Why ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ is still one of the most important music shows on TV

On Friday 19 February Later…with Jools Holland returned for its 57th season on BBC Two. A series well known for introducing viewers to new music as well as popular established artists, this programme is one of the only true bastions of music TV left. Running at a paltry six episodes per season and forced to air fewer live performances due to Coronavirus, Later…with Jools Holland is still going strong nonetheless. It’s essential viewing for anyone interested not only in discovering new music but in engaging with music at a level few other platforms can create. 

Quirky, vibrant, and excitable, Jools Holland holds appeal for music lovers of all ages. Having watched his programmes and seen his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra live myself, I feel a particular affection with his programmes and unique style of hosting. Usually brought to us from a studio brimming with people, bands, artists, and various celebrities, the new Covid-safe format of the show is not only more intimate but more successful at introducing viewers to musicians. In the first episode of the latest season, Jools is joined by Arlo Parks for an exploration into some of her favourite ‘Later… Live’ performances and a conversational interview which introduces Parks to the audience and provides a great insight into her personal life and career in music. 

Jools brings to his show a range of music that, despite its immense variety, always maintains one thing in common: unashamed love of and practice of real, live music

Music that is not in the charts relies heavily on word of mouth or simply being ‘noticed’ by potential listeners – while social media can only do so much and with little mainstream TV dedicated to live or new music, Jools Holland really stands out. The nature of more unconventional or even new music, as typically seen on ‘Later… Live’, is that it can be hard to come by. Listening to new music can be a hard and even stressful process and it can be easy to stick with what you know, maybe trying the occasional new band here or there but rarely deviating from genre or sound. However, to do this undermines the great range of music out there. Growing up, it was instilled in me that if an artist was on TV with Holland, they were one to listen to. I recommend Later…with Jools Holland not only because it introduces the viewer to new music and new sounds, but because as a programme it welcomes its viewers into a community of music which, once in, you will never leave.  

This latest episode is a demonstration of everything that is special about Later…with Jools Holland. With specially recorded performances from Sleaford Mods and Kings of Leon, Parks also selects some classic ‘Later… Live’ performances from the show’s extensive records to play. With these old performances from Radiohead, Anderson .Paak, St Vincent, Erykah Badu and Little Simz ft. Michael Kiwanuka, any first timers to the programme will have a cornucopia of sounds and new music to view. The sheer distinctiveness of the music on offer would be enough for any hipster to drone on about and certainly the range of artists and especially non-western music is impressive. 

Jools brings to his show a range of music that, despite its immense variety, always maintains one thing in common: unashamed love of and practice of real, live music, demonstrable of the true skill required to maintain a career as well as integrity in such an industry. Compared to the glitzy and underwhelming performances of old episodes of Top of the Pops, ‘Later… Live’ is gritty and real. Jools Holland shows us how intelligent, complex, and familial music can be. He shows that people from any walk of life can make music and good music at that. It reminds the viewer that music is more than just the sound. The artistry, the performance, the people, and the moves all make music more than just something that is pleasing to the ear. By far one of the most beautiful and artistic things that Jools Holland does is to bring musicians together. The live performances and collaborations between artists on the show are a famed tradition, rendering Later…with Jools Holland particularly unique amongst other forms of music media. 


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