Singles World Cup – First Round – Fifteenth Tie


‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash

OK, it’s the 2003 cover, but Johnny takes full possession of the original and makes it his own. A vulnerability and bombastic piece of orchestration at the end wrenches at your heartstrings. I may cry.


‘I Know You Got Soul’ by Eric B and Rakim

It may be glued together from other people’s songs, but that’s what makes it so influential. The quintessential golden age hip hop track, the beats and groove are irresistible and Rakim is arguably the greatest MC who ever lived.

WINNER: Eric B and Rakim


Singles World Cup – First Round – Fourteenth Tie


‘Work It’ – Missy Elliott

In 2003 this sounded like absolutely the most futuristic, avant-garde thing I could imagine, and the most fun, too. A massive hit, proving that, sometimes, the charts absolutely are home to the cutting edge.


‘London Calling’ by The Clash

Great tune, I like the voice, I think the beat is great…Kit (age 8) 9 out of 10
Jiggy, The song starts straight away and takes you straight in, bad voice…Tess (age 10) 7 out of 10

WINNER: The Clash

Singles World Cup – First Round – Thirteenth Tie


‘Rebel Without A Pause’ by Public Enemy

Newsflash: I did not grow up in Brooklyn so Rebel Without A Cause was alien and frightening, the sound of someone about to kick the door in and take over. And they were. Insistent, relentless, merciless, this is the sound of revolution, of the arrival of a new voice, a new sound, a new world.


‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches

Very busy, makes you want to move to the rhythm, lots of different things going on…Tess (age 10) 10 out of 10

Everything goes together, nice song makes me want to dance, all instruments go together, good beat…Mia (age 11) 10 out of 10

WINNER: Public Enemy


Singles World Cup – First Round – Twelfth Tie


‘Unfinished Sympathy’ by Massive Attack

Awoke my interest in dance music in the early 90’s and realised that it wasn’t as narrow a genre as I imagined. The combination of natural sounding piano and strings, along with such emotive vocals has stayed with me ever since.


‘Walk On By’ Dionne Warwick

The perfect combination of words, melody, music, emotion, and performance. I could have picked any of a number of Bacharach and David songs, but this feels like a platonic essence.

WINNER: Massive Attack

Singles World Cup – First Round – Eleventh Tie


‘Come To Daddy’ by Aphex Twin

Great singles should sound like bizarre, alien things beamed in from distant planets, outlandish artifacts that mere mortals could never concoct. This is one of those. Strange, and scary, and amazing.


‘God Save The Queen’ by Sex Pistols

If rock is rebellion then God Save The Queen is the greatest rock song of all time. That cover, those lyrics, that clarion call of disaffection, that ban, that boat trip, that stolen number one spot. Before it all, that slashing guitar and that incredible, still electrifying, vocal performance.

WINNER: Sex Pistols

Singles World Cup – First Round – Tenth Tie


‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys

I don’t care what you think….this is simply beautiful. The loveliest song ever written. Undeniable.


‘Once In A Lifetime’ by Talking Heads

I’ve known this since I was a child and always found it an amazing mixture of bizarre and cool and fascinating and fun and, as I get older, and live in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, oddly profound. How did any of us get here?

WINNER: Talking Heads


Singles World Cup – First Round – Ninth Tie


‘Wuthering Heights’ by Kate Bush

This was a debut single in 1978 by an 18 year old! Where on earth did it fit with anything else I had ever heard? I was 12 and impressionable and Kate made quite the impression. Extraordinary in so many ways. The outfit for Babooshka 2 years later, sealed the deal.


‘B.O.B.’ by Outkast

It’s hard to believe this is 13 years old; it still sounds like the future to me. So fast, so psychedelic, so many ideas crammed together. You think Hey Ya is the sound of Outkast at their best? That’s wrong.

WINNER: Kate Bush

Singles World Cup – First Round – Eighth Tie


‘Groove Is In the Heart’ by Deee-lite

I’ve loved this since I was dancing to it at the school youth club when I was 11 or 12 years old. I’ve exploded and explored the constituent parts, and still prefer this. Timeless, joyous, danceable pop music.


‘Paperback Writer’ by The Beatles

Mid-period Beatles are just impossible to fuck with; as well as the best bassline and riff, this also has the best backing vocals and best b-side of their career. Perhaps. Stupid, but brilliant.

WINNER: Deee-lite

Singles World Cup – First Round – Seventh Tie


‘I Want You Back’ by Jackson 5

The most irresistible bassline of all time? And an amazing vocal performance, too; those yelps at the end are pure catharsis. What happened, Michael? Another song I’ve loved since I was a kid.


‘Lola’ by The Kinks

A classic sing along with subversive elements from 1970. Let’s face it, who hasn’t known someone that has spent a night with a transvestite and not realised until the following morning? No, oh I’ll get me coat.

WINNER: Jackson 5

Singles World Cup – Round One – Sixth Tie


‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush

Interesting intro, good beat…Mia (age 11) 10 out of 10

Good voice, lively, cool instruments, good melody…Tess (age 10) 10 out of 10


‘Love and Happiness’ by Al Green

It begins like Madness which is Are House…Evie (age 7) 10 out of 10

Great beat, good instruments, good intro, good singing (the type), good tune, nice backing singing…Kit (age 8) 10 out of 10

WINNER: Kate Bush



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