Music is Love: One Love Manchester

Benefit concert ‘One Love Manchester’ proves that music brings people together in the wake of recent terror attacks in the UK.

Hey everyone,

I’ve been a little bit quiet lately, but if you follow me on my social media then you’ll know that I, like many others, tuned into BBC One’s coverage of the ‘One Love Manchester’ benefit concert on Sunday June 4th. Held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground, thousands of fans gathered at the charity event organised by pop singer Ariana Grande, to honour and raise funds for victims of the recent terror attack which took place after one of her shows in the city, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more.

Being a music lover, I find solace and comfort in my favourite songs and will never be able to describe the feeling that can only come from truly connecting with a track, and being able to relate to someone else’s words on such a deep level. By extension, going to gigs is a way of celebrating and experiencing the joy and atmosphere that only a live show can bring. As I sat watching ‘One Love Manchester’ the poignancy of the whole event really hit me, even through my TV screen – and you’d only have to glance at Twitter to see that I wasn’t the only one.

I see concerts as a place of magic, of community, of belonging. There’s always the sense that, whatever you’re going through is left at the door and for those few hours, nothing else matters. Nothing but the music and the atmosphere that surrounds you. Coming together with total strangers but being united in the fact that you all believe in something, you all believe in this. ‘One Love Manchester’ really embodied that spirit, and showed that hate and fear will never overpower it.

Katy Perry’s words at One Love Manchester

There was a sense of strength and resilience at the core of the whole show; the artists playing tracks with powerful, inspirational vibes. From Robbie Williams’ moving renditions of ‘Strong’ and classic track ‘Angels’, to Katy Perry’s sassy performance of ‘Part of Me’, the message was clear: we will not be beaten. We will not be afraid.

Headliner Ariana Grande shared the stage with many of the other acts involved, including coming together with Miley Cyrus for a duet of Crowded House track ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’, as well as joining forces with Coldplay to wow the audience with a heartfelt cover of popular Oasis number, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’

The 23 year old starlet also joined The Black Eyed Peas onstage for a performance of their 2003 number one single ‘Where Is The Love’. Upon its release the song topped the charts in 13 countries – including the UK where it occupied the number one spot for seven weeks – and is the epitome of the reason for the entire event. Lyrically, it addresses mindless acts of terrorism and asks, where is the love and compassion we should have for each other as human beings; making it as relevant now as it was back then.

Throughout every single act – including the likes of Little Mix, Niall Horan, Pharrell Williams, and Liam Gallagher – the 50,000 strong crowd sang, danced, and cried along to every single word. Many of the artists gave heartfelt speeches and were also overcome with emotion during their sets, none more so than Grande herself. As the night drew to a close, the young talent welcomed all the artists to the stage and thanked them for being involved, before launching into a heart-wrenching performance of her track ‘One Last Time’ – giving a goosebumps-inducing meaning to the song.

I have a huge amount of respect for Ariana Grande for organising the event and to all the artists who took part in some way, the entire concert overflowed with emotion and the love hung thick in the air – whether you were there or watching at home. Grande ended the night with a powerful version of ‘Over The Rainbow’, a beautiful moment that saw her become tearful. As she thanked and told the audience she loved them, it was evident that she herself is still deeply affected by what happened two weeks ago, but her spirit in organising the show and carrying on in spite of that is undisputedly endearing.

There is absolutely no denying the poignancy of the show as a whole, and of live music in general. To be so wrapped up in a song, to be able to scream the words at the top of your lungs because it means so much to you; and then to hear hundreds of other people doing the exact same thing, for the same reason is an amazingly moving feeling. The beautifully haunting sound of all the voices blending into one is truly something to be experienced and, in this particular incidence, knowing the reasons behind One Love Manchester: paying tribute to those who were lost or injured in the attack, you couldn’t not be moved by it.

Did you catch ‘One Love Manchester’ on BBC One last Sunday? What did you think of the show? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 🙂

Tracks of the Month – March/April

Hola readers,

I hope you’re all doing really well; today I’m going to share my tracks of the month with you. The eagle-eyed among you may’ve noticed that I didn’t post one of these last month, and that is for two main reasons:

#1. Most of what I was listening to I’d already done previous reviews on, and…
#2. Let’s be honest, after its release on March 3rd, Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide was pretty much all I was listening to for weeks afterwards. (I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t had the chance to review it yet!)

There have been a few songs that fell through the cracks over the last few months though, so I’ll include them too and go from the less, to the more recent tracks.

