The Golden Age of Music in Motion Pictures

87th Academy Awards - Show

We are currently living in a time where composers are making their mark on cinematic history

It is with great relief that I can finally say that gone are the days when I attempt to talk about film scores and someone mentions the name Hans Zimmer. It used to be that upon asking someone who their favourite composer was I would often hear Zimmer’s name in response. He may be one of the most popular film composers and a name that everyone is familiar with, which is perfectly understandable as he is a very talented man with an incredibly impressive body of work. However, we are living in time when other film composers are biting back against this and making their mark, putting their flag firmly in the ground and showing that they are a force to be reckoned with. I love Hans Zimmer and the work he produces, but he has healthy competition in his field, and it is beautiful.

Pictured above is the composer Alexandre Desplat, taken this year upon receiving the Academy Award for Best Original Score for his work on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a terrific film with an outstanding score. I remember so clearly walking out of the cinema after seeing the film last March and purchasing some of the tracks from the score when I got home because they were just so utterly brilliant. Incidentally however Desplat received a double nomination this year, one for the film previously mentioned and one for his score produced for The Imitation Game. As much as I loved his work for The Grand Budapest Hotel, personally I feel that Desplat deserved the award for his work on The Imitation Game. The Grand Budapest Hotel’s score was very upbeat and jolly and suited the theatricality and style of the film perfectly, but for me the score for The Imitation Game carried more emotional weight. The scenes in which we see Alan Turing running through fields, or running from building to building once he has made a breakthrough with his work are accompanied beautifully by such powerful music that really adds to the cinematic experience. The one scene in particular that stands out for me is the scene in which Turing and the other minds that worked at Bletchley Park are burning their work in a huge fire, with focus on sheets of paper floating in the breeze and the flames rising higher, the music of the scene was just utterly sensational and it is a genuinely moving moment of cinema.

I have to say it was fantastic to see Desplat winning the award this year, having been a fan of his for a number of years now I am fully aware that his body of work speaks for itself and he does not need an Academy Award to show how talented he is. However it was wonderful to see him take to the stage and have an entire building of people applauding him and celebrating his talent in such a manner. He is honestly one of the greatest film composers this generation has seen, having been a short running collaborator with Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr Fox which I liked very much and Moonrise Kingdom which again he did wonderful work for. Aside from that he has worked on other large projects such as the recent Godzilla film, The King’s Speech and Argo, all of which were fantastic films with Desplat composing beautiful unique music to accompany them. The man is an unprecedented genius and I cannot wait to see what work he will produce next.

I’m aware some readers may not be familiar with his work, so if I was to name the films most people will have seen that allowed them to experience his work I would draw your attention to the final two Harry Potter films. In particular I would draw your attention to the first track on The Deathly Hallows Part One score entitled ‘Obliviate’, one of my favourite songs composed by Desplat. It manages to capture perfectly this idea that the story is reaching its darkest point and the characters are no longer children, they are facing death directly in the face and it is thanks to Desplat that the opening to the film is so weighted and dark.

While still vaguely on the topic of the Academy Awards I feel I should briefly return to Hans Zimmer for just a moment. As many will know he received a nomination this year for his score composed for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. He was tipped very heavily to win, but, and I am not alone when I say this, it was not his year. The score for Interstellar was good and it does hold some fantastic tracks such as ‘Mountains’, ‘Imperfect Lock’ and ‘S.T.A.Y’, however it was clearly not consistent enough to win. It was a score that was too loud in places and did feel somewhat out of place. The thing about Interstellar is that it is a film that contains shots that are accompanied best by silence. Seeing such a tiny spacecraft travelling through the vast infinite parameters of space is more haunting in silence as it makes you contemplate just how small mankind is in our universe. Zimmer has produced some fantastic work in the past and has unfortunately had more questionable work such as the much unwanted big screen adaptation of Dan Brown’s tedious work The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, both of which are ludicrously bad. So I do not have a problem with Zimmer, I have a lot of respect for him and his work, but people of my generation are finally realising he has healthy competition consisting of equals and indeed betters.

Obviously in any year of cinema only one person can win the Academy Award for Original Score but it is interesting to see those nominated. Usually it is a category that manages to capture some of the best talents of the year. However they do on occasion completely overlook certain individuals. For example one of the biggest disappoints this year was seeing that Antonio Sanchez was completely overlooked for his work on Birdman, a fantastic score consisting of haunting short tracks with only a drum kit playing pieces that mirror the twisted mind set of Riggan Thompson as he descends deeper and deeper out of contact with reality and into the mind of his onscreen alter ego, as his lust for fame consumes him. The score works perfectly with director Alejandro González Iñárritu­­­­’s vision of the film being one continuous shot. It is the perfect accompaniment for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s work as the score guides us through the labyrinthian set of the theatre, twisting around corners and from floor to floor, through doorways, out onto the streets, it was just outstanding. The rhythmic structure of the score mirroring footsteps or elevated heartbeats or just the nonsensical noise of the character’s madness was something that was captured brilliantly by Sanchez as a first time composer and it was a real shame to see him overlooked, but still an absolute pleasure to appreciate his wonderful work.

Whilst on the topic of composers who are overlooked one cannot possibly fail to mention Jonny Greenwood. He was overlooked by the Academy shockingly back in 2008 for his work on Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and has again been overlooked this year for another Paul Thomas Anderson film, Inherent Vice. Greenwood is an exceptional talent and his work for cinema has been genuinely fantastic. There Will Be Blood’s score was of course some of his finest work as he manages to delve into the mindset of Daniel Plainview and follow him on his journey from loneliness, to success, then onto greed and eventual madness. His scores often feel like they are part of the individual characters which works perfectly with PTA’s film as they are very heavy on character and substance. Greenwood has unfortunately been overlooked consistently, however he is a talent that does not need to step onto that stage to collect a golden statuette; his work speaks volumes that the Academy will never be able to comprehend.

It is difficult for me to talk about music composed for films in terms of favourites because I have so many composers that I hold close to me. I think if I absolutely had to pick one favourite, it is a tough choice, but ultimately I would have to say Howard Shore. Not only has he produced beautifully indescribable work for the Lord of the Rings films but he is also a long-time collaborator with David Cronenberg, one of my all-time favourite film makers. This means he has composed wonderful scores for films such as The Fly and A History of Violence, the recent Cronenberg hit Maps to the Stars, and even less known films like Cronenberg’s 1996 masterpiece Crash that has such a haunting score that really lingers in the brain and resonates in a way that makes you feel so uncomfortable, but in a really good way. For me his body of work is unparalleled and when he collaborates with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra it is enough to knock someone as dogmatic as me into a state of stunned silence, as the beauty of the music just completely takes over and obstructs my capacity to verbalise efficiently. He is a wonderful man and stands in my mind and one of the greatest talents of cinema.

