Friday, 31 January 2014

THE BOOK THIEF directed by Brian Percival

The Book Thief. The Book Thief. The Book Thief.

For past week there is no other thought on my mind apart from this book. It's been a long time since a book left such an impression on me. The last time this happen, it was thanks to Holly Bourne and her debut novel SOULMATES. But that has changed and Markus Zusak's novel THE BOOK THIEF took a firm place in my mind, heart and soul. 


Actually, the reason, why I have decided to read this novel, is the trailer for this film. It caught my attention straight away.  And me being me, well you all know me, I have to find out for myself what is this book about. And I have been blown away! This story changed me.. It took me by surprise, got under my skin and hasn't let go! 

Of course, the film adaptation has been recently released in the American film market. We, people living behind the pond, have to wait a little bit longer to see it on our big screens. I couldn't wait though. There is a note made by a permanent marker in my diary, marking the 31st January (the UK official release day.)  for past three months. But I couldn't resent. I couldn't wait any longer, I had to see it. So Monday night I have been lucky enough to see it online.. (No, I didn't illegally downloaded it - I am not stupid and love the cinematography too much to do that!). 


There were some big names signed up for this project. The director himself is Hollywood's household name: Brian Percival. Add some great names like Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush. Don't for get some new sizzling ingredients like Sophie Nelisse, Ben Schnetzer or Nico Liersch. All of them acting your favourite parts from one of the best books you can ever read … and you get yourself a pretty good combo for great book adaptation. 


Well at least that's what I thought… 


Firstly I have to say that I am not going to be overly non-partial. There are reasons why I have fallen in love with this book so much and that is why I have expected big things… After couple of horrible film adaptation of books (The Mortal Insturments, The Host… just to mentioned few.. ) I had my fingers crossed that this one would be an exception.  But I was left a little bit disappointed. 


Too many changes… Too much missing…. Too many wrongly twisted parts of this novel… 

But let's start with the good points…

What a fabulous cast. Hands off for that. The two newbies with big roles to play have done very well. 


Firstly I have to mention Ben Schnetzer. Oh my, this guy is Max Vandenburg!! He breathed the life and soul to this wonderful (and one of my favourite) male character. He is Max. They couldn't pick a better actor for this important role. He is just beautiful. He says the things the right way, he gets the right looks, he winks, he smiles… there are young hearts all over the world breaking. This guy is a genius. I haven't seen a young actor who would put so much into a character but Ben somehow managed to pull this off. For an actor with not a big resume and not much experience in film industry, he did a fantastic job and I couldn't imagine better Max. I am sure that we can predict even better things from him in the future. And Ben thanks for replying to my tweet :)

Sophie Nelisse is great as Liesel. Such a young age, but so much talent. I think she played her part exceptionally. We could see the young naive Liesel and the rebellious Liesel. Sophie got hold of this character firmly and did a wonderful job. For such a young actress I have been surprised with the level and skill this girl portrayed one of the most inspiring female characters in literature. The only downside is that Liesel supposed to have brown eyes, not blue… but now I am just being pedantic. 


Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson AKA Hans and Rosa Hubermann. To be honest I must say that from these two, Emily reminded me her character the most. She was exceptional as Rosa. We could she her layers slowly peeling off. We could see the woman who is so hard from the outside but soft like a Marks & Spencer's chocolate pud inside. Even though Rosa's character has been slightly altered compare do the book, I have still enjoyed her rants and swearing. Not to mentioned that Emily gave Rosa her famous strength. Geoffrey is one of my favourite actors. And he is great as Hans but it took me a while to get used to him. It's because in my mind Hans looked, moved and spoke completely different. But I guess we all have our own imagination… Geoffrey ended up doing a fantastic job and gave Hans his own life. 





I have to also mentioned Nico Liersch. I have to thank him too. Thanks to him I started to like the character of Rudy a little bit more. Not that I didn't like Rudy in the book. I liked him, but not as much as the rest of the characters. For me he was always the third wheel. But Nico managed to make me like him. It must be the way he portrayed Rudy. He was cheeky. He was serious. He was Rudy with a little bit of extra. 




Hats off to the people who prepared the set. It was wonderful and so extra-ordinary. Somehow I am always surprised when I see sets from different times in our history. I never get excited about Avatar, but as soon as you produce something from the history which is so authentic, it always takes me by surprise. I have adored the little Himmel street set. Although it was a lot bigger that in my head. The Hubermann's house was so quirky and modest. But the most famous basement in the world was the most beautiful part. I love the big dictionary on the walls. I adored the place where Max was hiding for nearly 3 years. It was heartbreakingly beautiful and just how I imagined it. 


I have really truly enjoyed the interaction between Max and Liesel's character. Both actors played their roles so well and the relationship itself was wonderful. Cute. Sweet. Adoringly beautiful. Just what I expect from these two characters… 

But saying that, it brings me to the things which went wrong….

Dear Mr Director, what have you done??? The most important thing which made this story so unique - an original amongst the rest of similar stories - the handmade books from Max to Liesel are missing. Where are they? What have you done?? Do you actually realise that you cut out the most important part ?? And then you have done something even worse. Do you know why people around the world adore Max and Liesel's relationship? It's because their are soul mates. And you just made them different. You made the budding relationship between them - the eternal question 'Do they end up together?' - disappear. You put a label on it which crushed the film for me. You called them friends…. 


And what is with the calm voice of the Death? The way he sounds and the way he tells the story.. it's like he is telling a fairytale to the children. This story is definitely not a fairy tale… And I am sorry but the voice is wrong for the voice of Death. 

Another thing, which you screwed up and I cannot forgive you for that, is that you missed out one of the most iconic scenes in the book.. not only you didn't give Liesel her books which open her eyes to things happening around her… the most important books in her life.. but you also missed out on the scene where she sees Max marching to the concentration camp… That scene in the book made people around the world cry.. but you have decided to cut it out… no wonder that you aren't nominated for an Oscar.  

And what about the nightmares??????

What about the fact that if I wouldn't read the book the first 30 mins wouldn't make sense to me as they failed to provide setting to the story. If I wouldn't know the story, I wouldn't have clue what is it about. 



I have to stop writing because I am getting angry and disappointed again… I was so looking forward to this film. I was counting down the days to see it. But unfortunately again the people behind the script and the director failed to bring the power of the story on the big screen. If it wouldn't be for the cast, who breathed lives to their character I wouldn't bother even to get in on DVD. But they have saved the film. 




Again, thank you Ben for bringing Max to life in the most incredible way. Thank you Sophie for making Liesel - Liesel.. And Emily and Geoffrey - your talents are never fading away… 





I might need to watch this film in couple of months when I would be less biased… and maybe will see the way the director try to portray this story, but at the moment I am left heartbroken. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

2013 Best & Worst (Dandy's picks)

2013 is over, my top ten lists are complete and now, just like every other esteemed blogger in this hush hush arena of horticulture it's time of my choices for best and worst, films, books, TV shows.

Even though my fellow reviewers  have already given their thoughts the matter in hand, this is an equal opportunity blog, which means that each one of us has a voice that may agree with each other or may not, but either way we can always have our say on the matter .Viva la Article 10!

