‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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
‘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.
‘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
‘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