May 16, 2008

May Recommends

There has been so much music that I have been listening to recently, new and old, and yes, I hear you cry, shouldn't I have been revising, yes the answer is, I should have been revising but you never know what gems you can find when you shouldn't be!!! Now, first things, first, if any teachers have just read that, sorry, I am sure you understand this time is stressful and so looking at music is just a way to procrastinate and prolong the process!!!

Anyway, music, that is why we are here :D

What a lot to get through, well seen as the sun has been around for the past week, I know, the rain has come back, but there seems to be some good music to wash about the rainy blues and welcome the sun back... First on my list, I have found that over the past month, I have started to like artists and songs that I did not before and did not want to... and here is the first,

1. Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake- 4 Minutes
Despite my prolonging ambivalence towards this generic, Timberlake powered anthem, I was wondering when Madonna would get back on the music horse and realise that although sex sells, although Justin Timberlake sells, although having a good base accompanied by a rap sells, I would rather stand up for the traditional Madonna and hope that this would not sell! After the revelation that we would have at least another year of the reinvented Madonna with the release of 'Hard Candy', and that it would follow with the same old, boring, chart topping hits (as I am sure, by this point, you can guess I would prefer not to follow the trends!), after being fully informed that at the high point of Madonna's career, she was the trend setter, not follower and although, she may never have got back to the heights of 'Papa Don't Preach' and 'Like a Prayer' but even with her 'Confessions of the Dancefloor' she was trying to break into a genre that mainstream pop was being slightly weary off, despite the negative success of her previous outing (whereas, myself really enjoyed the new style), knew like every other Madonna fan, that this was not going to last to long and we would be expecting a new flavour of the Madonna collective.
And to that end, 'Hard Candy' was released, due to mixed reviews and 30 second previews on iTunes, I will probably keep as far as possible from the new sound, the RnB inspired, 'let me use every big star at the moment', top the charts, pay the bills, ignore every old lesson inspired album. Even with the likes of 'American Life' in the back of her wardrobe, lurking like the years she would rather not speak about (personally, an underrated album with great songs) and yet she would rather find what the mainstream enjoy, you would think that Madonna, could afford to keep fans happy instead of making new ones.

With names like Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Timberland, all producing, rapping, singing, doing what they do, taking part in the collective that is 'Hard Candy', it seems to be that it's just a random collection of B-Sides. If looks could kill, then I am sure most the music-buying world would be having a fit after taking a look at the cover! At the age of 49, she is not a bad looking woman but whoever decided that to have the neon pink cover with the star wearing what she is, was definitely blind... or having a joke!

Back to the song, I was so adamant not to listen to '4 Mins' that when I actually happened to listen to it, last week, after the storm of chart rising had been and gone, I figured that this song was not too bad and since then it has not left my iTunes top played. Unfortunately for me, only a few people at school like this song and if I play it, well you would rather not hear what people say but put it this way, Madonna's latest is a lateral based symphony, a mix for the mainstream ages where the little known can only get so far without the fanship of the biggest stars. With the like of Kanye and Justin joining Madonna, it is obvious why the smaller stars can't have any airtime, all the biggest stars get their songs played and then the next song, same singers, different collaboration.

'4 Mins' starts with Timberland’s 'singing', what's the point to be honest, as a producer, I applaud but to find him appearing, it disturbs me... (OneRepublic blooper!), anyway, moving on, Madonna starts with a moving beat, Justin joins and together they produce a song of stages... despite the pointless lyrics and the tick tock dance, this song goes against the trend and in fact, get's the thumb up from me.

2. Robyn- Who's That Girl
I have not a bad thing to say about Robyn, the Swedish star who shows that despite her poor pop past, the dance industry is a whole new ball game. The new single to join the past three, finds a new level of self wonderment, does Robyn realise that in English, her lyrics are meaningful and actually show the hidden things that people are always thinking, does she believe in what she sings, by the sounds of the passion, one would think so.

3. Skunk Anansie- Hedonism & Weak
For those of us, still living in the 90's, most of us would remember Skunk, as a multicultural band of many means. Their songs cover a variety of topics and after listening to one, you wonder where you were before you first heard it. Hedonism, attacks the materialistic world, our world, the one that you live in, because you are reading this on a blog and the one I am living in... how else would I be writing this? But apart from, Skin's replenishing voice and the rhythmic beats, one can't quite understand how they would end. Weak, follows the same generic similarity but when watching the video, how come someone get away with this? Does the art of the music video have to entertain, provide a medium for the song or does it have to construct something much more- Weak does just this!

