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A hilarious, nostalgic jaunt through teenage angst and 90s pop by Malcolm McLean

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Malcolm McLean is a part-time writer and full-time music obsessive. He was born in suburban Surrey in 1983, sandwiched between an older and younger sister. During Malcolm’s teenage years his love of pop stars provided him with an escape from boredom and bullies, and led to years of following some of the biggest names in pop music.


Freak Like Me: Confessions of a 90s pop groupie is Malcolm’s first book. It chronicles those teenage years, and explores his experiences of meeting A-listers, coming to terms with being gay, and the fickle world of commercial pop in the late 90s and early 00s. He found the experience of writing the book a cathartic and, at times, emotional experience that involved flicking through old diaries and watching hours of footage of Top of the Pops.


When not writing, Malcolm works in university administration. He lives in South East London with his long-suffering architect partner Matt. His other loves include Eurovision, long country walks and reading books about the struggles of modern life. Malcolm no longer carries a permanent marker and disposable camera with him everywhere he goes.


About Malcolm

The Book
The Book


In nineties small-town Surrey, watching Top of the Pops was Malcolm's only escape from boredom and the bullies at school ... until a phone call from a pop star changed his life forever. Before long, he was getting compliments from Beyoncé, hanging out at award ceremonies with Posh Spice's mum and sneaking onto All Saints' tour bus.

Freak Like Me: Confessions of a 90s pop groupie is the true story of one teenage pop fan who, with a group of like-minded outcasts, witnesses the disposable music industry of the late nineties and early noughties first-hand. Tracking down A-lister itineraries, he gets to meet the real personalities behind the Smash Hits posters adorning his bedroom walls.


The book details Malcolm’s struggle to balance his life: stalking celebs around the M25 by night; Saturday jobs at Harvester and GCSEs by day. Malcolm’s story also looks at the challenges of coming out, bullying and finding your place in a grown-up world. Freak Like Me’s irreverent yet insightful tales juxtapose Malcolm’s life with the glitz and glamour of manufactured pop. It charts the meteoric rise and catastrophic falls of some of the 90s and early 00s most memorable pop acts, recounted by a suburban schoolboy who witnessed it all.


This hilarious memoir is packed with scandalous gossip and poignant memories from the era of Nokia 3310s and dial-up Internet, when chart positions meant everything and, if you wanted to know what your idols were up to off-screen, you had to track them down yourself!


Malcolm would also like to thank Myleene Klass’s mum for giving him five bars of chocolate.



"A hilarious, nostalgic memoir packed full of scandalous gossip. We couldn't put it down!"
—Closer magazine

"Pop fans, this one is for you."
—GQ magazine

"Malcolm’s memoir of his time as a teenage superfan around the turn of the millennium offers a fascinating, funny and often unexpected journey through several shifts in pop, as he views the changing world through a life of pop fandom."
—Complete Music Update


"I love this book."
—Jamie East (talkRADIO)

"Loved it...if you call yourself a hun, you NEED to read this book."


"Hilarious...packed full of gossip."

—Bella magazine

"Devoured, so fun. Brought back so many memories of pop music as an escape as a lonely gay teen. Loved all the insight into how late 90s/00s popstars were with fans."
—Conor Behan, DJ (RTÉ 2FM) and Popsessed podcast

"Freak Like Me is like slipping into a warm bath of memories of watching my favourite groups on Top of the Pops, Live & Kicking and SM:TV/CD:UK, taping songs off the radio and reading Smash Hits...I haven’t come across any book, TV show or website that has taken me back quite so completely...reading this book felt a lot like exchanging memories with a friend. McLean strikes exactly the right balance between the good and bad of the 90s, and brings the era back to life just as I remember it. His snarky humour made me snort out loud at times, my heart warmed when he found friends who shared his obsessions, and his anecdotes were so, so relatable...I would love to see more books like this."
—Dr Alice Violett (book blogger)

"Freak Like Me is amazing read!"

—Right Back At Ya! (2000s pop music podcast)

"Freak Like Me has you hooked from the opening chapter...a laugh out loud, and endearing coming of age novel about a young teen finding himself, coming out and how the celebrities of the 90s helped him figure out and accept who he was. An absolute must-read, for lovers of 90s and early 00s pop music, and those who have ever wondered what it would be like to meet their idols."

"I sat there in bed reading it, bursting out laughing...the way he writes speaks to the young queer kids and outcasts of that era...a must-read for any 90s pop head."

—Aural Fixation podcast

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Freak Like Me: pre-'97 playlist

Freak Like Me: '97-'98 playlist

Freak Like Me: '99-'00 playlist

Freak Like Me: '01-'02 playlist


Vice May 2018

'What It Was Like to Watch the Spice Girls Lose Geri in the 90s' by Malcolm McLean

Daily Mail September 2019

'Confessions of a 90s pop groupie: Super fan reveals how he rubbed shoulders with the Spice Girls and Kylie and was serenaded by a pre-fame Beyoncé'

Talkradio September 2019

Interview with Malcolm

[Audio File]

Fuzzable October 2019

'Book Review: Freak Like Me'

BBC Surrey October 2019

Two-day special interview feature with Malcolm on the James Cannon breakfast show

Southwark News October 2019

'Confessions of a 90s Pop Groupie Who Spent His Teenage Years Blagging His Way Backstage'

Talk Radio Europe October 2019

Interview with Malcolm

[Audio File]

Complete Music Update October 2019

'Book Review: Malcolm McLean – Freak Like Me: Confessions of a 90s Pop Groupie'

Closer magazine October 2019

Book Review

[Image File]

Bella magazine October 2019

Book Review

[Image File]

City University Short Courses Blog October 2019

Blog piece by Malcolm: 'How I Wrote Freak Like Me: Confessions of a 90s Pop Groupie'

GQ magazine October 2019

Featured as one of the '10 coolest things of the week'

[Image File]

Dr Alice Violett's Book Blog November 2019

Book Review

BBC Radio Lancashire November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Manchester November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Nottingham November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Hereford & Worcester November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Oxford November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Cornwall November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Gloucestershire November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

BBC Radio Cumbria November 2019

Interview with Malcolm

Daily Mail December 2019

Featured in the 'Last Minute Christmas Present Ideas' guide

Fuzzable December 2019

Featured in the 'Last minute book ideas for lovers of Pop Culture' guide

Pop Love Dance blog January 2020

Book Review

Woking News and Mail January 2020

Interview feature with Malcolm

[Image File]

Honest Mum June 2020

Book extract and prize giveaway feature

Aural Fixation podcast December 2021

Podcast guest, to discuss Geri Halliwell's 'Schizophonic' album

Creatives of Habit podcast March 2023

Podcast guest, discussing with Claire Gamble my writing practices and how the entire 'Freak Like Me' project came to be finalised


'Reach for the Stars: 1996–2006: Fame, Fallout and Pop’s Final Party' book by Michael Cragg March 2023

Interview extracts with music journalist Michael Cragg appear in his book, which explores, celebrates and contextualises this era of British pop, including speaking to some of the key players about the reality of their experiences.

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