[11] Macy Gray featuring Erykah Badu, ‘Sweet Baby’

1999’s …On How Life Is was an astounding success, a must-have and a false dawn; the sort of shot in a million that gives Second Album Syndrome a feast to feed off. Macy was in no mood to let anyone down and steamed right in with The Id, a funk-led mess that put her up there with Terence Trent D’Arby in the “oops – there goes that advance” pantheon of sophomore flops. A distinction she didn’t share with TTD was the sad truth her album wasn’t all that great anyway – but ‘Sweet Baby’ is.

Cut from the classic soul pattern, this is lush, heartfelt, teasing and sincere. Junior locked into the gentle sway of the verse/chorus/verse before whipping out the plastic guitar with its searing choice of plastic riff buttons for the second chorus – just in time for the still-relaxed beat to kick in, and to match Chili Pepper John Frusciante lick for lick.

Erykah Badu’s role is to provide an improbable second Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney vocal to support Macy’s, erm, Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney lead. It’s an equally improbably gorgeous mix. In the second half, Badu keeps the song honest while Gray lets loose with her Id, and we all love her now and ever.

[5] Terence Trent D’Arby, ‘If You Let Me Stay’

A second appearance from 1987’s self-proclaimed biggest star. ‘If You Let Me Stay’ was his first single, an ’80s soul rush with oomph to spare and the campest backing singers this side of Vegas. His bug-eyed James Brownisms were everywhere for a year or so, an effortless rise to the top of the tree that was almost as quick and remarkable as his subsequent fall.

The Trout (thanks, Smash Hits) saw his debut album spend at least six months in the chart even before it reached No.1 in early ’88, where it stayed for a couple of months. A huge, heady success. The second arrived in 1990, entered at No. 12 and was gone in four weeks, never to be seen again. He didn’t miss his water, ‘til his well ran dry.

Junior was caught up in the whirl, laughter tinkling with each of Terence’s whoops. I was throwing her up in the air at the same time, admittedly. Still, the song whistles past and leaves you smiling.

[20=] Terence Trent D’Arby, ‘Wishing Well’

“A wishing well, a crock of dog shit”. Not like Terence to put his ego to one side and deliver a frank broadside against his own song. Disappointingly, the official line is “of crocodile cheer”, so it wasn’t like him at all. I thought he was pretty damn great at this point, and his disastrously received second album was even greater, but I know I’m in the minority.

Junior starts off fairly perky about ‘Wishing Well’ but, in a devastating parallel to TTD’s commercial success, this young fan soon loses interest. She’s itchy long before the end, craning her neck to see herself in the mirror. Maybe this is in tribute to the beleaguered singer.

Star fact:  this song reminds me of dancing with the girl who went on to be Lovejoy’s daughter in the BBC show. Such brushes with fame make the man.