Maconie goes on the record

Stuart Maconie
Stuart Maconie

DJ and broadcaster Stuart Maconie has begun his series of the 50 most popular British songs.

The People’s Songs, on Radio 2, tells the story of modern Britain via 50 records that have provided the soundtrack to British culture.

The former Worsley Mesnes resident said; “When Radio 2 asked if I’d like to write and present a series about the history of pop, I was delighted and determined not to rehash the earnest histories I’d seen a hundred times before. “I wanted to know which pop songs had actually shaped people’s lives. In each of the 50 hour-long episodes, we will be looking at a different aspect of Britain this last half century or so.

“Britain at war and at work, on holiday and in bed, from the Falklands to the Falls Road, from girl power to gay rights, New Labour to new lad, skiffle to Dizzee Rascal.”

So what does Stuart think are some of the most emblematic songs?

He reveals: “When the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in 1948, bringing 493 colourfully clad Jamaicans to Britain, one of the first cargoes was music. Since then we’ve had reggae, dancehall, bhangra, bluebeat and more.

“Spandau Ballet’s Gold is a curiosity - it seemed to be the sound of Thatcherism in all its aspirational pomp.

“The Smiths set out to be the opposite of everything Spandau Ballet seemed to stand for; materialism, style over substance, the self-congratulatory emptiness of the London scene over the austere beauty of the North.

“You can hear a class on the rise in every oooh and yeah of The Beatles’ She Loves You from 1963. This was a new Britain; young, working class, vibrant and headed straight out of our industrial cities to challenge the old guard.”

Catch The People’s Songs every Wednesday at 10pm on Radio 2.