Category Archives: Music

Album Review- FOUR by One Direction

FOUR is the aptly named fourth studio album released by One Direction, clearly drawing from music of the 80’s to give it an older sound. In terms of cohesiveness and maturity, it is better but still has room for improvement which can hopefully be seen in their next album. The gradual change in their sound from bubblegum pop has been beneficial to the X Factor alumni, possibly showing  the different direction the band could go in the future. Zayn Malik and Liam Payne are still the powerhouse singers of the group while Harry Styles’ voice seems to be in its comfort zone with this album. Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson who’ve previously been, for the most part, background vocalists with snippets of stanzas to sing have improved remarkably.

The first single off of the album, Steal My Girl, actually happens to be the least appealing track on the album with its ABBA inspired sound unfortunately draped under a thick veil of auto tune. Night Changes has been announced as the second single, a better choice compared to the previous one considering how it’s a well-harmonized ballad that truly showcases how strong the vocals of the group are.

Fireproof was the first song One Direction granted the public as a free download and upon hearing it, I was pleased to see the difference in their previous songs, with its laid back and relaxing vibe. Ready to Run employs the same chord progression as Story of My Life, sounding like a perfect song for an animated Disney movie ( I mean this in a nice way). Somehow it reminds me of Tarzan, when he and Jane are swinging around exploring the jungle, but that’s just me.

No Control is the group’s most lyrically provocative, singing about ‘loaded guns’ and what not but sadly it’s a sugary-rock coating to a song dripping with sexual innuendos. The highlight is hearing Tomlinson vocally drive the song.

Among the slow songs are Fool’s Gold and Spaces, where Horan shines. FOUR features another song from Ed Sheeran. The Brit singer penning a song for One Direction has proven to be a fool-proof combination as was proved by Moments, Little Things and Over Again. This time the song is called 18, surpassing the other songs to be one of the best on the album.

On the antipodal end, the catchy, upbeat tunes are Girl Almighty, Clouds, Stockholm Syndrome and Where Do Broken Hearts Go, the latter two being written by Styles which is commendable. Stockholm Syndrome is according to him “about a nympho” and the actual syndrome itself i.e developing an emotional connection to your captor or kidnapper. It’s as dark as they’ve ever gone albeit only the surface. Where Do Broken Hearts Go isn’t the sappy ballad it sounds like but has a rock tone to it. Girl Almighty, I feel, might be underrated when it comes to the whole but should not be underestimated. Finally, Clouds makes a nice end to the album, leaving on a positive note.

On the deluxe album, there are four bonus tracks called Illusion, Change Your Ticket, Once in a Lifetime and Act My Age. I have always found that the bonus songs are sometimes better than the tracks that made it onto the actual album when it comes to One Direction and FOUR once again proves me right in this line of thinking. Once in a Lifetime and Illusion may be a bit sappy but are still good songs. However, they pale in comparison to the rather bombastic Act My Age which sounds like a cocktail of Irish folk rock and a pirate theme song that you could sing along in a pub in an intoxicated state. Change Your Ticket is one of my favourite tracks and I firmly believe it should have taken Steal My Girl’s place on the album, especially because of its resemblance to The 1975’s sound (particularly the guitar).

Overall, I feel that this album is miles ahead of the previous ones and is one step further in One Direction bright career ahead.

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Album Review- 1989 by Taylor Swift

1989, Taylor Swift’s fifth studio album, doesn’t sound much like the decade it is named after but what it does sound like is musical progression. As someone who steers clear of country music and rolls her eyes when the name Taylor Swift is uttered, I must say that 1989 is one of her best albums by far.

Each song seems to tell its own story and take you to another place when listening to it. The first track off the album, Welcome to New York makes you feel like there abundant opportunities awaiting and New York is the place to realise them. It seems like a song fit for The Devil Wears Prada.

Blank Space, the fan favourite, sounds Lorde-like and is perhaps Taylor Swift’s most honest song, admitting her pathological attraction to players, showing self awareness.

All You Had To Do Was Stay is one of my favourites especially because of the way the word stay in the chorus rings in your ear. This is the one I’m interested in hearing acoustic covers of by other singers.

Shake it Off, the first single, is a bop-a-long track that sounds like the odd one out when compared to the rest of the tracks. Still, it’s fun to dance to. It’s nice to hear her jump on the bandwagon and ridicule herself too instead of being a petulant child who refuses to acknowledge potential criticism. New Romantics is one of the few songs on the album that even compares to Shake it Off’s fast beat.

