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Can BBC One’s new pop music show survive in the noise of Friday night, asks CMU’s Setlist podcast

By | Published on Monday 6 November 2017

Sounds Like Friday Night

This week’s Setlist podcast from CMU discusses how music will play on Apple’s new HomePod device, the hoo haa around anti-YouTube adverts on YouTube, and Sainsbury’s new vinyl-only record label.

Before that though, presenters Andy Malt and Chris Cooke had some TV to catch up on – specifically the BBC’s new prime time pop music show ‘Sounds Like Friday Night’. Cooke started by wondering if the show will actually find an audience, given it’s been placed in the exact slot that marked the beginning of the end for ‘Top Of The Pops’.

“In that decade when ‘Top Of The Pops’ was slowly dying, they kept moving it around the schedule”, he recalled. “So it used to be in the classic Thursday evening slot, and then they moved it to Friday on 7.30pm, before finally sticking it into Sunday night, which was a complete failure. But Friday at 7.30pm puts it up against ‘Coronation Street’.

“I know we all think ‘Coronation Street’ is only watched by old people, but it’s not”, he continued. “It’s watched by a lot of people of all ages. So, if you put it up against ‘Coronation Street’, that makes it really hard to find an audience”.

Of course it maybe that the show’s key target demographic is more likely to be watching it on the iPlayer anyway, making its actual first-airing slot less relevant. Though the show’s name kind of limits the options for moving the new programme around the schedule, should the 7.30pm Friday evening timing not work.

“If it doesn’t get an audience on Fridays, and they decide to move it to Tuesday night, well, they’ve kind of ruined it with the title, haven’t they?” he said. “‘Sounds Like Tuesday Night’, that doesn’t really make sense, does it? So it’s a very brave title. I don’t know if that means they’re thinking [they’ll do the initial] six episodes and then it’ll be written off as a failure, or if they’re very confident that not only is this going to be a successful new show in prime time, but it’s going to run for a long time in this Friday night slot”.

As for the content of the first edition of the programme, which aired on 27 Oct, Malt noted: “There was a lot of talking. A lot of talking. More talking that you would think in a 30 minute music show. It felt like there was 30 minutes of talking, but there were four song performances in there, so it can’t have been. They showed a music video too, but only about 30 seconds of it, because there wasn’t time, because they had to do more talking”.

So it’s quite chatty. And much of the chat comes from the programme’s guest pop star host, who for the first episode was Jason Derulo. “The format really relies heavily on that guest pop star presenter being good at it”, said Malt.

“Jason Derulo, luckily, was pretty good at it, and pretty funny. But anyone who’s not good at it is going to destroy the show. There was a chat between him and Charlie Puth as well, which worked because they’ve toured together and they had a bit of camaraderie. But the moment you don’t have that [it will fall apart]”.

There were also comedy sketches, something the BBC really pushed when it first unveiled its new music programme, they being something that distinguish it from ‘Top Of The Pops’.

It was the promise of comedy skits, said Cooke, that made him dubious of the new show before its launch. Having watched the first edition, Malt did little to dispel that concern, saying: “They did an out of the studio sketch with Dave Grohl, and he’s a funny man, but that sketch was awful. The Dave Grohl sketch felt like it went on for a long time”.

Episode two of the show went out on Friday night (how did you guess?), with guest host Liam Payne and a performance from Dizzee Rascal. But don’t watch that,┬álisten to this week’s Setlist podcast instead here: