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N.K Pop

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Heaton didn’t actually go to any of those pubs on the day itself, instead enjoying a quiet lunch out with his wife. Come Saturday, however, Paul took a leaf out of the late Queen’s book and had himself a street party. The duo hit No.1 with 2020's Manchester Calling (48,560 sales, OCC) and have released three other Top 5 LPs together - 2014's gold-selling What Have We Become (124,280 sales), 2015's Wisdom, Laughter And Lines (80,983) and 2017's Crooked Calypso (61,837). This year, he’d planned to do the same, gigging at 60 pubs (drinking holes feature a lot in Paul Heaton’s life) across the UK and Eire. It’s true that while there’s always been a political edge to his writing, you’d be wildly off-base to define Heaton’s work by it.

Although he’s primarily a storyteller, Heaton does delve into more personal songs this time round, sometimes with devastating effects. Still is easily the highlight of the record, a beautiful ballad about miscarriages and still births. Lines like “still feel your heartbeat, the tiniest drop…your departure destroyed us but we’re so glad you could come” are stark, poignant and affecting.

Side guide

It's always been my ambition to have a football song adopted [on the terraces] and Rotterdam was adopted by Liverpool fans originally, I think. So I like that, it’s good fun. I always say to my daughter, ‘Ooh, I'm on telly!’ when the football is on. I refer to football in my songs occasionally, but I wouldn't write a football song. I wouldn't know what to write about really. But maybe if Sheffield United got to Wembley in April…” Almost 30 years after meeting outside an old St Helens nightclub, it's hard to say their harmonies were anything short of perfect as they rattled off 'Song for Whoever', 'Rotterdam (Or Anywhere)', 'Don't Marry Her', and 'A Little Time'. Do you think your anti- royalist, anti-Tory credentials have cost you in terms of sales over the years? Hibernica

Saying that it would be “great” for more UK artists to pay tribute to the NHS and honour them – just as Liam Gallagher and Manic Street Preachers did last year – Heaton then went on to claim that the Conservative Party’s efforts for privatisation would be better placed elsewhere. Paul Heaton is on the crest of a wave ahead of the release of N.K-Pop - his fifth album with Jacqui Abbott - via EMI today (October 7).Elsewhere, Beyoncé sees her former Number 1 record RENAISSANCE return to the Top 10, vaulting 13 places to Number 7. It’s thanks, in part, to latest cut CUFF IT proving a viral success and also enjoying uplift on the Official Singles Chart.

Well, it's the first time I've been given any award for songwriting at all. My first words when I got up to accept it were ‘I could have died, it's so late!’ And it's sort of true – I'd just turned 60 – so it meant a lot and it was really nice to experience it with the people I'm close to. In my Beautiful South days I would probably have just taken it in with a pinch of salt and said, ‘Thanks a lot, ta,’ and walked off, so I'm glad they waited because I appreciated it more. Same as having a No.1 whenever it was, 2020? That felt special as well.” The British songwriting greatwas awarded Outstanding Song Collection at the 2022 Ivor Novello Awards for his work with The Housemartins through to The Beautiful South and his current collaboration with Abbott. After Jacqui thanked the crowd for coming down and withstanding the rain, it was apt that the band finished their set with 'Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)' as tens of thousands chanted they will "carry on regardless".For the one-time Housemartin and former Beautiful Souther, milestones like this are something to be bear hugged. Paul Heaton sits comfortably in a roll call of literate pop writers to emerge in the 80s, alongside such articulate wordsmiths as Lloyd Cole, Roddy Frame and Paddy McAloon. What sets him apart from those contemporaries is prolonged commercial success: a remarkable run of 16 albums to make the Top 10, with The Housemartins, The Beautiful South and, since 2014, in tandem with Jacqui Abbott. I do think those newspapers are on their way out,” the self-declared socialist tells us, referring to the unblushingly political Sunny Side Up. People think, ‘Oh, he must have softened up, he’s writing these really nice soft songs about this and that,’ and then suddenly there’s this horrible one about the Government.”

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