Don’t be an Ed Miliband on Desert Island Discs. Instead choose these eight tracks

The Labour leader has been rightly scorned for music that merely ticked boxes. He could so easily have been a lot less boring…

Share
Related Topics

When did you switch off? Jerusalem? Robbie Williams? A-ha? We can probably agree that, musically at least, Ed Miliband's stay on Kirsty Young's desert island was not an entirely happy one. The problem was not that his choices were naff but that they were formulaic, as if a committee, set up to provide the Labour leader with endearing individuality, had got it all wrong.

It was an opportunity missed. Desert Island Discs provides politicians with a perfect platform for self-presentation. Here, for ambitious future guests, is the sort of playlist which sends out the right message without being drearily predictable.

Song to remind the audience that you were once a sweet, little child:

Nelly the Elephant by Mandy Miller.

The vocals may be dodgy, but the song has an eerie, timeless quality which appeals to every generation. More importantly, it is a safe choice in these tricky times. You have avoided choosing Rolf Harris's Two Little Boys or Benny Hill's Ernie.

Song to show that you are refreshingly open to foreign cultures: Under Pressure by Oliver Mtukudzi.

More predictable politicians will go for something from the Buena Vista Social Club or Ladysmith Black Mambazo, running the risk of being drawn into a discussion about the politics of Cuba or South Africa. By contrast, this superb song from Zimbabwe will allow to riff amusingly about the way you deal with the pressures of public life with a prepared off-the-cuff anecdote.

Song to reveal your irrepressible, yet rarely discussed, sense of fun:

When I'm Cleaning Windows by Peter Sellers.

The funny slot on Desert Island Discs can be tricky. So many comedy songs (The Laughing Policeman, anything by the Goons, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life) are simply irritating. This musical novelty, recorded during an interview by Michael Parkinson, allows you to introduce a George Formby song but with a telling touch of irony.

Song to point up your patriotism and cultural sophistication: Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary by Purcell.

Traditionally, politicians like to include one stirring classical work by an English composer, preferably Elgar or Vaughan Williams. This funeral march will bring a change of pace to the programme, allowing Kirsty to go into serious mode and ask you questions about life and death which you will answer with simple, moving eloquence.

A song for the oldsters: Born Free by Matt Monro.

Remember that old people vote more reliably than the young. This song, by the “singing bus driver” can't fail: it is about animals, harks back to the imperial past, and is crooned by an Englishman.

An anthem to show you're in touch with contemporary culture:  One Day Like This by Elbow.

The show needs a lift and this will do the trick. If possible mention that you like singing this at home much to the embarrassment of the kids! Cue indulgent laughter from Kirsty.

A song for the most important person in the world to you - pause for brief surge of repressed emotion - without whom you would be nothing:

Dance Me to the End of Love by Madeleine Peyroux.

It may be cheesy but it was written by Leonard Cohen and is therefore beyond criticism. Even in a love song to your spouse, you have impeccable taste.

A song to expressed how pleased you are with yourself - without seeming unnecessarily smug: I'm Still Standing by Elton John.

Unlike My Way or Je Ne Regrette Rien, this song is not in the slightest bit self-important. It is like you: strong and yet amused by the great carnival of life; publicly defiant, yet privately sensitive.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pack of seagulls squabble over discarded food left on the beach at St Ives on July 28, 2015  

Number of urban seagulls in Britain nearly quadruples: Hide food and avoid chicks to stay in gulls’ good books

Tom Bawden
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen