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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Recently, I’ve developed a habit of listening to songs that I once loved on YouTube and it’s proving to be quite interesting. I’m re-discovering the cheesiest pop songs ever and loving it. I can’t believe how much my tastes have changed but I’ve put together 10 of the songs that I’ve been listening to for you all to laugh at.

1. POP!, HEAVEN AND EARTH

Pop! were put together by Pete Waterman and were active between 2003-2005. Their biggest hit was this song and it was followed up by Can’t Say Goodbye and Serious, neither of which received much critical acclaim. None of the band members did much after Pop! disbanded, although Jamie (blonde guy) went on to join Avenue, a boyband from the third series of X Factor, who were disqualified for already having a record deal.

2. SCOOCH, MORE THAN I NEEDED TO KNOW

Scooch were dubbed the “new Steps” back in the early noughties but unfortunately their success never reached the heights of their earlier counterparts. Bands with both guys and girls appear to have been a trend in this period of pop history but unfortunately there are very few that had success. Scooch weren’t one of them and this song was never really a big hit, neither was its follow-up The Best Is Yet To Come. However, the band did return in 2007 to enter Eurovision for the UK with the rather hilariously cheesy Flying The Flag For You.

3. SAMANTHA MUMBA, ALWAYS COME BACK TO YOUR LOVE

This Irish beauty was a Louis Walsh signing of the early noughties and her debut Gotta Tell You got to number two but this was unfortunately the biggest success she ever had in the UK. She did better in the Irish charts, as Irish musicians tend to do. The follow-up Baby Come On Over was played a lot on radio but still only reached number five in the UK charts. This song is one of her later tracks and I think she did become a stronger artist, as she grew. However after several failed stints on talent shows in an attempt to revive her music career, she eventually retired from music in 2010 and announced that she would be going into acting.

4. EMMA BUNTON, TAKE MY BREATH AWAY

The ex Spice Girl had a few solo singles and this one is definitely my favourite. However, it wasn’t the best received and What Took You So Long?  in 2001 was her number one hit. This song and her version of What I Am, originally by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians, both reached the top five. She went on to release a second album, which reached the top ten, although her third didn’t. In 2008, Emma moved into TV and radio work and has guest-presented on HeartFM, as well as taking a seat on the judging panel of Dancing on Ice in 2010

5. ATOMIC KITTEN, IT’S OK

The Scouse girlband were active between 1997-2008 and had a fairly successful career. Their first and second albums both reached number one and their biggest hit was Whole Again, which originally featured Kerry Katona but was later changed to include her replacement Jenny Frost. I was a big fan of Atomic Kitten and I really liked this song in particular. Whole Again and Eternal Flame are still songs that creep into my head every now and then, so I couldn’t include them on this list of “forgotten” songs but I think I love them just as much. There is talk of an Atomic Kitten reunion on the cards but I’d rather they didn’t come back, if I’m honest. Just leave it in the past, girls!

6. HILARY DUFF, WAKE UP

Well, I never really watched Lizzie McGuire so I only really got to know who Hilary Duff when she stepped into music. This song is definitely the best of hers and it was actually written by Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, which explains the rocky edge to it. Hilary described the track as “very dancey, kind of pop- not 80s but kind of with that in it”. So, I guess it’s a little bit of everything then! It did the best in the UK out of all her singles, which also included So Yesterday and Come Clean. As late as last October, she tweeted that she was planning a new album, so I guess we can expect something new from her very soon.

7. ONE TRUE VOICE, SACRED TRUST

These boys were created on Popstars: The Rivals and lost out to Girls Aloud in the race to Christmas number one 2002. They did have another top 10 hit, Shakespeare’s Way With Words but then subsequently disappeared off the face of the planet. None of the members had any further musical success, although Daniel Pearce auditioned for X Factor in 2009 and made it through to Simon’s house in LA but wasn’t picked for the live shows. It seems you can find solo efforts by a few other members on MySpace including Jamie Shaw, Anton Gordon and Keith Semple. It’s a shame really because they came just a little too early for the mad rush of boybands between 2003-2004 and they do seem to have a certain talent, no?