One final note on this topic that I feel has to be mentioned, it would unforgivable for me to discuss film composers that are writing their names as the greats without mentioning what was one of the best film scores of last year, the phenomenal first time composer of the score for Under the Skin, Mica Levi. The Academy completely overlooked her work, but this was expected. This does not undermine the fact that ­­Levi composed one of the best scores I have heard for a very long time, a chilling mixture of sounds that really crawls underneath your skin and feels like it’s trying to turn you inside out. Often it is hard to distinguish between the score and sound effects of the film because they merge together at points to sound like clunking machines or noises from technology and beings that are not of this world. It was one of the most bizarre and non-conventional scores that really works to contort the mind and bend your brain into a new position and relocate it elsewhere in the body, but this is an utterly fantastic experience. A dark science fiction film that explores what it means to be human and the destruction of the human body, accompanied by a score that scrambles your mind. Mica Levi is undoubtedly a talented composer and this was an unbelievable breakthrough, I honestly cannot wait to see what she produces next.

The main point I am trying to make here is that while making film composers competitive is silly because they are all so unique, it is oddly functional. It allows us to see just how many talents there are working in cinema at the moment. It presents brilliant ground for discussion as we are given the opportunity to look at numerous composers and examine their work in more detail. I do not feel that the competitive nature of the awards is functional in terms of looking for a winner, but it is healthy because it allows us to talk about the big names we all celebrate and the up and coming names such as Antonio Sanchez, thus strengthening our value of important fragments that build our culture.

And then there are wrecking balls such as Mica Levi. Composers that turn things on their head, transcend our expectations and give us an experience that cannot possibly be replicated.

Mica Levi is the type of composer that really says

“audiences watch this space, and Hollywood, watch your back”

2014 Review – Films, Music and Everything in Between

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As the year comes to an end I’ve picked out my favourite moments from across twelve months, covering a number of different areas both good and bad. 

It only feels like yesterday I was writing up my review of 2013 and looking forward to another year. And now, in what can only be described as a time period that feels like half an hour, it would appear I am writing my end of term review for another year. Whether or not it is because I have enjoyed myself or simply because I feel older I’m not sure, but it’s safe to say a lot has happened across twelve months and through good times and bad we’re all still standing.

In a similar fashion to last year I have decided to produce a review for the year, with different awards for areas such as film, music, television etc. to provide a comprehensive overview of how the year was, to remember the bad points but also to celebrate the good points. And just to clarify when it comes to the film categories I am including films that were in the awards season, but I live in the UK so I am going based on their public release in the UK, thus for obvious reasons this does not cater for other countries or early showings at film festivals. So without any further delays, I present to you my end of term review for 2014.

Award for Best Film goes to… The Grand Budapest Hotel – It’s been a favourite of mine all year and it did look like it was going to be threatened by other films during the second half of the year, but nothing has stolen the title. It’s an all round fantastic film that is so tightly wound but runs like intricate clockwork. Fantastically written, laugh out loud funny, with a superb cast that is headed by Ralph Fiennes in his funniest role yet as Gustave H. In my opinion it is Wes Anderson’s finest work, with precise direction as always and excellent screenplay, all visually accompanied by another colour scheme and new fictional locations that I wish existed.

Award for Best Animated Film goes to… The Wind Rises – There were a couple of films that could have taken this award, until I watched this film about three weeks ago. It is utterly fantastic. The animation is beautiful, the historical context is important and it has a lot of heart. It is sad to know this could very well be Miyazaki’s last film but he has left us with his most beautiful film yet. I cried during the film and indeed afterwards however it is a film I would recommend to anybody and everybody.

Award for Best Acting Performance in a Film goes to… Joaquin Phoenix in Her – I’m counting this film because it wasn’t released in the UK until February, which is lucky because the lead performance is utterly fantastic. Phoenix manages to capture every angle of Theodore’s character, from the highs of being in love to the lows of being completely heartbroken and alone. It was a character that was just so human through their gentility and how events do not necessarily have a happy ending, and Phoenix captured this perfectly. It was a chilling performance on some levels also because it shows just how lonely someone can get in a world where technology removes a lot of human interaction.

“The Film I know I shouldn’t like but I do” Award goes to… The Double – I know a lot of people didn’t like it, they thought it was very much a classic case of style over substance, which it may very well be but I have to admit I liked it. I really admire Ayoade as a writer and so I think he did a good job with what can only be described as challenging source material in the form of the classic Dostoyevsky novella The Double. It was very much a dark turn for Ayoade after Submarine but I think he adapted his writing style quite nicely to create a film that was different from what we have previously seen.

Award for the Best Film Surprise goes to… The Lego Movie – I can’t actually think of a person that doesn’t like this film. I loved it. I sat down to watch it thinking it probably won’t be that good or funny, but it is genuinely fantastic. Impressive animation, intriguing plot and laugh out loud gags continuously. If you haven’t watched it then do it as soon as you can. It’s awesome. *snigger*

Award for the Film Let Down of the Year goes to… Maleficent – honestly I wanted this film to be good. I sat down to watch it having bought it the week it came out on DVD. Suffice to say this is the only time I genuinely considered returning a film and getting my money back for it. I like that it has some important messages in there and that is addresses some very serious topics, but honestly the film as a whole is bloody awful. A total lack of imagination and the non existent plot leaves the film feeling like a deflated balloon with an elephant stood on it.

Award for The Misunderstood Film of the Year goes to… Interstellar – Some people really hated it, critics were very mixed about the whole thing, but personally I really liked it. I’m not going to go on and on about it because obviously each to their own, but I think people got so bogged down in the complex nature of the plot that they were completely missing out on just how visually impressive the film is. I admire the film for being a big and bold science fiction film that was let loose on mainstream audiences so Chris Nolan is still very much in my good books for treating cinema audiences as intelligent beings. However, after a second viewing I think I’ll be able to say more about the film so watch this space.

Award for Best Score goes to… Interstellar by Hans Zimmer – I have to admit I have fallen out of touch with Hans Zimmer a bit but this film was different. In the past Zimmer has made such brilliant soundtracks that are loud, which this film has its fair share of, but for me it’s about the delicate parts of this score. It’s for the tracks that are slower and rack up the tension to leave you left in your seat feeling like absolutely anything could happen. It’s a score that very much reminded me of the score from Alien which was very quiet and unnerving. In particular for me the moments that stood out were when the musical accompaniment just suddenly cuts, leaving you with this shot of a tiny spacecraft in the vastness of space. It was chilling and unsettling but it’s undeniable that the score was utilised fantastically.

Award for Best Soundtrack goes to… Guardians of the Galaxy – this is a prime example of a time that I watched a film and bought the soundtrack immediately afterwards, it is just fantastic. Full of popular music from the seventies and eighties it’s the sort of soundtrack that reminded me of the soundtrack to Boogie Nights in which you just feel like putting on your dancing shoes and dancing as badly as that one friend you have who drinks too much and suddenly thinks they’re John Travolta. Fantastically uplifting but also well timed in terms of being used for comic purposes, well worth a listen.

Award for Best Song written for a film goes to… both The Last Goodbye by Billy Boyd (written for The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies) and Hikouki Gumo by Yumi Arai (written for The Wind Rises) – I could not decide between the two of these because they both for me symbolise the ending of a journey. The Last Goodbye obviously symbolises the end of this incredible tale through Middle Earth that Tolkien fans have been on for years now and it was really emotional to have a previous cast member return to write the song. And Hikouki Gumo signifies the end (supposedly) of Hayao Miyazaki’s career as a filmmaker. Both are beautifully written and moving so for me there is no way one can be picked as a winner.

