#CrazyStupidBook: Giovanna Fletcher – ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’

It’s been a heck of a year for Giovanna Fletcher – and indeed, since we last reviewed a new book of hers. Not content with topping the bestsellers list in February with Happy Mum, Happy Baby, her frank, moving but funny account of her experiences of motherhood to date, she’s trekked across Oman for the breast cancer charity Coppa Feel, launched a successful podcast series, and is also starring in her hubby Tom’s stage version of his book The Christmasaurus at the Hammersmith Apollo later this month. With all of that, plus her fifth novel having just been published, it’s safe to say she’s a human dynamo.

‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ is a brand new story, telling the tale of 28 year old, Ingatestone born and bred Lizzy. Having been in a relationship with Ian since their university days in Sheffield 10 years ago, they moved in together after graduation and have been inseperable ever since. Which has continually begged the question as to when he’ll pop the question to her amongst her family and friends (and his) – much to her contained annoyance.

But even she is not prepared for the shock of Ian drunkenly breaking up with her (whilst on one knee with an engagement ring in his hand. Smooth) over a dinner for two on the beach at sunset whilst on holiday in Dubai. Flying back to the UK, heartbroken and lost, she finds herself living back with her parents in her old childhood bedroom, wondering where it all went wrong – and how she couldn’t have seen it coming.

The novel follows Lizzy in the months after the split, as she sets about trying to rebuild her life in all aspects, to start anew, and find out who she really is without Ian by her side, with the support of her family and friends around. Whilst I don’t want to give away completely what happens, it’s safe to say she makes some surprising discoveries along the way.

The overriding themes of this novel – about self discovery and identity – really struck a chord with me. Whereas Giovanna’s previous novels have centered on a more conventional romantic comedy/drama plot of ‘girl meets boy’ as they did in say, ‘Billy and Me‘ and ‘Dream a Little Dream‘ (two of the characters from the latter, Natalia and Alastair, appear a fair amount in this novel), this focuses around lost love, and about self love and self esteem, and of love from other relationships aside from romantic ones. 

This is particularly true of scenes such as one where Lizzy is sat in her childhood bedroom, writing down lists of the person she was when she was 18, versus the person she is now at 28, and then, later on in the novel, when she sets about making plans to move on and break out of her rut by making lists and notes on the back of an old Spice Girls poster.

It’s also true of scenes like the one where, in her old job with an interior design firm geared towards the ‘Real Housewives of Chigwell’ end of the spectrum, she finds herself reflecting on one client who is not letting her true personality reflect her living space, on account of seeing what they did for her friend and wanting to copy that same design style.

The characters in this novel really jump off the page and have humour, a bit of grit and relatability from the get go. Lizzy’s closest and best friend Connie is sassy and sharp, with a quick wit, as is her younger sister Michelle – the banter and sibling rivalry between them is believable and honest. Her relationship with her dad is one of the strongest of the novel by far for me – particularly when he makes a revelation to her that is touching and heart warming.

‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ is really that and more. It’s a spirited, uplifting and empowering read, about coming through adversity and being stronger for it, and once again shows how, as a writer, Giovanna makes you root for and get behind her protagonist in all that they face and all they (eventually) triumph in as Lizzy does. If you’re at a low point in your life right now, or if you ever have been – you’ll read this book and see a bit of yourself in it. I certainly did.

‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ is out now, published by Penguin/Michael Joseph Books. Twitter: @MrsGiFletcher

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Tweet Hee Hee: Episode 12

Happy Monday and new week people! Time to start your week with a smile with an all new installment of Tweet Hee Hee, our weekly round up of all the funniest bits on social media guaranteed to make you laugh on your Monday morning.

So warm yourself up with a cup of freshly ground LOLs handpicked by our beady Tweet scanning eyes…

TAKE A LOOK OUTSIDE, THAT’S THE WEATHER!

As we head towards the wintry weather, the Evening Standard have now taken a leaf out of Daily Express’ book and are now not addressing weather as you know…seasons…

Matt however, is standing for none of their nonsense…

BECAUSE YOU CAN NEVER START YOUR WEEK WITH TOO MANY SINGING BIRDS

See what I mean?

WHEN SIRI RECOGNISES YOUR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, PART THE 36.

Bit of a music theme this week, no?

NEED A SECRET SANTA IDEA FOR YOUR OFFICE?