8. LEMAR, LULLABY

This is the only song on this list that never got released and I will never know why. I still maintain to this day that Lullaby is an amazing song and I really think it could have now been a classic pop track, had it been allowed to get some air. I think it does feature on Lemar’s debut album but he never released it as a single. The song was written during his time in BBC’s Fame Academy in 2002 and features fellow contestants Ainslie Henderson and David Sneddon. Lemar went on to have medium success with several albums and is a regular in Radio 1’s Live Lounge, recording versions of U2’s Vertigo, Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind and Beyonce’s Sweet Dreams. He’s also sung with JLS and toured with Mary J Blige. He’s apparently hoping to release another album this year, although he really should release Lullaby one day…

9. BACKSTREET BOYS, THE ONE

It’s not one of their best known tracks but it’s an awesome song all the same. I was always a massive fan of Backstreet Boys and they had a massive career, spanning 1993-2002. After a hiatus, they returned in 2005 and released three more albums, the latest in 2009. They have now teamed up with 80s boyband New Kids On The Block, without Kevin, to form supergroup NKOTBSB, who are now touring together. The One was released on the album Millenium in May 2000 and I think it really shows why they were so successful. Many of their bigger hits such as Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) and I Want It That Way are still played at cheese-fests everywhere but I wanted to remind myself of an awesome Backstreet Boys song that we never hear.

10. D-SIDE, REAL WORLD

Another Irish boyband after Boyzone’s and during Westlife’s hey-day were D-Side. Real World was their fourth single and it reached number nine in the UK and number one in Ireland, (do my words from earlier come back to you at all?!). It is a beautiful ballad though and as an Irish boyband, ballads performed by perfect voices are vital! The vocals are a bit squeaky in places and I did actually listen to this and think “ouch, did I really listen to this?!” D-Side were part of a flurry of boybands, who appeared during 2002-2004 and they were probably one of the more successful groups. They split in 2008 and no members went on to have any further musical successes.

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TITLE: We’ve Come Too Far To Live In The Past
BAND: Hearts Under Fire
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: June 1st 2012

These girls supported MEST at Whatever Happened to P-Rock? and after posting my review of the gig on both Facebook and Tumblr, I thought it would be only fair if I reviewed one of their songs as a thank you for helping to raise the numbers of viewers to my blog!

 

We’ve Come Too Far is a classic alternative rock track and got everyone jumping at Rhythm Factory at the beginning of the month. It’s a track with a lot of heart and the passion and grit in Mary’s lead vocals is something that can’t go unnoticed. The aggressive guitar and slamming drums mirror the band’s feisty nature and tell us that these girls are here to kick some ass.

The lyrics are essentially about living for today, being proud of what you’ve achieved and not having too many regrets, which is a message we can definitely take away and learn from. It also celebrates the band’s successes to date, as the video showcases perfectly.

It’s a song that’s ideal for just laying in your room and blocking out the world or blasting it out of the car stereo would be just as therapeutic. One thing I love about the song is that the backing vocals really add to it and in fact, highlights the level of female friendship within the band. The song has a lot of light and shade, which I imagine reflects the girls’ journey to success. It charts their progress and they’re now pretty much on the edge of glory. All that matters is now and what comes next. The song will be the lead track from their new EP of the same name, which is released this summer.

For more Hearts Under Fire tracks and news, check them out on www.heartsunderfire.com or www.youtube.com/heartsunderfire.

TITLE: Wanderlust
ARTIST: Danny Gruff
LABEL: Unsigned
RELEASED: November 10th 2011

If you read my review of James Bourne’s gig a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know that I mentioned this guy and indeed this song. Danny added me on Facebook today and I told him how much I’d fallen in love with the song that he claimed was “about women running away from him”.

The song is ideal for just bathing in Danny’s vocals and the sense of hopelessness is something we can all relate to. Its touching realism is one of the reasons I think I love it so much. Unrequited love is a topic that is written about so much and when a song that focuses on it really moves you, you know that it’s truly special.

Acoustic guitar accompanying the melody keeps it simple, which suits a song about such raw emotions. When he played it live, the entire venue fell silent and the fact that a new, unheard of artist has the ability to do that is something that makes the North Walian a sure future star.

The video posted to YouTube raises a smile or two, contrasting the overall mood of the song but I think it does in fact, just show the different sides to his personality. His vocals aren’t completely polished but there is certainly a niche for him and I have no doubt that Wanderlust has huge hit potential.

It stands out from his EP Friends/Love/Drink, which comprises of mostly pop punk hits with funny lyrics and upbeat guitar riffs. Chat to or check out Danny and his band Danny and the Peacemakers on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all at www.facebook.com/dannygruff, www.twitter.com/dannygruff, www.youtube.com/dannygruff.

I posted a UK festival guide a couple of weeks ago, explaining how I wasn’t impressed with any of the line-ups and now scheduled Sonisphere headliners, Queen have leaked the information today, saying that the Knebworth festival this year has been cancelled.

