[24] Moloko, ‘The Time Is Now’

The Time Is Now

With ‘Sing It Back’ in the bag, Moloko completed the improbable feat of releasing two singles in a row that weren’t irritating. On ‘The Time Is Now’, abrupt, voguing strings create an atmosphere of impossible tension and born actress Róisín Murphy is the diva to wallow in it. Frankly, it’s extraordinary that Moloko managed to wriggle out of the shackles of intensely annoying glitchy trip hop long enough to make sterling additions to the pop canon, but bravo for their moment of clarity. Post-split, Murphy kept these lessons in mind and now makes sophisticated, accessible dance music that no one buys.

Junior says: “I like it, play it again. And I like the owl.” And Junior 2 gave a sulky “Ohhhh” when I turned off the superfluous remix after a couple of bars. Moloko: massive with the under-fives.

Best bit: Róisín purrs, “part of your destiny”.

[5] Moloko, ‘Sing It Back’

Moloko

Moloko were mad annoying for at least an album. Horribly mannered, stop-start trip-hop stuff with the quirks carefully left in and the tunes beaten until they slunk out. Hmm. ‘Sing It Back’ isn’t all that different, but it was remixed to within an inch of its pretension and found some space and sex and flow. And with the oddly delightful Roisin Murphy done up as a human glitterball in the video, the icing was on the disco cake.

Junior and her mum showed their dance chops and whipped up a storm on the fluffy rug. I could only watch in shock and awe. The Boris Dlugosch mix is over nine minutes of shimmering Latino guitar strobe-lit four-to-the-floor heaven, and it passed in a moment.

[12] Madonna, ‘Beautiful Stranger’

Madonna

Ooh, a William Orbit production without those bap-bap-bap echoey synth noises and heavily treated guitar. Sorry, there’s the heavily treated guitar now. As one of the Austin Powers themes, it’s meant to have a 60s psychedelic feel and, 10 years on from ‘Dear Jessie’, Madge has clocked that this doesn’t have to mean pink elephants, paisley patterns and newspaper taxis. The spiralling tune, flutes and whizzy effects can cover all that without any feeble “Oh man, look at the COLOURS” tosh.

To think I put 11 singles higher than this. It’s a seriously infectious pop hip-swinger, one of the year’s more obvious stand-outs. Junior takes a while to cotton onto this too, starting off vexed because I wiped her nose, but she’s wiggling her padded behind before long. Even she’s beginning to realise that the musclebound old girl’s put in a handy 20-year innings.

Still to come: three American female soloists, an all-girl band, a Strepsils-avoiding pretend British blues band, the Saviours Of Dance Music (for a bit), a bunch of hairy septics, a not-so-hairy septic with a made-up band, a guest spot from Kelis, some faceless lounge noodlers and, er, Moloko.

Don’t go away.