[14] Usher, ‘Climax’


Why didn’t you remind me I was doing this? One song a weekday before revealing the No.1 on the 21st. Another broken manifesto pledge.

Usher’s like one of those billionaires now who does whatever the blazes he wants when he wants. So he can do a big guest vocal on a Guettathon and then dial it right down for this shard of Buck Rogers R&B. He’s squawking the hell out of his falsetto – which Junior represents via a scale of rising hand gestures, like a Hello Kitty t-shirt-wearing Mariah Carey – and lets the beats and bass drag and drop like a picture editor.

It’s tortured spook-soul that months on sounds better and better. Junior 3 lip-synchs with a pained expression and a sprinkling of vogues, to properly channel Usher’s emotional experience. Junior herself says he sings like a girl.

[1] Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx, ‘Gold Digger’

It’s funny, clever, catchy, singalong and groovy. It has chutzpah in bags. I mean, it kicks off with a Ray Charles sample and then has the bloke who played him in the film repeating the sample throughout the track. That must show chutzpah. Or it’s a legal issue.

We can’t stop ourselves dancing to this. Junior is having a go at the move that Kanye’s so pleased with in the video. You know, the one where he jerks back and to the side, elbow leading, as if a particularly appealing lady has just gone by at speed. You can tell that he’s practised it in the mirror countless times and has come to the conclusion that he looks pretty fly doing it. Junior looks fairly fresh too. Mum and Dad give it a whirl as well, and we become quite the coolest family on the block.

The album’s not as good as his debut, despite what the latecomer critics might tell you, but the peaks are loftier. ‘Gold Digger’ is the highest of these, and “we want pre-nup!” is the winning shout. I mean, it’s so romantic. Yet Kanye does still love her, faults and all, not caring a jot how jiggy she’s got with Usher and Busta. They’re fine upstanding chaps, after all.

That’s it, then. In the albums, Kate Bush edges out the Arcade Fire, but you knew that already. Junior’s looking forward to 2006 now, choosing a new theme for January and maybe getting a few of those requests out of the way. She’ll buy the Belle & Sebastian and Strokes albums, expecting nothing too exciting, and will continue pestering the Avalanches for new material.

Merry Christmas.