#CrazyStupidPlaylist: Jennifer Lopez


Since one of our best loved comedic actors, James Corden, started as the host of the popular ‘Late Late Show’ on CBS in America, it’s fair to say the former ‘Gavin & Stacey’ star has well and truly won over audiences there. Not least because of a now legendary feature on the show called ‘Carpool Karaoke’, in which, as the name suggests, he drives around the carpool traffic in Los Angeles with some A-listers belting out a bit of a karaoke.

Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Adele to Chris Martin has joined him on this feature, and everytime a new one is aired it takes less than a day for it to go viral on the interweb. His latest ‘Carpool Karaoke’ this week was with international superstar, J.Lo, aka Jennifer Lopez, and is easily the best 15 minutes of YouTube related funny stuff you’ll see this week (not least because James casually texts Leonardo DiCaprio off her phone midway through, with the consequences you might expect).

J.Lo was a big part of the musical background in my teen years – largely because my sister Cat (of Dear Cat & Fi fame to you, readers) was and still is a massive fan of hers. A star of acting, singing, judging and dancing, and certainly when you consider the massive exposure she received in the early 00’s, it’s all too easy to forget that she’s made more of a success of her music then she’ll generally be given credit for. But today, she’s going to get that credit as I bring you my specially curated playlist on Spotify of some of her finest moments…


(from the album ‘On the 6’, 1999)

Picture the scene. It’s the summer of 1999. Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and, erm, Geri Halliwell have ushered in the nu-Latino wave in pop. Jen took it one step further and into the clubs with her second single and bought us the song which most people consider to be her signature anthem. ‘Waiting for Tonight’ has it all – melancholic heartache, a great vocal performance, hypnotic dance beats and even a bit of faint, carnival-esque samba brass. Magic.


(from the album ‘J.Lo’, 2001)

Her first UK chart topper back in January 2001, ‘Love Don’t Cost a Thing’ is everything and more you’d want from turn of the millennium US R&B. From the second the military, bassy orchestra hits kick in on the intro, you know you’ve got something special. After a couple of years of TLC and Destiny’s Child proclaiming they didn’t have time for no scrubs who didn’t pay their bills, here – perhaps with a slight hint of irony given what was to happen in the time immediately following this single – was Jen saying that diamond rings and credit cards weren’t the keys to her heart. But to cuss it for that is to miss the point entirely.


3. ON THE FLOOR (feat. Pitbull)

(from the album ‘Love?’, 2011)

And from Jen’s first chart topper, we get to her most recent, and what is easily the best single of hers from the 2010s thus far. Working with the then man of the moment RedOne on what was by all accounts a comeback for her after some time away from our shores, and geniusly sampling ‘Lambada’ to devestatingly euphoric effect, not even the presence of intolerably awful rent-a-rapper Pitbull on this track detracts from it all. If you fail to dance to this, you have no soul.


(from the album ‘Rebirth’, 2005)

One of the great things about J.Lo is that she never sticks to one genre twice, as was the case when the first single from her aptly named fourth album ‘Rebirth’ appeared in early 2005. Slinky, club led hip hop pop, ‘Get Right’ has an insanely catchy chorus, a looped sax sample that’s just as contagious, and an accompanying music video that was one of her best, playing a barmaid, reveller, DJ and go-go dancer at a packed club whilst her video played on the screens.


(from the album ‘On the 6’, 1999)

Where it all started for her back in 1999, ‘If You Had My Love’, whilst not only being one of her best moments – all moody, Darkchild helmed R&B with a chorus to die for – was a watercooler moment for the lines between two fields of entertainment being torn down. Very few actors or actresses cross successfully over into pop music – and vice versa. But Jennifer broke down those barriers and proved herself a success in both fields the minute she released this as her first single – and she’ll continue to break those barriers for years to come.


Dear Cat & Fi: The One on Easter Monday


Dear Cat & Fi,

Hello and a hearty happy Easter to you both! I’m currently demolishing the Mini Eggs in the above picture as I write this. Very good they are too. It’s been something of a drought blogging wise since the last entry I wrote to you but never fear, I am back and ready to go again. In my defence, the first three months of this year haven’t had much to write home about to so maybe that’s some of it.

