[1] Taylor Swift, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’

Taylor Swift

Junior’s favourite bit is the line “hide away and find your peace of mind with some indie record that’s much cooler than mine” – as much for the delivery, of course, as the actual lyric. Taylor Swift has grown up, become caustic. When she called a boy “mean” on Speak Now, well, that was never going to cut anyone to the quick. But she has the arsenal now. Where once a chap could make “a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter” now he just bleats away on the phone while Taylor rolls her eyes, exhausted.

When this starts, with its curious forestalled guitar intro where ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Long Train Running’ meet, Junior shouts, “Taylor!” That’s the crossover talking. I’ve mixed feelings – I loved Fearless and Speak Now but can’t begrudge her smart step into the straight-up pop market. She should be heard by everyone and this is a wonderfully joyous, barbed, free, sarky, emboldened record to pull that trick with. It does everything right, with glee.

So all hail Taylor Swift’s leap up from billion-seller to billion-and-one-seller. She’s really made it now.

Next up, Junior and I will tackle 1980 and get all tiresome about Dexys Midnight Runners. Although I think I said that last year.

[6] TLC, ‘No Scrubs’


As if ‘scrubs’ wasn’t a bewildering enough term over here, this was one of those rare records that inspire an ‘answer song’ – in this case, ‘No Pigeons’. What? TLC’s take is straightforward enough with the “hangin’ out your best friend’s ride, tryin’ to holler at me”; we know all this. Come on, we’ve all been there. Sifting through the lyrics to ‘No Pigeons’, it seems to be about golddiggaz and doesn’t have an ounce of the girls’ wit. Home win.

There was a school of thought at the turn of the century that the only area of pop music really looking ahead was female r&b. This is space age soul, crystal clear, buffed-up and sassy.

Junior connects with its electronic, cool, cyber-futurism by sticking her hand in the video.

[1] TLC, ‘Waterfalls’

There’s a persistent rumour that this song was written by Prince, perhaps spread by those who refused to believe his muse had long since shrugged its shoulders and snuck off. Anyway, I don’t think it is, not even one of his ‘Manic Monday’ noms de plume. No doubting though that its tight funkiness and melody could have graced the mauve midget’s mid-’80s output.

So, it’s No.1. It’s not the expected conclusion of the preceding tracks, but I never tire of it. Not one jot. The soft wah-wah, T-Boz’s purr, the flowing bassline, Left-Eye’s arsonist Minnie Mouse rap – it sticks together like glue, every element essential to the sequencing of the tune. Yeah, the lyrics can be facile, but they lodge in your brain, the harmonies papering over the cracks. TLC led the ’90s r’n’b girl group boom, tracks like this, ‘Creep’ and ‘No Scrubs’ easily outstripping their peers.

A big hit with Junior too, this time giving the tray of her high chair a hammering, bouncing up and down within the strictures of the straps, her eyes crinkling with delight. A perfectly formed little gem for, well, you know. Aww.