Crown Jools


Sophie Terrett looks forward to seeing in the New Year with Jools Holland, Rudimental and a load of drunk relatives. 

I can’t possibly imagine seeing in a New Year without sitting down with my family and a glass of something bubbly in hand to watch Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny. It won’t officially be 2014 until we’ve joined hands and drunkenly warbled ‘Auld Lang Syne’, while giggling immaturely at what the Scots Guards might be hiding under those kilts. Some of my fellow students might prefer to ring in January the 1st by doing Sambuca shots with friends or watching the fireworks on Southbank, but I firmly believe that observing the spectacle of my stepdad developing sudden-onset and possibly wine-induced adoration of Dizzee Rascal is an infinitely preferable sight.

Certain songs from the show have gone down in musical history, and the chance to see such an eclectic mix of acts cunningly blended to provide an unrepeatable experience is certainly worth the license fee (if we students paid it, that is). Some performances provide a snapshot in that artist’s life, and Amy Winehouse’s rendition of ‘Don’t Go to Strangers’ with Paul Weller beautifully captured her innate talent, and can be a time capsule for her most fruitful years. Other songs can go down in family rather than musical history; New Year’s Eve 2006 has an especially fond place in my heart because it introduced us to the continual source of delight that is Seasick Steve and his three-stringed guitar (do click – you won’t regret it).


Seasick Steve. Image: BBC
Seasick Steve. Image: BBC

The blend of new acts and old is definitely something to be treasured; we are introduced to both innovative styles and are given the chance to re-experience old favourites. I personally credit Caro Emerald’s performance of ‘Mad About the Boy’ with her later phenomenal success in the UK charts; where else would a mass audience encounter Dutch electro-jazz? Similarly, the reappearance of some classic acts can make for wonderful New Years’ Eve memories. The opportunity to work off some of that turkey curry dancing en famille to Dexys Midnight Runners’ ‘Come on Eileen’ creates unforgettable mental images of parents spinning family pets wildly around the living room as the bridge increases tempo and everything goes a bit silly.

The Hootenanny also allows us to see a side of some acts that must unfortunately remain hidden because of the financial necessity to conform to the style their music label suggests; Jools gives them a chance to explore their roots, and give us some innovative takes on classic songs as part of the bargain. Lily Allen’s version of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ isn’t something we would usually stumble across on our radio airwaves without the almighty force of Jools; as is Petula Clark’s unexpectedly raw take on Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’. It can be a sandpit for artists exploring other genres, and we’re fortunate enough to see the musical sandcastles that result.

But it’s not all about the music. We can’t forget the entertainment of beloved stars trying their very best to pretend that this is a live show and not a pre-recorded segment. The panicked look in Kylie Minogue’s eyes as she tried to remember if she needed to say New Year’s Day or Eve is particularly memorable, as is the result of comedian Al Murray (shout out to Teddy Hall alumni) feeling the pressure of keeping the secret and blurting ‘HOOTENANNY!’ at any opportunity.

And the predictions… Oh, Rowland Rivron; I’m sure the year ahead will bring ‘good things’ and ‘big changes’. How could it not, when my stepdad is already furiously downloading Calvin Harris while my mother ponders out loud where her Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ Greatest Hits Collection is hiding?

However, the thing about the hootenanny that captures the spirit of New Year is that there is something for everyone. The entire family is represented in all their musical variety, and the shared bonding experience that comes from watching granny’s favourite Tom Jones (who totally smashed it, by the way) and Kasabian in quick succession cannot be replicated by any other Hogmanay event. Jools’ Hootenanny is unique in giving us a chance to share with our loved ones something that truly represents us, as our musical taste does. That’s why you won’t find me out on the tiles or wrapped in a wooly scarf this New Year’s Eve; I’ll be snuggled with my family experiencing the juxtaposition that only Jools can provide, of Rudimental and The Proclaimers, practising how to link arms while keeping a firm grip on my glass. Happy New Year!


Hootenanny 2009/10. Image: The Guardian.
Hootenanny 2009/10. Image: The Guardian.



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