So now that's out of the way; welcome to the first ever BEST/WORST awards of the year; the awards being either respect or disdain, respectively




Not that I'm counting or anything but in 2013 I saw more films at the cinema in one year than I ever have before Heck on one time I went twice in one day. So it's fair to say that I saw a fair number but only a handful of them are what I would consider good films.

These then are the  nominations for best film (in alphabetical order)


About Time



A delightful, fun to watch light comedy, carefully mixing both romance, a time travel plot device with a dash of Rachel McAdams and the end result not being too melodramatic. It's just a shame the story didn't quite reach the profound arc it was hoping for.



Captain Phillips

Excellent, nail-biting, pseudo docudrama with an excellent Tom Hanks performance, supported by a cast of superb unknowns. Ironically the main downfall of having such an anonymous ensemble is the illusion it creates being shattered by a central character who is irrefutably Tom Hanks.



Filth

Meet Bruce; not only is he a corrupt cop, he's a despicable, misanthropic, drug using, womanising piece of scum who may just be one of the most darkly charismatic, compelling and entertaining characters you will ever see on screen.



Rush



Based on the true story of two F1 legends, this film combined masterful acting, wonderful direction, great dialogue and probably the most understated yet incredible visual effects all year. If you can't tell it's CGI, that's damn good CGI.



Thor 2 The Dark World



Without question the funniest film that came out last year (specifically the last 30 mins) and the beauty of it was that it was very much intentional. Other than that it decently written, had some genuine shock moments, outlandish enough to show what a comic book film should be but with some great tender moments too that never felt out of place. The style and art direction was a bit too Lord of The Rings meets Star Wars, spliced with Masters of The Universe for my liking though.


and the winner is...




FILTH


You will never see more magnetically charged, complete downward spiral of a character done in more wonderfully creative and performed way. James McAvoy was completely robbed for his Oscar and BAFTA nomination for this gloriously disgusting film.



Nominations for worst film are...




After Earth

Will Smith demonstrates that he can be a really bad actor, his son demonstrates how he will never be a good one and they both demonstrate that they should never write a story together again. A monumental disaster of a film that's as entertaining to watch as stoned hamster trying to use his exercise wheel.



Elysium

Matt Damon squares off against a oddly accented Jodi Foster in an over stylised rip off of Johnny Mnemonic but omitting everything that made that pretty bad film watchable. Namely cheesy lines, stable camera work and Dolph Lundgren as cyber psycho Jesus.



Man of Steel

Zach Snyder attempts to ape the dark, brooding atmosphere and gritty realism of Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, forgetting that the character he is using is a super-powered alien orphan in a chainmail onesy and special abilities that get arbitrarily unlocked the more bad guys he throws through standing structures.



Monsters University

Billy Crystal and John Goodman lend their voices to the pointless prequel to Monsters Inc, which was executed in such a clumsy and unfunny way that not even a cameo from Her Majesty Helen Mirren could salvage it.



Mortal Instruments City of Bones

Billed as Twilight but with more bite this optimistic new franchise hopeful had pretty much hung itself before the first glimpse of bad CGI hit the screen. It also doesn't help that the main sarcastic, cocky, arrogant love interest of 'slightly better than Bella' is played by an actor who has no idea how to be cocky, arrogant or sarcastic.


and the winner is...


ELYSIUM

Well done to Neill Blomkamp for creating such a potentially complex story about mortality and entitlement, only to have the supposed morally good, saviour character cheat and steal his way into paradise.





Nominations for best live music act are...



Imagine Dragons

The only band I know where percussion is god and every single member wants to drum. Exhilarating and endearingly humble to their very positive audience



Kings Of Leon

Second time I've seen these guys and they just seem to get better and better. The sound quality was crisper this time due to an indoor arena and it's wonderful acoustics.



Muse

I missed the first 15 mins but the rest of the gig was well worth the ten years I've been waiting to get to see them. It's true what they say, they really are much better live than on recording, as if that doesn't sound outlandish enough.



and the winner is...



IMAGINE DRAGONS


They won me over through excellent playing, wonderful showmanship and the fact they looked like they were having as much fun as the entire audience listening to them.



 Nominations for worst live act are...



Kaiser Chiefs


A return home to Leeds from the local lads and not only did they alienate the crowd with their over arrogance and lack lustre set list but they genuinely looked like they really couldn't be bothered being there.



Pulled Apart By Horses


These guys were just one stream of bad noise from start to finish. Loud, obnoxious and lacking the ability create even the simplest of hooks.



The Weeks

So boring I can't even remember what they sounded like. Plus the singer was on some serious drugs to convey the very determined lack of self awareness he was demonstrating.


and the winner is...

THE WEEKS

It's all the name really, just spelt differently. The singer really needs to work on his stage presence, preferably when sober and he needs more space to move. The way he was so rigidly stuck to a triangle shape with his movements all the time was much funnier than it should be.


Nominations for best TV show are...



Breaking Bad



Dad from Malcolm in the Middle Bryan Cranston plays cancer suffering teacher who decides to cook meth and kick arse in order to finance the medical bills. At least that's how it starts...


Game Of Thrones



Winter is coming, the lions are roaring and we're now one season away from being unbowed, unbent and unbroken. It's a TV adaptation that has yet to seriously let me down.



and the winner is...


BREAKING BAD

Of course it is, it's probably one of the best TV shows ever created, I blitzed through the entire 6 seasons in a space of 5 weeks, sometimes watching 4 to 5 episodes a night. It was as addictive sublime as Heisenberg's blue meth. Remember his name and say it once in a while just so you do.



Nominations for worst TV show are...



Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D


Cheap cash in that was riding on the success of The Avengers by making a TV series. I'm not too happy about characters being raised from the dead no matter how popular they are either.

X Factor

It's time has passed, there's now no need for this to go on any longer, especially when the judges have the tendency to pick the worst people possible to forward too the finals.

and the winner is ...




X FACTOR



I'm just sick of it now; it's become too formulaic, too cliché ridden and too much focus on the judges rather than the contestants. It's time for a fresh start and possibly a new release time. Maybe then we may just have a Christmas song at number one at Christmas time. Crazy thought.



The nominations for best read of 2013 (well for me at least) are...



A Storm of Swords: Blood & Gold (A Song of Ice & Fire)

The Red Viper, the red wedding, the purple wedding and where ever whores go. Those who have read this series will know exactly why those reasons make it my favourite of the series so far. If you haven't read it, maybe it will make you intrigued enough to start. I do suggest A Game Of Thrones first however, you wouldn't want to miss anything.



The Night Circus

A beautiful tale of magic, love, destiny and consequences. One of the most dream like books in existence that everyone should read at least once.




Thirteen Reasons Why

A haunting story about one long suicide note recorded on multiple cassette tapes. Probably the most originally narrated story I've ever read.


and the winner is ...

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

I finished this book in one night, it compelled me so much I was driven to read it and find the outcome in one sitting. It's not perfect but it touched me and made me feel genuinely sad yet hopeful. When it hits me hard, I kind of like it. I'm very much an emotional masochist.




And finally the nominations for worst read of 2013 (for me that is) are...




