By 2005 I’d been a music blogger for 5 years: it seemed like long enough, so I shut down New York London Paris Munich – Freaky Trigger continued as a generalist site with some pop music elements. Maybe at the back of my mind was a sense the music I’d been writing about was falling off a little – certainly I don’t look back on that year with the excitement I have for earlier ones.

Just going to put in a reminder that – unless I say otherwise, ha! – everything here is very good even when it has a big fat NO on it. If you think that means I’m about to thumbs-down some big tunes… well, you’re probably right.

GIRLS ALOUD – “Biology”: Not that some acts weren’t dependable – the bizarre, bold, layer cake of styles and hooks that is “Biology” proved as much. But the UK pop renaissance proved unfortunately top-heavy – an abundance of Xenomania gems in 2003-5 masking the fact that new people making this kind of smart, self-aware pop weren’t really coming through. We’ll always have this. YES.

AMERIE – “1 Thing”: It took me a long time to love “1 Thing” – in fact it took me a long time to even like it that much: it seemed rickety and backward-looking when I wanted more futuristic sleekness or sonic warping to (as they say) push things forward. I was wrong, obviously. Eventually I saw that Rich Harrison’s work here is just as radical, only tied back more closely to the sound of R&B 40 years before, a sound he explodes as much as draws on. Still don’t adore it the way some do, though. NO.

THE VERONICAS – “Untouched”: If I was judging based on importance or ‘influence’ I might put this in – more than most other teenpop-type songs of the mid-00s I can imagine “Untouched” coming out in 2023, it’s in that pop/alternative interzone that’s such fruitful territory right now. The most 2005 thing about it is also one of the best – those strings! NO.

ROBYN – “With Every Heartbeat”: I’m not lukewarm on Robyn exactly – she’s always interesting and Honey is one of my favourite LPs of the 10s – but the tracks I love don’t seem quite to intersect with the Robyn fan consensus. This song, a forcefield of longing and confusion structured as a giant build and release, does for me what, say, “Dancing On My Own”, never quite manages. YES.

FANNYPACK – “Seven One Eight”: Wonderfully bratty ska-hop, very much what I’d hope a Daphne And Celeste rap track would have sounded like. Fannypack’s two LPs are delightful, light-hearted party rap gems in an era where even the good-time bangers tended to be pretty macho. (Did any men make a good record in 2005? Magic 8ball says: doubtful) (Oh I guess Kleerup counts!) Anyway YES.

2006 has another big personal milestone – I became a Dad at the end of the year. Parenthood isn’t some kind of magic spell which turns you away from music but it’s true that my focus from now on is more scattered – that’s partly a function of life changes, but partly a result of the fragmenting scene meaning a clear ‘narrative’ for pop became harder to discern (or invent). Anyway everything from this point is BY DEFINITION Dadrock.

BEYONCE – “Irreplaceable”: A lot of later Beyonce is exciting because it shifts genres and plays with structures in interesting ways – you don’t quite know what you’re going to get when a song starts. “Irreplaceable” isn’t like that – it’s a very straight-down-the-middle R&B ballad, so not a great representative of her work. But it’s such good songwriting, and brings out one of her best assets – her flair for drama and, for want of a better word, ‘line readings’. YES.

TV ON THE RADIO – “Wolf Like Me”: TVOTR were happening off to the side of everything else I liked – I filed them as a ‘Pitchfork band’ and then continued to ignore them even when I wrote for Pitchfork. But with hindsight they’re way more interesting (i.e. Pitchfork were right) – “Wolf Like Me”‘s chant and grind doesn’t sound like anything else around. I had to be introduced to it years later by the 2006-set Phonogram: The Singles Club, where it has a starring role. Better to come from them, tho. NO.

TATU – “All About Us”: My music internet presence at this point was largely confined to LiveJournal and the Poptimists community – tATu’s second LP (with this bombastic emo centrepiece) was something of a Cause among the people I ran with, though it bombed in the so-called real world. Again, the emotional territory here feels very 10s or 20s, the artifice with which it’s put together is of its time. YES.

CAMERA OBSCURA – “Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken”: Indiepop isn’t a scene I follow at all – I’m happy for a killer tune to bubble up to my notice via others’ ears. Belle And Sebastian at this point weren’t making the kind of music I liked any more, so I was perfectly open to hearing fake B&S from other parts of the Scottish scene. Not much more than a riff and a chorus but maybe that’s all you need. NO.

