Clara Amfo curates a soundtrack for lipsyncing like an assassin
Bey, FKA twigs, Sister Act 2: the BBC Radio 1 presenter shares with us the songs that bring her joy
image Matt Holyoak
words Patrick Heardman
Clara Amfo is one the most dynamic and charismatic voices on British radio. Best known for her work on BBC Radio 1, where she hosted the official chart show and, of course, the Live Lounge, the award-winning presenter can currently be found heading up Future Sounds, shining a light on the best new music from rising and established artists around the world.
She’s also recently finished filming for The Drop for BBC Three, a show where nine fashion creatives go head to head as R&B superstar Miguel searches for a streetwear star – with a life-changing prize on offer. “It was just wicked to spend time with Miguel, he's like Yoda, everything he says is very intentional, very wise and he really cares about the creatives.”
But it’s not been all plain sailing for Amfo this year – in February, she underwent surgery to remove her fibroids, non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb. Many women can have them asymptomatically, but often they can lead to heavy or painful periods, abdominal or lower back pain, and can be emotionally distressing. She shared her journey and story candidly to followers on Instagram. Thankfully, Amfo is now well on the mend and looking forward to a smoother rest of 2022.
Her self-love mantra for the year ahead? “Just take it easy, give yourself goodness this year. Nourish your body with delicious food that energises you and only surround yourself with people that love and care about you, and that you love and care about. Be intentional with your words and actions. Don't do anything you don't wanna do, I'm not trying to bring any unnecessary stress to my life I don't need. This life's as stressful as it is, I don't need extra, do you know what I mean?”
Here are some tracks hand picked by Amfo to help you on your journey of self-love.
What have you been up to lately?
Clara Amfo: I've been home recovering for ages so I've watched a F**K load of TV. I binged watched all of Love is Blind, season 2. It's the weddings tomorrow, which I can't wait for. It's just so unhinged – the whole concept is bonkers. I absolutely love dating shows.
I hope the recovery is going well!
Clara Amfo: Thank you, I feel so much better since I have gotten out of the hospital. I've got a check-up tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll go back to work soon. But I’ve got to stick what the doctor says. So we will see, we will see.
What work and projects have you been up to?
Clara Amfo: Hosting The Drop was just really fun. I've always loved streetwear and the creatives are amazing – there's nine of them, and you do go on that proverbial TV journey with them all. It is so emotional. You see their triumphs, you see their tribulations, you see happy tears, sad tears and also you see some F****** cool clothes like. It was such a joy to be part of it.
A song that inspires your happiest memory:
Chapman University Choir – “Ode to Joy”
Clara Amfo: Like with all songs, you know your relationship with them changes overtime. It’s a really magical and beautiful thing. But a solid song that inspires a happy memory for me is “Joyful”, but sung by the Sister Act 2 cast.
To this day, it's the most comforting. In any country, Christmas and Easter, Sister Act 2 will be on and dubbed over in Italian or like French. Or you could be watching in the UK, anywhere. It just reminds me of watching it for the first time as a kid and seeing Lauryn Hill, thinking ‘omg she's amazing!’. I just wanted to be her and was just transfixed by the magic of it.
A song guaranteed to lift your mood at a low point:
Solange – “Don’t Touch My Hair”
Clara Amfo: A song that would lift my mood is “Don't Touch My Hair” by Solange – the message of it is incredible but the refinement of 'whatcha say to me' reminds me of my dearest friends, the wonderful Zezi Ifore, the living legend and every-time we see each other and we embrace each other with that song and we'd bark it to each other in the street like, 'Whatcha say to me'!
A song to save a dying party:
Kelis – “Millionaire”
Clara Amfo: It depends on what kind of party you know, if we're talking like a house party, or if we're talking about a raving situation, but I think I'd put on Kelis “Millionaire”. It's just a feel good tune, it just feels good and easy... and happy. And the audience participation on that tune is totally unmatched.
A song you share with a loved one:
Sister Sledge – “Pretty Baby”
Clara Amfo: There's a song by Sister Sledge called “Pretty Baby”, which I absolutely love cause it's an old Nile Rodgers production, one of his underrated ones, and the melody is amazing. This house producer from Doncaster sampled it on this tune “Techno Disco Tool”. I just love it. It's got a really sweet melody. This club night I used to go to that my friend Zezi ran would play it at the end along with some slow jazz. People used to just scream 'OMG' and lose themselves in those last few tunes.
A sad song that makes you happy to hear:
Beyonce – “I Care”
Clara Amfo: “I Care” by Beyonce, the way she's literally, like, roaring about it. She's like, 'I told you that you hurt me but you don't care’. Ah! Yes! I listen to it and it's such a cathartic song... and I – stress the word attempt – to sing along to it. Like, she's in so much pain. I've seen her do it live. As soon as I hear those first few lyrics, you see the tears coming straight from my eyes. She's on the verge of tears every time she sings it and it's just… it just knocks my socks off every time she performs it.
A song you secretly love:
Faith Hill “This Kiss”
Clara Amfo: I don't know if I'd hide it, what I'd say is my guilty pleasure is “This Kiss” by Faith Hill. There's this film that I love on Amazon Prime about witches, I love witchy films. Anything with witches I'll watch, like The Craft, or I watch the Sabrina series on Netflix. There's a film called Practical Magic and there's this scene where Sandra Bullock’s aunties put a spell on her and her future husband. He finally starts snogging her and they fall in love and they kiss to this tune. Epic.
A new song you have on rotation:
FKA twigs – “ride the dragon”
Clara Amfo: I have been rinsing FKA twigs’ EP, CAPRISONGS. I just think it’s brilliant. I just love this side of her, I love the stories she’s telling cause it's very much the true vision of baby twigs moving to London from Gloucester, finding her way as a backing dancer, and clubbing with her mates. You know, just being out and about. It’s really dazzling.
A song you share with someone feeling down:
Sunday Service Choir – “Back to Life”
Clara Amfo: The tune I would share with someone when they're down is absolutely “Back to Life” by The Sunday Service choir, the choir Kanye used for his Sunday services. Their version is honestly so euphoric to me, and I went through a phase of that song being on repeat. I just couldn't stop.
A song for the movie soundtrack of your life:
Janelle Monáe – “Django Jane”
Clara Amfo: The soundtrack to the opening credits I think would have to be “Django Jane” by Janelle Monáe, I like that. I really love this message of that song – it’s just so defiant, just a testimony of character, like ‘look, this is who I am, deal with it’. My movie story, of course! A chaotic comedy.
A song to lip sync to:
Beyonce – “Grown Woman”
Clara Amfo: I love Beyonce “Grown Woman” without a doubt. It's like the perfect lip sync song in my opinion. I would be a lipsync assassin for sure if Ru called this one.
Listen to the full playlist below, and catch up with Clara on BBC Three’s The Drop.
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