‘I want Mickey by Toni Basil played at my funeral’: Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s honest playlist

The singer loves a bit of disco on the dancefloor and Prince in the bedroom, but when it comes to karaoke, she keeps faith with George Michael

The first single that I ever bought
Our House by Madness. I was four, so the actual purchase was instigated by my father. He was such a big music fan and wanted to make sure that I knew this was the first song I was buying. I still adore it. In 2020’s lockdown, we did Kitchen Discos: I sang on my Instagram with the kids. After 10 weeks, I chose to close the whole thing with Our House. It celebrates the glory and chaos of family life.

***

The song that is my karaoke go-to
I used to sing Shoop by Salt-N-Pepa, and it’s really fun to do the rap – but when you do a karaoke version, the backing track is quite slow, so you get people looking a bit concerned for you as you trip your way through it. Basically, what you want is a people-pleaser. The one I go to is Faith by George Michael. It just always works.

***

The song I’ve streamed the most
In the days of having an Alexa, the ruler of the roost is my little one, Mickey. He’s two, and he will get a passion for a song and just play it over and over. For a while it was Let’s Get Loud by Jennifer Lopez; now we’ve progressed to In Da Getto by Skrillex and J Balvin. He likes his heavy dance and his reggaeton as well. It could be a lot worse.

***

The best song to play at a party
If you want something a bit slinky, Grace Jones – Pull Up to the Bumper. But if you’re trying to entice people to the dancefloor, then I’d probably go disco. Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way is very seductive.

***

The best song to have sex to
For music that’s got that undercurrent of “the man singing wants you to get saucy”, it’s got to be Darling Nikki by Prince – you’re not reading between the lines with that one. Kiss has got lots of flirtation, too. Gett Off would be my top one.

***

The song I want played at my funeral
The one that I’ve said since I was really small is Mickey by Toni Basil – which, I grant you, is going to be quite weird. It came out when I was about two, and it made a big impression on me. It’s got such urgency and passion and it’s a little bit off-kilter. It’s probably not one of the Top 100 hits for funerals, but I think of it as “one of my songs”.

***

The song I pretend to hate that I secretly like
I’m not really afraid of saying what I like. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. The things I say are my favourites are my favourites. There’s a song that came out by Rufus Wainwright song, Peaceful Afternoon, that’s just so beautiful. I like Everything Now by Arcade Fire, Harmony Hall by Vampire Weekend.

***

The song that is my actual favourite
It depends what mood you’re in. But some songs are just pretty perfect. Something like Wichita Lineman [by Glen Campbell], it’s a very beautiful song – just glorious. It sounds wistful and captures the purity of wanting to find that connection with someone: you’re sending out your message to them. That’s all of us, isn’t it? Hoping that someone’s on the line.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Kitchen Disco is available on BBC Sounds.

Contributor

Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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