How Graham Norton met Christine & The Queens
A story about the importance of the Corkman’s in-flight reading material
One of the big music stories of 2016 has to be the rise of Christine & The Queens. When you walk into your local Centra and hear “Tilted” playing over the speakers, you know you’ve gone beyond a tipping point. When I interviewed Héloïse Letissier earlier in the year, it was after a superb performance by the French star on the Later…With Jools Holland TV show.
But while that appearance – and some great performances last month at Glastonbury – introduced her to a new audience, it wasn’t the same as appearing on The Graham Norton Show. In terms of audience alone, Norton is huge (3.9 million or thereabouts, compared to the couple of hundred thousand who might see Later) and it seems this was the appearance which pushed her to a whole new audience. It also, crucially, meant that radio programmers who might have been a little standoffish about her or may not even have realised she existed (or thought audiences might mix her up with Florence & The Machine or Marina & The Diamonds – true story) sat up and took notice.
The most interesting thing about all of this for many will be how exactly Letissier and friends ended up on the show. After all, given the audience, you can imagine every major act in the world will be pushing to appear on the show and Christine & The Queens still are a left-of-centre act in the greater scheme of things. The current Record of the Day magazine (subscription only) has the story from the show’s music booker Paul Malone. Per Malone, Norton read a review of Christine & The Queens’ album in an inflight magazine, took a photo of it and passed it onto the booker. When Drake cancelled a planned appearance with two weeks notice, Christine & THe Queens got the call and, one superb performance later, they’re on their way.
It’s abundantly clear that Norton’s TV show is of huge importance in breaking an act and introducing them to the mainstream. But it’s also clear from this anecdote that there is no way on earth you can predict where the initial connection can come from. I’m sure getting new releases covered by inflight magazines is not top of the list of priorities at any major label, but without that review piquing the interest of the Corkman in Seat 1A, you wouldn’t have that TV appearance and everything that has happened as a result.