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Who deserves your vote?

The general election is just days away.

With this in mind, here at Notre Dame we’ve decided to hold our very own general election! So, who exactly are the aspiring Ed Milibands and Natalie Bennetts of Notre Dame?

Well, we’ve compiled a handy list of all the candidates, so you can decide for yourself just who is worthy of your vote!

Labour Candidate, Annie Maloney, poses for a photo with Ed Miliband on a campaign day in April 2015.

Firstly, we have Annie Maloney, who is standing as The Labour Party’s candidate.  So, just what exactly does the Labour party mean to her?

“A handshake. Two hands.  That’s what the Labour party means to me. I support you, you support me, whoever you are, wherever you come from. Shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand.”

The focus of Labour’s college campaign will be based around the idea of creating “A country where the next generation can do better than the last.”  However she was reluctant to reveal any policy details, stating that “We’re saving the key details for our leaflets.”

In her spare time, she enjoys canvassing for the local Labour party, in support of Veronica King, the candidate for Elmet and Rothwell. She’s also a huge fan of vintage clothing, tea, and the hit TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, and is particularly proud of her ‘Miliselfie’.

Next up is Joe Doyle, who is standing for The UK Independence Party. In Joe’s words; why should you vote for him? “I will campaign for the withdrawal of The UK from Europe, because I believe that although we have an interest in Europe, we are not part of Europe.”  In terms of policy, UKIP will be focusing on abolishing the bedroom tax, and blocking the construction of HS2.  Inheritance tax is also an important issue, with Joe arguing that “The bequeathal of property to a loved one is not a form of income and the government has no right to interfere.”

In his spare time, he plays several musical instruments and is also ‘partial to fine dining’.

Now say hello to George Walker, The Green Party candidate!

So why did George join the Green party? “After starting to study Politics at Notre Dame I decided I wanted to get more involved in politics and joined the Green Party in October 2013. I joined the Green Party as they are the only left-wing party standing up for the values I believe in.”  The Green Party’s campaign will centre on their 3 key policies of abolishing university tuition fees, fighting the creeping privatisation of The NHS and reducing inequality by ensuring that all employers pay at least a living wage of£10.

George Walker is supported by Notre Dame’s Green campaign team.

Outside of politics, he loves music, sport and travel. He said: “I enjoy going to gigs and festivals and watching and a variety of sports such as football, baseball and the NFL.”

Any finally, Marilyne Ebu has made a last-minute decision to stand as The Conservative candidate.

Some of the Conservative policies which Marilyne champions are; ensuring that those on the minimum wage don’t pay tax, supporting working parents by giving parents £5,000 of free

Conservative candidate Marilyne Ebu urges Notre Dame students to “Vote Conservative!”

childcare, and protecting the triple lock on pensions. Marilyne is particularly proud of The Conservative’s record in government, particularly the 2.2 million extra apprenticeships which have been created.  In her spare time, she enjoys listening to K-Pop, dancing, and being involved with her local church and community.

Want to put your questions to the candiates? Come along to the hustings on Friday, at 1:00pm in the lecture theatre and give them a grilling!

Voting will take place on Thursday 7th May, from 10:00am to 2:00pm in the main hall.  Put a cross in the box and make sure that your voice is heard!

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SoLonge Tom: Guitarist and Singer Tom DeLonge ‘indefinitely’ leaves Blink-182; replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba.

SoLonge Tom: Guitarist and Singer Tom DeLonge ‘indefinitely’ leaves Blink-182; replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba.

by Heather Moss 26/01/2015 20:48

So, in the most shocking news of 2005 Tom DeLonge has ‘indefinitely’ left Blink-182… oh, wait, it’s 2014 and I can’t say it comes as a surprise. I feel as though something about him has changed, that this time round he, and they, just weren’t what they were before. Was it the age? The pressure? Or purely just the fact he came across as a massive twat? Obviously I don’t know the guy so that assumption is founded on no other basis but opinion, strong opinion. Of course, what I say now is riddled with hypocrisy (as the only times I got an opportunity to see Blink was after their return) but, I must ask the question we are all, on some level, thinking:

Was it worth the return?

