The first single I ever boughtNo Scrubs by TLC. My dad would have given me some pocket money – he might even have taken me to the shop; we used to do everything together on weekends. It must have been a CD single. I remember being really proud of it. I grew up obsessed with music television, and the video is so iconic. It’s basically TLC in these fabulous silver space suits, rapping about how they don’t want to be with wastemen – which we can all relate to.
My karaoke go-toWe Belong Together by Mariah Carey. Obviously I don’t have her range, let me just express that explicitly. But I love that song so much, and her cadence in it. It’s got that long note at the end, which I butcher every time – but I have a fantastic time doing it. We go to karaoke because we can’t sing, that’s the fun part. I hate those people who are like “Nooo, I really can’t sing”, then get on the mic and are, like, premium soprano. I don’t mind being pleasantly surprised by a decent singer who plays it down – but everybody who goes with me is average, at best. We basically go to laugh our arses off.
The song that made my best-ever gig experienceI’ve seen Solange twice, and it is a spiritual experience. But it’s a toss-up between her doing F.U.B.U. and Don’t Touch My Hair at Lovebox festival. Both of those songs are such a celebration of gorgeous Blackness, and are so deeply felt – to be at Lovebox, singing them with loads of of Black people, and Black women in particular, was absolutely beautiful.
The last song I streamedAmerica Has a Problem by Beyoncé. It was played when I was out on the weekend, and me and my friend were screaming it at each other. This was me re-enacting the moment on Spotify. [Sings] “Boy you can’t get no hiiiiiiiigher than this!” I’m absolutely obsessed with Renaissance, the latest Beyoncé album. I think it’s one of her finest works: all killer, no filler. I just need her to give us some videos now.
Best song to play at a partyGypsy Woman (She’s Homeless) by Crystal Waters. That is a classic house tune that unites the ravers. Everyone knows it. It’s a classic, and it’s been sampled and reference so many times. I’d say that always rescues a party.
The song I want played at my funeralRun to the Sun by NERD. I’ve always loved that song. People always think that Pharrell [Williams] wrote it about a lover but it was about his grandmother, who passed away. My brother was a massive NERD fan – he got me into them and there’s something so pure and loving about that song. I want my funeral to be a joyous occasion, I want people to rave and to wear bright colours. But for the moment of reflection, I want that song.
The song I can’t standI’ll probably get dragged for this, but I don’t really care for Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. There’s so much sentiment attached to it, obviously because of the Lionesses – and, let’s make no mistake, Neil Diamond is a G, he’s written some amazing tunes. But Sweet Caroline is not for me. Please don’t come for me, Football Twitter!
My actual favourite songSir Duke by Stevie Wonder. I don’t really believe in a favourite song because I’m such a tart, I’ll never be able to have just one. Do not make this my final will and testament. But I’ve always said this: I don’t trust people who don’t like Stevie Wonder. I think you’d have to be a walking corpse. There are certain artists, like Dolly Parton, who are sacred to everyone. Like if you don’t love Stevie Wonder or Dolly Parton, you’re a dickhead.
Clara Amfo hosts Written in the Stars on discovery+ in November.
One thought on “‘Neil Diamond is a G. But Sweet Caroline is not for me’: Claro Amfo’s honest playlist”
That’s so interesting, you’re really pushing it. Great!