[4] The Libertines, ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’

The Libertines

“An ending fitting for the start” – the CD clicked and spluttered in the car stereo until this song became a succession of quickfire tuts. “Is that the Easter Bunny?” asked Junior. I wouldn’t like to see Pete Doherty prancing around my garden, hiding foil-wrapped items among the pine needles.

Earlier she’d sought confirmation that it was two people singing. Fair enough, it’s hard to tell with Doherty and Carl Barât, their voices interchangeable as they exchange barbs and pleas and let their life’s work crumble around their ears. This almost-swansong comes from a patchy second album, but the debut’s vim and swagger trumpeted a band of huge promise – promise squandered by a ghoul-faced buffoon of a smackhead with idiot “light fingers”. Here’s to that solo album, Peter!

Is this record really so great? Does it just profit in context? Something stirs me – the control-free guitar, the sourness and release of the singing, the bye-bye harmonica (“I’ve got a pink one of those, Daddy”). It’s the Noughties ‘Ballad Of John And Yoko’, served up to the same mixed feelings.

The boy kicked out at the world:

[16] The Jam, ‘That’s Entertainment’

The Jam

By now firmly settled in the pantheon of Britain’s great sub-/urban chroniclers – a line stretching from Ray Davies through Tilbrook, Le Bon, Ryder and Doherty (in his Arcadian dreams), right down to Lily Allen – Paul Weller was knocking out the sure-eyed classics with spittled ease. ‘That’s Entertainment’ makes you feel awfully jolly about your lot as you watch the telly and think about your holidays, as it pisses down with rain on a boring Wednesday, as you decide – Jesus – let’s get right out of Dodge. Controlled aggression slips its moorings and soon a ditty turns into an anthem.

Junior strums her imaginary acoustic, bearing a look of fierce Wellerian concentration. She tells me that she doesn’t like it, but that’s difficult to believe and soon she breaks into a smile: “I was only joking!” Just like our Paul? Some chance.

[15] Ne-Yo, ‘Closer’


Hats in pop. It’s not fashion; these stars are bald as a cue ball. Pete Doherty, Captain Sensible, Linda Perry from 4 Non Blondes, Noddy Holder – all 100% cooters. In the comforting warmth of the studio, while penning and producing songs for the likes of Britney Spears, Paula Abdul, Rihanna and Beyoncé (the peerless ‘Irreplaceable’), Ne-Yo can let his chrome dome run free. But get him up on stage, and those spotlights aren’t going to stand for it.

Sorry, the song: the first real heavyweight of the countdown, a shining example of black American music’s bold ambition, ‘Closer’ is an r’n’b tune in pumping dancefloor clothing. It oozes confidence even as Ne-Yo bemoans his powerlessness.

This was one for the iPod on the bus, as Junior sat and listened carefully. I tapped her on the shoulder a minute or so in and asked if she knew what the song was: “Closer,” was the matter-of-fact reply – and I don’t think I’ve ever played it to her before. She announced it was “dancey”, which I suppose would please the lad.