Soundtrack Of My Life: Romesh Ranganathan

Comedian off the telly, hip-hop aficionado

The first song I remember hearing

Boney M – ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’

“When my parents first moved to England from Sri Lanka, they used to have these massive parties where they’d invite all of the Sri Lankan community to their house and there’d be lots of booze on the go. My mum, dad and their friends would all get smashed. Sri Lankans were all obsessed with disco in the early ’80s. I remember hearing this song shit loads [while growing up in West Crawley, Sussex]. I’d see my parents dancing – my mum has a natural rhythm and my dad very much didn’t. He had one move that he busted out regardless of the song and that was the ‘looking at your shoes to check if you’ve stepped in dog shit’ dance. You know, alternately looking at the bottom of each foot. It was absolutely dreadful and he would do that to whatever song was on.”

The first song I was obsessed with

Advertisement

Prince – ‘Batdance’

“Not many Prince fans can say, ‘I got into him because of ‘Batdance”, but it’s because  I love Batman. I was a comic book fan and then ‘Batdance’ came out and I remember loving the whole soundtrack. There was a song on it called ‘Vicki Waiting’ where Prince is telling a story and someone asks, “why is your organ so small?” and he replies, “I didn’t know I was playing in a cathedral”. I remember asking my dad what that meant and he just said ‘Oh you wouldn’t understand, you wouldn’t understand’. It was only later on that I got the actually quite horrible joke.”

The first album I owned

MC Hammer – ‘Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em’

“The cover was just MC Hammer with the traditional glasses on and that weird outfit. He looks like when you drive around America and they have billboards for those real estate agents. It looks like MC Hammer is going to sell you a condo. It would have looked really cool at the time but has dated horrendously.”

The first gig I went to

Advertisement

Salt-N-Pepa at Crawley Leisure Centre, 1990

“It was absolutely rammed with kids and ‘Push It’ had just come out and everybody wanted to dance to that song. Everybody thought it was so rude. They went, ‘guys, everybody put your hands on your head!’ – and then everybody did it so they said, ‘no, not that head, thaaat one!’ and then she pointed at where her dick would be. As I tell you it now I’m embarrassed, but as a kid at that time it was pretty risqué.”

The song that reminds me of home

Bob Marley – ‘Jamming’

“My dad was a massive Bob Marley fan and he ran a pub for a while where they had karaoke. They’d put on ‘Jamming’ but my dad just didn’t know how to do karaoke. The words were there on the screen. He’s a massive fan of the song. He knows the song. But he just said “we’re jammin'” 25 times. That’s all he did for the entire karaoke performance. It was dreadful. The pub was The Prince Of Wales in East Grinstead. I did a sitcom for Sky called The Reluctant Landlord and we based that on my experiences in that pub.”

The song I wish I’d written

Ice Cube – ‘Us’

“I say I wish I’d written it, it would be totally inappropriate for me to have done so because it’s about the plight of Black America in the early ’90s. But when that album, Death Certificate, came out, I thought it was such an incredible snapshot of where Black America was at that time post-LA riots… It’s a form of poetry I guess. I wish I’d written it, but I didn’t grow up in south central Los Angeles and I don’t think that song would have been as powerful if it was about a guy of Sri Lankan origin growing up in Crawley.”

The song I do at karaoke

LL Cool J – ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’

“The truth is that I don’t ever do karaoke, but if I did I would do this song. When I was at school, I formed a very short-lived band with a mate called First Conviction. The only song that we ever did was a rock cover of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, we used to perform it in his room, just us two. I remember being absolutely devastated because I went to watch California Man at the cinema – and on the soundtrack of that film somebody had done a rock cover of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’. I was utterly fucking heartbroken because I thought that was such a great idea. That was the end of First Conviction. We learned the harsh nature of the music industry and ducked out.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Jay Electronica – ‘Shiny Suit Theory’

“I love Jay Electronica. I think he’s such an amazing rapper. I just want to listen to him rap on anything, he’s like MF Doom in that way, and ‘Shiny Suit Theory’ is great. The break’s incredible on it, the production’s wicked. I can’t get it out of my head.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – ‘Come On Eileen’

“When I was about 14, everyone from my school used to go to these parties in scout huts. Everybody was drinking under age and they always used to play this song to end the party. Nobody even liked it particularly but these kids were all smashed so they would go mental for it and then go home. I made such a dick of myself at those parties. I have recollections of trying it on with girls and them telling me to fuck off; or drinking too much Thunderbird and throwing up outside. Even as I’m telling you this my arsehole’s closing up with embarrassment. ‘Come On Eileen’ takes me back to that little dickhead Romesh who had a savage undercut going around desperate for girls to show him some attention.”

The song I want played at my funeral

M.O.P. – ‘Ante Up’

“I’ve always thought I wanted something incongruous played at my funeral, something high-energy that feels really weird against the visuals. Maybe when they lower the coffin the riff from ‘Ante Up’ could drop in. It’d be fucking great. As the funeral finishes up, they’ll be going off to have drinks or the wake and I think I might put on a banger to get people in a mood to have a nice evening.”

‘Rob & Romesh Vs’ series two comes to Sky One and NOW TV on May 5

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement