Now That’s What I Call Music 50


Released-  19th November 2001

Music History

A tragedy… the shaping event of the early 21st century… Yep, that’s right. Autumn 2001 was the release of the first iPod, and ever since then, culturally it’s been acceptable to buy an inferior product that will break within 2 years, so long as it looks nice.  Still, at least Barack Obama eventually managed to kill Steve Jobs in his compound in San Francisco.

Me History

In my final year at school, doing my A levels and looking at universities. I go to look round UCL on September 11th. The events of the day put me off somewhat, and I swear off ever living in a big city, a decision I will not keep to. In less bleak memories, me and a few friends start a monthly open mic in our common room, which is good larks.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest were cut due to an arbitrary limit, that track would be… by the half of South London who were members of So Solid Crew. Argh, still have six words left… Antipathti done.

Track by Track Breakdown

Kylie Minogue –  “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”

Actual, pure, pop genius. Minimal, surprisingly slow, with a wonderful counterpoint between the synth and the drums, which are permanently half a beat out, making the track sound… bouncy. Kylie couldn’t feasibly ever outdo this song.

Westlife“Uptown Girl”

Get the hell off Billy Joel. Luckily, faithful enough that I don’t have to hurt anyone for messing with the Piano Man. They should count their lucky stars. Also, around this time, a dear friend of mine used to sing the line, ‘When my ship comes in,’ to communicate that he had partaken of intercourse the night before. Which still tickles me.

DJ Ötzi“Hey Baby!”

An abomination that you still have to tolerate from particularly bad wedding DJs. Bring back the death penalty, I say.

Bob The Builder –  “Mambo No. 5”

Who doesn’t love the strange appropriation of former pop hits by cartoon characters? Me. If it ain’t the Wombles, it can very well do one.

Steps –  “Chain Reaction”

Oh come on! Completely unnecessary cover of a disco classic. The driving rhythm still makes it bearable, but not worth switching versions for.

Continue reading Now That’s What I Call Music 50


Kurdish Pomegranate and Orange Sponge.

I think one of the principal benefits of baking, a side of cooking that I’m still moderately new to, is that while it all sounds complex, you can really take your time over each part, so you can ale something that sounds terribly daunting, but broken down its actually a bunch of very simple stages.

Also, my Middle Eastern cookery game is non existent, so this recipe was nice, as it took me out of two separate comfort zones.

I made this for a date, and it went down rather well, but then I had all but two slices left, so I took it into work, where I am now rather popular with my workmates as a result!

But the most important lesson, as I’ve already said… you can’t hurry baking. See photo below for why not.




  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 180g self raising flour
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 120g butter (softened)

Pomegranate Syrup

  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour

Orange Buttercream

  • 100g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • Zest of one orange


Preheat your oven to 180c, and line a couple of small, shallow cake tins (about 15-18cm should do) with either greaseproof paper or butter.

Separate the eggs into two bowls, a small one for the yolks, and a large one you can fit a whisk in for the whites. Beat the yolks until they are a pleasant lemony yellow.

Combine the yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until they form a stodgy sugar paste. Then add the softened butter and gradually sift in the flour, till it forms a fairly thick dough.

Get a whisk (electric will make your arm less sore) and whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold this into the dough, until it forms a smooth, lump free cake batter. Put half in each cake tin.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cakes are just turning a golden colour. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Now, prepare your fillings. Deseed the pomegranate into a bowl and squeeze out every last drop of juice. Seive this into a jug, so that the juice and seeds are now separate. Put the juice into a small saucepan with the sugar and cornflour and reduce by about half, then add back to the seeds, mix well, and set aside to cool.

Finally, and easy as anything, make your buttercream. In a bowl (you’ll probably have cleaned this bowl about 3 times by this point!), beat together the butter, icing sugar and buttercream into a paste.

Now, take the uglier sponge, and put it upside down on the plate. Spoon over about half of the pomegranate mixture evenly, then all of the buttercream on top of this. Put the second sponge on top, and decorate with some icing sugar and the remaining pomegranate mix



Tasty Tuesdays on

Unchained Melody

It’s nice to hear a different arrangement of this song for a change. This sounds like something that might play in a particularly Italian restaurant. And doesn’t make me think of pottery wheels for a change.

A great number one.

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

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Now That’s What I Call Music 49


Released-  30th July 2001

Music History

A dry few months. ODB gets 4 months in prison, and somebody dies at a Limp Bizkit concert. The only surprise is it’s not of boredom. The NME starts hyping The Strokes, probably the last significant band of the magazine’s pre internet relevance.

