Simon Reynolds’ Curious Transformation: I’d love to confirm that my pop life is this full of energetic glee but it’s just not so. Actually my Poptimism hides a dirty secret, namely that I never really listen to the radio (aside the occasional hunt for a pirate while I’m doing the washing up) and that I don’t even have MTV. I’ve always loved pop music but its steady takeover of my eartime dates pretty much from Summer 2000 and my first taste of high-speed net access. The RealJukebox/Windows Media Player shuffle-playlist has been my listening medium of choice ever since, so of course it’s very easy indeed for me to go hours without hearing a track I don’t like.

My other dirty secret is that to be honest I’ve not felt 2004’s pop charts as much as other people seem to. When the British charts are good it’s because of three things: the best American and European pop and dance music getting promoted; homegrown bubblegum (which always sells) being on a roll; the exciting UK scene of the day actually crossing over commercially. ’00/’01/’02 had all three boxes ticked – US hip-hop and R’n’B all over the charts; the tail-end of the Spice Girls pop boom; UK garage selling like mad and a knock-on confidence boost for black British music generally. Now, though, things are a little different – garage got a lot less chart-friendly, the pop biz seems to be floundering a bit after the reality TV frenzy, and while hip-hop is still selling the crunkier stuff just isn’t getting a push here. Fingers crossed that Usher’s hit will change that a bit, but most of my favourite 2004 moments still came out last year.