In 2007 I fulfilled my teenage dream and became a Music Journalist, jumping straight into the position of being a paid columnist with free rein to write about anything I liked at two different, highly respected publications. It’s hard to overstate the way in which just being an early blogger (in whatever field) opened doors – especially if privilege greased the hinges: I wasn’t a nepo hire but as a 30something straight white guy I certainly had the rockcrit ‘cultural fit’ part nailed.

Whether I used these opportunities well is for others to say! But it meant a shift in my listening again – I was concerned with “keeping up” from a professional perspective, which is less fun than just doing it. Even so, bangers abounded, and when my peers at Pitchfork went mad for a song it often meant a new favourite for me. Case in point…

UGK ft OUTKAST – “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”: My favourite thing by any of the people involved, honestly – Andre 3000’s opening verse would get it through alone, the use of the endlessly ecstatic sample is astonishing, the whole thing is a wicked revel, one of those songs where everyone knows they’re making a classic and raise their game accordingly. YES.

M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”: Kala was my joint-favourite LP of the year and it was exciting to see this break out so enormously. Fair to say I would not subscribe to a substack from M.I.A. exploring her viewpoints on world affairs but Kala and this song retain their god-tier swagger. YES.

BRITNEY SPEARS – “Piece Of Me”: My other joint-favourite LP of the year was Blackout, still one of the best pop albums ever and a secret ancestor of a lot of woozy, messed-up 2010s pop – we’ll be hearing Blackout-esque tracks in several years to come. “Piece Of Me” is the best of its singles, with percussion like rattling chains and Robyn hanging around on backing vox to dial up the eeriness. YES.

RIHANNA ft JAY-Z – “Umbrella”: Imperious, and so dominant in the charts and on the radio that it was years until I could listen to it again. Someone on Twitter argued it’s the shift from 00s boom time pop to financial crisis pop, and I can hear that – an R&B thundercloud. YES.

SPOON – “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb”: My favourite indie band of the century, but not always for their singles – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is in places (like this!) Spoon’s poppiest LP but its best track is Beatles-bummed non-single “Black Like Me”. This cryptic power-pop groover will more than do, though. YES.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – “Supermayer Lost In Tiergarten”: There’s a potent internal battle on my list to be the winning example of what one might call the “long-ass dance track” – I first heard this in a poll this year and it’s leapt into contention, a delightful bit of Van Dyke Parks-y pop theatre which morphs into a lysergic journey through wet foliage on a wintry night. YES. Oh god what a lot of Yeses.

GROOVE ARMADA – “Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)”: Just a stellar chorus, steam coming out of Mutya’s ears as she tries not to explode with rage at a rival. I managed to get this to the lower 90s of a Pitchfork 100 tracks list, the high watermark of my poptimist career tbh. YES.

DUDE ‘N’ NEM – “Watch My Feet”: Extremely endearing fast-feet novelty which certainly doesn’t deserve to become my first rejected 2007 candidate but the fun dance-rap lane could get crowded. NO.

LIL MAMA – “Lip Gloss”: It’s the “Grindin'” beat stripped back even further with chants and call-and-response vocals and it’s about lipstick – who could resist! Not me. YES.

FALL OUT BOY – “”The Take Over, The Break’s Over””: There was an unwritten – as far as I know – edict at Pitchfork that ‘mall emo’ bands like FOB and My Chemical Romance were non grata – I guess when a scene appeals so strongly to your readers’ younger sisters there’s going to be suspicion. Unfortunately this coincided with those bands hitting a hot streak and releasing some of their hottest and hookiest music, like this huge ever-circling riff. YES.

BONUS CONTENT: Leftover from 2006!

NELLY FURTADO – “Say It Right”: OK, the fact I didn’t remember to put this on the list initially is probably a fatal stroke against it – honour your error as a hidden intention, as the man says, unless I misquoted, in which case my hidden intention was to misquote, aaah. Anyway yes this is really good, queenly and sultry, but I do think there are other tracks in this vein I like better and am likelier to include. NO.

Well, that was too many YES votes. I intended to run a double-bill with 2008 but it looks like that has even more songs – I can already tell though that the reaper will be a lot busier…