Award for Best Television Programme goes to… Fargo – If ever there has been a show to completely grip me and make me want to keep watching in recent years, it’s Fargo. Breaking Bad did it to an extent, as did Sherlock originally but Fargo was an all round fantastic programme. The plot was perfectly on point, as was the screenplay and the cast were utilised fantastically to play such a diverse gang of misfits who you grow to love and hate over ten episodes. It was nice to see the Coen Brothers make the leap from film to television in such a stylish way, and I hope we see more of the show in the future. *fingers crosses the rumours of a second season are true*

Award for Best Television Moment goes to… The Mountain vs Viper fight scene in Game of Thrones – I cheered. Then I gasped. Then I cursed. Then I screamed. The scene is terrifying and the tension goes completely through the roof, but the whole thing is just fantastic. It is so brilliantly directed and the pace of it is pinpointed to perfection. I still watch this scene and think back to how scared I was when I first watched it.

Award for Television let down of the Year goes to… Doctor Who – I was looking forward to seeing what Moffat would do with such a talented actor as Capaldi and don’t get me wrong I think Capaldi is doing a fantastic job, but honestly, nothing excuses bad writing. Moffat claims to be a massive fan of the show so it’s high time he proved that by stopping his most consistent hobby of shitting on the show from a great height.

Award for Best Acting Performance in a Television Programme goes to… Natalie Dormer in Game of Thrones – I don’t know what it is about her. I know her character is crafty and slimey one moment but then all smiles and loyalty five minutes later, but she does it so well. I can’t tell if Natalie Dormer is a nice person in real life or not because she confuses the fuck out of me in GoT. She’s got the smile of someone who knows you’ve got a really big surprise coming on Christmas day and that they can break you just with the power of suggestion. Margery is a complex character but I think Dormer has consistently played her to such a high standard, incredible talent.

Television Event of the Year goes to… Black Mirror: White Christmas – It’s a late entry I know but honestly I have not been as excited for any element of television this year as I was for the one off special of Charlie Brooker’s phenomenal Black Mirror. It was the show I was most excited for and was the show that disappointed me the least. Well worth the wait and one that definitely had to be mentioned as a highlight of 2014’s television offerings.

Award for Best Song goes to… Moving on by James – There’s a lot of older acts still trying to recapture former glory. AC/DC are still clinging on, G’n’R are somehow still going, for some unknown reason KISS still exist, and it’s all becoming very tiresome. So it’s a nice surprise when an older band keeps it together and manages to still make such brilliant music. In the waves of music that doesn’t mean anything (I draw your attention to songs such as All about that Bass) James are still writing fantastic songs about love that have both heart and substance. The whole album was brilliant, but this song in particular stood out.

Award for Best Album goes to… Antemasque by Antemasque – this is the sort of album that you don’t really pick favourites from, because the whole thing is fantastic. It’s great to see Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez working together again doing what they do best: writing amazing songs and going fucking nuts whenever they feel like it. It had a rough time due to early release and then being withdrawn for re-release and it seemed like for a while we wouldn’t see this album again. But then with the worldwide release in November meant anybody could listen to what is one of the best albums to have been released in recent years.

Award for Worst Song goes to… Shake it Out by Taylor Swift – it’s funny how some people talk without saying thing, and then people like Taylor Swift sing without saying anything. It’s a song that consists of the polystyrene shapes that come in a box when you first get a new washing machine. It lacks any form of substance and basically has a message that’s as strong as Russell Brand’s political opinions. It’s hard to say what the song is about really as it is so badly written that there isn’t a hope in hell of analysing it because it would be as a futile as trying to teach a fish how to climb a tree. The lyrics remind of the moment that happens every so often when a child spontaneously makes up a song and proceeds to dance to it. I have cousins under the age of eight, and right now they’re showing more of a talent than Miss Swift is managing. I feel less at risk to Ebola than I do to internal hemorrhaging after being bored to death by this trashy attempt at song writing. If only the people who have heard the song could shake it off and erase any trace of the stupid song ever being near them.

Award for Best Internet Moment of the Year goes to… the rumours surrounding Glastonbury – It was just fantastic to see all of the people on Twitter getting excited about rumoured acts like Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, Oasis (somehow), Foo Fighters, and then the big day came and Metallica were announced. The look on the faces of those I know that had tickets was that of a child who has their balloon popped right in front of them by some bastard with a pin. Priceless.

Favourite blog post of the year goes to… https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/leonardo-dicaprio-doesnt-need-an-oscar-no-one-does/ a short blog post I wrote earlier this year about how the Oscars don’t matter. It’s not just my favourite because it was well received, it’s because it meant the most to me. I listed some of the greatest film talents of all time who have never won Oscars just to show how films should not be made competitive in such a silly subjective fashion. If you haven’t read it then please give it a quick look, it would mean so much to me if more people read it and shared it.

Award for Best Film News of the Year goes to… Star Wars Episode VII being filmed literally ten minutes away from my house – yep. This happened.

All in all it was a busy year with a lot of ups and downs but overall it was an interesting experience. I hope it was a good year for everyone, but more importantly I hope this next year is even better. On a personal note I would just like to add that this blog is now two years old. After nearly stopping it altogether a couple of months ago I have to admit I’m glad I stuck with it and kept on writing. So really I just want to thank everyone who has ever read it, be it a loyal fan or a close friend or even a random viewing from another country, thank you for taking the time out of your day to sit and witness a young man pontificate. Thank you to those who have stayed loyal and thank you to those who have recently followed. 2015 should be a big year so I can’t wait to post more, including some bigger projects so keep your eyes peeled. ‘Blunt Reviews Presents’ was just the beginning.

I am aware there are things I have missed in this post so if there is anything you would like a judgement on then please feel free to leave a comment and I shall address it as soon as I can.

Happy new year to all, and a much awaited goodbye to 2014.

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Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke – Lyrics Translation/ Meaning

I know it was one of the most popular songs of last year and it had a certain amount of downloads, but honestly, that is not a display of whether it’s a good song or not. If you actually listen to the lyrics you start to realise just how horrific it actually is, I mean the title of the song should just be changed to “no means yes”. 

Some people, including Mr Thicke himself, have attempted to defend the song by saying that the lyrics are written about his wife. Because that makes it better somehow..? It’s like being pulled over by the police and saying “no officer it wasn’t just any child I ran over back there, it was my own son”. So not only has Mr Thicke written a song that’s a little bit rapey, we now find out it’s about his wife, which makes me dislike the song even more because it makes it even more poisonous than I thought it was originally. If this song was a person that was walking down the street whilst on fire I would punch it to the ground. And I’m not a violent person. Seriously. I got annoyed and kicked a bin once and I thought I was dying, but I’m willing to make an exception. 

Now I know there’s been a bit of confusion about what the song actually means, so what I thought I’d do for the benefit of everyone is to translate what the lyrics actually mean based on Mr Thicke’s thoughts. I didn’t want to do the whole song so I’ve picked out the main lines that I thought needed a bit of help. In bold you will find the lines in the song, and in italics you’ll find Mr Thicke’s actual thoughts. 

