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It would be cruel to point out that he's a knackered three-trick pony (the studied irony, the ambiguous lyric, the amusing falsetto and, er, that's it)...

Beck. Feckless Beck. Flitting like a lazy lepidopteran in the millennial twilight, alighting now on the gaudy pop flowers, now on the thistles of rock, nestling a while in the thorny old hoary bush of ballsy '60s R&B. His throbbing proboscis soaked in the heady nectar of a dozen different genres, this insect's some sort of genius, obviously.

Beck. Reckless Beck. Storming through the demented slacker classic 'Loser' like Iggy with itchy piles, Beck wields the mic stand maniacally. He's a robotically authentic and white-paint-sprayed James Brown android - every single one of the Godfather's onstage moves copied to perfection. Beck tightens his grip on the flailing steel pole, stares down into the photographer's pit and (with cold calculation it seems) - WHACK! - smacks the NME snapper hard in the face. You did it on purpose, didn't you? But there's no onstage apology, no statement of regret. And none after, either. Fuck you very much, Beck. You scumbag.

Beck. Nostalgic Beck! Give us your greatest hits, oh nabob of smirking po-mo pop! And so he does. 'Sexx Laws', 'Novacane', 'Debra'. A hopping horn section, bouncing backing singers, a brilliant bassist and - at the centre of this talented maelstrom - the ghostly-pale boy-genius, Beck. OK, so he's possessed of a barely adequate vocal range and all the stage presence of damp meringue but, heck, he's so clever! The way he appears to be embracing cheesy old corporate cock-sucking pop but is in fact subverting it! Ha! A Morrissey for the millennium indeed!

It would be cruel to point out that he's a knackered three-trick pony (the studied irony, the ambiguous lyric, the amusing falsetto and, er, that's it). And it would be crass to point out that his celebrated hip-hop borrowings appear, to these jaundiced eyes, to be rather more like New Kids On The Block-style cultural theft. He's a housefly in a sugar bowl but he's white and cute and terribly clever so let's not be churlish. Let's all salute the pale imitation. Let's knock off the cynicism. Let's leave that to Beck.

Beck. Sexless, pencil-necked, puffed-up little pop star. Not so much a lizard king as a despicable little shit-house gecko. How the hype seems to have gone to your head. The boy's no genius, that's clear. He's Ian Brown with A-levels. He's the Yank equivalent of our own dear Neil Hannon. A smug dilettante. A jerk with a smirk. A white, male, middle class, middle-of-the-road no-knob milksop - puffed up and pampered by a legion of white, male, middle class, middle-of-the-road rock hacks who see in him, we must presume, a dazzling reflection of their own mediocrity.

So, Beck. More credibility than Britney Spears, a better singer than Danny from Embrace and less of an utterly punchable smug little c-- than Christopher Robin Evans. We should praise him, we really should. All hail all-conquering Beck! Not so much a butterfly as a maggot. But even a maggot looks big in a vacuum.

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