[15] Arcade Fire, ‘Everything Now’


Long-cherished beliefs are under threat. We go through our lives convinced Win Butler has no sense of humour and then he raises the curtain on his new puffed-up high-concept album with the unmistakable sound of Benny Andersson playing Yvonne Elliman. Is it a subversion of pop’s sturdiest bedrocks, or of his own band, or does he just know how to rip off a tune? A couple of tunes. Good ones, and he does it well. Arcade Fire have always been beholden to “the kids” of course, so let’s see what they think.

“That’s a panpipe,” says Junior.

[16] Phoenix, ‘J-Boy’


You know how Thomas Mars sings “Just because of you” in the chorus and it turns out the song’s title is an acronym of exactly that?

Well, I didn’t notice until my seven-year-old daughter pointed it out on Sunday. As is my way, I’m too wrapped up in twinkling synths and Mars’s somewhat Neil Tennant-ish delivery on the verses.

Other observations:

Junior 1 says, “It’s cool. It’s so different, it’s calming.”
Junior 2 has ‘Just Because’ printed on her dress. Is that because she’s a big Phoenix fan?


[17] Kasabian, ‘Bless This Acid House’


A warm welcome for Leicester’s second finest after Riyad Mahrez who make their long-awaited Jukebox Junior debut that I thought would never come because they’re rubbish, let’s face it.

But there have always been a couple of good things about Kasabian. One is the way that Tom Meighan says “Isn’t that right, Serge?” after every statement he makes; the other is their position as British rock’s finest sloganeers. Any ordinary record immediately sounds more interesting when you call it ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’. Any glam-pop knock-off is elevated by a Slade-ish chant of “She said, ‘God bless this acid house!’” This just makes me happy despite myself.

“I think if people are drowsy, this makes them hyper,” is the astute verdict from Junior 2. Big sister and original Jukebox Junior is pulling a ‘rock’ face and doing a Jagger-esque chickenhead, neatly summing up the Kasabians’ slavish devotion to their rock’n’roll lineage. We’ve got their number.

[18] Phoebe Bridgers, ‘Motion Sickness’


Like I say, they chose the order, not me, which means anything that wasn’t played on Kiss over the course of the year is going to end up clogging the lower reaches of our chart. That’s not to say the girls are wrong. ‘Motion Sickness’ is too warm, fuzzy and sweet to really unfurl the punch lurking there. Who does Phoebe Bridgers “hate”? Who gave her “fifteen hundred to see your hypnotherapist”? Who sings “with an English accent”? Not as many people as you’d think.

Something resonates though. “You can feel how she feels,” says Junior 2, who’s attuned to this kind of thing and hums along. “It’s a bit draggy,” says Junior 1, “You want it to be a bit quicker.”

Emotions ran a bit higher when it came to deciding where this should chart. This was the sixth song we played and the first that saw the three of them screaming and shoving each other out of the way for the privilege of moving the strip of paper up the fridge. Amazed it took so long.

[19] Sigrid, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’


“It’s strong,” says Junior 1, contrasting it with ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’. “I can tell the purpose.” Junior 3 praises “the beat” but Junior 2 doesn’t like it “that much”.

I thought they’d lap Sigrid, barely their senior, right up. A week later they’re among the half-dozen viewers watching her on Sounds Like Friday Night, the BBC’s latest why-in-Hades-don’t-they-just-bring-back-Top-Of-The-Pops flagship music show, and seem more into her, but by then the Blu Tack’s stuck fast. Still, it’s a powerful, defiant anthem delivering a boot to the teeth of any rockists underestimating a young pop star. Assuming her red/white colour scheme’s an ironic dig at Jack White, that is.

[20] Wolf Alice, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’


Each year on Jukebox Junior I pick the top 20 singles and I put them in order. All very Drowned In Sound. This year we’re making changes. I’ve chosen the 20 but my daughters Junior 1 (aged 12), Junior 2 (aged 9) and Junior 3 (aged 7) have put them in order with the help of lots of strips of paper, some Blu Tack, a fridge door and some keen critical faculties.

Good to hear the ‘French exit’ in song. It’s the aesthete’s departure, a sidestep out the door when you’ve had too many beers to actually frame the word “goodbye”. Ellie Rowsell seems more worried about the gossips than the very real prospect of throwing up over the object of her affection, and frames her turmoil in shoegazey pop, shouting her feelings from the top of a mountain where she’s less likely to be embarrassed.

Junior 3 would hurt those feelings: “I don’t like it.” Junior 1 equivocates with “It’s not that strong, but I can tell it’ll be stuck in my head forever.” “Basically it’s unforgettable,” Junior 2 summarises.

It’s a start anyway.

[1] Hot Chip, ‘Huarache Lights’


2008: [20] Hot Chip, ‘Ready For The Floor’
2000s: [26] Hot Chip, ‘Over And Over’
2010: [8] Hot Chip, ‘One Life Stand’
2012: [6] Hot Chip, ‘Let Me Be Him’

So, basically, Hot Chip have been heading this way. Regular readers of Jukebox Junior (hi Mum!) will know my feelings about Hot Chip – they should be right up my street, but something’s always missing, at least over the course of an album – but I started to feel different this year, mainly down to a cracking Glastonbury set that was a ‘moment’ from start to finish. ‘Huarache Lights’, thumping organic rhythm, cheeky sample later repurposed, nerdy bounce, talkbox, joy of records, everything, was already my single of the year; the gig just made sure.

Junior? “It’s a bit boring.”

[2] Everything Everything, ‘No Reptiles’


Everything Everything found some heart in the oddest of ways. By the time ‘No Reptiles’ reaches its final lines, “Just give me this one night/Just one night to feel/Like I might be on the right path,” it’s sending shivers with its quivering synths and rising desperation, like it really means something, like its overwhelming sense of dislocation is giving way to some kind of truth, a way out of this.

Of course you have to fight through some pretty gnarly stuff to get here. “Oh, is it ‘a fat child in a pushchair’?” asks Junior as it starts. “I really like it.” Naturally. They all do, she and her sisters, because it’s about a fat child in a pushchair. They’ve been singing it all year. It’s funny. Never mind its unflinching dissection of a rotten society – it’s funny. Clever boys, those Everything Everythings.

[3] Belle & Sebastian, ‘Nobody’s Empire’


“How can this be so high when there have been so many great songs?” Junior isn’t happy. “It’s not as exciting. He doesn’t sound happy.”

Which says something about her criteria when judging pop songs, and pretty solid criteria they are too. Of course, Stuart Murdoch isn’t very happy, at least not to begin with, because ‘Nobody’s Empire’ tackles the ME that debilitated him in the 1990s and still rears up occasionally. But, with his favourite layering effects that lifted ‘The State I Am In’, ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ and ‘I’m A Cuckoo’ to the heavens, Murdoch eventually elevates this to something approaching ecstasy. A note of hope, certainly.

[4] The Weeknd, ‘Can’t Feel My Face’


The best pop song Abel Tesfaye ever did without annoying Geoff Barrow.

Junior really likes it – and, in stark contrast with ‘Clearest Blue’, “you hear it on Kiss all the time”.