Do you like to discover new music?

One of my side projects is Merryn Music where I interview unsigned UK and Ireland music artists every Monday for a feature I creatively called “Independent Music Monday”.

One of the other parts to Merryn Music is the Spotify account. Since Merryn Magazine launched in April 2016, I have been collating ‘new music’ playlists on the Spotify account. These are updated each week and I also have a playlist where I compile the 20 best songs of the week. These playlists feature UK and Ireland artists only.

There are now 300 songs (18 hours 30 minutes of music) on the February playlist:

There are over 300 songs on the March playlist:

I have added a new batch of songs to the Top 20 playlist, so if you fancy a listen, here’s the playlist! 🙂 (NB: I can’t get Naropa’s song off the playlist! I think it’s because it was removed from Spotify, my playlist starts with Brave Giant).

Take That on Carpool Karaoke for Comic Relief

I didn’t get the chance to watch Comic Relief live last night, but I’ve just watched the video of Take That with James Corden for Carpool Karaoke.

I was 12 years old when Take That started and I was a fan since the start. I even got to be front row at one of their concerts when I was 15. I was devastated when they split up, but I was so pleased when they reformed and came back as a ‘man band’! They’re such talented singers and I’m so pleased they’re still performing.

Hearing them singing the older songs brought back happy memories of my teenage years. I’m so jealous of James and everyone who got to meet them in this video, it’s just brilliant!

Do you know an unsigned UK artist or band?

One of the things I love to champion is unsigned UK artist and bands. With that in mind, I run a regular feature on the Merryn Magazine website on Mondays called Independent Music Monday where I interview a different singer or band each week. If you know of anyone that I should be featuring, please ask them to take a look at this webpage, as that will give them more information 🙂

Happy birthday Janet Jackson!

Today (16th May 2016) is Janet Jackson’s 50th birthday! I have always been a big fan of Janet’s, ever since I was given a cassette copy of her 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814 when I was 11 years old. It’s such a great album and I was hooked from the start. Not only is it a great album, but her videos are filmic masterpieces. To celebrate Janet’s birthday, here’s my favourite song from Rhythm Nation 1814 🙂

RIP Prince



Wow, 2016 is officially starting to suck now. We’ve already lost so many talented people, but now Prince? Really? I can’t believe that Prince is dead. It’s like the words just won’t sink in. I’ve been a big fan of Prince since the early 1990s, I was even lucky enough to see him live in concert in March 1995 at Sheffield Arena. I was only 6 rows from the front and he was simply phenomenal. I really hope that this year is done with taking talented people from us, I’ve never known a year like it.

RIP Prince, thank you for all the amazing music, for sharing your fabulous style with us and for showing that you don’t need to conform to gender stereotypes; you can just be you.

Rick Astley’s back with new music!

To most people the name ‘Rick Astley’ means they got rickrolled and expected to see a completely different video. I’ve always been a big fan of Rick’s but then I was 9 years old when “Never Gonna Give You Up” came out, so I have happy childhood memories linked to Rick’s music.

Tonight I was listening to a Spotify playlist “Tomorrow’s Hits” while working when I heard a song I really liked. I took a look at who it was by, and it was Rick Astley! I didn’t know he’d released a new song. It’s really good and sounds nothing like his 80’s music.

I highly recommend having a listen 🙂

The Voice 2016: Battle Round 1: 27th February 2016

** SPOILER ALERTS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE OUTCOME OF TONIGHT’S SHOW! **

As mentioned in my post from last week “The Voice 2016: my ones to watch“, I’m a massive The Voice fan. I picked out my favourite 9 auditions and this week we saw whether any of my favourites made it through to the next round. So, away we go!

It was such an emotional night, I’ve never seen so many tears! This year, part one of the battle rounds seemed less shouty than last year, and left you able to hear how good the singing was as opposed to just how loud some of them could scream.

Jolan (Team Ricky)
Jolan was paired up with Efe Udugba to sing The Jam’s Beat Surrender.
It’s a great song that you really don’t hear often. I really couldn’t call it, as they were both so invested and sang their hearts out. In the end, Jolan won and sadly no-one stole Efe. It’s such a shame to lose anyone this talented, but I know you can only have a certain number go through to the next round.

Chloe Castro (Team Ricky)
Chloe was paired up with Alaric Green to sing Hope There’s Someone by Antony and The Johnsons.
It was a really emotional performance with both Boy George and Ricky Wilson tearing up. Their voices really complimented each other, and even though I hadn’t favourited Alaric’s initial audition, I really enjoyed him tonight. Again, I couldn’t call it, but happily Chloe was picked, though Alaric was stolen by Boy George, so he’s also through to the knockout shows. He’s got a great voice, so it was fantastic that he’s through too.

Tobias Robertson (Team George)
Tobias was paired up with Laura Begley to sing Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division.
It was a slowed-down version and sounded beautiful. I felt both were equally pitched during the song, but when Laura was picked, I could see why. So, Tobias is my first loss of the battle rounds, but I’m sure we’ll see more from him as he’s really talented.

Bradley Waterman (Team Paloma)
Bradley was paired up with Rick Snowdon to sing a mashup of I’m A Man/Something’s Got A Hold On Me by Bo Diddley/Etta James.
What a battle! I hadn’t favourited Rick’s audition, but he can sing! It was a very rock concert performance and both singers gave their all. Sadly though, Paloma chose Rick, but Bradley was stolen by Boy George, so he’s still in!