So I hope your Easter weekends have been tops. I’ve been taking full advantage of lie ins, and chocolate, and just generally lovely family time on the whole – we saw Mairi and the kids yesterday and Helen and Mark today. The clocks of course went forward this weekend as well, although unusually I’ve not felt the alteration on my body clock like I usually do when it leaps forward or back. Not that I’m complaining, you understand.


My last post which I did last Sunday was a new poem I’ve written called ‘Begin Again’. I did speak before in another blog last year about how autumn was my favourite season of the year, but I do have to say, spring is a very close second. This time of year, the weather changing and the days getting longer always seems hopeful and full of promise, and I really felt moved to capture that whilst I was out for a walk over at the country park and saw the daffodils all coming into bloom and the blossom on the trees. It’s not quite Wordsworth, but I did my best attempt I think.

So what else have I been up to? Well, the new series of ‘The Voice’ has been on BBC One to keep my Saturday evenings occupied (and the last on there before it moves to ITV next year) and whilst I’ve not seen all of this year’s series, there is one contestant on there this year who I’m really rooting for. On Ricky Wilson’s team, one of his final singers is (pictured below) Kevin Simm.


He of course used to be part of Liberty X, the ‘losers’ on the original series of Popstars all the way back in 2001 (I watched it again on YouTube out of curiosity recently. It feels very old hat watching back now compared to the reality TV talent shows of current!) who went onto do even better than the winners, Hear’Say – their chart topping (and still rather good) ‘Just a Little’ won them a BRIT award in 2003. They’d been back on our screens as recently as 2013 when they did the first series of ‘The Big Reunion’ for ITV2.

He’d still been singing since the band formally called it quits in 2007, and he did attempt a solo career which didn’t take off. His blind audition, where he sang Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ was – to put it mildly – absolutely mindblowing. There’s a danger when you have people audition on shows like this with a former pop past that it’ll backfire spectacularly – Sean Conlon from 5ive, for example, did a blind audition on the first series of the show in 2012 and got no turns. Likewise, Cleo Higgins (of Cleopatra fame) auditioned the following year and only got as far as the knockout rounds.

But such is Kevin’s vocal ability, it almost obliterates whatever kind of past associations anyone would have with him career wise, particularly coming from a band who found fame from a show that is like ‘The Voice’ in a lot of ways, but also his level headedness – interviews I’ve seen with him since finding success on the show highlight that and his very laconic, dry Northern wit about it all – is probably part of the reason he’s now made it as far as the semi finals of the show next weekend. I just hope I’ve not jinxed that for him in anyway, but I’ll be voting to make sure he goes far.

I’ve also been looking at travel, as quite excitingly I have my first ever holiday abroad with friends coming up in July. Myself and several #MursArmy buddies are going over to Cork in Ireland for a long weekend as Olly Murs is doing a show over there as part of a month long festival they have called ‘Live at the Marquee’. Loads of other top names like Tom Jones, Chic & Nile Rodgers, Little Mix and The Corrs are headlining on different evenings from 12th June onwards, Olly’s show is on 7th July.


Disappointingly, I won’t be seeing him supporting Take That when they play Hyde Park in London a couple of days after as I’ll be flying back to the UK on that day (now that I would have killed to see), but I’m really excited as I’ve wanted to visit Ireland for years so this seemed like the perfect opportunity, Dad’s always told me so many stories about places and faces from his time there growing up.

So that’s about it for this week, I’m off to enjoy some TV in the dying hours of the long weekend. Cat – I shall be popping by to see you next Friday for a day before I head off to see Years & Years on their tour at Wembley Arena. Can’t wait to see you, Indi and Trent again. Fi – hope you’re well too, I’ll ring you at some point this week.

Until next week, in the words of Yoda, ‘When you look at the dark side, careful you must be…for the dark side looks black’.


Luv-oo, Alex

x x

Begin Again

by Alex MacGregor


Awaken, friends, this is the dawn of a new day
For now we leave behind the time we can no longer turn back
For now we leave behind the futile grains of unfulfilled sand

Let us not hold onto our grievances, the dead lichen of the day before
Let us not deny our potential, as a daffodil has sprouting from bulb to bloom
Let us remain humble and gracious as the snowdrops in the clearing

May we feel the sun on our faces, and the warmth of good love around us
May we carry the outlook of a clear blue sky, even when clouded over
May we be abundant and hopeful as the cherry blossom

As we begin again.

Poem © 2016 Alex MacGregor Ltd. All rights reserved.