The organisers haven’t released an official statement yet but I know that there is a lot going on in the country this summer including the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics (which is one of the reasons there is no Glastonbury this year), as well as the fact that no one has any money, at the moment! Although I was never going to attend it, it’s a shame that the whole thing has had to be pulled but I’m sure best efforts were made to save it.

I really hope that anyone who did have tickets isn’t too disappointed. Anyone who is, I suggest you get out into a local field somewhere with a group of friends, take some speakers and an iPod with all the tracks you would have raved to, drink the weekend away and pretend you really were there. If you live in the city, travel a little to the rural outskirts! It will be cheaper than your Sonisphere ticket and there will be no being jumped/stood on or big sweaty strangers pressed into your back for hours at a time.

As my festival guide will tell you, Queen were set to headline the Saturday of the event, with Kiss headlining the Friday and Faith No More headlining Sunday. They were set to be supported by the likes of Evanescence, The Blackout, Marilyn Manson and Tim Minchin.

Well, the writing project is almost over, I think. Lauren and Becky are going to check it over for me tomorrow but then I can put it away for a bit. Well, the creative part anyway. The critical commentary on it is going to be done over the Easter holidays, so I won’t get too much rest time!

I’m unsure on the rules about publishing dissertation stories anywhere online and I’ve heard horror stories of people being charged with plagiarism of their own work, so I’m not going to be posting my finished writing project story until after it has been marked. That does suck because I would love to get the completely unbiased opinions of people who don’t know me but I can’t risk being pulled out for such silly offences, I’m afraid!

I wrote an article for Aber Ink, which in case I haven’t mentioned before is the Aber English and Creative Writing newsletter I contribute to, about my views as a student blogger. Lauren is writing a piece on blogging and she asked me to write half a page of it. It is awesome getting my views across and hoping that someone might hear me in some form, as I feel that I’m so used to not being listened to. I guess that’s why I started writing and blogging in the first place, all those years ago!

So last night, I sat and watched new BBC talent show The Voice. It aired on Saturday night but my lack of TV means I can only watch shows, when they become available online and I am available to watch them. I saw an interview with presenter Holly Willoughby last week on The One Show, talking about the show and I’ve heard loads of things about the US version, so I decided to give it a shot.

The concept of the show is an interesting and fair one. The mentors/vocal coaches have their backs to the performers and if they like what they hear, they turn around. If more than one mentor turns around, the performer is allowed to choose whose team they join, therefore allowing the contestant complete artistic control. It does, of course, leave lots of room for the mentors to name drop and claim to be better than their fellow coaches, which often leads to quite hilarious ego inflation.

The vocal coaches and mentors include legendary Welsh crooner Tom Jones, who frequently tells stories of his meetings with the likes of Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin and Will.I.Am who loves mentioning how much success he’s had at producing albums of worldwide success, as well as his work with Michael Jackson. Jessie J, the UK’s hottest female star of the moment, simply tells acts that she will hang out with them, make music and help channel their emotions into chart-topping hits, much like her own. Completing the panel is The Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue, who looks set to be the indie songwriter’s choice and will hopefully produce the next generation of hot new rockstars. The coaches opened the first show with a version of Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling.

It’s definitely a show that focuses on the music and talent rather than looks or sob stories, which is what all talent shows should be like but aren’t. The performers don’t feel judged on anything other than their voice, so therefore they feel free to lay themselves bare and open up, in a way they perhaps couldn’t in usual audition format. It also allows the performer control over their future in the competition, leaving it up to them to choose which direction they want to go in the show. To be honest, it’s everything that other talent shows should be and I’m really glad that the producers at Shed Media have found a way of making a TV talent show purely about talent.

The Voice is on Saturdays at 7pm on BBC1.

Today has just been a beach day. The summer appears to have arrived early in Aber and everyone was out on the beach today. Too bad, I don’t have any summer clothes with me! I’ve had to make do with just t shirts and leggings mainly.

Lauren and I spent the whole afternoon just reading on the beach and it was wonderfully relaxing. Sea was calm, we were surrounded by happy students and families who had visited for the day. It’s amazing how whatever time of year the sun decides to come out, the whole of Aber springs into its holiday mood and everyone decides to pretend it’s July.

Of course, all the sun isn’t good for anyone’s dissertations at the moment but I have managed to get dribs and drabs done in between enjoying the sun. I’ve almost finished now too, although the word count is getting a little tight. I’m wary of making the ending too abrupt, which I know could really bring my marks down, so some serious editing will have to be done at some stage. Glad it’s almost over though!