We're bringing you a fresh playlist of UK music every month throughout our birthday year, celebrating some of our favourite names and styles in British music from the past 20 years while we've been on air. Follow the playlist on Spotify and you'll get the updates every month.
Warning: some tracks may contain explicit lyrics.
Latest Playlist: Selector at 20 – Hannah Peel
Hannah Peel was in conversation with Selector host Jamz Supernova this week to talk about her work as a composer for the small screen, as well as a critically acclaimed artist in her own right. She tells the story of how a cover version of Soft Cell's 'Tainted Love' opened the door into the world of TV music and how she took early inspiration from Ennio Morricone's score for Once Upon A Time in New York. But this month, Hannah's given us a playlist celebrating UK music all drawn from the past 20 years. Expect some classics from big hitters like Amy Winehouse and Radiohead plus music from another of the UK's great composers for moving image, Mica Levi, and an extract from her score for the film Under The Skin.
Selector at 20: 2021–2001 Playlist
To celebrate 20 years of Selector Radio, we took on the impossible task of assembling a playlist which goes some way to telling the history of the show, and UK music, in under 50 tracks!
So we gave ourselves some playlist ground rules. Artists and tracks could only be chosen if they’d featured on a Selector Radio show. Truthfully, this wasn’t much of a rule as, after 20 years, the show has played just about everybody! In the end, most of the artists on the final list have not just been played but have been regular Selector favourites, or at least in their own era – the acts that have seen repeat plays and most have them have been in the studio to record their own Selector session or deliver a guest mix. We also wanted to have at least one track from every year of the show’s history and to pick tracks by artists that were released the same year that they first featured on the show. So we didn't always pick the biggest track of the year – that’s never been the aim of the show – more a case of picking a track that defined that artist or that year on the show. It wasn’t easy!
Our Selector playlist runs back in time so starting with recent Selector favourites going back to one of the first songs ever played on the show back in 2001.
Find out the stories behind some of these Selector Radio at 20 tracks below the playlist.
2021–2001 UK Music: The Story Behind Our Selector Playlist
Connie Constance – Costa del Margate (2020)
OK, so we fell at the first hurdle – as we’re still in January we couldn’t yet pick a track from 2021 but Connie Constance is one of our host Jamz Supernova’s ones to watch this year. Connie would have been performing at our live stream event this month but, due to the national lockdown, we were forced to cancel. However, Jamz catches up with Connie on the show, remotely, this Friday. There seems no better way to kick off our playlist – Connie’s influences read like a who’s who of UK music from the past two decades including Amy Winehouse, The Libertines, Oasis and Arctic Monkeys.
Nubya Garcia – La Cumbia Me Esta Llamando (2020)
Nubya Garcia represents a bandleader at the forefront of what has been often described over recent years as a golden generation for UK jazz. No stranger to the Selector, this track also embodies the show’s keen interest in international collaborations. This one came about when Garcia visited Colombia to work with local musicians on the British Council’s Mestizo project. ‘That week was so, so influential,’ she explained to Sounds and Colours. ‘To meet so many musicians from all over Colombia in so many different disciplines – rappers, electronic musicians, percussionists, singers … It was really, really inspiring. I didn’t speak Spanish and some of them didn’t speak English but you still have this connection over music as another language – you don’t need to say any words, you just play.’
Bakar – Hell N Back (2019)
This song has a special place in Selector history as it was the first track of the Jamz Supernova era! Jamz was announced as the new host of Selector in October 2019 and wasted no time bringing listeners her take on the very best new sounds from the UK. This track, with its fusion of soulful horns and laid back vocals is something of an understated gem.
Ghostpoet – Dopamine If I Do (2017)
Ghostpoet is the only artist to not only be played on Selector but actually host Selector! He sat in for our then host Sam Hall (Goldierocks) while she was on holiday and brought the artist’s perspective on the week’s playlist. He has also travelled with the British Council to Ukraine to perform for Selector Live. This track blends a tasteful string arrangement with Ghostpoet’s restless repeating chord sequence - reminiscent of the In Rainbows era Radiohead - and what Line of Best Fit described as his ‘languid delivery [that] belies the very real anxieties that Dark Days + Canapés is scored through with.’
Her’s – Marcel (2017)
It seemed impossible to leave this track out as it is the most streamed performance, and many people’s all time favourite, of all of our Selector sessions. Unfortunately, this story does not end happily – the talented duo were on tour in America when they tragically died in a road traffic accident. It can seem trite to talk about untapped potential in the wake of such a tragedy but truly they were something unique. The pair’s shared sense of humour was evident in their music, without ever straying into the realms of a comedy act, and they managed to be endearingly quirky but never a novelty. However, their performances for Selector – in their inimitable, uncategorisable style with a cardboard cut-out of Pierce Brosnan watching on in support – remain musical moments to savour and this track is them at their very best.
Young Fathers – GET UP (2014)
Scottish band Young Fathers were mainstays on the show in the mid-2010s and around this time they travelled with the British Council for shows and projects in South Africa, Ukraine and Russia. They were also Selector guests in the studio, coming in to record a memorable session in 2015.
Gruff Rhys – American Interior (2013)
Six British and Russian writers, musicians and photographers. Five cities. Four thousand kilometers. As 2016 drew to a close, musician and songwriter Gruff Rhys boarded a train across Siberia for a residency on rails with the British Council that became known as The Storytellers project. Along the way, the artists joined forces to create new work and inspire each other against a changing backdrop of increasingly icy vistas. But Gruff Rhys was already well known to Selector, not least as the front man of beloved Welsh rock group Super Furry Animals, but as a purveyor of quality pop in his own right. This track captures Gruff’s effortless style in the early 2010s and received an instant spin from Goldierocks on the show.
