[4] Solange, ‘Cranes In The Sky’


“She definitely sounds like her sister,” Junior confirms. “I find it kind of good,” says Junior 3. “I like the echoing in the background,” says Junior 2. “When she sings, it echoes out.” If only NME still existed, they’d have some new hip young gunslingers.

It does echo out, away, away, away. Dear me, Solange has taken her time being appreciated as a voice of a generation. We were right there with ‘Sandcastle Disco’ (OK, we missed the first album, who didn’t?) and cheered her on as Dev Hynes dragged her beneath the commercial waterline. I mean, we weren’t enjoying the abject lack of success, we just liked the music. There’s no faulting Hynes’ anti-Midas touch though.

Now Solange is speaking up. A Seat At The Table is sharp and sure of itself, and ‘Cranes In The Sky’ is the Minnie Riperton comeback we’ve been waiting for.

[2] Solange, ‘Losing You’


Solange Knowles is a hipster. Just look at those hips move!

She’s also a great popstar who possibly never will be. That’s all about where you align yourself too – no one ever had No.1s hanging out with of Montreal, Dirty Projectors or Dev Hynes. I met Hynes about four years ago, standing at the back of a We Are Scientists gig. I asked him what he was doing there and he told me he was a friend of the band. Five minutes later he’d disappeared only to burst onto the stage with a grin as wide as his hat, toting an acoustic guitar. That’s what he does, pop up all over the place having a whale of a time and alchemising absolutely zero hits.

In Solange he has a muse for his True Blue instincts and in purely melodic terms it’s working just fine. In fact, in pure pop single terms it’s working just “fantastic” according to Junior 2 and I’m right there with her. ‘Losing You’ is sweetly heartbreaking but so spry it feels like hope. Still, the whoops and clattering beats are just the party happening outside while Solange frets within.

Junior sulks about the strawberry bits in her yoghurt. Somewhere a clock chimes.

[19] Charli XCX, ‘I’ll Never Know’

Charli XCX

We did the ‘Saturday Night’ dance to this cute pelting kitten of a dance-pop frippery. Well, if we’re getting picky I think we did the Macarena, but you know, details. Either way, 18 years on – EIGHTEEN YEARS ON – plundering Whigfield is fair game, or even long overdue. And this is a promotional song for Red Bull so it’s not exactly bearing any standards for purity of art.

In fact, Charli – one of the planet’s leading blogstars – doesn’t even sound as if she’s particularly arsed, coming on like the sulky teenager I’m looking forward to Junior being in (oh God) six years. Blogstar, blogstar. It’s a different stratum of pop, isn’t it? Amazing popstars, loved by daytripping indie boys, barely getting within a whiff of Reggie’s Top 40 cologne. Maybe Charli, Robyn and Solange are just rubbish popstars after all.

Junior’s now moved onto the funky worm and declares ‘I’ll Never Know’ “fabulosa”. It’s everyone else who doesn’t know.

Solange, ‘Sandcastle Disco’


There’s no rush to leave 2008 behind – and besides, until we choose a new year or set up the crazy vinyl-ripping device that’ll allow us to dive into those dog-eared 7”s, we have no new project – so we’ll clear up a few songs that might have made the Top 20 if they’d been good enough or I’d actually heard them in the first place. Kicking off, Beyoncé’s self-styled crazy sister.

It’s a smart enough metaphor: she might look all strong and fortified, protected by drawbridge and moat (and archers in the battlements), but really she’s just made of sand; “don’t blow me away”. Metaphors alone won’t sell a pop song, though, so it’s lucky that Sol’s brought a sweet melody, shuffling beats and some earworm “ooo-ooo-ooo”s along for the ride. Not that they helped – the perfectly formed ‘Sandcastle Disco’ washed away with the tide before it could even crack the top 150.

So Solange’s valiant attempts to distance herself from big sis actually bore fruit – no one gave a stuff about her. It’s a pity, because this track has the pop nous to be an instant hit with Junior, who’s “ooo-ooo-ooo”ing to perfection by the second chorus and bopping like a deely in the car seat. I’m certain she’d like the whole album too, with its mild psychedelic soul and sunny tunes, and perhaps we’ll make an effort to find out. It’s the least we can do for poor Sol-Angel.

Oh, happy new year, folks.