A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice & Fire)

Every main character is dropped, the plot idles along with the speed of a snail on a glacier and Brienne the Beauty is looking for a maid of three and ten with auburn hair and fair of face and my god does she want you to know it.

Gone Girl

Promising start which quickly leads to a supposedly shocking twist that garnered nothing but mild curiosity from myself and a whole host of others who have read it.

Inferno

Robert Langdon returns for his most lacklustre adventure yet. Such a shame because so much could have been done with Dante being a main driver of the plot.


and the winner is ...

A FEAST FOR CROWS

I'll give it some credit for the Cersei chapters which I did enjoy, but everything else about the book is so tedious that the only reason I continued was that I couldn't bring myself to move on to the next book until this one was done. Such a promising title for a part of the story so lifeless. Actually it's quite apt when you think of it like that.





Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Zuz's Best & Worst of 2013

The first month of 2014 is coming to the end and it's time for me to share with you my impression of last year. I will be honest, it has been challenging twelve months, but thanks to wonderful friends and family, and of course you lovely readers, I have survived and got stronger. I have lost friends, but I have also gained new ones. I hated and still hate my everyday job... but I am actively working on making it better. And of course there were things I have tried for the first time, but also said goodbye to. I have laughed and I have cried. I have run away from things and I have faced things.... As they say: "What doesn't kill you, will make you stronger..." 

I am not going to bore with things which went wrong with my life last year, instead I am going to tell you about the amazing things I got see, feel and enjoy.. And of course everywhere with me were my favourite companions - books... What else do you expect from a book worm...:)


Looking back at 2013 I can see my first ever music festival in my town which I got to spend with my sister. We had the opportunity to see so many amazing artists such as Kaiser Chiefs, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Django Django, Smashing Pumpkins, Atoms for Peace and many more. This festival is held every year at an abandoned airport in my town - BAZANT POHODA TRENCIN. This is where I had the most expensive antipasti in my life - 20 euros for some artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes & olives.. But I tasted the best homemade crisps. I got to have a fantastic time with my sister. It has been such a great and bonding experience that this year I am taking the guys from the blog. Yes, the whole blog is going to enjoy the time in Eastern Europe. 

Me and my bestie Claire went on a girlie holiday to sunny Corfu in Greece. And we explored this island, tried its food and amazing apple mojitos. I even managed to get some amazing brown tan, which Andy didn't appreciate as he lost a bet. He didn't believe me that I can tan.. silly fool!!! I bought some fake Ray Bans, sunbathed topless and enjoyed countless sunsets. 

This year has been amazing for my music experience as well. I got to see bands and artists like Kings of Leon, Bastille, Imagine Dragons, Rudimental, Tom Odell, Good Natured, Atlas Genius, Kaiser Chiefs and many more.. I had watched some good movies: Thor 2, Rush, Man of Steel, Star Trek, About Time, Filth, Mortal Instruments, We're The Millers, Catching Fire, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Hobbit 2, Philomena, Ender's Game, How I live Now... just to name a few. Mr Justin Timberlake brought his sexy back with 20/20 Experience. Beyonce surprised us with her video album. Miley Cyrus decided to flip a switch and gone bad. Lorde brought us some great sound from the Kiwiland. And Tom Odell showed us why he won Critics' choice Award at Brits. Pharrell grazed us with his never tiring talent with Happy. Yes, and most importantly, The MINIONS ARE BACK with Despicable me 2!!

And of course I read.. read & read... loads... I think on my last count I have read 68 books last year... so I challenged myself to read 75 on goodreads... ;-) My personal library grew month by month... I have so many books that I am running out of space where to put them. They are pushing the shoes aside and that is a major thing for me!

So after long thinking and weighing pros and cons I came up with my list of 

BEST & WORST OF 2013 

CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Worst: The Host vs. After Earth
The worst film of 2013 is THE HOST.
Now, the reason why I have picked this film for my worst is because it was such an awful adaptation of a wonderful book. I Have tried. I really tried to watch it as a movie on its own, but it failed to impress me. The important parts and dialogues which are making this book such a great and unique story are missing. The conversations which are so important to the story and it's influence on lives are not there. The film came out quite boring and they got a completely wrong actress to play Wanda. I am sorry but Emily Browning was the worst choice possible. 


Best: Rush vs. Star Trek
The best film of 2013 for me is RUSH. 
Amazing true story? Check. Great acting performance by every member of the cast? Check. Chris Hemsworth bring his sex-appeal to the big screen? Check. Fantastic Visual Effects? Check. This film was one of the most emotional films I have ever seen. The story itself is so unique, dangerous and entertaining. I am so surprised that there are no Oscar nominations for this film . 



TV SERIES:

Worst: Starcrossed vs Tomorrow's People






The worst TV series is actually both. I hate their concepts. I don't like the settings, neither the protagonists. No fit guys. The people don't look their age and the whole story is boring. I am yawning just watching the trailers. 


Best: Reign vs. How I met Your Mother
Best TV series of 2013 is the newcomer Reign.



Set in the Tudor times in France. This series captures young Mary, The Queen of Scots and her future husband Francis. I love the intrigues, mysterious killings, love triangle and costumes. Everything about this series is just pure perfection. Not to mention the incredible soundtrack and settings. I love, love, love this TV show and cannot wait for it to be shown in UK. 


SONG:

Worst: Wrecking Ball (Miley Cyrus) vs. Bound 2 (Kanye West)
The worst song of 2013 is a clear winner. BOUND 2 by Kanye West. 
Just NO!! Plain NO NO NO NO NO.. I hate this song, if you can call it a song. I hate where his music has taken its direction. And no thank you for the cheap looking video with Kim Kardashian. Pass me the bucket. 




Best: Happy (Pharrell Williams) vs. Royals (Lorde)
The best song of 2013 is HAPPY by Pharrell Williams. 
Yes, Royals is one unique tune, but Pharrell is proving us yet again why he is a musical genius. I have loved and respected Pharrell for years and finally it seems that the world is really appreciating his talents not only as a producer but singer as well. This song has me on my feet immediately I hear the first couple of notes. I never get tired of it. And I don't think it disappears from my playlist for quite some time. 



ALBUM:

Worst: Unfortunately I don't buy music I don't like, so I have nothing on my list for worst album of the year. But I will mention couple of names who's album I have listened to once and will never do again! Kanye West - Yeezus. Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines. Miley Cyrus - Bangerz. 









Best: Long Way Down (Tom Odell) vs  Days Are Gone (HAIM)



This has been hard. I have listened to both album numerous times. I have seen one of these artists live  last year. I am seeing the second one this year. I have sung along the words. I moved to the rhythm of each tune. But I have decided to to award the Best Album of 2013 to HAIM and their DAYS ARE GONE. Finally a girl band I can listen to without embarrassing moves, tunes and outfits. Finally a great bunch of girls who actually can not only sing but play instruments as well. I have been impressed and turned into a massive fan. And I am really looking forward to seeing them live in Manchester this year. 



LIVE GIG:

Worst: Pulled Apart by Horses vs. Smashing Pumpkins
Worst band I have seen live in 2013 is SMASHING PUMPKINS. 


