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Lana Del Rey – Born To Die

Lana Del Rey, (also known as Elizabeth Grant), first came to public attention after going viral with several self-made music videos for Blue Jeans and Diet Mountain Dew, two tracks from her newly-released debut album Born to Die, a full album of hypnotic and enchanting tones for all to enjoy. Since then the songstress has had chart success with two officially released singles Video Games and Born to Die.

Even before the release of the album on the 30th of January, Del Rey had already attracted her fair share of attention after a series of live television performances, one of which sparked a debate about her talent, song-writing skills and performance style. The performance in question was when she featured as the musical guest on the very popular American television show SNL (Saturday Night Live). Viewers to whom Del Ray was unknown overlooked the low and sometimes embarrassingly cringe-worthy comedy that they were watching, judging her separately on a rushed and nerve-wracking performance – her first on American television. If those who judged Del Ray from that performance had done their research (even a quick Google), they would have come across her better performances, which would have enabled them to make a fairer judgement. They would have undoubtedly heard that subtle, varied and incredibly indescribable voice that enchants her entire album. It’s fair to say that the harsh critics would have thought twice before tweeting the incredibly harsh things that they said.

The themes of the album have honestly been seen before; failed relationships, love, drinking and parties. But each track comes with a surprising and undeniable amount of raw emotion that can only come from personal experience. Even Del Rey herself said “I get very sad when I play that song (Video Games). I still cry sometimes when I sing it”. This emotion brings the album into context and takes the attention away from a few unusual lyrics that feature in several of the songs.

Some tracks immediately stand out to me as astounding and precious in their own right. Video Games being the obvious choice, favourite of both Del Rey and many fans. Heavenly acoustics and meaningful lyrics which are sang in Del Ray’s noticeably husky voice create an almost dream-like atmosphere filled with sadness and reflection “It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you/ Everything I do.” Whilst the catchy pop tones of Lolita give the album a much-needed lift after several tracks of sadness and reflection.

All in all, Born to Die is a beautiful, haunting and not always radio friendly first album that leaves Lana Del Rey in a good position to show us what she is truly made of. All of those who complain about a nervous performer without any other reason than the fact her father is rich should just be quiet and go away. I’m sure the meaningless and heavily auto-tuned Sexy and I Know It will tide you over until the next Ke$ha album.

By Emma Smith

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, NewsComments (0)


To convey true teenage angst you must gleefully murder musical classics of old.

The writers of Glee may think they have found something new, but all they seem to be doing is dressing up brilliant songs in horrible matching outfits.

I found myself flicking through the channels last Thursday night genuinely horrified at what I was seeing. I spent most of my time dodging the vapid stream of ‘reality’ shows and general cheesiness that are spread evenly among our television channels like obnoxious Utterly Butterly. Jems like The Only Way Is Essex, filled with fake tan, fake boobs and fake scenarios that the nation has become addicted to, continuously coming back to devour up more idiocy. I then repeatedly seem to find myself weak and defenceless, watching endless repeats of Whose Line Is It Anyway and Mock the Week on the television channel Dave, the home of the witty banter of yesteryear. Then with a stupid idea that would prove fatal I flicked over to Sky 1; there would surely be a new gritty drama I absolutely needed to watch. But what faced me wasn’t a media masterpiece that would change water cooler moments forever, but the sickly song ruining stylings of a Glee club from Ohio.

Now it seems, from further investigation, Sky 1 has been taken over by hilariously boring imports from the United States and shows very little else. A fine example of this is the Spielberg directed Terra Nova, also known as, Jurassic Park with better graphics. This new show in my opinion ruins dinosaurs for me and the original will forever be a favourite. You may call me old fashioned but I miss the simpler times, when you could see the strings on the Thunderbirds and Daleks could not get up stairs, but it seems that Sky knows what will bring in the viewers.

Glee, if you are one of the lucky souls who have escaped its evil claws is a torturous forty five minute long jukebox musical dramedy. The cast of which is bursting at the seams with weak twenty year old actors attempting to convey true teenage drama and angst whilst singing upbeat musical covers in a choir. But since the introduction of the show to the nation’s screens ‘Glee’ is spreading like wildfire, schools and colleges are even starting their own clubs and no song is safe. No longer is Glee simply a noun but a symbol for outcasts to stand together as a group and scream out ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ while worrying about what corsage they are going to wear at prom. Individuality should be celebrated and I believe the idea behind the creation of Glee was right, but their casting, direction and writing were way off. After all, they cast an able bodied 20 year old to play a handicapped teenager.

My first issue with this program is that the cast is filled with attractive screen friendly actors attempting to convincingly portray teenage outcasts. Let me point out, a real outcast is the classmate who sits on his own and could quite possibly be plotting the eventual death of his peers, he is by no means jiving with a group of fellow recluses to ‘You can’t stop the beat’. The show, to give it some credit, did a decent piece of casting with the talented Jane Lynch as the destructive Cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester who is out to destroy the glee club. I’m guessing most of her dialogue is taken from angry letters and emails to the producers hankering for an apology at the way ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ was treated.

‘Jukebox musical’, the phrase I mentioned earlier was coined when creative writers died. People like Glee’s Ryan Murphy use old songs from popular artists or musical classics and weave them into their own projects, then you must watch these fine masterpieces suffer at the hands of ruthless Broadway rejects and weak writers. ‘Jukebox musicals’ like the new phenomena We Will Rock You have joined in on changing the entertainment industry. I have seen this musical myself and I did not leave feeling exhilarated, piling into a taxi with my fellow audience members who were still singing Bohemian Rhapsody, I just felt empty. I find it sad that this musical and even the glee cover is part of Mr Mercury’s legacy, encased in a shell of tongue in cheek “sixth form” style acting from which there is no escape. Aside from this it also made me think, did all of Freddie’s band mates secretly hate him and this is their final revenge, to place his classics sung by cast offs in a grave next to him. I had a similar feeling when I saw the Glee cast perform ‘Make em’ Laugh’.

