[7] Justin Timberlake, ‘Mirrors’


Once you’ve got over the initial disappointment that the intro doesn’t lead into a Steve Winwood 80s CD-rock wad-waver, you’ll find ‘Mirrors’ is soppy R&B at its crunchiest, capturing my girls hearts as they “Uh-oh” and clap hands right up until the fifth minute, when it starts to feel like Timberlake’s bent on soundtracking his entire six-year absence in real time.

The first few minutes is about as tight a pop song as he’s delivered this year, in a comeback that’s otherwise designed to make Arcade Fire’s Reflektor feel like a masterclass in 60s beat-group concision. I can’t get too het up about these grossly indulgent records when they’re creaking with ideas – and The 20/20 Experience is, some ordinary, some inspired. It’s better than heaving your sorry bones all the way to track 14 on an immaculately presented, identikit One Direction album. Everyone could use an editor, but some editors’ jobs are easier than most.

[13] Steve Winwood, ‘While You See A Chance’


I’m sure I used to be a hip young thing, hardly the sort to slap a Steve Winwood song in the Top 20 of one of new-pop’s formative years, but we all have to face facts when school was half a lifetime ago. On the other hand, who can deny ‘While You See A Chance’’s squirty keyboards and warm melancholy? It tells you to grasp the opportunity while it’s still, erm, hot, so maybe that’s the whole point here. It’s not too late! Is it?

The parping keys of the intro tell you this is going to be special, although it never quite lives up to that promise. Not quite. Still, it’s the warmth that does it for me. Junior’s drawn to the speakers for that overture, then spends the rest of the song pogoing to the sproingy synthness of Winwood’s hymn to the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s a dab hand now, pointing out drums and piano before assuring me that the track “QIs like Rihanna”. Heaven knows what yoof code this is, but I have to smile and nod. Anything else would betray my thirtysomethingness.