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PEOPLE ARE GOING CRAZY ABOUT BABYMETAL

15 Jun

baby metal 1

Stop what you’re doing: this Japanese girl band are changing the face of alternative music and blowing the Internet’s tiny mind in the process.

Babymetal – formed by Suzuka Nakamoto, Yui Mizunoand and Moa Kikuchi – are a Japanese pop idol-meets-metal band that’s taking the world by storm. Their Gimmie Chocolate!!! video has over 27 million views on YouTube, they’ve played to crowds of over 25,000 and they’ve embarked on a world tour – all before turning 18.

With their Battle Royale-meets-goth wardrobe and butter-wouldn’t-melt looks, the ladies (and their backing band) have become a worldwide hit and internet sensation. Metal is definitely not for everyone, but when mixed with the positive lyrics and warp speed dance routines of J-pop, it is undeniably catchy. Like dipping your fries in milkshake, it shouldn’t work, but for some reason it really, really does.

Since ‘baby’ rhymes with ‘heavy’ in Japanese, the name Babymetal is a rather nifty play on words, but puns aside, it’s not hard to see why the name was chosen; lead vocalist Suzuka – aka Su-metal – is 17, while Yui and Moa – aka Yuimetal and Moametal – are only 15.

The thought of under-age Japanese girls wearing matching outfits and pigtails might be an uneasy one, but their getup is a nod to their J-pop roots, and it does somewhat subvert the stereotype of the greasy rocker.

Since they formed in 2010, they’ve managed to infiltrate the male-centric world of metal and create a whole new genre. Well, at least their creator and producer Kobametal did… The girls had actually never heard of metal before joining the band, as lead Su-metal revealed to MTV 81: “The first time we heard the idea for Babymetal, we were like ‘What the?!'”

Still, their success is not to be sniffed at. They have 141K Twitter followers, huge support in Europe and the US and famous fans in the likes of Metallica, Slipknot and Judas Priest.

They broke the Internet and now they’re breaking metal hearts in the process. Music fans have really got behind the kick-ass trio and the industry has followed suit, welcoming them with open, sweaty arms. The band played Download Festival last Friday (12 June), where they teamed up with British band DragonForce, tonight they’re set for a headline slot at The O2’s Indigo bar – oh, and they just won a Kerrang! Award for the Spirit of Independence… Not too shabby.

While some critics have dubbed them a gimmick and others anti-feminist, these teens have proved they’re a force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe us? Watch another video below. If their infectious sound doesn’t get you, their hypnotic synchronised dance moves will.

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Why Azealia Banks is longer shocking

9 Dec

Azealia-Banks-Luxury

In a world where Rihanna gets her nips out daily, Kim Kardashian poses nude on the cover of magazines, and Miley Cyrus gyrates naked on a wrecking ball, smokes weed on stage and then bares her labia majora in multiple photoshoots, it’s fair to say there’s very little celebs can do to shock us.

But acid-tongued New Yorker Azaelia Banks has always managed to come up trumps, saying all a manner of crazy things and insulting everyone from Lady Gaga to The Stone Roses in the process. Known for using the N-word liberally and the F-word unapologetically, Banks has managed to call Lily Allen’s family ugly, accuse Pharrell of a “light skin comeback” and tell Rita Ora she was Rihanna’s understudy.

Her latest tirade directed at arguably the hottest mainstream female rapper of the moment, Iggy Azalea, didn’t disappoint. Criticising ‘Iggy Iggz’ on her silence on the Ferguson situation, Banks decided to let rip on her appropriation of black culture but not the black cause…. Except she didn’t quite put it like that did she? Instead, all Bank’s rant came down to was a strange desire to throw urine in the rapper’s face.

While it bores me to tears to hear people reduce all black culture to four things: talking ‘black’; acting ‘black’; liking ‘black’ music and essentially having a large posterior, it is worth noting how readily the mainstream take on certain aspects of black culture when wrapped in a nice, globally-acceptable package.

But SURELY we are beyond the point where the above needs to define us as people? Sure, Banks may be miffed and frankly more than a bit jealous to see Iggy Azalea, a white Australian artist, become the next big thing in rap music, but does this make her the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world? These two rappers may sort of share half a stage name, but it’s clear there’s no love lost between them.

Though Azealia could have offered up some noteworthy observations on attitudes towards race and identity, once again she simply reduced herself to name calling and wishing to assert violence or humiliation on the person she attacked. She came across as a silly, ignorant child with no manners, no sense of decorum and certainly, no real way of expressing the semblance of an intelligent thought she may have had in her head.