On behalf of the fan base, I’m glad they made their return. In a completely selfish light, it was my opportunity to see them so I’m beyond grateful for that chance. It wasn’t just me however and it gave a large, slightly newer, section of their fan base to experience the completely innuendo-based anarchy that is Blink-182 live and the older fans the chance to relive their glory days.

However on behalf of the band themselves, I feel like it wasn’t right. They had shifted into a entirely different, less enjoyable, dynamic and personally I think that was because of, as one source so rightly put it, Tom’s “half assed” attitude. It seemed like he was dragging his way through chores rather than living the dream of playing his music to crowds of tens-of-thousandsof adoring kids. It’s easy to believe that, in regard to the image of Blink and the prestige they have in the music industry, rather than become a middle-aged duo, they would have better staying gone and living on in everyone’s memory as a musical icon for a generation (or three) to come. With regards to Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba stepping into Tom’s Macbeth sneakers, I’m really interested to see how that will work. Blink will never be Blink without the stereotypical DeLonge drawl and the epic bromance of Hoppus and DeLonge that was at the heart of the band, but Skiba is a talented guy with a mountain of experience behind him that should be more than able to step in and step up.

Despite everything anyone says, Tom DeLonge will always be a huge figure in the music world; whether it be with his memory living on through old Blink-182 records or any future endeavours he has with Angels & Airwaves or any other project. I wish him the best of luck with the future but I must say… can’t you stay together for the kids?

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Philip Davies: The Controversial Conservative

There are many adjectives which you can use to describe Philip Davies.

Boring is not one of them.

He is infamous for currently being the most rebellious serving Conservative MP, having voted against his party’s Whip 120 times. He is also well known for using the tactic of filibustering to kill off legislation he dislikes. A quick google search will also bring up allegations of a spurious involvement in the gambling industry and a controversial chain of correspondence to the Equality and Human Rights Committee, in which he reportedly asked ‘whether it was racist for a policeman to refer to a BMW as ‘black man’s wheels’.

Mr Davies answers students’ questions. Photograph: Kevin Warnes

On his visit to Notre Dame on Friday 6th February 2015, he initiated an hour long Q&A session with students in the lecture theatre. It began with a question on the subject of surveillance; a topic which has recently been in the news because of the high profile terrorist attacks in Paris. Mr Davies defended his authoritarian stance on surveillance, by arguing that it does not infringe upon our day-to-liberties. He said “It’s a question of when we suffer another terrorist attack in this country, not if.”

Another bone of contention was the minimum wage. Mr Davies notably said in 2011 that “the minimum wage can be more of a hindrance than a help.” In the case of some disabled jobseekers.  He continues to stand by his position on this, despite the storm of controversy which it created.  During this session, he re-affirmed his position on the issue, stating that he “disagrees with the minimum wage on principle.” And that “what somebody is paid is a matter between the employer and the employee.”  His argument was that disabled people are facing poor employment prospects, and should be allowed to work for less than the minimum wage to make them more attractive to employers.

I wonder how Mr Davies would respond to his government’s closure of the UK’s remaining Remploy factories?

Former Remploy workers protest in April 2012. Photograph: Getty Images

Sheltered factories have long been a contentious issue amongst disability rights campaigners; however they undoubtedly provided vital employment to those with disabilities. Remploy opened it’s first factory in Brigend, Wales in 1946. At their peak, in the late 1980s, Remploy factories employed more than 10,000 people at 94 sites, with employees performing a wide range of invaluable tasks, including bookbinding, monitoring CCTV images and carpentry.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4′s ‘Face The Facts’ programme, Simon Huntington, a former Remploy employee from Durham explained the personal impact of the factory closures. “My whole life at the moment is thanks to Remploy – and now that’s gone, my life is gone. I’m so proud that I worked for Remploy and I will continue saying that. Remploy was a lifesaver. Remploy was my life.”

Now, most of the work that Remploy undertakes focuses on delivering careers advice to disabled people, aiming to encourage them into mainstream employment through disability friendly employers such as Marks and Spencers.   Despite this, the Department of Work and Pensions is aware of less then a third of ex-Remploy employees who have managed to find new jobs. PIC CREDIT: Former Remploy workers protest in April 2012. Photograph: Getty Images

Disability employment is a complex issue, and the DWP faces many difficult decisions in the future. However if one thing is clear, it is that abolishing the minimum wage is not the answer.

Perhaps the most controversial issue was the topic of equality.  Mr Davies voted strongly against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act of 2013, saying that “You are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land if you believe it promotes equality.”  He argued that the act is ‘fundamentally flawed’ due to it’s provisions for divorce.

Due to a series of historical rulings which form a body of complex case law, a homosexual couple cannot cite either adultery or non-consummation as the reason for divorce. Instead, they can use the umbrella term of ‘unreasonable behaviour’, which is currently cited by 98% of heterosexual couples as the reason for divorce and covers adultery and non-consumation. One lower 6th student Lucy Timmins passionately replied “the only one living in Cloud Cuckoo Land is Philip Davies!”

Once the Q&A session had finished, the debate continued to rage on through social media. One Lower 6thstudent, Evie Appleson was shocked to find that Mr Davies had replied to her tweet, calling her an ‘intolerant small minded socialist’.

Mr Davies is known for his outspoken views. Screenshot: Twitter/ Evie Appleson

So what was the overall verdict?

Politics teacher, Dr Warnes, (who will be standing against Mr Davies as the Green Party candidate in Shipley on 7th May) said that “We were very pleased to welcome  back Shipley MP Philip Davies. He is one of the more colourful members of parliament, a politician who speaks his mind on the issues he cares about.  It was a really enjoyable session, and we are very grateful to Philip for finding the time to drop in.”

Allan Clifford, Head of Politics, agrees, saying that: “Philip Davies is a Conservative who is not afraid to court controversy across a range of British political issues. A real treat for all concerned!”

And finally, Lower 6th student, Amelia Webb said that “It was interesting to hear political perspectives very different from my own!” 

By Fran Talbot

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2015: The Year Ahead

 

 

Ahhh, January. The start of a new year! Already snowdrops are beginning to poke through the frosted earth and Facebook has been deluged with selfies of people burning off their Christmas calories. So, once you’ve quite finished munching on yet another turkey sandwich, it’s time to take a look at the year ahead.

In political terms, 2015 is going to be an interesting year.  It’s Barack Obama’s penultimate year as the President of the USA, Lithuania is joining the Eurozone…and of course, there’s the pant-wetting excitement of the upcoming general election.

The general election is scheduled to be held on 7th May owing to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act of 2011; and so far, it’s shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections in living memory. Currently, the poll average shows Labour to be in first place, the Conservatives a close second, followed by UKIP, The Liberal-Democrats, and finally, the Green Party.

In light of this, I decided to ask the good people of Notre Dame to gaze into their crystal balls and share their political forecasts for 2015. Obviously, the most common theme was the general election, and we had predictions ranging from a continuation of the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition, to an out-and-out Labour majority. There were also predictions on the state of the parties’ leadership and the likelihood of another financial crash.

 

Lower 6th Student, Kyle McGee:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that the Labour party will win the election, but have to form a coalition government with the SNP. I also think that Boris Johnson will take over as leader of the Conservative Party.”  

Lower 6th student, Lucy Timmins:

“My political predictions for 2015 are that in the general election the Labour party will win with a small majority, and if this doesn’t happen, Ed Miliband will have to resign as leader of the Labour party. I also think that UKIP and The Green Party will win a lot more seats in Parliament.”

Upper 6th student, William Holmes:

“I think that the Labour party will get the largest number of seats but won’t have enough to form a majority; they’ll either go into coalition with the Green Party or rule with no majority. Because of this, I think that Nick Clegg will no longer be leader of the Liberal Democrats, and will either be kicked out or resign. I also think that UKIP won’t get the support expected and vanish from the media until the next European Parliamentary election.”

Upper 6th student, Audrey Murumbi:

“In my opinion, UKIP are going to form a coalition. I also think that the Liberal Democrats are not going to win as many seats as expected. However, things might stay as they are, with the Conservatives in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.”