I mean it’s two of the best bits of Christmas combined – chocolate AND bad puns in cracker jokes…

HOW TO SABOTAGE YOUR OWN SUCCESS, PART THE 145.

Next week: hamster savages their own cage after being made ‘Hamster of the Year’…

THE STRICTLY ‘CURSE’ STRIKES AGAIN

You tell the story, Joanne Clifton…

What do you have to say, Ore Oduba?

A ROBOT CONTROLLED FUTURE?

Based on the woes at his vicarage, it doesn’t look like Rev Richard Coles agrees…

#StrictlyLiveBlogging Week 11: Tenth Live Show Results

Welcome back to the second part of this weekend’s #StrictlyLiveBlogging on what has been, well, quite a jam packed edition of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing so far this series, all things considered.

24 hours, seven dances, a Paso Doblathon and a public vote later, another dreaded dance off now awaits. We’ll get going at 6:40pm tonight with our warm up looking back at last night’s dances, and a look ahead to the results show, before we get go live with the BBC One show at 7:20pm.

Don’t forget as always to swipe down or press F5 to refresh for all the dance off news as it breaks, and to leave your comments below or Tweet us using the hashtag #StrictlyLiveBlogging. See you all then!

Alex 💃📺🎉😄📝👍

6:40pm

Evening all! So…where do we even start with last night? Not only did the seven remaining couples dance again last night, but there was also the small issue of a Paso Doblathon, as they all put on their best Paso faces and executed their best cape work in the hope of notching up some extra points.

This meant that Joe and Katya, with a combined score of 44 – 38 from their dazzling Quickstep and 6 points from coming second in the Paso Doblathon – saw them top of the leaderboard. 

Debbie and Giovanni finished second with a combined score of 43 – 38 for their Argentine Tango, 5 for the Paso Doblathon where they placed third – with Davood and Nadiya completing the top 3 with a combined score of 39.

Susan and Kevin had a difficult night though, as only 1 point in the Paso Doblathon and 21 for their American Smooth saw them finish bottom of the leaderboard.

6:50pm

So after all that, and with the public vote added, the two lowest scoring couples will compete against each other in the dance off in the hope of reaching Musicals Week next week.

Also tonight, there’s a group dance set at a fashion show from the professionals (and Bruno)…

…plus US pop superstar Kelly Clarkson is performing her latest single live in the studio.

7pm

20 minutes to go! Time for our flashbacks to dances from Week 10s past now. First tonight, we head back to 2010, when Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev pulled off a terrific Tango…

7:05pm

15 minutes to go! Our next Week 10 flashback comes from 2012, with Louis Smith and Flavia Cacace’s stunning Tango/Rumba fusion…

7:10pm

10 minutes to go! The third and final Week 10 flashback is from 2009 now – doing their fantastic Foxtrot, it’s Ali Bastian and Brian Fortuna…

7:20pm

Here we go people…

7:22pm

Swit swoo at you Oti! Looking so much like Beyoncé here!

7:24pm

Bruno Tonioli or Karl Lagerfeld? You decide…

7:27pm

What are your dance off predictions then? I think Susan and Kevin might be in trouble tonight. Don’t forget to leave your comments below and let us know who you think will be in there!

7:31pm

Time to find out the first lot of couples who are safely through to next weekend’s Musicals Week…

  • Mollie and AJ!
  • Joe and Katya!

    And the first couple in tonight’s dance off are…Alexandra and Gorka. Got to say not surprised at that!

    7:35pm

    Time now for Kelly Clarkson, performing her new single “The Meaning of Life” live. Always been a fan of Kelly’s – loving this song of hers, definitely at the more soulful end of her remit! Loving Gorka and Janette’s routine to this too!

    7:42pm

    Here comes the second set of couples safely through to next week…

    • Debbie and Giovanni!
    • Gemma and Aljaz!
    • Davood and Nadiya!

      Which means Susan and Kevin are in the dance off. I totally called that!

      7:49pm

      Dance off time now. Alexandra and Gorka are doing their Rumba again next.

      7:50pm

      Well this is already better than last night – the musicality is so much better captured in this version of the dance. I think it’s safe to say she’s safe (that sounds weird).

      7:52pm

      Susan and Kevin dancing their American Smooth again now. Not their best dance and so obvious they’re going home but I will miss them. One of my favourite partnerships on this series by far!