4. Alphabeat- 10,000 Nights of Thunder
When someone listens to this and enjoys it, pop music is firmly back in the place that it should be, at the top of the charts! Thinking back to the days when listening to S Club was socially acceptable or wondering when the next Steps single would be out, shows that pop music was the prime example of the 90's and despite what critics say, everyone loved it!

Well, Alphabeat, bring the old beat back in a new style, from Denmark, they have already made a mark in the UK chart with 'Fascination' (seen ages ago on this blog!), being in the charts for almost ten weeks and not leaving the top 20, one must realise that pop music is starting to make it's mark... (Britney Spears, Blackout, not as bad as I would have thought!) But here we have the cheesy, happy go lucky fun that we all craved! After music becoming too serious for a while, it seems that we need music this is just going to make you smile and love it or hate it, you will want to dance!
'10,000 Nights' is just another song to add to the profile and what a great single, this was the deciding factor as to pre ordering the album!

5. Sigur Ros- Hoppipolla
What's not to love about this song? Simple and great, powerful and beautiful, balanced and perfect, Ros finds that perfection is easy and music comes naturally and brilliantly... Simple as, listen, relax and fall into a new world!

6. (Here's a bonus!) Maroon 5 & Rihanna- If I Never See Your Face Again
A remix of a great song from M5's latest, see's the addition of synths but the similar formula that made them great. America's biggest success story of last year, Rihanna, keeps churning out the hits and with the release of her new single, 'Take a Bow', she does not rest and why not release a duet of an old song with an award winning band in a totally different genre!

The result, the same we know from M5, nothing life changing but nice to see Rihanna adding to her long list of things she has done... she looks great in the video and is a great asset to what could have been, just another M5 release.

May 04, 2008

Clever Adverts and Stupid Movies

Clever Adverts and Stupid Movies
Having been searching through YouTube recently for new ideas & videos, I found 'Future Shorts'.


Future Shorts is one of the leading and most innovative short film labels. Since 2003, Future Shorts has created a rapidly expanding network that allows filmmakers the opportunity to have their work seen on the largest theatrical platform worldwide. Passionately believing in getting short films seen and creating a culture around the medium, Future Shorts is recognised by filmmakers, the industry and press alike as the cutting-edge short film label. Future Shorts is a worldwide monthly film festival as well as a distributor, sales agent, consultancy service and DVD label. This is fresh cinema- Future Shorts.”

From Future Shorts

After watching some of their videos and subscribing, I found myself involved in a whole new situation. The short film, not to keen among the average Hollywood action viewing public, it is usually a showcase for the new writer or director and the aim is to present themselves. In the past many have started their career's through short films and in actual fact- even those who have already made it still continue to quench the thirsts of over enthusiastic film lovers by filling in the time between major releases, for example, a personal favourite, David Lynch (Favourites include The Boat and The Amputee).
Anyway back to the point, I was in the cinema today and saw 21 (Starring Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth) highly recommended and before the film started it was time for the ads and trailers. The first to appear was endorsed by Future Shorts and was entitled "Procrastination" and for the next minute and a half, I was treated to a very dreary voice describing his day while the pictures were being drawn. At first, you wonder what the point is, but as the day continues, the dots become connected and what turns from a day for him to do 'his stuff' turns into a day of anything other.
Below is the video