 

Little Mix – Touch (Ed Sheeran Cover)

As part of Radio One’s Live Lounge session, man of the moment, Ed Sheeran turned his attention to Little Mix’s ‘Touch’, taken from their new album ‘Glory Days’. Released online on Feb 21st, Sheeran’s acoustic-sounding cover also includes some soulful backing vocals; the stripped back arrangement giving the track a whole different – much more raw – feel. Seriously, is there anything this man can’t make sound infinitely better?

 

Stevie P, Sketch and Jack Holding

(Also) way back in late February, Rap/rock duo Stevie P & Sketch dropped a rough phone recording of an – as yet untitled – track on Sketch’s YouTube channel ‘Sketch TV’. Along with fellow singer-songwriter Jack Holding on guitar (as well as providing backing vocals) the trio jam out the song in a really raw, acoustic kind of way – even down to Sketch getting a beat going on his shoe! As is their style, the verses comprise of back and forth rap vocals, while the chorus incorporates some beautifully haunting vocal harmonies. The stripped back arrangement gives it a certain charm whilst adding even more of a sense of honesty; it doesn’t need to hide behind complex instrumentals, it makes an impact –perhaps even more so – without.

*I know it’s not a full track or official single or anything but I did just want to give it an honourable mention as it is beautiful.

To see my reviews of Stevie & Sketch’s previous tracks, click here.

 

Katherine McNamara – Chatter

Released three years ago as part of the soundtrack to Cartoon Network original movie Contest, ‘Chatter’, is the theme tune for any school underdog, outcast or ‘weird kid’. Sung by actress Katherine McNamara (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Shadowhunters), who also stars in the film, the song is almost like a helping hand letting you know that someone is listening. It’s an insanely catchy slice of pop, featuring some brilliantly encouraging lyrics (“words only hurt when you let them matter, don’t let them matter, it’s only chatter,”) and is definitely one of those songs that I wish fifteen year old me could’ve known.

 

Talia Mar – In The Day

After seeing upcoming singer-songwriter Talia Mar live, and reviewing her debut single ‘Stolen’, at the tail-end of last year I’ve been curious to hear more of her material. And, as luck would have it, the emerging talent unveiled follow-up single ‘In The Day’ online in late March. The self-produced electro-R&B track tells the story of what it’s like being the ‘other woman’ in a relationship, complete with a brooding vibe drenched in shadowy undertones – giving it an almost haunting quality. Mar’s powerhouse vocals are faultless throughout; the track really showcases her range as she glides through bold lower notes and drops in her pitch-perfect falsetto to accent certain phrases, giving it a really beautiful sound overall. If you follow her on social media at all then you’ll know that Mar is also gearing up to release her – as yet untitled – EP soon, so I’m really interested to get my hands on that and hear more of her songs. If they’re anything like the ones she’s dropped so far, the EP’s going to be absolute fire.

To see my review of Talia Mar’s debut single Stolen, click here.

 

Another song I’ve been listening to a lot is this acoustic version of ‘Eyelids’ by American trio PVRIS – or Paris to you and me. I’m not going to say too much about it as I included the full version of the song in my Jan/Feb ‘Tracks of the Month’ but, again, I did want to give it an honourable mention as I absolutely love it.

 

As always, thank you for reading! I hope I inspired you to give these songs a listen, if you haven’t already, and if you like what I do here and want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, feel free to come and join me on:

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Happy ‘Single Awareness Day’: Empowerment Anthems for Anyone Who’s Not In a Relationship This Valentine’s Day

Bonjour readers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the title, or if you’ve not been past any shops recently, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Everywhere you go there seems to be an explosion of hearts and some kind of promotion for the most romantic day of the year. So, whether you’re sickeningly loved up, or you’re a person who points and rolls your eyes at those who are sickeningly loved up, I hope you have a great day.

However, Valentine’s Day does have a habit of making us singletons even more aware of the fact that we’re single – hence the nickname ‘Single Awareness Day.’ Although, that needn’t be a bad thing. We may be single, but we’re also strong, independent and we don’t have to answer to anyone. With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you my Top 5 most empowering anthems for those of you who are slaying the single life this year, or if you just need a little pick me up, these songs are sure to do the trick. But, don’t take my word for it, have a listen for yourself…

 

#1. Hailee Steinfeld – Love Myself

The first single from the 18 year old actress’ debut EP ‘Haiz’, is an empowering dance/pop track. Being honest, when I first heard this I wasn’t too sure about it – I thought the lyrics were a bit questionable in places – but there’s no denying that it has a great sound, it’s fun and it makes you want to get up and dance. The chorus is an absolute banger overflowing with positive vibes, and Seinfeld’s R’n’B-tinged vocals are strong and bold throughout. Overall it’s a song about self-love (whichever way you interpret that) and empowerment – love yourself, you don’t need anybody else.