“everybody get up” – “leave now. You have been warned. This song gets weird”

“if you can’t hear what I’m trying to say” – “I am a man, therefore you must listen to me. If I am not listened to then I shall continue with my actions regardless. You have been warned second class citizen”

“If you can’t read from the same page” – “oh, you’re reading from The Guardian and I’m reading Nuts Magazine? Don’t worry I’ll carry on talking any way” 

“maybe I’m going deaf, maybe I’m going blind, maybe I’m out of my mind” – “there is something wrong with me regardless and I would like to seek professional help on the matter. I’m not entirely sure what it is that’s wrong with me, but from my basic understanding it involves and inability to comprehend the meaning of the word “no””

*inaudible noise from Pharrell Williams* – “ha ha, that’s some bloody good writing there. Modern listeners love the repetition of the noise Pharrell makes when he’s having a prostate exam”

“tried to domesticate you” – “darn it! But where others have tried, I shall succeed! Avengers Assemble!”

“just let me liberate you” – “I would like to place a part of my body inside your body, regardless of whether you would like this or not. I have decided this is the best course of action and a second opinion does not need to be found. This is the end”

“you don’t need no papers” – “there is no official documentation needed for us to have intercourse”

“that man is not your maker” – “never let a man control you and say you’re his possession! Unless that man is me… then absolutely follow every word that leaves his mouth”

“and that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl” – “firstly I would like to apologise for my grammar, I’m aware that “gon'” is not an actual word, but you guessed from the start that my writing ability is rather restricted. Basically I plan to take a lovely young individual, who was perfectly happy in her life before meeting me, and put her through ten uncomfortable minutes just so I can feel satisfied that I’m living life properly, that’s reasonable right?” 

“I know you want it” – “I’ve made this decision for you, I think it would be advantageous to both of us if we follow this course of action. I know that you don’t actually want to because you have refused several times, but if I repeat this line several times throughout the song then it negates your entire argument. Jeez I should decide people’s thoughts for them more often”

“can’t let it get past me” – “I have this weird obsession where I have my mind set on something so it has to happen. It started off as just little things like having to check the door was locked a certain amount of times before I leave the house, or flicking the light switch 206 times to make sure it’s definitely locked, but it somehow grew to this”

“I hate these blurred lines” – “you know I cannot stand it when someone says the word “no” and I don’t understand what they mean. Even if they say the sentence ” I do not want to have sex with you” I still find that too ambiguous. It could mean so many different things so I’m going to use my initiative and go with what my gut tells me. Which is do it any way. Success”

“the way you grab me, must wanna get nasty” – “a member of the opposite sex touched me? She must want to have sex with me! Even if it’s just brushing past each other in a small corridor in an office. Or her reaching past me at the supermarket to reach something on a higher shelf, slipping slightly and placing her hand on my arm to steady herself. It’s a date”

“what rhymes with hug me?” – “this is a tough one. Can I phone a friend? Pharrell! Pharrell! F*** sake he’s just making those stupid noises at me”

“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two” – “that is genuinely what I’m thinking. I’m that arrogant and I think this is the perfect way to charm a woman. Never mind being romantic, if I behave like an arse to her then she’ll want me more. That’s right isn’t it?”

“he don’t smack your ass and pull your hair like that” – “a gentleman? I don’t like the sound of being nice”

“not many women can refuse this pimpin'” – “my personality, like many other people’s nowadays, is very difficult to stomach but remembers lads, if they say the word “no” and you ignore it, then it didn’t really happen!”

“I’m a nice guy” – “just thought I’d throw some irony in there to make sure that everyone was awake at this point during the song”

*random Pharrell Williams section that doesn’t include unsettling noises* – “yeah the guy who I had to name drop to make this song a success had to have their own part. If you want to skip this bit then go for it. Or just do what I’m doing in the music video and chill with some naked ladies”

I’m not saying that this is the actual meaning behind the song, it’s just my own interpretation. I’m aware that different people get different things from songs so I just thought I’d give an alternative perspective. 

I say that people get different things from songs, well what I got was an uncomfortable experience that filled me with so much anger it made me realise just what I dislike about modern popular music. If a man is allowed to make a song that has very sinister messages behind it and an even more sinister un-rated music video, and then have that song make it to number one, then I’m glad I avoid listening to the charts. It’s a toxic landmine filled with such filth and it makes me sick to think that people think it’s alright to laugh at the song. It’s funny is it? It’s alright to laugh a song based around a man who is so arrogant he believes he can have sex with any girl out there, regardless of having consent, and to use naked women as objects in his music video? Ha bloody ha. 

People can defend it all they like, but if it’s going to treat women in such a disrespectful way then it will always be utterly without merit in my eyes. I will never call it romantic, I will never call it catchy, and I certainly will never call it good. 

And as for Mr Williams, who is responsible for the god awful song “happy”, this rant is far from over. 

2013 Review – from Music to Film and Everything In Between

It appears the end is nigh. As many customers at my weekend job have reminded me, yes it is nearly the end of the year, and yes I should have a happy new year. And yes they would like the receipt in the bag.

Seeing as though I have nearly had this blog for a year now and how much has happened this year I thought I’d take advantage of this opportunity and sum up all of the best elements of 2013 for me. It’s in the style of an award ceremony, and it branches from elements such as music and film to experiences I’ve had. My year would not have been the same without them.

Song of the year: Do I Wanna Know?, Arctic Monkeys – it was up there with ‘Four Simple Words’ by Frank Turner and Black Sabbath’s ‘God Is Dead?’ but being released in the middle of the year as the first song by the band in well over a year, it was always going to be something special. It was a nice surprise returning from a camping week to hear this song, a nice blend of heavy guitar and bass accompanied by Alex Turner’s incredible vocals. It is masterfully written and presents a clear and strong message based around the connection you have to someone. 

Album of the year: Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man – having not heard of the band before spending a weekend away in Southampton to visit my sister back in July, I was excited to hear what music was produced by the band. Their new album was released and instantly became a favourite of mine, every single song on it is brilliant and makes me want to keep listening. Sure ‘AM’ was brilliant but it didn’t have me as hooked as Portugal. The Man did. If you haven’t listened to them before then I would heavily recommend them. Their music is a little different but beautiful nonetheless.

Best Live Act: shared winners Arctic Monkeys and Fleetwood Mac- I know I’m cheating by choosing two, but despite Reading Festival in the summer nothing compares to either of these acts. Fleetwood Mac performed for three hours straight and were musically perfect whilst still putting on a good show. Then Arctic Monkeys differed from that, being more energetic and making me dance harder than I’ve ever danced before. A particular highlight for me was the blend of their song ‘Arabella’ and the Black Sabbath classic ‘War Pigs’. Both were completely different styles of performing, but either way I witnessed true titans of music.

Television Programme of the Year: Breaking Bad – I don’t think I need to elaborate here. It was insane and there was no Sherlock to compete. Next.

Film of the Year: Kings of Summer – A beautiful, charming, funny and heartwarming film that was probably missed by most people I know. An obscure comedy about three teenagers who decide to live in the forest, reminding us all of the times we wanted to be free when we were younger. It shows the value of friendship, challenges the value of family and makes you laugh out loud in between. It is a genuine treasure of the year and it’s a shame so many people missed it. I would heavily recommend this film to anyone that is human. 

Cinema Shock of the Year : Trance – I came out of the cinema screening and didn’t know what to think. It was how I imagine ‘Inception’ would be if it was directed by Quentin Tarantino. I’m not saying it wasn’t good because it was a very good film, it’s just not one for the faint hearted. Danny Boyle did a terrific job but it should not have a 15 certificate. 