Upper 6th student, Moin Shah:

“First of all, I think that the Labour party are going to win by a small majority. My second prediction is that the upcoming general election will signal the last majority government, owing to the rise of smaller parties, like UKIP and The Green Party; perhaps leading to electoral reform. I also think that there will be a big shake-up in the EU, relating to the current turmoil in Cyprus and Greece. People aren’t too happy there at the moment. Although we won’t leave the EU, there will definitely be a significant change. The people at the head of the EU aren’t elected, which worries me.”

Upper 6th student, Abdulla Beirakji:

“I predict that there will be a coalition between the Conservatives and another smaller party. I think that the Labour party will probably have a new leader, as Ed Miliband isn’t popular at the moment.  I also think that UKIP won’t be as strong as people currently think they are, because at the European elections, the turnout was very low, whereas at the general election it will be higher, so more people will turn out and show their disapproval.” 

Lower 6th student, Annie Maloney:

“My political predictions are that the general election will result in a clear Labour majority.  I also think that in my own constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, the Labour candidate, Veronica King, will win and replace Alec Shelbrooke.”

Politics teacher and Green Party Councillor Dr Kevin Warnes:

“I think that It’s incredibly close to call…I’m going to go for a hung Parliament. Currently, It’s 6:1 against either of the main parties winning a majority. Overall, I think Labour will be slightly ahead of the Tories, although I think that they’re going to struggle to form a stable coalition. Perhaps there will be a coalition of several parties, or possibly even a minority Labour led government. A likely scenario is that Labour will try to cobble something together.  It might include a role for The Green party, it might not. The Greens will hold Brighton Pavillion, although I don’t think they will win any more seats, and overall they will gain somewhere between 5 and 10 % of the vote. I think that this will provoke a debate about the electoral system. Thirdly, I think that because of the fall out from the general election, there’s going to be a massive constitutional ruckus, owing to the SNP’s success in Scotland. Ultimately, whichever party they end up dealing with in Westminster, they’ll hold their feet to the fire. One outcome of this may be another Scottish referendum, guaranteed in the next 5 years, held towards the end of the Parliament. Finally, I think that the big climate change summit in Paris will result in the world’s major industrialised economies, once again, failing miserably to finalise a global deal on climate.”

Head of Government and Politics, Allan Clifford:

“I think that Labour will get a small majority and form the next government. I also think that will mean that David Cameron will be replaced as leader of the Conservative party by Theresa May. In my opinion, there will be another major economic crash which will turn out to be a real game changer.  I’m also inclined to think that UKIP won’t do as well as some have predicted. They’ll only have 3, at the most, 4 MPs after the election.”

 

And my predictions?

At the moment, Labour have a modest poll lead, however I fear that as the general election draws closer, it will significantly decrease. Ed Miliband is the main factor in all of this. His leadership style is poles apart from Tony Blair’s. Whereas Tony Blair was polished, deft and efficient; ‘The master of Spin’, Ed Miliband can’t even eat a bacon sandwich properly and is increasingly gaffe prone.  All it takes is another ‘bigoted woman’ moment and his Prime Ministerial hopes will be lying in a heap of smouldering ashes.

Secondly, I think that the Liberal Democrats will be absolutely annihilated in the general election.  A party which keeps loosing their deposits is not a party of government. They can do as much campaigning as they want, but the majority of the electorate on May 7th will be voting with their gut-feeling, and people have not forgotten Nick Clegg’s massive betrayal over tuition fees. So ultimately, Nick Clegg will have to resign.  I bet Danny Alexander is salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs…

Finally, the general election. If you put a gun to my head, I’d be inclined to go for a minority Labour government propped up by the SNP, although the SNP may well push for another Scottish referendum.

We’ll see.

