the album I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about

I’ve had a few ideas for blog posts tumbling around in my head lately, and although this wasn’t the first one I came up with – that was some top tips for doing the IB, but given my current stress level it may be best to leave that until after my exams – this album has been on repeat in my head for the last few days and is a completely unexpected new favourite of mine. Partly unexpected because its very, very rare for me to listen to a full album (even more so for me to like everything on it) and partly because…well, it’s Harry Styles, of One Direction fame. I never loved One Direction – though equally I didn’t understand the depths with which some people hated them – and didn’t pay much attention to any of their debut stuff when it first came up. A couple of their solo singles made it onto my Spotify playlists, but I made no effort to go and listen to full albums or anything.

This began to change the other week, when I rewatched Dunkirk with some friends and remembered Harry Styles’ existence. In true procrastinating student fashion I then ended up watching his Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, which is pretty great (highlights include their rendition of Hey Ya! and recreation of Titanic). After watching that I ended up listening to all of his album and, completely unexpectedly, I loved it. It’s been in my head so much the last few days that I figured I’d write a blog post about it, breaking it down into each track and my thoughts, in the hope it’ll finally get it out of my head…

Meet Me in the Hallway

This is quite a chilled, laidback start to the album and wasn’t a track I particularly paid attention to start with but, though it’s not one of my favourites, has grown on me a lot. It’s easy to listen to and relaxing and I love the chorus – I think it does a really good job of livening the track up a bit without losing the dreamy feeling of the rest of it. It also opens up the album immediately showing that this is not going to be a One Direction clone, which is nice.

Sign of the Times

This song is probably what actually stopped me from bothering to look into his music before because I was profoundly unbothered by it when it first came out as his debut single. It was OK, a bit different from One Direction but nothing drastic. Listening to it now I definitely like it more than I did then but it’s probably one of my least favourites on the album. The dramatic strings from 1:33 onwards get a shoutout though, and I discovered that it is actually him being suspended from a helicopter in the music video, not a stunt double, which is pretty incredible.

Carolina

Carolina’s the third track on the album and from its opening notes its showing a different side to ‘solo Harry’ – a bit funkier, a bit livelier, a bit less restrained. The opening riff’s the kinda thing you can’t listen to without letting your head bop along (bop is a fantastic verb and this song is very deserving of its use) and as the layers start to build it just gets funkier (I especially love the little ‘oh yeah’s). The vocals start off pretty laidback but quickly ramp up at the chorus, giving it more of a rock-y vibe than the first few tracks. Then the brilliant ‘la la las’ start up, giving the song a really fun vibe – Harry said in an interview that this was the last song written for the album and gave it a kinda missing piece of fun, which is definitely how it feels. The layers keep building up and, in my entirely objective opinion, the song just gets better and better – it definitely cheers me up in the middle of revision, anyway! Also, love the guitar on this.

Two Ghosts

If you’ve heard of this song, you likely know it as ‘the one about Taylor Swift’. This is another one I really like, and I can personally really relate to the lyrics. Musically, the little guitar riff throughout is beautiful, and the return to the more laidback vibe provides a really nice contrast to Carolina. I’d definitely say it’s more pop-y, more along the lines of some of One Direction’s stuff, but that’s absolutely not a bad thing.

Sweet Creature

Sweet Creature‘s another more chilled one, but a little more folk-y? (I’m not very good at identifying musical genres so feel free to tell me there is absolutely nothing folk-like about it at all haha) It’s similar-ish to Two Ghosts and just a really nice, laidback song for a Sunday evening, and I especially like all the backing vocal bits around 2:30.

Only Angel

So the opening to this track is pretty misleading about the overall vibe of it, as it quickly changes into being much more rock-like. This is one that kinda escaped my notice at first, but now I absolutely love it – it’s great for yelling along to in the kitchen while baking cookies (absolutely not that I was doing that ten minutes ago…). It’s veryyyy different to One Direction and more along the lines of Carolina, once again with great backing vocals and clapping bits, and the little instrumental bit around 3:15 is one of my favourite things in the world right now.

