This blog is part 2 of 2 – if you haven’t read part 1 you can read James’ blog ‘Nostalgia Unlocked: The Power of Singing In Schools’ here!
James’ usual top 10 videos include songs from lots of amazing writers, new and old, but he was kind enough to select his ‘Top 10 Assembly Bangers by Out of the Ark’ for us and we’re super excited to share them with you. If you’re looking for a little inspiration for new songs to explore, why not check them out.
James B Partridge’s Top 10 Assembly Bangers by Out of the Ark:
Spring Chicken - Life Is A Wonderful Thing - The School Rule Song - Harvest Samba - Conkers! - Leavers’ Song – Animals - Song for Every Season - Living and Learning - Harvest Song
As well as creating Instagram and Tiktok videos, James also regularly performs live shows. Out of the Ark’s Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement, Georgia, and Education & Development Partnerships Lead, Pete, were very excited to go along to one in London. We thought we’d let Pete tell you about the evening!
‘Walking down Camden High Street and into a nightclub at 7pm on a Thursday evening in October knowing that I was about to see James's ‘Assembly Bangers’ gig was a slightly surreal experience at first. I'd seen James on Twitter doing great renditions of the songs I remember from my primary- school days (far too many years ago!), and with all due respect, this lively, bustling, hipster kind of place didn't quite seem the home for it... It turns out that I couldn't have been more wrong!
We descended the stairs into a dark and busy bar, not unlike the sort of place where I saw various grungy rock bands or drum and bass acts in my university days (again, far too many years ago!). With 20 minutes until the gig was due to start, the place was packed, the crowd at the bar two- or three-people deep, and noisy laughter and chatter came from the dining area . Others were hunting for standing space where they had a good view of the stage, where a piano and stool waited.
Once James took to the stage and started chatting with the audience and singing songs to and with them, it became instantly very clear why people were packed into this rather unlikely place to see him. It's the same reason that drives so many of us at Out of the Ark every day: songs you sing at primary school stay with you for life, and have enormous power within them. Before the end of the first song, the whole crowd were singing along lustily. You could see people catching each other's eyes, grinning and laughing with each other – you knew that the songs had instantly transported them back 20 or 30 years, and they were clearly loving it all. I was definitely having flashbacks to my primary-school days (shout-out to St Margaret's Primary School in Olton, Solihull!) and I could, of course, remember all the words to many of the songs – helped along with a quick glance now and again at my phone, to see the lyrics shared through QR codes on the walls. The positive messages in the songs were intrinsically uplifting, and there was not a grumpy face in the room.
The evening went by in a flash and James took the audience on a journey through a wide range of songs, stories and poems: even if someone didn't know or remember a song when it started, they definitely did when it finished – such is the power of great assembly-songwriting. I caught up with James again, when he played my hometown of Sheffield just before Christmas – this time with a programme full of fab festive favourites. Once again, the audience was full of joy singing at the top of their voices, perhaps remembering easier times, but certainly just relishing the opportunity to connect with people around them through shared singing. It's got to be one of the best things in the world.’