Good news, music fans! Later… With Jools Holland is back for another series. One of my favourite things about the show is seeing musicians enjoying one another’s music. Another of my favourite things is how Jools constantly, without fail, mispronounces a band name or album title at least once on every show. It’s amazing. May he never change.
The fact that we’re in the show’s 49th season proves that its format works. The first of this series’ eight episodes kicks off on September 13 with a line-up of Jack White, Kings of Leon, M83, Banks and Sting. It’s a decent mix: Jack White’s there to promo his new acoustic collection, KoL will be bashing out their new ‘Walls’ stuff, M83 will bring the zany electro of their latest album ‘Junk’, Banks will preview some of the moody goth-pop from her second album ‘The Altar’ and Sting will be… Sting.
The thing is, you know Jools will have a nice little sit-down with Jack White for a two-minute chat about his new thing. You can predict with a fair degree of certainty that he’ll sit down at the piano and sing some jazz with Sting. Every few shows, you know there’ll be a potential Mercury shortlister – one of the curveball ones. It’s nice, and it’s musical, but it’s aimed more at my dad than at me.
Big youth-oriented music shows like Top of the Pops, Popworld and CD:UK died a death in the mid-noughties, and the charts have become so stagnant they’re unlikely to return anytime soon. The latest series of Jools Holland featured a single grime artist – Kano – and there were four times as many artists over 30 than the number below that age. Why is no one making music TV for young people?
I’m not saying the BBC should Millennialise the show like they tried to with Today At Wimbledon (among other things, they renamed that show Wimbledon 2day, and that wasn’t even the worst thing about it). There’s no need to change the format of a useful, well-loved institution into something no one wants.
But new music is young: surely there should be a music show for and about young people. Streaming is where Millennials tend to go for TV now, so perhaps it’s up to Netflix or Amazon to get a youth-oriented UK music show started. One that emphasises the immediacy of live music, that encourages people to swap their armchair for a sweaty underground cellar where they could be watching future Glastonbury headliners.
Channel 4’s mid-nineties music series The White Room was rough around the edges, felt more like a gig and took the piss in the best way. The same channel’s noughties show Popworld, meanwhile, was a consistently hilarious offering, though it focussed less on music and more on irreverence. Both brimmed with a youth that’s lacking in Later… – and those are the kinds of show I wanna see.