This made me smile, I will be glad to let you know that I could not only see the intelligence that was put into this but that artist's handiwork on screen was so simple that it was ingenious and very intriguing. As the minutes goes on, you start to want to guess what happens next and if this 'stuff' is ever going to get done.
Another reason for me to mention this is the fact that short films are finally getting their time in the spotlight. Most people get to the cinema in time for the ads and so by placing this at the beginning, massively increased the viewership and hopefully some of those people remembered the name 'Future Shorts' and checked them out when they got home.
The term, 'clever ad' reminds me of the recent Ford campaign of the stupid dogbot and that there are two sides to everything, read between the lines, is the saying that comes to mind. But in the last decade we, as the viewing public, have been presented with adverts which don't stretch our mind and either just clearly advertise an item or try in vain comedy (Daz or Bounty) to entertain the audience. But I feel that the new era of ads have arrived, they not only want to amuse the audience or incline them to buy their item but also want to make the viewer feel comfortable within their situation or expand their brain activity!
To this end, I suggest a stand against watching just any rubbish, if films and television are searched through for the best and most hard hitting then why must we accept anything less from our advertising?
I felt a trend coming and after watching "Procrastination", Adidas' new advert came on. After being treated to images of dingy London, the voiceover was making it clear that the only way to be happy with the environment you live in, is to make it your own and this was then followed by a small group as they buy plants and then during one night, plant them along a path near a bridge. We are then told the only way to make it right is to 'Leave Your Mark.' Here is another prime example of the new trend of advertising, which is made to make one happy- to look at what is being done and think, that if each of us did this, we could produce something pretty amazing.
You may be wondering how I am able to speak about ads for so long but here is the complete contrast, the lights dimmed in the cinema and the trailers for upcoming films began. Films in recent years (Crash, Babel and The Hours) have climbed in quality as they include accomplished casts and actual meanings that make people think. They are not scared to show the problems with the human condition, Crash's main premise is just that, the only way for people to communicate, to think about each other is to crash, to collide, to cause conflict and this sort of movie, although becoming more popular these days are still being trumped for films like Sex and The City (The Movie) & What Happens in Vegas!
Now, do understand that from time to time a good comedy, a feel good movie, something which won't really change my life is always good but with the bombardment of so many all at the same time! Is this really what the filmgoers among us yearn for?
Congratulations to HBO for really launching the career of actresses like Sarah Jessica Parker and for giving the world a comedy drama like SitC- the first proper look at city life from the working woman's point of view but in 2004 the series that really did influence our look of TV finished and now, four year later, the team reunite to show what happened afterwards. Do we really need to see our TV on the big screen? Is this what they signed up for when they first started- sure the money must be great but does this at all go against what the show first stood for. It was easily accessible for most people and with DVD sales on the rise, these days, I am sure that the show was doing well... Is it really the right time for the likes of Mr. Big and the lives and loves of Carrie Bradshaw to hit the big screen when there is so much more to write about, when talented writers with something really important to say are turned down by big producers and therefore find it hard to make their point?!!!
Now, people I have spoken to recently about this next topic, can't understand what my problem is... but here it is... I can't stand Indiana Jones... I think the whole franchise is flawed and although I would not want to take away from the massive amount of work gone into these films in the past 20 years, I do find that the idea is repetitive and that somewhat so archaic that it should stay in the past! Supposedly the biggest expected film of the year, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is, I am sure, already creating Oscar Buzz and yet, I can't see the Indie fever... No need for prescription drugs for me, I would be very happy for Harrison Ford to put away his whip and perhaps find retirement as a likely option.
Where are the new ideas? They are being back benched by producers who find the tradition formula works well and therefore don't want to step out of their safety zones (like our ad's!) and yet I wonder what people said to Spielberg and Lucas when they first created the idea of I Jones... So he swings from trees (Have you seen Tarzan?)
Seriously people, put down the mainstream and think about opening your mind... Step away from the DVD boxset and make a stand... where are the new writers? Well hopefully one is right here and within just one person there are a lot of ideas!!! Hopefully, one can make their mark!
As you can tell, the path of this post has gone slightly away from what I originally thought, it was meant to be a jibe at second rate rom-coms and a big thumbs up for a new strand of ads and yet, I have sidetracked... let's have the new ideas... take a stand and don't be handed just the traditional formula... it's time for a breath of fresh air!

Ollie///Beauty is laughter on the radio

The voice of Charlotte Green, the BBC Radio 4 is well known, her voice carries confidence and strictness which makes someone want to listen. You know where you are when she is reading the news but two months ago, it seems that a filler article may have changed Ms Green's image as a hard hitting news reader. Listen below and tell me that you did not laugh along with her!

Well, thank fully the BBC did not read too far into this outburst and that sometimes when someone wants to laugh... it just happens and it was not only her, you can hear the producer having a titer in the background as well.
Well done Ms Green for showing that there is still a sense of humour back there and I am sure, making a large part of London laugh!

May 01, 2008

Here is some pictures to wet your appetite

Just while I am doing my revision (& listening to Marron 5!) Here is something for you to feast your eyes on, all will be revealed soon!