[13] Belle And Sebastian, ‘I’m A Cuckoo’

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Did Trevor Horn ruin Belle And Sebastian? Did Russell T. Davies ruin Doctor Who? Did Tony Blair ruin Labour? Nah, they just buffed them up until you could shave in them. Dear Catastrophe Waitress represented a sonic step forward – or sideways, however you look at it – but B&S were never exactly scuzzy and never lost their lighter touch. There’s not much lightness of touch on ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, unless you take it for a wimpier spin on Thin Lizzy; there are guitar pyrotechnics (well, they spark a little) and it soars up to a triumphant final verse, riding shotgun with the Sunday gang in Harajuku.

Junior bops, and actually likes it. I’ve suspicions that the chocolate cornflake cake she was munching did more to hep up her mood, but Belle And Sebastian never did anyone any harm.

Tune in on Monday for the second part of our Harajuku double-header.

There’s something wrong with me:

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[6] Buggles, ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’

I’m concerned I may have to defend this one. EASY. Just look at Junior finding the glee in the poignancy, making her plastic tiger leapfrog her plastic lion, all in time to the ecstatic pulse of the music. Watch her punching the air and performing the dance of the seven veils with her sister’s muslin square; it’s a dizzy representation of the song’s way with the possibilities of pop.

‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ suffers from the “novelty” tag, being, on the surface at least, a one-hit wonder with a chipmunk, quasi-synthesised chorus. Then there’s Trevor Horn, all bubble-perm and oversized specs, hardly projecting an image of a man about to push pop’s boundaries to glorious and ludicrous extents with ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood respectively. But we’re not interested in surface. The song’s depth is in the bittersweet nostalgia, the regret at the passing of an age of music even as it embraces the new world, and also in the symphonic electronica – crescendos, drop-outs, even a sense of the fat lady singing. MTV co-opted it as the anthem of triumph of picture over audio, making it the first song to be played on the station, and perhaps they hit the nail on the head. It’s a requiem and celebration rolled into one.

[14] ABC, ‘The Look Of Love’

ABC drop a couple of places because I couldn’t be bothered looking for a hip hop classic and a proto-house electro barnstormer hidden amongst the 12”s this morning. It’s too hot. They’re also both really long, we were pushed for time, and Junior was in a bad mood. The clarity and power of ABC and Trevor Horn’s dramatic pop vision tore through her impatience just for a minute or two, mind you. She danced to the string-soaked funk and threw shapes to the call-and-response choruses, before bursting into tears at how long Dad was taking to get the milk ready. All things being equal, a hit for yet another load of Sheffield poseurs.

‘All Of My Heart’ and ‘Poison Arrow’ were better songs but this was the icon, innit.

[10] Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ‘Two Tribes’

I haven’t listened to the Welcome To The Pleasuredome LP in 20 years. I’m suddenly thinking that it might be quite good. Can anyone endorse this?

We were rushed this morning, as it was Junior’s first full day at nursery. I did notice she was sitting there shaking her head, so I wonder whether she suspected this was all hype over substance. But what hype. We’ve noted how big Wham! were in 1984; Frankie were bigger. Not since Gerry & the Pacemakers blah blah blah. Jive Bunny rather cheapened the feat by matching it a few years later.

The Hamnett/Morley t-shirts, the bribing of Mike Read, the naughty sleeves, the big sledgehammer-subtle messages, not to mention the massive Trevor Horn production – you couldn’t miss them. This record still sounds huge, empty though it is. Even “The air attack warning sounds like…” made Junior jump.

Must say, though: I couldn’t see what was special about modelling shirts by van Heusen. I used to wear my dad’s ones for painting.

[17] Queen, ‘Radio Ga Ga’

The brainchild of the producer’s producer Trevor Horn, the Buggles took this to No.1 in 1979 and invented Daft Punk in the process. It is often derided as a novelty record, but this poignant slice of early electronica broke barriers and melted video age hearts.

Oh SORRY, Roger, was ‘Radio Ga Ga’ inspired by your baby son’s infant ramblings? Silly me. Actually, Queen go a stage further and are nostalgic for good radio, not any old radio. They update their sound with the synths, but can’t resist a typical massed clapalong. Ah, it’s ok.

I’m going to record a song based on Junior’s newfound vocabulary. Entitled ‘Radio Dada’, it will be an absurdist conceptual piece railing against the bourgeoisie and the conservatism of Magic FM.