Julie Adenuga’s YouTube show, Julie’s Top 5, is known as “the most argumentative show” about music right now – and with good reason. Over two seasons, the hit show followed Adenuga and guests as they debated the top five songs in an artist’s discography, often with hilarious – and explosive – results.
Now, back with a new season, Adenuga and her panel debate the Top 5 of The Streets, Lily Allen and JME – as well as a host of international artists including Destiny’s Child and Missy Elliott. “There were some big disagreements,” Adenuga laughs as she speaks to NME over the phone from her home in London. “It’s definitely the most entertaining season to date.”
NME caught up with Adenuga to find out more about Season 3, her decision to leave Beats 1 over the summer and what the future holds.
Julie Adenuga: “My friends and I just always seemed to be on opposite sides of the fence with opinions about music, and the show literally just came from us having had those arguments. I thought: ‘I’m not the only one who must love to argue with their friends about things they’re passionate about!’ I’m also just an argumentative person. A lot of people don’t know that about me. I think people think I’m very upbeat and happy – which I am – but I just really love a good argument! The show just came from that, loving music and always having strong opinions.”
“There are a couple. My number one episode was actually the first, with J Hus. It was everything I wanted it to be. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a massive J Hus fan, but that was one of my favourites just because the show really, really works when you deeply love the music, when you’re truly invested in this artist’s discography. The recent Destiny’s Child one was so funny. It was the most amount of emotions I’ve felt since the Kano episode…It turned out to be probably the most entertaining one we’ve done so far.”
“When I was sending the pilot to people, they’d be like, ‘I’m listening to J Hus now’. I noticed that everybody I was sending it to would tell me they were listening to the artist we were discussing. I thought that was really cool: after you hear the arguments, immediately you want to go and listen to the music. I love that there’s a bonus to the whole thing, that it makes people jump into a J Hus discography for an hour after the episode. A friend of mine watched The Streets episode recently and she was like, ‘I don’t really listen to The Streets,’ and now she texts me all the time about ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free.’ I feel like I’m doing a bit of a double job, similar to what I was doing on radio – still celebrating music, even though I’m shouting about it at the same time!”
“I’ve learned to let my ego go. There have definitely been times when I’ve walked out hot. The one, for me, always, is going to be Kano. I didn’t know how to handle it. I was like, ‘For you to not have ‘Ps and Qs’ in this list, I genuinely wanted to actually chuck the episode in the bin! If there wasn’t a live audience on that episode, I wouldn’t have put it out. I am quite a hot-tempered person, so there are moments where I have to stop myself. I remember saying it in the first episode of this season, the Missy Elliott one with Tania and Goldie, where I was like, ‘I genuinely don’t feel like doing the rest of this show’. I had to really reign it in and stop taking it personally. I don’t know why I get so passionate about this, it’s really strange!”
Are you planning to have more studio audiences in the future when it’s safe to do so?
“Yes! I’ve got plans to do an entire live season. We’ll see as time goes on, what the guidelines look like, but I want to do it as a ticketed event, a proper night out, a proper night of entertainment, and then we film it and put it up on the internet. I want to do those with the heavy hitters. I want to definitely do Skepta, do a Little Simz episode, an Adele episode, and maybe a Drake one with a live audience, because I think that’s the one that’s going to be extremely problematic: nobody will agree!”
“Some people will be like, ‘When you do this episode, I need to be on it,’ so I write it down in my notes to make sure I remember. Some of the others I approach on Instagram if I know they really like the artist. Some of them are last-minute. Katherine Ryan’s on the podcast this season and I literally messaged her on Instagram the day before we recorded and she recorded with us last minute. I hosted the NME Awards earlier this year with Katherine so it was great to see her again. I want to get more artists on the show, but I don’t know how they’re going to feel about shouting about someone else’s music. They’re obviously going to be thinking, ‘What’s it going to be like if someone was shouting about my music like this?’”
“Season 3 has a lot bigger production. I really wanted to make it a bit more shiny, put some more money into it. My aim was to really up the levels in terms of the way it looks and feels. Obviously, we did episodes with international artists as well, that was a big thing. Being on Beats 1 for five years, there were so many people that came across me who are not from the UK, so it’s been nice for them to be able to get involved in the conversations now, about Missy Elliott, NSYNC, and Destiny’s Child. That’s been really cool.”
“It was very emotional leaving the show. One of the things about me though, when things naturally come to an end, I struggle to ride them out longer than that. I felt like I’ve done it now and I’d love to leave the space for someone else to come and benefit with the things I’ve been able to learn whilst I’ve been there. I’m happy with what I’ve achieved there; the team was amazing. My main goal was to take all these new voices and amplify them as much as possible. It’s been really nice to support a scene of people that really believe in themselves and are trying to do what they can to push things forward. I’m happy that I’ve played my part and I’ll continue to do so.”
“It’s been nice to see the world from a different perspective and just look at new opportunities and see what else is out there…I never, ever plan. I’m not a planner. I could end up on radio tomorrow, or it could be five years from now. I love radio, and would love to do radio again, but I could not tell you when that’s going to happen. I’ve got no idea at all!”
“I think a lot of radio presenters know that their job doesn’t exist without the artists. This time has really brought that home for a lot of us: without these people producing and creating what they create, there’s no purpose for us. For me right now, I’m [constantly] thinking: ‘What can I do to support? What can I do to add a positive to this very negative time for a lot of musicians and creatives around the world?’ Hopefully, everybody can find a way to stick around until we can get back on track, to where things were before.”
Julie’s Top 5 Podcast is available to watch on Youtube here.