Film Soundtrack of the Year : Silver Linings Playbook – I can’t really say a lot more than it’s a perfect soundtrack for a damn good film. A good blend of old and contemporary songs that link to the mindset of the characters so well. I love it. My review of the film can be found here: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/rapid-reviews-silver-linings-playbook/

“I shouldn’t like it but I do” Film of the Year : The World’s End – those who are followers of my blog will know how much I thought of this film. Yes it was ill disciplined, yes it wasn’t as funny as ‘Hot Fuzz’, but I don’t care. The use of sci fi humour and the underlying theme of what it means to be a human, and furthermore being proud of being human were enough to make me very happy indeed. Again, my review of the film can be found here: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/07/21/the-worlds-end-review-no-spoilers-the-cornetto-trilogys-worthy-last-installment/

Acting Performance of the Year : Joaquin Phoenix, The Master –  I know it was technically a 2012 film for some but it was nominated for the 2013 Academy Awards so I think it counts. Honestly I cannot give Mr Phoenix enough credit for this role, he was absolutely superb. The scenes that were improvised were chilling and gritty and then the scripted scenes were perfected. This award very nearly went to Jennifer Lawrence for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ purely because of the shock factor but in the end Joaquin really put on a good show and showed us just how unstable a character can be.

Nerd Pleasing Moment of the Year : Doctor Who 50th Special – Star Trek didn’t get this award. Thor didn’t get this award. Superman definitely didn’t get this award. There was only going to be one winner, and that was indeed the anniversary special of Doctor Who back in November. The combination of David Tennant, John Hurt and careful writing (finally) made the episode as good as it was. I was overjoyed when it turned out to be as good as it was and I think it was a near perfect way of celebrating what is one of the best television programmes ever to be made.

I Told You So Award :  shared winners Man Of Steel and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – This is again an award that is shared between two films, and it is for the films that I warned people about before but they didn’t listen. What I mean by this is simple: ‘Man of Steel’ was ruined because Zack Snyder concentrates too much on visuals and so the film lacked substance. A secondly, ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’ is still too long and it doesn’t need to be that long. Both films could have been a lot better and it’s a shame because I wanted to enjoy them both a lot more than I did. Incidentally I reviewed the second installment of The Hobbit recently which can be found here: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/the-hobbit-the-desolation-of-smaug-the-film-is-long-meaning-my-review-is/

Blog Post of the Year : “Tim Burton vs Christopher Nolan – The Batman Argument” – this was always going to be a favourite of mine. It took a long time to write due to the research behind it, but it was worth it. It was a lot of fun to write and to this day it still remains my most viewed blog post. It was my response to an article saying that Tim Burton made better Batman films than Christopher Nolan. In all fairness the article was very well written and they formed a strong argument, however I responded accordingly, and if you haven’t read it then it can be found here: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/tim-burton-vs-christopher-nolan-the-batman-argument/

Runners up for my favourite blog post were:

Cloud Atlas review: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/rapid-reviews-cloud-atlas-dvd/

Great Gatsby review: https://adamdlester17.wordpress.com/2013/06/05/the-could-be-better-gatsby-no-spoilers/

So there you have it, my review of different elements the year had to throw at us. Were they the best choices? Probably not but they were the ones that stood out to me and the ones that had the biggest impact.

On a side note I would just like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has followed my blog or indeed anybody who has read it. Even the one time means a lot to me and I’m grateful for anybody who takes the time to look at my work. I started this blog a year ago and didn’t even imagine it would be as well received as it has been so I would like to thank those who have supported me throughout the year. Thank you to everyone who has made this year so brilliant, and I wish everyone all the best for 2014.

Some Good Scenes Require An Even Better Song Choice

After various discussions recently with a number of people I’ve realised how lucky I am to be at an age where I talk with an all manner of different people with different interests. I may be someone who is a fan of films but I would find it considerably dull if all I talked about all day was films and I would end up driving myself mad. But then by the same token it’s always interesting when two interests cross because it sparks off a very interesting debate indeed. Just recently I found myself engaged in quite an in depth conversation about music which lead on to the use of music in films. A topic I feel very strongly about.

The discussion turned eventually so we were talking about specific song choices for films and the songs we felt were placed at the perfect moment in a film. Having written about the topic of soundtracks a couple of months ago, it made me realise that it’s not just an entire soundtrack that can make a film good, sometimes the scene can be brilliant because of one specific song.

Thinking back to some of the songs used in films that really made me shiver because of what it added to the scene, one of the first that jumped out at me was the use of the remix by Jon Brion of ‘He Needs Me’ for the film ‘Punch Drunk Love’ one of my favourite films and a perfect display of Paul Thomas Anderson’s talent as a writer and director. The song was used to show the positivity that was flowing in to the life of Barry Egan, a character whom we see conflicted and targeted before to the point of instability. The music reflects the positive influence that love has had on a man who has experienced so much unhappiness previously. It made the scenes of Barry frantically rushing to Hawaii to see the woman he loves seem realistic and made me feel somewhat overjoyed. Aiding in the artistic development and character building of the film I feel it was perfectly utilised, and is still a song I hold close to me.

Whilst on the topic of songs that made me feel overjoyed when they appeared in a film, I still get shivers when I watch the Richard Curtis film ‘The Boat That Rocked’ and it reaches the scene in which ‘Dancing In The Street’ by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas plays. It’s a perfect reflection of the atmosphere of a film filled with young love, rock’n’roll spirit and having a good time. Seeing a montage of various people dancing to the song and having a good time made me feel both happy and uplifted. It was similar to the scene when ‘Lets Spend The Night Together’ by The Rolling Stones plays. It’s an uplifting, positive spirited song that makes people across the country (within the film) dance their feet off and leaves me with a smile on my face.

Dancing as some followers will know is quite an interest of mine when it comes to films. Just recently I posted an entry (entitled ‘the talent behind dance sequences in films’) about the use of dance sequences in films and how effective they can be if they are done well. Part of this for me is the song choices because it’s crucial when showing the different entities characters are when they dance, to have a song that expresses their emotions. Personally I feel that this was achieved in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ during the end dance sequence at the competition. All of the song choices suited the scene well, but one of my favourites was ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’ by The White Stripes. It was a loud and vicious song that allowed the characters of Pat and Tiffany to express all of their anger they have towards the members of society that judge them and all of the people that have upset them, but then it also reflected the chaotic friendship they have where neither of them know where they stand. It added a different level to who they are as dancers as well which worked brilliantly.

Songs can be used for two different purposes in films, which works when they are contrasted against each other to show a change. An example of this is the use of ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ by Dropkick Murphys in Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Departed’ in which the song is used during the opening credits (seventeen minutes in incidentally) and then later when the film is drawing close to it’s conclusion. The pace and the volume of the song are used to show a contrast between the police unit and the mob being confident in their plan and comfortable in their position, to then later feeling exposed and concerned for their safety. Hearing the song play during a fast car journey while Jack Nicholson shouts at someone really left me feeling like his character was coming to the end of his tether and as though the king was getting his crown taken off of him so to speak. It developed a sense of excitement at the beginning with a feel that anything could happen but then was used to create tension later, with both working brilliantly from my perspective. How the song is used twice is also important to consider when you realise that much like the character of the mole with either party it has two different sides to it.