Taken from my ‘Tracks of the Month: November 2015’ click here to see the full post.

 

 

#2. Demi Lovato – Confident

If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you’ll know that I love Demi Lovato. ‘Confident’ is the second single from her fifth studio album of the same name, and it really sees her come into her own. Gone are the days of self-doubt and struggle, this is sassy and sexy, with bucket loads of attitude. As always Lovato’s vocals are stunningly bold, full of defiance and, well, confidence. It’s without doubt an empowering track, after all, “What’s wrong with being, what’s wrong with being, what’s wrong with being confident?”

Taken from my ‘Tracks of the Month: November 2015’ click here to see the full post.

 

 

#3. Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex


Formidable pop foursome Little Mix premiered their new single ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ on week two of the X Factor 2016’s live shows – and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches. The lead track from their newest album ‘Glory Days’, is a bold break-up anthem full of attitude. ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ is ridiculously catchy, with a powerful driving beat and an explosive, anthemic chorus that you can’t help but sing along to.

The lyrics, although scathing, do have an edge of humour to them – almost as if the girls are poking fun at everyone who did them wrong now that they’re ‘over it,’ giving it a very uplifting quality. Each member shines in their respective part of the song, and the harmonies interspersed throughout show that their vocals complement each other brilliantly. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and a massive middle finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got one :).

 Taken from my ‘Tracks of the Month: October 2016’ click here to see the full post.

 

 

#4. Orchard Hill (formerly Disclosure) – What a Waste of Time

Following some issues with their original name – which lead to confusion with a popular electronic dance act – this Oxfordshire based quintet came back with a new moniker but, rest assured, they’re still a pop-rock powerhouse. From the outset this track is a playful burst of colour, with a hook that promises to have audiences bouncing along like crazed jack-in-a-boxes. Singer, Tiff’s deep and throaty vocals are great also, sounding strong and hitting the notes on every trill with ease. It’s assertive and definitely appropriate for when you’re ready to acknowledge ‘what a waste of time that boy can be’, because let’s face it, we’ve all felt like that right?

Taken from my ‘Tracks I’m Loving: April/May 2013’ click here to see the full post.

 

 

#5. Cassadee Pope – Wasting All These Tears

This was Cassadee Pope’s first solo single after winning The Voice USA in 2013, during which time audiences saw her transition from singing, mostly, pop/rock to country. This track sees her successfully mix the two, incorporating elements of country with her signature pop/rock vocals. Pope’s vocals carry the ability to inject bags of emotion into the song, giving it the right amount of bite to tell the story in a way that you can really believe. The lyrics have a really cathartic quality and, personally, I can really relate to them – and I’m sure a lot of other people can too.

Taken from my ‘Tracks I’m Loving: October 2013’ click here to see the full post.

 

 

Now, get out there and show them whose boss. 🙂

If you liked these and want to check out my ‘Top 10 Anti-Love Songs’ from last Valentine’s Day, click here. Or, if you’re in a romantic mood and want to check out my ‘Top 8 Love Songs’, click here.

 

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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My Top 7 Songs of 2016

I’m baaaa-aaaack!

Hi everyone, if you saw my previous post (‘My Top Albums of 2016’) then you’ll have already got the gist of what this post is going to be. However, if you haven’t seen it, basically as it’s the start of a New Year I’m picking out my ‘best bits’ from the year before and sharing them with you. I’ve done a ‘Top Albums’ list in some form for the last few years, but I thought it’d be interesting to introduce a ‘Top Songs’ compilation also, almost as a follow up to my regular ‘Tracks of the Month’ segment – a ‘Tracks of the Year’ if you will.

I’ve gone through my previous posts and picked out my favourite of favourites for this, including singles from the beginning of 2016 right up until the end. As such, I have reviewed all but two of these tracks previously so these won’t be traditional reviews of the music its self but rather, me explaining why I like them – of course with a link to the previous articles.

*In order of release date, from earliest to latest in the year.

 

The Summer Set – Figure Me Out

Released in January 2016, ‘Figure Me Out’ is an elegantly explosive anthem perfect to start the New Year with. A song about losing your way and striving to find it again, it’s full of inspiring, uplifting vibes and shows that everybody has ups and downs no matter who you are. But, don’t let it get you down because you will eventually figure it out. The band certainly did, after initially breaking up in 2015, but luckily they rose from the ashes of what was, coming back stronger and better than ever before – and so can you. ‘Figure Me Out’ is a song that just makes you sit up straight, hold your head high and think ‘yeah I can do this’. 2017…bring it on.


