Zane Lowe has been a premiere musical tastemaker for over decades. First in the U.K. — most famously for the 12 years he spent on air for BBC Radio 1 — and now for hosting Apple Music’s Beats 1 show. He helped put stars like Adele and Ed Sheeran on the map; clearly his taste is impeccable. Below, the radio star shares with EW the songs and albums that helped soundtrack his life.
THE FIRST MUSIC I BOUGHT WITH MY OWN MONEY: War, U2
“My mom used to take my brother and I record shopping on the weekends. One day she gave me money and said, ‘Go pick something out yourself.’ I was 10 and chose U2’s War. I was so excited taking it home and opening it, looking at the cover—all the things people our age talk about now in the digital age with some mysticism. It really was magical.”
THE FIRST SONG I PLAYED ON MY FIRST RADIO SHOW: “Feiticeira,” Deftones
“It was called Music Response on XFM in the U.K. I had just gotten the Deftones’ White Pony album, and I was obsessed with ‘Feiticeira.’ I went to the programming director and said, ‘I know this is a playlist show, but it’s my first [one], let me start it with a song I want to play.” I was so stoked, I completely ignored the fact that the first words are ‘F—, I’m drunk!’ So the first track I ever played on radio had a swearword[laughs].”
A SONG THAT MAKES ME CRY: “Perth,” Bon Iver
“Oh god, which one? Bon Iver’s ‘Perth’ gets me every time. And I got pretty emotional the other day listening to Ryan Adams’ [cover of Taylor Swift’s] ‘Out of the Woods.’ I think he absolutely nailed that. But then again, I cried to Get Rich or Die Tryin’ on a plane once. Can we chalk that up to altitude?”
THE BAND I’M MOST PROUD TO HAVE CHAMPIONED: Arctic Monkeys
“The first time I heard them, it spoke to me: It was rock & roll but had a lot of groove. [Singer] Alex Turner is an incredible wordsmith—he’s like a rapper, just dropping incredible punchlines. I remember thinking how unique they were, and how such a hybrid of genre could have only come out then, in 2006, and only in the U.K. — and how I was very, very lucky to have been around when they did.”
MY KARAOKE SONG: “Gold,” Spandu Ballet
“I have only ever sung karaoke once and it was an R.E.M. song. If I were to do it again, I would do Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold.’ When I open up, I can do [singer] Tony Hadley pretty well.”
A SONG I INTRODUCED TO MY KIDS: “Cycling Trivialities,” José González
“Last Christmas we were getting ready to leave London, and I was reflecting in the car a bit. I turned on ‘Cycling Trivialities’ by José González. It’s, like, nine minutes long and amazing. At first our youngest didn’t take to it at first. But the next time we got in the car, he asked if we could put it back on. Within three or four listens, he knew every word. It was just a moment where all those clichés of being a parent and sharing music with your kids came flooding in.”
A version of this story appeared in the Entertainment Weekly print issue #1385-1386.