Cody Frost (Team George)
Cody was paired up with Heather Cameron-Hayes to sing Nothing Compares To You by Sinead O’Connor.
Another amazing performance! To say I was underwhelmed by the auditions, quite a few people have impressed me tonight where I hadn’t favourited their original audition, and Heather is one of those people. It was another emotional performance, with Boy George crying pretty much throughout. I couldn’t call it, but George chose Cody but Paloma stole Heather.

So still to battle next week are:
Kevin Simm (Team Paloma)
Vangelis (Team George)
Mia Sylvester (Team Ricky)
Rachel Ann (Team Ricky)

This means that this week, I still have the below in the running and going into the knockout round:
Jolan (Team Ricky)
Chloe Castro (Team Ricky)
Bradley Waterman (was Team Paloma, now Team George)
Cody Frost (Team George)

But we sadly said goodbye to Tobias Robertson (Team George) 😦

One Direction wins British Artist Video at The Brits 2016!

So last night was The Brits, and it was fabulous! I’m a huuuuuuuuge One Direction fan, and I was so glad to see that they won “British Artist Video” for Drag Me Down. Such a great song and a well deserved Brit win. If you haven’t seen the video in all its glory, here it is!

The Voice 2016: my ones to watch

I have been watching The Voice since it started in 2012 and I love the format. In this superficial world that we live in, you can tell that some singers have been passed over in previous competition-type shows because of how they look. The Voice forces the judges to listen to the singer and their, erm, voice, and not be distracted by aesthetics. The last blind auditions show for this year has just been broadcast, and now we know who the judges have for the upcoming Battle rounds. Below are my favourite auditions so far, but I have to say that I was disappointed by this year’s quality. I felt that last year was much stronger, however, there are some great performers and if the right people get through, it will be a great set of live shows.

Cody Frost
Which team is she in? Team George
Cody sang a very different version of ABBA’s Lay All Your Love On Me, it was simply mesmorising. She was the first person I was really excited to see.

Kevin Simm
Which team is he on? Team Paloma
Kevin used to be in Liberty X (the group formed from the people who didn’t get into Hear’Say, and were much, much more successful!), and you can see why he progressed so far in Popstars. It was a flawless performance, and I can’t wait to see him in the Battle rounds.

Chloe Castro
Which team is she on? Team Ricky
Chloe has a lovely style, and I loved her outfit! Straight after I had seen her audition, I put in the YouTube comments, “I have been really disillusioned with this year so far, and Chloe has just grabbed my attention and made me want to watch it again! She’s got a lovely tone to her voice and I can’t wait to see what she sings next.” It’s true, this year has been a real strange one for talent, but I was so glad to see Chloe go through. I think she’s got the right coach as having seen Ricky coaching last year, you know he really cares about getting the very best out of each person.

Tobias Robertson
Which team is he on? Team George
Tobias sang You’ve Got A Friend In Me which you don’t hear as an audition often! He has such a gorgeous tone to his voice.

Bradley Waterman
Which team is he on? Team Paloma
I thought Bradley’s audition was great, a different spin on Cee Lo Green’s song. It will be interesting to see who Paloma pairs him up with in the Battle rounds, but I really hope he progresses on as he’s really good.

Vangelis
Which team is he on? Team George
Vangelis was very brave taking on a Culture Club song when Boy George is one of the coaches, but clearly it paid off. It was a great version, and I can’t wait to see more from him.

Mia Sylvester
Which team is she on? Team Ricky
Mia has an amazing voice and I have no idea why only one judge (Ricky) turned. It’s just crazy! She’s such a great find for the show, and I can see her progressing quite late on into the final shows. Such a great audition and I loved Ricky’s reaction when he realised that he was the only coach to turn, and that he didn’t have to battle with the other judges!

Jolan
Which team is he on? Team Ricky
Before Jolan’s audition, I really thought that Kevin Simm was my all-time favourite, but then Jolan came along and barged Kevin out of the way! I love Terence Trent D’Arby, and you don’t hear his music very often, unfortunately. Jolan did an amazing (or “flawless” as Ricky said) performance, and I must have watched his audition at least 10 times by now. Not only does he have a great voice, he’s cute too and seems like a genuinely nice guy. Bring on the Battle rounds, I really hope he gets through!

Rachel Ann
Which team is she on? Team Ricky
To say that Rachel Ann is only 16, she has such a great voice, simply phenomenal. To say that she was also playing the keyboard too is outstanding, as I should imagine that trying to concentrate on just the keyboard alone in such a big audition would be enough to throw anyone off! A great audition 🙂

So, this year I have someone I’m interested in in all teams, but the scores so far are:

Team Ricky = 4 contestants (45%)
Team George = 3 contestants (33%)
Team Paloma = 2 contestants (22%)

Actually, not all of the teams. Weirdly I have none from Will’s team, which I hadn’t noticed until just now! I just went through all of #TeamWill again to double check that I hadn’t forgotten to save anyone’s audition videos, and nope, I actually don’t have anyone in #TeamWill!

Special mention goes to Lester Preston Jr, whose audition I loved, but sadly no-one turned for him (just, how?!). Hopefully we’ll see him again in the future.

Only 7 days to go until the Battle rounds, I can’t wait!

Happy birthday Phil Collins!

Phil CollinsToday (30th January) is Phil Collins’ 65th birthday! I have been a big fan of Phil’s music, both his own and with Genesis, since I was small. While putting together a list of my favourite Phil Collins/Genesis songs, I realised that I liked 28 songs, so I created a playlist! 🙂

If you click on the little icon in the top left hand corner of the video box, it will show you all of the videos in the playlist, and you can choose what to listen to. Or just play the first video, and listen to them all in turn!

Happy birthday Phil, thank you for all of your amazing songs and performances over the years 🙂