Kiwi

This is one of my absolute favourite songs at the moment, and it’s the most non-One-Direction like one on the album – Harry said himself that it started out as a joke but ended up as one of his favourite songs, which kinda explains the lyrics a bit! Similarly to Only Angel it’s great for just yelling along to (very handy stress reliever for a currently very stressed student with exams in three days) and has kinda become my personal hype song? I don’t know how either, but I’m not disappointed. For the optimum first listening experience, I recommend playing it as loud as you can. Side note – I really love the bridge.

Ever Since New York

I wouldn’t say this is one of the stand-out memorable tracks on the album, but its got a lot of good stuff going on (even if the very opening does remind me of the music they use at the start of lots of programmes about schools on TV – just me?!) It’s apparently thought to be about his stepdad’s cancer diagnosis which adds a whole different level of poignancy to the lyrics – my favourite is probably ‘There’s no water in this swimming pool’ (I always love a good water metaphor). It’s obviously quite a sad song, but in a way that feels chilled out rather than full-on make-you-cry, which is nice.

Woman

Woman perks the album up a bit again, going back to the heavier sound of Only Angel and Kiwi, but a bit more chilled out. It starts with a nice bit of piano and guitar, soon followed by some duck-style sound effects (don’t sound as bad as you think they would). Yeah, not sure what else to say except I like it…

From The Dining Table

First things first – I LOVE the opening guitar motif. I know I’ve said that about basically every track on the album but its all true, okay?!? This is definitely one of my favourites, and like Two Ghosts, I can really relate to the theme of the song. This is definitely not one to cheer you up, but its the kinda song that makes me really think and gets me in the feels, as the ~youth~ say. I also love the change in melody around ‘maybe one day you’ll call me and tell me that you’re sorry too’ – there’s just something about it that I really love, as well as the poignancy with ‘but you, you never do’. I just think the whole song does a really good job of capturing heartbreak without trivialising it or being clichéd.

A Few Final Notes (Musical Pun Absolutely Intended, sorrynotsorry)

I feel like you can split this album fairly easily into ‘chilled out, a bit sad’ and ‘jump around and sing along’, though somehow it still manages to feel pretty cohesive. I just really like it to be honest, hence the fact its got a whole blog post to itself, especially as I never thought I’d be such a Harry Styles fan. I’m also impressed by how true to thestudio versions all his live versions sound – I never realised he could actually sing so well. I also now firmly believe pretty much everything he sings ends up golden – see his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain, Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts (which I don’t even like the original of) and One Direction’s Stockholm Syndrome for proof…

What are your thoughts on Harry Styles’ solo music?

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Catching Up: A Brief History of My Past 2 Years

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high five to anyone who saw that title and thought of Bill Bryson’s ‘A Brief History of Everything’ by the way, that’s what I was going for

So you may or may not have noticed but my blogging’s been pretty sporadic for the past two years. I left school and went to college to do the International Baccalaureate (hereafter to be referred to as IB, aka a very stressful experience that is ‘a fancy euphemism for hell’ according to the highly reliable Urban Dictionary). Just for a little more, absolutely not dramatized, context:

The small cult-like group of students who are involved in the International Baccalaureate program. Laugh at the bags under their eyes and insane amount of homework now, but your sorry ass will be working for one of these guys in the near future. The near future for an IB kid is not so near, though. Having several hours worth of homework doesn’t exactly make the time fly. Because of this, they have extensive knowledge about useless topics, for example :Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. 

– Urban Dictionary

I highly recommend you look up the rest of the Urban Dictionary entries for IB if you want a better idea of what it is, it’s scarily accurate

So yeah, been pretty busy lately and my writing and this blog just kinda fell by the wayside. Eventually it felt like too long to just pick it up again and I didn’t really know what to say, but now I’m giving it another go (so apologies in advance for any incoherent rambles while I get my blogging head back!).

What else has happened in the last two years?

Aside from college and everything new and exciting associated with that, I’ve…

  • Gone to Seville, Spain
  • Visited New York
  • Played at the Montreux Jazz Festival for the second time
  • Played at the Vienne Jazz Festival (France) for the first time
  • Left the jazz orchestra I played at those festivals with
  • Lost contact with a number of friends
  • Made a load of new friends
  • Been in a nearly two-year relationship
  • Come out of the end of that relationship trying to fill my time (any idea why I’ve restarted blogging yet?!)
  • Experience two lots of heavy snow in the south of England, in March
  • Booked a holiday to Seville for the end of my exams (yay!)
  • Slowly begun my transition to a creative, arty type who wears lots of floaty clothes and tassel earrings
  • Probably done a lot more things that I now can’t remember

So yeah, been pretty busy! I’m not really sure what way I’m going to revive this blog, but I’m hoping to kinda stick with my old mix of music and books and films and general life stuff, as well as maybe a bit of stuff about the IB/coping with college in general?

We shall see! What’s everyone else been up to in the last two years (oops…)

Music of the Month: July

For me, the summer so far has been filled with an odd but interesting mix of jazz, pop and things in between. I’ve been to a few festivlas in the last couple of months – one with the Kaiser Chiefs and Scouting for Girls headlining, and a couple of jazz festivals in France and Switzerland, all of which have had an influence on July’s Music of the Month, as well as my friend’s trip to Lollapalooza in Paris and her subsequent insistence of playing half the line up to me…

Anyway, here’s my picks for the last month and a bit, brought to you from a sunny-ish balcony overlooking the Cornish sea…

Tired – Kygo Remix Alan Walker, Gavin James

Here Come The Girls Trombone Shorty

Strip That Down Liam Payne, Quavo

Debora T. Rex

Harlem Shuffle Bob & Earl

Feels Calvin Harris & co.

There For You Martin Garrix, Troye Sivan (shoutout to Troye Sivan for being lovely and liking our British accents when I met him at JFK on the way back from New York woop)

Hole In My Soul Kaiser Chiefs

Dancing In The Breeze Gentleman’s Dub Club

Came Here For Love Sigala, Ella Eyre

Wild Horses – Sam Feldt remix Birdy

Your Song Rita Ora

Perfect Places Lorde

Shape of You – Stormzy Remix Ed Sheeran (guess who’s seeing him live next year wahey ITS A ME, MARIOOO)

Know No Better (feat. Quavo) Major Lazer, Travis Scott

Call Me Over Dusky Grey

Silence Grace Carter

Praying Kesha

Glorious (ft. Skylar Grey) Macklemore

Concrete Tom Odell

As per usual, that playlist got a bit longer than I meant, but if you only could listen to three of those songs, make it Glorious, Call Me Over and Came Here For Love. And Harlem Shuffle because I’ve already proven I can’t stick to short lists. What’ve you been listening to this summer?

I Have A Lot Of Feelings About When We Collided

(no, this isn’t a dramatic love poem. it’s a book review/ramble, sorry)

If you didn’t guess I just finished reading a book. Specifically When We Collided by Emery Lord. And I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it. Overall, I liked it, but it’s not going to become a must-have-the-physical-copy-not-just-the-ebook omg-I-will-recommend-this-to-everyone-know favourite. Trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, I’ll just sum up the story quickly – boy meets girl, love, mental illness on both sides (either firsthand or dealing with someone else’s), ending. I really, really liked the mental illness storyline, primarily because it felt incredibly realistic and accurate (Lord suffers from the same illness as the female protagonist, Vivi) and not at all patronising or like it was trying to gloss over anything. I liked Jonah’s (the male protagonist) mental illness link too, and Lord managed to make a possibly difficult to believe family situation totally believable – I don’t think I once had to suspend my imagination. Another part of the appeal was that it felt like all of Jonah’s decisions relating to his mum’s mental illnesses were realistic, even when they ended up being mistakes – it was refreshing that it wasn’t just perfect decision after perfect decision after perfect decision, because that doesn’t happen to anyone (except me, obvs).