 

By Fran Talbot

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Notre Dame welcomes Hilary Benn

Hilary Benn poses for a photo with Notre Dame’s PolSoc students

Hilary Benn; another politician in the long line of the Benn Dynasty. He is most definitely his father’s son, although they are decidedly different in many ways. Whereas his Father was known as the firebrand of the Labour party, Hilary has been dubbed by critics as ‘the vicar of politics’ and has stated that he is most definitely “ A Benn, but not a Bennite.” He has been the MP for Notre Dame’s constituency Leeds Central since 1999 and is currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

On his visit to Notre Dame on Thursday 2nd October 2014, we found him to be warm, welcoming and eager to answer our questions. He faced a grilling from the students on a range of subjects; including foreign policy, nuclear weapons and the housing crisis. He became empassioned when speaking about the ‘barbaric nature’ of ISIS.

Politics teacher, Dr Warnes said that: “We appreciated the warm, considerate yet challenging way in which he engaged with our students.”. One Lower Sixth student, Isabella Taylor added that “Mr Benn spoke passionately on a wide range of issues.”

 Despite this, not everyone was impressed. One Upper Sixth student, Elijah Cockshaw, questioned Mr Benn’s decision to vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Elijah thought that: “He was very good at avoiding questions, giving woolly answers  and answering questions that weren’t asked.” In spite of recent criticisms, Mr Benn still stands by his decision to support the Iraq war.

In the future Notre Dame will be more than happy to welcome Hilary back again!

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Is Portal 2 putting your brain to the test?


According to a recent study produced by Florida State University’s psychology department, Valve’s popular puzzle-platform game Portal 2 is actually better for training your brain than brain training game Lumosity.
The three behind the study: Valerie J. Shute, Matthew Ventura and Fengfeng Ke, initially decided to test Portal 2 against Lumosity after discovering that one of the team members really enjoyed the game, and thought it helped improve her cognition skills.
 
Games like Lumosity or Brain Age are often sold as brain-training software, trying to cash in on what neuroscientists have discovered in recent years – that human brains have plasticity (think of it like a muscle), meaning our brains are very much able to grow and change like say your biceps or your pecks. Brain-training software has the user solve a series of puzzles designed to ‘stretch’ their thinking skills, similarly, in Portal 2 – gamers have to solve puzzles to get to other portals, achieving an outcome better than those who use Lumosity in terms of cognitive ability.
To pit the two games against one another, the team gathered up 77 volunteers and had them complete tests that measured problem solving, mental-persistence and spatial skill. To determine if playing had affected these skills, they were split into two groups, one group playing one game, the other the other game—both asked to play for eight hours. The researchers found Portal 2 players with a fairly significant “statistical advantage” over those who’d played Lumosity—they note that the reverse was never true with any of the volunteers.
Researcher Valerie J. Shute hilariously sums up the study’s results in a Popular Science report: “Portal 2 kicks Lumosity’s ass.”
While this is certainly the case here, the bigger picture is the positive impact video games have on players, specifically on their cognitive and non-cognitive skills. It might have not have an enormous amount of validity because of the small range of volunteers but what it does help do is remove the modern day, widely idea that every video game promotes violent or aggressive behavior.
Should Portal 2 be given credit for enhancing players brains?
Check the study out here

 

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Are horror films on the decline?

Two years ago were your dreams haunted by an old woman? As foolish as it may be, 2011’s Insidious certainly left a stain upon my mind, resulting in the old woman disturbing my midnight wanders around the house to this very day but can this response be admitted to the second instalment, Insidious: Chapter 2?

Whether it’s a soul that’s haunted or a house, Insidious: Chapter 2 has undoubtedly caught the attention of critics and the public alike, grossing $78,643,586 within the first month. But despite the £5 million poured into the creation of the film, is it just another wander around another haunted house and a haunted soul? The film carries the unnerving atmosphere from the first with scares that should make you flinch and not make you feel so bold about it but the repetitive comedic structure constantly defuses the tension until it’s almost invisible and not as scary as you’d expect. However, as many of you may have noticed the horror genre these days is not quite what it used to be and we’re hardly spoiled for choice. Who can forget the famous head spin from the Exorcist, the childlike rhyme of Freddy Kruger and Janet Leigh’s bloodcurdling scream? It seems like we can never forget these classic scenes as quite often people return to these films in an attempt to remember what horror actually is.

