It's that time of year when the pundits put together the tracks of their year. Others of us may make do with making up tapes (or burning up CDs the way things are going) of what's amazed, and passing on passions.

Well, this year as last year, the very great Missy Elliott romps away with all my lovestruck, awestruck hymns of praise. This year's song of songs, 'Work It', is a fantastic follow-up to the seemingly unmatchable 'Get UR Freak On'. I still keep playing it, and every time think: "Wow!" Pop doesn't get any more saucy, sexy, sassy and sharp than this. Serge Gainsbourg, would approve utterly. Most of all though Missy and her Tim have again cooked up an addictive and uncategorisable concoction of beats and rhythms, that spectacularly reinforce the fact that the most inventive pop music is still being created in the darkest corners of the dancehall. If perchance you feel the charts don't reflect this, then ain't that always the way.

If pop is about singles, why do we always fall for LPs? Hoping desperately the magic of an exceptional song is sustained over an entire set. The other song of my year is Doves' 'There Goes The Fear', and my special moment of the summer was walking towards an underground platform hand-in-hand with the most beautiful woman in the world as a busker started to pick out the first chords and started to sing: "Out of here, we're out of here, we're out of heartache ...".

Well, like the Doves' , the Missy Under Construction set does have its bonus moments of magic. In fairness, a few tracks nearly match 'Work it' for glorious, lewd, and inventive naughtiness. Strikingly, these are the real Missy exclusives, where she is not hampered by her mates guesting and doing their intrusive thing.

What is it with these interminable collaborations nowadays? If we are to accept these as inevitable, then let's allow our imaginations to run riot. Believe me, if I had the technology I would reconstruct the Missy set to allow the Jay-Z, Ludacris, Method Man contributions to be replaced by, ooh, Callahan's carping and cavilling, Vic Godard's wordy rapping twang thang, Sam Prekop's purr. And if Missy must muse about back in the day, then it should be remembered on our block parties alongside Showbiz and AG, Galaxie 500 worried about your youth going to waste or how about Bitch Magnet's 'Starbooty' to keep up the Carry On sense and sensibility.

Ah the fun you can have. But you're right, 'Work It' is fun enough ...

© 2002 John Carney