Me History

I start going out in my nearest city, Canterbury, on a regular basis, with the guys from my band. Every evening ends with us trying to harmonise to the Beach Boys on the night bus home. We were the coolest.

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest had to get the hell on, them and they Mama, that track would be… a tough call between Outkast, Destiny’s Child and Pied Piper. I’m going to go with… this;


Track by Track Breakdown

Robbie Williams –     “Eternity”

Bob is just below par with his own material now. If I were him I’d just give up on original material and record an album of swing band covers…

Gabrielle – “Out of Reach”

Gabrielle goes back to the 60s soul ballad well. Unfortunately this one comes across more as pastiche than homage. Not bad, per se, but terribly unoriginal.

Atomic Kitten –  “Eternal Flame”

Endearing, likeable cover version. Hopelessly inferior to the original, but terribly likeable nonetheless.

Blue –  “All Rise”

The first decent boy band with a hip hop edge since East 17. Also feature the beautiful mind of Lee Ryan, who may actually be a post genius genius.

S Club 7“Don’t Stop Movin'”

I’d completely forgotten the existence of this song. So glad that synapse has been reactivated. It’s a fantastic disco revival number. THANK YOU S CLUB.

Continue reading Now That’s What I Call Music 49

Baked Lemon Cream and Shortbread


Apologies in advance… I am not a dessert person. I like sweets, and some cakes, but if I have to have two courses, I would lump for starter and main, or main and cheese. But I can always make exceptions, and these are deliciously bitter and sweet, and look so much more impressive than the actual level of work that’s gone into them.

They can also be prepared days in advance, in fact the lemon cream should be made at least two days prior to infuse nicely.

These are simple. With the prep work done in advance, it is as simple as pouring a little boiling water and sticking in an oven for 30 minutes.

And separately, shortbread is just lovely, one of the best biscuits. Something to do with huge quantities of butter I reckon.

As ever, if I can do it, it can’t be all that difficult.


Baked Lemon Cream

  • 3 Eggs
  • Zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 150g Caster sugar
  • 150ml Double Cream


  • 100g Icing sugar
  • 200g Plain flour
  • 100g Cornflour
  • 200g unsalted butter, nearly molten


2 days before

Prepare the lemon cream.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest and juice, and caster sugar until it forms an even paste together.

Then beat in the cream in about three goes, until you are left with a silky smooth cream.

Put this into a measuring jug and cover with cling film, or a small Tupperware box.

1 day before

Make the Shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl (or a food processor if you’re lazy) mix together the flours and sugar, then add the butter, and beat this all together. THIS NEEDS TO BE REALLY SOFT. Or you can just do what I did, get impatient and tire your arms out.

Either way, eventually you will end up with a fairly evenly clumpy ball of cookie dough. Rather than mess around with rolling pins, set some cling film, and roll the dough into one long tube of dough, about 2in (4cm) in diameter.

Set this in the fridge for 30 minutes, and preheat the oven to 160c.

Once this is done, line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper, and slice your tube of dough into slices about 1/4in (1/2cm) deep. This should make fairly even round biscuits, but with the benefit of just being a little uneven and homemade looking. Put the rounds on a baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes, until just turning golden.

Remove to a wire rack to cool, then put in a tin or box overnight.

30 minutes before

Cook the thing!

Preheat the oven to 150c. Remove the biscuits from the fridge to warm back up. Why did you put them in the fridge? They’re biscuits! Are you mad?!

Get two small ramekins and a bain marie (I used a loaf tin).  Fill the ramekins near to the top with the cream mixture, place in your bain marie, and fill it with boiling water about 2/3 up the sides of the ramekins.

Put in the oven for around 30 minutes to bake. While you wait, dust the shortbreads with a little caster or icing sugar.

After 30 minutes, plate up the biscuits for dipping and the ramekin of baked cream, presented nicely, with a teaspoon, for those too posh to dunk!





Tasty Tuesdays on

Fiduea – Spanish Noodle Paella

Back, again, to my undying thirst for Catalonian cuisine. This dish originated from Catalan fishermen, who found a creative use for the pasta they would bring home from neighbouring Italy, a paella dish with the vermicelli cut down to little noodles.

While paella was originally a meat dish, this originated with the fishermen, and would normally contain seafood. I’ve gone for a mix, purely because of my fridge contents.