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via Pinterest somewhere

Howeverrr…

The love story annoyed me. Which isn’t the best thing to say, seeing as the book is billed as a love story. But Vivi as a character really annoyed me – in part due to her mental illness, she constantly seemed selfish. And that’s fine, that’s understandable and is part of what makes the book a convincing portrayal of mental illness. But what annoyed me was Jonah’s reaction (maybe it’s Jonah I’m annoyed with? Although other than that I love him) – even before he knew about her illness and just thought she was quirky, it felt to me like he let her trample all over him. Like yay for feminism and equally annoying characters for all genders and all that but it felt like he just let Vivi be flighty and keep changing plans and do everything to suit her. Maybe it’s just who I am that that annoys me or maybe that was intended to be seen as part of her mental illness but yeah, I wanted to shout at both of them at points. On another plus side though, the mental illness side and the love story right at the end (I’m a nice person so no spoilers) was so well written I nearly cried, and I never actually cry at books (except for All The Bright Places. That book broke me), I just think about how sad it all is.

So yeah, I wanted to get all that out of my system. How’s everyone doing in the blogging world since I disappeared a few months ago? Has anyone read When We Collided?

A Poetic Moodboard For The Non-Poet

I have a newfound interest in poetry. I’m studying the Chilean Pablo Neruda for college (the anthology we’re doing, 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair, claims to be ‘one of the most celebrated and admired books of erotic poetry published in the last 100 years’, so it’s a little awkward) and for once I’m actually finding the poetry interesting. Some of the GCSE stuff was okay but I mostly only liked the simplistic stuff and Neruda’s isn’t the most abstract, but still is interesting to read and think about. I’m also studying one of his 100 Love Sonnets for coursework (I Do Not Love You Except That I Love You, in case you were interested) and I’ve honestly surprised myself with how much I’m almost enjoying (gasp!) studying it. When I was researching what to do for my coursework I also read a little bit of Maya Angelou, which I like, and yeah, I’m not talking earth-shatteringly profound or intellectual but I guess I’m starting to see the appeal of poetry, just a little bit.

So, seeing as Pinterest has been Pinterest and made a whole load of super pretty pictures to go with quotes and excerpts from poems, I thought I’d put a few of my favourites on here, mainly just so I don’t lose them…

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This is actually available as an Etsy print and it’s my birthday soon soooo…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A little depressing but I like it (source)

 

 

Have you got a favourite quote or piece of poetry?

 

 

5 Things To Watch On Netflix (That Aren’t Riverdale)

Spoiler alert: I don’t like Riverdale. I mean, I only watched half an episode and didn’t really pay attention (sleep beats Netflix, always) but meh. I haven’t bothered watching it since, even though at least two of my friends are vaguely obsessed with Cole Sprouse and my social media has become inundated with photos of him/Riverdale stuff, but I have got into a few series lately…

Master of None

I binge-watched the entire series of this over the Easter weekend and loved it. Mega bonus that I only discovered it now and after a two-year gap, series 2 is coming out next month (how good are my psychic powers?!)

Girlboss

I only started watching this last night and so it’s perfectly possible that after binging six episodes I won’t watch any more, but I enjoyed what I’ve seen. It’s not particularly intense or intellectual so it’s good for when you’re in the mood for TV but not really sure what.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I started watching this with my boyfriend because we were trying to find something to watch and I’d heard it was good. I can confirm that it’s good, but seriously weird, especially to begin with (after a few episodes you kinda get desensitized to the weirdness). It’s funny though, and the musical numbers (available on Spotify omg) are basically my new life goals.