In this highly technical, modern day people are just too hard to scare. Outer space, psychos and religion may still be daunting but with so many ideas already explored it’s hardly surprising how judgmental many of us are towards new ideas – have we seen it before? Have we seen elements of Insidious: Chapter 2 before? Did you find the film slightly predictable? If you haven’t noticed by now, maybe you should go back and see how Insidious: Chapter 2 has a lot of elements from The Shining within it. At times Patrick Wilson (Josh) echoes Jack Nicholson’s insane performance complete with the stare and sarcastic tone . It even has an almost near- echo of a door scene that’s used near the climax within The Shining. Other elements echoed within the film would be the use of windows and the red door. The constant colour of red! It’s everywhere, from the first demon, to the only colour on Parker Cranes mother’s face. You really can’t escape it.

However, despite the repetitive jokes Insidious: Chapter 2 does manage to provide a satisfying “scare” and it does manage to tie up some loose ends. So maybe it’s time to accept the changing genre? Or maybe the horror genre is currently crawling through a dry patch and (hopefully) some unseen material will emerge soon. It’s just about waiting.. In the meantime there are rumours of a third instalment to the Insidious franchise and although we’ve all seen the ugly dolls, creaky doors, rocking horses, fusey lights and interminable interludes of quiet, quiet, bang “scares” before- what else is there possibly left to say?

 

by Keiran Bull

 

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Syrian Conflict

The protests began in March 2011; the Syrians demanded President Bashar al-Assad to step down from power. Assad’s autocratic leadership was compared to the dictators in history such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. The request for freedom from the protesters was met by violence. The peaceful people were kicked, punched and shot. Brutal actions sparked rebellion which created armies of angry dissidents.

 

On August 21st 2013, there were reports of chemical gas attacks in the capital city of Damascus, it was alleged that the Syrian regime carried out the attacks. UN officials tested out the samples taken from the location and discovered that sarin gas was used. The youngest person treated because of the gas attack was 7 years old. The attacks were the reason for a worldwide debate.

Unexpectedly, the Assad regime has lasted longer than the predicted 18 months although it has had a few setbacks e.g. Rebels seizer of hundreds of tanks. The rebels are receiving help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia but it is not enough. The United Nations claim that Russia and Iran are ‘fuelling’ the civil war by blocking their attempts at resolving the situation and arming Assad supporters. Russian President, Vladimir Putin in particular does not want the US involved as he is not comfortable with the US influence on the world. America, Russia, Iran and the UK continue to debate about actions to stop the war but they cannot reach an agreement due to the differing opinions of all sides. There are fears that this war will turn into the seemingly never ending wars such is the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, if the US are involved.

While the great world powers debate, the war’s impact on the population and environment is truly distressing. Homes are being destroyed, Schools obliterated and Hospitals overpopulated. Men, women and children are forced to flee their homes because of the dire conditions. Orphaned children have to look for food, water and shelter as they have lost all their families and constant battles take place on the streets between the rebels and Assad’s army with no concern about the safety of others. Some Syrians have fled to bordering countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Efforts have been made by thousands of people to aid the victims of a senseless war; there have been many events to raise funds. The attempts to help the innocent are much appreciated however, this war seems like a fire that cannot be extinguished. The death toll has reached a deeply unsettling 110,000 and continues to rise as the conflict goes on however there may be the possibility of an agreement in the near future.

 

Hamad Haroon

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Bangerz – Banging or Boring?

The transformation that Miley Cyrus has undertaken in her journey is almost comical; we have seen her go from innocent teen star, Hannah Montana, to a pseudo sex icon, twerking her behind in Robin Thicke’s crotch in what appears to be a form of pop star prostitution and persistent sexualisation. Where has the teenage role model gone?