      7:54pm

      The judges are now voting for who they are saving – here we go:

      • Craig is saving Alexandra and Gorka…
      • Darcey is also saving Alexandra and Gorka…
      • Bruno is also saving Alexandra and Gorka…
      • And Shirley would have also saved Alexandra and Gorka…

        Which means Susan and Kevin are now out of Strictly Come Dancing 2017. Gonna miss them!

        7:57pm

        That’s it for another weekend of #StrictlyLiveBlogging guys – thanks again for reading along this week. We’ll see you again for Musicals Week next Saturday and Sunday, and in the meantime…keeeep live blogging and dancing!

        💃💃💃 📺📺📺 🎉🎉🎉 📝📝📝 😄😄😄

        #CrazyStupidTV: Michael McIntyre’s Big Show (BBC One, 25th November)

        No sight is more assuring in the winter TV schedules this year, then that of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show being back on the box on Saturday evenings. Already two episodes in, and the new run on BBC One is proving to be its best yet.

        As usual, a lot of the old favourite slots in the show, held at the London Palladium, have returned – not least of all the infamous ‘Celebrity Send to All’, where the stand up comedian takes control of a well known face’s phone by sending a baffling round robin text to all their contacts.

        Last week’s first episode saw former Shadow Chancellor and Strictly 2016 star Ed Balls get his phone taken over with an invite to a pool party with Mary Berry and Stormzy (of course). This week, EastEnders star Danny Dyer played willingly along with a text that ‘spun his nut’ (his words, not ours) about being made a knight of the realm by the Queen. Some of the responses to this were by far some of the funniest we’ve heard.

        There’s also been a welcome return for the ‘Unexpected Star’ slot of the show, where each week, an unsuspecting member of the public, nominated by their family and friends, gets surprised in an unusual setting to become a star for that night and perform at the end of the show. Last night saw 11 year old Anush (after being surprised by Michael in a faux Italian restaurant setup, fake Manuel accent and all) take to the stage to perform a truly brilliant version of the Jackson 5 number ‘Who’s Loving You’.

        The Captain of Take That himself, Gary Barlow, was on hand last night as well, as some members of the audience found themselves on the receiving end of some cringeworthy – but side splittingly funny – hidden camera karaoke renditions of their best known songs.

        The performance from Clean Bandit of their new single was admittedly not much to write home about (they’ve had better singles in the past, but this was not one of them), but Russell Kane’s stand up turn was hilarious, with a dead on the mark insight into the humour of opposites attracting when it comes to dating.

        It’s so reassuring in this day and age to see a show with variety, side splitting comedy and entertainment outside of Christmas telly have a place on primetime BBC One. Michael McIntyre has more than proved he is the man for this job – and hopefully there’s many more series of Big Show to come.

        ‘Michael McIntyre’s Big Show’ continues next Saturday at 8:10pm on BBC One. The first two episodes are available to watch again for UK viewers on BBC iPlayer.

        #StrictlyLiveBlogging Week 11: Tenth Live Show

        Welcome one and all to another weekend of #StrictlyLiveBlogging, our weekly live blog of the hit BBC celebrity ballroom contest Strictly Come Dancing. With Blackpool been and gone, and just four weeks left of this series (has it gone that quickly already?) it’s now about to raise in the stakes department yet again. And that’s before Ballas and Horwood have overmarked the duopoly again (oops. I said that out loud. Ah well)…

        We’ll get going at 6:20pm with our warm up looking ahead to tonight’s dances, before we go live with the BBC One show at 6:50pm. Don’t forget to swipe down or press F5 to refresh for all the dance floor action as it happens, and to leave your comments below or Tweet us using the hashtag #StrictlyLiveBlogging. Hope you can join us!

        Alex 💃📺😄📝🎉👍

        6:20pm

        And so it was final weekend minus 4. Tonight, the seven remaining couples are dancing again to try and move another step closer to the final. Here as always, from the BBC Strictly Twitter, are their dances and what they’ll be dancing to:

        And here’s everyone after finishing dress rehearsals earlier today:

        6:30pm

        20 minutes to go! Ah yes. We knew we were almost forgetting something. Tonight, the seven remaining couples aren’t just dancing their own dances, ah no no no. No, they will also in fact be doing what’s called the Paso Doblathon. A small video will explain what that is…

        6:35pm

        15 minutes to go! What happens when Mollie doesn’t get the shades memo? Well, this…