I prefer the texture of the noodles to the stodge of rice, and this cooks in next to no time too. And my apologies for my photography- after a run of decently photographed food, this proved too much for my meagre skills, and looks like a plate of stodge. Which it is. But you try finding a more delicious stodge.

Finally- I offer this in celebration of the Catalonian people hoping for independence after the fantastic election result last weekend.


  • Olive oil
  • 4 dried vermicelli nests (c. 300g)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric (or some strands of saffron if you’re wealthier than me)
  • 200g (1/2 a can) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 100 -200g cooked mussels (plus a couple in their shells for presentation)
  • 100-200g cooked chicken
  • A handful of suitable veg. Peas, diced red peppers, etc.
  • Aioli (garlic mayonnaise, basically)


Break up the vermicelli into a bowl by squeezing the nests in your fist. It’s very satisfying after a stressful day! Alternatively, you can buy the c. 1 inch strands from bigger upmarket supermarkets or a good Mediterranean deli, but squishing vermicelli is deeply satisfying.

Finely chop the garlic, and gently fry this until pale gold over a low heat, in a large saucepan or paella dish.then add the turmeric and the noodles, stir well until the turmeric has coloured it well, for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes and thyme, and a good teaspoon of salt, and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the stock and bringing this to a light, rolling boil.


Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After this, add the chicken, mussels and veg, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. If there is too little liquid, add a little water, too much, and just boil harder and stir constantly.

Remove from the heat and cover for about ten minutes, to let the last of the juices to soak in.

Put a hearty portion on a plate, add a generous dollop of aioli and eat.

Tasty Tuesdays on

Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

And onwards, to April ’55. Today, Perez ‘Prez’ Prado is best known for Guaglione, used in a Guinness commercial about 20 years ago. This is a slightly more laid back bossanova number. But no less enjoyable, a perfect soundtrack for beers on a remote beach.

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

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Give Me Your Word

And another number one (I promised a few today) which had a 7 week run from March 1955.

I love Tennessee Ernie Ford’s voice. He must be the only man in history to make Johnny Cash sound effeminate. This is a slow, romantic number, and quite the enjoyable one at that.

Also, I know for a fact we will hear more from this gent, and it may well be the best number one of the 50’s

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

View original post 69 more words

Softly, Softly

After a brief slack break, back with another number one (I shall be trying to make up for my slackness with a few of these over the day).

In spite of using her name as a takeaway suggestion for most of my life, this might be the first time I’ve heard her music. Beyond some nice choral moments, I’m afraid this is more Korma than Vindaloo, and more than a little bland.

Talk About Pop Music

I have a playlist that contains every UK number one song since charts began in 1952. Thanks to EveryHit, this is a fairly simple process. Let’s remind ourselves of these songs.

View original post 85 more words

Now That’s What I Call Music 48


Released-  9th April 2001

Music History

Apple release iTunes, ensuring PC owners will never have a decent media player again. The Manic Street Preachers play Cuba, the first Western rock band to do so. Fidel Castro describes them as ‘louder than war’. And Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown trash a hotel room to levels that are actually unbelievable.

Me History

I’m 17. Which is cool. I’m learning to drive. I’m also smoking quite a bit of herbal tobacco. The two are not good bedfellows, and I’m now a 31 year old who still can’t drive. Let that be a lesson kids…

If I had to save one track from this album, and the rest only flew away, that track would be… this beautiful reason to smile;


Track by Track Breakdown

Atomic Kitten –  “Whole Again”

My abiding memory of this song is being rather stoned at a house party, and a friend being completely wasted, to the point he sang this between giggling fits for a good two hours. Credit where it’s due, I still quite enjoy this song, even after that.

Hear’Say – “Pure and Simple”

The first single from the fist winners of Pop Idol (or one of those). Responsible for setting the very low bar for longevity after winning these things. Even at this point, it sounds like a three year old All Saints off cut.

S Club 7“Never Had a Dream Come True”

It’s by the book. It’s a ballad by a manufactured pop group. I hate myself for how much I love this one. Deep shame, but I really do.

Nelly Furtado –  “I’m Like a Bird”

There’s no logic or reason to my love of this song. It’s just a perfect storm of major key melancholy.

Shaggy featuring RikRok“It Wasn’t Me”

The Shaggy cycle comes back around, with this played to death catchphrase set to music. If I could travel back in time, I would use my powers to punch every person who used this as a punchline through 2000/01.

Continue reading Now That’s What I Call Music 48