[5] Gary Numan, ‘Cars’

Look, everyone – techno! Kraftwerk had laid meaty foundations, of course, but Gary Numan really made them rock. This is synth as instrument of dance, not evocation of stark futuristic landscape and death of tangible human emotion. Ok, a bit of that too.

Numan had dispensed with his Tubeway Army and was ready to step into the limelight as glamorous, pouting, ladies-love solo star. Granted, he may have missed that mark, but he was a beguiling artist in a cold, otherworldly kind of way – an object of fascination who gave little away, and perhaps there was little to give. ‘Cars’ was the sound of tomorrow, hi-tech and dispassionate, and may still be. From the comfortable safety of his human-shunning machine, Numan croaks a few cyborg lines before buggering off barely halfway through the song, allowing the less-credited Army to unleash a vast, layered synthscape that should by rights extend forever. Monumental.

No-nonsense Junior cut to the chase: “Why’s he singing about his car? He’s silly, isn’t he?”

[6] Buggles, ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’

I’m concerned I may have to defend this one. EASY. Just look at Junior finding the glee in the poignancy, making her plastic tiger leapfrog her plastic lion, all in time to the ecstatic pulse of the music. Watch her punching the air and performing the dance of the seven veils with her sister’s muslin square; it’s a dizzy representation of the song’s way with the possibilities of pop.

‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ suffers from the “novelty” tag, being, on the surface at least, a one-hit wonder with a chipmunk, quasi-synthesised chorus. Then there’s Trevor Horn, all bubble-perm and oversized specs, hardly projecting an image of a man about to push pop’s boundaries to glorious and ludicrous extents with ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood respectively. But we’re not interested in surface. The song’s depth is in the bittersweet nostalgia, the regret at the passing of an age of music even as it embraces the new world, and also in the symphonic electronica – crescendos, drop-outs, even a sense of the fat lady singing. MTV co-opted it as the anthem of triumph of picture over audio, making it the first song to be played on the station, and perhaps they hit the nail on the head. It’s a requiem and celebration rolled into one.