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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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Album cover

Taylor Swift’s 1989 – Review

As a long-time supporter of Taylor Swift’s music, the release of her new “purely pop” album was eagerly anticipated. I did my best to remain unbiased during the discussion of her new sound or her change in music genre, and I have ultimately been incredibly impressed by ‘1989.’
The album is a tribute to the electro-pop that dominated radio 25 years ago – in 1989, coincidentally the year that Swift was born. However despite the album being interpreted as a dramatic change in genre, in ‘1989’ Swift hasn’t moved far from her music roots. Underneath the heavy drum patterns and synth melodies are songs that could conceivably be strummed on an acoustic guitar alone in a room, which is how Swift began. ‘How You Get the Girl’ mixes up the best of her old and new tricks, as she plays an acoustic guitar aggressively over an upbeat disco surge. There are obvious flares of her old sound in other songs too, with well-formed verses and catchy choruses (most notable ‘Style’ which presents distressed, melancholy verses combined with a repetitive and fast paced chorus). At the heart of country music is an engagement with the grit of real-life struggles, and this remains Swift’s lyrical terrain. On the other hand, ‘1989’ also doesn’t incorporate as many genres as Swift’s most previous albums Speak Now and Red which mixed country with rock, and in Red flashes of pop such as within hit singles like ‘I Knew You Were Trouble.’ The risk Swift took with her new sound paid off, hooking many listeners and making the album a success.
However, Swift has worked hard to separate herself from pop stereotypes, saying she has “no female role models in music.” Her songs are certainly unlike other pop musicians of today such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry. There is no production by Diplo, no guest verse by Drake or Pitbull. Swift’s idea of pop music harks back to 1980s synth pop. However, I would liken some of the sound to Lana Del Rey’s music or early Ellie Goulding – in particular ‘Wildest Dreams’ is very Lana Del Rey-esque.
‘1989’ is mature, the album on the whole feels less diary-like than her previous work, emphasising Swift’s more grown up attitude to singing and songwriting. It has a new found levity – Swift rises above the haters (that’ll “hate hate hate hate hate”). She shows impromptu support for the LGBT community in the opening song on the album ‘Welcome to New York’ – claiming “You can want who you want, boys and boys and girls and girls.” There are also casual digs at the media and the way they have portrayed her present in the album – lines such as, “I could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at me.” Most notably, there is the bouncy ‘Blank Space’ which hyperbolises her portrayal in the media as an overly attached man-eater who dates for song writing material. “Got a long list of ex-lovers, they’ll tell you I’m insane, but I’ve got a blank space,” she coos before a clicking sound like a pen, “and I’ll write your name.” The comments regarding the media aren’t limited to the chorus in this song however, Swift also writes in the first verse “I can read you like a magazine, ain’t it funny, rumours fly and I know you heard about me.” ‘Blank Space’ is funny and knowing – not only is Swift in on the joke; she also relishes it, showing her intelligence and wit.
The magic of the song extends into the music video, released on the 10th of November and has already accumulated over 42 million views. Swift’s disapproval of the male character being on his phone, and then dropping said phone in the water correlates with her disapproval of the digitalisation of the music industry – made most clear by her refusal to have 1989 on Spotify or any other music streaming sites. This decision caused controversy across the web, and initially was a decision Swift’s producers disagreed with. However, it all added to the ‘1989’ hype and worked to Swift’s advantage. Furthermore, some have suggested the choice of food in the video sends out the message we and we alone control our bodies, and that we and we alone are the only people our body shapes need to please. (I think this could be a dig at Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ and Trainor’s suggestion that it’s ok to be curvy, but it’s only ok because boys like it.) The dramatic irony of eating unhealthy foods in the picnic scene yet both the characters being so slim has been interpreted various ways. Slim and attractive on the outside, perhaps, but ugly on the inside. Swift also sends out the message she does not agree with the objectification of women in pop music – by cutting out the nipples of the male character’s shirt. Swift describes herself as a feminist and many have interpreted this part of the video as support for the #FreeTheNipple campaign. Finally Swift displays her enthusiasm for green energy. She has stated in recent interviews she, “has not driven a car in six months,” and this message is exaggerated with her smashing the male character’s car, and the scene of the couple cycling inside.
Swift sending out messages like this makes her an excellent role model for women around the world – independent and willing to stand for what she believes in, an excellent reason to listen to her music. Her motivation and work ethic are clear from the process of creating the album. Swift talked in her interview with TIME Magazine about her fight to get ‘1989’ the way she wanted; describing how she, “got some kind of interesting side-glance looks” when she presenting ideas for the album which when they were taken on were, of course, a success. Swift spoke about, “When I wanted to call the album ’1989,’ people on the team questioned that,” making her driven personality is blatant. Swift is empowered by music – and hasn’t been the type to ask permission in her career, but she has long seen herself as a stranger to the grand-scale fame that New York signifies. “Someday I’ll be living in a big old city” she taunted on ‘Mean,’ from her album ‘Speak Now’; and here she is, living in New York, even writing songs about it. Swift also certainly knows how to market songs, playing to the media with her wit and intelligence by entitling one of her songs ‘Style’ which is of course 5 of the 6 letters in Harry Styles’s last name. The song hasn’t even been confirmed to be about him but it without doubt gets people interested in the album and the drama encircling ‘Haylor.’
Ultimately, 1989 is a powerful album written by a powerful and intelligent young woman. It benchmarks Swift’s journey away from country music and into pop through compelling, energetic songs. Her talent for song writing has not faltered, lyrics such as “Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats,” reminding listeners of Swift’s inherent talent. Her confident and robust entrance into pop music emphasises her versatility between genres. I would recommend 1989 to anyone, from those wanting a lyrical journey to those just wanting songs to dance to. I think 1989 is one of the best albums of this year so far, and most importantly is just as great as all Swift’s previous work.

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Bangerz – Banging or Boring?

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.



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