[18] Boy George, ‘King Of Everything’

2013-boy-george

They all came back, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Adam Ant, Boy George, all these pretty things who still had something to say. Boy George’s This Is What I Do shared qualities with Dion’s Born To Be With You – shooting for redemption, cleaning up the old act – just with rather more sunshine reggae interludes. In King Of Everything (“Put down the booze/Let the demons win the fight/I drop my gloves to the ground”, “Tempting myself time and time again/Like self-destruction was so cool”), George was contrite but bombastic, with a tingler of a bridge and a gloriously lived-in voice to lift the song out of the Oasis swamp.

Some people don’t think he managed that. “It’s a bit slow and drooping,” says Junior. But surely that’s its stately power? Junior 2 shakes her head. Junior 3 has fallen asleep.

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Duffy, ‘Warwick Avenue’/‘Mercy’

Duffy

Any seemingly endless round-up of 2008 would be incomplete without mentioning the Dusty-voiced siren from Wales. Rockferry was the bestelling album of the year, chart fans – no mean feat in a climate where Coldplay were releasing their best record in years (ever?), Oasis were returning to form (hmmm – maybe Q asserted that) and Leona Lewis was still shifting units by the warehouse. But is Duffy up to much? On this day in history or near enough, I saw her play at the Pigalle when she was a mere twinkle in an industry tipster’s eye, and thought, “Yeah, ok, she does it well enough.” That “it” being “the voguish ‘60s thing”. The songs are pastiche with a bit of verve – Bernard Butler’s calling card from McAlmont And days – and she has some nice, witchy hand gestures.

That’s about the limit, though. Today’s tune was ‘Warwick Avenue’, all bereft and stirring, but we turned to ‘Mercy’ soon after because we hadn’t quite reached nursery. To the first, Junior asked, “Is that Duff?” which seems harsh – it’s a pleasant song, even if it sticks to its template like glue. I could see Junior mouthing along to ‘Mercy’ in the rear view, which is no surprise considering its grating ubiquity. “I heard this yesterday,” said Junior, and in her speak that means any point in the past. Sounds about right.

[2] Oasis, ‘Live Forever’

Well, this just glows with melody, doesn’t it? I’m not sure whose melody it is, but the fact it’s not immediately traceable has to be a good thing. Oasis were that bit too raw in ’94 for the Pastiche Police to really get their claws in – they’d save that for, er, 1995 – and it helps to remember this and Definitely Maybe in context. That context saw a refreshing blast of scally rock, blowing away the grey ashes of shoegaze/any other indie feyness you care to name. It’s best not to think of what Oasis were to become.

But, just in case you were wondering, there are more hooks in Liam’s first “mayb-eh” of ‘Live Forever’ than there are in the whole of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, ‘All Around The World’, ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’, I could go on. That the song is also a statement of intent, fierce belief in the immortality of youth, only makes the grizzled dadrock flavour of later stuff harder to swallow.

Junior ploughed through her cereal as the band waded through what seems a more sluggish record 14 years on. ‘Live Forever’ does lack some oomph out of that context again, but Junior eventually got sucked in, whipping out the guitar to throw some shapes for the final solo.

So, that’s three Oasis singles in our Top 20. Britpop wars? Pah. Blur didn’t stand a chance.

[13] Oasis, ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’

For all his habitual recourse to magnetic poetry set gobbledigook, Noel did once have a knack for connecting with the nail. To start off a song called ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ with the line “Is it my imagination, or have we finally found something worth living for?” takes a special kind of understanding of a mindset most of us have found ourselves in at some point or other. That the whole concept is pulled off with massive T. Rex riff steals and a vocal of absolute dunderheaded belief from the mighty Liam only underlines its gauche brilliance.

Junior misheard the title: “Are they in a hole?” Well, yes, usually – ha ha ha. It nearly works. She pulled a few snarly faces to match the raucous rock’n’roll but mainly busied herself with choosing the next records to play. “Put on the pink one [an odd special edition cover for Wham!’s The Final] first, then Girls Aloud.” I left that to Mum.

[19] Oasis, ‘Supersonic’

Walking like a monkey, combing your sideburns forward into cute little curls, dressing like a Brookside truant, spouting your older brother’s nonsense poetry while it was still the right side of hackneyed – THIS is what constituted Being A Rock Star in 1994. Oasis were an oddly stale breath of fresh air, coming on like…

… hang on – this just in from a Jukebox Junior reader: “Junior’s say doesn’t get enough weight. If she don’t like Jacko, he should only warrant a sentence.”