On the other hand of course you have to consider the fact that a song can have the opposite power on a film, it can make a scene feel awkward and stale when it’s out of place. I still feel that the soundtrack for ‘Shutter Island’ is very poor, being too loud and clangy for a film that is supposed to be tense and chilling. It was too loud and didn’t suit the idea of mystery and deception that the story was attempting to convey. Instead of large landscape shots of the prison accompanied by quiet and disturbing music, you have darkened shots of the island accompanied by the bursting of your eardrums.

However when I talking about out of place soundtracks I once again (for the third time) have to talk about the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s recent adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ which is filled with out of place songs. Set in the 1920s American party scene you’d expect it to be filled with heavy Jazz music with loud trumpets for dance numbers. Instead you’re watching scenes accompanied by Jay-Z and The XX? I don’t think so Mr Luhrmann. If you really loved the book as much as you say you did then you’d respect the source material and act accordingly. You don’t add too much of your own image to the point where the original image painted by F Scott Fitzgerald has been altered in to something quite ugly. You can try and be quirky with your party scenes but this isn’t ‘Moulin Rouge’ anymore, and you are not a teenager anymore! I addressed him directly in the hope that he might see this one day. I have doubts but it’s always worth trying.

I’m not suggesting that the songs and films mentioned are the best combinations, they’re just combinations that had an impact on me and sprang to mind when discussing the topic. There were a lot I could have mentioned but I assume that people have already lost interest by this point so I didn’t want to make it longer. If anyone is still reading by this point then thank you. I hope you’ve all had a pleasant day or are going to have a pleasant day, depending on where you are in the world.

I’m going to take pride in the fact that I’ve managed to talk about film soundtracks without mentioning ‘Submarine’ by Alex Turner!

Oh…

Soundtracks – Does A Film Need The Right Sound To Be Good?

A couple of months ago I wrote a film review about Baz Luhrmann’s adaption of the classic ‘The Great Gatsby’ which he turned in to the ‘Alright Gatsby’ to an extent. Part way through the review I started to discuss the soundtrack that had been picked for the film, which featured quite modern music such as Jack White, Florence + The Machine and The XX. Personally I felt that the soundtrack was actually quite out of place and didn’t really suit the time setting of the film, to which some people obviously disagreed. I felt as though the soundtrack to the 1974 adaption was more suited because it had the loud jazzy feel to it that you would expect at such a time. This had me thinking about soundtracks and how important they are. Years ago in the early days of film where we had silent films, soundtrack was imperative. It guided the audience through the film and aided in dramatic devices such as humour and tension. But in a world where dialogue is very much present in films, the use of a soundtrack is very interesting to think about.  Are there any films in which I felt the same way about the soundtrack to the new Great Gatsby? Are there any films where the soundtrack could have been better? Does having a good soundtrack actually make a film any more enjoyable?

An example that I can think of straight away is the soundtrack to ‘Prometheus’, the Ridley Scott Sci Fi from last year. The soundtrack was composed by Marc Streitenfeld, who’s previous works include the soundtrack for ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Robin Hood’, so I have no doubt in his work because he is clearly experienced. However the problem with soundtrack to Prometheus for me personally was that it was big and loud and bold. One of the best things about ‘Alien’, the original by Ridley Scott was the haunting soundtrack. It was quiet, it was gentle, it gave you a feeling of ‘crikey Charlie, anything could happy at any point’ and it make the atmosphere of the film reach new peaks of tension in the right place. It really suited the Sci Fi / Horror genre of the film and worked very well in the films favour. Now in the case of Prometheus you have this loud and clanging soundtrack in a rather Inception styled collection of songs that really blast out of the screen and accompany the action sequences and set pieces to throw what is happening in your face. Admittedly there were elements of Prometheus that were creepy and still had the essence of Sci Fi / Horror with it, but the soundtrack gave it more of a ‘right the pace is picking up’ and ‘something is about to happen’ feel to it.

If there is a series of films that has quite a bit influence on music it’s the James Bond series. Over the years James Bond has become more and more well known for the title song that represents the film, branching from the early years of Shirley Bassey in the sixties with powerful songs such as ‘Goldfinger’, to the more rocky feel of Jack White and Alicia Keys for the ‘Quantum of Solace’ song ‘Another Way To Die’. The most recent Bond film ‘Skyfall’ had a song that brought about mixed reactions, with Adele singing the title song and having co written it as well. Some people loved it and praised it because it had the essence of a classic Bond film, whereas others took to criticising it, saying it was quite dull and felt too much like it was trying to be Shirley Bassey. Personally I felt that the song was very good and suited the nature of the film, with the lyrics supporting this idea of the character of Bond having to rebuild himself and make this big come back to who he once was. It was quite a soft chilling song but then with a big bold chorus that had quite an empowering feel to it, and from my point of view I found that I liked the song a lot more after having seen the film because I realised just how much it suited the nature of the film. It’s interesting as well because there was a list of acts that were supposedly up for the role of the singing the theme song for the film, including Lady Gaga, Muse, and Noel Gallagher. A lot of people said a better song would be produced by any of those acts, but I think that’s all it would have been; a good song. It wouldn’t necessarily suit the nature of a Bond film, let alone a Bond film that had such strong characters and a deep story line as this film did.

For me the best soundtracks are the ones that match the film perfectly, the ones that stand out as one of the key features that made the film good for you. If someone were to ask you what you thought of a film and what made it as good as it was, if you mention the soundtrack then it shows just how much of an impact it had on you. From this straight away I have to mention as I have done previously in other posts, the soundtrack to the film ‘Submarine’ written by the Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner. The soundtrack consisted of six songs, one of which was a mere introduction track based on one of the other songs. For me it was one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard, it was delicate in places but then uplifting in others so it suited the events of the film perfectly. The lyrics written were quite artistic and had quite powerful imagery that painted the perfect picture of what it’s like being in a relationship as a teenager as well as suiting some of the deeper messages behind the film. The sometimes complex imagery embedded in the lyrics really suited the character of Oliver Tate, a teenager who speaks the words of an adult in their mid Fourties so it linked to the characters and was well suited. In fact it’s such a good soundtrack that it gets to the point of not knowing how to describe it because there aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to show the true admiration and respect I have for Alex Turner for making such tremendous work.

Another musician/ composer I feel deserves a lot of respect for their contribution to film is the Radiohead band member Jonny Greenwood. The two soundtracks I have seen from him are from the Paul Thomas Anderson masterpieces ‘There Will Be Blood’ and ‘The Master’. The work he produced for those films was amazing, very abstract but it really adds to the artistic nature of the films. I still remember the first time I watched ‘There Will Be Blood’ and feeling quite unnerved by the opening shot of this vast desert landscape, with this chilling sound of music that strings out as the camera moves, getting louder and louder. It was the sort of moment in film you’re very unlikely to forget, and the sort of moment you don’t necessarily feel on a regular basis. Greenwood is very good at producing tracks for films that really add to the tension of events, rather than being very loud and ear drum bursting, he goes more for the approach of being quiet and mysterious to put you more on edge. The tracks also, as I find quite often, are very good at representing the mindset of the character and showing their emotional state. For example in opening scene of ‘The Master’ in which Joaquin Phoenix’s character is with his fellow army friends on a beach away from home. You see his behaviour and language is quite odd from the outset, with this quiet but repetitive music in the background that really puts you in the mind of this character who isn’t the man he used to be, who has seen things that have changed him. He’s a character that you’re not necessarily scared of, but more wary of because you’re not sure which way is behaviour is going to go and the music was very well suited to the scene. The soundtrack accompanies the films and suits them very well indeed, and it’s difficult to imagine any other type of music being used for such films.