Banks won’t be silencing herself anytime soon, but quite frankly who could ever take what she has to say seriously? Her rants have become as ubiquitous as RiRi’s nips, as kommon (don’t forget the Kardashian K) as Kim’s behind and as overexposed as Miley’s… Everything and she’s therefore completely lost her shock factor.

What’s worse, Banks as a whole had so much promise. She could have been hailed as a gorgeous and talented female in the music business, which so often fails to produce role models for dark-skinned girls. But her systematic alienation or self-coined “Azealiaing” of almost everyone around her, only renders her mute and serves to raise concern for her mental well being.

And who did she turn to when she’s ran out of people who cared?

Why, vegans of course.

Waiting Room

13 Nov

Going for your annual sexual health check is somewhat like being called to the head teacher’s office; although you know that you haven’t done anything wrong, you just can’t help but feel guilty.

    Nurse-Ratched-Unsung-Films-1

As you sit there, waiting for Godot, you are surrounded by the usual suspects: worryingly young girls in school uniform, the archetypal couple preparing to take their relationship to the ‘next level’, (which usually involves acknowledging the fact the condom has broken so many times they should probably just get tested), and everyone in between.

Some may nervously tap their feet, whilst others seem to haven’t a care in the world. There are those that bring along a friend for moral support, whilst others drag them along for light entertainment. The latter will usually provide a detailed synopsis of their sex life thus far and will casually remark how the small matter of an STI has ruined their plans to pull on the weekend. Worse still, they will tell their friend (and therefore the whole room) that although their ‘baby father’ cheated on them on numerous occasions, and most probably passed something on to them, they still love him. This, unless you can afford to go private, is a fate we all have to bare.

However, no matter how many times you’ve done it, nothing quite prepares you for the dread you feel upon hearing your name called for an examination. As you walk down the NHS’s answer to the Green Mile, you prepare yourself for the worst. But before this even occurs, you must reel off the last year’s worth of sexual partners to someone who reminds you of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched. For those of you in relationships, this is a fairly simple and pain-free task. However, for those of you who can be described as being ‘actively single’, you are forced to flick through your mental roll-a-dex of sexual partners. Some you won’t mind remembering, and others you could quite happily forget.

Whilst you sit there thinking that you’d sooner be Odysseus facing a catalogue of ghosts in deepest darkest Hades, you reflect over how ridiculous it is that you feel regretful, or embarrassed even, about the fun you’ve had. After all, you’ve been safe haven’t you? For the most part anyway. Once all the tests are through and you are sent packing with freebies, which let’s face it, is what you really came for, you remember that now comes the worst part of all. The Wait.

Over the next week you imagine the unlikely possibility that you have everything and anything under the sun. Worse still, you imagine opening that catalogue of ghosts in your little black book and having to call up each and every one of them to explain that your transgressions have finally caught up with you. And just when you work yourself up into enough of a state and promise yourself you’ll be much stricter, more sensible, CHASTE even-Your phone vibrates. You have received 1 text message. It reads: NEGATIVE.

Almost instantly upon reading it, your anxieties begin to drain away. You convince yourself you knew it all along. Then after a while you’ll admit to yourself you were lying. You will think: ‘thank God that’s over!’ and you will vow to never be so stupid again. At least till next time…

Ten Ways to Avoid Being Popped The Question

29 Feb

So you’ve been seeing your girlfriend for a while and things are getting pretty serious. You love her, but just aren’t sure that she’s the one. After managing to get by another Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day without having to pop the question, you approach the day every man dreads the most: The Leap Day. Yes, that’s right, this year, on 29th of February 2012, women everywhere will be building up the courage to ask the very question you have managed to avoid. So how can you stop this in its tracks? Since there hasn’t  been a time machine invented to take you back to the 50s where this sort of stuff just didn’t go down, I’m afraid you’re just gonna have to be a little more underhand.

To combat this day of role reversal, here are 10 easy steps you can put into place to avoid being popped the question.

1. Take a trip out of town

 An overnight trip on the dreaded day is a sure-fire way to avoid your fate. After all, you can’t be proposed to if you’re simply not around. If it needs to be more believeable take a week off work. Hell-just go mad and take an extended holiday. By the time you return home, the very small window of opportunity will have closed and you’ll be back on the steady path to long-term living.

 

 2. Buy her a very expensive piece of jewellery

Now your girl may not look like Marilyn, but diamonds are still most likely to be her best friend (not that cow Jane who always hated you). Making a big gesture by buying your woman jewellery is sure to work in your favour. The more expensive it is, the more it will hint at the fact that although you can afford an engagement ring, you just aren’t ready yet. And at the very least, the sparkle should dazzle her enough to make her temporarily forget!

 

3. Delete old school friends off Facebook that are getting hitched.

There are some things in life you just wish there was a dislike button for, nothing more so than old facebook friends on their wedding day. If you are trying to avoid tying the knot, the last thing that you need is pictures of couples on their big day constantly popping up on your news feed. These friends, therefore, should be deleted without question. After all, you can easily make new ones…and you wouldn’t want her getting any funny ideas would you?

 

4. Buy her a puppy

 Nothing says “I love you” more than a cute puppy. Opt for a pedigree and it will take away as much money as possible from whatever wedding fund she already has mounting in her head. Added to this, the increased responsibility of owning a dog will make her realise just how difficult and restrictive serious adult life is.

 

5. Tell her that you insist on being married in a powder blue tux

 We all know the 70s powder blue tuxedo is actually really cool. After all, if it worked for Jim from American Pie,  it could work for you. However, unless your girlfriend is really cool too, this will almost certainly be her worst nightmare. Throw in a pair of trainers and a cane and she’ll be sure not to mention marriage for another 4 years.

 

6. Tell her you promised your mother she could name your first child

There’s nothing more off- putting to a woman than the thought of marrying into a demanding and claustrophobic family. And this no less terrifying when the dreaded bossy mother-in-law is added to the mix.  Of course, mentioning that your mother wishes to name your first daughter after her great aunt Fanny can’t hurt either. Don’t worry kid-we’d cry too if our name was another word for a woman’s genitalia.

 

7.  Mention everyone you know who has had a divorce

There’s no better way of planting the seed of doubt than recounting numerous tales of those who have tried, and most importantly, failed at marriage. Prince Charles and Diana, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, Katy Perry and Russell Brand…it shouldn’t be hard to find material. Even better still, keep it to close mutual friends. Lament over how perfect Nick and Kate were before they married. If this doesn’t hammer the message home, who knows what will?

 

8. Do not allow her to  kneel or bend down

Do not under any circumstances allow your girlfriend to be in the kneeling position during this risky period of time. If she drops a piece of paper or her pen, pick it up. When she decides to do the weekly hoovering, ensure that you are nowhere in sight. Even if it means you must forgo your favourite sexual favour for a few days, it is most definitely worth it.

 

9. Change your name by Deed Poll

Okay, so women don’t actually have to take their husbands names anymore. However, if nothing else has dissuaded her thus far, then desperate times call for desperate measures. Insist that any woman you marry must take your name. If this hasn’t turned her off already-then change it to something that will-and fast!

 

10. Come clean

 If all else fails you could always just come clean. If your girlfriend is pressurising you way too much about marriage, she needs to know that you are just not ready. Most women would probably understand, but if she doesn’t, it was time for a change anyway…

 

Oscar 2012 Red Carpet Conundrums

27 Feb

As I find myself trawling the internet to fill a certain green book that you may or may not be well acquainted with… I stumble across the 2012 Oscars Red Carpet Live on Sky Living.

Although there’s usually nothing more inane than watching second- rate presenters in a studio watching first-rate presenters in the field interview actual stars on the red carpet, there’s little else I could be doing in the wee hours. Plus, this year the second rate presenter is Alex Zane and unfortunately after ten years, I still can’t seem to shake off my school-girl crush on him.

Now we all know that apart from car crash acceptance speeches, there is very little to the Oscars but the gowns. Whilst it’s always pretty easy to divide the fashion victors from the victims, here’s a look at some that may split a few hairs:

Jennifer Lopez

JLO we get it. You have a hot body. But any more of this shameless drawing attention to it and we may just have to yawn. Though this outfit isn’t a complete joke, the stripy baco-foil look along with cut away arms just makes it slightly cheap. And really it’s a shame because if it was done in a more sumptuous colour it may have looked all art deco and stuff. And we know how popular the 20s are these days. Most girls will look at this and think,”Wow I’m jealous and want to look like her” rather than realising just how lazy this is. I know what dear old Jenny was trying to do here, but unfortunately it’s a been done a few too many times before. She’s got a stunning face and shows it off with a her customary top-knot bun, but unfortunately she’s stuck too close to her usual tactics and made us more aware than ever that she’s just a pear shape masquerading as an hour glass.

Gwyneth Paltrow

So Hollywood superstar turned yummy mummy Gwyneth Paltrow finally keeps her legs under-wraps in a bid to look more elegant and lady-like. Unfortunately she slightly missed the mark in this Tom Ford number with floor-length matching cape. Gwyneth we know you live in London where it’s always safer to go out in a jacket, but this is Hollywood! Some may say it looks ultra-chic and daring, but personally I think it’s a statement made to mask the fact that she’s wearing a pretty boring dress. Team that with a dye-job that’s slightly too close in colour to her face and way too much fake tan and we have a slight problem. Most people will say she looks statuesque but I still think she could do with gaining a few pounds again…and looking slightly less like a new-age super hero.

Emma Stone

Emma Stone is one of the hottest red-heads to come of 2012, so what does she do? Wear this apparently ‘fuchsia’ dress by Giambattista Valli. Yes, the gown is floor length. Yes it in a bold colour. But is it for Miss Stone? Definitely not. The shade is far too close to some of the undertones that can be found in her skin colouring, plus it does nothing to make her own red hair pop. And then there’s the bow. The bow around her neck could have been forgiven if it was slightly smaller or tied at the back. But instead it just throws the rather cheap looking dress off-centre whilst making her neck appear non-existent! Tyra always says you gotta give neck. Here I’m afraid she just isn’t giving much of anything. This isn’t a complete frock shock, but considering this is her year to shine, she really could have done so much better.

And finally… whilst I know the point of this post wasn’t to point out the glaringly obvious, I’m afraid I’m going to have to mention the belle of the ball:

Michelle Williams

Enough said.

Right that’s three hours of my life I’ll never get back, but it sure beat filling a green book!

Great Adaptations

31 Dec

The fact that the world will celebrate Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday on  February 7th, is somewhat bitter-sweet. Although being born on the same day as Dickens is somewhat interesting, sharing my day of birth with someone quite so brilliant only serves to remind me that I am nowhere near being a  literary genius who will shape the English language for centuries to come. And as if to add insult to injury, this year… on the run up to OUR birthday he is unknowingly trying to stop me from reading one of his famous novels.

As I watched the credits fade on the BBC’s latest adaptation of Great Expectations, as part of their Dickens season, it raised an important question:Why do we  still kill ourselves reading what we can essentially just watch in the form of a film or a 6 part series? Okay…so apart from the fact that reading great works means you are experiencing them as they were meant to be experienced; marvelling at the authors use of syntax, symbolism and wit and so forth… the truth is adaptations are  just as good as reading the book if not sometimes much much better.

And because literary adaptations have given us some of the best film and television in recent years, here’s a round-up of five of the very best.

1.       Pride & Prejudice (1995)

 

 

This BBC TV mini-series, adapted by Andrew Davies, first hit our screens in 1995 and has failed to stay off it ever since! Pride and Prejudice, written in 1813, is one of Jane Austen’s most famous works and follows the trials and tribulations of the Bennett family. Though it may not have the glitz and glamour of the new HD adaptations, Pride and Prejudice hugely boosted the popularity of both TV and film period dramas, leading to the wealth of adaptations we see today. Most importantly, it brought actor Colin Firth to public attention, causing him to become synonymous with the character of Mr Darcy ever since. Though the 2005 film saw Keira Knightly attempt to take up the role of Elizabeth Bennett, this version still remains the definitive and most popular adaptation of the title to date.

 2.       North & South (2004)

 

If the world of Jane Austen is far too dull and upper class for you, then North & South is the perfect antidote. Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic follows the romance of two very different people, John Milton and Margaret Hale, who fall in love in spite of their differences. The second adaptation of this title in 2004, delighted period drama lovers everywhere as it managed to take us from the southern English countryside to the harsh realities of the industrial north. Adapted by Sandy Welch and directed by Brian Percival, this series initially had very low expectations, but its success led to the DVD being released a year later. Though this is essentially a novel about love, this adaptation contains a fair bit of action and historical context to even keep the cynics at bay.

3.      Bleak House (2005)

 

 

 

Dickens’ ninth novel, which was originally published in twenty monthly instalments between 1852- 1853, was made into a fifteen part series by the BBC in 2005. This was undoubtedly one of the most accomplished Dickens adaptations to date, winning multiple prestigious television awards including a BAFTA for Best Drama Serial. With an excellent cast and director to match, this piece really stands out from the rest for its impressive cinematography and dark and brooding atmosphere (though this can probably be attributed to the reported £8 million spent on production). Bleak House was more experimental than most through its soap-opera like approach, showcasing two episodes per week and allowing the audience to become fully emerged in the storyline. Added to all this was the outstanding and unexpected performance given by X-files actress Gillian Anderson as Lady Deadlock.