Fresh Meat

I’ve actually not watched this in about two months, because I watched the whole first series in a couple of days when I was feeling really ill and now I can’t really face it anymore. HOWEVER, it was funny and just what I needed to distract me when I was feeling rubbish so I recommend it for some light evening viewing.

Designated Survivor

omg this series. my favourite. my new Jane The Virgin-level favourite. But it’s only new episodes weekly which is absolutely gutting. It’s about the US Capitol being blown up and the designated survivor being forced to become president and was interesting from the start, even more so now there are more twists and turns being added into the plot. Plus, they have actual former member of the Obama administration Kal Penn as both a cast member and advisor so it feels pretty realistic. Plus I just love Seth and Emily and everyone and I have no idea until I’ll wait till next Thursday for a new episode. Also fun fact: I like this series so much I broke the cardinal relationship rule and watched it without my boyfriend even though he first suggested it (but he did that with Prison Break so it’s okay).

Also, honourable mention goes to House of Cards which I’ve watched a few episodes of but not yet had a chance to get properly into. It’s good though, and I especially love the little asides to the camera.

Have you got any more Netflix recommendations??

Catching Up

So, I just checked, and I haven’t posted on here since January, and sooo much has happened since then that I thought I’d try and catch you all up in a quick post. At the end of January I went to New York for six days which was a mega tick off the bucket list (though, spoiler alert, it’s actually really like London and although I loved it it wasn’t the life-changing experience I expected). At the end of March I then went to Spain on a college trip for a week which was possibly one of the best trips I’ve been on, and then I went to Brighton with my family for the Easter weekend. College has been getting more and more intense, with the launch of our Extended Essays (4000 word uni-dissertation-style essays, eek) and impending mocks, whoop. On a more cheerful note, I’ve finally started regular trumpet lessons again, my birthday is in almost exactly a month and there’s another bank holiday next Monday!

I’ve also finally got a little bit back into reading…I finished Perfume by Patrick Suskind which I’m studying in college as part of my World Lit, as well as binge-reading Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami which 10/10 would recommend, it was SO GOOD. Unusually for me I’ve also been doing some non-fiction reading for my aforementioned EE, which was Patrick Kingsley’s The New Odyssey, which is basically an overview of the European refugee crisis but super interesting because it includes interviews and follows specific refugees so yeah, that was good. Netflix has also become a major part of my life – lately I’ve watched the Hitchcock films Vertigo and Rear Window because I’m seriously intellectual (or had to watch them for film studies, you choose), started Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Girlboss, House of Cards and Designated Survivor. I feel a Netflix recommendations post coming on…

That’s about it, really. After being away from the blogosphere for so long I’m hoping to start being a little bit more active and posting a bit more but we’ll see what happens! What did I miss while I was away?

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Music of the Month: January 2017

I know there’s 10 days left of January but a) I have lotssss of music in my January playlist already and b) I’m actually in New York (omg) at the end of January so I feel like if I don’t write this now it’ll never get done. Anyhow, here are some of my favourite songs from 2017 so far…

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Let’s Dance To Joy Division The Wombats

When The Sun Goes Down Arctic Monkeys

Foundations Kate Nash

How Far I’ll Go Alessia Cara (from ‘Moana’)

Cocoon Milky Chance

Shape Of You/Castle On The Hill Ed Sheeran (which of these do you like best? interestingly, a lot of guys I’ve spoken to don’t like Shape of You whereas most girls do?? Also, reputable sources have told me COTH is just Ron Weasley’s life story. The more you know…)

Livewire Oh Wonder

Oops Little Mix

No Lie Sean Paul ft. Dua Lipa

We Got U Lemaitre

I Don’t Wanna Live Forever Zayn & Taylor Swift

Inhale Kate Miller – I found this on Spotify ages ago from a Buzzfeed playlist but never really listened to it much till this month, when it’s become one of my go-to songs for walking to college.

