I still remember the first time I heard a Destiny's Child song. As a kid I was obsessed with Rick Dees' Top 40 countdown, which aired late on a Sunday afternoon in Australia. I would devour every track on my battered cassette walkman - often writing down notes on a scrap of paper so I could order the CD at my local record store. Yes, people. Life really sucked in the days before the internet! But back to the children of destiny. One night Rick introduced a new girlband from Texas and spun "No, No, No". My hands shook as I wrote down their name because I knew I had to get my hands on this magical track - which, in retrospect, is quite an odd reaction for a white boy from the suburbs. It was literally love at first listen.
From that moment the Spice Girls and all other lessor acts ceased to exist in my eyes. Beyoncé, Kelly, LaTavia and LeToya were my badly-dressed queens - even if I often had no idea what they were singing about. For years I thought "Bug A Boo" was about insects! They just sounded like angels to me. I cried when the line-up changed, completely lost my shit when the trio finally toured Australia as part of the Rumba festival and held a massive grudge against Bey for years (I basically ignored her first two solo albums) for leaving the band! So how do you respond to news that an act you loved that much has just released a new song for a random compilation of love songs?
The answer - strangely - is with little interest. To be honest, I expected "Nuclear" to be shit. Beyoncé is about to take over the music world with a $50 million dollar Pepsi deal, Superbowl performance and new album - why would she invest time and creativity into what is obviously a record label obligation? And then the initial reviews came in and they were terrible and I felt relief. I could finally listen to the song with no expectation of it being any good. But then I heard the damn thing and realised that everyone is fucked because "Nuclear" is as gorgeous as it is gloriously produced and innovative.
Co-written by Michelle Williams and produced by Pharrell, the smooth mid-tempo jam transports us back to the '90s with the grace of a freshly fueled DeLorean. "Nuclear" mixes soulful harmonies with warm and fuzzy house beats not heard since the glory days of Massive Attack, Pet Shop Boys and - don't laugh - Black Box. There's even a touch of Madonna circa Erotica. This is the sound that Azealia Banks has spent her entire career trying to tap into with varying degrees of success.
Of course, the track is completely unpalatable to listeners who mistake "We Found Love" for R&B and will, most likely, baffle spectators if the ladies perform it at Superbowl. For me, however, "Nuclear" is an unexpectedly happy ending for my favourite band of all time. Special props to Michelle (AKA the legendary vocalist behind top 40 Hungarian hit "We Break The Dawn") for the gorgeous lyrics. "It's nuclear with you here" is the prettiest chorus I've heard in months.