M.I.A. – “BirdFlu”: I tactically promoted “Paper Planes” in the Uncool50 challenge but at the time this was the M.I.A. track that blew my head off – comfortably my favourite single of the year, an absolute thrill-powered racket with shrapnel shards of great lyrics everywhere (tho I guess “credentials are boring” hits different in light of 2020s conspiracy-head MIA). YES.

T.I. – “What You Know”: Melodic production so thick you can squeeze it over cat’s-cradle trap beats, T.I. anchoring everything on his line endings – for me this one’s just endlessly pleasurable to listen to. Only the fact “Rubber Band Man” is a lock stops this. NO.

THE PIPETTES – “Pull Shapes”: I had happy memories of dancing to this – everyone (who went to indie-adjacent clubs) danced to this in 2006! But… it’s a bit ropey, sorry, and the meta elements have stopped being charming, as is the way of meta elements. My favourite 50 songs of the 21st century aren’t going to include something that sounds like the Belle Stars. (“That’s your loss” – angry Pipettes hive) NO.

MUSE – “Knights Of Cydonia”: The second track of 2006 I only knew cos of a comic – Tsutomo Nihei’s generation ship/mecha epic Knights Of Sidonia, which has absolutely nothing to do with Muse’s song except it happens at a colossal scale and bits of it are entirely ridiculous. It took a pop poll nomination to really open my eyes to its stupid glory: the bit where it goes FULL QUO is magnificent. I cannot actually justify it being in my Top 50…surely. NO.

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – “Teenagers”: “Black Parade” has a claim, too (and neither are getting in) but this is quite something – I love how the swaggering, glammed-up music and the lyrics push against each other, leaving the whole song in a state of wild ambiguity. NO.

LETHAL BIZZLE – “Police On My Back”: ‘Grindie’ (Grime and indie) was written off as a terrible idea roughly 10 seconds after the NME invented it, but this is great – it’s just Bizzle telling a story, trying out a more conversational flow, over a Clash sample, and given how open the Clash were to hip-hop back in their day that feels pretty appropriate. It’s no “Pow (Forward)” but it was well worth doing, and hearing. NO.

SALLY SHAPIRO – “Anorak Christmas”: One of two ‘Christmas songs’ on my longlist – this one melts like a snowflake on a mitten. I think there was a more celebrated/famous Sally Shapiro song but this one was my smol jam. NO.

COLDPLAY – “Talk (Thin White Duke Mix)”: Very much the usual Jacques Lu Cont trick of turning a rock song into an electropop banger by adding breakdowns and drops. But if it works, it works – “Talk” is the one that nicks big chunks of “Computer Love” so adding lots more electro bells and whistles feels only right, and ironically it holds up better than “Brightside” because the original song’s so meh, it’s not fighting against its cyborg makeover. YES.

BELLE LAWRENCE – “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”: I was listening to a lot of dance remakes of rock songs at this point, as if you couldn’t tell from all the remixes. A lot of the best ones were put out by Almighty Records, which did hands-in-the-air cover versions for gay clubs. Belle Lawrence (who may have been several people) was one of their stars, applying a brassy, belting voice to the hits du jour. This is her best, because making a song about dancing like a robot from 1984 into a huge club banger is a sensible thing to do, and because it brings out the energy in the Monkeys’ chorus (a good one, I reluctantly concede). NO.

THE SOUNDS – “Tony The Beat (Rex The Dog Remix)”: To this day I don’t think I’ve heard the non-canine “Tony The Beat” (the Jaques Lu Cont equivalent of this is “Avalon” by Juliet) – and there’s no clue the song has that title, it’s just THIS song with THAT enormous chorus. As pure a distillation of the mid-00s rock/dance remix sound as you’d want, then. NO.

CANSEI DE SER SEXY – “Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above”: A bonus addition – this was the first new favourite I heard via some POP MUSIC ORGANISED FUN that I was running, so it’s the secret origin of the pop polls in a way. Stevie T was managing Brazil in the first Pop World Cup we did on LiveJournal, and put forward CSS, which none of us had heard and which swept the round (he was very early on the hype train for this one, so we all got to share a bit in the thrill when it became A Thing). Stands up well. NO.

A brutal culling today – 2007 has a lot fewer songs but also more big favourites. No wonder there’s panic in the industry.