Talking To You Izzy Bizu

Records Y.V.E. 48 feat. Hier

Going On Gnarls Barkley (if you like this, I also recommend Ella Eyre’s cover)

Can’t Stop Red Hot Chili Peppers

Naïve The Kooks

Love Is All I Got Feed Me ft. Crystal Fighters (+ the Friction remix of this)

Runaways Sam Feldt

All Night/These Nights/Ways I Can’t Tell/Good Girls Crystal Fighters

Notion/Jungle/Gemini Tash Sultana

Alright Supergrass

Best Fake Smile James Bay

On Hold The xx

Wake Up Circa Waves

Blame – Bunker Sessions Bastille

Redbone Childish Gambino


what songs have you been listening to this month?

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20 Ways To Be In Charge Of My Own Happiness

One of my goals for 2017 that I’m trying really, really hard to implement and keep on top of is being in charge of my own happiness. (Another one is to make my college notes beautiful and I’m very invested in the success of that goal) It sounds kinda stupid, but I feel like I rely too much on external factors, like whether I have a bad timetable today or if I’ve scheduled a Wetherspoon’s lunch, and other people to make me happy and change my mood. So, inspired by this, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy, as a kinda safety net for when I’m feeling down…

  1. Getting so into a new book you can’t put it down.
  2. Finding new songs on Spotify.
  3. Singing along to songs you know all the words to (at the moment, this is my favourite singalong song).
  4. Knocking off at least 50% of my to-do list.
  5. Fairy lights.
  6. Having a tidy, clean room.
  7. Exchanging stupid Snapchats with my best friends.
  8. Exercise (Zumba!).
  9. A small bucket of tea.
  10. Lotus biscuits (54 for £1 in Poundland 😏😏😏)
  11. Planning all the places I want to visit.
  12. Making plans to see friends.
  13. Online shopping (H&M has been so dangerous for me the last few months).
  14. Food food food – there’s a new Mexican place near college and it’s so good.
  15. Netflix binging a trashy TV series.
  16. Chain-reading my favourite blogs/scrolling through my favourite Instagrams.
  17. Random Buzzfeed articles.
  18. Writing down everything I have to do so I finally feel like I’m on top of things.
  19. A bath, complete with Lush bath bombs (or similar), a book and no phone.
  20. Moving whatever I’m doing to my bed, because that makes it 10000x comfier.

2016 Meets 2017

Quick side note: I’ve not been on here in at least a month and whoa WordPress has changed, I was not ready for this. Are computers catching onto the ‘new year, new me’ thing now too?!

Anyway, I’ve not been on here in ages but I thought I’d drop in and try and write a bit of a 2016 in review thing. I know that globally 2016’s been labelled as one of the worst years in recent history, but it wasn’t so bad for me. I finished GCSEs, went to prom, went to BBC R1 Big Weekend, saw Bastille, Lucky Chops and Kygo live, visited Holland, Cornwall and Scotland and just had a pretty great summer altogether.

In September I left school to go to college instead of staying on for sixth form and it hasn’t been all easy, but I definitely think I made the right choice. I still miss school and all the familiarity that comes with it, but I finally feel like I’m getting to the point where I know who I want to stay in touch with (definitely not some of the people I thought I would), I’m developing a bit of a routine for staying in touch with them (ish) and I’ve got friends at college. And, even though I’m taking IB, I’m still alive so that’s also a plus.

Of course 2016 had its ups and downs – I’m probably guilty of romanticising it, especially as I’ve left school – but I think it was one of the best years I’ve had lately. And hopefully 2017’s going to be even better – I’m going to New York, one of my dream destinations, in less than a month, Seville for a week at the end of March with, among other people, one of my closest friends at college, and then playing at the Vienne and Montreux jazz festivals in the summer. So yeah, 2017 doesn’t look too bad so far!

And just to finish off this post, as I’ve not written anything in sooo long, here’s a few of my favourite songs from 2016…

And if you got this far down, Happy New Year!