4.       Jane Eyre (2011)

 

Though there are so many adaptations of this Charlotte Brontë classic, a new release of Jane Eyre still never fails to set literary hearts racing. Rather ahead of its time and much loved by feminists past and present, Jane Eyre follows the eponymously named heroine as she seeks out a life of independence despite her harsh and meagre circumstances. And although lovers of Jane Eyre don’t quite think they can take yet another portrayal of the death of Helen Burns, we watch it again-in the hope that this time they’ll hurry the poor girl along. Though there are just so many to choose from, such as  the 1944 version with Orson Welles or Susanna Whites offering in 2006, Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 feature film gets a mention purely because it absolutely slayed Wuthering Heights in the 2011 battle of the Brontë blockbusters.

5.       Romeo & Juliet (1996)

 

Although this isn’t quite in-keeping with the costume dramas above, who could recall successful adaptations and not mention Romeo & Juliet? When Baz Lurman first decided to take on the Shakespearean tragedy using the original text, there were strong doubts that it would work. However, when the film was released in 1996, it took the world by storm, allowing Shakespeare to not just be enjoyed by the mainstream, but to also be understood by the mainstream too. This, teemed with a stellar performance from then Hollywood hottie Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes, made it an instant success. Not since Franco Zefferelli’s attempt in 1968, had an adaptation of this kind quite captured the youth like this did. This film seemed to be educational and intelligent, whilst containing all the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that seems necessary to make a Hollywood hit these days. Though there are many moments of pure genius thoughout the film, the opening fight scenes between the Capulet’s and the Montague’s at the gas station solidifies this version of Romeo & Juliet as one that will go down in adaptation history.

Though it can’t hurt to read a classic or two, the above proves just how fulfilling they can be on the screen as well as on the page. As for the Dickens novel I am reading? Let’s just say it is rather hard times…

For more info on Dickens2012 go to http://www.dickens2012.org/about-dickens-2012

Is This England?

17 Dec

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Anyone who’s a fan of Shane Meadows’ work wouldn’t have missed the second helping of his spin off series this week. This Is England ’88 sees the young rabble two years down the line (in telly time that is) as they attempt to deal with the consequences of the last series’ dramatic events.

 The first instalment of this three-part series starts on a good note as we are taken on a trip down memory lane with the help of The Smiths and archive footage of protests, starving African children and the much beloved Maggie Thatcher… just in case we forgot how miserable life was back then. Still, it makes for an effective opening whilst reminding the audience just how very little actually ever changes.

Pretty soon we arrive back down to earth with a miserable thud… a thud that is actually the pitter-patter of tiny feet. Lol, now a single mother to a mix-raced child, whom we quickly deduce must be a consequence of her affair with Milky, is a far cry from the fresh-faced mod princess she used to be. But we forgive her. After all, she’s been through a lot. Nearly being raped by your psycho father, then having to stab him to death, tends to have that effect on a person. And as if to add insult to injury, for our heroine, now suffering from a triple whammy of post natal depression, post traumatic stress AND paranoid schizophrenia, the name LOL now seems all too ironic.

We witness a somewhat diluted version of Woody as he attempts to move on with his life with new squeeze “ginger Jennifer”, who… strangely enough is supposed to be attractive…but I suppose it is the 80s. Milky, although returning as absent father to baby Louise, is largely unimportant and spends most of his time mooching around with a teddy bear under his arm. Meanwhile, Sean falls for the co-star in his college play. Proof indeed that any man can be a two-timing scumbag, no matter how he looks. Still, this all seems pretty boring and irrelevant when we consider all that has occurred before. In fact, until its denouement, this series seems to go from one depressing inanity to another, and leaves it far too late to display any action.  

 The first sign that this isn’t just all disappointing filler comes in the form of Woody and Milky’s showdown, where we finally catch a glimpse of the destruction Milky has left behind. And just when we thought we’d got rid of Lol’s menacing rapist father, he returns via her hallucinations, breathing heavily and freaking us out just as much as he did before.  Then, just in case you hadn’t thought Lol had been through enough, episode 3 witnesses her attempted suicide and offers up the most harrowing scenes of the series so far. It is fair to say that when we first saw ‘those scenes’ in This is England ’86, we told ourselves we’d never watch them again… And yet here we are being treated to an encore during Lol’s stomach pumping ordeal. Still, as the newest series itself contains so little to make the viewer’s hair stand on its end, it’s a strangely welcome addition.

 Whilst This is England ’86 could be criticised for its pacing issues ’88 can be accused of hardly getting off the ground. Still, it serves its purpose in bringing estranged lovers Lol and Woody back together, and indeed enabling them to both participate in what is sure to be the ecstasy fuelled nights of This Is England ’90.