To see my previous full review of the lead single from the band’s newest full-length release ‘Stories For Monday’, click here.

 

Against The Current – Forget me now

Now, I just want you to appreciate how hard it was for me to pick between the band’s singles ‘Forget Me Now’ and ‘Wasteland.’ I honestly almost couldn’t choose between these two, so much so that I nearly didn’t include either of them! ‘Wasteland’ has more of an eerie, haunting vibe, while ‘Forget Me Now’ is more upbeat and pop-rock based. But, I settled on ‘Forget Me Now’ simply because I can personally identify with more of the lyrics and every time I hear it, it makes me want to dance around my bedroom – I reckon it’d be great to see live.


To see my previous review of the ATC’s addictive debut album ‘In Our Bones’, click here.

 

Stevie P & Sketch – Street Lights

This song may just be my favourite of favourites. Released mid-way through the year, ‘Street Lights’ is a poignant rap ballad with a beautifully sombre melody and an absolutely stunning chorus. As well as this, the candid lyrics are poignant and powerful, and the passionate delivery undoubtedly packs a punch. Stevie P & Sketch’s vocals are on-point throughout and complement each other brilliantly. Personally, I think switching up the vocals from rapping to singing during the chorus is a surprise of the best kind, the harmonies interspersed throughout creating a somewhat haunting effect. If you’ve been following my blog a while then you’ll know that I absolutely love these guys; I’ve done reviews of all their tracks to date. However, this one made it into the list as, as a whole it is undeniably captivating; I fall in love all over again every time I hear it.

To see my previous full review of stunning track ‘Streetlights’, click here.

 

The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – Closer

The song that earned The Chainsmokers their first number one single, ‘Closer’ is a great summer anthem. The EDM track comprises of a very synth-led chorus – lending to a very dreamy, summery feel. Taggart and Halsey’s vocals work really well together, adding dimension and creating a beautifully powerful effect. I love the instrumental rise and falls in this song and I just think it’s perfect to blast in the car with the windows down.

To see my previous full review of summer anthem ‘Closer’, click here.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

One of the biggest, and best comebacks of 2016 was that of 2012 X Factor winner, James Arthur. After taking a break from the scene after a string of controversies, and a battle with his mental health, Arthur made a return to music at the tail end of last year with emotional love-song ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’. I absolutely love this song, and I’m not the only one, as the guitar-led ballad held the #1 spot for four consecutive weeks. His newest album ‘Back From The Edge’ then also went on to earn Arthur his first #1 album, showing that he has firmly won his way back into the hearts of millions – including mine.

To see my previous full review of Arthur’s #1 single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’, click here.

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to my Ex

Little Mix have turned up the heat with their newest album, and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches with this empowering break-up anthem. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and full of attitude. It’s also ridiculously catchy and, not to mention, a massive middle-finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got someone we’d like to sing this to! Who needs a man? (or woman!)

To see my previous full review of sassy break-up anthem ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, click here.

 

Give –  You Me At Six

Seeing 2016 out in style is a band that have been one of my favourites for the last eight years. Brit rockers You Me At Six recently released their hotly anticipated fifth album ‘Night People’, but premiered this track – along with a host of others – back in November last year. The song has a beautiful melody, an explosive chorus and hugely relatable lyrics, set to Josh Francheschi’s unique tone; delicate throughout the verses, turning husky and powerful during the chorus. ‘Give’ is definitely one of my favourites from the new album.

Watch this space for a full album review of You Me At Six’s fifth studio album ‘Night People’ – released on Jan 6th 2017.

 

What were your top songs of last year? Are there any that you think I definitely should’ve included, or any that I shouldn’t have? I’m always on the look-out for new music, so feel free to let me know in a comment 🙂 .

As always, thank you for reading! If you like what I do here and you want to keep up to date with my upcoming posts, be sure to come and join me on:

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Tracks of the Month: October

Greetings readers, and happy Halloween 🎃! I can’t believe it’s the end of October already, it seems as though I blinked at the end of August and here we are.

I have a bit of a confession to make… I realised recently that I haven’t actually done a ‘Tracks of the Month’ since June! Truthfully, I didn’t see the point of doing one as part of my ‘Jammin’ In July’ series as all the songs I would’ve included were ones that I’d reviewed throughout the month anyway, and August and September we’re pretty much a continuation of that.

However, I’m getting back into the swing of things, so I’m going to take you through the songs I’ve been listening to non-stop this month.

 

James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

James Arthur is back. The 2016 comeback kid, who won the X Factor in 2012, enjoyed limited success before going off the grid after a series of controversies. However, instead of letting it get the better of him, he fought his way through and is back on top with new single ‘Say You Won’t Let Go.’  The 28 year old even managed to resign with Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco Music, and has won his way back into the hearts of millions with this guitar-led, emotional love ballad.