Bad Blood reminds me of the constant push and pull between Gossip Girl’s Chuck and Blair. It could be their tumultuous anthem, in fact.

Though Taylor Swift said this album would be less boy-centric than its predecessors, I find it to be just as boy-centric but there is a difference this time. It is less doe-eyed and romantic. The songs instead are mature and self-aware, most hinting at possible disaster yet diving into something anyway.

I know Swift to be the artist who constantly writes songs about failed relationships, drawing inspirations from a series of break-ups and it didn’t sit too well with me when she reportedly did the same thing with Harry Styles. Supposedly, Out of the Woods and Style were inspired from this particular relationship and what’s odd is that I’m glad because those two songs are fantastic.

Style is my favourite, the beginning instrumental sounding perfect for a long distance drive in the dark like the one mentioned in the start of the song.

Out of the Woods is a little darker, for some reason making me think of burying bodies in the forest and looking over my shoulder constantly, setting an agitated mind space.

Some songs reminded me too much of other artists which I found distracting. Wildest Dreams is a dead ringer for a Lana Del Rey song while the instrumental of I Wish You Would seems very similar to The 1975’s sound. I’m not sure if it’s the after effect of Gone Girl but the song I Know Places seems creepy instead of romantic. Wonderland is a twist on how a place like it can be misleading which isn’t completely unheard of.

Other average tracks and some easy to skip on a playlist are T his Love, You are in Love, Clean and How You Get the Girl.

Overall I’d say the album is pretty good. I found It’s nice to have playing in the background when writing, not too much so that it distracts from the task at hand but enough to make an impact.

I don’t know, the album as a whole makes me feel like this:

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…but in a good way?

Sia’s Chandelier Music Video

Perhaps I’m a little late in viewing the music video for Sia’s Chandelier but after having watched it, I’m amazed at the artistry that went into it’s making, which is a rare sight in the music industry today. Pushing aside the sculpted models and crazy-hungover-parties that are a popular choice, the Chandelier music video is simple but complex on so many other levels.

It’s true…simple is complex. If you think about it, it’s very difficult to be simple since we always tend to overdo things and are not sure exactly when to stop. In today’s world, we assume that bigger and bolder is better and this music video demonstrates that that is not true at all. A simple set, a single dancer and an amazing song can speak volumes more than a video of great elaboration.

The set comprising of a stripped back home, complete with rooms and their bare essential furniture pieces complements the dark demonic nature of the dance in the video, symbolizing the despair brought on by alcoholism and drug use. This video struck me immediately and engaged my mind in a way no other video has. Dance truly is a powerful medium that I cannot perform but certainly can appreciate.

When you’re watching the video, you understand what the interpretive dance means to convey and it’s amazing how well it goes with the emotion in Sia’s voice as she sings.

I’ve always maintained that music is rhythmic poetry and the lyrics to this song certainly are…

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn?
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink
1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, drink

Throw ’em back ’til I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

In the end, the best way I can describe the Chandelier video is visual literature.

Music Review- Ed Sheeran’s X (Deluxe Edition)

Ed Sheeran’s much awaited sophomore album has finally been released world wide and it looks like his music has diverged in the path towards musical maturity, no longer the lovesick guitar strummer. Now he’s proven to be a vengeful, funky and emotional singer with Multiply.

Here’s my track by track review of the album:

One

Starting off with a similar taste of what his previous album featured, Sheeran sings of having found ‘the one’ while all his friends have gone out to find what he’s already found: a place for hearts to collide. His vocal skills are demonstrated as he holds a single note for around 17 seconds in this track.

I’m a Mess

The track sounds like a mess which is probably what Sheeran was going for, somehing a little rough edged to match the lyrics when he sings, “Going through the motions, going through us”,sounding tired. The emotional exposure in this song makes it sound like Sheeran actually is a mess himself. Towards the end, I was reminded of Give Me Love.

Sing

Sing helps establish Ed as a versatile singer who can leap outside his comfort zone and be loud about it. It’s almost as if he’s encouraging his listeners to sing as he takes a Pharrell-produced detour from his usual sound.

Don’t

When Taylor Swift herself heard this tune, she decided she would never want to piss of Ed Sheeran and right she is. The song bleeds of betrayal and unresolved anger with profane language used in the lyrics to drive home the point. It’s perhaps the only song with a curse word making an appearance, leaving the rest clean.

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Nina

Following in the same direction as Don’t, comes another scornful track supposedly about Nina Nesbitt whose musical career was given a boost by Sheeran. Once again, he doesn’t hold back on the truth. His version of the truth is for everyone to hear and this is one of my favourites off the album.

