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Nialler9 Podcast: An oral history of UK Pop 1996 to 2006 with Michael Cragg

Nialler9 Podcast: An oral history of UK Pop 1996 to 2006 with Michael Cragg

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Episode 220 of the Nialler9 Podcast is a chat with the journalist, pop culture writer, and author Michael Cragg.

Michael’s new book Reach for the Stars is a rip-roaring oral history of UK pop music between 1996 and 2006, told through the interviews with the popstars, the songwriters, producers, label executives, pop fans, svengalis and culture writers of the day.

Michael’s new book Reach for the Stars is a rip-roaring oral history of UK pop music between 1996 and 2006, told through the interviews with the popstars, the songwriters, producers, label executives, pop fans, svengalis and culture writers of the day.

Of the book, Louis Walsh said “no-one’s going to read this,” and he’d be wrong. It’s an unputdownable behind-the-scenes history of British pop music that tells the story of the Spice Girls, 5ive, Steps, S Club 7, Atomic Kitten, Girls Aloud, JLS, Liberty X, Sugababes, McFly, Busted, Craig David, Blue and the TV talent shows Popstars and The X-Factor.

The book contains many anecdotes like Geri Halliwell missing the Spice Girls audition because she had sunburn, 5ive saying ‘Baby One More Time’ is “fucking wank” to Max Martin’s face or Liam Gallagher pulling in Bop It! out of his bag to play with the lads from 5ive in a hotel room in Rio…

“The hours were brutal, and the schedule like no other,” says Hear’Say’s Myleene Klass. “No rock stars would be able to keep up. It’s hardcore.”

We spoke to Michael about the machinations of the period from the pop stars’ mad schedules, the lack of mental health awareness, the songwriting teams like Xenomania, the moguls like Pete Waterman, Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh; the homophobia around boy band members coming out, TOTP, Smash Hits and the media landscape of the day, and the crazy pressure they were under in which a number two record is considered was failure.

Michael Cragg will also be appearing for an interview and Q&A with our pal Louise Bruton at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party on Saturday July 15th at Wigwam. Expect more juicy stories from the time, and a Y2K pop dance party with DJ Lou Bru after. Tickets are on Eventbrite.

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