Bicep – You (2012)
Northern Irish dance act Bicep are Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar. ‘We gave ourselves a year,’ says Ferguson on their formation in 2009, ‘and if we couldn’t comfortably pay rent after that, we’d have gone back to our normal jobs.’ They released a series of EPs until signing for Ninja Tune in 2017 and have gone on to enjoy a fantastic international career. Selector has been playing their stuff from the very beginning and this track ‘You’ featured in one of their early mixes for Selector After Dark, our weekly celebration of the best UK DJs and producers. In January 2021 we come full circle as Bicep return to Selector Radio for our lockdown birthday special with something old and something new.
Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale (2012)
Selector’s producer in the early 2010s, John Cramer, picks up the story on this one: ‘I think he’d only just released his debut EP [Tell Me A Tale] and I heard it, it was sent to me, and I just thought: “This guy is amazing, we need to just get him in as soon as we can.” We had a pretty good relationship with the guy that was plugging that record and sure enough we were able to get him on the bill [for the Selector tenth anniversary] and he was just incredible. He was a really nice guy, we got to chat to him beforehand and did a little interview with him. Genuinely a really really nice humble guy. Sometimes that’s a bit rare to find in the music industry. Very easy-going and free of ego and his performance was brilliant. We were chatting after he played and people said it’s like listening to Bill Withers, it was just absolutely incredible, and it’s been really gratifying to see how well he’s done over the years and going on to win the Mercury Music Prize. I think it’s another perfect example really of an artist that Selector Radio honed in on at an early stage and brought to worldwide attention and then just went on to do incredible incredible work.’
Jamie Woon - Night Air (2010)
Folded Wing are the production company that have been making the Selector for over 10 years. Their CEO, Karen Pearson, has fond memories of working with Jamie Woon on just the eighth Selector show the company ever made. 'We had worked with Jamie Woon on a couple of projects with Red Bull Music Academy and what a talent,' she says. 'I remember being sent a vinyl of Wayfaring Stranger in 2007 and listening to it over 10 times in a row. As a radio producer you get sent so much amazing music it's rare to step back and listen to one thing so much and when you do it stays with you. Being able to bring people like Jamie Woon on to Selector Radio is a dream come true; to give them a platform to a massive international audience. He came in to our small Folded Wing voice booth and recorded a beautiful session. Off the back of the session and plays of his tracks his music was playlisted on a few stations around the world and he went out to Kazakhstan on a British Council trip. Then a residency in China for a couple of months where he presented his own radio shows. We were very proud! There is nothing else in the world that can give artists experiences like this and the stories keep coming. It’s a very special platform.'
Dinosaur Pile-Up – Barce-Loner (2010)
‘Sending the music of unknown artists out into the world has had amazing knock on effects,’ wrote Katie Glass for her piece on Selector for The Sunday Times magazine in 2011. One such ‘unknown’ was Leeds rock band Dinosaur Pile-Up. Getting played on Selector in the early 2010s led to a 3,500 capacity gig in Mexico. ‘it was pretty mindblowing … that’s bigger than any gig we’d played here,’ said frontman Matthew Bigland. In turn this led to international tours and a booking in Mumbai, via the British Council, for the NH7 Weekender. The band’s sound has earned comparisons to Nirvana and Foo Fighters and their first album, Growing Pains was recorded by Bigland playing all of the instruments himself, a la Dave Grohl on the Foo Fighters’ self titled release.
Metronomy - A Thing For Me (2008)
Folded Wing moved to The Premises - an iconic east London rehearsal and recording facility - about five years ago and, Covid-19 aside, have recorded Selector there ever since. Viv Broughton, who runs The Premises, has seen just about everyone who is anyone on the UK music scene pass through the hallowed double doors of The Premises over the years and recalls hearing early Selector session guests Metronomy literally getting their act together. 'Back in 2006, Joe Mount [Metronomy front man] had the small room next to my office and he spent hours in there every day, writing and recording for his new band Metronomy. I must have heard 'The Look' a few hundred times in various guises from inception to finished master before it became a solid global smash. I must say, Selector were on to Metronomy and 'The Look' right from the off, leaving several million others to play catch up [Selector actually had Metronomy in session a few years previously]. Joe of course soon departed for swankier premises. Which is just fine by us because we were the Incubator. Happy 20th Birthday Selector and huge congratulations from all the gang at The Premises!'
Sway – Download (2006)
Sway was one of Selector’s early session guests. This track, from his debut This Is My Demo, was the standout from his 2005 visit to the Selector studio and reminds us how much has changed. Sway sounds as confident as ever listening back now and just as lyrically inventive but when he says ‘people don’t want to pay for CDs, they download on mp3s’ we can look back from 2021 and say he got the first bit right but now streaming, not downloading mp3s, is king! ‘People, how am I gonna get my g’s if you bought my album before the release?’
Amy Winehouse – Know You Now (2003)
It’s true – Selector had Amy Winehouse in session before the rest of the world noticed. And while her debut album Frank is sometimes a slightly ill-fitting mix of jazz harmony and ‘beats’ and the memorable hits like ‘Rehab’ were largely confined to Back to Black, these early recordings show the birth of a singular talent and set Winehouse up for a meteoric rise to the top. No history of UK music over the past 20 years would be complete without her and her influence continues to reverberate.
Gorillaz 19-2000 (2001)
The earliest show we were able to find in the archives, presented by Selector’s first host Andi Oliver, led with this track from a new mysterious project from Damon Albarn: Gorillaz!