Overall I think the soundtrack to a film, or indeed lack of soundtrack, does matter quite a lot because it aids in presenting the representation the film maker intended. My favourite soundtracks branch from those composed by genius’ of our time such as Hans Zimmer who creates incredible sounds that suit films perfectly, to those soundtracks that feature classic songs that really push forward the messages behind films and the genre that the film maker was aiming for. Soundtracks for films likes ‘The Departed’ which opens the film with the heavy guitar of The Rolling Stones classic ‘Gimme Shelter’ really push forward right from the outset this strong feel of how gritty the film is going to be. I wouldn’t say that soundtracks are the most important element to a film, but it is an element that can have either a really good impact on a film, or drag down and prove to be more of a hindrance. The awards for Best Score and Best Song may be over looked by some but I think they are very important categories and I very much look forward to seeing what work has been produced this year.

As always please feel free to leave any comments you have on the topic, I’d be interested to hear what your favourite or least favourite soundtracks are, plus any comments on the choices I made to reference in this post. Any comments or criticisms are more than welcome.

Put the ignorance and the money to one side, with the revolving furniture, and stop being idiots.

Apologies, I know my next post was going to be a continuation of my discussion of films but this is a spur the moment post that has been set off like a fire work.

Now in terms of opinions I’m pretty open. I know I may not seem it at the best of times, but honestly I am open minded about most topics. So why then, did television have to take a moment of optimism from me and exploit it? I have tried to give reality television a chance, believe me I have, it just doesn’t work. It’s like me being in a relationship with a cactus; works well until you find out the other member is a prickly idiot you can’t stand to be around (interpret that how you will, it works both ways). With this optimism at the fore front of my mind I kept The Voice UK on when it appeared during a routine flick through the channels. I was not pleased, entertained or amused in the slightest.

See people have accused me in the past of being grumpy, and have labelled me “the grumpy old man” on the basis that I’m old fashioned in my views and don’t give things a chance. Reality television is one of the things they say I need to give a chance. In this case I did, and it ended with me shouting at the television, being needlessly aggressive and inappropriate before rushing to a computer to start typing. It was one of the most infuriating experiences of my life. Which isn’t easy to say considering I’ve been paragliding with my mother. Trust me, being suspended in the air with my mother talking constantly with death being the only escape was less painful than watching this abomination.

I’ll take you through it.

The judges are all sat there with their backs to the singer, listening eagerly to their voice and wondering whether to press the button and be in with a shot of being their mentor. If they press the button their silly little chair revolves and that’s it they’re in with a shot of helping a potential star, and if none of them do it then it’s a disappointing journey home for the contestant. So if the singer is the most important aspect of the show, and helping them is the priority, why are the judges looking at each others hands constantly? Why does the opinion of the others matter so much when they could be the one to help someone? I know, because they’re in it for themselves.

I watched contestant after contestant turn up on the stage, sounding exactly like so many other people and the judges are all eager to spin their chairs around, but only if the others do too of course. So it angered me massively to see a matured singer with an acoustic guitar doing quite a good cover of Pink Floyd faced with the backs of the judges. Not one of them turned their chair around on the basis that no one else did. Now I’m sorry but if you really wanted to help someone that you think has got immense talent then you would jump on them and hope and pray that none of the others do. Not in this show, oh no. It’s all about getting one up on each other and having the bragging rights in the dressing room back stage.

The result of this incident was that the man went home disappointed all because William Adams, yes I refuse to give a full grown man such a ridiculous stage name, decided that someone else who is like so many other artists in today’s industry is worth a better shot. I’m sorry but people as silly as that shouldn’t be given such responsibility. If they want to mess around with buttons then they should be taken off of the television and given one of those children’s toys that has different buttons that make different animals pop out and make a noise. It was disappointing to see the judges act in such a selfish manner, acting based on what the others are doing instead of keeping morality in check and going with their instinct. It was simply a case of Jessie wouldn’t turn because Tom didn’t, Tom wouldn’t because the Irish man didn’t, and he wouldn’t because William Adams didn’t, who wouldn’t go in the first place because Jessie didn’t. Can these people not think for themselves? They’ve shown that they can think ABOUT themselves well enough.

I think the concept of the show is flawed on a moral because it is basically just any other talent show with the added touch of moving furniture. The impact of this is that the judges are even more competitive to beat the other and benefit themselves. The contestants feelings and ambitions aren’t considered by the judges. If the person does eventually end up happy then that’s just an added bonus to the judges topped up bank balance. Loyal fans of the show would respond to my opinion as they have before with comments such as “the judges don’t care what the others think” which they clearly do because otherwise their eye line would not be directed towards each others hands, and “it adds a real sense of tension that other reality shows don’t provide”. Which is silly really because if you’re looking for tension in a reality television show then you’re really looking in the wrong place. It’s just the same as all other reality talent contests; the judges are looking to make money and this is achieved through exploiting the public who are manipulated in to thinking they have a chance. Did we really need The Voice to come to the UK? We’ve got enough reality television as it is without needing to create more shows.

So the show is still continuing, more contestants come and go with the average talented, cliched ones getting their big break and the niche market, unique acts being sent away. Jessie J is still as annoying as ever, can’t really look at her in the same way after ruining “we will rock you” at the Olympics, Tom Jones is disappointing listeners of old music nationwide, William Adams (again) still looks like a Tim Burton creation who’s been kicked through Top Man, and I’m not entirely sure who the Irish fellow is. Either way the four of them with some Ikea furniture and big buttons is enough to keep me away of television and loose faith in our society a little bit more.

The grumpy old man strikes back I know, but as long as there is awful television being created then I will have something to complain about. Mind you it could have been worse, I could have stopped on ITV to watch Britains Got Talent.

Want something different? Let’s wire Bowie up to a machine and watch the monitor.

For those who know me very well you’ll know there’s an expression I use that just came to me one days and it’s simply “Who wants normal? Normal is boring”. Now I know it isn’t anything deep or inspiring like Shakespeare or Lincoln, but it means a lot to me and it’s pretty basic. I use it as a way of showing how I like to be different in my personality because it makes life more interesting. By personality I mean sense of humour, behaviour, interests and other such factors, I don’t tend to delve to much in to material possessions.

Those who know me quite well will also know that I’m far from a fashion icon. I wear the clothes I want to because they’re comfortable and they make me blend in reasonably well in most social venues, as well as possibly wearing something that means a lot to me (such as a band shirt). I don’t have an in depth knowledge of what looks good or trendy, but I do have a good sense for what looks similar and what is different. The thing with fashion nowadays is that people try to be different, which isn’t a problem, if it done properly and correctly. If a new idea comes along that someone starts using in their appearance it is quite interesting because it is a way of expressing them self, but if too many people catch on to it then it makes the idea somewhat redundant. It’s silly when it’s a case of “Oh that looks good, because it’s different. I might try it” because it just removes the whole point of it.