I have seen this well-known band in summer at a festival in my town, but I must say I have been disappointed. All the time (6 whole songs I lasted, then I just gave up and went to a different stage) they looked like they do not want to be there. No hello to the audience. No contact with the audience. Just faces which clearly said get me outta here!! They even didn't bother to create some kind of an atmosphere. Most people just left like me after first couple of song. For such a great band with fantastic music history they did a shitty job. 



Best: Tom Odell vs Imagine Dragons



Clear winner for me, although I have seen Imagine Dragons twice this year, is TOM ODELL. Oh my, that man is just incredible. He brought the house down with his fantastic show. He played the piano and sung live. He was cheeky. He was sexy. He was amazing. I went through so many emotion through this gig, that I was amazed of his greatness. Next time he is in town, I am there. Wonderful setting. Marvellous atmosphere. Once in lifetime music experience. 


My favourite category of all: BOOKS:



Worst: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton vs. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Worst book I read in 2013 is GONE GIRL by GILLIAN FLYNN. 
I am sorry Ms Flynn. But there has been such a buzz around your book that I was expected the greatest book I have read. Instead I have been left with two crappy narrators. Boring - non exciting story. Yes, she turn out be a psycho but it was too late to save the story. Critics branded your book as thriller of the year, but for me it was the biggest disappointment of the year. 


Best: Soulmates by Holly Bourne vs. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The best book of 2013 for me was ELEANOR & PARK by RAINBOW ROWELL. 
I have fallen in love with this story instantly. From the first moments I held the hardback in my hands I knew this story is special. It made me question the things I know about love and if I knew love at all. This book has everything and more. I have cried, I have laughed. I wasn't able to put this baby down and since then I have purchased every book written by this author. Rainbow Rowell has become my favourite author. And Eleanor & Park has a special place in my heart. 



SPECIAL LITERATURE AWARDS:

THE BOOK I WOULD NOT MIND BURNING :

DEADLOCKED by Charlaine Harris. 
WTF!! Seriously.... This book couldn't be a bigger disappointment. The worst way to end a wonderful entertaining series like Southern Vampire Mysteries. It seemed to me like Ms Harris just gave up on all the characters and their lives. This last part has contradicted everything which has been written in previous 12 books and I just hated it. I still hate it. Especially the fact that Ms Harris was building Sookie & Eric's relationship in 12 books and then just decided to end it with an horrible boring end. Worst book EVER!!!!!




THE UNIQUE BOOK I WILL SHARE WITH OTHERS FOR REST OF MY LIFE:
THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern
There are times when you come across one unique beautiful story which gets under your skin and will never ever let go. It will settle into your heart, mind and soul and you will want to share the joy of the story with everyone you know. And THE NIGHT CIRCUS is the book. It allows you to play with the borders and barriers of your imagination. It tells you incredible magical story. It will change you and it will show you a world from a different side. You will never ever forget this book, that is how special this book is. Remember it. And get yourself a copy immediately. 




So here is my summary of 2013. Do you agree? Please leave in the comment section below your choices for Best & Worst of 2013!  I am looking forward to read it and discover what you like and dislike my lovely readers. 

Have a great 2014 :) 

Song of the Day - 31st Jan '14

Lee Foss 
Electricity



Getting ready for that Friday feeling! I love going out on Fordays more than any other day. People are excited for the weekend yet more laid back and chilled compared to the Saturday party crowds. A good playlist therefore is essential for me on Friday. I have seen Lee Foss play live at Hot Creations patry on New Years Day '14 and he was amazing! His track Electricity starts off calm with a good bass and beat. The lyrics and vocals used compliment his beat like eggs and beans on toast. This track always gets my foot tapping and my head bobbing. It is always on my getting ready track-list and gets me well up and going. 


Song of the Day - 30th Jan '14



The 1975
Sex




This track takes me back 10 years when Blink 182 and Sum 41 were on the top of my playlist. Don't laugh, i know you liked them too! I'v chosen Sex by the 1975 for the get up and dance effect it has on me. The lyrics are light-hearted and funny. To me, they reflect the spontaneous, fun-loving ways of youth and attraction! Boys, girls, flirting, looking and feeling good. Happy days indeed!



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Dave's Best and Worst for 2013

Hello everybody. Today I'm doing my best and worst for 2013. Now 2013 has been a good year for me. I started a new job, moved to an awesome new city and have bade some amazing new friends. So my life is going well and time to go with my list.

Best Movie
So I'm going to start with movies. There have been a lot of good movies this year and I've spent a lot
of time working on this. I was playing with the idea of going with Pacific Rim as it was expertly put together with exceptional direction or Man of Steel because I'm a massive Superman fan and Henry Cavil was a very good Superman. But I chose Filth. Filth was brilliant an amazing adaptation of an Iving Walsh novel that was perhaps one of James MacAvoy's best performance with some incredibly funny moments I genuinely laughed so hard at moments. It was truly a fantastic film and if you haven't seen it yet you should definitely check it out.

Worst Movie
This wasn't even a debate in my mind the worst movie of the year was After Earth. This peace of trash was at it's best comically written and acted. Will Smith can act and has made some good movies in his time but this really wasn't his movie. It was obviously just some stupid attempt by the Smith family to use this film as some launching platform from which to launch Jaden Smith's career which in my opinion fell flat on it's $130,000,000 face. That's right people that film cost $130,000,000. 

Best Song
Oat's the Water by Ben Howard. If you were listening to my song of the day section next week I put this song up during the week. I love this song and it is definitely the best song I heard this year. If you want to hear it have a look for my song of the day post for the 22nd of January it's a really good song and Ben Howard has a very rich voice. Worth a listen.

Worst Song
For this I chose Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen. I've never been a Lily Allen fan and when I thought she had retired she comes back and releases a cover of a song I really like in a really saccharine way that was just terrible. 

Best Album
M83's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. Not sure it this album was actually released this year but I only
discovered it this year and fell in love with there music. All the songs on the album work so well together and flow into one another flawlessly and the music is expertly put together. One of there songs Midnight City was put up by me as January 23rd's Song of the Day.

Worst Album
Black Sabbaths 13. Now I'm a big fan of Black Sabbath. But it would appear I'm more a fan of their early work. 13 was a disappointment and there is nothing worse that witnessing the fall of ones heroes. So unfortunately I think it is time that these aging rockers hung up their instruments and settle down and enjoy their retirement.

Best TV Show
Breaking Bad was easily the best series I watched in 2013. Vince Gilligan's tale of the rise of one
honest man to the heights of becoming the head of a drug cartel was both brilliant and inspired with absolutely amazing performances by Brian Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Dean Norris. Which until 2013 I hadn't actually seen a single episode of but from start to finish watched almost addictively from the first episode right up to it's gripping conclusion.

Worst TV Show
Dexter this to me was a surprise as I have been a big fan of the Dexter TV series right from it's start and up until the last series I was a huge fan. But the final series was poorly written with a terribly disappointing conclusion to one of my favorite shows and characters that TV has ever provided me managing to be both poorly thought out and lack luster.