Right; Junior and her mum agreed ‘Supersonic’ was “just noise.” That’s that, then. Don’t fret though, Oasis fans. I doubt we’ve heard the last.

[7] Jay-Z ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’

He was already well-enough-established by this point, largely thanks to forever soiling his legacy for a hit with the Little Orphan Annie-sponsored ‘Hard Knock Life’ back in 1998 – but now, right here, was where The Hov was riding highest: this hard-funk cut with ego on all cylinders, and The Blueprint album coming fast in the pipeline.

No diss-respect to Jay-Z’s laconic flow and easy rhyming, but the heavy lifting is handled by The Neptunes, and Pharrell Williams in particular. In 2001, before the horror of N*E*R*D’s second album, everything Williams touches is still turning gold and the descending, clipped riff and falsetto chorus are what makes ‘…Give It 2 Me’. So there.

Now, onto the Does Hip-Hop Have A Place At Glastonbury? debate…

Jokes. Junior took it easy, waiting for a good two or three minutes before clapping along to the springboard bass, bang on the rhythm. Come to think of it, I’m not sure she’s ever heard any of Noel Gallagher’s work – we can be pretty sure she won’t find much swing there.

[1] The Verve, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

For a couple of months in 1997 everyone loved The Verve. Then ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ was a bit drippy (No.1 smash notwithstanding), the album underwhelmed and the whole shooting match fell to pieces amid lawsuits and general hatred, only for Richard Ashcroft to rise from the flames like a boring phoenix.

So, many evils were visited upon the world, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. I love ‘Brimful Of Asha’ more, I find, but ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is a classic. We need our rock classics. Without them, what would Virgin Radio’s listeners vote into the Top 10 ‘tracks’ of all time? What would our dads and brothers-in-law play in the car?

This is more inventive than your standard rock monster. For a start, there’s a *gasp* sample. Bet they regretted that. The strings don’t add pomposity, as they would to any number of Oasis singles of the time, they add urgency. Pompous as that sounds. Oh, blah blah blah. I love the wall of sound, getting wider and higher throughout.

And Junior swung her hips – which don’t lie – in exact time with the string stabs, and rocked back and forth with the Eastenders drums. She was wailing by the end, mind. Probably had a vision of Ashcroft’s solo career. Actually, the iDog was making funny noises as well. That’s one bad solo career.

A Spotify playlist of the whole Top 20 (but no Blue Boy. Rats)

[16] Super Furry Animals, ‘Demons’

“I have a dartboard memory, so I’ll forget any felony”. One doesn’t often link the words ‘Welsh’ and ‘genius’, but the Super Furries have been confounding received wisdom for years. ‘Demons’ isn’t their best, not that it matters to Junior. It draws her in right away, the psychedelia-lite pulling her towards the stereo where she can adopt her forthright chairman pose at the coffee table. But this is no Bored Meeting!

SFA were easily outstripping their Creation cohorts by this stage. Oasis had tanked hugely – nah, you won’t see the ‘D’You Know What I Mean’ drone here – and the Boo Radleys were desperately trying to stamp on the embers of their commercial success. Primal Scream were feigning a return to form with Vanishing Point, but you try listening to the singles (at least) now. I did.

So, hats off to the Welsh chaps. Junior liked ‘The International Language Of Screaming’ too. She could sing along to that.

[17] Oasis, ‘Some Might Say’

So we come to Oasis’ last good single (don’t give me that ‘Wonderwall’ rubbish). A great tune, some – gasp – modern audio effects, a stirring chorus, the usual Noel guff in the lyrics. I read an interview with him last year, where he spoke with wonder about the fans who “understand lyrics I don’t even know the meaning of. ‘Stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face’, what’s that all about? Even I don’t know!” Of course you don’t, Noel. You just threw your magnetic poetry set up in the air again.

Junior insists on standing up on her mum’s lap for this. We already know she likes the rock, and in her bell-bottomed flowery denim dungarees she looks the part. Well, she looks like a Slade fan, but what’s the difference? She pats her thighs and bends her knees with the rhythm.

‘The Hindu Times’ was very sort of ok, I suppose, but really, that bird has flown.