Posts Tagged ‘music’

  1. X Factor: The Bubble Gum Pop Manufacturing Machine

    December 13, 2012 by LeanneLeveaux

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    So this year’s X Factor saw James Arthur take the crown as 2012’s winner.

    Now whilst millions of people across the UK are rejoicing at Arthur being crowned the winner due to his ‘real talent’, and are ‘laughing in Simon Cowell’s face’, I wonder how many people remember 2010’s ‘real talent’ winner, Matt Cardle and what he’s doing now.

    Like Arthur, Cardle was tipped as the viewer’s favourite back in 2010 for his authentic style and originality, and was destined for big things.

    But here we are in 2012, and we haven’t heard a peep out of old Cardle, let alone any repeats on the airwaves of his cover of Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many of Horror’, retitled ‘When We Collide’ after the lyrics in the chorus, to make it more memorable for mother’s and grans wanting to buy his single.

    On the surface, it would appear that if you’re aiming for a bubblegum pop career, such as Little Mix or Olly Murs, X Factor really is the place for you.

    If, however, like James Arthur, you have any ounce of real song writing talent or musical skill, whilst X Factor could help you in terms of exposure, musically it’s all downhill from the moment you’re announced as the winner.

    Really, had Jahmene been announced as the winner, and James Arthur in second place, this would have put Arthur in a much better place to launch his career. Jahmene could have gone on to record and release an album of songs that your aunt would probably listen to whilst washing up, whilst Arthur would have had the creative reign to take his music in the direction he wanted to go, as he wouldn’t have been bundled into the X Factor winner’s manufacturing machine.

    We have already had a glimpse into how his first few singles are looking to sound just by listening to his winner’s single Impossible which is a cover of the original by Shontelle. It is an upbeat, catchy song that has been mixed and engineered to within an inch of its life.

    As well as following a pre-programmed framework for his music, I’m sure we will see the endearing qualities of Arthur’s appearance stripped away to fit the popular music artist model. Only today an article was released in which Arthur was ‘quoted’ as saying “I’m going to get my teeth sorted out. I’ve always thought I’m pretty ugly” – I’m seriously wondering whether this has come from the mouth of the puppeteer whose arm I’m sure is already firmly up his back.

    First it’ll be the teeth straightening, and whitening to a Simon Cowell level. Next will come the Topman/Grunge styling that isn’t really grunge at all, and will be followed by fixing whatever else is deemed ‘unacceptable’ for a celeb-figure to be seen with.

    How long will it be before James Arthur blends into the void of other forgotten X Factor contestants?

    It really is such a shame that in order to be successful, you now have to fit a mould that is seen as acceptable in the general public’s eyes. Judging by the reception Arthur was receiving on the X Factor, I’m pretty sure the screaming young girl’s like him just the way he is, and this mythical mould that Syco and other labels work to, seems to be completely irrelevant.

    So what does the future hold for this year’s young winner, James Arthur?

    He can be sure of 6 long months of manufactured songs pre-written by someone else under the watchful Syco eye and a UK tour consisting of multiple backing dancers and James Arthur miming his little heart out.

    All I can say is good luck to the guy, and I hope in 6 months’ time he has the opportunity to finally release something that he can call his own, and something that he is proud of.

    Let’s see which poor sucker gets spat out of the X Factor-Syco factory line next year.

    You can find @LeanneLeveaux on Twitter.

  2. Playlists and prose: what to take on holiday

    April 26, 2012 by luc7m

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    If you’re anything like me, packing for a holiday falls into three categories; clothes, books and music. While it can take me less than an hour to fill a suitcase with outfits for daytime (bikinis), outfits for nighttime, accessories, shoes, jewellery and makeup, it can take me at least two weeks to decide what books I will be reading and what music I will be listening to.

    Just in case any of you has the same problem, I thought I’d give you my guide on what to take… *massively helpful face*


    I like a good holiday playlist and let’s face it, foreign radio stations are fairly wank. If iPods had been invented in the 90s, we would never have been subjected to Saturday Night or The Macarena complete with equally wanky dance moves. For this reason, I usually make a couple.