Exposing teens to ‘old’ music is supposedly a good thing according to many reviewers of the show. That they will experience a whole different genre, have a much needed epiphany and step away from high cat calling tones of Justin Bieber and fill their iPods with songs from Singin’ in the Rain. But be realistic, they will be piling sugary auto tuned covers into their IPods not the classics. They will not be hearing the heavenly harmonies of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor of which there is nothing better.

The idea that music needs to be recycled annoys me. Although some do argue that Glee isn’t trying to better the classics; it is trying to introduce the music to a new audience alongside a show they can relate to. But when people think of Glee, they do not think of the gritty drama and ‘true’ representation of today’s youth but something that came from the High School Musical genre. The characters are far from realistic, in one episode the teens vow to never drink again and actually succeed at this pledge. I know I tried to stop drinking after an unfortunate event with a bottle of White Lightning, but a few days later I was back on the Mad Dog 20/20. From this we really see that the writers have no idea about their audience and their plan to introduce old music to the Miley Cyrus generation disappeared at the same time the writers decided to ignore the rules of continuity. Teenagers are not all squeaky clean and sober, nor are they over the top and drunk every weekend. The writers should know this, after all it is their aim to make a teenager drama, but failing that they can just rely on attractive actors to sell calendars, and it seems to have worked for three series now.

Until the point when true harmony is restored and the television channels and stage are making good, honest and original entertainment again and not relying on the talents of others we will have to amuse ourselves for a while. Together we can listen to records of old, laugh at jokes remembered from My Fair Lady and wash that all down with lashings of Ginger Beer. But until then, Top Gear is on Dave and I don’t think I have seen this one. No wait; I have seen it before, I had to calm myself after the news broke that Glee are going to be covering Michael Jackson.

By Emma Smith

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Paranormal activity, a well-known and popular supernatural franchise, has finally produced what could know name it a trilogy. Paranormal activity 3, the third chilling (whether in a good or bad way, I’ll leave that to you) film created by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, in an attempt to provide a dramatic conclusion. Following on from the previous films, Paranormal activity 3 shows the story of Dennis, Julie, Katie and Kristi as they face a demon’s ominous presence; it’s intent growing more malicious every passing day. Though the film is behind it’s predecessors in a unique inverted chronological order, does the plot manage to entice the viewers? Are the actors able to convey their characters’ fears successfully? And, most importantly, does this film bestow a satisfactory feeling of terror; powerful enough to contribute to the horror genre in general?

The overall plot of the film, though explanatory and often helps fill in the gaps presented in the previous movies, is overused and mediocre at best. An invisible demon lurking about in the middle of the night and wreaking havoc? It’s been done. Twice. And as such, the previous films overlap it’s third sibling simply through holding more originality in their plots. The original film being the first to depict the horrors in things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, whilst the second providing a (relatively) sufficient explanation for the first movie. Being the third film, the only way in which it could possibly surpass it’s elder brothers would be to either; provide the viewers with a new horror of which makes their blood curl faster, or to reveal some interesting new facts about the grandmother or the creeper that shows enjoyment in opening doors and smashing light bulbs. Whilst the film merely touches upon both topics, it strays amongst the predictability set out by the Paranormal activity franchise. Video cameras set up, creature sneaks about, everyone scared, and somebody dead. Perhaps viewing audiences of this genre are attracted to familiarity, but the writers could have been daring enough to create a script with more unconventionality. There may have, indeed, been a few more screams.

Acting, within the film, was generally pleasing; the actors performed their roles to a solid standard. Particularly, the roles of Christopher Nicholas Smith (Dennis) and Dustin Ingram (Randy) presented the fear in their characters extremely well; adding to the realism that Paranormal activity 3 plays on. Especially talented, however, was the young actress Chloe Csengery (young Katie) who managed, even at such an age, to show both her frightened and possessed state with emotive results from the audience. On the other hand, there were times in the film where certain characters were merely acting as themselves, rather than actually being themselves; the biggest culprit being Lauren Bittner (Julie). Overall, the acting within the film was excellent, emotively expressing the feelings of their characters whilst making the film seem more fact and less fiction.

One of the main features of the horror film genre is the ability to scare the audience out of their seats and giving them nightmares for the next few evenings. Needless to say, Paranormal activity 3 was designed to scare.  Although the predictability factor was off the scale, there were a few new scenes of trepidation within the film; particularly during the concluding climax where many unusual factors added to the recurring theme of dread. Anyhow, there was a slight feeling of hilarity mixed in with the happenings within the house; this including the naming of the creature, humanizing it to the much less frightful name of “Toby”. Also, was the almost comical violence used towards poor Katie. As much as there was a sense of fright in the film, there was also a tinge of humour that would add to the audience’s amusement rather than fear.

All in all, the film is worth watching if you have seen the previous two movies. It fills in a slight explanation of the time during which Katie and Kristi were children, as well as adding some new information about the dread “Toby”. However, in comparison to the previous two films, the plot does not run as smoothly and there is a predictability in the haunting of the family. It may even be seen, by some horror fanatics, as less of a fright fest and more of a cheap way for the franchise to run on.  So is Paranormal activity 3 the perfect and petrifying end to the franchise?

It’s all up to your own imaginations to decide.

By Hannah Myers

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