Until recently, I’d rather have eaten an old boiled sweet wrenched off the grubby floor of a car than listen to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. Chris Moyles’ interminable tenure (2004 – 2012) turned me right off. But over the last few months I’ve surprised myself by tuning in for the first time in years. I’m not alone. If you look at Rajar figures released today, though Nick Grimshaw’s audience has dipped overall, he’s actually gained 250,000 younger listeners. Which, one imagines, was sort of the point of recruiting him.
Radio 1 now have a Breakfast Show that’s starting to deserve its status as the station’s flagship programme. Why? Most importantly, it’s the music Grimshaw plays. Championing high-quality new tunes is a whole lot more appealing than bigmouth blethering on about “the gays” or taking Charlotte Church’s virginity. And you can just turn it down if he plays One Direction or Flo Rida.
Last week, on Grimshaw’s weekly “Nickstape” we heard Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop/That Thing’ followed by Röyksopp’s ‘Eple’, The Roots’ ‘The Seed 2.0’, Tensnake, The 2 Bears, Wu-Tang Clan and 2 Unlimited. Oh happy day. Moyles famously played at most a few songs each hour, and often talked over them. Grimshaw has said he wants to play a welcome 8-10 an hour. The strategy he follows suggests he’s a genuine music fan:
Big pop songs which are good. There’s awful pop music and there’s wonderful pop music. I’ll be playing the latter
Fear not, indie fans, it’s not all pop. In the last week he’s played The Vaccines, Foals, Everything Everything, Fidlar, Frightened Rabbit, Biffy Clyro, Miles Kane and NME favourites Peace, as well as Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Mikky Ekko and Laura Mvula. Like many children, I relied on the show to introduce me to good music on the school bus, recording the Top 40 each Sunday. It’s a crucial guide for young (and old) music fans and the return of good music to the show is a relief.
And his slightly-sardonic, tongue-in-cheek presenting style’s not bad, either. He’s ballsy without Moyles’ abrasiveness. He doesn’t pussyfoot. Last year Grimbo binned the Rihanna album after the singer refused to give him an interview (it was later rescheduled). On Monday the “showbot” of regular franchise Showquizness joked about Victoria Beckham’s (lack of) charisma. Slightly different to Moyles calling her a “whore” live on air, but still irreverant.
Grimshaw’s not without his critics. You might remember the furore over his refusal to play Robbie Williams’ ‘Candy’ because he was “irrelevant” to his listeners (hear, hear). Dr Fox hit out on Twitter calling him “brainless” and a “total nob”. In November last year parents petitioned the BBC to sack Grimmy with a Facebook group called “Keep Chris Moyles on Radio 1”. They claimed his tweets were obscene (example: “Guess what I want for breakfast? A total MIND****”). I wonder what they made of Moyles fondling Spice Girl Mel B’s boobs on air.
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The part that’s really swung it for me? David Attenborough was the Breakfast Show’s guest this week. Radio 1’s got its mojo back.