        When @mollieking doesn’t get the memo 😎 😂

        A post shared by Gemma Atkinson (@glouiseatkinson) on

        Alexandra and Gorka are a tad excited, yes…

        This is how excited we are for tonight… nervous. But excited!!! 😝

        A post shared by Alexandra Burke (@alexandramusic) on

        But not as much as Susan we’d say…

        6:45pm

        5 minutes to go! Tess just getting glammed and ready to go…

        As is Darcey…

        I’m ready for another great show #scd #strictly #bbcstrictly #keepdancing DX

        A post shared by Darcey Bussell (@darceybussellofficial) on

        6:50pm

        Let’s get dancing and live blogging people…

        6:57pm

        Kicking off the lucky seven tonight is Joe and Katya. Their Quickstep is set on a New York building site for a skyscraper – so will they hit the heights again?

        6:59pm

        Well Joe and Katya definitely look the part this week! This really suits him this dance – it’s light, athletic and fast and he really captures the musicality of this so well – I feel like I’m watching a West End show!

        Our score: 10. The quarter final – Joe’s gonna be a part of it!

        7:01pm

        Shirley said he’s on his way to next week and was unbelievable, and that there was a great mix of choreography as was his posture. Bruno said there was excellent workmanship, solid technique and beautiful detail that was accurate throughout! Craig said he felt his topline had tension but that it was clean, light and bright. Darcey said it was a gorgeous routine and that it was well timed to the music throughout.

        7:05pm

        The scores for Joe and Katya are in:

        Craig: 9

        Darcey: 9

        Shirley: 10

        Bruno: 10

        Total: 38

        7:07pm

        Wow Janette was giving it some in the Paso warm up! First of the duopoly tonight now with Alexandra and Gorka – and it’s Rumba time…

        7:10pm

        Hmmm. It’s pretty but there’s no smoulder or sensuality to this Rumba. If we’re comparing this with the Gold Standard (Rachel Stevens, 2008), this burns out long before it starts.

        Our score: 6. Competent but unexciting Rumba!

        7:11pm

        Bruno said the torment and conflicted emotions made it like a drama set to music and that she could have extended the lines more. Craig said it needed straighter legs in the Rumba walks, and that it was more of a technical display and that it lacked chemistry and connection. Darcey said she can see how hard she worked but that she didn’t express the musicality like she usually does. Shirley said she felt it had nice emotion and that she stepped on every beat of the music – albeit at the expense of the emotion.

        7:14pm

        Alexandra and Gorka’s scores are in:

        Craig: 7

        Darcey: 8

        Shirley: 8

        Bruno: 9

        Total: 32

        7:15pm

        Up next tonight it’s Gemma and Aljâz – they’re back in the Latin this week with a Samba so let’s see how they get on…

        7:17pm

        Nice pyjamas guys! Do love this Billy Joel song they’re dancing to as well! Gemma is bringing the character to the theme of this dance but maintaining the key samba techniques throughout.

        Our score: 8. The dream Samba? Quite possibly!

        7:19pm

        Craig said her arms were a bit haphazard and that her hands looked like soup ladles and that it was awkward and lumpish at times. Darcey said the narrative was strange and that the dance never woke up and that it wasn’t for her. Shirley said she liked the bedroom scene and that when she got started she did a nice volta. Bruno said it was a perfect Samba with a hangover – and he’s been there himself – but that the theme lost the rhythm and flow of the Samba.

        7:22pm

        Time to get Gemma and Aljâz’s scores:

        Craig: 6

        Darcey: 6

        Shirley: 6

        Bruno: 7

        Total: 25

        7:26pm

        Mollie and AJ are coming up next – they’ve got a quickstep to Rihanna – but will she be the only girl in the world at the top of the leaderboard tonight?

        7:27pm

        Oooh. I’m getting Ore and Joanne American Smooth vibes off this! Light, sprightly and making a splash with this Quickstep – like something out of a musical!

        Our score: 9. Mollie and AJ can have our umbrellas any day of the week!

        7:29pm

        Darcey said she was very good and assured and confident and that it was nice, clean and crisp. Shirley said she made massive improvements on her frame and that her arms were like wings that flew and that it improved everything else as well. Bruno said the rain has gone and the fog has lifted to unveil a bright, clear quickstep! Craig said she can see the effort in her footwork reproduced in her topline and that she has made so much progress!