Best Book
The Killing Floor was the best book I read in 2013. It is the first book in Lee Child's Jack Reacher series and I read it as a recommendation of a friend and immediately became hooked to the entire series. The story is compelling and stars an interesting character who it is easy to see why Child has written 18 novels and 6 short stories about him with a 19th novel due for release this year which I will no doubt buy. These books are a collection of action/thrillers with the first installment being one of the best murder mysteries I have read.

Worst Book
Inferno by Dan Brown. Now I'm a Dan Brown fan I love the Da'Vinci Code and Angels and Demons makes it on to my list of favorite books of all time. But this installment of the Robert Langdon series I was not only disappointed with but also a little angry at. Now I've always thought Dan Brown as thorough in his investigation and research into facts for his books but in Inferno he was incredibly sloppy quoting incredibly outdated facts and figures which by modern standards are wildly inaccurate and in parts of his book may have surmounted to irresponsible scare mongering if taken seriously by his readers.

#SongOfTheDay - 28th Jan 2014

Jake Bugg
Two Fingers




Heres a track thar brightens up my atuesdays. The slog day. The gossip has been spilled and the work-load is building in front of you. Its a long way till Friday again. Two Fingersmakes mereminisce of the latest antics and endeavours. The last trip away, my friends and fun times. Its a song that says 'dont worry' take it all as it comes and "so i hold two fingers up to yesterday!" Because at thr end of the day, "Hey, its fine, i left it all behind." If you can put this on on a morning and have a boogie to it around your house, or on the bus, or in the car, then your already one step ahead of all those miserable moaning Myrtles! Enjoy! 






Monday, 27 January 2014

Song of the Day - 29th Jan '14

Alt-J
Breezeblocks




Alt-J first got together after meeting at University in Leeds in 2007. They create a wicked indie-folk-rock sound. I love the lead songers voice. I have therefore chosen Breezeblocks for mpthe SotD today. Check out the video if you can, its pretty good.

Song of the Day - 27th Jan '14

Hot Since 82
Shadows




Having seen HS82 this weekend just gone and having my mind blown, i have have  have to make this not only my Song of the Day, bu the very first SotD!
HS82 (A.K.A. Daley Padley) is a Leeds based DJ and Producer that creates some of the most eargasmic deep house music around. Shadows is his latest release and boy is it good! 
Everything about this track is perfect. The vocals, the mood, the beat, the drop. Its like Angel Delight in my mouth! I cannot wait to get another chance to see such a talented artist. 

You can check it out on the link below:



#MondayNews



Firstly before we go any further, let me apologise. I know that it's been a fair while since I last time updated you on changes happening within Secret Reading Garden. And I am sorry for that. But we had some time issues to schedule a proper blog meeting and therefore couldn't vote for the changes together (although I hold the major vote anyway :)). 

But I am fully back now (even when I am currently suffering from a flu which decided to attack my vocal cords and I am not able to talk much - but hey at least I can type and that's important!). 


Firstly of all I want to thank you for your continuous support of our blog. Without you our lovely readers we wouldn't be where we are now. I am so humbled by all the attention we are getting from you and so happy that you are sticking with us :) Thank you !!

As you could read all last week, Dave has finally found his writing voice and shared with you his first posts. Yes, he started with simple posts of #SongOfTheDay but slowly he is getting more confidence, so you can see more posts from him. Actually in next couple of weeks, you can look forward to his Best & Worst of 2013. He is also travelling to Iceland to see the Northern Lights and I am sure he will share with you his thoughts about this wonder of the world. Dave has also become our games reviewer. If you love any kind of game - computer, board game or playstation or any other consul game - you should keep an eye on his posts. 

Claire is the lady who will be sharing with you her #SongOfTheDay this week! She is a little bit busy as she is currently doing nights while being struck down with the same flu as me, also her social calendar and working on her career is taking a main stage at the moment. Never the less, when she is back, she will be back with a boom!! She is currently reading BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS which I got her for Christmas, so I am sure that we can look forward to a book review from her at least. 

Andy and his take on Fifty Shades of Grey is back and he promised me that this time it will be a regular weekly post - otherwise he will be send to red room of pain and get whipped by Christian Grey himself.  Also Andy has finally found his lost inspiration to write his film reviews ( one of the reasons i offered him place on our blog in the first place) and will be sharing with you his thoughts about every film he sees. Trust me, we do go to the cinema a lot. I let you on a secret, we have seen THE WOLF OF THE WALL STREET on friday so I am sure that this review will make an appearance shortly ! We have also challenged him to see the worst films we thought we have ever seen, so he will be watching them too. He is currently working on his 2Bad2Bearable, but there is a slight change. Instead of posting this post weekly, it will become a monthly post. Sorry guys, but we are trying to make some changes and accommodate all the talents of all our authors. 

And that brings me to me and my plans for the post for you. You can count on me being the book reviewer for this blog. I have been a busy girl and read quite a bit of literature recently. So make sure to keep an eye on my reviews coming up in next couple of weeks. I have also decided to share with you my views on film adaptations of books and comparing them to their inspiration and the first order of business is THE BOOK THIEF. Of course, my shopping addiction at waterstones didn't fade away. I have a February book bonanza for you which is themed to the celebration of love (even thought I am single and still waiting for one of my fictional character to find me hehe). I also participated in #30daysbookchallenge on Instagram throughout January so I can smell a post coming too. Also, alongside Dave and Andy, I will be posting my Best & Worst of 2013 :) It took us a while but we got there at the end! 

There is another change with #MondayNews post. I have decided to write this post once a month instead of once a week so I can make sure that I know exactly what we all are doing and we can use the extra space for posts. 

Now, there is some exciting posts coming too. We have decided to challenge ourselves to do something, which we hate and wouldn't dream of doing. For me - it's computer games. So I have been challenge to play an hour of LITTLE BIG PLANET on Dave's playstation. Dave is watching SPICE GIRLS  - THE MOVIE and Claire is listening to KANYE WEST's album JESUS. Andy is watching awful movies which we know he will hate. And we all will be writing about our experience. Watch out for those posts!!

But we have also decided to reward our lovely readers so this month we are introducing our first competition for actual prizes !! I know! Marvellous!! The competitions will be announce shortly on the 1st of February.  So make sure to check our blog regularly to see what we have in store for you. 

I think that is all I wanted to share with you for this month's #MondayNews post. The next one is due in 4 weeks and I will make sure to bring some more exciting news for you!! 

Have a great month! Good luck in our first competition ! 

Thank you for all. 