Back the days of the 70s and 80s there was always this idea that David Bowie was ahead of his time. If you wanted to see what the next move of fashion was then it was something of an urban myth that you could wire Bowie to a machine, read his thoughts and you’d see what was coming next. He was always strutting around in something that was totally out of this world and yet suited his image. If anyone else even attempted to copy him they would have looked ridiculous because they weren’t him. Nowadays it’s a case of large collections of people wearing the same clothes but claiming to be different. Obviously in some cases they do add their own touch to an idea to make it their own, but the basis of them is still the same. It’s a strange feeling walking down the high street and seeing so many people with the same style, as if they’ve just been copied and pasted like year seven homework assignment. It messes with your head, with constant thoughts of “didn’t I just walk past him? oh no it’s just the same clothes” and “If i couldn’t see their faces then they could easily all be the same person”.

Now by this point I’m assuming some of you will be thinking that I’m ranting at people with the same fashion and who wears anything that is at all up-to-date, when I’m not. This frustration is aimed at those who say their ‘look’ is different when it is far from it. This is not a rant about fashion just to clarify, it’s about the choice of words people use when describing their fashion. Specifically “different” and “unique” are among the misused.

I understand the idea of wanting to look different because it is a form of expressing yourself, but why can’t some people do it properly then? Being different is about going against what others are doing. Not taking what others are doing and tweaking it slightly. Fashion admittedly isn’t a subject I’m too well informed on, but I know when someone looks different and when they don’t. It’s getting ridiculous how there’s no creativity or imagination in what people wear, it’s just a case of running with whatever is ‘in’ at the moment or not fitting in with the crowd. I personally do not care about what I wear because either way somebody somewhere will judge me for it, so as long as I’m happy with it then I’m not too fussed. There is this idea of people being “indie” nowadays which I understand means “individual”. To me they all look the same, so the term “indie” for me refers to the individual group of people within society, not specific people because it is a more plausible use of the term.

But the need to look different will get worse and I can’t wait for it. People frantically running around the house looking for something different to enhance their appearance and make them stand out.  Grabbing ordinary household items and attaching it to their clothes before leaving the house so that it looks unique. So the streets will be filled with people wearing combinations of suits, holiday wear and kitchen utensils. With mixtures of flip flops, bow ties and whisks we’ll be sure to be seeing something new on a daily basis. All shiny with a hint of formality, it will look like a low budget 70s sci fi film meets Downton Abbey. So while this issue rages on and people continue to experiment with fashion, David Bowie will be sat at home laughing and reminiscing about the times when he looked like all of us at one point.

So to sum up, this wasn’t a rant out fashion, it was more a rant about people’s choice of words. If you want to be different then do it properly. And most importantly; if you need advice on fashion to keep your look up to date then ask Bowie.

To end this post I shall leave you with a quote from Stephen Mangan talking recently about an unsuccessful band he was in. I think it shows quite well what being different is all about: “We were ahead of our time. And behind our time. There was no time that we would have fitted in at all”.

Band Shirts – What is wrong with our generation?

Someone asked me today if I was ever going to post about something in a positive nature, which i was going to…until I was reminded of something that I literally cannot stand.

As the title states there is something that is wrong with our generation, and it is a problem I come across on a daily basis and it is frankly very annoying. I’m referring to those who purchase and furthermore wear t-shirts with a band logo sprawled across the front of it, but without actually knowing or indeed appreciating the music.

Sounds like a stupid concept when somebody says it out loud, but as we all know it’s even worse when somebody puts it into practice. I constantly see amazing and influential bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Ramones, The Beatles and Guns’n’Roses splattered across the shirts of young teenagers, posing like a six year old with a camera combined with a duck who somehow managed to find hair extensions. It wouldn’t bother me, if they actually knew who the bands were, and appreciated their music. But they don’t know them. And they don’t appreciate them. So these bands have masterfully molded themselves to the industry with their iconic music, all to be hollowed out like a Turkey at Christmas, and used as part of these idiots’ image to look “cool”. It’s like taking everything a band has ever stood for and binning it, leaving a hollowed out shell of an image that they can exploit to get likes on their profile picture. Which for fans of these bands, such as myself, it’s very offensive.

It just goes to show how much image means to the youngsters of the today, that they are willing to use the image of a classical band without actually appreciating the strong messages and significance behind their work in order to look cool. However it’s not fair for me to place the blame  solely on young people because I know there are people of my age that still do so. Yes that’s right folks, there are people taking their A Levels who would happily buy a Guns’n’Roses shirt but not know who Slash is, or buy a Rolling Stones shirt thinking their logo and name was a fashion brand (both of which are unfortunately true examples).

But it gets worse still, looking through shops recently I found that there are pink shirts with the Rolling Stones name and logo slapped on the front of them, for eight year old girls. Now I’m sorry, but do the designers of these products think that a child who prances around their bedroom dancing and singing to Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, will have even heard of Mick Jagger or Ronnie Wood? No. So they need to stop.

Of course I’m not complaining about those who do have a genuine knowledge of classic music and appreciate it because they’re not in the wrong. I mean when I was fourteen I had AC DC and Led Zeppelin blasting through my headphone every waking moment. This rant is specifically aimed at those who don’t know who the bands are. You the know the ones who wear a Rolling Stones shirt in their profile picture and yet on their likes list under ‘music’ is artists like Justin Bieber. I don’t know the technical term for them but their is a popular word used to describe them. I won’t say what it is but it’ll suffice to say it’s a derogatory term for the female reproductive system.

It’s interesting actually, a friend of mine once raised a rather thought provoking point; should there be a test on the band that has to be passed before the person can purchase the item? Admittedly it does sound a little extreme, but if you do question someone with a band t shirt on that you’re a bit suspicious of, the answer is usually golden. For example asking someone with a Rolling Stones shirt “Do you know who Mick Jagger is?” and they reply with no. Now call me pedantic or picky, but I’m sorry, you cannot say you like  the Stones but then not know who Jagger is. He is one of the most iconic front men for a band and has been performing for fifty years now. In the words of Stewie Griffin “Educate yourself fool”.

The cream is put on top of the cake for me however, when somebody goes to buy either a Slash or Jimi Hendrix t shirt, without knowing that either of them are guitarists. Now that is stupidity on a high level, and even more stupidly those are both true examples as well. Examples of people who make walking out into the the middle of the road very tempting. And those clever people who wear Nirvana shirts without knowing Kurt Cobain was in Nirvana. Painful.

If these people want to use the image of a band to look cool, then I’m sure KISS are more than happy for them to circle their image like hungry Vultures, it’s pretty much what the band was designed for. It’s a rock band that has merchandise that expands into a Hello Kitty section, they’re basically inviting childish and immature people to buy their items.

I am yet to see one of these silly people with a Bob Dylan t shirt on, but the day it happens will be the day I loose my faith in our generation entirely. Because it will show me that the work he did and everything he ever stood for has been brushed under the sofa to make way for those who just want to look cool. Which is near enough a crime considering what an absolute legend he is and how inspiring his songs are. I hope no one attempts to take away how symbolic he is.

To close this post I would just like to say, if you ever see someone of a young age with band t shirt on, go up to them an question them. There are only two questions needed. 1. “do you actually know who that band are?” and 2. “do you still have the receipt for that?”.