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BBC Radio 2 brings a glorious Summer of Music

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BBC Radio 2 brings a glorious Summer of Music

Published: 11:12 am, 10 July 2024

composite image of the pet shop boys. your ultimate pet shop boys song in white text on an orange and pink background


We’re absolutely fascinated to hear what Radio 2 listeners decide is their favourite Pet Shop Boys song and we can’t wait to see you in person in Preston on September 8.

— Neil Tennant

Radio 2, the UK’s most listened to radio station with 13.3m listeners each week (RAJAR Q1 2024), will be abuzz with music this summer with an abundance of programming. Highlights include a Radio 2 listener vote to discover their favourite Pet Shop Boys song, Let’s Move It – a season to inspire listeners to get moving and more active this summer, Radio 2 Loves Jazz featuring Power of Jazz – a new four-part series with a superstar guest presenter, marking Tony Blackburn’s 60 years in radio, plus lots more.

Pet Shop Boys will be celebrated on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds in the build up to their performance at Radio 2 in the Park in Preston on Sunday 8 September. From today (Wednesday 10 July) – which is Neil Tennant’s 70th birthday – Radio 2 listeners can vote for their favourite songs by the duo, and the Top 30 most popular tracks will be revealed in a countdown show, Your Ultimate Pet Shop Boys Song, hosted by Radio 2’s Pick of the Pops presenter, Mark Goodier. Produced by BBC Audio.

Listeners can vote now at www.bbc.co.uk/petshopboysvote for up to five songs from a list comprising all of Pet Shop Boys UK Top 40 hits, plus a selection of other classics as chosen by Radio 2’s panel of Pet Shop Boys superfans, including presenter Gary Davies. Voting closes at 4pm on Friday 26 July.  

Neil Tennant says: “We’re absolutely fascinated to hear what Radio 2 listeners decide is their favourite Pet Shop Boys song and we can’t wait to see you in person in Preston on September 8”

Mark Goodier says: “Pet Shop Boys were the first group I played on Radio 1 in 1987 and I’m sure I’ll be playing them on Pick of the Pops for many years to come. I’m looking forward to counting down the Radio 2 listeners’ favourite Pet Shop Boys songs and revealing which is at Number 1!” 

Jeff Smith, Head of Music for Radio 2, says: “Radio 2 is proud of playing the very best timeless, melodic music from the past seven decades, and we love giving Radio 2 listeners the chance to vote for their favourite songs by one artist. Pet Shop Boys have given us four decades of incredible music and I’m looking forward to finding out which song will be top of this PSB chart!”

composite image of orange and pink graphics with Let's Move It in bold white text

With an inspiring summer of sport on the BBC – with Euro 2024 in Germany, Wimbledon here in the UK and the Olympics and Paralympics taking place in Paris – next week The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show officially launches Let’s Move It, a six week summer campaign across the station which aims to motivate the nation to get moving and active. Whether walking, running, dancing, swimming or anything related to activity, listeners will be asked to pledge their personal goal for the next six weeks of the summer alongside Radio 2 presenters who will be setting their own challenges for Let’s Move It. Whatever your level of ability or current fitness, find out full details and helpful resources at www.bbc.co.uk/letsmoveit.

After listeners motivated weekday mid-morning presenter, Vernon Kay, during his Ultra Ultramarathon challenge for BBC Children in Need last November – raising over £6 million for the charity – he will now focus on motivating listeners, along with fellow presenter and one of the voices of Couch to 5K, Jo Whiley. Couch to 5k – from BBC Sport and Public Health England – is available via a smartphone app which aims to get you confidently running 5km in nine weeks, building up your ability and fitness through a structured programme. All the shows and presenters will be getting behind Let’s Move It and finding innovative ways to inspire the listeners including, Scott Mills (Monday to Fridays, 2-4pm) featuring a selection of Spinterviews – interviews where he and his guest are on spin bikes! And Jeremy Vine will be talking to BBC Local Radio’s ‘Make A Difference’ nominees who have done something to encourage sport and physical activity within their community (Monday to Friday, 12-2pm).