Photograph

After subtly ranting in Nina, the pace slows down for Photograph with Sheeran justifying his heart ache by starting out with, “Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes but it’s the only thing that I know.” and goes on to sing that it’s the only thing that keeps us alive. I suppose that after singing quite a bit about the ugly side of love, Photograph is meant to reassure us that loving is the best thing you can do with your life.

Bloodstream

This song is all about finding consolation and comfort from the bottom of  a beer bottle, trying to forget what needs to be forgotten. If an inebriated mind climbing towards intoxication could sing, this would be what it sounds like in there. I particularly enjoyed this track and would definitely say this one is my favourite.

Tenerife Sea

The chords sound like a sea faring song as Sheeran dives back into love rather than falling with Tenerife Sea. Reportedly he recorded this song after attending the Grammy Awards where he felt ‘a bit left out’ as he sat with his parents. Perhaps these lines from the song were written in this context:

“We are surrounded by all of these lies

And people who talk too much”

Tenerife Sea makes you feel like you’re on a simplistic and slow paced island amidst the poisonous sea of  the hedonistic Hollywood lifestyle.

Runaway

The beat picks up and we’re on an emotional vagabond journey as Ed sings of leaving his fathers home, making direct references to his unhealthy drinking habits and late night disappearances. Before allowing listeners to dub the father-son relationship as dysfunctional or based on hatred, Sheeran pulls us back in by singing,

“But I love him from the skin to my bones

But I don’t wanna live in his home”

Runaway is definitely one to listen to.

The Man

This track stands out as one of the two dominated by Ed’s rapping skills. The Man bleeds of honesty wherein Ed expresses worry that his career cost him a family and a settled lifestyle. It’s a good way to know about the other side of the fame and popularity we often attribute to singers since it’s coming directly from the source.

Thinking Out Loud

Thinking Out Loud is best described as a generic slow dancing song, all said and done already by countless artists before. So this track didn’t stand out as much as the others, in my opinion.

Afire Love

Based on his grandfather’s painful death after suffering from Alzheimer’s, Afire Love is another raw emotional trip that Sheeran takes us on, from the white walls of a hospital room to a black-clad funeral seeped in grief. I found this song very overwhelming (in a positive way)  and so will anyone who’s lost anyone in their lives because it hits home the hardest.

Take it Back

Take it Back is the second song featuring Ed’s rapping although I always wonder if that’s the right term to use since it could more accurately be described as speak-singing and even Ed himself says “I’m not a rapper; I’m a singer with the flow I’ve got a habit for spitting quicker lyrics” in the beginning of this song. Not the best track off the album but as far as the lyrics go, I think people in the UK may get a kick out of it.

Shirtsleeves

Another song that didn’t make a memorable mark, Shirtsleeves seems similar to Tenerife Sea in terms of its theme.

Even My Dad Does Sometimes

This song was originally called Hold On and for me, it contains the most meaningful lyrics.

“It’s alright to cry

Even my dad does sometimes

So don’t wipe your eyes

Tears remind you you’re alive

It’s alright to die ‘

Cause death’s the only thing you haven’t tried

But just for tonight hold on”

This one is real tearjerker for anyone who wants a good cry. I think this song deserved a spot on the album instead of being demoted to a bonus track.

I See Fire

First heard on The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug OST, I See Fire is the perfect song for the film as well as Game of Thrones with its references to fire and smoke amidst mountain battles. Unlike most OST tracks, Sheeran was chosen by the film’s director Peter Jackson to write a song that caters specifically to the movie. Ed then saw the film, wrote and recorded most of the track all in a single day.

Speaking about the recording process, he said, “I got the chance to produce and play all the instruments on it apart from the cello (… and I) managed to learn (the) violin for a day.”

I think this shows just how versatile and talented Sheeran is as a musician.

My Verdict:

I’d say the album is great but when the bar was set so high by Sheeran’s debut album, Multiply falls just a little bit short. The variation and experimentation on this album are a welcome change but perhaps a little too much for a single album at once. Sheeran has quite effectively captivated the human emotional spectrum in the space of an hour so I think everyone will be able to relate to each song at different times not when they’re listening to the whole album in one go. Apart from this little bit of critique, I’d recommend buying or downloading a copy and giving it a listen!

Demi Lovato’s Tribute to LGBT Rights

Partly filmed at the Los Angeles’ Pride celebration, Demi Lovato’s ‘Really Don’t Care’ video spreads the message about LGBT rights as well as awareness concerning the community which is wonderful to see.

