Timely reminder: I’ll be keeping the voting open on all rounds until a few days after we’re done – so if you’ve just breezed in and fancy playing catch-up, there’s no immediate rush. Experience has shown that late votes in earlier rounds frequently affect the final placings, so NO VOTE IS A WASTED VOTE.

Got that? OK, then let’s unveil the Number Eights.

1960: Elvis Presley – Stuck On You (video)
1970: Tom Jones – Daughter Of Darkness (video)
1980: Motörhead – Leaving Here (from the Golden Years EP) (video)
1990: Soul II Soul – A Dream’s A Dream (video)
2000: Toni Braxton – He Wasn’t Man Enough (video)
2010: Diana Vickers – Once (video)

(Download the MP3 medley)

BONUS CONTENT! As we’ve struck lucky on Spotify, here’s a playlist of all six of today’s entries.

Discharged from the US army in March, Elvis Presley was back in the studio before the month was through. By April, his first post-military single was charting, eventually peaking at #3 in the UK. Impressively swift work, to be sure – but what of the results?

The standard critical line on Elvis instructs us that he was “never quite the same” after national service: a tamed beast, sliding into showbiz respectability. Thus it’s tempting to apply this storyline to “Stuck On You”, which does lack some of the unschooled vigour and raunch of his early work.

But if a certain obedience has crept into Presley’s delivery, there are still bursts of fire – most notably when hollering “a team of wild horses couldn’t TEAR US APART”, which in former days could have formed the bridge to a rip-roaring upwards gear shift. But, no: the moment passes, the piano continues to vamp merrily along, and the dear old a-doo-doo-ing Jordanaires ensure that the anchor is never loosened.

How much does any of this matter? “Stuck On You” remains likeable, catchy and fun, and even a tamed Elvis can still sell the hell out of a decent tune.

By the turn of the Seventies, Elvis and Tom Jones were working the Las Vegas cabaret circuit, hanging out together, and ploughing broadly similar artistic furrows. Jones was entering his Medallion Man phase, and beginning to sound faintly preposterous with it.

For how seriously can we take the sweaty “oohs” and “ughs” which crop up towards the end of “Daughter Of Darkness”? How seriously can we take the hammy grandstanding of Tom’s delivery? And indeed, how seriously can we take the song (the work of Les Reed, who brought us “The Last Waltz”, “Delilah” and even “It’s Not Unusual”), which largely fails to build a convincing case against the object of its scorn?

We know she’s wronged you, Tom – but we don’t really know how. Could you be more specific? With Delilah, the charges were clear (even if the rough justice you meted out was questionable, to say the least) – but here, you switch from breast-beating self-pity to finger-jabbing scorn, without actually telling us what went down. More back-story, please!

Back at the end of 1976, Motörhead were mostly regarded as a bad joke. A washed-up freak whose dissolute behaviour had earned him the boot from Hawkwind (no mean feat), playing sloppy, incompetent metal on the toilet circuit – well, who in their right minds would buy into that? Some critics went further, dubbing them the worst band in the world. There was talk of a debut single (“Leaving Here”) on the Stiff label – a catalogue number was even assigned – but the project went tits-up, and few seemed to care.

Three and a half years later, a live recording of “Leaving Here” – a Holland/Dozier/Holland composition, first recorded for Motown in 1963 by Eddie Holland, subsequently covered by The High Numbers in 1964 (before they became The Who), and best of all by The Birds in 1965 (featuring a young Ronnie Wood) – was released as the lead track on Motörhead’s Golden Years EP. Light years better than the slower, clumsier, messier 1976 studio version, its debt to punk rock – and specifically to The Damned – was plain to see, blurring the boundaries between punk and metal. Somewhere along the line, the band had learnt to play – and in this instance, they were rewarded with their first Top Ten entry, and second biggest hit single.

As someone who is emphatically not a metal fan – and yes, I know that Motörhead don’t classify themselves as such, but they’re close enough for me to have given them an equally wide berth – I’m amazed by the greatness of this recording, and my prejudices are confounded by the way it absorbs its influences – early Motown, British R&B and garage rock, thrashy two-chord punk – and channels them into something new and distinctive. We live and learn, eh readers?

Two places above their Family Stand remix, Jazzie B and Nellee Hooper show up again with Soul II Soul, their main operation – and another track which is founded upon that instantly recognisable and ubiquitous downtempo rhythm. You could argue that it was all getting a little formularised (and Jazzie B’s spoken “Voice of God” interludes are beginning to border on the tiresome), but there are still enough added touches – the “I can see right through you” folk-soul operatics which suggest a familiarity with Rotary Connection, the lift from Rose Royce’s “Wishing On A Star” – to move the music onwards, and enough general goodwill towards the band to keep them commercially comfortable.

What I love about Toni Braxton‘s “He Wasn’t Man Enough” is the state of unresolved emotional turmoil that it conveys. Braxton starts assertively enough, setting us up for a typically Millie Jackson-esque love triangle vignette, in which the wronged woman heaps scorn upon her successor. But as the song progresses, the singer’s true emotions seep through, undercutting her bravado with flashes of raw pain, and giving the lie to her attempts at screw-you-sister attitude. I’d never particularly rated Braxton before, but this is a masterful performance.

Set against the energy of Motörhead, the class of Soul II Soul and the passion of Toni Braxton, poor old Diana Vickers can only suffer by comparison. As with Ellie Goulding before her, the single’s over-glossy production sheen does Diana no favours – and although “Once” boasts an A-list songwriting pedigree, being co-written by Cathy Dennis (“Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”, “Toxic”, “I Kissed A Girl”) and Eg White (“Leave Right Now”, “Chasing Pavements”, “Warwick Avenue”), the song fails to fully engage.

That said, “I’m only gonna let you kill me once” is a well-chosen hook for Diana’s intriguingly skew-whiff performance style, and it’s heartening to see her make good on the promise she displayed on 2008’s X Factor. I’d just hoped for something a bit more special, that’s all.

Over to you. The Sixties have been tanking thus far, but could Elvis restore their fortunes? 2010 has been doing best of all, but will Diana Vickers impede its progress? Two rounds in, The Eighties and Noughties are tying in second place, and both have fielded strong candidates in today’s draw – so where will this leave the scoreboard at the end of Round Three? Vote wisely!