As part of the initiative, and in collaboration with parkrun, three Radio 2 presenters will be joining in at Saturday morning parkruns at three mystery locations around the country where they will be reporting live from these community events.  

Vernon Kay says: “I was blown away by how the Radio 2 listeners supported me during my Ultra Ultramarathon Challenge for BBC Children in Need last year, donating over £6 million to the charity. It was their incredible support that got me through it, so I – and all the Radio 2 presenting family – now want to give our support to the listeners as we Move It, Move It!”

Jo Whiley says: “For me, exercise is the cure all. I know that no matter how little I do, once I’ve done some kind of activity – whether it’s a swim, a run or a gym session – I will feel SO much better for it. Fact! We’re inviting everyone to move about a bit more and feel the benefits of exercise. Whether that’s going for a swim for the first time in years or going for a walk in the park – which maybe you haven’t done since lockdown – it’s a start, so let’s Move it Together!” 

Helen Thomas, Head of Radio 2, says: “Let’s Move It is about bringing people together to be a bit more active and get fitter this summer. We want to encourage and inspire the nation to get moving, bringing them their very own coaches from across Radio 2’s shows. We’re also giving listeners a brilliant soundtrack to listen to with a selection of motivating playlists on BBC Sounds from our much-loved presenters.”

Russ Jefferys, parkrun Global CEO, says, “We are thrilled to be working with Radio 2 on their Let’s Move It campaign this summer to help motivate people to be more active, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming the undercover runners to three of our events. parkrun’s low barrier to entry model makes it the perfect place for anyone to get moving –  simply come along and walk, jog, run, volunteer or just watch and soak up the feel good atmosphere in your local community. Every single weekend. For free.”

On BBC Sounds, for anyone who loves great music to soundtrack to their work-out, there will be Pacesetter mixes curated by Radio 2 presenters with Dance Sounds of the 90s with Vernon Kay, Michelle Visage’s Handbag Hits, Jo Whiley’s Shiny Happy Playlist and Romesh Ranganathan’s For The Love of Hip Hop Mix.

There are also new episodes of My Life In A Mixtape, which will all be available on BBC Sounds from Monday 15 July and broadcast on Radio 2 later in July. The programmes feature: Team GB and World Record Paralympian swimmer, Maisie Summers-Newton; Team GB BMX racer, Bethany Shriever; Team GB Olympic medal winning rower, Helen Glover MBE; and Team GB World Champion middle distance runner, Jake Wightman. A BBC Scotland production.

The closing ceremony for Let’s Move It will be an outside broadcast of Vernon Kay’s show on Friday 23 August, complete with listeners and special guests. More information to be announced nearer the time.

Image of Jeff Goldblum smiling in the studio with a radio 2 microphone in front of him

In July, Radio 2 Loves Jazz will celebrate the genre with a new 4x60m weekly series, Power of Jazz, presented by actor and acclaimed jazz pianist, Jeff Goldblum, at the heart of the season. Across four episodes, Jeff tells the story of how the DNA of jazz can be found in virtually every type of popular modern music, from rock and pop, to dance and hip hop. A BBC Audio Scotland production.

Jeff Goldblum says, “My love of jazz started when I was just a kid, taking my first piano lessons (thank you mom and dad!) and falling in love with tracks like Misty by Erroll Garner.  That passion has only grown stronger over the years, and jazz has been a constant source of joy for me. Practicing jazz and piano every morning has become a spiritual meditation for me that enriches my life.  Not only do I feel grateful to perform this music with my band, but I am very fascinated by the incredible stories of the trailblazing jazz pioneers and their influence across the decades.  I can’t wait to share those stories with Radio 2 listeners in Power of Jazz.” 

Following the first episode of the weekly Power of Jazz series on Radio 2 last weekend (Saturday 7 July), all four episodes are now available on BBC Sounds.

