FT Life of a Song-logo

FT Life of a Song

Arts & Culture Podcasts >

Each week we bring you the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Each episode is written and presented by an FT music critic or contributor. Formerly called FT Arts.

Each week we bring you the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Each episode is written and presented by an FT music critic or contributor. Formerly called FT Arts.
More Information

Location:

United Kingdom

Description:

Each week we bring you the story of a song, from its origins and early recordings through cover versions good and bad. Each episode is written and presented by an FT music critic or contributor. Formerly called FT Arts.

Language:

English


Episodes

Sincerity or self-branding: what defines millennial music?

4/20/2018
More
From the unstoppable rise of hip-hop to the 'millennial whoop', what does today's new music sound like? And how has social media changed the relationship between artists and fans? Harriet Fitch Little, India Ross and Griselda Murray Brown discuss Drake, Cardi B and DJ Khaled - in particular 'Wild Thoughts' ft. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller from 2017, which leans heavily on the melody and mood of Santana's 1999 hit 'Maria Maria', the coming-of-age soundtrack for the oldest cohort of...

Duration:00:22:05

Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights

3/15/2018
More
When "Wuthering Heights" was released 40 years ago this year, it became the first song written and performed by a woman to reach number one in the UK charts. What was the song's — and Bush's — special appeal? Why have there been more parodies than straight covers? And why is it so popular now, with re-enactments of the music video taking place around the world? FT music writers Jude Rogers, Helen Brown and David Cheal discuss the song and its afterlife.

Duration:00:26:24

1968: The Year that Music Changed

1/23/2018
More
Set against a backdrop of protest and upheaval, the songs released in 1968 represent a turning point in music. FT pop writers David Cheal and Peter Aspden are joined by author Tot Taylor to debate the year's most important songs and artists, from Tyrannosaurus Rex, The Beatles and Pink Floyd to Joni Mitchell and Tim Buckley.

Duration:00:29:21

The best Christmas music: a definitive guide

12/19/2017
More
What makes a good Christmas song? Should it be cheesy or serious? And why do millennials love them? FT pop writers discuss festive classics old and new - from carols to Mariah Carey, Greg Lake to Phil Spector, Sufjan Stevens to Run-DMC. Plus, which 2017's best Christmas song: Gwen Stefani's 'You Make it Feel Like Christmas' or Sia's 'Santa's Coming for Us'?

Duration:00:20:20

The Life of a Song: Strange Fruit

11/17/2017
More
Billie Holiday’s 1939 'Strange Fruit' was called 'the first significant protest in words and music, the first unmuted cry against racism'. Other singers attempted it, from Nina Simone and Diana Ross to Jeff Buckley and Kanye West. But could any match the power of the impassioned original? FT pop writers David Cheal, Fiona Sturges and Helen Brown discuss the song's origins and afterlife.

Duration:00:22:27

The Life of a Song: Make You Feel My Love

10/19/2017
More
From Bob Dylan to Adele, the song that was first called 'a spare ballad undermined by greetingcard lyrics' is now a karaoke tearjerker. FT pop writers David Cheal and Helen Brown debate the origins, meanings and cover versions of 'Make You Feel My Love'.

Duration:00:16:19

The Hits that Shook the World

9/15/2017
More
In a special episode to mark the publication of The Life of a Song book, FT pop critics Helen Brown, David Cheal and Ludovic Hunter-Tilney debate whether a song can really change the world. Hear the stories behind the hits, from Bowie's 'Starman' to Jay-Z's 'Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)'.

Duration:00:38:13

The Life of a Song: Wild Thing

8/14/2017
More
It achieved distinction in an era of elemental riffs, and journeyed effortlessly to and fro across the Atlantic. It also marked a turning point in the career of the greatest guitarist who ever lived: Jimi Hendrix. FT pop writers Peter Aspden and David Cheal discuss "Wild Thing" 50 years after Hendrix's groundbreaking performance at the Monterey Pop festival.