        7:32pm

        Here come Mollie and AJ’s scores:

        Craig: 7

        Darcey: 7

        Shirley: 8

        Bruno: 9

        Total: 31

        7:34pm

        Time for Davood and Nadiya now – let’s see how they get on with their Waltz tonight…

        7:36pm

        Shout out to the costume team – Nadiya looks stunning tonight and Davood very dapper in his tails! I am definitely feeling the connection and romantic quality Davood and Nadiya are bringing to this dance – it’s like a dream to watch!

        Our score: 10. Graceful like they were waltzing on clouds!

        7:38pm

        Shirley said he’s delivered again this week and that he’s taken her back in time with a classic Waltz. Bruno said they looked like movie stars and that it was a stylish, simple but gorgeous Waltz that charmed him. Craig said it needed a bit more swing and sway but that it had grace and elegance. Darcey said it was effortless with good travel, control and the right amount of romance – her kind of Waltz!

        7:40pm

        Davood and Nadiya’s scores are in:

        Craig: 8

        Darcey: 9

        Shirley: 9

        Bruno: 9

        Total: 35

        7:41pm

        Duopoly number two time now and hoping to avoid the dance off again are Debbie and Giovanni with an Argentine Tango…

        7:43pm

        I legitimately thought they were dancing to the theme from Fawlty Towers for one second. The Argentine Tango is one of my dances when it’s done properly – this just wasn’t for me – not enough attack and passion until the end.

        Our score: 7. A comeback from the dance off, albeit not as sharp as needed.

        7:45pm

        Bruno said she was the Queen of Buenos Aires and that she used the dancefloor tonight like an artist with a canvas. Craig said she was totally unbelievable and that he wishes he could dance like her (NO. REALLY?). Darcey said the articulation and line in her legs is outstanding with extraordinary technical detail. Shirley said she found it emotional throughout and outstanding. Really?

        7:48pm

        Debbie and Giovanni’s scores are in:

        Craig: 9

        Darcey: 9

        Shirley: 10

        Bruno: 10

        Total: 38

        7:49pm

        Dancing last tonight before the Paso Doblathon is Susan and Kevin – they’ve got an American Smooth this week so will they cruise through in style?

        7:51pm

        Nice traditional music they have this week with Bobby Darin! Have to say it’s nice to see Susan and Kevin back doing a smiley, uplifting dance again this week. Maybe not their best (ooops that fall) but they make up for it in feel good factor!

        Our score: 7. Oh how happy Susan and Kevin make me beyond the sea!

        7:53pm

        Craig said there was too much gapping and timing issues getting off the bench but as an entertainment piece it was a sweet. Darcey said it had a glimmer of Hollywood glamour to it with a touch of Fred Astaire. Shirley said she thought Susan looked beautiful and that the music, setting and entertainment factor was good but that she needed more technique from her. Bruno said she was saved by the bench from the amount of times she went up and down throughout but that he loves watching her.

        7:55pm

        Time to get Susan and Kevin’s scores:

        Craig: 4

        Darcey: 6

        Shirley: 5

        Bruno: 6

        Total: 21

        7:58pm

        Is anyone following these rules? No? Well we’d be screwed then…we’re loving Neil’s ungracious loser acting by the way 😂

        8pm

        Here we go then. Oooh Mollie has got some serious Paso face on! Have to say based on what we’re seeing Joe and Katya get our 7 so far…what do you think?

        8:03pm

        Well at least no one bumped into each other throughout! Who’s getting which scores then…let’s find out:

        • Scoring one point: Susan and Kevin…
        • Scoring two points: Mollie and AJ…
        • Scoring three points: Gemma and Aljâz…
        • Scoring four points: Davood and Nadiya…
        • Scoring five points: Debbie and Giovanni…
        • Scoring six points: Joe and Katya…
        • Scoring seven points: Alexandra and Gorka…

        8:06pm

        So that’s it – the Pasodoblathon and dances all over. Who are you voting for tonight? Join us again tomorrow for the results show to find out who’s heading for the dance off – we’ll see you then!

        💃💃💃 📺📺📺 📝📝📝 😄😄😄 🎉🎉🎉

        Christmas Song Advent Calendar 2017


        I did promise I had a big announcement today, so here it is! Every Christmas on my Twitter for the last few years, I have posted a Christmas song each day throughout December right up to Christmas Day. Because I’m a firm believer that the music (OK and the food) is one of the things that can you get most excited about this time of year. (And the food.) And this year, I’m so excited to announce I’m bringing this to the blog as well!