  • Episode One: Power of Jazz – Rock: Jeff Goldblum explores the connections between jazz and rock music, featuring Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell and, Elton John talking about how jazz influenced their music; and Jeff tells how the jazz heritage influenced the musical journeys of David Bowie, Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Sting, and Jimi Hendrix. 
  • Episode Two: Power of Jazz – Hip Hop and Dance (14 July): Jeff discovers the connections between jazz with hip hop, early jazz and dance music. De La Soul’s Plug One talks about the creation of their hip hop classic, Stakes Is High, using a sample from pianist Ahmad Jamal and explains the connections between rapping, scatting and improvisation. Jeff hears from female hip hop trailblazers, including Queen Latifah. 
  • Episode Three: Power of Jazz – Jazz Goes Pop (21 July): From the roots of jazz as the hot dance music of the 1930s, through its influence on hits by artists from The Beatles to Stevie Wonder, and the uniquely British Acid Jazz scene that broke into the 1990s musical mainstream, this episode shows how jazz laid the foundation stone for the evolution of pop music. Emeli Sandé and Corinne Bailey Rae tells how jazz has inspire their own music, and Jeff hears how the worlds of jazz and pop have worked together to create stand out hits by The Mamas and Papas, Michael Jackson, and Sam Smith.
  • Episode Four: Power of Jazz – Jazz in the World (28 July): Jeff looks at how jazz has been used in the wider world, from film soundtracks, adverts and poetry, to the American Civil Rights movement and modern protest music, and how it inspired the Beat Poet generation with its freedom of expression. Contemporary jazz musicians Shabaka Hutchings, Yazz Ahmed and Roxy Coss share how their own music and those of others continues to speak to the wider world on contemporary issues including feminism and racism. 

Jeff also features as a guest on Tracks of My Years, selecting the music that has shaped his life. It will air on Vernon Kay’s show (from Monday 29 July to Friday 2 August, 9.30-12pm) and will be available on BBC Sounds from Sunday 28 July. A BBC Audio production.

Radio 2 Loves Jazz also features specially-curated playlists on BBC Sounds by Jeff Goldblum, Emeli Sandé and Plug One from De La Soul.  As ever, The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum (Tuesdays, 9-10pm) continues to celebrate all types of jazz and music rooted in jazz, from its heritage to its future. A Folded Wing production. And on The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show (Friday 5July),  in a Radio 2 Loves Jazz special Friends Round Friday, guests Sananda Maitreya (formerly known as Terence Trent D’arby) and Olivia Dean – who performed at Love Supreme Festival – talked about their love of jazz and their favourite influences from over the years. A BBC Audio production.

composite image of Marc Almond singing into a microphone wearing sunglasses. Piano Room in bold white text with orange and pink graphics

On Thursday 11 July in Vernon Kay’s weekday mid-morning show (9.30am-12pm) – the most listened to show on UK radio – Marc Almond performs in the Radio 2 Piano Room, which has recently featured Alison Moyet and Shed Seven. Playing alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra, Marc will be performing a previous hit, a new single and a classic cover. His Piano Room will be available on BBC Sounds and to watch on BBC iPlayer. A BBC Audio production.

From Monday 5 August and throughout the month, American musician and DJ, Moby, will be making his Radio 2 presenting debut when he guest presents The Blues Show while Cerys Matthews is on holiday. (Monday 5, 12, 19, 26 August, 9-10pm). A BBC Audio production.

Moby says “I loved being interviewed by Cerys on her blues show in May, so when Radio 2 asked if I’d like to present the programme while she’s on holiday this August, I leapt at the chance! I’m so looking forward to enjoying some summer blues with you all.”

DJ Spoony djing
DJ Spoony (Image: BBC)

DJ Spoony’s Garage Classical: Celebrating 30 Years of UK Garage features DJ Spoony who hosts this concert from London’s Royal Albert Hall to mark the movement that revolutionised dance music in the 90’s, 00’s and still resonates today. With The Ignition Orchestra, led by arranger and orchestrator Katie Chatburn, the concert features the genre’s biggest hits, including Sweet Like Chocolate, A Little Bit Of Luck, Flowers, Bodygroove and 21 Seconds, all reimagined with an orchestral sound. Performers include MJ Cole, Elisabeth Troy, Richie Dan, Kele Le Roc, Lifford, Shola Ama and So Solid Crew (Friday 2 August, 9-11pm). A BBC Audio production.