Duration:00:19:02

The Life of a Song: Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel

7/18/2017
More
The singer’s old label boss called the song ‘a morbid mess’, but it shot to number one in the US. Ahead of the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death in August, FT pop writers Peter Apsden and David Cheal discuss the song's origins, dark appeal and afterlife. Credits: 104pro Media, Legacy Recordings, Entertain Me Ltd, Spectrum, Omnivore Recordings, Vengeance Records

Duration:00:18:51

The Life of a Song: Radiohead's No Surprises

6/13/2017
More
Twenty years after they headlined Glastonbury, Radiohead return to the British music festival. FT pop writers Ludovic Hunter-Tilney and David Cheal discuss the band's lullaby of despair 'No Surprises' from their 1997 album OK Computer. Credits: Sire/Warner Bros, mudhutdigital.com, XL Recordings, Easy Star, SKIP Records

Duration:00:20:57

The Life of a Song: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

5/21/2017
More
David Honigmann looks at how a sleeping Keith Richards dreamt up a riff that would later develop into a number one hit for Rolling Stones and become one of the most recognisable rock anthems of all times. Credits: ABKCO Records Inc, Universal International Music B.V, Rhino Atlantic, Virgin Records Ltd.

Duration:00:08:28

The Life of a Song: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

5/14/2017
More
David Cheal looks at how Bob Dylan took inspiration from an old Scottish border ballad while writing this era-defining apocalyptic vision of what he saw as the violent, ignorant and hypocritical socio-political landscape of 1960s America. Credits: Sony Music Entertainment Inc, A Wing & A Prayer Ltd, Vanguard Records, Virgin Records. Patti Smith Nobel ceremony recording courtesy of: Nobelprize.org.

Duration:00:08:23

The Life of a Song: Je T'aime... Moi Non Plus

5/7/2017
More
Helen Brown looks at how Serge Gainsbourg's infamously salacious love song originally written for Brigitte Bardot would become a hit for the French composer and his English girlfriend Jane Birkin, despite facing widespread bans and condemnation. Credits: Mercury France, Mercury Music Group, Rarity Music, Parlophone UK, Barclay.

Duration:00:07:50

The Life of a Song: The Message

4/30/2017
More
Ian McCann takes a look at one of the greatest and most culturally influential rap songs by genre pioneers Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. A hit urban anthem, it almost wasn't recorded... Credits: Castle Communications, Warner Bros, Wagram Music, The Island Def Jam Music Group, Atlantic Records

Duration:00:07:54

The Life of a Song: O Sole Mio

4/23/2017
More
Ian McCann looks at how a turn-of-the-century Neopolitan ballad was adapted into a hit for Elvis, before becoming an anthem for ice cream lovers and football fans alike. Credits: Bongiovanni, Delta, AP Music Ltd, Nuova Canaria, Randy's Group, Inc, Autarc Media GmbH

Duration:00:08:42

The Life of a Song: Tainted Love

4/23/2017
More
Sue Norris explores how a B-side by a little known American singer, Gloria Jones became a cult hit on the 1970s English northern soul scene, before being turned into one of the most recognizable pop songs of all time by Soft Cell. Credits: Universal Music TV, Universal Music Enterprises, Parlophone UK, Interscope Records, The Island Def Jam Music Group, Tacca Musique

Duration:00:07:33

The Life of a Song: Let It Go

4/16/2017
More
Helen Brown looks at how the most successful Disney song of all time became an unlikely favourite among prisoners and a "coming out anthem" for the LGBT community. Credits: Walt Disney Records, Black Crow Records

Duration:00:07:00

The Life of a Song: Hotel California

4/3/2017
More
Peter Aspen looks at how The Eagles turned a few improvised chords into one of the most iconic, and enigmatic, rock songs of the 1970s. Credits: Rhino/Elektra, Parlophone UK, UMG Recordings, Elemental Records, Sony Music Entertainment

Duration:00:07:39

The Life of a Song: Midnight Train to Georgia

3/26/2017
More
Sue Norris on how Cissy Houston and Gladys Knight respectively transformed the sound, and meaning, of Jim Weatherly's country number. Credits: X5 Music Group, Jim Weatherly, Carinco AG, Capitol Records LLC.

Duration:00:07:55

The Life of a Song: 9 to 5

3/20/2017
More
Harriet Fitch Little on how Dolly Parton's anti-work anthem went from the movies to the White House to a muddy field in Glastonbury. Credits: Sony Music Entertainment, Capitol Steps, Pumpin' UK Records, Dolly Records, BBC/Glastonbury

Duration:00:08:17