on a Guettathon and then dial it right down for this shard of Buck Rogers R&B. He’s squawking the hell out of his falsetto – which Junior represents via a scale of rising hand gestures, like a Hello Kitty t-shirt-wearing Mariah Carey – and lets the beats and bass drag and drop like a picture editor.

It’s tortured spook-soul that months on sounds better and better. Junior 3 lip-synchs with a pained expression and a sprinkling of vogues, to properly channel Usher’s emotional experience. Junior herself says he sings like a girl.

[9] Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks , ‘Sinful!’

Now we know it’s 23 years ago. You wouldn’t find a crazed-eyed maverick like Pete Wylie in the charts today, ranting his own agenda and making music so vast it thumbs its nose at categorisation (although I imagine iTunes will say ‘rock’). And that’s a bad thing, believe me (“I wish you’d believe me”). We don’t need Cowell-spawned dinky-Robbies and mini-Mariahs, we need lunatics, and not just slightly odd people like the Black Eyed Peas.

For all that, ‘Sinful!’ is fairly straight, just bold beyond its arrangement. It wasn’t a fluke either, as Wylie and Wah! flirted with modest chart placings for over a decade. Then Britpop came and everything interesting died.

That’s hyperbole. Pete would like hyperbole.

And there’s still room for him, if Junior’s a yardstick. She sang along with the closing “it’s sinful”s and when I asked her, “Is it sinful?” she said, “Yeah”.

So true, boo-hoo:

[20] Tom Tom Club, ‘Genius Of Love’

Tom Tom Club

This is a hindsight Top 20, taking place a year before I started buying my own records and making my own tapes and obsessing over Duran Duran and the Top 40. 1981 was the year my sister began to record the chart rundown, introducing me to the wild sounds of Landscape and, erm, Alvin Stardust. Up to this point, all I knew were Beatles and Boney Ms, ABBAs and Brotherhoods Of Man. Now we had a dead Beatle and a declining, rended ABBA.

Partners in rhythm Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz were no longer satisfied with merely pushing the very corners of rock’s envelopes in Talking Heads’ engine room – or perhaps David Byrne and Brian Eno left no elbow room – and Tom Tom Club was the joyous diversion. Mixing funk, bags of funk, with pop, rap and world music, they revealed a sunnier side nowhere brighter than on the glorious ‘Genius Of Love’. It’s a tribute to a spiffing boyfriend wrapped up in loyal dedication to their funky forebears, and in a nice piece of symmetry has become one of the most sampled records – seized upon by trailblazers from Grandmaster Flash to, yes, Mariah Carey.

‘Genius Of Love’ locks into a groove, but Junior ain’t for dancin’. Apparently her baby sister “doesn’t want me to,” which is an impressive bit of inter-sibling communication – and we thought all they did was laugh at each other. But what does she think of the song? “I don’t like it; it makes me sad.” I’ve got it all wrong.

[8] Daryl Hall & John Oates, ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’

Try and educate a baby all you like, she’ll always return to her frames of reference. “No Kandoo? Who cares, Dad? We’ve still got Pampers,” was her reaction. She listened with the lonely, neglected iDog, whose flashing lights suggested this is a hip-hop tune. It certainly launched a million of them.

Hall and Oates absolutely hammered the Billboard charts, like a pair of big-haired doo-wopping blue-eyed-soul Temptation-wannabe male Mariah Careys. They did ok over here too, no doubt helped by regular slots on lovable rascal Jonathan King’s Entertainment USA programme. I’ve opened a Pandora’s Box of memories there, haven’t I?

You’ll all remember John Oates’ huge, bushy moustache, of course. He was one of those fellows who saw the light just a little too late and shaved it off, without making an iota of difference. It might not be there, but you can still see it. As popular football managers Graeme Souness and Sam Allardyce have also found, a phantom ‘tache will always play around his top lip.