To support the UK Garage at 30 concert on Radio 2, listeners can delve deeper into UK Garage on BBC Sounds with Music Uncovered: The UK Garage Story. During the 90s and 00s the sonics of UK Garage took the country by storm. In a short few years the genre emerged from underground events and transformed into Britain’s number one party-starting sound. UKG pioneer DJ Spoony and music aficionado and BBC Radio 6 Music presenter Jamz Supernova rewind through the hits, pivotal figures and moments that took UKG to unprecedented popularity. Contributors include Kele Le Roc, Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont, Grant Nelson, Omar Adimora (Double 99), Oxide and Neutrino, Crazy Cousins, Reggie Yates, DJ Target, Leanne Brown, and Sir Spyro. A BBC Audio production.

In August, Radio 2 shines a light on country will look at the significant contribution black artists have made to country music in the documentary Black and Country. The recent conversation surrounding Beyoncé’s hit Texas Hold ‘Em has revived the debate around country music and its relationship with black artists. This insightful programme asks who country music for, what are the universal themes that define it, and why the contribution of black music artists is questioned when there has always been a black presence in the scene. From legendary harmonica player, DeFord Bailey, who was the first ever artist to play The Grand Ole Opry, to artists of the present day, Darius Rucker and Rhiannon Giddens, black artists have been an important part of a genre that has been stereotyped as “white people music”.

This show, presented by British country singer songwriter (and one half of The Shires) Ben Earle, is a celebration of the African-American involvement with a focus on the artists young and old who have thrived in the art form. There are artists whose close relationship with country might surprise you, such as Ray Charles and The Pointer Sisters (who won a Grammy singing country in 1976). Ben looks at examples where race has got in the way of the music, such as Linda Martell and also Charley Pride, who was RCA’s biggest selling artist after Elvis and whose talent sustained him as country’s only black superstar. Ben hears from modern day artists including Darius Rucker, Kane Brown, Miko Marks, Mississippi country trio Chapel Hart Band, singer Rissi Palmer, and songwriter Alice Randall. He also hears the views of Bob Harris, the host of The Country Show on Radio 2, who has presented the programme for 25 years as well as many country music specials across the station (Sunday 4 August, 12-1am). A BBC Audio production.

Radio 2 also broadcasts highlights from the greatest country music show on earth – the CMA Music Festival 2024 – which took place in Nashville, Tennessee, in June. Lindsay Ell, Kezia Gill, Brittney Spencer and Hannah Dasher are your guides to an epic concert experience with outstanding performances from Jelly Roll, Post Malone, Luke Bryan, Shaboozey, Lainey Wilson, Keith Urban, Dasha, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kelsea Ballerini, the Brothers Osborne, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson and many more! Across five hourlong shows on Radio 2 in August, they will also be available on BBC Sounds as a boxset collection from Saturday 3rd August, along with Black and Country – search under ‘The Country Show with Bob Harris’. A BBC Audio production.

Later this month, radio legend Tony Blackburn celebrates 60 years in radio – he first broadcast on Radio Caroline on 25 July in 1964. This incredible occasion will be celebrated in Radio 2 shows across the day on Thursday 25 July, including Gary Davies (in for Vernon Kay, 9.30am-12pm) doing a special edition of his De Ja Woo feature where he’ll invite listeners to share their memories of Tony who will join Gary in the studio, and he’ll be chatting about his incredible broadcasting career on The Jeremy Vine Show (12-2pm). Tony will also mark the moment on Sounds of the 60s with a Summer of ’64 special (Saturday 27 July, 6-8am), and in The Golden Hour – having introduced Motown to British radio in 1964 and being such a huge champion of it – he’ll be playing all his favourite Motown hits (Sunday 28 July, 7-8pm). On BBC Sounds there will be another opportunity to listen to Happy Birthday, Tony Blackburn! marking his 80th birthday in 2023, Tracks of My Years featuring the songs that have soundtracked his life, and Clash of the Pirates which celebrated 60 years of pirate radio with fellow pirate DJ Johnnie Walker earlier this year.