Zuz xXx

Sunday, 26 January 2014

50 Shades of (D)read: Chapter 7 - Eat!














"The first thing that I noticed was the smell"

Right from the off this chapter is annoying me. She noticed a smell? Surely there must be some other way to word that than 'notice'. It just sounds wrong; you don't notice a smell, in the same way that I don't observe a sudden sound. Unless the stench in this place she's just walked into is so pungent you can actually see oxblood coloured vapours spewing forth from the upholstery. I know it's such a tiny, insignificant detail that shouldn't peeve me off as much as it does but little things like this are important. Someone once said it's the little things that make the big picture whole; well this is a little thing that's annoying the crap out of me and is making the big picture a hole in the arse variety. This could just be me being a complete grammar Nazi here. (Nazi in two ways; one, being extreme in my viewpoint to the point of fascism and also because despite what I think I know, I've been mislead all these years and am actually emphatically wrong) but the point is it just smells wrong. I mean, it sounds wrong

Now that I've got that out of my system, lets continue with the story. What's happening, if you haven't already guessed, is Ana has walked into the red room of pain and is mesmerised by Grey's fine collection of riding crops, chains, whips and tickle sticks. She is especially drawn to what I believe EL James is trying so hard to describe is an X shaped crucifix. 'Hmm how gloriously freaky but strangely enticing' she thinks. Instead of say, double timing it out there fast enough to leave an Ana shaped hole in the rich mahogany door, like everyone on the face of this planet would do if they had any freaking sense. For the record; the opening paragraph to this chapter is probably the worst piece of descriptive writing since Snoopy sat down at a typewriter and began his 'Dark Stormy Night' opus. I actually think it should be given to literature students as a 'How Not To Write' guide. It's that bad.

"It's very pleasant, and the lighting is soft, subtle. In fact, I can't see the source"

This is written in the style of someone talking to themselves and being surprised by their own lack of observation
"Above it is an expansive iron grid suspended from the ceiling, eight-foot square at least"  
I'm so glad you managed to include the dimensions of something you said was 'expansive' so I know for sure now that it is indeed, expansive



Brace yourself everyone and get ready for a spoiler; it turns out that Grey invited Ana into this charming room because he wants her to agree to take part in his extracurricular, you can get away with this too if your stinky rich and have 50 shades of Grey eyes, activities. This agreement will be done with cunning use of contracts. Basically he wants full control over everything in her life and in return she will get the pleasure of his company and handcuffs. I don't know about you but that's freaking win win there! Sign on up for sodomy, slavery, destruction of freewill, defamation of character and obstruction of basic human rights. It's a wonder why no other playboy, billionaire, bellends do this more often. Hell maybe they do, but they're probably smart enough to not use somebody with all the intellect of crushed grape.

There is a moment when Grey flat out admits that Ana is driving his resolve up the wall and chewing on the ceiling fan, but she calmly states the feeling is a very much mutual and it is her who wants him more. It describes her grumbling this soft retort so I imagine it being said quietly, almost to herself kind of way. It's due to this that makes Grey's next words utterly hilarious:

 'Eat!'

It's the exclamation mark that kills me, I actually imagine Grey just blurting it out like Father Jack or like some bizarre feeding based Tourettes sufferer. Ana doesn't find it quite as funny as I do though and declines his offer of lunch because she wants to enjoy her last moments of freedom before she signs the contract.

Is she going to? Of course she is. She would sign the thing with her own fallopian tubes if Grey demanded her to.

Which leads me nicely to the contract itself:

I'm paraphrasing but here's the gist and yes Grey actually split it up into these different sections (the obnoxious scrotum)


Obedience - Ana will obey Grey at all times and drop her soaking knicker knackers whenever Grey gets a hard on. This will become second nature in time.


Sleep - Grey wants her to sleep, seven hours at a time. Because you know, she's human


Food - Ana will EAT! but will not eat too much, get fat and thereby no longer spankable


Clothes - Ana can wear whatever Grey allows her to. She be given money to buy clothes but he will always get first dibs on choice of attire, accessories, jewelry and probably even tampon size


Exercise - Grey REALLY doesn't want any fat sub-missives so a personal trainer will be on hand to shake of any clinging love handles and change them into f**k grips.


Personal Hygine/Beauty - Brace yourself for a back, crack and vag all the way (hairy munters need not apply) Grey will chose the right gay infested salon of his choosing (can't be too careful with all these metrosexuals around, can we Grey?)


Personal Safety - Ana will not be allowed to drink, have fun or take risks unless it involves getting ram-rodded with a double ended dildo, probably.


Personal Qualities - Ana will wear a chastity belt to which only Grey holds the key*metaphorically*. He will not give Ana the key to his cock cage however, nor will he even wear one *metaphorically*. In fact, there's nothing to stipulate that he can't dip his wick,  put it around all over the place with the audacity of Casanova and the subtleness of Lord Flasheart, without so much as a slap on the sphincter.


Failure to comply with Grey in these demands will result in immediate hard shagging, with a pool cue.



Sounds fair to Ana, she's as willing to sign as member of TOWIE is a place in the next series of Celebrity Big Brother. Grey also has something he calls Hard Limits; which are a list of things that Ana must sign and swear never to take part in with him.

To me, it's just a list of common sense. Something distinctly lacking in this book so far so no wonder it has to be listed. I'll try to help Ana in case she gets confused.

Grey's Hard Limits


No acts involving fireplay  (No lighting each others farts)

No acts involving urination, defecation and the products thereof (No weeing or crapping the bed)

No acts involving needles, piercing or blood (No penetrative pain, apart from Ana's by Grey cock)

No acts involving gynaecological medical instruments (No playing doctor with out a licence)

No acts involving children or animals (No lawsuits)

No acts that involve permanent marks on the skin (No acid baths)

No acts involving breath control (No spelunking)

No acts involving direct electrical current to the body (No sticking dangly bits into the mains)


Ana's not fussed, he could whip out his dick and demand that she call it Caesar the Mighty before claiming everyone of her orifices as Roman Baths and she'd still shag him.

She does have one thing to say, bit of bombshell this one, she's a... VIRGIN!

Yeah yeah, we all knew that already but Christian (the master of reading people) didn't suss it at all.

He's not happy either about it, one little bit.


I knew he was gay







Saturday, 25 January 2014

#SongOfTheDay: January 25th 2014

#SongOfTheDay: January 25th 2014

Happy Saturday folks. Hope everyone is enjoying this fine day. I've been thinking long and hard about what song I was going to post today and I thought I'd contribute something special today. Frank Turner is one of the people I only discovered in the last couple of years and I've pretty much fallen in love with this guys music. Something about it just speaks to me. Today's song is Frank Turner's One Foot Before the Other which is one of my favorite songs by Frank and quite possibly one of my favorite songs of all time. I apologize that the video is just the cover of the album that the song appears on but Franks not amazingly well know and although he has a very loyal following we are not many so not all of his songs have full videos yet. But this is about the song and not the video so listen and enjoy my friends and if you're interested have a look into Mr Turner and I'm sure you will enjoy.


DANDY'S TOP TEN BEST SONGS OF 2013

Now that I've had a kind of music catharsis/enema to cleanse me from what was a pretty dire year for the world of mainstream music, it's time to concentrate on the few (and I do mean few) good apples in the entire 100 acres of rotten orchid that is the 2013 mainstream charts.


Picking bad songs was easy, my problem was assembling an order befitting a top 10 list, as quite a number of them I pretty much couldn't stand in equal measures. I did however manage to separate the chaff from the crap and was overall pleased with my eventual outcome.


Constructing a list of 10 best songs however was like drawing blood from a stapler. Hell, some of the songs I chose as my most bearable are songs I can't stand anymore. Hence the reason why this particular list has taken it's sweet time arriving. As well as the fact that my top 10 have been changing more often than a chameleon stuck in a kaleidoscope.


