[15] The Beautiful South, ‘Prettiest Eyes’

Junior strolled around the room for the duration, looking solemn but trying to hide a smirk. Well, how apt! Paul Heaton delivered his kitchen sink dramas and trad love songs with a figurative wink almost every time. Almost every time.

‘Prettiest Eyes’ sounds sincere to me, a warts-and-all celebration of a love grown old yet never stale. “Sixty 25th of Decembers/Fifty-nine 4th of Julys” are writ in every laughter line, “and I only write them down just in case/You should die”. It’s a great glob of sentiment, but that glob isn’t gloopy and Heaton inhabits the older man as if he’s the future he longs for. It’s all set in a typically radio-friendly arrangement, the type of comfortable noise that passed everyone by until they idly nosed at the greatest hits set at the end of this year and made it one of the fastest selling albums in history. That was a bolt from the blue.

[13] Fatboy Slim, ‘Praise You’

Fatboy Slim

This record is painfully 1999. It would get laughed out of town if it showed its big beaty face these days, wacky Spike Jonze video or not. Norman Cook had a way with a pop tune, admittedly – this, ‘Rockafeller Skank’ and ‘Gangster Trippin’ all grabbed you first time – but they were guaranteed to annoy your teeth out within a few plays.

It’s getting harder to measure Junior’s reactions, now that she’s a baby scud forever homing in on the living room’s most vulnerable points. This was the first time she’d made a beeline towards the stereo, however, desperate paw reaching out for the amplifier. Norm, mate, I think she was trying to put you out of your misery.

I remember reading interviews with The Housemartins back in the day. The others used to take the rise out of Quentin, ribbing him for his love of soul, funk, hip hop and dance when he was in this itchy pop band. You have to say he had the last laugh: the drummer went down for trying to brain some chap with an axe, Stan Cullimore ended up in Basic Instinct 2, obviously, and Paul Heaton was last seen releasing a compilation of his favourite soul, funk, hip hop and dance tunes. Pah.