The current cast of the Great British Bake Off
In a generally sucky year, “The Great British Bake Off” (GBBO to its fans) has proven to be a godsend for those who have taken the COVID pandemic seriously and stayed close to home. In a nod to the times, the show had to take extraordinary measures (essentially creating a bubble for cast, crew, and participants, as detailed in this The Guardian article) to make the show look and feel like any of its previous seasons.
What made this UK-based show unique thankfully hasn’t changed – the competitive without being cutthroat atmosphere, where contestants genuinely and actively expressed and gave support to each other, was a breath of fresh air compared to the reality shows that more or less borrowed from the Survivor format of backstabbing, secret alliances, and sniping about competitors behind closed doors.
With this current season soon to end (the quarterfinals airs today Friday), a themed musical playlist based on this show seemed like a incredibly scrumptious idea (playlist embedded at the end of the post.)
1) “I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow” – The Soggy Bottom Boys & Dan Tyminski: Soggy bottoms are a source of constant sorrow for many a baker on GBBO, so this song, off the excellent movie soundtrack to the Coen Brothers’ “O Brother Where Art Thou”, is a more than appropriate opener for this playlist.
2) “Hollywood Swinging” – Kool and the Gang: Celebrity chef Paul Hollywood is the closest thing to a “bad guy” as GBBO gets – bakers fear his potential critiques, which makes a handshake from him (given typically on a perfect bake during the signature round) even more of an honor. “Hollywood Swinging”, from the days when Kool and the Gang delivered a more raw funk sound, proved to be a hit all around, earning the band a number #1 on the R&B charts and a Top 10 hit on Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.
3) “Sweetsmoke” – Mr. Scruff: This song earns two notches on the appropriateness list here. First, record producer/DJ Mr. Scruff (born as Andrew Carthy) hails from the Greater Manchester area in the UK. Secondly, the video for “Sweetsmoke”, off his “Trouser Jazz” album, details a GBBO participant’s dream – creating tasty baked goods that please everybody, including superheroes.
4) “Proving Ground” – Widespread Panic: GBBO watchers know that proving your dough right is vital to getting your bakes right. While not as famous as fellow Athens, GA bands like REM and the B-52s, this group’s mix of rock, jazz and blues brings up hints of The Grateful Dead and Phish while maintaining their own unique sound.
5) “Waves” – Scrummy Dub: As many have learned, “scrummy” is a little British slang for scrumptious. There’s not much available online detailing this 2020 release and who Scrummy Dub might be, but this tune goes down unexpectedly smoothly, kind of like an ingredient combo Paul Hollywood and his current co-judge Prue Leith figure would never work but in the end does.
6) “Tasty Pudding” – Miles Davis: Pudding Week is about as British as it gets on GBBO, and Miles Davis is about as jazz as that particular musical genre gets. With that said, this selection is off an album (“Miles Davis and Horns”) which is considered a departure from his work at the time, featuring more of a big band swing sound as opposed to his other works.
7) “Stodgy” – Benjamin B: Unlike scrummy, stodgy is not a term GBBO contestants want to hear from the judges about their work, implying that their creation is a lot more dense and chewy than it normally should be. Hailing from The Netherlands, Benjamin B plied its lo-fi/alt rock sounds for a little over a decade starting in 1994 with “Stodgy,” a song on their 1997 LP release “The Comfort of Replay.”
8) “Berry” – Matt Cherne: This Minneapolis-based musician reflects a new trend in music-making: custom, licensed music for use in social media and other similar endeavors. His tune “Berry” pumps along pleasantly, much like original host Mary Berry did during her stint on GBBO from its start in 2010 to 2016, when her loyalty to BBC prompted her to leave when the series moved to Channel 4.
9) “Oregano Flow (Gumbo Soup Mix)” – Digital Underground: The British way of pronouncing certain words has always given us amusement, such as the herb mentioned in this Digital Underground creation (the Brits pronounce it orr-uh-GAW-no, while the US tends to go or-RAY-guh-no.) As far as the song, Digital Underground sprinkles in its share of George Clinton (of Parliament and Funkadelic) vibe, as it did during many of 1990 decade creations.
10) “Choux a la Creme” – Hiromi: Pianist Hiromi Uehara’s piano playing is marked by an free-flowing, intuitive flair, one that has led her to multiple awards in the jazz field. “Choux a la Creme”, off her “Peace To Be” album, reminds of that choux pastry has played a huge part in many a GBBO competition round, and no doubt will continue to play a huge part in future segments.