[16] Kelis, ‘Milkshake’

Kelis

So what are you gonna do? Your debut album unleashes a fiery hip-hop-soul Fury on the world, underpinned by peerless Neptune beats and no-filler songwriting, but the follow-up plops onto the tiles like a wet flannel. What are you gonna do? RELEASE THE SEX, that’s what. A dramatic u-turn on the road to the dumper, ‘Milkshake’ is dirty in some vague way, bumping, grinding and worming its way into your aural cavity. That’s “aural”. It’s a primitive record, sparse and jerky in its tribal rhythms, but it was a surefire sign Kelis was back in business – and with third album Tasty glorying in a shot of her slurping a lollipop, the raunchy recovery was complete.

It’s a little bit ripe to play to a callow reviewer, but we’re banking on Junior missing nuance at this age. She wiggled her shoulders like a girl who’s seen one too many must-we-feed-our-kids-this-FILTH? pop videos on MTV and appeared to like the song. So did she? “No.” I’m beginning to spot a pattern.

Better than yours:

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[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.

The Ting Tings, ‘That’s Not My Name’

As the 1969 Top 20 hobbles to a thrilling conclusion, we’re hop-skip-jumping all the way to the present and a record that Junior went loopy for when it appeared on one of those new-fangled MTV channels last week. We’re even a bit slow off the mark here, as it’s been toppled from an unlikely chart summit by hit machine Rihanna, but it’s still the breakthrough smash of the year – a grand departure from its achingly hip, limited 2007 run.

You’ve heard the comparisons – Blondie (yes, the cool-eyed Katie White is indeed blonde and, in a slightly darkened room, stunning), ‘Mickey’ (the star-jumping rhythm and lairy rap-song straight off Toni Basil’s much mis-(or not)-construed 1982 chartbuster), The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ (that rhythm again, really, also massaged for Girls Aloud’s ‘No Good Advice’) – but, like the best pop puffery, ‘That’s Not My Name’ blends influences to form a monster that stomps, jerks, twitters and rocks in its own nation-enslaving way.

We’re mad for it right now, pure victims of hype if you see things through those spectacles. Sometimes there’s no hype without fire. As the record builds to its multi-layered, full-rocking coda, Junior’s reaction is a spinning, leaping, head-shaking frug from dining room to living room – pop star in infancy.

And while we’re sojourning in 2008, here are some of her other recent pop moments:

– “She’s got hair like me” to Diana Ross gamely keeping it all together in the ‘Chain Reaction’ video
– “Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold – that’s your favourite, Daddy” (not sure who’s feeding her these lies)
– Sticking her hand in the washing machine for the nth time one day, she’s told to leave it alone before defiantly reaching in again and pulling out the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album

For Junior, music is everywhere.

Wham!, ‘Last Christmas’

“Why get to work at 9.30 when you can get there at 10.30?” Dumbfounding myself with this unshakeable logic, I realised it was time for another Christmas tune.

So, I’ve spent 20-odd years thinking it’s “hiding from you and you’re so revised” and now it turns out be “your soul of ice”. Ok, I haven’t spent the entire 20 years thinking it – that would be frivolous – but I have wondered how she/he could be “so revised”. It’s still worth considering, because it’s a better lyric than “soul of ice”.

George knew how to write a tune, though. Well, Barry Manilow did, in this case. Junior loves it. She’s smiling to the point of laughter, and her arms and legs are swinging all over the place, in the manner of Pepsi and Shirlie trying to ski* in the video. Her mum had her office Christmas party last night, so she’s less than festive, but she seems keen to indoctrinate Junior into the ways of the Wham!, making it a hit all round.

*They may have just sat by the fire for the whole song, but I’m projecting. I know that the edit that goes to MTV is just a snapshot of the artist’s life at that point. I’m still wondering how Take That are managing to reform after being pushed off that cliff.