I can't dilly dally around any longer because the month of February is fast approaching and as of this moment my list choices haven't changed in over 2 days, so now is as good a time as any.


Some of you may agree with my choices, a lot of you will disagree and most of you will be wondering what on Earth I have been bonging (the answer to which would be Vix; stuffy noses have been the bane of my early winter life)


Let's begin my TOP TEN BEST SONGS OF 2013  

I only allow one artist/band per song, so say for example One Direction were included, which they're not but if they were they would only be able to have say Story Of My Life or Best Song Ever in the list. One song per band/artist only, those are the rules. This is not Nam. This is blogging, there are rules.





 
10
 
RIZZLE KICKS - LOST GENERATION

 
 
 
I've always been a fan of Ska, old school Hip-Hop and Northern Soul and I think this song evokes a lot of those genre's best qualities; not only from a music stand point but in terms of subject matter and very grounded lyrical narration: The thoughts of the everyman (and woman) regarding what kind of crazy world we live in right now; where some of us spend hours taking a break from the monotony of normal life, having benign conversation and gossipping about our peers by watching other people sat in a house, talking about the monotony of normal life, having benign conversation and gossipping about their peers. Lost Generation? I think it's amazing they're even aware enough to realise they're in the wrong place.

Despite the rapping sections being the main bulk of this song, I feel they are the weakest part. Jordan Stephen's is by no means a bad rapper but his flow suffers sometimes on the more complex phrases. I do love the chorus though, it's instantly catchy and Harley Sylvester's voice is strong and soulful with a definite edge.

The strangest thing is even though this did actually get up to number 6 in the charts it has now fallen so far under the radar that even Red October would miss it. I very rarely hear it on the radio anymore, usually it's that awful follow up 'Skip To The Good Bit' in it's place (a running theme I've noticed for myself that if I like the first song I've heard by a new band, chances are I'm going to hate the next one) In retrospect though the song is not as clever as it appears on first impressions. The first verse is a wave of verbal sarcasm and acute observations where as the other verse seems to be narrated by someone completely different who revels in that style of life to enhance their own lives. So to sum it up I'd say it's a very catchy, AKA Specials throwback-alike that is at times is both silly and surprisingly charming but overall doesn't really know what it's trying to say. Bit like Boris Johnson.


9
 
JAMES ARTHUR - NOBODY TILL SOMEBODY LOVES YOU

 
 
 
Twitter rants, homophobic slurs and generally being a bit of a dick aside, this is still a pretty decent tune. It's unfortunate that due to his over sized foot in mouth syndrome, he's shot his own career foot in the door off with an RPG before he could sit down and discuss his Stella Artois sponsorship (It could work, it looks like his kind of drink) Despite all this though, I think it's a good song and it still makes me want to air drum in the most rhythm-less fashion this side of a Panda being cattle prodded.
 
Not everyone shares my enjoyment in this however. A very good friend of mine pointed out that he felt it sounded as generic as anything else and that there was too much going on which made it comes across as very noisy. As much as I disagree with the former I have to admit he is right about the latter; it is a very busy song at times. Towards the end it's like every member of the orchestra, their mothers and second cousins twice removed are bashing their instruments as hard as possible the noise reaches such extreme levels that it almost drowns out Arthur himself. Maybe the sound mixer lost control of the situation or maybe he'd just read Arthur's tweets. 
 
 
 
 
 
Before I go on to my next choice, let me just give you a quick rundown on what music I like: I like old school Metallica, Jackie Wilson, Billy Ocean, Opeth, System Of A Down, Muse, The Feeling, Creedence Clear Water Revival, The Subway Sect, Keane, Tori Amos,  and a little known song called Boxer Beat by Joe Boxer. There is no reason why a bunch of just post teen, Miss Selfridge wearing, whirlwinds of hairspray and legwarmers would appeal to me. Especially when the only reason they got famous was due to winning a show that lost any last remnants of credibility when they chose Ryland for the live finals. You can barely call this a song either; it's intro is nothing more than sporadic percussion on various wooden blocks and a vocal consisting of the kind of sounds someone would make to show agreement when they can't be arsed to even open their mouths.
 
And yet...
 
 
 
8
 
LITTLE MIX - MOVE

 
 
 
 
How is it possible to create such a catchy tune with little to no music? Answer, by being brave and making everything about the vocals and the message. And what vocals they are! I personally think that these girls have the best group harmonics than anyone around right now. When they do a song like this it shows just what they are capable of, it's just a shame that nothing they've done prior has showcased them in such a grand way. More important than that though is this song's message. It's a great message, some of lyrics are a wee bit suspect but what these girls are very astutely saying to all the boys out there, is to stop simply eyeing them on the dance floor from afar in the vein hope that a catch of the eye will work in the same way as rancher's lasso and instead to be bold, get the hell over there and start moving like Jagger. I am in full agreement with this as I love dancing, I'm not great at it but who the hell cares, you're there to have fun and guess what guys? Girls like it too. Lets face it fellas, whatever you can muster on the floor can't be worse than the off beat, erratic contortions of Adam Levine, or even Mick Jagger for that matter. There's nothing stopping you other than your own confidence, they want you up there and who knows you might even pull something. If not a girl then a muscle for sure but no pain no gain as they say.
 
The reasons why this song works is you can believe the message when these girls sing it. It sounds above all else, genuine. I don't care how expertly crafted the harmonies were on their cover of Cannonball, the song was horrible because not a single one of them had a clue what they were singing about. It was just all about putting on the most impressive vocals possible (and it didn't even accomplish that). It sounded forced, it sounded over cooked and worst of all it sounded fake. Move is about as real as I think Little Mix can ever get and that's why it works. They sound like they're having a great time and because of that I'm enjoying listening to them... and moving
 
 
 
 
 


There was an inner debate in my head regarding my two picks to fill in the number 7 slot. On the one hand OneRepublic's Counting Stars is gospel, country rock at it's most infectious: A cool song that conveys on a basic level that there is more to life than material wealth and not everything is all about the money, money, money. But they do this by crafting the message around a tune that is better and more fun to listen to than anything Jessie J could ever dream of creating. And they don't come across as preachy, obnoxious or patronising either which is always a bonus. The subject matter however is the thorn in the side of any successful band/artist that pretty much want for nothing and can afford to burn down their tent of made out of fiddy notes in order to gain better perspective for their astronomy based accountancy.
 
On the other hand though only one of these songs as introductory riff played on a mandolin. No brainer really.
 
 
 
7
 

IMAGINE DRAGONS - IT'S TIME

 
 
 
Before I go on about the song let me just quickly say that these extreme percussion enthusiasts from Las Vegas are the best live act I've ever seen. A spot that was held by Kings of Leon for a very long time despite some very stiff competition from Muse and Manic Street Preachers. Considering they claimed that position as a band I've never really heard of before, it's a testament to their showmanship, humble nature and general likability because they just seemed so pleased to be there performing for us. I was completely hooked from the first beat of those massive tribal drums they cart around everywhere.
 
