Singles World Cup – First Round – Fifth Tie


‘Name of the Game’ by ABBA


Very good, catchy, good beat, makes you want to dance, all time good song….Mia (age 11) 9 out of 10

Very good, good beat, I like the chorus….Tess (age 10) 9 outof 10


‘Fool’s Gold’ by Stone Roses

I have no idea how much my esteem for this song is just residual adolescent affection from 18 years ago, and how much is actual critical / aesthetic judgment. When I was 15 this sounded utterly alien to me.

WINNER: Stone Roses


Singles World Cup – First Round – Fourth Tie


‘Purple Haze’ by Jimi Hendrix

Jimi simply blew away the opposition and re-drew the lines of rock music in 1967. A riff that has been played on guitars and tennis racquets ever since. No better combination of rock/psychedelia/funk.


‘Freak Scene’ by Dinosaur Jr.

The best alt-rock song of the 80s, 90s, whenevers. Listen no further, Freak Scene has everything you need. Tumbling energy, carelessly gummy vocals, the two best solos AND  the two best breakdowns in rock, both containing the word ‘Fuck’.

WINNER: Jimi Hendrix

Singles World Cup – First Round – Third Tie


‘Senses Working Overtime’ by XTC

The perfect breath of English pastoral pop. Eccentric but utterly loveable. XTC wrote a handful of delicious singles which wove their way through my childhood radio listening. ‘Senses’ is the one I cherish the most.


‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ by Joy Division

Sleek, bitter, despairing, elevating, bleak and beautiful. ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ gets to the heart of what it means to be human but sounds like it was made by ghosts trapped in the studio. An eternal wonder.

WINNER: Joy Division

Singles World Cup – First Round – Second Tie

‘Atmosphere’ by Joy Division

A posthumous UK release after Ian Curtis died in 1980. Poetic, majestic, sparse and haunting. Has an emotional pull similar to the finest pieces of classical music.


‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by the Rolling Stones

Let’s face it, if Gimme Shelter had ever been released as a single it would be here. However the lucky people of Germany and Japan both enjoyed this as a single release. Primeval rhythms, hypnotic and much copied backing vocals over intellectualised guff about the devil, “simples”. Always a good move in rock to ally yourself with the devil.

WINNER: Rolling Stones

Singles World Cup – Round One – First Tie

And we’re off!

First round, first tie is:

‘Common People’ by Pulp

The class war won in a single blow from a gangly bloke from Sheffield. The only Britpop anthem to retain weight, it remains as sharply pointed as ever. You may think you wore it out back then, or through years of radio play, but stick it on loud , let yourself go and the charge is still there.


‘Two Tribes’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Manufactured pop doesn’t have to be drek. Frankie were a shocking slap in the face, part Paul; Morley’s situationist fantasy, part Trevor Horn’s megaton hi-nrg bomb, all improbable and laudable even without three of the finest, most compelling singles of the last 30 years.