        As of next Friday, my Christmas Song Advent Calendar will be right here on this here blog and on my Twitter. You can expect 25 days and 25 songs of general festiveness, fun and fa la la la. La la la la. There’ll be a little bloggage from me on each of my chosen ones. And best of all – there’ll be a Spotify playlist that you can follow and check back to each day to see what song’s next! 

        And whilst we don’t want to give too many surprises away at this stage, we can tell you that you can expect a great mix of new and old favourites to make your Christmas as sparkling as mulled wine, including…

        • Spice Girls!
        • McFly!
        • Gwen Stefani!
        • Steps!
        • Olly Murs!
        • Enya!
        • And many more…

        So get ready – the 2017 Christmas Song Advent Calendar launches next Friday! We can’t wait – can you?

        😄😄😄 🎄🎄🎄 🎁🎁🎁 🎵🎵🎵 ❄❄❄

        #SongoftheWeek: Dannii Minogue – ‘Galaxy’

        • ARTIST: Dannii Minogue
        • SONG: Galaxy

        SO ALEX, WHY IS THIS YOUR SONG OF THE WEEK?

        It’s been 10 years since Dannii Minogue last released a single proper – a collaboration with Jason Nevins that didn’t do much here or in Australia called ‘Touch Me Like That’. In the time since, she’s been a judge on both UK and Aussie versions of The X Factor, she’s become a mum, and she’s also branched out into fashion.

        But with the music wheels set in motion again this year thanks to a series of well received live gigs – including supporting Take That on the recent Australian leg of their Wonderland tour, no less – she’s back.

        It’s always a tricky thing when an artist comes back with new material after some time away, particularly one who had a sound so tied to a certain era. Having said that, quite a few of Dannii’s singles – ‘I Begin to Wonder’, ‘All I Wanna Do’ and ‘Who Do You Love Now?’ – have all held up surprisingly well.

        ‘Galaxy’, a collaboration with woman of the moment Sia, is a pleasant continuation of the cutting edge dance pop groove she got into on her albums ‘Girl’ and ‘Neon Nights’, whilst sounding current and fresh – and classy with it too. It’s great to have her back.

        ‘Galaxy’ is available to stream and download now via Shiny Disco Productions. Twitter: @DanniiMinogue

        Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts of my song choice this week on my Twitter using the hashtag #SongoftheWeek!

        This is the last #SongoftheWeek blog in the present series – it will return on 5th January. Stay tuned for our special music based plans for next month – an announcement is coming tomorrow!

        #CrazyStupidAlbum: The Corrs – ‘Jupiter Calling’

        Just as, at one time, Leigh Francis in a rubber mask on ‘Bo Selecta!’ ruined Craig David for a large number of people, so too, did Ant & Dec and Cat Deeley, wearing black wigs and affecting Irish accents and proclaiming that they were ‘beeeautiful’ on Saturday morning kid’s TV, ruin one of the Emerald Isle’s most successful exports of the last two decades. Well, almost. They took it in their stride and appeared in one such sketch, after all.

        But as Craig David’s own hugely well received comeback proved recently, that’s almost forgotten about now. So too, is that infamous SMTV Live sketch. What is also forgotten as well, is that Dundalk’s finest, The Corrs, were absolutely huge at the turn of the century. At one point, their chart slaying second album from 1998, ‘Talk on Corners’, which included huge hits like ‘What Can I Do‘ and ‘So Young‘, was sat at number one in the UK, whilst their 1995 debut ‘Forgiven Not Forgotten’ played catch up, meaning they held the number one and number two album simultaneously.

        When they released ‘White Light‘, their storming comeback album after a ten year break in 2015, it felt like a reassuringly warm comfort blanket in audial form, with their ear for melody and harmonies, and their winning combination of traditional Irish sounds with a pop sensibility all still resolutely intact.

        ‘Jupiter Calling’, their seventh studio album, consolidates the success of this return, and sees them team up with the legendary T Bone Burnett, best known for his work with the late great Roy Orbison. The resulting record is one that maybe isn’t as immediate as predocessing ones, nay more stripped back in its production, but reveals multiple hidden layers with returning listens.

        The haunting opening track ‘Son of Solomon’ is unlike any Corrs song that’s come before or since. With Andrea singing in a low register, it builds slowly to a gentle instrumental break of fiddle, tin whistle and brushed drums that are simple but beautifully performed.