The lead single from second studio album ‘Back From The Edge’, ‘Say You Won’t Let Go’ held the #1 for four consecutive weeks – and it’s not hard to figure out why. Brimming with passion and conviction the song is beautifully poignant and it hits you right in the chest. Arthur’s vocals shine throughout, from the husky tone of his lower register to his flawlessly soft falsetto, combined with the acoustic accompaniment gives the track a delicately powerful quality. If all the songs are as fantastic as this I’ll definitely be getting my hands on the upcoming album.

Favourite lyrics:

The whole thing, it’s too beautiful to be picked apart!

 

Little Mix – Shout Out to My Ex

Formidable pop foursome Little Mix premiered their new single ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ on week two of the X Factor’s live shows – and they certainly aren’t pulling any punches. The lead track from their upcoming new album ‘Glory Days’, is an empowering break-up anthem full of attitude. ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ is ridiculously catchy, with a powerful driving beat and an explosive, anthemic chorus that you can’t help but sing along to.

The lyrics, although scathing, do have an edge of humour to them – almost as if the girls are poking fun at everyone who did them wrong now that they’re ‘over it,’ giving it a very uplifting quality. Each member shines in their respective part of the song, and the harmonies interspersed throughout show that their vocals complement each other brilliantly. It’s fun, sassy, sexy and a massive middle finger to that ex – I’m sure we’ve all got one ;). It makes me smile every time I hear it, and after knocking James Arthur off the #1 spot, it looks like I’m not the only one.

Favourite lyrics:

‘I hope she gettin’ better sex, hope she ain’t fakin’ it like I did, babe.’
‘Here’s to my ex, hey, look at me now, well, I I’m all the way up, I swear you’ll never bring me down.’

 

Charlie Puth ft. Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

After topping the charts with tracks like debut single ‘Marvin Gaye’, featuring Megan Trainor, and ‘See You Again – a collaboration with Wiz Kalifa – singer/songwriter and producer Charlie Puth has now teamed up with Selena Gomez for newest single, ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore.’ The Tropical House track describes the story of anyone who has been left high and dry by a potential love interest, either by a break-up or (to put it into 2016 speak) being ghosted.

However, despite the theme, it’s anything but downbeat. The underlying pulsing beat gives the song just the right amount of kick as Puth and Gomez’s vocals blend beautifully together, accompanied by a predominantly breezy, mellow, summery vibe. This is actually an August favourite; it’s the perfect song to chill to on a hot summer’s day and I’m sure it’s something a lot of people can hugely relate to – I know I do.

Favourite lyrics:

‘Should’ve known your love was a game, now I can’t get you out of my brain, oh it’s such a shame that we don’t talk anymore.’

 

Twenty One Pilots – Heathens

Following their commercial success with Top 10 hit ‘Stressed Out’, Schizoid-Pop duo Twenty One Pilots are back with the lead single from anti-superhero movie Suicide Squad, no less. ‘Heathens’ is a dark and haunting track, combining a hip-hop-esque drum beat, a sprinkling of synths, rap vocals and an injection of rock vibes; all of which come together to create something very eerie. The slightly creepy nature of the lyrics also fits the theme of the song, and the movie, really well; I think it’s a great match. It took a while for me to jump on the band-wagon with this one, but it has definitely grown on me in a big way.


Favourite lyrics:

‘You have trust issues not to mention, they say they can smell your intentions.’
‘And now they’re outside ready to bust, it looks like you might be one of us.’

 

 

As always, thanks for reading, what songs have you been loving this month? If you would like to keep up to date with my upcoming posts come and join me on:

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Tracks I’m Loving/Feel Good playlist/Party Playlist

So this may particular playlist is a little different to what you’d normally find me listening to, but having been in an upbeat mood over Christmas and now having quite a lot of assignments on, and these are just really fun songs that are keeping me upbeat and getting me through the work.

That being said I’m not going to do little individual reviews/explanations for why I like these songs, like I do in my other ‘Tracks I’m Loving’ playlists, because that is my main reason for listening to and liking all these songs at the moment.

Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child.

Wiley ft Skepta – Can You Hear Me?

Little Mix – DNA

Kesha – Die Young

Carly Rae Jepsen ft Owl City – Good Time

Rita Ora – How We Do

Maroon 5 – One More Night

One Direction – Live While We’re Young

– some people may not agree with me on this one, that’s fine, but in my opinion its super catchy and if you’re out with friends it’s great to dance to.

Thanks for reading 🙂