‘I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Abba’ – Stephen Mulhern’s honest playlist

The presenter loves a bit of Swedish pop and somehow still isn’t sick of Mr Brightside – but which tune led to his face swelling up like a balloon?

The first song I remember hearing
My dad is a huge Beatles fan and would always play Imagine by John Lennon. I said: “One day, I’m going to buy a white, grand piano,” like on the cover. So I bought one when I finished Saturday morning kids’ TV.

The first single I bought

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini by Bombalurina, featuring Timmy Mallett, from Woolworths in Stratford, east London. I loved Timmy Mallett. He was the king of kids’ TV, and this still stands the test of time.

The song I do at karaoke
Delilah by Tom Jones. Its saving grace is you don’t have to sing half of it. Everyone sings it for you.

The song I inexplicably know every lyric to

Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. I’ve been covering for Chris Evans and Graham Norton on Virgin Radio, and they allow you to pick three songs, so I always chuck Torn in there; it’s such a great song.

The best song to play at a party
Dancing Queen. I love Abba. If somebody goes: “I can’t stand Abba”, I don’t believe them. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like Abba.

The song I stream the most

I’m constantly playing Grace Kelly by Mika in my dressing room. I was a guest on The Paul O’Grady Show with Lady Gaga, and Mika was hanging backstage. I said: “Are you on next?” and he said: “No, I’m just here with Gaga, we’re best mates.” I don’t know why they didn’t have him on instead. I’d rather watch him than me!

The song I’ll never tired of
Mr Brightside by the Killers. But I assume everyone is bored of it by now?

The song I can no longer listen to

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey. I’ve just finished a live tour, and every time the band afterwards opened with that, I thought: “Oh my god!”

The song that changed my life
I did Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams on Stars in Their Eyes with the open-chested jumpsuit and complete makeover. It was just so different to what people expected that it helped me move into mainstream ITV entertainment. The downside was, whatever makeup they’d used, the next day my face looked like I’d been in Benidorm on the hottest day of the year. It was a total balloon, and I’ve got a big face already.

The song that gets me up in the morning
Too Late for Love by John Lundvik starts my day really well. I used to listen to Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart by Alicia Keys, but that made me feel really unhappy. I don’t know why!

• Stephen Mulhern’s Max Magic is published by Piccadilly. To buy a copy go to guardianbookshop.com


Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘I could probably tolerate one Abba track’: Kerry Godliman’s honest playlist
The actor grew up listening to Toni Basil and the Beatles, but what would she play at a party, and who did she see on an early date with her future husband?

As told to Rich Pelley

20, Mar, 2023 @7:00 AM

Article image
‘I wish I’d written Redemption Song’: Stephen Marley’s honest playlist
Bob Marley’s multiple Grammy-winning son’s musical life is dominated by memories of his father. But which 60s novelty song lives rent free in his head?

As told to Rich Pelley

20, Jun, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘Planet Caravan by Black Sabbath feeds my soul’: Morgana Robinson’s honest playlist
Her karaoke choice is Don’t Leave Me This Way, but who blew the socks off the Newark, Newark star when she heard them singing Jolene? Hint: it’s not Dolly

As told to Elle Hunt

04, Apr, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘I sound like Lee Marvin when I sing’: Jo Whiley’s honest playlist
The radio DJ secretly hates Jimi Hendrix, and loves disco and music from old westerns. But how did Ned’s Atomic Dustbin change her life?

As told to Rich Pelley

31, Oct, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
‘They milked Heroes to death in 2012’: Bradley Wiggins’s honest playlist
He was an early adopter of Arctic Monkeys and is partial to the rap stylings of John Barnes, but cannot stand Michael Jackson

As told to Rich Pelley

25, Apr, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘I never dance, I fear it might be too beautiful’: Jamali Maddix’s honest playlist
The comedian on his secret love for Rick Astley, his favourite Scouting For Girls song, and singing Sweet Home Alabama for a crowd of Americans

Interview by Alexi Duggins

18, Oct, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘If I hate a song I’ll just change the station’: William Shatner’s honest playlist
The Star Trek star and occasional singer reveals how un-musical he is – and what he really listens to

27, Sep, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘The song I secretly like? Agadoo by Black Lace’: Estelle’s honest playlist
The singer, songwriter and producer on De La Soul, Stevie Wonder and the song that will make everyone dance at a party

As told to Rich Pelley

11, Oct, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘Every Cocteau Twins song sounds like an orgasm’: Perry Farrell’s honest playlist
The Jane’s Addiction man grew up on the Beatles and has played Led Zeppelin to Trump, but who can he no longer listen to?

As told to Rich Pelley

12, Sep, 2023 @6:00 AM

Article image
‘After seeing Aretha Franklin you’re never the same again’: Elvis Costello’s honest playlist
He could request Frank Sinatra before he could speak, and recites Noël Coward lyrics, but what does the singer-songwriter enjoy behind closed doors?

Dave Simpson

24, Jan, 2022 @7:00 AM