While the song is actually a flip off to an old ex, the video is geared at pointing the finger to homophobic demonstrators at homophobic demonstrators at L.A Pride celebration on June 8 as she declares “You don’t have to hate because my Jesus loves all!” before jumping into the pumped up track.

Whether or not you actually like the tune actually becomes irrelevant because the video sends a positive message to everyone who watches it.  In my opinion, it’s a great way to use social media and status since Demi is an influential and inspirational figure to many including me.

Lovato’s grandfather was a trailblazer in the fight for gay rights and she says this spirit reflects in her as well. It looks like she’s definitely headed in the right direction!

Music Speaks When I Cannot

I do realize how powerful music is and although I always knew it, today I felt it.

A variety of songs have spoken to me, worth more than a thousand word essays of pent-up expression because there’s something magical about how musicians tell you how you feel when listening to their music and some songs feel as if they were written for you…

Ed Sheeran- Afire Love

Of all the songs based on grief of losing a loved one, this song hits me the hardest. Yesterday was Fathers Day and it was a bit difficult to be happy when my dad wasn’t alive to celebrate with. Although Sheeran wrote this about his grandfather passing away after battling Alzheimer’s, I connect to it on two levels. The mention of medication and weariness reminds me of what my father went through, tired after suffering a heart attack. I used to be angry as a child that God took him away from me but I’ve come to realize it’s for the best.  The other level I relate to is when someone you love doesn’t recognize you. You cannot blame them but it hurts nonetheless and that is where the plight begins because you do not know what to feel and if you feel something, you may be guilty about it.

Sam Smith- Money on my Mind

I’ve come across too many materialistic people who ask me “Why do work for something when you’re not getting paid?” The sad truth is that no matter your explanation, they will not understand. I do not write for others, I write for myself. Even if it does not amount to fiscal rewards, I will always write. Just like how Ed Sheeran described it, I am a selfish writer. I do it for myself. I do it for the love.

Imagine Dragons- My Fault

Involved in a group conflict, I’ve begun to wonder about the human tendency to assign blame. I wonder if it really is my fault as others claim and then I think it is unfair that I am the only person who contemplates this. Perhaps if we all look deeper, analyse our contribution to strife, we could remedy it. Sadly, the people I know at the moment refuse to do this and the point is moot. Just like our friendships. And that’s a terrible way to describe a friendship, it really is.

And thank you to a good friend who recommended listening to this 🙂

Amazing Pop Mash-ups

I love mash ups so much, especially how some songs when put together sound perfect and incomplete when you listen to each one individually afterwards. I thought I’d share some of my favourites on here for anyone who wants to take a listen!

Timber/Counting Stars by Sam Tsui

I honestly can’t sing Timber without Counting Stars creeping in after listening to this.

Towers/Over Again by Yeisimar Manotas

It sounds like the boys are singing about starting over again and the girls are singing about how their hearts feel nothing at all anymore, almost like they’re singing to one another.

I Knew You had a Heart Attack by earlvin14

I seem to enjoy the Heart Attack mashups quite a bit but what’s nice about this one is that it features both instrumentals and accapellas in a way that blends well together.

Let it Go/Let her Go by Sam Tsui

Sam Tsui’s voice is amazing and the titles worked out conveniently, don’t you think?

Payphone/ Little Things by earlvin14

Two of my favourite songs from two of my favourite bands 🙂 The bridge sounds fantastic in this one if I may add.

Heart Attack/ One More Night by bringmethemashup

The acapella is mostly One More Night featuring some of Demi’s high notes and the instrumental is that of Heart Attack’s.

Live While We’re Young/ Best Song Ever by earlvin14

For the One Direction fans this would be heaven, I had no idea these two songs could go so well together.

Enjoy! 🙂

Day 24: A song you’ve danced to with your best friend

I danced to a lot of songs with my all my classmates on the night of my senior farewell party before graduating high school. It was held on the soccer field (sort of) and it was amazing. Our teachers were there too but they weren’t dancing much…except my awesome physics teacher. I remember seeing him lip sync to this song while my friends and I were freaking out. It was hilarious.

Day 23: A Song you can’t stand

This was easy for me to choose.

Why do I hate this song? I’ll keep it short and simple.

Anti-feminist. Pathetic singing made slightly bearable with the gracious help of auto-tune. Indian music in the intro sounds amazing and then she starts to sing, so it sounds like a mish mash of music genres that simply don’t go together.

Plus when she performs this song, she dresses like she’s Indian (not that she shouldn’t or anything) but I don’t understand why this is even Indian related. I mean we’ve already got Bollywood for this type of thing.