This song in particular is a great introduction to their unusual, almost Celtic sounding style. Dan Reynolds is a great frontman and his impressive range is put to best use with this inspiring track. You really believe every word he's singing, which he skilfully belts in ways both heartfelt and rousing. It's a great track by a great band. They do however sound much better live than on any recording I've found of them. Probably one of only the reasons why this track isn't in the top 5.
 
 
 



This next one scares me. I pretty much can't stand this next artist and I hate everything he represents in terms of the path modern music is heading down; excessive use of autotune, digital instrumentation replacing actual live recording, over sampling and over production and songs involving some of the most irritating sounds ever conceived by human error. In short, I really have an issue with Will.IAM and would advise anyone from listening to the torturous noise he laughably calls music.
 
But sometimes I can't seem to follow my own advice           
 
 
 
 
6
 

WILL.I. AM - BANG BANG
 
 
 
      
Just listen to that opening. As much as I normally hate sampling in music, I have to admit that this is good production at work. It 'borrows' some lyrics from Cher's Bang Bang and also the music of some kind of Charleston variation but it manages to retain it's identity as a stand alone song; unlike say 'Time of My Dirty Bit *shudder*. I love the fast paced brass intro and the banjo follow up riffs. All the elements of song combine nicely together and even Will.I.AM gives the illusion that he can actually sing. There's two options here; either the auto-tune has found a new stealth setting (it is actually used but not in an excessively annoying way) or this kind of swing, vocal jazz style really suits his voice. I actually prefer Bill.I.IS's singing sections to his random, Fergie substitute. More annoying for me though is that this song just seems to get better with every listen. I just said that about a Will.I.AM song... 
 
I think I need to lie down now, or check outside and make sure the Rain of Fire hasn't started 
 
 
 
 
5
 
LAWSON - JULIET
 
 
 
 
 
I'm well aware that this intro of this song is partially ripped off from The Police; but you know what? So was Bruno Mars' Locked Out Of Heaven from last year, which was one of the best songs released that year. So the way I see it, if new songs can retain the same level calibre in effort, execution and do enough to give it a individual identity by borrowing a combination riff of Roxanne and Can't Stand Losing You etc then by all means, rip away! The advantage of doing something like this is that it piques your interest from the start because it sounds familiar, the disadvantage however is when a band does it repeatedly in order to disguise that their song is just pants.
 
This song is not pants however, it's actually rather good. Wiffs of cheese from some of the lyrical choices aside; it's tightly written, well performed, punchy, sharp and stupidly catchy.
 
 
 
 
4
 
THE VAMPS - CAN WE DANCE
 
 
 
 
I actually think this song has the best opening line of the year. Not just in written terms but the way it dives straight into the song headfirst with no let up. It was a clever move to write the intro as an almost acapella version of the chorus, these guys really seem to know what they're doing. Or rather there production team do. I didn't want to like this song at all but out of nearly every song on this list it's that opening line that will not get out of my head. It makes it doubly amusing whenever I hear the radio edit and it sounds like the lead singer is instinctively correcting himself because his mum can over hear him 'I talk a lot of *shhhh!* when I'm drinking, baby'.I like this song, I shouldn't but I do and probably will for quite a bit longer and it's fair to say I have high hopes for this young band.
 
Me and my big mouth it would seem; this song wasn't even written by The Vamps it turns out. They did however have a hand in writing their next single 'Wild Heart' which is, let me pit this mildly, horrid. 'Can We Dance on the other hand was written, not surprisingly, by guys who knew what they were doing; 3 prominent musician/producers, one of them namely, Bruno Mars. I just can't seem to get rid of this year, can I?
 
Speaking of which...
 
 
 
3
 
BRUNO MARS - TREASURE
 
 
 
 
Putting aside Mars' somewhat disturbing views on the appeal of small mammals in their infancy (yes those are the words you first heard if you played the song, I'm as perplexed as you are) as soon as the song kicks in I feel an overwhelming urge to quickstep to the beat of the drums. It's one of the most skilfully crafted intros to a pure disco dance song I've ever heard.
 
Bruno Mars is once again on top vocal form, the lyrics are both sweet and over zealous but with a tongue in cheek believability. The funk fused bass line is a joy to dance to, it contains one of the uses of clearly obvious auto tune I actually don't mind and think it enhances the song rather than detracts from it and it samples what sounds like a section of music from Sonic The Hedgehog during the chorus (well it sounds like it to me). What's not to like? Great song, great singer and listening to this it doesn't feel like I could be any happier when dancing.
 
 
Or could I?...
 
 
2
 
PHARRELL WILLIAMS - HAPPY
 
 
 
 
If you're wondering why Get Lucky isn't on the list, due to my strict adhering to the rules here's the reason why. Besides, this song is just better. For a start I don't keep mishearing lines about robbing Mexican monkeys in this song and secondly, whenever I hear Get Lucky, unlike this song I never feel the overwhelming urge to dance like this:
 

 
 
Pharrell Williams is about the coolest man on the planet right now and it's great that he's finally getting the recognition he deserves after years of working on big hits behind the scenes. I keep reading that he's a producer/rapper but I really don't like his rapping. His singing on the other hand, completely different story. He has a voice reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and he sounds just so impossibly cool and smooth, it's a wonder he didn't turn into an ice sculpture during recording. I have a smile on my face whenever this song comes through my headphones, and though I may not be dancing at the time, due to me being on a packed bus most likely, you better believe I'm dancing inside. Excellent song
 
 
 
My number one spot is probably a little predictable but I don't think it would have felt right to have included anything else
 
 
 
1
 
LORDE - ROYALS
 
 
 
 
Maybe I try to kid myself that this song is better than it is though. The lyrics are certainly open to interpretation and despite all Lorde's talk of not wanting to conform to the high elitist lifestyle or abusing her new found celeb status, she actually comes from a fairly well off background and she even lyrically refers to wanting to be our ruler as well as loving the thought of being Queen. Kids today eh?
 
There is almost certainly an air of pretension to her work but whether, like me, you accept the ironic subtext or not, like or loathe it's minimalist structure, you cannot deny that this song has presence. Its just so vastly different to anything else around right now, ever even. Whereas all the biggest hits came retro influence and origin ie. the 70's bass of Blurred Lines and Get Lucky, the twangy country/pop/dance of Wake Me Up and even Ylvis' Fox song taking inspiration from that noughties classic; The Crazy Frog.
 
Lorde's music thus far has doesn't seem to have any obvious influences, except maybe a touch of Portished here and a bit of Leonard Cohen there. If there is one person she reminds me of most is Tori Amos. Who just happens to me my favourite female artist of all time. There are obvious differences I grant you, but it's the way she so effortlessly carries such emotion in her voice and the masterful use of wordplay. 
 
The reason why this is number one is not only that it is great song, that's catchy as hell and makes you want to sing along but also because it's the song from 2013 that I will remember the most, for a very long time.
 
 
 
 
I'll leave you with another Lorde song; the follow up to Royals which didn't even break the top 40. I actually prefer this song a bit better to Royals too. What do you think? What were your 10 favourite songs of 2013? Feel free to share and share alike.
 
Till the next time
 
Laterz