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‘In a karaoke room I turn to Gangsta’s Paradise’

It wasn’t easy to come up with 20 of my favourite songs, but it was a good trip down memory lane. I love that music has the ability to take you right back to a place and a time and a feeling.

I tend to listen to music when I’m running or working out. I go for music that has big beats or a strong bassline, to use the timing. Numb/Encore by Linkin Park has such energy and a party spirit to it. Faithless, Mark McCabe and Beyoncé and Britney have great running tracks, but they also go back to a time in my life, in my late teens or early 20s, when you could go out all the time, with no trouble staying up late and going into work the next day. I shudder to think how old Insomnia by Faithless is, but it’s stood the test of time. It’s a top tune.

Harry Styles’s Watermelon Sugar is so summery and beachy, and it just transports you to the ‘olden days’ when we could have those kinds of holidays

While I absolutely love singing, I wouldn’t enter any contests – it’s best done in private. So in a karaoke situation, Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio is the track I turn to. I love the rap in it, and that’s something I can do in a karaoke room.

Harry Styles’s Watermelon Sugar is probably the most recent song on the list. It’s on the playlist for the summer that we never had last year. It’s so summery and beachy, and it just transports you to the “olden days” when we could have those kinds of holidays. Also, my toddler absolutely loves it – it’s a song I sing as if it were a lullaby to get her to go to sleep.

Another Day of Sun from the La La Land soundtrack is another uplifting, sunshiney type of song. Like some others on the playlist, it brings back strong memories of my time in the United States. I was there for four years and we’d go to Los Angeles for the Oscars every February, and one of those times was La La Land’s year. So that song reminds me of leaving the wintery snow of Washington, DC, and getting off the plane in sunshiney LA, with its Hollywood, fake-world vibe.

Solas are an American-Irish band. They brought out an album called Shamrock City, which was one of the band members telling the story of his great uncle who had emigrated to Butte, Montana. The whole album is about the emigrant experience, and Far Americay is a song from the perspective of the family left behind. It speaks to the immigrant experience of generations ago when you couldn’t come back, well before we had low-cost airlines. It’s an evocative song that’s a little bit sad, but a great one to sing along to.

Another song that reminds me of America is Back Porch by Dierks Bentley. When I moved to the US I wanted to immerse myself in all sorts of American experiences and understand the country and the culture, so I started listening to American country music, which I got quite into. Back Porch is all about people chilling on a porch, drinking cans of beer, not wearing their shoes. It’s a hot, sweaty, humid song, which is what the summers are in the south of the US.

While I was in the States I got to see U2 playing a few times in different cities. You know U2 are a global band, but it was something else to be there and grasp the scale of their success. As any Irish person knows, when you’re abroad and you see a fellow country person doing well, you feel proud. One, in particular, is a proper anthem, with strong lyrics.

RTÉ presenter and journalist Caitriona Perry
RTÉ presenter and journalist Caitriona Perry

I love Bell X1, and I’ve seen them all over Ireland. They do a really good live show, and their lyrics are so well crafted. With Rocky Took a Lover you’re brought right into the story of the people in that song. Again, it’s a good singalong, and that’s what happens any time they perform that song live.

When I was looking up Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 I realised it’s as old as I am. It’s a song that has the power to lift you up and put a spring in your step. 2 Many DJs did a great remix of it, and it reminds me of living with a friend of mine in our early 20s when we were starting out in our careers – we’d listen to it in the mornings going into work.

I picked Time to Say Goodbye as the last song. I wouldn’t be a classical aficionado by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoy listening to it – you turn on Lyric FM after a long day and you can switch off and immerse yourself in the music. Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman have such amazing voices, it’s a treat on your ears to listen to them singing and reaching those notes. I love how it starts so softly and quietly, and builds to a crescendo. It’s a real experience to listen to.

Caitriona Perry presents RTÉ News: Six One with David McCullagh

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