‘This Girls Aloud song was the soundtrack to me coming out’

The RTÉ presenter James Patrice shares the playlist of songs he’s been listening to lately

“The video for Girls Aloud’s The Promise was iconic, with all the five girls in gold, shimmering sequin dresses. It was phenomenal altogether.”

“The video for Girls Aloud’s The Promise was iconic, with all the five girls in gold, shimmering sequin dresses. It was phenomenal altogether.”

 

Growing up, I loved pop. I idolised Steps, Kylie Minogue, the Spice Girls and then Girls Aloud. There’s great power in pop. It’s transformative. It can lift your mood, it can make you feel good. There’s enough misery in the world without music that’s going to make me bawl.

Every few months I like to set up a new Spotify playlist, like 2021 Volume 1; then, a few months later, I’ll do a Volume 2, and I’ll add in new favourites. They act as a musical chronology of my life, and there’s a pleasure in listening to older playlists and reminiscing on songs that I loved years ago.

When I become obsessed with a song I tend to play it on repeat until I’m sick of it. I try and ration the amount of plays, because I’ll just end up ruining it for myself. But Tragedy by Steps is a favourite of mine. The Bee Gees did the original, but Steps did the seminal dance for it. Their video was set at a wedding, and my sister Vanessa and I always said growing up that we’ll have to re-enact the dance when one of us got married.

So we did it at her wedding this year. It was a lockdown wedding, and there were only eight of us there, but we went out on to the steps of Cabra Castle, Vanessa in her wedding dress, and we did the dance routine. I put it on my Instagram and it blew up – H from Steps even saw it.

Another of my all-time favourite songs is Downtown by Petula Clark. The message behind it is so simple: if you’re feeling a bit low, out you go, see what’s happening out downtown. I was in the school choir, and it was always one of the songs we sang – plus it reminds me of my sister and mother singing it around the house. Not to be morbid, but at my funeral I’d want a bit of Downtown.

Amazing Grace might seem like more of a natural funeral song. It’s the slowest song on the playlist, but it’s actually quite a hopeful number. I wouldn’t be the holiest of people, but it’s good to pause and reflect sometimes. There are so many lovely versions of it as well. My sister is a music teacher and a soprano, and she sings it beautifully, so I always think of her when I hear it.

The Promise by Girls Aloud is a fantastic song, and it holds important memories for me. The album came out in 2009, when I was in college, and it was around the time I came out. The video was iconic, with all the five girls in gold, shimmering sequin dresses. It was phenomenal altogether. In a way it was the soundtrack to me coming out – as well as Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, who also released major albums around that time.

James Patrice: Not to be morbid, but at my funeral I’d want a bit of Downtown.
James Patrice: Not to be morbid, but at my funeral I’d want a bit of Downtown.

I love a good musical, so I picked Defying Gravity, a duet from two Broadway legends, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. They performed the song for the soundtrack of Wicked, but it became a Pride anthem because it’s all about breaking free of the restraints that have held you down through your life, and being your most fabulous self. I love an uplifting number that has a bit of joy behind it.

In the same vein, I’ve also added Home. That’s originally from the musical The Wiz, but it’s a song in Pose the TV show. It’s sung by two black artists, MJ Rodriguez and Billy Porter – MJ Rodriguez is a trans woman – and it’s such a powerful piece of music. The lyrics are emotional, about being a little bit lost and finding your way home, reflecting on the things that mean so much to you about where you came from, and your family. It’s a lovely song.

When it comes to newer tracks, I’ve been listening to Todrick Hall. He’s the whole package. He was on American Idol, he’s a YouTube star, he’s a choreographer for RuPaul’s Drag Race, and he’s performed on Broadway – the whole lot. He has a new song out now called Rainin’ Fellas, which is an exclusively gay version of It’s Raining Men. It’s a perfect floor-filler.

James Patrice presents Battle of the Food Trucks; the final airs on Tuesday, July 27th, on the RTÉ Player

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