        The lyrics in the album also tackle subject matter that’s never been covered on previous albums – but they have a remarkable way of making it accessible through what they do best. Current single ‘SOS’ and ‘Road to Eden’ touch on their concerns for the recent (and ongoing) conflicts in Syria, and of the plight of its refugees. 

        Anyone who investigated Andrea’s 2007 solo album ‘Ten Feet High’ will find much to compare here, as the former song in particular has echoes of a single from that called ‘Shame on You’, which spoke of the futility of conflict and warfare: ‘There’s pain on the border / As far as the eyes can see … They say the victims are dangerous / What a bitter excuse / Cause now we’re complicit / Believing a lie is a truth’.
        There’s also a short but genuinely moving track on the heartbreak and grief of miscarriage, ‘No Go Baby’. Again, it’s very simply arranged – just a piano backing – but it reflects so touchingly in the lyrics and the vocal delivery.

        Those seeking some of the more uplifting end of the Corrs’ canon will be relieved to know there is an equal bounty of that on this album as well. ‘Bulletproof Love’ and ‘Hit My Ground Running’ sound like potential singles and future radio hits whilst maintaining the back to basics feel in the production on here.

        ‘Jupiter Calling’ is a record with such heart and honesty to it – it’s simplicity is part of its charm, and that is rewarded from repeated listens. It takes the band back to the very ethos of what they were about both on record and in a live capacity before their late Nineties and early Noughties super-stardom came beckoning, and it’s refreshing to hear them make music in this set up again. If you thought you knew The Corrs, it’s time to think again.

        STREAM THESE: ‘SOS’, ‘Bulletproof Love’, ‘Hit My Ground Running’

        RATING: 5/5

        ‘Jupiter Calling’ is available to stream and download now on EastWest Records. Twitter: @CorrsOfficial

        Tweet Hee Hee: Episode 11

        Morning everyone and happy new week! It’s time as always to start your week with a smile and a giggle with an all new edition of Tweet Hee Hee, our weekly round up of all the funniest bits from social media guaranteed to brighten your Monday morning.

        So let’s get the laughing gear on, and bring on the LOLs for a brand new week…

        THANKSGIVING WITH THE MUPPETS

        The annual day of giving thanks and eating turkey is almost upon America for another year this Thursday – and Kermit the Frog is planning the catering for his feast to precision…

        YOU KNOW YOU’RE ON A ‘STAG’ DO WHEN…

        …you wake up hungover – possibly naked -in a field wearing a silly wig.

        RARE FOOTAGE OF WILD UNICORNS DISCOVERED

        Angry and Scottish. Who knew?

        NURSERY RHYMES DECODED

        Storm Huntley, co-host of CBeebies’ Down on the Farm, attempted to delve into one of life’s great mysteries this week:

        Theories were, it’s fair to say, ‘a mixed bag’…

        HOME TRUTHS ABOUT ADULTING, PART THE 757

        See also: ‘Just let me know and we’ll arrange something next week’.

        ASI IS F****** COMING

        ASI, you say? What’s that? Why, artifical swearing intelligence, of course…

        And yes, it really is a thing. Sort of.

        SUSAN BOYLE IS ART

        And why is that, you may well ask? #susanalbumparty 

        #StrictlyLiveBlogging Week 10: Blackpool Week Results

        Welcome back one and all to the second part of our Blackpool weekend shenanigans of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing right here on #StrictlyLiveBlogging. Another 24 hours have passed since the eight remaining couples rocked the Tower Ballroom. But tonight, one of them is about to fall foul of the next milestone (the final) and face the dance off – but who will it be?

        We’ll have our warm up as usual at 6:30pm with a recap of all of last night’s action, and a look ahead to tonight’s dance off, before we go live with the BBC One results at 7:15pm. Don’t forget to swipe down or press F5 to refresh for all the dance off news as it breaks, and to leave your comments below or Tweet us using the hashtag #StrictlyLiveBlogging. Hope you can join us!

        Alex 🗼💃📺🎉😄📝👍

        6:30pm

        Evening everyone! So last night, Blackpool was well and truly rocked as the eight remaining celebrities and their professional partners took to the iconic Tower Ballroom floor.

        And quickstepping their way to the top of the leaderboard were Alexandra and Gorka, scoring three 10s and a total of 39 for their Quickstep. Gemma and Aljaz also scored their first two 10s to land second place for their American Smooth to ‘Downtown’, whilst Davood and Nadiya’s Bond inspired Paso Doble rounded off the top 3 on 35 points.