Radio 2 will be bringing listeners some of the BBC Proms concerts as Sunday Night is Music Night specials which we know our listeners will love:

Everybody Dance! The Sound of Disco Prom (Sunday 11 August, 8pm): Sound, style and fashion met in the disco movement – which borrowed extensively from orchestral traditions – and, in late 1970s New York, electrified the dance floor at the legendary Studio 54. The BBC Concert Orchestra returns the favour with iconic hits from Chic, Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, Boney M and Walter Murphy.

Nick Drake: An Orchestral Celebration Prom (Sunday 18 August, 8pm): 50 years since his death at the age of 26 this tribute, conducted by Jules Buckley, brings together artists and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for a celebration, with songs including River Man, Cello Song, Time Has Told Me and Northern Sky.

Radio 2 also gives listeners another chance to hear Lost Boy – In Search of Nick Drake, presented by Hollywood film star Brad Pitt. Brad tells the story of the cult singer-songwriter, who was virtually unknown when he died in November 1974. During his lifetime, Nick’s three albums (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter and Pink Moon) sold a few thousand copies; he played a handful of concerts and gave just one press interview. But in the years since his death, his status as a cult artist has grown and grown. He is regularly name-checked by contemporary artists – REM, Radiohead, Paul Weller, Badly Drawn Boy – and in 2000, one of Nick’s tracks, Pink Moon, was used in a car advertising campaign aired across America, bringing a new generation of fans to his music.

When Nick died, from an overdose of anti-depressants, it was thought that his final recording sessions had yielded four songs intended for a projected new album, but when the original tapes were being re-mastered, Nick’s recording engineer John Wood discovered another song from those sessions, called Tow The Line, which had been forgotten. Norah Jones recorded one of Nick’s songs, Day Is Done, which is featured in the programme along with interviews with producer Joe Boyd, engineer John Wood, Robert Kirby, Nick’s sister Gabrielle, and his late mother Molly Drake who died in 1993, Ashley Hutchings, Linda Thompson and John Martyn. A BBC Audio production.

The Paul Gambaccini Collection returns to Sunday nights from 25 August, 8-10pm. An Ora et Labora production.

BBC Radio 2 is the UK’s most listened to radio station, with a weekly audience of 13.23 million (RAJAR Q1, 2024) and The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show is most listened to Breakfast show in the UK with 6.65 million listeners (RAJAR Q1, 2024). The network’s presenters include Michael Ball, Zoe Ball, Rob Beckett, Tony Blackburn, OJ Borg, Revd. Kate Bottley, Rylan, Fearne Cotton, Sara Cox, Jamie Cullum, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Gary Davies, Paul Gambaccini, Mark Goodier, Angela Griffin, Bob Harris, Vernon Kay, Cerys Matthews, Paddy McGuinness, Scott Mills, Jason Mohammad, Trevor Nelson, Dermot O’Leary, Elaine Paige, Mark Radcliffe, Romesh Ranganathan, DJ Spoony, Liza Tarbuck, Jeremy Vine, Michelle Visage, Johnnie Walker, Jo Whiley, Phil Williams and Owain Wyn Evans.

At the 2024 Audio and Radio Industry Awards, also known as the ARIAs, Scott Mills won Gold for the Best Music Entertainment Show, 21st Century Folk won Gold for the Best Music Special, Windrush 75 won Gold for Best Coverage of an Event, and The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show won Bronze for the Best Music Breakfast Show. Plus, Cerys Matthews won the Best Blues Broadcaster Award for the third time at the annual UK Blues Awards so she has now been elected into the UK Blues Hall Of Fame.

KA

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