Coming into “Bangerz” I expected to see a reiteration of the boring lull pop music that has become of the past two years; epic, mindless vocals about love followed by an unnecessary bass drop, compulsory guest male rapper swearing too much, and repeat until fin. Don’t get me wrong, pop stereotypes aren’t avoided on Bangerz but it’s by no means the only model. Where “Wrecking Ball”, “My Darlin” and “Adore You” are instantly forgettable, repetitive and uninspired, “FU”, “We Can’t Stop” and “Do My Thing” retain a modicum of interest. The rapping Cyrus herself does on a few of the tracks makes a welcome change from the far more standard vocal style she employs for most of the album, the worst of which is a fumbled “So-la-da-di” that had me cringing. Hints of creativity gleam through the standard-pop monotony, the trumpet on FU being a highlight in this respect, but otherwise the album is disappointingly safe and samey. Much of it sounds like it could have been lifted from a latter years Deadmau5 album and repeats to no end. The incessant guest raps are contentless and seemingly arbitrary. The only guest appearance which has any weight is Britney Spears,who unduly exposes what a weak pop singer Cyrus can be.

Another standout is “#GETITRIGHT”, a song that instead of lifting the annoying, repetitive synths from most of the other songs, like “4×4″ (the most annoying track by some impressive distance), goes for a more simple guitar chord sequence, reminiscent of Bruno Mars, that is so catchy and uplifting it puts most of the album to shame. It might actually warrant the title of a good pop song. It leaves me wanting more like this though – Miley seems split between three or four song types (both lyrically and musically) and ends up doing none of them well. The result is a bit of a mess of an album, which opens and finishes on standard, heart aching love songs like her previous years and applies just hints of the badassery that the cover and media persona promises, interwoven with boring synths and pop standards. Instead of giving the listener loads of ideas it just makes each of them look half hearted and doubtful. I’m not sure what Miley is actually trying to say with Bangerz.

This creates a weird contradictory message. On the one hand, the love songs make her look like a pathetic teenage girl; submissiveness to all the sub par boyfriends who break her heart persists on tracks like “Adore You” and “My Darlin”, soppy ballads with mind bogglingly dull love lyrics. However Miley then suddenly appears a badass promoting sexual liberty with the line “We can kiss who we want to” and “Ima do my own thang”. Miley Cyrus will inevitably be a role model for teenage girls, so for the message she gives them to be so confused and incoherent is going to be a problem with the album.

English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert

English: Miley Cyrus singing in concert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bangerz is a reasonably consistent pop album marred by lack of creativity and an incoherent message. Miley tries to address too many strands, spreading herself too thinly with her past persona and her new one, to the result that each song is almost instantly forgotten and every message fails to resonate. The lyrics leave me unable to discern from what she truly feels, and the usual bog standard lyrical monotony and tropes that seems to make up most of it. To top it off, the synth melodies that sound like they’ve been concocted in a few seconds plague the album, leaving it a mess that can’t be approached as a whole. The few moments of greatness make up for it though and leave it not without merit – #GETITRIGHT, FU and We Can’t Stop are a trio of, honestly, decent pop songs .Therefore, I have no reason to feel my time has been truly wasted listening to “Bangerz”, but I can’t help feeling the album could have been a lot more.

 

3.5/10

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READY, STEADY, GO!

As cycling is becoming more and more popular each year, the Grand Depart in Yorkshire is predicted to be a huge success according to results from fans of the sport. Cycling this year sh0uld be a meticulously brilliant and exciting event. There’ll be much to look out for.

Starting on the 5th July, they will be cycling the first stage of 190 kilometres from Leeds, Harewood, Otley, Ilkley, Skipton ,Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn, Ripon and finally Harrogate. The second stage is the most lengthy and consists of 200 kilometres from York, Knaresborough, Silsden, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Elland, Huddersfield, Holmfirth and finally Sheffield. After the thousands that turned up to celebrate at London’s 2007 Grand Depart, many more are expected to be lining the streets of Yorkshire, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Tour de France star swinging round the hairpin bends of the Yorkshire Dales.

There is meant to be lots of events going off, such as sportive’s for all abilities, and the campsites are expected to be fully booked, with people rushing off to watch. The route is scenic, and consists of various back lanes.

Chief executives of the grand depart have estimated that it will make enormous short term income for Yorkshire, such as the thriving Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate, campsites, B and B’s hotels, shops, cafes.

To finish off, for those of you who are interested in cycling, you will be able to see it and show a little support anywhere near you. It’s a must.

By Isabelle Garside

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