        Susan and Kevin found themselves at the bottom half of the leaderboard though, with 25 for Kevin’s dream Strictly Ballroom inspired Paso Doble, with Jonnie and Oti second from bottom with 26 for their futuristic style Tango.

        6:35pm

        Tonight, as always, the two lowest scoring couples following the judge’s scores and public vote combined will dance again in the dance off, and eight couples will become seven.

        Also on the show tonight, there’s another group number from all the couples and some special guest dancers in a tribute to Northern Soul nights…

        …plus there’s also live music performances from 80s pop legends Tears for Fears, and the chart topping Alfie Boe and Michael Ball.

        6:40pm

        Blackpool has proved to be as eventful as ever in the Strictly calendar this year. Here’s some of the best Instagram snaps from this weekend from Claudia Winkleman, Janette Manrara and Mollie King…

        I love these people @sineadmckeefry @debbiedannell @amz388

        A post shared by Claudia Winkleman (@amiclaudiawinkleman) on

        Such a great night in #Blackpool w/ these beauties! #BestNight ❤️

        A post shared by Janette Manrara (@jmanrara) on

        6:50pm

        25 minutes to go! Time for the first of two special videos for you before tonight’s results show. If you missed Children in Need on BBC One on Friday evening (which raised a record £50m on the night – well done guys!), here’s your chance again to see Blue Peter presenters past and present taking part in a group Jive with the pros to raise money – which none other than Mark Curry with his partner Amy Dowden won! A future 2018 star? We think so!

        7pm

        15 minutes to go! The second must-see video from Children in Need on Friday sees current reigning Strictly champ Ore Oduba absolutely smashing his song and dance tribute to the legend that is Gene Kelly – you gotta dance to this one!

        7:10pm

        5 minutes to go – don’t forget to leave your comments below and let us know who you think is going home (and who you’re loving)!

        7:15pm

        Here we go with the Blackpool results people!

        7:18pm

        Brilliant group dance this! Feel like I’m at a proper Northern Soul night at a Wigan casino (are there any casinos in Wigan? If not I’ve invented them now)…

        7:28pm

        Time now to find out the first lot of couples returning to the dancefloor next weekend – here they come…

        • Gemma and Aljaz!
        • Susan and Kevin!
        • Davood and Nadiya!

          And now the first couple in tonight’s dance off are…

          …Debbie and Giovanni! I totally called that!

          7:32pm

          Time now for the first music performance of the night, from 80s pop legends Tears for Fears singing their classic hit single ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’! We love this song!

          7:40pm

          Time to find out the second lot of couples safely through to next week…here they come!

          • Alexandra and Gorka!
          • Mollie and AJ!
          • Joe and Katya!

            Which means for a second week Jonnie and Oti are in the dance off. So not deserved!

            7:43pm

            Proof that the Strictly production team is one of the best around!

            7:45pm

            Time now for Michael Ball and Alfie Boe performing their version of the Frank Sinatra classic ‘New York, New York’. As dynamic a duo as you could hope for! Beautiful dance from Nadiya and Brendan too!

            7:49pm

            Time now for the dance off. Debbie and Giovanni are up first to dance their Spice Girl Samba again – even though it’s pretty much agiven they’ll be back in anyway…oops. Did I say that out loud?

            7:51pm

            Yep, this is still her worst dance to date. Moment though to talk about what a great Sporty Spice pro dancer Chloe Hewitt is?

            7:52pm

            Jonnie and Oti are dancing their Tango again now. This was brilliant last night, still brilliant tonight. They’re against Debbie anyway but them potentially going out on one of their best dances is just so not fair!

            7:54pm

            The judges are now voting for who they’re saving…

            • Craig is saving Debbie and Giovanni (shock horror)…
            • Darcey is also saving Debbie and Giovanni…
            • Bruno is also saving Debbie and Giovanni…

            Which means Jonnie and Oti are now out of Strictly Come Dancing for 2017. So not deserved!

            We’ll miss Jonnie. A thoroughly lovely guy who was so gracious throughout!

            7:57pm

            That’s it for all the Blackpool weekend action. Thanks again to everyone who read along and commented this weekend, we’ll see you again next Saturday and Sunday for the next editions of #StrictlyLiveBlogging – see you then!

            😄💃🗼📝📺🎉👍