    My favorite playlist is the one I listen to constantly for the first few days of each holiday, lying by the pool drifting in and out of sleep, before I start getting distracted by the amazingly hot waiter who keeps bringing me water. It’s full of music that has a memory for me and I’m instantly transported back to place where I first heard it and the people I was with. This is the playlist that helps me turn off from life, stop thinking about work and start thinking about things I probably shouldn’t be thinking about, which is the whole point of a holiday after all…

    I add to this playlist all the time so it’s massive, but here’s a snapshot of my most favourite and evocative tunes that really provide distraction. Feel free to steal.

    Counting Crows: Round Here
    Fiona Apple: Shadowboxer
    Jackson Five: I Wanna Be
    Kings of Leon: The Face
    Matchbox 20: Kody
    The Verve: Lucky Man
    Tracy Chapman: Fast Car
    The Doors: Light my Fire
    Queen: Old Fashioned Lover Boy
    Tom McRae: Ghost of a Shark
    Example: Kickstarts
    Duncan Sheik: Barely Breathing
    Guns and Roses: November Rain
    James: She’s a Star
    Lamb: Gorecki
    ELO: Mr Blue Sky
    The Wallflowers: Heroes
    Empire of the Sun: Walking on a Dream
    Massive Attack: Unfinished Sympathy
    Snow Patrol: Chocolate
    Prince: Little Red Corvette
    Oasis: Stop Crying Your Heart Out


    For me, a big part of my love of reading is the book itself – the smell, the touch, it’s own space on my shelf – and while I would never encourage anyone to buy a Kindle, I do recognise its usefulness after the hundredth time of gathering up the pages that have come loose and fallen in the pool because the spine glue has melted in the heat.

    I tend to take five books with me whenever I go away. I don’t ever assume I’ll read them all, due to my aforementioned habit of falling asleep whenever I lie down, but they’re there if I need them. I think the perfect book list is a combination of old favourites, new recommendations and a classic or two. But, this is just how I do it.

    You will never find anything on my list by Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella or Jodi Picoult, because I think they’re nauseatingly trite. You will, however, find the complete works of Jilly Cooper because I’ve loved her forever and I don’t think any summer is complete without some fantasising about Rupert Campbell-Black. I make up for this by balancing them out with a bit of Shakespeare, Salinger, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan. I will also have some crime novels because, for some reason, I love gore. My favourites are Karin Slaughter* and Jeffrey Deaver, they’re really easy to read and generally scare the shit out of me. And, for some genuinely funny, rib-aching laughter Tom Sharpe always hits the right spot.

    Over the past few years, here are some books that have racked up the miles with me and I’d thoroughly recommend.

    Tom Sharpe: Blott on the Landscape
    Margaret Mitchell: Gone with the Wind
    Andrew Kauffman: All my friends are Superheroes
    John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany
    Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird
    Douglas Adams: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    Sarah Waters: Tipping the Velvet
    Delphine de Vigan: No et Moi
    Homer: The Iliad
    Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
    Bella Pollen: Hunting Unicorns
    Alexander Masters: Stuart, A Life Backwards
    Alexander Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo
    Mötley Crüe: The Dirt

    If you’ve never read any Jilly Cooper (Ashley…) it doesn’t really matter which you go for, but there are reoccurring characters and I like things in order, so I say do as Maria von Trapp and start at the very beginning, with Riders.

    So there you go, my thoughts on holiday packing. Now, if you’ll excuse me the hot waiter is on his way over with more water. And then i’m scheduled for another nap, natch…

    * Re: Karin Slaughter.  Be warned, they’re not for the faint hearted and if you are sqeamish in anyway, I wouldn’t recommend them. If you’re not squeamish but haven’t read them, then start with the first one, Blindsighted, because they have reoccurring characters and there’s a central story running throughout.

    Lucy is a PR lady, peanut butter aficionado and marmite lover. She’s a big fan of Jilly Cooper and recently came second in her work’s big bake off. You find follow Lucy on Twitter right here