From Where the Villa and Blues play – A Birmingham Playlist

I’m from where the Villa and Blues play, the Burgers and Johnsons…

For our latest Clubs Playlist, The Gryphon’s resident Brummie editor, Mary Lumley, compiles a set of songs linked to the Second City. Find a Youtube playlist below.
Did you know Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Of course you did because, having once read it on ‘The top ten reasons to live in Birmingham’, it’s a fact often gleefully recited by your peers who originate from Brum. (By the way, I’m still incensed by that research study which claimed those speaking with a Birmingham accent appear less intelligent than those remaining silent.) Anyway, having not seen an article religiously praising my homeland in a number of weeks, I jumped at the opportunity to create a playlist comprising of some of the city’s most iconic music.
P.S. – That picture is the Birmingham flag. Nice, isn’t it?


1. Come on Eileen – Dexie’s Midnight Runners

The band is from Birmingham and, although the Brummie population may be divided between their preference for the old and new Snobs, this song never fails to unite the (mostly underage) dancefloor.

2. The Smiths – Panic

 ‘Panic on the streets of London, panic on the streets of Birmingham…’

Another Snobs classic. The Smiths may not be from Birmingham but their clear homage to the second city in their opening lines meant this song made the cut. Interestingly, the song inspired the title of the recent Black Mirror episode ‘hang the DJ.’

3. The Specials – A Message to You Rudy

Most of the band is from Coventry, which is almost(?) Birmingham. Stephen Cradock – the band’s lead guitarist – was from Solihull.

Yet another Snobs classic. Unbeknownst to many, this song was actually a cover of ‘Rudy, a message to you’ by Danny Livingstone. After gaining prominence through The Specials version, the song was also later covered by Madness and the late Amy Winehouse.

4. Duran Duran – Hungry Like the Wolf

Most of the members originated in Brum.

Whilst this song peaked at number 5 in the UK’s single chart and number 3 in the US Billboard Hot 100, it managed to secure Number 1 status in Canada. Girls on Film is another classic by the Brummie band.

5. The Kooks – Naïve

‘She knows that I’m not from New Oscott****’

Admittedly, this may be a slightly confusing addition for those who aren’t familiar with the area ‘New Oscott.’ Yet, for those from North Birmingham this will make perfect sense. Mistaking the lyrics of ‘I’m not fond of asking’ for ‘I’m not from New Oscott’ is still a common occurrence in my postcode.

6. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

By order of the Peaky ***** Blinders!!!!!!

At first I was reluctant to include the Peaky Blinders theme tune in this playlist, due to the awful accents of the cast, but Cillian Murphy’s sex appeal eventually won me over. I’m also a massive fan of anything that puts Birmingham on the global map. If you want to see a very very bad remake of Peaky Blinders, watch Jaykae’s music video for Moscow. Honestly, I’m not joking it’s so bad. But, if my English degree taught me anything, it’s to consider multiple readings. My housemate reviewed the video as follows: ‘whilst I was dubious for the first 30 seconds, as though it was the aftermath of a horrific one night stand, I tried it again and it got much better. Now I love it.’ Although, it may be time for people to stop using it as an Otley Run theme now.

7. Ub40 – Red Red Wine

Yep, they’re from Birmingham

If this song doesn’t get you in the mood then I don’t know what will. With Valentine’s day looming, it’s time to stop calling your other half ‘bae’ and start calling them ‘bab’.

8.  Black Sabbath – Paranoid

Born in Aston, Ozzy Osbourne is something of an icon. Or a relic. He has a star on both Birmingham and Hollywood’s walks of fame but, slightly less impressively, was fired from Black Sabbath for excessive substance abuse and being too unreliable. And that definitely doesn’t sound like anyone I know from Birmingham. Whilst non-natives may struggle to decipher his thick Brummy accent, his monotonous (yet somehow dulcet) tones are music to the occupants of the 0121 area code.

9. The Streets – Turn the page

Mike Skinner, the man behind The Streets, is from Birmingham. He attended Bournville secondary school before moving to Sutton Coldfield college. ‘Fit But You Know It’ may be better known, but it doesn’t explicitly reference ‘the hazy fog over the Bullring’. If you managed to get tickets to see them at the O2 Academy then you’re extremely lucky. Unsurprisingly, the official after party is at Snobs.

10. The Streets – Fit But You Know It

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

11. Jorja Smith – I Am

Things are only going to get better for Walsall girl Jorja Smith. In 2017 she featured on two of Drake’s songs and subsequently performed on tour with him. Now, in 2018, she’s already won the BAFTA critic’s choice award where she performed her new single ‘Let me Down’ which features Stormzy. This song is from the new film ‘Black Panther’.

12. Hannah Wants – Rhymes

This song was an anthem in 2014 when I, a wide-eyed fresher, was excitedly bouncing around Canal Mills for the first time. Now, four years later, I struggle to listen without cringing at my first year self. Nevertheless, Hannah Wants had to be included due to her regular appearances at The Rainbow. Born and bred in Birmingham, Hannah gained a degree in Sports Studies from Wolverhampton University and played professionally for Aston Villa before retiring to follow a DJ career. #savetherainbow #UTV

13. MIST – Hot Property

Whilst some would argue that the music video for ‘Hot Property’ is visually stunning, others would suggest it looks peculiarly similar to Justin Bieber’s ‘I’ll Show You’ video. Nevertheless, the Brum rapper’s new album ‘Diamond in the Dirt’ was released last week, and, quite frankly, it bangs.

14. Western End (Birmingham Crew) –(remix) – B15 Project

Some years old, and still undeniably gold.

15. Devilman – Drum and Bass Father

This song was everywhere in 2014 and is still being played at D&B nights despite being well past its sell by date. Nevertheless, Devilman put Birmingham grime on the map with his Lord of the Mics clash with Skepta. Skepta subsequently released ‘Nasty,’ a diss track aimed at Devilman, who later responded with the imaginatively titled ‘Skepta Diss’.

16. Lotto Boyzz ft. Jaykae – Birmingham (Anthem)

The video is filmed in the city centre and features multiple iconic locations including the bull and the Blues ground. Amongst constantly repeating that ‘man/gyal are from birmingham’, other lyrics include ‘might just go to Broad Street for the weekend.’ For more respectable Jaykae songs listen to Toothache or Moscow. The latter’s sensational lyrics provided the inspiration for the article’s headline.

17. Safone – She Wants a Man From Brum

I mean, it’s true, isn’t it?

18. Sox – Birmingham to Ibiza 

‘Whether you’re in Birmingham or Ibiza, shake it like a Latina, come to my yard lets vamos, baby please be my mama seita, I’m impressed with the exterior, she likes jalapenos on her pizza, when I eventually get to meet her, Imma make you my sexy senorita, yeah I’m dying to see her, but I’m not flying to see her.’

Upon listening to this song you realise that ninety percent of the lyrics make no sense. It doesn’t matter though because anything that mentions Birmingham is automatically incredible.

19. The Streets feat Jaykae – Boys Will Be Boys

Hot off the press, this tune marries one of Birmingham’s most well established heroes, Mike Skinner, with one of it’s newest: Jaykae. Yet, there are some good things which should never be put together. As the recently retired BNOC Michael Bate has stated, ‘Mike Skinner over a 140 grime beat doesn’t work.’ I couldn’t agree more.

I hope this unintentionally lengthy playlist pays ample homage to England’s second largest city; that’s right Manchester, it’s not you. Just like the occupants of the city itself, the music scene is incredibly diverse and caters for all demographics. And now, reader, it’s time to 0121 do 1.


Mary Lumley

Image credits: Wikipedia